Update #4 on the new TV season…
So I’m pretty much caught up on all the new series.The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect and Pan Am are covered below for new series, as well as returning seasons for Fringe, Blue Bloods and Being Erica. Plus some random thoughts on other shows (shh, it’s a secret list).
But as you read on, don’t forget — SPOILER ALERT. This is your upfront warning.
I gave The Playboy Club a shot. I can probably guess what you’re thinking — Poly’s a guy, so he was probably just looking at the bunnies. Oddly enough, no. Separate from the fact that I’ve never figured out why people find those outfits attractive (kind of like a lot of women’s reactions to bad bridesmaids dresses, quite frankly), I was actually going to NOT watch it because it seemed to be just bunny outfits combined with a flashback wanna-be version of Mad Men, except with sex (or, as the advertisers saw it, SEX!). Then the trailers showed a mob connection, and it peaked my interest. Plus, it stars Eddie Cibrian — I don’t mind him in his previous CSI: Miami outings, and as a lover of Smallville (no wait, really, there’s a connection here), I can easily see him playing Clark Kent…think of him as the love child of Dean Cain and Tom Welling. Add in Amber Heard (easy on the eyes, and not playing an annoying “save me” character) and David Krumholtz from Numb3rs, and could be interesting, right? Umm, no, it’s not. I watched the first episode, saw Nick and Maureen get rid of the mob guy, and then it stopped being interesting. I lasted about 10 minutes of episode II, and then I was gone. RIP, bunnies.
Next up was Prime Suspect and by the time I saw it, I had seen lots of ads and trailers, and I really wanted to like this show. I enjoy a brash female character who takes names, kicks butt, and doesn’t take any guff from the guys all while solving crime. What I don’t enjoy is seeing a completely dysfunctional, angry, arrogant character (male or female) who basically only looks good in comparison to the other characters that are one-dimensional rejects from central casting. The show has an almost similar feel to the show Life on Mars, another UK show that was duplicated for American audiences. For those few who saw it, the show revolved around a “modern detective” dealing with neanderthal cops from 1973, knuckle-dragging chauvinists who were just as happy beating up suspects to get a confession as they were skimming from the crooks, where warranted. Not crooked, just badly bent. And it works — in a time-travel scenario where the modern detective is obviously frustrated with old-style detectives. But this show, Prime Suspect, takes place in modern times supposedly and yet have cops that would have looked stupid in 1955, let alone 1973 or 2011. No time travel, and the somewhat charming lead for Life on Mars is replaced by a character whose response to a conciliatory gesture of welcome by the worst detective is to tell him repeatedly to suck it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops, but heck, Kojak and a lollipop or two would likely improve this series. Most of the characters are all apparent dunderheads, all the male characters are 40-year throwbacks, and the only positive side is an unpleasant character whose arrogance would only be tolerable if she had flashes of brilliance, which she doesn’t. I struggled through two episodes, cuz I really wanted a strong female-lead procedural. But the writing and the character are just not there. Too bad.
As with the Playboy Club, I had doubts about Pan Am. This is the show where they flash back to the 1960s and show the making of the new airline, complete with top-notch flight attendants. Some of the portrayal is apparently true-to-life — uniforms, hiring based mostly on looks plus education (rather than looks alone), strict requirements for girdles and weight control, etc. Arguments both ways for either complete chauvinism and complete feminism, depending on your political views I suppose. Regardless, it’s boring. I don’t care who sleeps with who, why one ran away from her marriage, where any of the girls are going in their careers, etc. Margot Robbie looks a bit like Erica Durance from Smallville, and I almost thought in a couple of scenes it was her. I really had to check IMDB to be sure, although other scenes were blindingly obvious it wasn’t her. Very confusing for me, or just wishful thinking. I confess I’m not a huge fan of Christina Ricci, which was one of the reasons I had very big doubts. And nothing I saw relieved me…I made it through the pilot and 10 minutes of Episode II. Yawn.
I really like Fringe. Quirky sci-fi / fantasy without degrading into horror and shock. Big spoiler at the end of last season was Peter disappeared, vanished as if he never existed. So, this season, Peter’s “gone”, but trying to return — like a ghost or something, only visible so far to Walter. I have no idea where they’re going with this storyline, and I know Joshua Jackson was looking to leave, but I wish they would decide if he’s gone or not. The ghost storyline is ridiculous. Address it or kill it. On the positive side, the upgrading of Agent Lee on the regular universe is good, a nice foil for Olivia. Freak of the week for week 1 was a new type of shapeshifter and we met a serial killer in week 2, but neither were particularly compelling.
Blue Bloods started off with a mayoral mystery of sorts — a new mayor wants to control Frank as commissioner (same old, same old), but at least he’s an interesting mayor. But it looks like the writers are going to repeat the same premise for season 2 as they did for season 1 — Frank will fight with mayor and look all ethical and brooding; Jamie (the younger brother) will go undercover for a grand conspiracy, this time by going after organized crime after saving one of the younger members of a crime family from an OD; and Danny (the older brother) will continue to be the only apparent detective working homicide each week. Okay for a start, let’s see where the season goes.
I am really not sure what to say about Being Erica. I love the premise of this show — time travel to your past to correct mistakes and/or learn from your past. Great premise, kind of a Quantum Leap for psychology majors. And the lead actress, Erin Karpluk, is pretty dang good. Yet, there’s a twist in the show as we enter season 4. For quick recap, Season 1 was all about finding her groove with old flame; Season 2 was about really making progress and meeting someone else in therapy; and Season 3 was about progressing from individual therapy to group therapy and finding a real romance with possibilities of a future together. I was disappointed in Season 3 that we didn’t see more trips with the other patients. I know it is about “Being Erica” but it would have been cool to see her living in another’s times, not knowing what is about to happen. For Season 4, I have to first confess that my brain is on crack — I “remember” the end of Season 3 when it first premiered … you see a hand reach out to tap Erica on the shoulder as her new patient (cuz Season 4 is about Erica becoming a doctor-in-training herself), and that hand is male with a long sleeve and a glove. Note too that Erica’s clothes have changed from when she was in the office two seconds before. Yet my memory of the first showing was of same clothes, but a female hand with black lace for sleeves. Anyway, the new season premiered and I’ve seen the first two episodes — the first gave her a patient in the form of her sister’s soon-to-be-ex-husband (Josh, who was in previous episodes, has crush on Erica) and at the end of the second episode, you find out that her new patient is (SPOILER!) going to be Julianne. Now, I’m seriously confused.
The rules are pretty clear in this time-travel therapy world — you can’t tell anyone what you’re doing. Plus you have to be all ethical, can’t change the world for others (like saving Erica’s brother from an early death or going into the future to see what’s what with Kai and Erica). But apparently it’s okay to have someone as a patient who has a crush on you and another who is a good friend plus your business partner. And you’ll have to tell both you have magical powers to send them back in time. Okaaaaaaaaaaaay. Let me spin this as best I can — Erica is learning how to use her new found inner strength as a person to help and influence others in emotional turmoil? Rather than them actually becoming patients like she is with Dr. Tom, she’ll help them in a conventional sense? Confusing! Plus I really really really don’t care what’s wrong with their new assistant Rachel, but maybe I’m just being petty. I love this show, I really do, but I’m starting not to like it very much. Sounds like a perfect plot for an episode actually, falling out of like with those you love? My wife doesn’t watch much TV, but this is one show we share — and yet we can’t watch it together anymore … I will be reaching for the remote to fast forward to the solution way too often, me thinks.
Some quick updates on other shows:
- Still loving Suits, now with Harvard records hacked to fake his graduation;
- Lost Girl is back to freaky-fae-of-the-week, but introduced some back history for Dyson, just wish they would upgrade Lauren’s past and get her out of damsel/human-in-distress mode;
- Covert Affairs seems to have lost their travel budget, and are spending all their time at home;
- Secret Circle is getting a little too 90210ish, but at least they’re still killing off guest characters;
- Against the Wall still delivering decent procedural love;
- Ringer is growing on me still more, not sure where Buffy learned to act recently;
- HIMY Mother had a great Robyn episode, really not sure where they’re going this season for Barney / Ted / Robyn, although we know Ted and Robyn can’t end up together;
- Castle had a fun super-hero episode, just didn’t go into the campy side enough, probably cuz of copyrights on the Marvel and DC universes;
- Hawaii Five-O was okay, saw wonderful ripping rant against show on someone else’s site recently, but what I really want to know is if anyone is fooled by the Kono-going-bad storyline as opposed to this is her going undercover to get corrupt cops on behalf of IA to prove she’s a good guy?;
- NCIS showed us Timmy’s grandma, and it’s Lily Tomlin (!), which was cool, but didn’t use her enough;
- NCIS: LA mixed up the teams a bit, which was a bit interesting, but ultimately went nowhere, thank the heavens that Hety is back and the whole mystery with Hunter is gone — but now Hety is sharing everything she knows with Callan about his past? Wait, no, we still need more mystery there!;
- Unforgettable continues to surprise me — yay Poppy!;
- Revenge continues to be vengeful, although I had hoped it would be more long-term strategy than who she destroys week by week;
- I think I’ve given up on L&O: SVU — sure, we got two new characters, including Scotty from Cold Case, but somebody really needs to do something with Benson, she’s starting to grate;
- Big Bang Theory focused a date for Amy and Leonard that was hilarious;
- Person of Interest focused on a supposedly dead girl but mostly showed us some back story on the computer maker;
- The Mentalist confirmed Red John is not the guy Jane shot last season, and had great sub-story about sabotaging Lisbon’s temporary replacement; and,
- Nikita had a great little story about brainwashing assassins with remote triggers.
I’ll update on four more premieres at the end of October, but other than that, see you around the boob tube.
|A||Covert Affairs||Returning||Ben Mercer’s plot is dormant, good to see Annie finding home roots and figuring out her life. Wicked line this past week by adulterous journalist to Joan.|
|A||Suits||New||Love the new show, with premise being brilliant Good-Will-Hunting-like student who never went to law school being hired by high-end lawyer as fake associate.|
|A||The Secret Circle||New||Pitch-perfect focus on the “magic”, and so long as writing doesn’t turn it into Magic 90210, should be good for at least a season or two.|
|A||NCIS||Returning||Thought it was getting a bit long-in-the-tooth, but opening premiere was first-rate. Count me in.|
|A||Castle||Returning||Not a great premiere, but reboots / resets the drama of last season and a return to focusing (perhaps) on procedural episodes.|
|A||Big Bang Theory||Returning||Cliffhanger of Penny sleeping with Raj was addressed, Penny threatens to leave for Nebraska, and then got an acting gig for the first time.|
|A||Person of Interest||New||Good vibe, but suspect it won’t attract enough viewers very fast. Not fantasy enough for the Fringe-crowd, not mainstream enough for the L&O crowd, not action enough for the remaining groups.|
|A||Against the Wall||New||Chicago policewoman makes detective but only jobs available are in Internal Affairs, which doesn’t sit well with rest of her cop family. Has a “Cold Case” feel to it.|
|B||Lost Girl||Returning||I like the new politically active “Ash” but the soap opera of Bo and Dyson is thin.|
|B||NCIS: LA||Returning||Opening spent way too much time navel-gazing at Callan’s past, time to get back to procedural focus.|
|B||Hawaii Five-O||Returning||Confused return, couple of good additions to cast, we’ll see if they give them anything to do.|
|B||Revenge||New||Decent acting by lead, okay support, and writing intriguing but showing season finale first was odd choice.|
|B||The Mentalist||Returning||Okay premiere, too many obvious pieces though.|
|B||Blue Bloods||Returning||Following same formula as first season — ethical brooding, criminal conspiracy, and weekly procedural.|
|B||Being Erica||Returning||Love the show, but not sure I like the inconsistencies in the premise anymore.|
|C||The Ringer||New||Don’t care for Gellar’s acting, but I like the character. No idea whether the writing will hold my interest.|
|C||How I Met Your Mother||Returning||Nothing earth-shattering in first two episodes, starting to feel tired.|
|C||Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit||Returning||Okay episode, nothing resolved for Olivia yet, and introduced new character to replace her. Wait and see.|
|C||Nikita||Returning||Nice to see the writers mixing it up, changing the base structure, and altering alliances. Could be interesting, as long as it doesn’t become Rambo Part 12.|
|C||Fringe||Returning||Need to resolve the Peter storyline, one way or another, and move on.|
|D||Warehouse 13||Returning||Too campy for my tastes.|
|D||Franklin & Bash||New||Too much suspension of disbelief for smart-alecky rather than smart writing.|
|D||Alphas||New||Just not coming together — is it a show about mutants or a show about mutant terrorists? The characters need more backstory.|
|D||Whitney||New||Not super-funny comedy, although some funny lines. Maybe another episode or two to see if they can make it an ensemble show.|
|D||The Playboy Club||New||Okay acting by Cibrian and Heard, but just not enough story to hook me.|
|D||Pan Am||New||Christina Ricci should have been enough to scare me away, but I gave it a shot. Not horrible, but nothing to keep my interest either.|
|F||Prime Suspect||New||American remake of UK series, and they should have stolen the writers too apparently. Characters are thin, writing is obvious and boring, dialogue is lousy, and, oh yeah, not great acting by anyone except Mario Bello. Yawn.|
|F||Charlie’s Angels||New||Yo’ Barrymore, the 80s called and they want their show back.|
|?||Once Upon A Time||New||October 23|
|?||Allen Gregory||New||October 30|
Other mid-season shows to come: Alcatraz, The Finder, Republic of Doyle, Merlin, The Frame, The 2-2, Missing, The River, Touch, Awake, and The Firm.
|A||The Glades||Season completed||Nice ending, no cliffhanger, good but somewhat obvious mystery in last episode. And all ends well for Callie and Jim.|
|B||In Plain Sight||Season completed||Cliff-hanger ending (ooh, the baby is coming!) but liked the twist that the wedding didn’t happen.|
|B||Torchwood: Miracle Day||Mini-series|
|Decent storyline, but should have been a lot shorter or tighter. Ending was worth it, but took a long time to get there.|
|C||Rookie Blue||Season completed||Too much soap opera, not enough police work.|