Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer Pilots Galore

Summer always brings a number of new shows, the majority of which don't make it anywhere close to a renewal. This year should be no different, as the first three big scripted series of the season start up. They're all quite bad. Not that I'd expect much more, though summer has provided some memorable series, such as FOX's "The Inside" and last year's so-bad-it's-good CW "O.C." clone "Hidden Palms".

The first new show of this summer is "In Plain Sight". Its quality is especially disappointing for me because I was so looking forward to it. There's no reason it had to be this bad. I know that Mary McCormack can act well, and I wish that her character bore more similarity to her "West Wing" persona, as I'd think it would work a lot better for this show. I've been accused in the past of finding characters too often "unlikeable", and while that's certainly true here, her character just doesn't work. She tries desperately to be snappy and witty all the time but fails miserably. The show takes a similar route, making every single mistake in the book. Lead character Mary is burdened with an excessively lame sidekick who's both slimy and ineffective at the same time. Her boss spends far more time trying to decide what kind of gift to get for Mary than actually doing his job. It's supposed to be funny, I gather, but it's not. The Russian girl who wants the breast implants isn't terribly interesting, especially as an opening case. Just in case you didn't believe that the couple in Witness Protection was linked to the mob, they cast two recurring cast members from "The Sopranos" (Mikey Palmice and Charmaine Bucco). Not that I have a problem with typecasting, but it seems like too much. The show isn't nearly funny or dramatic enough to merit going back for another look. I had planned to watch the show's second installment to see if it might get a bit better (and because the guest stars this time were Wendell Pierce and Alfre Woodard), but didn't get around to it. This show may make it to a second season only because of the network it's on and the success of other USA summer shows ("Burn Notice", "Monk", "Psych"). It also did incredibly well in the ratings.

The next new show can't exactly be called "big" and, more significantly, I don't know if it can be called "new". "Charlie Jade" premiered on SciFi channel on June 6, 2008. It's definitely a British import, but I don't think it's a remake, and may instead just be re-aired, similar to "Extras" on HBO. The show isn't worth doing that much research. It's instantly unbearable, which is a difficult thing for a show to manage to do. Its lead, Jeffrey Pierce, is most reminiscent of Alex O'Loughlin's main character on the recently-canceled vampire drama "Moonlight" - except he isn't a vampire. There's actually very little that's special about him, save for some hallucinogenic visions he has every once in a while. It looks like "Sin City" and jumps back and forth between three parallel universes in an incoherent, rushed manner. The universes are converging for some reason, with constantly shifting color schemes and everything. The opening line of the show, following some soundless transference of watermelons between the universes, is "Our balls are bigger than your balls". Don't waste any time even thinking about this show. I've already written too much about it.

The third show was far more interesting than the other two, but I can't help feeling it's trying WAY too hard to offer a smothering excess of sexuality on a network that doesn't really allow it. If you haven't guessed yet, the show I'm referring to is CBS's "Swingtown". The premise is highly amusing, and the costumes and settings are impressive. It bears a striking resemblance in the way it plays itself out to NBC's short-lived summer offering "Windfall" from a few years back, also starring Lana Parilla. A large ensemble with no clear main character all get detailed plotlines and everything plays out in a very corny way that doesn't seem believable. I don't know if it's supposed to, though, and it might work. The main swinger couple is pretty outlandish and it's fun how they try to corrupt everyone. I was very impressed with the acting by Molly Parker as the redhead who's excited by the prospect of all this sleeping around. I'm not sure I can take this show on a week-to-week basis, but I have the second episode taped and might get around to watching it.

In Plain Sight: F
Charlie Jade: F
Swingtown: C

Season recap of "Battlestar Galactica" and Emmy predictions to come soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where's your review of "Fear Itself"? And see all three episodes so far, the first two are okay, but the third is excellent. Fun show!