Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"We are not special! We are Japanese!": Gleanage


I've been malaise-y lately. Not sure why, but it's time to make this go again. Fortunately, tonight was an oddly quiet night of television, so I could catch up. Plus, there wasn't THAT much to watch over the weekend.

So. In short order.

In what's becoming a weekly theme, I really liked bits and pieces of The Simpsons, but I felt it didn't really hang together as a whole episode. I liked the old, practically abandoned mall. I liked Bart and Lisa's antics. I liked the main idea of Marge becoming a handywoman, even if it fell apart when Springfield expressed a preference for 1950s-esque gender roles that was a little silly and hard to believe (I know. . .it's a cartoon). And, as always, the action denouement was just dumb -- even if it WAS set on a roller coaster (and, of course, roller coasters are inherently awesome). I think it's indicative of what's wrong with the show that I had to sit and think for a good long while before remembering that the side plot with Bart and Lisa tracking their too-fat cat to discover it had adopted another family was from ANOTHER episode of the show that I had watched that evening in syndication.

I don't know that I'll pick up Desperate Housewives again, but the premiere was better than anything in season two, if not quite living up to the promise of the first four or so episodes of season one. The annoying voiceovers are still the worst on television (and why, exactly, is Mary Alice still watching over her friends after she essentially assuaged her guilt over her mystery, the basis for season one?), and Teri Hatcher is still one of the most cringe-worthy actresses in primetime, but the other three women all have interesting storylines and the show has once again figured out how to write Bree (probably helped by assigning all of the Bree writing to Frasier alum Joe Keenan). Granted, there's not a lot else on Sundays, but I like having a stretch of days with nothing much on, so I don't know if I'll stick with this, but I'm not surprised that it's working for the longtime fans who tuned out last season.

A brief summation of Brothers & Sisters:

"Hello, gay brother! How are you?"

"I am good, working mom sister. Did you know that our mother is played by Sally Field, two-time Oscar winner?"

"I did know that. Did you know that our sister is played by Ally McBeal?"

"I, Ally McBeal, am a conservative in a family of liberals. Politics!"

"Politics!"

"POLITICS!"

Seriously, though, this so isn't the show for me, though I'll stick with it through the first few Greg Berlanti episodes, as I so loved his last creation, Everwood. Libby seemed to enjoy bits of it while openly scoffing other parts, which seems like a fairly astute response to the show, which had about fifty different creative teams' fingerprints all over it (and that's only a slight exaggeration). Jon Robert Baitz may be the next playwright to transfer his sensibility over to television, but you wouldn't know it from this hamfisted hour, which tried too hard to do too many things. Still, there was promise here (namely from the amazing cast), so I'll stick with it until Berlanti shows up.

I hardly paid attention to a mostly filler Prison Break, which saw T-Bag turn on his dubious charms so that his pals could. . .dig up a woman's garage in a search for $5 million. The show is rapidly becoming expendable for me, and I may ditch it if I need the free time. It's not that the show is exceptionally worse than season one; it's that season two has really cast the show's weaknesses in sharp relief. As a part of Michael's wacky scheme, the cons were all interesting enough, but when they're asked to carry their own stories, they just can't do it. I realize it's unrealistic to have everyone stick together, but the show only seems to work when the ensemble can be an ensemble, so the stronger players can boost the weaker ones. Which isn't happening. But next week will have the most! twists! yet! before the show goes on a baseball hiatus. Let's hope it can get me interested again.

I really don't know what to make of Heroes. I like a lot of it and find a lot of it quite laughable. The plotting is alternately droopy and lightning-quick, while the characters are a mixed bag of genre archetypes (and not in a good way like Lost). The series is also too pretentious and dreary by half.

I'm not one of those people who believes that comic book movies or TV shows have to be campy fun, but if they're going to take on the more "adult" tone of the modern graphic novel, these shows should be prepared to go all the way. Heroes is a frustrating amalgam of the two. And, honestly, even the serious comic titles (and, to tell you the truth, I'm not the most knowledgeable about this) out there blend their dire, adult situations with some well-placed one-liners. Heroes isn't quite there yet.

But, seriously, this is the kind of show I'll watch all season, even if it sucks. The plot twists, while not exactly surprising, are genuine twists, as opposed to what was exactly expected. And the cast is game. Plus, the Japanese space and time-bender and the indestructible cheerleader are enough for me. It's not going to be the next Lost, but maybe it can be a slight improvement on Prison Break.

Finally, Studio 60.

I've somehow become known online as a hater of the show (even on those laffy-taffy TWOP boards), and, honestly, I'm not. I still like more about the show than I dislike, but the flaws about it are more apparent than any other Aaron Sorkin show. Maybe I'm just older or maybe Sorkin has a limited bag of tricks (or maybe both), but I can see this growing tired sooner than his other shows.

Still, episode two was great until the last five minutes when we saw the prayer circle scene (which was condescending AND stupidly written) and THEN what would surely have gone down in history as the worst sketch ever written (Gilbert & Sullivan? That's what America's calling out for?). I can handle that this takes place in its own Sorkin-verse, but when he blatantly takes us out of it to indulge his own whims, that hurts the show. If the crowd had mostly been baffled by it, it would have made the scene great, but the crowd LOVED it. Ugh.

Still. . .that Matthew Perry needs about 15 Emmys.

And, finally, a much more successful dramedy, How I Met Your Mother. I don't know why, but this show fills me with the sort of joy I haven't felt since Gilmore Girls in its heyday. And, to be honest, the show still has its flaws. I think I mostly like that the characters are so sharply, specifically defined, especially in a genre full of stereotypes. These are both easily recognizable types and very specific people, and I like that. I also like that the show isn't afraid to go for a long stretch without any easy punchlines. The actors occasionally try too hard to sell some of the lesser jokes, but the writing captures the rhythms of real conversation when it's on its game, and I like that too. And I like the drama.

*dreamy sigh*

I may have to make David review this because I'm clearly unable to view it with a clear head.

The magic of TiVo meant that Family Guy came last. And, honestly, they're the LAST animated show to make fun of Wal-Mart. So I hope they didn't think this was fresh. This is another show I'm rapidly growing disenchanted with, as even the '80s callbacks are getting more predictable (a letter from the electric company leads into the opening sequence from The Electric Company? Is there ANYone who didn't see that coming?). Ah well. Watching less TV is good for you, I've heard.

Help Me Help You shows a bit of promise, and Ted Danson is a consummate pro, but the characters mostly feel ripped off from Arrested Development and The Bob Newhart Show. Still, I could see this catching on with a small cult.

Not so with Runaway, which is probably the slowest-plotted of the new serials. Who wants to untangle another conspiracy? Not me! And, honestly, if The CW didn't like the ratings Everwood got, why did they greenlight Everwood Has a Kid with The Fugitive?

Thoughts on the Gilmores momentarily.

It's good to be back.

1 comment:

David Sims said...

I'm just as dreamy about How I Met Your Mother. Seriously, it's exactly the same. With GG season 7 likely to pale in comparison, I think it'll become my new FAVORITE SHOW.