Monday, March 31, 2008

Second Run TV: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 1, Episode 11 "Indian Summer" (B+)

Though last episode was definitely his Big Episode of the season, John Slattery continues to turn in a fine performance as the incredibly ailing Roger Sterling. It's interesting to see how the advertising people try to prop him up and then just move on when they realize he isn't doing any better. Don's promotion comes pretty quickly, and it's nice to see a character who's so pleasantly subdued and not always jumping for joy when he gets promoted, but rather taking it in and ensuring that he's getting a good deal. Betty's fantasies about the salesman are pretty intense, and this show is only getting better. Two episodes to go.

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 13 "Acid Queen" (C)

This episode is further proof that this show really has no idea where it is going or what market it is trying to reach. The inclusion of the gay demons and the "demophobia" makes so little sense and just comes off as strange. Sam's rendition of "Say goodnight, bitch" is also pretty unfortunate. Missy Peregrym is so incredible awkward, and I really do wish that Nikki Reed, the original choice to play Andi, was still playing her. She is a far better actress (see: "Thirteen" versus Peregrym's hilariously awful performance in the short-lived "life as we know it"). Seeing her in an early screening of the pilot, I can imagine that if she had continued in the role, her chemistry with Bret Harrison would have been far more effective and pleasant to watch. The ending of this episode is a bit strange, and I'm not sure what they're planning on doing with this anti-Devil business/seance. The show returns in late April on Tuesday nights.

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 15 "Veritas" (F)

Something important to remember if you're ever making a deal - make sure the other person comes through on their end of the deal BEFORE you give up your only bargaining chip. Is this how the writers plan to get rid of Lana, by writing her off the show and leaving her in pretty much a vegetable state? I personally have become tired of trying to figure out whether Lex or Lionel is the evil one, or whether they're both evil, or neither one. It has just become uninteresting at this point. Brainiac was an interesting character when he was first introduced, but now he seems to have simply become sort of trite. Bring back Oliver Queen at this point, I think! I can see how they're trying to get Lois and Jimmy together as per the Superman story, but they've diverged enough from that, shouldn't they just altogether aim for something more believable based on where they've already gone? No new episodes until late April, hopefully better ones then.

What I'm Watching: The Riches

The Riches: Season 2, Episode 2 "Friday Night Lights" (B+)

This episode serves a fine return to form for this show after a somewhat discombobulated first episode. It is at the same time fascinating and terrifying to see the majority of the Malloy family working their magic. They do work so well together but them getting caught is incredibly intense. This show manages to jump from regular, calm drama to fast-paced and frightening dangerous situations. Minnie Driver especially is really in control in her performance as Dahlia. On the other side of things, I was really hoping that Wayne would just hit Dale over the head with the shovel and leave him in the grave but I guess that would be too simple. This was very well-managed in terms of getting things back as they should with the near-excursion to Mexico and Wayne finally turning the RV around. I am excited for the next five episodes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What I'm Watching: Jericho (Series Finale?)

Jericho: Season 2, Episode 7 "Patriots and Tyrants" (B+)

This isn't a perfect episode, but some of the concepts introduced in this episode make me long for a third season more than anything. Beck's soldiers all pledge allegiance to him and prepare to rise up against Jennings & Rall, Timothy Omundson returns if only for a moment as Constantino, we get to see a tiny bit of the Constitutional Convention, and Xander Berkeley, one of my favorite TV actors, shows up as John Smith. But what really got me excited - and I mean excited - was when Jake and Hawkins barreled through that gate and were met by cries about the sovereign independent republic of Texas. That idea of the warring nations, something only touched upon before, could truly launch this show into a whole new direction, if it is given the chance. The show still knows how to thrill - like when those two Texan escorts shot down the Cheyenne planes. "How does it feel making history?" If this show ends now, which CBS has deemed it will, at least it ended on a good note. But I do hope that some cable network, maybe Sci-fi, opts to pick this show up and continue it for the devoted fans who loved this episode.

Any "Jericho" watchers out there? What did you think of the finale? Should the show get a third season? Post your thoughts!

Second Run TV: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 1, Episode 10 "Long Weekend" (B+)

The amount of infidelity even just per episode on this show is staggering. The show does manage to incorporate it all very well and always make it generic to the episode, be it Roger's heart attack while cheating with a younger model or Don's turning to Rachel for comfort after seeing Roger in that state. John Slattery may very well rack up an Emmy nomination for this episode, and it is nice to see him back in form after a poor turn on "Desperate Housewives" (I liked him best in "Jack & Bobby" a few years back, but I think this may now be his best role). Lots of other great components in this episode - "I know it's none of my business, but you could do better". This show is really shaping up to be quite a fine hour of television. Three more episodes of season one left to repeat, and luckily enough for me, season two should begin just a few weeks later.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What I'm Watching: The L Word (Season Finale)

The L Word: Season 5, Episode 12 "Loyal and True" (B)

This episode serves well as a season finale because it appropriately closes and opens a fair number of doors and plotlines on the series. Jodi is very likely out of the picture for next season, which is good news because now Bette and Tina can get back to being an out-and-open couple that most fans of the show have been rooting for a long time now. Helena's return is a welcome one, and it's always a pleasure to see Holland Taylor as Peggy Peabody. The SheBar crisis is over, and Helena can now help Kit run everything. It was terrific to see Alicia Leigh Willis' "lover Cindy" finally stand up for herself to Dawn. I feel like Shane's plotlines are just too circular, and the same thing just keeps happening over and over, but now she's alienated Jenny. The movie is done, but Adele has compromised its creative integrity by agreeing to change the ending. The last actual moment of the episode ("get the car") is a bit of a weird note to end on, but overall the episode set the next season up well. It should be a season of resolving all the loose ends, and I am personally pretty excited for it.

Season grade: B/B+

What I'm Watching: The Return of Jezebel James (Last Episode)

The Return of Jezebel James: Season 1, Episode 3 "Needles & Schlag" (D-)

Wow, this show really plummeted in its second week. The storyline is completely and entirely uninteresting. There is so little to say, except that I am certain that I am not the only one who found Parker Posey's incessant chatter and inexplicable and seemingly neverending singing gratingly annoying. This show was just one failed experiment, evidenced by the fact that CBS has already cancelled it after only two weeks on the air. This is one show I doubt that I, or anyone else for that matter, will much remember.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 12 "Unseen" (C+)

I knew the gay neighbors were too good to be true. Their presence, as demons, makes the endgame of this show all the more cloudy and vague. Instead of things coming together at this point, which creatively they should be at this point, all these new elements are being introduced. The trio moves into a new place, Sam's girl starts getting bad vibes from Sam as he gets worse ones from her, the Devil starts getting moody and insulted, and Ted becomes a major player in the show once again. It is all so jumbled, and the hunt for the soul, which is reminiscent of the first week where they suited up with the smoke detectors, is not quite exciting enough to make up for it. With some fine retooling and an eye to the far superior "Chuck", this show could well be on its way to greatness, but I wouldn't be too disappointed to see it go after next week's presumable season finale. Bret Harrison should easily be able to find yet another role on a fledgling comedy as a character named Sam.

What I'm Watching: Lost

Lost: Season 4, Episode 8 “Meet Kevin Johnson” (A-)

This episode may well provide the most answers we’re going to get for a while. While I would have liked to know Michael got himself rescued and back to New York, Michael’s estrangement from Walt makes some sense and Tom’s appearance off the island was quite a shock. The explanation of Widmore’s motives and means for faking the Oceanic wreckage seems a bit quickly-resolved, and the lack of any supernatural component to the false wreckage is both comforting (it might all make sense!) and disappointing (it might have been so much cooler) at the same time. As far as supernatural components, Michael’s inability to kill himself provides enough of that. His mission all makes sense now, but it seems to be all in jeopardy since Sayid has revealed his identity to the captain.

The coolest part of watching all this unfold is that Sayid and Ben are working together in the future off the island – which means that Sayid, always in control and the one who knows what to do in times of crisis, was wrong. Judging from all the guns floating around on the boat, there seems to be a massacre on the island. I always presumed that a number of the Oceanic 815 passengers get left behind on the island, like Locke, and not that they were all exterminated, but now I’m starting to think otherwise.

The Oceanic Six, which ABC continues to advertise as having been all revealed (though the show's creators deny that it means anything), includes Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, and one other person. Some might say Aaron, I might figure Michael, plus we know that Ben gets off, and I’m tempted to assume that both Desmond and Juliet make it off as well but don’t count due to the fact that they weren’t on the plane.

Next episode is going to be ridiculously exciting, especially because one of the minor, seemingly unimportant characters is being used in a major way. Things look primed for everyone to come together and all appear in the coming episodes as Ben’s daughter, heretofore barely seen or referenced, has given herself up to whoever it was who was shooting at the jungle-roaming crew. My guess would be that the shooters are people from the boat, but how did they get on to the island? Did Frank fly them? He seems well-intentioned and among the truly good people on the freighter. All I can say is that things are primed to explode, and April 24th is going to be an awesome day.

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 14 “Traveler” (D+)

For all its extraterrestrial notions, the “Smallville” universe seems much too small. If Clark is missing, it must be Lex – no one else could possibly be responsible. In that same sense, the Veritas group (the Teagues, Queens, Luthors, and Swanns) seems to be composed of rather usual suspects. It does all fit in well with all the “X-Files” I have been watching recently, where a council of shady men are responsible for orchestrating a massive conspiracy. As far as “Smallville” is concerned, this episode had a whole lot more potential than some of the recent installments. That said, I cannot quite comprehend why Chloe and Lana’s complex, sneaky entry into Lex’s mansion is completely sidestepped and pretty much altogether skipped. Lionel’s abduction of Clark seems misplaced and a little out of order, though I guess the letter at the beginning came from Dr. Swann’s daughter. Too bad he used Aaron Douglas from “Battlestar Galactica”, who had just a few too many anger issues to sort out. Kara’s memory is back, and all I can say is - like everything else in this episode – boy, that was easy. The most significant flaw of this episode is the introduction of a new, seemingly interesting character only to have her killed off before episode’s end to show that once again, the Luthors are evil. Michael Rosenbaum (Lex) isn’t even signed on for the next season – isn’t it time to move on to other things?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What I'm Watching: Law & Order

Law & Order: Season 18, Episode 13 "Angelgrove" (C+)

They really to do love to be on top of their politically/religiously-charged topics on this show. Sean Astin is hardly my idea of a religious fanatic, but it proves to be a slightly interesting case. This episode got me to wondering how they decide what the verdict is in each case. I wonder if that is a paying job, if maybe they would let me decide who gets off and who goes to jail on the show? Probably not. I would do it for free, of course. It all just seems so arbitrary, especially because episodes usually end a second or two after the verdict is declared.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pilot Review: Miss/Guided

Miss/Guided (ABC)
Premiered March 18 at 10:30pm

This show could have been so good, but the format they chose is so grating. It is really too bad for Judy Greer, who up until this point has been relegated to scene-stealing supporting roles. This was her big shot at a leading role, and while she is not bad, she puts too much into the role and overacts much like Amy Adams in the recent Disney film "Enchanted" (neither performance is bad, it is all just a bit much). As far as this show goes, it is not that no one cares about the adventures of a guidance counselor, but rather that what should be amusing comes off as painful and annoying. The cast, which includes an unfortunate Chris Parnell, adds little to the show. I was planning to watch episodes two and three on Thursday night, but I cannot stomach any more of this show. It has so little to offer, and coud really use some guidance itself.

How will it work as a series? So much material can definitely be milked from this loose premise, but it is sure to be thoroughly annoying every step of the way.
How long will it last? Thursdays at 8pm is a terrible timeslot for any show, and add to that the fact that this is an ABC comedy, which, with the exception of "According to Jim", is never a good sign. I think this will die a slow, pretty much unnoticed death.

Pilot grade: F

What I'm Watching: The Riches (Season Premiere)

The Riches: Season 2, Episode 1 "The Last Temptation of Wayne" (B-)

I do like this show, but this feels like a very "in-transition" episode. Eddie Izzard is an amazing actor, but the fact that they have him running around covering for everyone else this episode is a bit unfortunate. Dale needs to go right away, he is 100% dragging down the show. That cannot end well for anyone. Hugh, shockingly enough, seems to fit right in these days. His interactions with Dale are a whole lot more interesting than I might have expected. The other members of the Malloy/Rich clan are on the lam with Nina, and their aimlessness sort of translates into the show's aimlessness, and my desire for it to get back on track. Their attachment to Cherine's mother, who has no blood relation to any of them, is intriguing and a cool aspect of the show. Next week should prove more satisfying, I think.

What I'm Watching: Jericho

Jericho: Season 2, Episode 6 "Sedition" (B)

This show is sticking true to its nature, but it feels like everyone is just going for broke and acting like there's no tomorrow. That does make for an exciting show, I just wish Beck would pick a side. Cool return by Jake's mom, seeming all clueless but secretly working in cahoots with the "fugitives". Hawkins' cell phone reception is way too good, but it is cool that he had that whole fake Jennings & Rall outfit/truck all stolen and ready. I like the way the episode ended, and you better bet I'm excited for next week, the show's season (and hopefully not series) finale. Get ready to send some peanuts to CBS if they announce that they're not renewing the show.

First New TV Since the Strike: CBS Monday

How I Met Your Mother: Season 3, Episode 12 "No Tomorrow" (C-)
Two and a Half Men: Season 5, Episode 11 "Meander To Your Dander" (C)

I had been watching "Two and a Half Men" after the fact before the strike hit, but it has really decreased in quality so I figured I don't have to keep up with it religiously anymore. I cannot stomach "The Big Bang Theory" or "The New Adventures of Old Christine", but I thought I would give the other two, my only option on Monday nights right now, a shot. Everyone is so obsessed with "How I Met Your Mother", and I thought that after loving Jason Segel in the upcoming film "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", I might really like his character on the show. I have seen a few episodes since the pilot, and none of them have done much for me. Neil Patrick Harris, funny as he might be, is the most energetic part of this show and I feel like he sort of could do better (did I really just say that?). Josh Radnor, a.k.a. Ted, is really just a lazy ass badly in near of a haircut. Cobie Smulders, as Robin, might as well just not be there, and the married couple (Alyson Hannigan and Segel) are annoying and unfunny. The plot is nothing to write home about, and as a result, I have no interest in the show. "Two and a Half Men", on the other hand, used to be a lot of fun, and sort of still is, but the jokes are pretty lame and it could be so much better. Jon Cryer in particular used to impress me but now is super-irritating and always trying too hard. Angus T. Jones, for his part, is actually pretty funny. This one will have to stay relegated to occasional watching when I have nothing else to watch.

Second Run TV: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 1, Episode 9 "Shoot" (B+)

I was caught pretty off guard when Don's prospective employer informed him that his wife would no longer have a job since he said no to his. I always get scared when Pete does something clever for fear that he'll be canned immediately, but this time his risky move worked out quite well. And Don doesn't even seem to care anymore, which is good. Pete's antics with defending/insulting Peggy are interesting to watch. All the power to Betty in this episode - she goes for her dream, stands up to her therapist, and shoots the hell out of some birds.

What I'm Watching: The L Word

The L Word: Season 5, Episodes 10 & 11 "Lifecycle" & "Lunar Cycle" (B+/B)

In my haste to catch up on all my reviews, I completely forgot about last week's episode of "The L Word", so I'll mention that one quickly now. Though there really should have been a whole lot more mentions of Dana (if I were Erin Daniels, I'd be pissed!), the bike ride worked out pretty well as far as furthering the plot goes. Finally, the Bette-Tina affair is revealed, and they pulled that off pretty well. This week's episode, on the other hand, is pretty crazy. I really doubt that Adele's blackmailing would work so well and quickly, but at least her motives are out on the table. And how could Ivan sell out half of The Planet to the She Bar girls? I was quite worried about some near-death shoot-outs with Kit, but luckily, coincidence to the rescue. I hardly realized it, but next week is the season finale. The show has just been renewed for a final season of eight episodes to air sometime in early 2009. I think this show could still have a few years in it, especially since this season has proven that it can bounce back, but I guess one more year is all we're going to get.

Pilot Review: The Return of Jezebel James

The Return of Jezebel James (FOX)
Premiered March 14 at 8pm

I have never been a huge fan of Parker Posey's, but then again I saw her mostly in her commercial films rather than the art-houses roles everyone raves about so much. I was surprised to find that I actually sort of like her in this part, but I am not ready to commit quite yet. This show would be infinitely better without the laugh track. I feel like it is well-intentioned, but it misses the mark quite a bit on most occasions. The first episode is no better than the first, which is neither a bad nor a good sign. Lauren Ambrose is terrific and it makes me a bit sad everytime I see her because she can never be as good as she was on "Six Feet Under". This show is entertaining enough, and were it not buried in the middle of Friday nights, I might be inspired to continue watching it, but we'll have to see when it comes whether I tune in or not. The title, by the way, is not very good. I can see why it might be clever, but it does not do it for me.

How will it work as a series? Sitcoms rarely work when they have some set event to get to, which in this case is the birth of the baby. If they decide to cut the laugh track by episode four, it could have a shot at greatness.
How long will it last? It got crushed in a huge way during its hourlong premiere, plus FOX and live-action comedies do not exactly get along. I think episode three will be the last airing, but I would have to hope they give it a bit more of a shot.

Pilot grade: C+

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 11 "Hungry for Fame" (C)

I did not even know that this show was coming back with new episodes, but luckily an older VCR set to tape "Smallville" had not been adjusted for daylight-savings time so I was in luck and got to see this episode. While it is enjoyable enough, this episode falls pretty flat as far as plot goes. Jamie Kennedy is not an actor I ever need to see on anything, regardless of the fact that the CW is probably loyal to him since he used to have a show on the WB. On "Chuck", everyone always tells him how nice a guy he is, but on this, no one ever praises Sam for being stand-up and reliable (not Andi, of course, but the other people). That would help lighten the mood a bit. The escaped soul is actually pretty lame despite being a man-eating cannibal (on second thought, what other kind is there?). And much as Sam's new girlfriend's creepy threatening of Andi at the end is a good plot propeller, it does not fit with the already wacky mood of this show.

What I'm Watching: Lost

Lost: Season 4, Episode 7 “Ji Yeon” (B-)

Okay, so the episode itself sort of sucks, but whoa – they flashed both forward and back in the same episode! It was obvious that something was wrong when Jin seemed to be taking his time to get to the hospital and Sun waited to call him until she started going into labor, but it is such a novel idea and such an interesting one that should prove cool if ever used again on the show. Per last week’s advertisement, Sun is supposed to be #6, but does that mean Aaron is one of them? Or do Ben, or maybe Desmond or Juliet, count as one of the Oceanic Six, having somehow posed as people on the flight? Or maybe Michael, whose return is hardly a surprise. In his absence, I had forgotten how much Sayid hates him, since the last time they saw each other, Michael had just gotten everyone captured. I am unsure of the relationship between Desmond and Michael – I do not think they ever met, but next week’s episode, titled “Meet Kevin Johnson”, is sure to be awesome and hopefully provide some answers. It is an inventive way of filling in the gaps in the whole freighter story, like maybe why no one on the ship cared when one of their number just up and jumped off the ship with chains to weigh her down.

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 13 “Hero” (F)

Welcome back, “Smallville”! And welcome back Pete! I figured I should say it, since no one seemed the least bit surprised that after several years off the show, he just waltzed back in as if nothing had changed (save for some unconvincing bit about having to travel around to get jobs where he can). Pete’s presence is completely overshadowed by the horrific nonstop shameless advertising for Stride gum. Unlike say, “Pulp Fiction”, where a fake burger chain is invented for Samuel L. Jackson to rail on about, there is not even any attempt to cover up the fact that this whole episode is just an ad for Stride gum. Seriously, meteor-infected gum? Chloe even directly quotes the slogan (like when someone gave Ellen an Olive Garden gift certificate on “Damages” and said “When you’re there, you’re family”) and Pete tosses Chloe a pack and says “it’s Kryptonite free!” The e-mail program and virus computer simulations are horrendous, and all the popular music played live in this episode feels horribly out of place with all the kryptonite and everything. The last scene is the only redeeming part, but the way that it got there almost ruins it.

What I'm Watching: Law & Order

Law & Order: Season 18, Episode 12 “Submission” (C)

Finally, the episode actually titled “Submission”! Epguides.com has listed the past five or so episodes as having this title, but this is the one where it actually makes sense. This is a case where “Law & Order” uses its cast too much: if anyone has a big role in the episode, it should be Jesse L. Martin or newbie Jeremy Sisto. “Law” comes before “order” for a reason: this is primarily a crime show and not one about lawyers (you may disagree with me on this, so feel free to state your argument). That said, Linus Roache, Alana de la Garza, and Sam Waterston are hardly the people to get truly excited about if you want to have juicy, treacherous material. And Lara Flynn Boyle, you can do better than this.

What I'm Watching: Jericho

Jericho: Season 2, Episode 5 “Termination for Cause” (B)

This episode does not quite build off of last week’s high but is sort of on the right track. The loyal citizens of Jericho, and one traitor, get stuck defending the hospital from rather hostile Ravenwood guys. It is all very “Jericho”, but sending Beck out on a pointless raid seems a bit forced. I personally had forgotten all about New Bern, but it looks like they are still out there. I hope this means the return of Timothy Omundson as Constantino. I was pretty shocked that Stanley actually pulled the trigger and killed Goetz but I wish the scene had been played out more dramatically. With the exception of Jake, who has a permanent expression of shock molded on his face, no one looked the least bit surprised or troubled that Stanley had just shot someone in the head. Hawkins should really meet Sayid from “Lost”: the two of them could teach a class on not reacting to shocking events and staying perfectly calm and in charge.

Pilot Review: Canterbury's Law

Pilot Review: Canterbury’s Law

Canterbury’s Law (FOX)
Premiered March 10 at 9pm

Think of this show as the law drama only FOX could make. There is nothing glaringly bad about the show, but it also offers little suspense and a whole lot of over-dramatic speeches. Julianna Marguiles is expected to carry this show all by herself, with absolutely no support from an unenthusiastic supporting cart. Even James Woods on “Shark” has paralegals to help him sort out his cases. Marguiles’ Elizabeth Canterbury is much like George Clooney’s title character in “Michael Clayton” – everyone goes on and on about how spectacular and impressive they are at what they do, yet their strong moments really come from an accidental or coincidental realization. Canterbury swoops in at the last minute to save the day rather than planning the whole thing out, like Brenda on “The Closer”. A show which only delivers in its last ten minutes cannot survive for long. The dialogue is very pretentious, especially everything that spews out of Marguiles’ mouth, and on top of that, characters use legal terms like “friggin’” as well as hurling insults at each other like “feckless puppet”. Only on FOX could an attempt to create a new replacement for “The Practice” come off so underdeveloped (okay, maybe on the CW also).

How will it work as a series? If the supporting characters do not get more screen time, this show will tank fast. Marguiles can only sustain this show for so long.
How long will it last? This one has been panned since well before it aired, and I think its life will be pretty short. FOX, unlike The CW, does not leave shows with dismal ratings on the air for an entire season.

Pilot grade: D+

Second Run TV: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Hobo Code” (B+)

Wow! What a good episode. This show has some strong messages which in this installment it manages to convey powerfully through an effective and interesting storyline. The man hitting on the art designer and his response to that whole situation makes for a great scene. And nothing speaks louder than Don taking that picture and then walking outside, noting that he can go out with the cops right outside because no one would ever think to stop him because of who he is and how he looks. I just got excited about this show all over again.

What I'm Watching: Breaking Bad (Season Finale)

Breaking Bad: Season 1, Episode 7 “A No-Rough-Stuff Type Deal” (B+)

This show really surprised me. It came through in the end when I did not expect it to at all. Walt has become a sympathetic character despite his relatively silent and unfriendly nature. His scenes with his on-screen wife are some of the best. The show also ends at a perfect moment, which could be self-concluding but could also pave the way for a sophomore season. They have something in place, but like Nancy from “Weeds”, they have gotten in way over their heads with a boss with one hell of a temper. So, against my earlier opinion, I am now rooting for a renewal for this series.

Season grade: B

What I'm Watching: Lost

Lost: Season 4, Episode 6 “The Other Woman” (B-)

This episode is mediocre since it would have been really nice to get more information from this Juliet flashback, both about Juliet and her therapist, played by Andrea Roth from “Rescue Me”, who it would have been nice to see more of. We now know that Ben is truly evil, which is especially crazy since he gets off the island and Sayid is in cahoots with him. How does that possibly come about? I really do like Daniel but Charlotte is getting on my nerves. The character probably would have been a lot more interesting if played by the show’s original choice, Kristen Bell, who in my eyes took the better deal, choosing to star instead on “Heroes”, a poorer show but one with a far better role for her. Not much more to say about this episode, which felt sort of empty. Who cares that Juliet was having an affair with Goodwin? It is all just means to an end – Juliet’s sexual history to convey that Ben is super possessive and super-manipulative. “He’s exactly where he wants to be” – that is intense.

What I'm Watching: Law & Order

Law & Order: Season 18, Episode 11 “Betrayal” (C+)

It is somewhat of a nice change to see a client representing herself, but the outcome is blatant and obvious from the beginning: she will try to get her daughter to be on her side, but her past will come back to haunt her. A slightly redeeming moment in the end with the revelation that there was in fact no other woman, that the tapes were really about her. But rushing out of the courtroom to look at an Internet map – a bit too falsely dramatic for this show, I would say.

What I'm Watching: Jericho

Jericho: Season 2, Episode 4 “Oversight” (B+)

Just when the momentum of this show was starting to wane and it was looking for a minute like it might take a turn for the boring, one of the most shocking and brutal events yet occurs. They killed Bonnie! She really went down fighting though! I certainly did not expect Goetz and his people to burst into the house but even more surprising was Bonnie with that shotgun. One of the most intense sequences of the season that serves as a good reminder of why “Jericho” is still around. This no-holds-barred attitude of killing off main characters (though Bonnie was leaving anyway) is fantastic and refreshing to see (after shows like “Smallville”, where characters never actually die). That ending sequence was truly terrific.

What I'm Watching: Carpoolers (Season Finale)

Carpoolers: Season 1, Episode 13 “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” (D)

It amazes me that this show made it to the end of its thirteen episode order when “The Knights of Prosperity”, “Crumbs”, and “Sons and Daughters” before it were all canned much earlier by ABC. Unlike “Knights”, this show got progressively, and drastically, worse. This last episode tries for a funny, overplayed joke about a father trying to impress his daughter, and fades into the abyss of shows that no one, expect maybe me, will ever remember. Ah well, there will always be “Sons & Daughters”. If that show ever gets a DVD release, buy it right away. Don’t think twice.

Season grade: D+

Pilot Review: New Amsterdam

New Amsterdam (FOX)
Premiered March 4 at 9pm

FOX’s new drama series about an immortal cop is about what you would expect. Flashbacks to protagonist Amsterdam’s previous life surrounded by Indian healers are quite strange and feel out of place, and the sight of Amsterdam jumping down onto a horse to chase down a fugitive headed for the subway is ridiculous at best. The gimmick might work, if Amsterdam stopped at some point instead of continually mentioning the fact that he has had 609 girlfriends or that he had his last drink in 1965. There is no way people can take him seriously – they must think he is a crazy fool. Vampire Mick on the similarly-themed “Moonlight” is a lot better at concealing his identity. Amsterdam, for his part, gets far too easily frustrated while interrogating suspects. You would think after a few hundred years he would get used to dealing with liars and long-winded cases. The repetitiveness might be getting to him, since he is honestly quite an unlikable character who has few noticeable good qualities, besides of course a dogged pursuit of the bad guys. Additionally, in those hundred plus years, Amsterdam might have been better able to conceal his accent (actor Nikolaj Coster Waldau is Danish). He completely ignores his sidekick, who makes her presence known by simulating conversations with him which are predictably annoying. It seems like she is being set up to be written off quickly (like Marguerite Moreau, who left “Killer Instinct” at the end of the pilot). She may have to go, especially if she is so loud and obnoxious (this is where someone like Sarah Shahi’s character on “Life” would come in handy). The supposed introduction of Amsterdam’s true love who will make him mortal could work, and it could be interesting. The show, which is otherwise essentially a generic crime drama, prides itself on the fact that its central character has been around for a long time and that he really knows where to find anything and everything. Especially in an ever-changing place like New York City, that idea is unrealistic. Obviously this show is not supposed to be based around real-life, but a montage of Times Square photographs from 1870 to the present is not going to make viewers forget that this show is lacking.

How will it work a series? Is anyone still watching “Moonlight”? If so, they should like this one, even though Amsterdam’s immortality is never quite explained. Eventually other characters will have to realize that he is immortal.
How long will it last? I do not think this will find an audience, and should die quietly at the end of its seven-episode order, especially with FOX bringing back new installments of returning shows in the coming weeks. “Bones” seems delayed a bit too much, and could easily come back much earlier if this show fades fast.

Pilot grade: D+

What I'm Watching: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Season Finale)

The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season 1, Episodes 8 & 9 “Vick’s Chip” & “What He Beheld” (C-)

I have surprisingly little to say about this two-hour finale that promised to be shocking and thrilling. It was neither, as it turns out, which is really just disappointing, a word which perfectly sums up this show. Less happens here than did in the “Prison Break” finale a few weeks ago. I feel that there is hardly enough to sustain a second season of this show, and it really went wrong when it obsessed too much with the inclusion of the Terminators and a continual pursuit, rather than focusing more on the people who unwittingly created Skynet. I would probably watch this show if it did get renewed simply because I hope deep down that this show can get better at some point. For now, I will do well enough without it, though it leaves Mondays completely bare, at least until the return of ABC’s “Samantha Who” sometime in the near or far future.

Season grade: C-

What I'm Watching: Dirt

Dirt: Season 2, Episode 1 “Welcome to Normal” (C+)

I am by no means a regular watcher of this show, having found it terribly unimpressive in its first season, tuning in only for the season finale after giving up on it early on. Finding nothing else to watch, I decided to give the season premiere a shot. To its credit, it is better than last season, and while it has not gotten everything back together, it may be on its way (not enough to grasp my interest, however). Don’s talking-cat hallucinations seem to have subsided for the moment, and his close relationship with Lucy, as her only real friend, is being fleshed out fully now. I never bought Lucy’s attitude, which seemed to stem only from Cox’s “Friends” character Monica’s ultimate fantasy of being in control of everything. The celebrity gossip cases are not fascinating enough and Lucy’s car strikes me as being a little out of her skill set. The new hire seems far too na├»ve for the line of work he is in. Alas, all this will continue playing out but I will not be around to see it. I have far better things to do with my time, like watch “Carpoolers” (joking, sort of).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Still Alive and Kicking

With midterms and a generally busy schedule, I have criminally neglected both of my blogs. I still plan to post reviews for all the TV in the past week and will catch up quite soon. Check back in a few days for new posts. I will soon be back on my regular schedule.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Second Run TV: Mad Men

Mad Men: Season 1, Episode 7 “Red in the Face” (B-)

I find that I have little to say after each episode of this show. It is continually well done but just not captivating. That Roger really is not a nice guy – he tried to get with his co-worker’s wife at the guy’s own home, with him in the other room. The gift-returning thing did not excite me too much as a storyline, but I guess they just want to keep Pete down as a character. It may be better if I stop watching this show live at midnight and save it for a time when I am already at a disadvantage, interest-wise, because I am usually fairly tired.

What I'm Watching: Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad: Season 1, Episode 6 “Crazy Handful of Nothin’” (B-)

So Walt is pretty cool, that much is definitely true. He shaves his head to look like a skinhead, and then acts like one to pull off a truly impressive deal. He is certainly much more bad-ass than Jesse, who seems pretty much useless now with getting beat up as his only real talent. The moral debacles are back as Walt needs to figure out whether he can let an innocent janitor take the fall for him and get his life ruined. Next week is the season finale of this show, which I think could successfully re-launch itself to prepare for a second season, but I think seven episodes may be just the number for this series.

Pilot Review: Unhitched

Unhitched (FOX)
Premiered March 2 at 9:30pm

The broadcast of this first episode was delayed along with the rest of the FOX schedule by half an hour for some reason (sports, maybe?), but it is probably better that anyone who had planned to watch it missed it. From its first moment, it is unbearable and there is not a laugh to be found in its entire half hour running time. Its particular theme, which seems to center itself on a group of divorced friends, is never announced or even really implied, other than in the title. Even FOX’s misguided dramedy “The Wedding Bells” from last year was more on track with its motivations and focus. Without somewhere to go, this show is completely aimless and endlessly tedious. It is wholly predictable and even more obnoxious when things turn out exactly as expected. Dialogue like “I got raped by a monkey” and the proposal to the escort are painfully forced. The plotlines for all four of the characters are equally bad, which is impressive in a bad way. Craig Bierko, playing the lead, is too out-there and completely ungrounded in his performance. Even Rashida Jones, formerly Karen on “The Office” is given abysmal material and does not possess the skills to rise above it.

How will it work as a series? If it starts heading somewhere, maybe it could better but I highly doubt it. The characters are terrible, and there is little that can be done to get around that.
How long will it last? Well, CBS renewed “Rules of Engagement”, but FOX is never kind to its comedies (except “Til Death”, which is slightly better than this), so I think this one is a goner in a few weeks or less.

Pilot grade: F

What I'm Watching: The L Word

The L Word: Season 5, Episode 9 “Liquid Heat” (B)

This is the show’s token “blackout episode” that many shows have once throughout their lifetimes. It does still progress the story, which is good. The negotiation between SheBar and the Planet feels very much like a Western showdown, and Bette’s bizarrely formal interjection feels a bit out of place. Why was Bette wearing multiple layers while it was impossibly hot out? It was so obvious that she and Tina would get trapped in the elevator from the moment they walked into it. Their talk is good, but these two really need to work their stuff out and get on with their lives. Alice has lost all sense of being a strong human being and has become a complete pushover in the same way that Bette did when Tina starting liking men. Her character needs some serious rescuing, stat. Do you think people would believe that Dana never actually died and she could just come back on the show? I wonder how she and Tasha would get along. Speaking of dead people, I guess Papi is also gone for good since she has not once been mentioned since the finale last season. Jenny is too blatantly hypocritical when yelling at her two fornicating costars – would no one call her out on sleeping with her star? Adele kissing Nikki in the dark is creepy – what could her motivation and endgame possibly be now? That storyline really needs to be tied up quickly and neatly. Does she want to be Jenny or does she just have some bizarre desire to help her? The music here is especially appropriate, with the lyrics “everything is perfect now”. There is a LOT of sex in this episode, but everyone really is finally happy, save for all the supporting, recurring characters like Jodi who will soon get hurt.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What I'm Watching: Lost

Lost: Season 4, Episode 5 “The Constant” (B-)

This is fascinating stuff but little of it makes any sense at all. Desmond really has issues staying grounded in his own time period and always seems to be off frolicking in some future tense. His visions here are cool but they dominate the entire episode, leaving the rest of the cast (Jack and Juliet) only a minute to appear on screen. This whole “constant” thing is vastly intriguing but completely senseless. It is really cool that Penny knows about the island and wants to do something about it and help find Desmond. Sayid’s quick wiring and general ease about everything in the episode feels a bit too hokey for the usually steadfast and determined character. The ending is pretty interesting – Daniel really is one brilliant but mysterious guy. This is where “Lost” becomes even more frustrating than last season since even more questions are raised and fewer are answered. And I am sure that next week will not even feature any of these characters. Ah, well, it is still irresistible.