Monday, June 18, 2007

"I'm a little delicate after purgatory.": Meadowlands

Fire! People in masks being driven through the English countryside! A family barely escapes with their lives! Now, masks off, it is time for them to move to... the surburbs? Welcome to Meadowlands. By the way, in case you didn't pick this up from the advertising, Meadowlands is no ordinary place.

The Brogans (Danny and Evelyn, parents, and Zoe and Mark, twin siblings) arrive after the initial, unusual pre-credits flashback sequence, to their new, seemingly utopian suburban paradise, to begin life anew in the witness protection program. But very quickly we learn that not everything in Meadlowlands is as it seems, because for every carbon-copy cut-out home there seems to be a resident with a personality disorder. Almost right away we meet two of them; Evelyn, the so-friendly-she's-creepy neighborhood gossip who doubles as a lonely exhibitionalist, and Jack, the local neighborhood sex pervert who wastes no time advancing on the daughter. Or, to be more accurate, he accepts her somewhat implausible and immediate advances. The son is no slouch in the odd department either, as he constantly wears gloves, stares at his middle-aged neighbor through his window at night, and looks at people rather creepily instead of speaking, which he apparently hasn't done for four months prior to the family's arrival to their new home.

Did you catch my drift that nothing on this show is normal, yet? It will remind you in case you forget. When we're not meeting a kooky neighbor (let us not also forget the psychotic policeman, who, I'm not kidding, rips out a guy's tooth and leaves it in a pot the Brogan's have unpacked as he's meeting them for the first time, inviting himself to their welcoming party), we're given a transitional overhead shot of tract-housing which is always accompanied by what I like to call the Foreboding Sound Effect of Surburban Doom.

Okay I think you get the point now, and this is sort of the main problem with the show. It feels like the entire premise was blown on the pilot. I am usually a bigger fan of more slow-burning shows so maybe I am biased, but it seems like a slower, less forceful introduction over several episodes may have served the series more in the long run. Now that we are fully aware of how weird everything in Meadowlands is, what is left? Well, the same stuff you can get from any other show. Probably the most interesting elements to the show so far are what we are given the least of: the interpersonal drama between the family members themselves, who all appear to be capable actors (well, I am not sure about the son yet), judging on the little bit of material that was given them. The mother and father especially do their job well, and seem to have the most unresolved issues to cover later on.

I am not sure if the show actually has anything else to say at this point or if it is just going to be "The Advertures of a Slightly Dysfunctional Family in Psycho-ville." Not to say that there isn't anything left to explore. The whole town appears to be under constant video surveillance, and nobody is allowed to leave, as their are agents used to confront anyone who attempts to leave with psychological tactics convincing them to stay. There is also a "health rehabilitation center" called of all things, considering the fire imagery the show uses, "purgatory", which seems to be the town's version of fat camp. Yeah, that's right.

If I had to call it right now, I would definitely say I'm a little disappointed. But it is summer, and that's what shows that need second chances are born for! It may not be as good as other Showtime fare such as "Dexter" or "Brotherhood", but it is certainly better than "Pirate Master."

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