Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Fall Lineup

Well we are now in the fourth week for most of the new shows I am watching, so let's review them (in order of most favorite to least favorite) and see what we think.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Pros: Great writing, great characters, great directing. Great all around.
Cons: Needs to be a bit funnier. Show costs $3,000,000.00 an episode. Might get cancelled due to cost and lack of audience.

There's actually a couple of interesting points to discuss about Studio 60. For one thing you can talk about the enlarging TV universe making expensive productions like this untenable. For another, I'd like to talk about the comedic point of view (particular since Studio 60 hits us over the head again and again with the idea that these characters know what funny is). That said, I hope this show survives.


Pros: likeable Japanese and Indian Characters, genuinely interesting mystery and suspense, very creepy villain.
Cons: Many of the other characters are either jerks, whiners, or not really fleshed out yet.

Heroes is definitely holding my attention, but some of the characters more so than others - I love Super-Hiro, and the Unbreakable Cheerleader is pretty intersting, particularly with the tie in to the villain. On the other hand the Flying Whiner is whiney and the Flying Politico is annoying, The Painting Prophet and Psychic Cop barely register (but might more so in the future). In the end this is the Indian guy without superpowers show - and so far he's holding my attention. The show has already been extended to the whole season, which is a good sign.


Pros: James Woods as a duplicitous lawyer.
Cons: A lot of the rest of the cast are ciphers.

That's a pretty damn big pro. James Woods is great, and this show knows how to use him. But they need to make some of the other characters interesting, rather than as a double breasted Greek chorus, supporting the mighty Woods.

Pros: Plenty of good characters, an interesting setting.
Cons: Can't quite get the tone right.

Eureka has actually ended its first season, but why not throw it into the mix. It has a fine mix of actors, and a genuinely interesting premise. A town where the smartest people in the world work. These are TV smart people which means they are kooky and entertaining. The downside is that the two major threats to Eureka, the Artifact and the Conspiracy, are worryingly undeveloped. They won't shut up about the Artifact but it still seems more like a McGuffin than any thing real, and the Town Psychologist being a conspirator and murderess, well they haven't done much with that either. There's also a glaring disconnect between a psychologist who cooly kills one of her patients and hypnotizes another character to pump him for info and the kooky town cook who serves you whatever you want. You can be kooky or scary and paranoid but it's hard to do both. I think the show wants to be kooky, overall.


Pros: The heists are well thought out and interesting, many of the actors are interesting in a flinty sort of way, ended one episode with a Thom Yorke song.
Cons: Not many likeable characters and the ones that are likeable seem kind of stupid.

Don't underestimate the power of a good song to get me coming back, by the way, and they picked a doozy with Thom Yorkes "Black Swan."

"And it's fucked up, fucked up
And this is fucked up, fucked up
This your blind spot, blind spot
It should be obvious, but it's not."

They faded the song out before they got to these lyrics, if memory serves. But they summarize the problem with this show - we already know that these characters are screwed in a very real way. There isn't a happy ending coming. Rather, the mistakes these characters have made and are gong to make are going to keep coming back to sink them. You can trace the pattern of how a few of these mistakes are going to play out. That said it's still holding my attention, largely on some of the performances and a few of the areas of the future that they haven't dropped heavy anvils of foreshadowing on.


Pros: Mildly interesting mystery plot, good main character (lead detective).
Cons: Most other Main Actors not entertaining, they killed off the lead detective.

Vanished annoys me because it has a lot of elements right. The mystery has worked as kind of a slow burn, there's pleasing techonobabble and most of the detectives on the case are interesting. The Reporter covering it is interesting as well. When they focus on the case it is fascinating. On the other hand, the Senator who's wife is missing is very very dull, and so is most of his family. In fairness to John Allen Nelson (who plays Senator Collins), I don't know anybody who could make this character as written interesting. On the other hand John Patrick Amedori makes the Senator's son interesting, despite being dully written.

The decision to off Gale Harold is just baffling. He's a fun character and a fun actor playing him (or as fun as you can get in a show about evil masons who kidnapped a senators wife). Killing him off and bringing in another lead agent just seems like stupid. Particularly when you had laid in so much about his back story and his family. Of course it's possible that he'll be saved on the operating table and be back in a few episodes, but it sure didn't seem that way.

And that's the round up. Tune in next time when we cover politics. Maybe.

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