Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Life has Life...and more

NBC has given Life, about LAPD Det. Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis) restarting his career after being wrongly convicted of murder, a full-season order. I haven't had time to do the week-by-week recap of each episode I did here last year, but I'm still enjoying the show as a less relentlessly procedural alternative to some of the cop fare on CBS. If you're not familiar, the first season is out on DVD and episodes are available at IMDB and NBC's site. Oh, and Christina Hendricks of Mad Men pops up occasionally as Charlie's dad's fiance.(NY Times)

Entertainment Weekly reports that One Tree Hill, now in its sixth season, gets higher ratings than it did when it debuted. The "craziest show on TV" (and a good way to kill a couple of hours in the afternoon if you're unemployed as I was last year) has gone from being a show about high school basketball playing half brothers who hate each other to one in which those two brothers have become a bestselling novelist/baskbetball coach and a once-paralyzed dad trying to come back to hoops by playing "Slamball." But seriously - a good looking cast, product placement, and a liberal use of music have all added up to a show still on the upswing. I wrote more here last year.


Monday, November 10, 2008

"Bonfire of the Vanity" - Gossip Girl, episode 2.10

Who would have thought that Leighton Meester's best acting of the season would be done opposite.....Wallace Shawn? The distinguished American playwright pops up on GG this week as Cyrus, the new love interest of Eleanor. As Blair's eighteenth birthday looms, she's horrified to find her mother mooning over a loud hugger who isn't exactly her Upper East Side idea of a perfect stepfather. The Blair and Cyrus story was by far the highlight of a episode that veered from the melodramatic to the improbable to the sentimental and back again.

Shawn is of course an experienced character actor; his credits range from a tiny role in Woody Allen's Manhattan to The L Word and he usually plays a character much like Cyrus, and outsized personality who can veer between annoying and warmly paternal. Cyrus's "catchphrase" (as Blair puts it) is "Not enough!", which he says every time someone greets him - a handshake turns into a hug. Naked displays of emotion are so not Blair, so you can imagine how she reacts. The larger issue is of course Blair's emerging conscience, have we ever seen Blair think about other people (other than Chuck) as much as she does this week? I personally Blair at a slightly warmer temperature; she's funnier and more attractive when she's not being selfish. But it can't last. What dark clouds are on the horizon? Note to GG producers: if you're going to book Cyndi Lauper for a guest shot - HAVE HER SING!

I'm sorry, but promising young fiction writers who haven't even been published yet don;t get handed investigative assignments by New York magazine. There's a reason that Jonathan Safran Foer isn't writing about the bank bailout and Tom Friedman isn't publishing short stories - the two are very different skills. When Dan gets the chance for career advancement by writing an investigative piece on Bart Bass, how does he carry out his assignment? He goes up to Bart and asks him questions. Subtle. I didn't have much doubt about how this would end, and I was right. Thanks to Dan thinly veiled short story, Chuck and his dad are brought closer together. It remains to be seen whether the Bass detente will go beyond the occasional hockey game.

The Serena and Aaron relationship doesn't play for me at all. John Patrick Amedori is so stiff as an actor he makes Ed Westwick look expressive; more to the point; it has already been established that there's a limit to how far down Bohemia Road Serena is willing to go. Sure, she may be running of to the park in her underwear with Aaron this week but how soon will it be before Aaron's next model reignites Serena's jealousy? The only person we should care about Serena crossing class boundaries with is Mr. Humphrey, but I figure we've got a couple of more seasons before we have to come to a reckoning on that.

Dept of Unresolved Issues: Will Rufus succeed in finding Jenny (whose friendship with Agnes came to a fiery end this week) before she succeeds in filing a lawsuit for emancipation? Stay tuned.