Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 6 "Leon" (C+)

I was utterly confused this entire episode since I taped "NCIS" and "Reaper" on the same tape and I think my VCR clock was set two minutes fast. A good episode should not have something happen in the beginning without delving into it a bit further sometime during the episode, though maybe that is just my confusion talking. This Leon character is sort of fun but also obviously a bit dangerous. I did not quite get who the escaped soul was here (Leon? the dog?). Bret Harrison does do a great job here, especially towards the end. I am glad that he and Andi may have a fighting chance.

What I'm Watching: NCIS (100th episode)

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 6 "Chimera" (B-)

100th episode? Big deal. Nothing special to commend here. It is business as usual for the show even though the events are quite mysterious. I do not have much else to say about this show since I frequently find myself zoning out and not being compelled to care too much about what is taking place onscreen. Will I tune in next week? Probably, but I should really drop it.

What I'm Watching: Californication (Season Finale)

Californication: Season 1, Episode 12 "The Last Waltz" (B+)

I could not have asked for a more perfect ending to this season. Hank is the good guy who does not try to mess anything up with the wedding but still ends up getting the girl. I am really excited for next season, but I am not sure how it will work. In any case, stellar performances from everyone this entire season. Good to see Charlie back together with his wife. And Mia is not quite as volatile and unstoppable as she seemed. See you next summer.

Season grade: A-

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 12 "The Dark Time" (B+)

Business competitors for Nancy are always a bad thing for her but a great thing for the viewers. Hopefully things will turn out a bit better for all involved than last time a la U-Turn and Peter dying. I hope they do a bit more with Sprague Grayden ("Six Feet Under", "Jericho"). Moving the plants to Celia's home is genius. Mary-Louise Parker, Elizabeth Perkins, Matthew Modine, and Kevin Nealon: is there a better team of actors working in dark comedy today?

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a TV Series - Comedy/Musical

The following represents some preliminary thoughts on Golden Globe contenders for the given category. Predictions will be narrowed and revised towards the end of November or the beginning of December. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:

This year’s top contenders:
This show is dismally awful, and Grammer overplays his role as much as he can. He is a respected comedian who won numerous awards for “Cheers” and “Frasier”, so that may overcome the poor quality of the show (which has gotten better reviews than I give it credit for). FOX comedies to not have a good track record with the Globes, with three major exceptions, and all three shows were far more critically adored than this one (“Arrested Development”, “Malcolm in the Middle”, and “Ally McBeal”).

The man is simply great on the new Showtime comedy, and he was nominated years ago for his lead performance on “The X-Files”. It is all a question of how much the Globes will be willing to embrace another Showtime series. They went wild for “Weeds” and were semi-enthusiastic about “Sleeper Cell”, “Huff”, and “Dexter”, but completely snubbed “The L Word” and “Brotherhood”.

David was nominated two years ago in this category, the last time his show aired during a Globes eligibility period. His character is so vile that it is a love-him, hate-him affair. His affiliation with “Seinfeld” and this series give him a certain respectability that may get him in if he is not overshadowed by more overtly difficult comedic performances.

The only factor for Shalhoub’s inclusion is whether awards will ever tire of him. The show is pretty much at the same quality it always has been, and awards continue to be deservedly heaped upon him. There is nothing new about his performance, which may allow new entrants to seep in and replace him.

Despite a warm reception its freshman year, “My Name is Earl” received less accolades at both the Emmy Awards and the Globes during its second season. Lee did get a nomination last year, and his nomination really rides on how much they like NBC (last year, four out of the five nominees came from NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup, one lead from each show). “Earl” does have the stalest buzz of the four, however.

To many, “The Office” is only getting better. Carrell won this award two years ago but lost out to newcomer Alec Baldwin last year. I feel pretty safe saying that Carrell should be able to slide in without much trouble.

“Psych” received no major award nominations for its first year, but Roday really does go crazy with his performance. I think the influx of new shows and those darn NBC series will keep Roday out for the time being.

Pace is the lead of the daring and colorful new dramedy “Pushing Daisies”. I personally do not think he is the strongest element on the show and sort of goes along for the ride instead of carrying the show himself. The Globes do like to honor the stars of shows they like even if the stars are unlikely to amass awards anywhere else (Wentworth Miller for “Prison Break”, for instance).

“Scrubs” enters its final season this fall, which is a call to the Emmy Awards to recognize it, but not the Globes. Braff has been the lone Globe nominee for the series in its entire history, but he has been noticed for the past three years straight. He was goofier than ever this year, but “Scrubs” does have the advantage of having aired almost a complete season during early 2007 plus a quarter season from October to the nominations deadline..

Baldwin is so unbeatably hilarious on this wildly popular series (critically, not so much in the ratings). As far as I know, reviews for the show continue to be overwhelmingly positive, so I see absolutely no reason that Baldwin’s name would be omitted from the list of nominees.

Anyone else? Hot new shows “Reaper” and “Chuck” both have charismatic leads in Bret Harrison and Zachary Levi, respectively, but I doubt either those will enter in to the awards field (“Reaper” also has the disadvantage of airing on the CW, which rarely receives mentions). Tracy Morgan might be considered lead on “30 Rock”, but his performance as compared to Baldwin is nothing. Charlie Sheen was here twice a few years ago, but his time may have passed. And I can only hope that either Jemaine Clement or Bret McKenzie makes it in for their wonderful performances on the quirky “Flight of the Conchords”.

Current predictions:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a TV Series - Drama

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a TV Series – Drama

The following represents some preliminary thoughts on Golden Globe contenders for the given category. Predictions will be narrowed and revised towards the end of November or the beginning of December. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:

This year’s top contenders:
Somehow, Field won the Emmy so I guess the Globes may have to be next. Unless her show is completely ignored by the Globes (she was snubbed last year after her show had been on the air a few months), she should have no trouble making it in.

There is almost no way that Sedgwick could miss out here. Her show has not gone downhill with critics or ratings-wise. Her only competition comes from five high-powered women on popular new shows.

GLENN CLOSE, DAMAGES (new show #2)
Close is not that good on the show, but just look at any other frequently awarded actress who took on a TV role. Close also got nominated two years ago in this category for her role on another FX show, “The Shield”. I think “Damages” itself will fall short gaining awards, but Close should have less trouble.

I find Pompeo grating to listen to, and so do many others, but this is the Golden Globes we are talking about, where almost anything goes. “Grey’s Anatomy” has been getting bad buzz lately, and I feel like Pompeo was a one-time fling anyway.

Hargitay has missed out on a nomination the past two years, but she won the year before that. The “Law & Order” franchise follows a general procedural format in regards to awards systems. Hargitay became hot a few years ago after the show had already aired several seasons and may have fizzled out simply due to the fact that it is pretty much the same thing over and over.

Arquette has been nominated the past two years for her truly dismal performance on the crime series. She could easily slip through the cracks with the arrival of those five new shows.

Does anyone actually think this show is a quality program or do they just enjoy watching it? Walsh made the top ten for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for the Emmy Awards this past year for originating the same role on “Grey’s Anatomy”. I cannot stand her, but it seems that many adore her, and if they can take the performance seriously enough, she could well be in.

Driver is a revelation in this show and earned the series’ lone Emmy nomination this past year. As I have mentioned, freshmen FX series have an amazing track record at the Golden Globe, especially for lead performers. I cannot imagine that Driver will find herself left out.

Hunter is a huge awards magnet, though not recently, with the exception of across-the-board nominations for her supporting role in the film “Thirteen” in 2003. This could be a major comeback for Hunter, and the show did well enough. If voters do not find her too off-putting, she may get a nomination.

Falco really did not have a large role in the final season of the mob dramedy. She got an Emmy nomination this year and, unlike co-star Gandolfini, has not been snubbed by the Globes the past few years. I think she will still succumb to Sedgwick and the stars of the five new shows.

Anyone else? “Lost” actress Evangeline Lilly scored a nomination from a weak array of contenders last year, but took a real backseat to the rest of the actors this year. Polly Walker received a nod two years ago when “Rome” last aired, and if anyone stuck around to watch the show’s second and final season, she might get a repeat nomination. I do not believe that anyone will get through enough of “Tell Me You Love Me” to check off Sonya Walger on their ballots. Angie Harmon, lead actress on “Women’s Murder Club”, might have a shot. I would have to hope that no one would think Michelle Ryan deserves a nomination for “Bionic Woman”. And it is not too late to root for Mary McDonnell of “Battlestar Galactica”.

Current predictions:

What I'm Watching: Samantha Who?

Samantha Who: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Wedding” (B+)

People think that this gimmick of Samantha continually discovering how mean she was and trying to atone for her sins could get old quickly. I, for one, enjoy it a lot. A far less clever concept mysteriously worked wonders for audiences with “My Name is Earl”, and Christina Applegate is a far more charismatic and likeable lead than Jason Lee’s Earl. Keeping Samantha’s wannabe friend around is proving to be quite a good idea, with her shocking kiss with Samantha’s ex-boyfriend and her final scene with Samantha. Samantha’s parents are great, and her genuine “I didn’t know!” reaction is endearing. Recalling her memories one by one is also a great tool to develop her character.

Breaking news: As of this post, "Samantha Who?" has been given a full-season order.

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Line” (D-)

This show just keeps getting further entangled in its stupid plotlines so that it will be even more difficult to cut off the storylines of characters who really need to be disposed off. Hiro really needs to get out of Japan, and reevaluate his understanding of the space-time continuum so that he can just teleport back to the moment before Ando wastes his time reading Hiro’s long tale of impossible love. The writers need to understand that Claire being a cheerleader was intriguing because of the tagline “Save the cheerleader, save the world”. Fans, as far as I can assume, are not dying to see Claire back in her uniform but rather to see her using her powers for something other than having her boyfriend drop her from the sky and faking out another cheerleader. For a moment we think that Sylar is going to have a deep, sympathetic conversation with Murderer Brother when he begins “you don’t understand me”, but no, he means that Murderer Brother really cannot understand the words coming out of his mouth. I think it would be more interesting to see Sylar actually make some friends and form a fictional “Sylar’s Army” (there is a fan group which calls itself “Sylar’s Army”) instead of plotting to kill everyone he comes across. The show needs to stop being like “Lost” and only featuring a few characters each episode (missing this episode: Parkman & Nathan). Spend more time with HRG and his memory-taking Haitian sidekick and with the immensely powerful Peter while de-emphasizing Suresh and maybe this show can crawl back out of the hole he is in.

What I'm Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 6 “Chuck Versus the Sandworm” (B+)

This show is not letting me down anymore. Zachary Levi has come into his own as the likeable and often heroic Chuck, and his interactions with both Yvonne Strahovski and Adam Baldwin are well worth tuning in for the hour. His massive geek-ness is well incorporated into each plotline, especially in this episode with a disillusioned government puppet who claims never to have seen a James Bond movie. I am also continually impressed with the development of Morgan’s character so that he does not become overly annoying or pointless. Bonus points for Halloween costumes appearing in a diegetic and non-intrusive way.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a TV Series – Drama

The following represents some preliminary thoughts on Golden Globe contenders for the given category. Predictions will be narrowed and revised towards the end of November or the beginning of December. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:

This year’s top contenders:
The lone male star of HBO’s new token drama got a nod last year from the Globes. The show took a hiatus and the buzz is nowhere near that of past HBO shows, so Paxton may fade quickly from memory.

Spader, having now won three Emmy awards for his glorified portrayal of questionable attorney Alan Shore, got only one nomination from the Globes after his first Emmy win for “Boston Legal”. He could easily come back, just because “Boston Legal” is so unpredictable as to where and when it will show up. They will probably try to get it nominated in the mini-series category just to be annoying.

The popular actor’s new show sucks, and he does not do much to save it. But he is an awards favorite and should never be outright discounted. His chances also ride on whether his show makes it to nomination time. Freshmen shows that have already been axed do not usually get recognized.

This show has only gotten more popular since its premiere last October, and Hall has earned raves for his performance. An Emmy snub should hardly stand in the way of his garnering a second nomination and possibly even a win.

The actor was nominated in this category before for his performance on the show “Six Feet Under”. Former co-star Hall, who was never nominated for “Six Feet Under”, was nominated last year for his new show, but Hall’s role is also admittedly juicier than Krause’s. Krause is the straight man on a show with a whole host of crazy people, but the Golden Globes often favor that actor for a nomination.

Honestly, who cares anymore? Dempsey is fine on this show, but does he really deserve a spot among this crowd? The show has taken a critical dive, and the Globes never look to previous years to consider who they should nominate.

Dr. House is arguably the most popular character on TV right now. Laurie has still not won an Emmy, but he has one two Golden Globes in a row on a show that basically depends on his performance, which as far as I know has not changed, even if the entire supporting cast of the show has been shuffled around.

Talk about buzz with this one! AMC promoted it as the best thing since sliced bread… or maybe just “The Sopranos”. Regardless, it was a hit and got quickly renewed for a second season. Hamm is pretty good on the show, but it still remains to be seen how well AMC will do with awards guilds.

If anyone loves FX, it is the Golden Globes. “The Shield”, “Nip/Tuck”, and “Rescue Me” have all done spectacularly, at least in their first years. Only Minnie Driver got an Emmy nomination, but if anyone actually watched the show, it is likely they will check off Izzard’s name.

It seems like “The Sopranos” was so long ago. The Golden Globes are not always kind to shows which depart early on in the year, because honestly, they are hardly front and center in anyone’s mind. Those who do remember the show probably have the bitter taste of the controversial ending in their mouths. In any case, Gandolfini has not actually been nominated since 2002.

Anyone else? The Golden Globes are rarely kind to actors they once nominated. FX stars Michael Chiklis and Denis Leary both received nominations for the first years of their shows (and in Chiklis’ case, a win plus two more nominations). Leary continues to get nominated for Emmy awards. I think the ship has sailed for each of them, at least here, but “The Shield” did have a massive critical surge this year. Kiefer Sutherland is also a candidate, but he barely managed an Emmy nomination (his show only got one other major nod) and his show has plummeted in quality. Matthew Fox had a great year on “Lost” but it is impossible to predict if the show will even make it in. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers has a shot, but I do not think “The Tudors” will make much of an awards showing. And if “Pushing Daisies” goes the drama route, everything changes and Lee Pace is probably in by default.

Current predictions:

Next: Best Actress in a TV Series - Drama.

What I'm Watching: Dexter

Dexter: Season 2, Episode 5 "The Dark Defender" (A-)

Turning Dexter into a sort of comic book antihero is a terrific idea. He asks himself, "Am I the Bay Harbor Butcher or the Dark Defender?" His scenes with Jaime Murray (Lila) are simply amazing to watch. Rita's mother might seem like an obnoxious burden, but I trust they will do something interesting with that. How Michael C. Hall could ever get snubbed for an Emmy after this would be inexcusable. Keith Carradine is proving to be a fascinating addition to the cast, and forming a remarkable relationship with Debra. Fun to see Doakes and Maria reminiscing about old times and an old relationship?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What I'm Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 4, Episode 5 "Art Isn't Easy" (D+)

There is a decent amount of material to like towards the beginning of this hour, but by the middle, it has mostly gone downhill. By the end, it has risen back up again. That is not a formula that is likely to work too well if repeated. Lynette has become too much of a miserable, vindictive charactcer that she is never enjoyable to watch. The lines of good and evil are too clearly drawn as far as Katherine and Lynette go. Additionally, Susan is allowed to have some loyalty to Katherine given that they were friends well before Susan ever met Lynette. Marcia Cross' delivery of every one of Bree's lines has become far too precocious and overthought. I remember Phyllis from the second season premiere as a much more abrasive, strong-mined individual, as opposed to the pushover who now appears on the show. These are the kind of problems that have been there all along, but they are just starting to really get annoying. Gabrielle and Carlos are a bit too open and indiscreet about their relationship, a mistake which will now presumably cause them a great deal of trouble. Gotta love that last scene with Edie vocalizing her feelings to the P.I. who just wants to get paid. Remind me why Susan is on this show again? Oh right, to antagonize the gay people.

What I'm Watching: Women's Murder Club

Women's Murder Club: Season 1, Episode 3 "Blind Dates and Bleeding Hearts" (B+)

I am not in love with this show, but it serves its purpose well enough, and as with many shows, hits the "good" mark on its third try. Obnoxious reporter girl is now an official member of the club, complete with check-paying duties. The backstories of each of the club members are thoroughly explored, which works well to support the main crime-related storyline of the series. Linda Park works better for me as an uncertain but honest team player ("Enterprise", "Raines") than a power-playing bitch, but she is not bad or anything like that. This is one ensemble who, despite being decently annoying, will be able to work together comfortably for quite some time.

What I'm Watching: Scrubs (Season Premiere)

Scrubs: Season 7, Episode 1 "My Own Worst Enemy" (B+)

This is a welcome return of a beloved series which I have always enjoyed. Everything seems to have come full-circle now since the show's inception. One of the show's strongest points has always been its nicknames for characters (best exemplified in the season one episode "My Nickname"). Snoop Dogg Resident, sorry, Snoop Dogg Intern and Colonel Doctor were just two of the unforgettable but unnamed characters. Now Dr. Beardface (that's beard-fa-say!) gets a chance to take the spotlight and be tormented by everyone in the hospital. It is great that the janitor's girlfriend is actually named "Lady", and that whole plotline should play out well with J.D. As I have said before, this show always comes through in the end with dramatic material, and this final season should be full of great stuff with J.D. and Elliott and their uncertain love lifes.

What I'm Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 4, Episode 5 "Local Ad" (B+)

Hands-down the best part of this episode is that the ad Michael and company ultimately create is actually really good. It is absolutely hilarious as well, with Kelly standing in India and Stanley in prison. Also the most bizarre creative team working on that song. You have to love when Andy tells Dwight that Angela keeps saying "Oh, D" while they are making out. Who ever thought we would be rooting for Dwight?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What I'm Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 2, Episode 4 "Rosemary's Baby" (B+)

I got so excited for the page-off that combined physical ability with NBC trivia. It is too bad that it never actually played out, but what a clever and whacked concept. I am glad that Jenna has lost all the weight so that the blonde in her can return to the spotlight. Carrie Fisher's guest spot proves to be quite funny, and a great parting line - "Help me, Liz Lemon, you're my only hope!" Jack and Tracy are marvelous in their therapy scene. Too funny.

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 5 "Action" (C-)

This episode returns to the kind of plotlines which frequently popped up in season one. Unfortunately, with Lana hovering as Clark's jealous girlfriend, it does not work as well. On that note, Lana needs to be dumbed down really quick or this show is going to plummet back down to its state of perputual awfulness. Her "Misery"-like setup with that creepy woman and Lionel is just stupid. And the scene in the middle of the cornfield when she hits him with a pitchfork or something? Please. Enough already. The show has Supergirl at their disposal, and more importantly Michael Cassidy as the Daily Planet editor, and this is the kind of stuff they are coming up with?

What I'm Watching: Dirty Sexy Money

Dirty Sexy Money: Season 1, Episode 5 "The Bridge" (B+)

Finally my favorite Darling, Brian, has a meltdown after his bible stories encourage his son, a.k.a. Gustav, to spill the beans to Brian's wife. The more and more I think about it, I love all five of the Darling siblings equally. William Baldwin, Natalie Zea, Glenn Fitzgerald, Seth Gabel, and Samaire Armstrong infuse each of them with a very similar elitism and whiny energy. The twin bashes are so ridiculously extravagant, and it is good that this show knows when to make fun of itself (Juliet says "let them eat cake" as she storms out of her "Marie Antoinette"-esque birthday party). The security of this show is that, in the end, it comes back to the drama. The entire episode may be full of hilarious moments, but by the end credits, some serious realization or powerful moment will have occured. Now let us find out more about this Simon Elder, shall we?

What I'm Watching: Bionic Woman

Bionic Woman: Season 1, Episode 5 "The Education of Jamie Sommers" (D)

This is the most blatant exploitation of an actress' country of origin to sustain an episode. When are we to believe that Jamie was trained in faking accents? Brit Michelle Ryan slips so smoothly back into her accent that the bartender could quite possibly never have been American. After she keeps speaking in her accent for a good half an hour, the annoying guy who is monitoring her points out that she is still using it, to which she responds that she is a method actor. The guy of course thinks it is hot, so we are just supposed to accept it. The slightly decent part of this episode is that neither Jamie nor the other guy were the bad guys, but I am sure they will not go anywhere with that.

What I'm Watching: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies: Season 1, Episode 4 "Pigeon" (B+)

This is the most wonderfully wacky show on television right now. Just look at the sequence of events in this episode - a dead cropduster leads to a hidden treasure which in turn leads to a lengthy history of multigenerational love letter-writing. Every backstory is explored in such detail, which is amazing. The presence of Kristin Chenoweth's character, Olive, could have quickly gotten annoying, but she has her own quest (complete with frequent singing!) to help Chuck's aunts find happiness. When I saw Jayma Mays' name in the credits, I had expected them to use her more and have her really fit into the fantasy setting, but I suppose her role as the second-generation windmill inhabitant will have to do. "You tied up your hostage like you tie your sneakers." The ending of this hour is remarkable and moving, with Chuck's grumpy aunt thinking she sees Chuck for a second but then, with the turn of a windmill, she is gone again. This show just keeps getting better and better.

What I'm Watching: Damages (Season Finale)

Damages: Season 1, Episode 13 "Finale" (C)

This is kind of like the "Heroes" finale - after all the build-up, I think I was expecting more. And to be more satisfied with the crazy twists introduced. For once, I may have to agree with Ellen when she reminds the FBI agents that Frobisher killed her fiancee, and they should really be focusing on that. At least Ellen's mentor is not actually a bad guy, just someone contacted by the FBI trying in a sort of way to look after Ellen. But why the hell is it revealed that Frobisher's #1 henchman, who took on every job himself and was never subtle in the least way about it, is actually a cop? How is that even remotely possible? As far as the bookends go, wouldn't it have been easier and less messy to use maybe a gun or a knife? Seriously, he just kept smacking him in the forehead with that thing. That has got to hurt.

I can understand that this episode is a critical turning point for the show which may decide whether the show is renewed for a second season. But what it introduces requires too much of a leap of believability. Patty trying to have Ellen killed, and worse, having a good number of people in on it, does not make sense. Patty is not that openly corrupt, neither is she cunning enough to get away with it without leaving even a hint of a trail. It is too convenient that Frobisher's people would happen to go there and could easily take the blame for the attempted stabbing. The timing works out a little too well - Frobisher's people did not happen to arrive until after Ellen left and Patty's team had a chance to clean up the whole mess and roll up the rug? I do not buy it. Patty being investigated by the FBI is certainly a re-tooling of the show, but I do not think it can sustain itself for very long. This is one case that may have to be closed forever.

Renew it? No way.
Season grade: C-

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 5 "What About Blob?" (B-)

Why must the devil manipulate events so that Sam can never tell Andi what he truly does? That is one aspect of the plot that will quickly become stale if ressucitative efforts are not soon taken. Tyler Labine cannot make jokes the whole hour and expect everything to remain fresh. The scene at the end where Sam's father rips out one of the pages from the contract does serve as a great twist which hopefully will be followed up on.

What I'm Watching: Carpoolers

Carpoolers: Season 1, Episode 4 "Down for the Count" (B)

I am sure that this is a plotline that has been explored on almost every sitcom, but that is alright. Jerry O'Connell and Fred Goss make it work. What could have been a one-liner becomes a fairly successful running joke that is made even better by the reaction of everyone around Laird and Gracen. This carpool has really become much more enjoyable than I could ever have expected. ABC, cancel "Cavemen" and move this show somewhere else to give it a fighting chance!

What I'm Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 5 "Leap of Faith" (B+)

This is the "NCIS" I used to love. I am glad that even if the show is struggling, it can rebound occasionally with an episode reminiscent of the show's quality and entertainment value. The suicide-turned-murder angle is very interesting and the team pulls off solving the crime quite well. Next week marks the show's 100th episode, which is hard to believe since I watched this one from the very first night it premiered on CBS. This is the first show I have seen through since its premiere, watching every episode live, to air its 100th episode. I would say I am excited, but I am never that thrilled about Halloween episodes (the landmark hour airs on October 30th and the preview indicates some kind of horror-esque plot). We will have to see. Its quality may make the decision for me of whether to continue with this show or drop it.

All Caught Up With...Californication

Californication: Season 1, Episodes 1-11 (B+)

This is one of the shows that did not look that great based on the advertisements, and I simply never got around to watching the pilot. When I did, I was instantly hooked. The show has not decreased in quality in the slightest since then; it may have gotten even better. David Duchovny is immensely likeable as an inherently unlikeable writer who has sex with anything that moves. Just like Michael C. Hall with "Dexter", Duchovny has created a character entirely unrecognizable and different from his "X-Files" lead Mulder who is just as intriguing to watch, if not more. The writing and the rest of the cast perfectly support Duchovny. Natasha McElhone tackles what may be her best role yet as main character Hank's ex-wife who obviously still has strong feelings for him. I was slightly alarmed when I realized that Madeline Zima, one of the kids from "The Nanny", was playing Mia and not Becca. It is quite a different role for her, but she does a great job. Evan Handler also gets his own plotlines, with his secretary and his wife, and they are all thoroughly entertaining. The storyline of this show is so fascinating. Luckily, this show got renewed a long time ago, since it is Showtime's highest-rated freshmen series ever. Unfortunately, the season finale airs next week and new episodes will not return until next summer.

Catch this one on DVD if you have not been watching. It is edgy and evidently profane, but well worth it. Anyone who thinks that the current HBO is still supreme to Showtime might want to flip channels and check out this show, "Weeds", "Dexter", and "Brotherhood", and then reconsider.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 11 "Cankles" (B+)

The funniest part of this episode (take your pick!) has to be Celia's interaction with Heylia and subsequent run-in with Conrad. This show is great at stopping one problem (private investigator) but immediately launching into another even worse one (Celia). The Agrestic/Majestic city council debate is excellent, and Lisa Darr is the perfect person to take on Doug. Great news about this show - this season has fifteen episodes and will therefore continue airing new episodes until Thanksgiving week.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lots of Updates Coming Soon!

I am way behind on my reviews, with thoughts on the most recent episodes of "Weeds", "NCIS", "Carpoolers", "Reaper", "Damages", "Pushing Daisies", "Bionic Woman", "Dirty Sexy Money", "Smallville", "30 Rock", "The Office", and "Scrubs" on the way. I've also had the chance to catch up on the new Showtime series "Californication", which has proved to be a fantastic offering. All that and more coming up!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall Pilot Roundup

Now that each fall series (with the exception of "Cashmere Mafia", which premieres in late November) has had a chance to air at least two episodes, I would like to take a moment to look back and reflect on the new offerings. Only one scripted series has been cancelled so far, and that decision was released today. After only two airings, Viva Laughlin has been pulled from the schedule immediately, as well it should have been. This year a long amount of time elapsed before any showed was axed. Last year "Smith" succumbed in early October after three episodes; the year before, "Head Cases" was gone around the same time after just two.

So what is worth keeping around this season? Without hesitation, I can confirm that Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money deserve to stay around for a while. Samantha Who? also seems to be headed for great things. Women's Murder Club is a decent enough offering, and though Chuck and Reaper slipped a bit after strong pilots, they should stick around too. I am having fun with Carpoolers, but I know that it is not ultimately a keeper. If I had to choose a best new series of the season right now, my vote would probably be for "Dirty Sexy Money".

And what of the rest? K-Ville, Private Practice, and Cane are not all bad, and Gossip Girl might be considered good for what it is. Both Journeyman and Big Shots have irreconcilable issues which would keep me from watching them again. Bionic Woman is headed downward each episode, and is becoming even more convoluted, to the point of no recovery. Back to You, The Big Bang Theory, Life, Moonlight, Aliens in America, and Life is Wild all belong to that annual class of shows that just had no hope to begin with and sucked from the very first episode (to be fair, I have not watched any of these shows since their pilots, but I saw very little quality or potential in them). And then there are two which go beyond bad. I have already noted that "Viva Laughlin", an impossible premise with an even worse gimmick, met its end earlier today. But Cavemen is truly the worst of the worst. No laughs, not even for a moment. I am glad that ABC has stopped promoting it together with "Carpoolers" so that the latter show can have a mild chance at success.

Is this season any better or worse than previous ones? While I only went wild for two pilots ("Chuck" and "Samantha Who?"), several shows have already improved substantially upon their first installments ("Pushing Daisies" and "Dirty Sexy Money"). I usually tend to enjoy a few more shows, but those end up being quickly cancelled (e.g. "Hawaii", "Smith"). I can have faith that the best shows this year should get a decent shot at living a long, healthy life, even if they have to be accompanied by crap like "The Big Bang Theory" which, along with "Gossip Girl" and "Private Practice", has already been given a full season episode order. I will continue to check in with some of these shows and follow up with my chosen seven (I have to stop watching "Bionic Woman" soon). I know that most of my initial cancellation/renewal predictions were grossly incorrect, but I plan to revisit those soon. In the meantime, keep reading for more on your favorite/not so favorite shows!

Round Two: Samantha Who?

Samantha Who: Season 1, Episode 2 "The Job" (B+)

This one very well could be the frontrunner for best new network series of the fall. This episode follows up on the pilot and delivers just as well. Jennifer Esposito and Barry Watson are great background players whose incessant sarcasm is truly biting. Jean Smart and Kevin Dunn are truly funny as Samantha's parents who just do not get her condition. It is great to see Rick Hoffman, who always portrays the most obnoxious characters ever, in a role that fits his talents and allows him to blend in well with the rest of the cast. I think it is fine that Joy Osmanski seems to be typecast as the tormented assistant (see also: "The Loop"). The best casting, in my opinion, has to be Tim Russ, Tuvok of "Star Trek Voyager" fame, as the doorman who Samantha tries to talk to before he sharply reminds her that they are not friends. It is a relief to be able to say that the writing and the acting are entirely deserving of each other.

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 5 "Fight or Flight" (D-)

#2 on the list of most overused episode titles ("Full Disclosure" holds the #1 slot) proves not to be a good thing for this flailing series. At least Peter is back, and it continues to be awesome just how powerful he is. I am wary of Kristen Bell's guest appearance, since I know that she is eternally adored in the comic-fan community, which leads me to believe that her role might simply defer to her celebrity. It seems that I do not have to worry too much, as she has already proven to be an out-of-control brat with a mysterious father (? I do not even have any guesses at this point). Focusing more on just Peter and Kristen Bell's new character could really strengthen the whole show. I mean, seriously, just have Suresh and Nikki die in a mysterious explosion. I fear that Nikki's split personality would be able to survive even that kind of assassination attempt.

Someone better tell Hiro that he does not really understand the space-time continuum. He is writing all these letters to Ando all "Back to the Future III"-style, but his abilities should be such that when he finishes his months or years of living in the past, he can just transport back to the very moment he left Ando. Time should not pass for Hiro in the past as it does for us and our other heroes in the present. Necessitating a consistent correspondence between the two time periods is seriously weakening the show. Hiro really does need to get back; didn't anyone tell him Sylar is back?

As far as Matt's father goes, I do not think he will work well as a villain. He is entirely too happy and seemingly nice, and just begins he frowns angrily after trapping Matt and Nathan and pitting them against each other does not instantly make him evil. His powers are pretty messed up though, which might indicate that Matt has some similar abilities. Who knows, and honestly, who cares? Once Sylar gets his car working a bit better, maybe he himself can take down this evil Company once and for all.

What I'm Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 5 "Chuck Versus the Sizzling Shrimp" (B+)

This is what I am talking about. This show returns to form in an episode with an awesomely fitting title. Everyone works hard to make this episode live up to the standard set by the pilot. While the spy theatrics are still a bit, well, theatrical, all that is made up for by the entertaining nature of the rest of the show. Morgan is front and center for a while, but his newly formed friendship with Ellie is endearing. Chuck's geeky resourcefulness comes in quite handy without stretching too much, and the episode works very cohesively. Bonus points for the ending: this show does not forget where its strength lies, which is in the family/friendship dynamic around Chuck.

What I'm Watching: Prison Break

Prison Break: Season 3, Episode 5 "Interference" (F)

How did we get here? I keep asking myself that question every time this show comes on. Sona is easily the least believable prison ever with the most senseless and incompetent guards who allow the use of cell phones and do not bother to search every closet while hunting for a gun. Barring that one intense moment where the guard shot back at Michael's half-binocular, nothing good happened in this episode. I feel like Michael and Whistler and Lincoln and Whistler's girlfriend are having the same exact conversations about their loved ones behind help captive and how they are not "doing it for them". We get the point. This whole breaking out of prison thing has become a contest rather than a feat. Michael is ready to go in twenty-four hours even though I feel like he has no idea what the hell he is doing. Just because FOX is thrilled to promote a two-hour event in two weeks does not mean that its characters should be rushed and made to seem ridiculous (though of course Michael getting out of Sona would be the best thing to happen to the show in a while, and should by no means be delayed).

P.S. Do not watch the previews for the next episode ever. I would have thought that wanting to see Michael try to break out of prison would have been enough to lure viewers back, but apparently FOX feels the need to give away the entire episode. They were getting better about this after promos for "24" a few years back used to reveal way too much and then they cut down on the spoilers, but now they are really slipping again.

What I'm Watching: Dexter

Dexter: Season 2, Episode 4 "See-Through" (B+)

This episode boasts some really intense scenes involving Doakes and entrancing conversations with the likes of Dexter and Batista. Dexter's sponsor is a better plotline that I could ever have hoped for, and it gives Rita an entirely new side that we have not seen of her before. The new captain's meltdown is pretty embarassing and not a route the show needs to take, but it is all made good by the shocking (to me, at least) revelation that Maria was sleeping with her fiancee. Debra is forming an intriguing but strange relationship with the FBI guy. Dexter is doing a very smart job in dealing with his pursuers by ruining the bodies. The whole Bay Harbor Butcher as Avenging Angel thing is excellent. The recent Jodie Foster film "The Brave One" should take notes. What a terrific ending - Rita's mother picks up on Dexter being a really good actor.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What I'm Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 4, Episode 4 "If There's Anything I Can't Stand" (F)

All of the plotlines in this episode were obvious disasters from their very conception. Susan makes a fool out of herself from the first moment, and how should she possibly have thought that keeping the dog essential held hostage would turn out well at all? The paint business further proves my point that Mike has now become a terrible character and serves no purpose on the show. Maybe keeping Ian on the show would have worked better. Lynette offers a dead-on analysis of her character and why any and all storylines surrounding her have become increasingly annoying. The whole crabs thing is stupid, and Edie figuring out because of the crab cakes is cheesy. Wasn't she supposed to have been dealt with? New character Katherine is interesting, but she is too shady and mean without any legitimate reason to remain compelling. Bree is perhaps too ridiculous to be taken seriously, though her mother-in-law's attempt to help Danielle may help reinvigorate this series.

Round Two: Women's Murder Club

Women's Murder Club: Season 1, Episode 2 "Train in Vain" (B)

This show is definitely decent, I am just not sure how long it can hold my interest. A line has to be drawn between what is good but not engaging and what might not be as great in quality but which makes up for it in entertainment value. This is probably not entertaining for me as the non-typical audience, but we will see. If "Jericho" returns to this time slot in a few months, I will be immediately out. Otherwise, it is a good filler show.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pilot Review: Viva Laughlin

Viva Laughlin (CBS)
Premiered October 18 at 10pm

Just when I thought "Caveman" was hands-down the worst show of the season, this show comes along to make me question that certainty. Who thought this could have been a good idea? The whole breaking-out-in-song gimmick fails miserably. It is erratic at best, and the fact that the music plays over the cast member singing makes it even more unbearable. I cannot discern why that element of the show seemed necessary. The cast and the writing are just as bad as the tone and flow of the show. Even the usually excellent Hugh Jackman is terrible. I never thought that I would wish that DB Woodside was back in command as President of the United States on "24". Lead actor Lloyd Owen is pretty much an eternally angry Eric Mabius, which is in no way a good thing. The most inexplicable part of this whole affair is that the preview for Sunday's episode reminds viewer that it airs immediately after "60 Minutes". Because that is definitely the audience they are going for.

How will it work as a series? Simply put, it won't. 'Nuff said.
How long will it last? Those precious few who made it through the first episode might not stick with it for long. The premiere did worse than any episode, new or repeat, last year in this timeslot (per "The Futon Critic"). The show actually airs on Sunday, but I doubt it will live to see a fourth installment. It might even have the dishonor of being the first scripted show of the season axed.

Pilot grade: F

What I'm Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 4, Episode 4 "Money" (B+)

This episode has a really weird feel to it, but I think I am okay with it. Jim and Pam visit Dwight's bed and breakfast and have a bizarre experience, but ultimately decide that they need to be loyal to Dwight in his time of need. Great almost-moment between Jim and Dwight. Kelly's fling with Darryl is quite funny, as is Ryan's reaction. I never knew that this show could be some dramatically adept. Michael's second job starts out as a running joke, but ultimately he is having money problems, and newly enhanced Jan is willing to stick by his side. This show is going to last a good long time, as it well should.

What I'm Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 2, Episode 3 "The Collection" (B+)

Of course Jack would have a cookie jar collection. I like Steve Buscemi a whole lot, but I wish he had been given more to do in this episode. The rest of the cast is more than on top of it. Tracy and all the dramatics with his wife are great. And Kenneth trying to get Jenna to overeat by relentlessly insulting her and ending up getting her hot for him is priceless. His summary of the situation to Jack: "Now we have to get married". Awesome.

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 4 "Cure" (D+)

I have had enough of this Lana-as-a-mastermind crap. What happened to the naive girl who Clark used to look at through his telescope? At least Clark is always rushing in to save the day just as everyone is about to be stabbed (count 'em - Lex, Chloe, so many others in previous installments). I think it is quite funny that Kara calls Jimmy "James" and also that she seems to get every single cultural reference that she should have no idea about since she was frozen in suspended animation for the past twenty years. A big deal was made about previous Superman Dean Cain guest-starring in this hour, but his performance is less than memorable.

What I'm Watching: Dirty Sexy Money

Dirty Sexy Money: Season 1, Episode 4 "The Chiavennasca" (A-)

This show just got so good. Nearly every aspect of this episode goes above the previous material and the entire cast deserves a pat on the back. The plotline involving Brian's son is amusing, and helps provide some truly comic relief. The twin drama is great, and becomes actually serious in this hour. Seth Gabel and Samaire Armstrong play off each other perfectly. Donald Sutherland and Jill Clayburgh do an excellent job in their pivotal scene at episode's end. Nick's trip to Italy proves to be quite enlightening. Up until this point, Karen's incessant flirtation with Nick was harmless and hilarious, but now it becomes a dramatic and compelling element of the show. Natalie Zea is fantastic in this episode, and now tops my list of contenders for the AFT Awards come next year. Give this show some Golden Globes! But comedy or drama? I vote drama, but it would be great either way.

What I'm Watching: Bionic Woman

Bionic Woman: Season 1, Episode 4 "Faceoff" (D+)

This episode at least started off decently. The constant problem is the shady nature of the bionic-producing organization and the general lameness of each and every character. A covert agency which created the first Bionic Woman should be smart enough to realize that their restraints will not hold the super-strong Sarah Corvus. Her escape is far too easy and predictable. As for Isaiah Washington, he is just not a good character and his presence does nothing to help the show.

Side note: I have stopped watching "Private Practice" effective immediately because it is boring.

What I'm Watching: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies: Season 1, Episode 3 "The Fun in Funeral" (B+)

I absolutely adore the dramatic music in this show. I am also falling for the tone of this offbeat show. The dynamic between Ned, Chuck, Emerson, and Olive. The storyline centered around the funeral director is completely engaging, and each and every actor gives their best effort. The one thing that worries me is that this particular plotline can only really be used once, but the cast is showing that it can do well for a good long time.

What I'm Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 1, Episode 12 "There's No 'We' Anymore" (C)

There is a certain excitement that comes with the token "big reveal" that we have theoretically been waiting for over a period of eleven episodes. Yet the way this show is structured, there is little that has not yet played out, and the flashback/flash-forward system sort of worked against the show because when everything becomes regular color and merges past with present, the show merely jumps forward, revealing but one scene. Did those Frobisher hoodlums have to keep hitting Lame Boyfriend with the Statue of Liberty bookends? It seemed at times inconvenient. Why not just shoot him or stab him and save the bookends for a more worthwhile occasion? The fact that Patty had nothing to do with it is good because that would have been ridiculous, but what the hell is Ellen's original mentor doing calling the bad guys on her? The end of this episode was pretty good, and I guess I am excited for next week's finale.

"Nip/Tuck" begins in this timeslot in two weeks.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 4 "Magic" (C+)

Not a great villain for this week, and Sam and his buddies do not really get to try to take on the bad guy in their usual fashion. Sam needs to tell Andi real soon about his little devil job, because otherwise this relationship is going to become stale and obnoxious. Only for so long can he not get the girl because he is actually trying to protect her. Was this not the same exact thing he was doing on "The Loop", and then his potential girlfriend got written out of the second season? Watch out Missy Peregrym!

What I'm Watching: Carpoolers

Carpoolers: Season 1, Episode 3 "Who Would You Do?" (C)

Clearly, playing "who would you do" with your wife is going to be a surefire bad idea. I know that this show is pretty much as I expected it to be, and I should be happy that I am enjoying it as much as I am. I do like the concept of Date Night as it was played out in this episode, and it looks like they can sustain at least a few more episodes. And the creator was correct - most of the episode does take place outside of the car, which is a relief.

What I'm Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 4 "Identity Crisis" (C+)

I just do not care anymore. These wonderful characters are no longer lighting my TV screen, and even the relations with the FBI have become generally uninteresting. I feel a certain obligation to the show, having watched from day one when I sat down to watch the premiere of the then-titled "Navy NCIS" some Tuesday back in 2003. I may stick with it until episode 100 just for old time's sake, but there just is nothing keeping me drawn in at this time. If I should ever choose to return, this is not a show that really relies on watching every single episode.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 10 "Roy Till Called" (B+)

This little business of the widow money Nancy gets makes for quite an intriguing twist. And I knew that her relationship with DEA wife was too good to last. I think keeping Dean in his incapacitated state for too long will detract from the show. It was a good sparking point for Celia to get really jealous and pissed at Nancy for stealing her man, but otherwise Dean should get back up on his feet and start interacting with his unforgettable buddies Andy and Doug.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pilot Review: Samantha Who?

Samantha Who? (ABC)
Premiered October 15 at 9:30pm

What a clever concept for a comedy series. And even more impressive is its fantastic execution. Christina Applegate is a wonderful and very much likeable lead. She is more than ably supported by fun, excellently detestable characters played by the likes of Jean Smart and Jennifer Esposito. I could see this show lasting a long time, and from this promising start, I think it very likely could. The sharp, witty writing and the terrific cast work together well to create a great new show.

How will it work as a series? How quickly will she regain her memory? While forging a new life for herself, Samantha should be able to keep the show intriguing enough for a good long time.
How long will it last? ABC is desperate for a successful new comedy, and I think that they will be more than ready to renew this one, especially given the impressive ratings.

Pilot grade: B+

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 4 "The Kindness of Strangers" (F)

This show is terrible right now. Leaving me eager for a scene with Hiro and his unimpressive hero spells bad news for this show's quality. New superhero Dana Davis is a bit too jolly all the time, and her power is another inexplicable and just plain bizarre ability. The guy conveniently happened to rob the store only hours after she watched that wrestling match with her brilliant "photographic" memory? That whole Sylar and the evil twins thing cannot turn out well. What is Sylar up to? HRG, for one, is not being entirely subtle in any way about his not wanting Claire to date. Most importantly, can I be the first to call for the killing off of Claire's mother? She has to be one of the worst characters on TV right now (I will be making a list soon!), and I could not have imagined that there could be a more annoying wife than Nathan's wife, played by Rena Sofer. Bring back Peter!!

What I'm Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 4 "Chuck Versus the Wookie" (C+)

Introducing the rival goverrnment chick seems like a risky move so early on in the show's life, but it does not play out badly. Seeing a more emotional, jealous side of Sarah, real name unknown. The spy shenanigans are still in need of some major re-tooling, but the cast is making a decent effort. I enjoy the incorporation of Morgan into a lot of the plot, but I could go for some more of sister Ellie and Captain Awesome.

What I'm Watching: Dexter

Dexter: Season 2, Episode 3 "An Inconvenient Lie" (B+)

This whole fake addiction business could soon become tired, but the dual nature of the therapy is fascinating. Dexter realizing that it is helpful to talk is nearly as effective as Wayne and Dahlia Malloy's veiled phone conversation from an early episode of "The Riches", and that is a good thing. It is great for Doakes to be off Dexter's back so that he can return to his frequent and obviously healthy justice killing. I am glad that Keith Carradine did get some good material and a chance to interact with Dexter in another dual-meaning conversation. Gotta love that ending - Rita realizing that her emotionless boyfriend might have chosen a slightly too flirtateous and beautiful sponsor.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What I'm Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 4, Episode 3 "The Game" (D-)

This season did not start off too well, so it is no big surprise that it took a nosedive just a few episodes in. Everything is amplified from awkward to horribly embarassing for all involved. Edie has become one of those characters who needs to go immediately (like Lynette's stepdaughter from last season). She has no purpose on the show, and serves only to irritate Carlos and make a fool out of herself, as well as not even care when Lynette uses her in a round of charades trying to describe a hanging. Why Gabrielle would so carelessly out Bree's intrusion into Catherine's life is inexplicable, especially given her token sneakiness with Carlos and formerly the gardener. The one decent part of this hour is Victor making an unknowing threat to Carlos - though that Gabrielle storyline needs to be wrapped up pronto.

Pilot Review: Women's Murder Club

Women's Murder Club (ABC)
Premiered October 12 at 9pm

I knew right off the bat that this was a not a show I was likely to enjoy. I can report that I was pleasantly surprised. Though there are certainly elements which annoy me a great deal, the overall cohesiveness of the show was impressive. Angie Harmon is not for me, but I am sure there are a number of people who will fall head over heels in love with her character. Laura Harris' assistant DA seems just a tad too openly promiscuous for her own good, but I feel like that will probably make for an interesting and complex character. I am just going to take a guess here that the intrepid reporter becomes the fourth member of this club, since advertisements indicated four female crime-solvers. Adding in its own relationship dramas and gimmicks in the style of "NCIS", this decent procedural is not hindered by its emphasis on characters. It is perhaps more for the female gender, but otherwise surprisingly appealing. I am willing to give it a few more episodes for sure.

How will it work as a series? This is one show that was made to last a long time. There are a number of books, plus a crime procedural with good characters can last for years on end ("Law & Order", anyone?)
How long will it last? Friday night is not a good timeslot, but if there is any show that can make it work, it will be this one. It had a very strong debut and crushed "Friday Night Lights" in ratings.

Pilot grade: B

What I'm Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 4, Episode 3 "Launch Party" (B+)

The battle between Michael and his acceptance of technology is wonderfully entertaining. His annoyance at not being invited to the real party which does not exist is priceless. Many people I know say that Steve Carrell's Michael Scott is just too obnoxious and unlikeable, but that is precisely what makes the performance brilliant. He is so oblivious about everything without dwelling on anything too long. Great prank pulled by Jim and Pam with the whole computer thing, and glad to see that Pam does in fact have compassion for Dwight after finding out Angela dumped him. What a great scene on the roof with Jim and Pam. Give John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer Emmys already!

What I'm Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 2, Episode 2 "Jack Gets in the Game" (B)

I very much enjoy Will Arnett's guest apperances despite my not being a fan (brace for getting hit really hard) of "Arrested Development". In other news, Kenneth has to be one of the best characters currently on television. Jenna may once return to that standard when her whole being fat plotline is done. It was funny but not really my type of humor. This seems to be one of those "off episodes" which bring the grand sum quality of "30 Rock" down a bit. Do not fear, because I am sure this show will get back on its game.

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 3 "Fierce" (F)

Since when does Smallville have a beauty contest? As much as I love new Daily Planet editor Michael Cassidy, such an esteemed newspaper would be really be interested in covering the beauty pageant supernatural murder story? I think not. Man, Erica Durance must have a super deal worked out with the producers of the show where she is still a credited cast member but appears in like three episodes a year. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I sort of would rather have her back than have to listen to Laura Vandervoort talk anymore. And talk about misleading previews - the promos that aired for tonight's episode advertised that "the Lana who has returned is not the same one who left". Yeah, that was completely made up.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What I'm Watching: Dirty Sexy Money

Dirty Sexy Money: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Italian Banker” (B)

Oh, I really do like this family, especially the twins and Brian. The show is well-carried by lead Peter Krause, whose expressions always convey that he knows just how ridiculous each and every one of the Darlings is. I am hopeful that this show will use the knowledge of its preposterous nature will help it become better instead of getting too goofy. For the moment, though, I am entertained enough.

What I'm Watching: Private Practice

Private Practice: Season 1, Episode 3 “In Which Addison Finds the Magic” (C)

How did Paul Adelstein go from being a shady government operative on “Prison Break” to wearing pink wings on this show? And even though I have never seen “Judging Amy”, I have to assume that she could not have constantly been on the verge of tears for six seasons. Nothing much is changing on this show except for the weather and the amount of cake being made. Oh, and people turning blue. It is all just too hokey for its own good, and if I do not like it now, I am not sure I ever will. It does serve as a decent transition between “Pushing Daisies” and “Dirty Sexy Money” though.

What I'm Watching: Bionic Woman

Bionic Woman: Season 1, Episode 3 "Sisterhood" (F)

“Why don’t you go hang yourself or something?” or “I’m going to go lay down on the sidewalk and die.” This dialogue is dismal. I am seriously considering watching the next episode on mute. It might be better that way. Michelle Ryan is really annoying and Miguel Ferrer has to be portraying one of the worst characters on TV right now (Paul Adelstein’s character on “Private Practice” is a close competitor). This series is taking for granted the fact that its audience enjoys action scenes and is sacrificing a true effort for good plotlines. I really should give up on it.

Round Two: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies: Season 1, Episode 2 "Dummy" (B)

This show is without question an acquired taste. I can imagine that Kristin Chenoweth bursting out the "Grease" soundtrack in the middle of the episode turned a whole lot of people off, but I for one enjoyed it. I am absolutely drawn in, but I cannot fully commit at this point to loving this show. I am a huge fan of the relationship between Ned and Chuck, but my passion for the characters is not matched by my passion for the actors portraying them. Otherwise, the colors, the fantasy, and the music is enough to keep me hooked for at least another few episodes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What I'm Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 1, Episode 11 "I Hate These People" (C-)

Was it supposed to be a surprise that Ray had a somewhat sexual history with Gregory? Or that he was going to kill himself by the end of the episode? This show makes such a big deal out of everything that I cannot tell whether it actually considers itself clever. Moore died WAY too easily. Plus no one seemed to care that he got murdered. And Katie is somehow involved in Lame Boyfriend's death? Please.

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 3 "All Mine" (C+)

The gang always get all fired up and straps on their gadget armor (fire extinguishers, extension cords, etc.) and that provides a good basis for an endearing series. This specific case involving a ridiculously jealous woman/bug controller and the man who never loved her serves as a strong argument for the case that this show can stand the test of time and not get old. There is just something missing which needs to be rectified, but I cannot put my finger on what exactly it is. And the Devil's manipulation of Sam's relationship is puzzling.

Round Two: Carpoolers

Carpoolers: Season 1, Episode 2 "Laird of the Rings" (C+)

So maybe this show is not meant to live out a long, healthy life, but I will enjoy it while it lasts. The cast is all so energetic, and though the material is not fantastic, it provides a good enough time. Fred Goss and Jerry O'Connell in particular do a great job together. Marmaduke is so unbelievably dumb but still funny. I also enjoy the rapport between Dougie and his wife.

What I'm Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 3 "Ex-File" (C-)

I truthfully cannot keep track of all of Gibbs' exes and really do not care at all. Delving too far into the team members' personal lives like this is rarely a good thing. Tony's romance from last year was fascinating, and Ziva's quick bond with the dying gut was interesting too, but the episode with McGee's sister royally sucked. "NCIS" has almost always known where to draw the line, but episodes like this really do not recommend it too much.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 9 "Release the Hounds" (B+)

What a lovely little relationship developing between the "two Mrs. Scottsons". Mary-Louise Parker is so unbelievably good this season. I particularly enjoyed her scene with Hunter Parrish (Silas) where she mocks his frequent usage of the word "like". It should be lots of fun to see Conrad and Silas develop some odd sort of bond. And oh wow is that a great rivalry between Matthew Modine and Doug!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 3 "Kindred" (C)

First question: How the hell did Sylar survive that whole being stabbed thing and, more importantly, why is Candice helping him? It does seem that it is the same shapeshifter previously played by Missy Peregrym, who is presumably unavailable due to her role on the new show "Reaper". Remember when the future Sylar mentioned than he got his shapeshifting powers from a woman named Candice? Obviously Nathan is not likely to be making a run for the presidency any time soon, but some of the events are progressing as they did according to that other future. On the Claire front, at least she is initiating some human contact and not just whining about not being normal. And hooray for Peter - he gained the trust of his Irish buddies and got some action. If only Hiro could do the same back in time.

What I'm Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 3 "Chuck Versus the Tango" (C)

"Why are these people sleeping?" Chuck asks when he says photos of murder victims. That is the big problem with this show. Nothing is serious enough. Sure it is a comedy, but the agency/spy drama could be much more compelling, and Chuck could try to take things a bit more seriously every once in a while. Morgan and Captain Awesome provide enough comic relief to keep it on the comedy side. This premise may be thinner than I initially thought unlesss Chuck starts learning some real spy tricks and the two agents assigned to him do a slightly better job of protecting him.

What I'm Watching: Prison Break

Prison Break: Season 3, Episode 4 "Good Fences" (D)

Haven't we been here before? Michael testing an ally to be sure of his trustworthiness and then having that guy get really mad at him and Michael cutting off the power to be able to plant something somewhere or other, for starters. Why does Bellick, who has previously witnessed a successful escape by Michael, keep trying to rat him out rather than just try to get on board later in the process? On the outside, I cannot believe that they killed Sara. That seems more than a bit extreme and highly unlikely to motivate Michael, who needs far more convincing than Lincoln. Sure, Michael will want to help Lincoln protect LJ, but as far as reactions to rescue attempts go, this one is a bit much. Michael says, "I feel like we are running out of time." I concur. If they do not bust out of prison by this season's presumable fall finale (end of November, based on the past two years), there may really be no hope for redemption for this show.

What I'm Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 4, Episode 2 "Smiles of a Summer Night" (C)

Okay, so Carlos is arranging to have Edie killed or something like that (which did of course happen in season one), but why does he keep getting himself in so deep? He can barely stand her yet he easily accepts her proposal due to some less than threatening blackmail. She is so obnoxiously desperate it is annoying to watch. After all the intrigue from the first season was over with, Mike is just not an interesting character. Teri Hatcher is doing a commendable job but Mike as a parent is just boring. The fighting between Bree and Katherine is already old, but at least now there will be some drama with the whole fake Dylan scandal. And Lynette forcing Gabrielle to come visit her was actually sort of mean rather than what it seemed to be attempting to do (show Gabrielle's immaturity).

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What I'm Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 4, Episode 2 "Dunder Mifflin Infinity" (A-)

There is almost too much great material here to write about. Why NBC does not extend this show to a one-hour block each week and just scrap "My Name is Earl" is a mystery to me. The Must-See TV comedy lineup would truly have returned with "30 Rock" at 8, "Scrubs" at 8:30, and the best comedy around in a one-hour format at 9. Hopefully they will take my suggestion. In the meantime, however, I am happy to praise what already exists.

First, the funny: I laughed for about five minutes straight after Michael drove his car into the lake. I could not believe he actually did it. He was, after all, relying on that technology he so detested, and look where it got him. Kelly faking a pregnancy to get Ryan to go out with her is so characteristic and funny. Creed dying his hair and trying to use hip phrases after Ryan's presentation makes him think that the old-timers are out is amazing. I am thrilled that Creed is now a full-time cast member (along with Andy and ?Darryl?). I love that Andy and Kevin are now fast friends who idolize Ryan and his new $200 haircut (okay, maybe they do not respect that part). And the confrontation between Ryan and Jan is not to be missed.

Second, the surprisingly touching: All in all, Michael is actually a great salesman. The reason he hooked up with Jan in the first place was because, after an evening of shenanigans, he subtly introduced a pitch and the client ate it up. In this episode, he remembers a former client's daughter's nut allergy. On another note, I am so glad that Jim and Pam are in the open, because their relationship is even cuter. Their whole "magic is gone" conversation and Jim saying "how dare you" when Pam kisses him in the break room are just so endearing. And everyone's favorite line, uttered after newly-made-asshole Ryan asks out Pam, "I guess he can't get any girl he wants."

I love this show.

What I'm Watching: 30 Rock (Season Premiere)

30 Rock: Season 2, Episode 1 "Seinfeld Vision" (A-)

It is always fantastic when a show takes to heart the idea that its season premieres and finales should capture the best elements of the show. Last year's pilot and finale were not among the best episodes of the show, but this season opener is just terrific. The most hilarious advertising concept ever, Seinfeld Vision, sparks uncontrollable reactions to Seinfeld's actual appearance (Kenneth cannot say a word, Tracy thinks he is something else, Jack stays up all night, and Liz imitating how he talks). Jenna's weight gain is not too intrusive on the plot, and Liz's wedding dress fiasco fits in perfectly with the odd nature of this show. I really love the repeated line "this is going to be our year". Fresh off a deserved Emmy win for Best Comedy Series, the show seems to have figured out how to best utilize its characters and create a truly hilarious show. Until next week!

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 2 "Kara" (C-)

Plain and simple, I just do not like this actress playing Supergirl. While it is sort of cool to see Clark teaching her how to hone her abilities, there is just something about here which rubs me the wrong way. I am beyond ecstatic that Michael Cassidy has been hired as the new editor of the Daily Planet (youngest editor in newspaper history, anyone?) after his hilarious stint on "Hidden Palms" this summer. That should entertain me for a while. It seems like Lois is sort of being forced into becoming an active journalist without really having any skill, simply because it amuses editor Gabriel. Lana is so not as smart as she thinks she is, and her whole plan to destroy her clone (wtf?) and fake her own death is pretty useless once Lex finds her anyway. And the preview for next week? Eeek.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Round Two: Dirty Sexy Money

Dirty Sexy Money: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Lions” (B)

These Darlings are just so extravagant that you sort of have to love them. My favorite has to be Brian, the priest who tells his illegitimate son to pretend not to be able to speak English. And Juliet, who after refusing to attend the photo shoot (with lions!), is replaced by some random girl. The fact that Nick has already put his search for his father’s killer out in the open may dampen its effect, but it will surely be interesting to see how Trip and all the rest treat him after this.

Round Two: Private Practice

Private Practice: Season 1, Episode 2 “In Which Sam Receives An Unexpected Visitor” (C+)

There is definitely some dramatic potential as far as the medical cases on this show go. The baby swap is balanced well by the grandmother poisoning her son to get him to stop drinking. I sort of like the relationship between the doctors, but they are really not reassuring at all and have an unimpressive bedside manner. Seriously, would you trust either Amy Brenneman or Paul Adelstein with any kind of medical problems?

Round Two: Bionic Woman

Bionic Woman: Season 1, Episode 2 “Paradise Lost” (D-)

I am glad to see that a new show actually has opening credits, but do they have to be so bland and paired with unfitting music that sounds like the theme from “The Practice”? That is not the worst of it, however. The writing is really, really bad, simply put. Why must everyone say Jamie’s full name every second? And quite a convincing relationship between Jamie and her sister completely mended by a simple smile. Top it off with Jamie taking a phone call from her sister which telling another girl to shut up and stay absolutely silent and a whole lot of moaning from Jamie during the lackluster fight scenes and you have a very bad show. I have decided that Michelle Ryan is not a good actress. The role may not call for much, but she is not really even a compelling superhero. The introduction of Isaiah Washington’s character makes him seem like just another shady government honcho to be added to a long list headed by the unenthusiastic duo of Miguel Ferrer and Molly Price. And just in case you did not think that the relationship between Jae and Sarah was complex and deep enough, they had sex on the floor when there was a hotel bed just a few feet away!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What I'm Watching (A Bit Late): Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 8 "The Two Mrs. Scottsons" (B+)

I am so happy that this season has delved further into the young characters. The developing relationship between Isabelle and Shane makes for one of the best scenes of the season so far, and Silas and Mary-Kate Olsen, who is infintely better than could have been expected, are having a grand old time making up names and pretending to be big-time drug dealers. The DEA agent with the burping problem is quite funny. What a whopper of an ending! After an episode of pretty much stalking the kidnapped girl from "The Silence of the Lambs", Nancy gets herself trapped in quite a vice, both literally and figuratively. A fantastic "holy s**t" moment which "Weeds" always excels in (see season one finale for one of the best satisfying cliffhangers ever). I can hardly wait for next week.

Pilot Review: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies (ABC)
Premiered October 3 at 9pm

This is one of the most highly talked-about new series. Early ads made it look remarkably similar to “Desperate Housewives,” but with a slightly more gender-neutral edge. It is certainly a fascinating series, with blinding neon colors and a great fantasy feel to it. The premise is quite intriguing, and it is executed to great effect. What is weird is that Ned profits off of his power, working in cahoots with a greedy cop, rather than doing it just for the good of everyone. I do love the saving of his childhood crush Chuck, and their romance with the kissing monkey statuettes and the simultaneously grasped hands is beyond endearing. Lee Pace was far more energetic when he was trying to talk to salt shakers on “Wonderfalls,” and while he is still likeable, it would nice to see him become just a tad more excitable. Kristen Chenoweth is a lot of fun as a waitress who really wants to get her hands on Ned. The rest of the cast, including an eternally sarcastic Chi McBride, is perfectly fine. What this show lacks is some grounding element, because it weaves between real life with murders and cops galore and this colorful fantasy world too often without determining where it really exists. The narrator, who many might find annoying, is not crucial but does not hurt the show’s flow and quality. What is certain, however, is this show has got to have the best cinematic pie shop since “Waitress.”

How will it work as a series? Oh, it should be fantastic. It will only get more interesting as the characters develop and the non-touching (but otherwise touching for viewers to see) relationship between Ned and Chuck grows over time.
How long will it last? Go ahead and check this one off for a second season renewal right now.

Pilot grade: B

What I'm Watching: Damages

Damages: Season 1, Episode 10 "Sort of Like A Family" (C-)

"Who told you to think?!!" That is going too far. I know that Patty is supposed to be Supremely Evil and Potential Ellen Killer but seriously. I wish that Ellen could have had a bit more sense than to just give Patty the extremely helpful (and very easily found out) information. Ever heard of leverage? I will commend this hour on its one very dramatic and seriously intense moment, where Frobisher was being interrogated by Patty about Gregory's death. I feel like that may have had something to do with director Timothy Busfield. Three episodes until the present catches up with the future. Will there be anything left to figure out after that (a.k.a. a second season)?

Round Two: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 2 "Charged" (C+)

I cannot seem to find anything too exciting about this show. It is somewhat fun, the characters are sympathetic and likeable, but the devil's errands seem too easily solved as well as in danger of become very repetitive. It is in a sense a week-to-week procedural which runs the risk of becoming unoriginal despite its original premise. I am willing to give it some more time.

Pilot Review: Carpoolers

Carpoolers (ABC)
Premiered October 2 at 8:30pm

Consider me officially surprised. This show was practically doomed from the start giving its thin premise and admittedly lame battle cry of "let's carpool!" I was not impressed at the very start, but the runtime of this episode has to be the quickest my opinion of a show ever changed. Despite some wacky character backgrounds, the carpoolers all prove to be generally likeable and function quite well as a team. Jerry O'Connell in particular is a ton of fun as the carefree but divorce-suffering Laird. Seeing Fred Goss is a new role just makes me miss "Sons & Daughters" even more. All I can say is that this show really grew on me, and by the end of it I really liked the characters and even laughed a few times. I hate that it is coupled with "Cavemen" because I may accidently glimpse a moment of that atrocity.

How will it work as a series? Same kind of thing each week, which may get old quickly. Or it could be genuinely funny.
How long will it last? Pairing it with "Caveman" is not a good thing. I fear that this show will follow in the lamentable footsteps of ABC's recent promising comedies, like "Crumbs", "Sons & Daughters", "The Knights of Prosperity", and "In Case of Emergency". I think it will be pulled well before it reaches thirteen episodes.

Pilot grade: B-

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pilot Review: Cavemen

Cavemen (ABC)
Premiered October 1, 2007

I cannot imagine that more than a few people will be interested in tuning in to see this commercial spin-off, and even more so, that anyone will find it remotely funny. Retooled racism jokes are painful and embarrassing to watch. They were hardly funnier in any recent Chris Rock film. People hate cavemen, sure, but their existence is society is unexplained and irrelevant to most of the stereotypes created for this species. The set-ups of all the caveman jokes are so blatant, obvious, and forced. There are even token sidekick characters: the dumb but good-hearted caveman and the pissed-off, “white-people-are-racist” caveman. What are John Heard (“The Sopranos”, “Prison Break”) and Keith from “Scrubs” doing here? Have they gone mad? Do they know that this will go on their permanent resum├ęs? This is not one of those times where I want to tune in again to give it another shot; rather, I wish I could go back in time and have never watched it at all.

How will it work as a series? How many anti-caveman jokes and storylines can you think of? Send them in to the producers; maybe they will use them!
How long will it last? Two years ago, ABC premiered a series called “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” which, after being fiercely advertised on billboards everywhere, premiered to dismal numbers and was cancelled before even a second episode could be aired. I think this show could match that record. Given the popularity of the Geico commercials, it could prove to be a ratings success, and ABC might gain the privilege of having a show more critically bashed than “According to Jim.”

Pilot grade: F-

What I'm Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 2 "Family" (C+)

This second episode improves upon the drastically poorer premiere from last week. All the Tony-Jean memories are intriguing and moving, but eventually I would expect that Jean would come back into the picture, otherwise it may become tedious. The group is working together fine now that Tony is back to his generally close-to-normal self. The case is not so enthralling, but that is simply the on-and-off nature of a crime show like this one.

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 2 "Lizards" (C)

The writers really need to zoom out of the Claire-at-school storyline and focus just a bit more on the fact that there are heroes out there and not just overly ironic lessons about evolution. Hey, at least Hiro is having fun way back in time, but that has to be the fakest and most cowardly revenge arrow-shooting I have ever seen. But it does reveal that good old Kenzei has a marvelous power of his own - a healing factor, perhaps? The Haitian is back and just as ominous as ever. The Mexican kids have a pretty bizarre power which is actually more annoying than Nikki last year. They saved the world, now it is time to pick up the pace and focus more on the compelling storyline involving Peter.

Round Two: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 2 "Chuck Versus the Helicopter" (C-)

I am saddened by how quickly the quality of this show dropped. The magic of the first episode is almost completely gone. Chuck is no longer such a loveable dweeb, but rather now a fairly useless, bumbling poor lead character. The appeal of Sarah and the sharp sarcastic nature of Casey are both far less effective than in the first installment. The plot has already become convoluted, an obvious risk given the nature of the show, but not so soon! The helicopter sequence was painfully long. I really do hope this show can rebound back to the quality of its awesome pilot.

One fantastic moment: Chuck quickly lists off some of the government secrets he knows, including "Oceanic Flight 815 was shot down by..." Great reference.

What I'm Watching: Prison Break

Prison Break: Season 3, Episode 3 "Call Waiting" (D)

This whole cell phone in prison thing is just not doing it for me. The guards having pulled out is a stretch, but this is just ridiculous. The boss gets calls and makes calls as freely as he wants, complete with a complimentary charger and someone presumably paying for his monthly plan? I was also under the impression that Panama was a decently large place. With the simplest of terribly unsubtle clues, Lincoln locates LJ and Sara remarkably quickly. A tiny bit of realism would not hurt this show. It is impressive in a bad way that this show can take two fascinating characters, T-Bag and Mahone, and turn them into entirely boring and bland wastes of space. I really hope that the "Company" moves up its timetable so that Michael will break out of Sona ASAP. I consider giving up on this show, but that is its obnoxious appeal - I cannot leave Michael stranded in prison.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Watch This Show Too: Brotherhood (Season Premiere)

Brotherhood: Season 2, Episode 1 “One Too Many Mornings 3:4-8” (B+)

This episode is commendable primarily because all its characters are all going through problematic times yet the show stays on track and does not fall with its characters. I really hope that Decko does not get killed by Michael when he finally realizes it was him who beat him up. As Michael continues to get better and Tommy and Eileen face their problems, I think that things will return to normal. And what a great end reveal that Tommy and Freddy are in fact working together! Good things are in store for this season.

What I'm Watching: Brothers & Sisters (Season Premiere)

Brothers & Sisters: Season 2, Episode 1 "Home Front" (D)

Pretty much nothing has changed since I last checked in with this show in the middle of the first season. Sally Field is as whiny and teary as ever, and the rest of the family is just shouting at each other the whole time (exemplified by the scene where Rob Lowe walks in and they are actually shouting at each other). Great actors like Balthazar Getty and Ron Rifkin (see: "Alias") have blah roles which do not match their talents. Same goes for Rachel Griffiths, but I have said that before. Honestly, it is just pretty difficult to get into these characters and really become passionate about this show. Some people have done it, sure, but I will not be one of them.

Watch This Show: Dexter (Season Premiere)

Dexter: Season 2, Episode 1 “It’s Alive!” (B+)

This terrific show returns for its second season with a great premiere that launches it in a number of new directions. Deb is beyond disturbed about Rudy, Dexter cannot bring himself to kill his victims, and Dexter’s underwater mass grave has been located. Dexter’s character always played best last season when he had a nemesis slash playmate, so hopefully he will now work hard to evade his pursuers and continue doing his work. Emmy voters, watch this show and see how good Michael C. Hall his and give him a nomination this year!