Tuesday, September 27, 2005

TV Tues. - And the Monkee goes to . . .

Quite an exciting week for TV junkies such as myself. Several new series started up, the bulk of the new SF/Fantasy/Horror shows have turned out to be pretty good, some of my favorites returned, and only one of the shows I watched made me want to claw out my eyes and rip off my ears to stop the torture.

Let's begin, shall we?
Let's begin, shall we?

Bones: I know Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate had some issues with the legalities of the first episode, but luckily I am pretty blissfully unaware of that stuff, so I can just bask in the fun characters. Honestly, as long as every ep contains at least one scene where one character makes a pop culture reference, and Bones responds "I don't know what that means," I'll be happy. That might have to go on my "It's always funny" list.

Gilmore Girls: Have I mentioned before how much I love this show? Because I really, really do. That's not to say that I don't get annoyed at times when the characters act too stubborn for their own good, but I can forgive them such small annoyances when they have so many scenes that make me laugh out loud, like Luke's plan to reenact the scene from one of the Godfather movies, or the discussion about how ludicrous it was that Obi-Wan got Annakin to back down because he "had the high ground." Y'know, that wasn't one of my many, many complaints about Revenge of the Sith, but now that they've mentioned it . . .

Supernatural: Was quite pleased with the second ep of the series, thought it held up the promising premise very well. The interplay between Sam and Dean (yes, I've already begun to think of them by their character names, and not by their former-characters-on-other-shows names always a good sign) is fun, and feels like a real sibling bond. Looking forward to tonight's ep, which, according to the previews, features one of my favorite Whedon-verse veterans, Amy Acker, a.k.a. Fred/Illyria on Angel. Which reminds me, this week we get to see yet another Whedon-verse vet pop up on the WB when James Marsters, a.k.a. Spike, begins a recurring role on Smallville as Brainiac.

CSI: A solid ep which set up some interesting plot threads for the rest of the season.

Criminal Minds: Yet another procedural series. While I'm a bit burned out on the genre at this point, and the whole "getting into the criminal mind and imagining their p.o.v." angle feels done to death by now, the characters and interesting overall story won me over. Will just have to see if how subsequent eps stack up.

The O.C.: Again, the over-the-top evilness of Eric Mabius's character bugged me, while the what-the-heck-is-she-planning evilness of Jeri Ryan piqued my interest. I also enjoyed the discussions of the potential ramifications for uber-geek Seth now that Ryan's not around to protect him anymore.

ER: I know a lot of the old-school fans have given up on the show, but I can't help myself. I like Ray, Abby, and Neela a lot, so this last ep focusing on their trials and tribulations during their first R2 shift kept me entertained. The stubborn Sam storyline, however, did not. I liked her character when she first started, but apparently the Luka-relationship-curse is still in effect, where whoever he becomes romantically involved with suddenly becomes annoying and/or uninteresting until the disentangle themselves from his clutches.

How I Met Your Mother: The multiple-party-throwing story was almost a bit too ludicrous for me, but on the whole, a strong second ep. NPH once again stole the show, you can tell he's relishing the chance to smash his Doogie image into the ground.

Two and a Half Men: Much better than the season premiere, although Alan's nervous babbling at the principal's office grated on my nerves. Also, this is the second week in a row with no Rose, which bodes ill for the show. Still, almost every Charlie-centric scene was great. Personally, I liked his "Stop-and-Gonuts" name.

And now, on to the premiere edition of the Golden Monkees, the Crisis of Infinite Monkeys TV Achievement Awards. The envelope, please!

Most improved second episode award:Threshold: After trying to cram way too much into the pilot, this follow up ep finds the right balance between plot and character, and doesn't fall into any glaring "Why would they do that, nobody in their right mind would do that!" situations.

Much better than I had expected award (Drama): Surface: Out of all the SF shows, this was the one I was dreading the most. Well, unless you count the touchy-feely Ghost Whisperer, which I don't. And yes, I'm judging it without seeing it, so if you have a dissenting opinion, feel free to share. But back to Surface: just about every critic I had seen had totally panned the show, so even though the concept sounded interesting, I taped it and waited till the week was almost over before dad and I sat down to watch it. To our mutual surprise, we both liked it a lot. It was definitely different from what I had expected, but in a good way. The central mystery has me hooked for the moment. I'm not sure why the critics gave it such a drubbing, maybe they had seen more eps and had a broader basis for judgment, or maybe they just didn't get into it as much as dad and I did. Which is only fair, since dad and I didn't get into one of the shows which a lot of the critics seemed to love, but more on that in a minute.

Much better than I had expected award (Sitcom): My Name is Earl: My expectations of this show was the opposite of my Surface experience. Here, the critics all loved it, but the ads did not win me over at all. However, after positive feedback from Zinger, mom and I watched it, and loved it. The white-trash characters with a faux-intellectual bent gave it a bit of a Raising Arizona vibe, which was a big plus for me.

Most disappointing new series (Drama): Invasion: First off, this was not a *horrible* show by any stretch of the imagination. But there was something about it which just didn't click with me. Part of it might have been the characters, none of which appealed to me, especially Dr. Overbearing Mother. Part of it might have been the extreme convenience of having someone figure out there were aliens in the first ep with no firm evidence, and yet still being able to nearly convince somebody else that his crackpot ideas were right. Or, it could have been some other intangible which just turned us off. Whatever the reason, I'm hoping that it can turn itself around.

Most disappointing new series (Sitcom): Out of Practice: Love the cast, has some really funny moments, but the overall structure has already grown old, and its only two episodes in. If the third ep ends with Chris Gorham getting ticked off at his family, causing them to follow him around apologizing profusely, only for him to suddenly realize that they really do care about him in their own twisted way, then I’ll have to bid the show adieu.

Most satisfying resolution to a cliffhanger: Lost: Words can't even describe how much I loved the opening sequence of the season premiere. This show is still firing on all cylinders. Was glad to hear some characters verbally acknowledge Locke's encounter with the black smoke. By far my favorite drama on TV right now.

Most horrifyingly bad returning series: Joey: I've tried to like this show, really I have. And often-times, I would succeed. It has some good points: a likeable cast, especially Jennifer Coolidge as Joey's agent (might need to ad Jennifer to my "always makes me laugh" list, she consistently cracks me up in whatever she's in), and some literally Laugh Out Loud funny jokes. Sadly, in order to enjoy the cast and the great jokes, you have to slog through the incessantly painful, predictable, moronic plotlines. This ep had some of the classic "guaranteed to make Todd see red" plot points. The two most glaring are the nephew trying to start a relationship by lying through his teeth, and miscommunication between Joey and Alex about how they really feel about each other. The latter is the more horrifying, since it's obviously setting up the will-they/won't-they storyline for at least the first half of the season.

And then there were the "even Joey can't be that dumb, can he?" moments. For me, there's a very fine line to walk when you have a character whose sole purpose is to be the token idiot. I find it a lot easier to stomach characters doing embarrassing things if they are self-absorbed, narcissistic, and in complete denial about the results of their behavior, than if the character is good-natured and earnest, which usually leave me writhing in sympathetic awkward pain. For the first type, see Gob on Arrested Development, and Michael on the U.S. version of The Office. Brief side note here: for some reason the BBC's Michael has always evoked the painful reaction in me, maybe because Ricky Gervais always seemed like he was on some level aware of what he was doing, while Steve Carrel's character obviously is not. Warren Cheswick on Ed is the prime example of the painful, awkward character moments for me; I would always tape Ed because I knew the odds were good that if the ep had a Warren storyline, I would have to fast-forward through it. I don't know if the above can accurately describe just how much I loathed the season premiere of Joey. The fact that it has some pretty stiff competition (Survivor, Smallville, The O.C.) means that I shall be cutting it loose from my viewing schedule with little regret.

Reality Show Moment of the Week: three-way tie!
1)The Apprentice: The Donald firing the cocky troublemaker and then basically telling her rival to wipe the cocky grin off her face because she had done a crappy job and had nothing to be proud about

2)Ultimate Fighter 2: The house full of mixed-martial arts fighters running around playing hide-and-go-seek to relieve their boredom

3)Survivor: Gary Hogeboom's priceless expression when he realized that someone on the other tribe knows he used to play in the NFL

Okay, that should just about do it for the Golden Monkees. Highlights for this upcoming week in TV include the return of Everwood, Smallville, Amazing Race, and the incomparable Veronica Mars. I'm not particularly happy with UPN's decision to put Veronica, one of the best new shows of last season, on against Lost, the very best new show of last season. At least UPN seems to have realized this is a silly set-up, and have committed to re-running each Veronica ep on the weekends. So, be sure to catch the new season, which will feature not only a brand spanking new season-long mystery, but also yet another Buffy/Angel vet, Charisma "Cordelia" Carpenter.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good grief...your Tivo must smoke constantly. :)

Zinger said...

It probably would, anonymous...if he actually had Tivo.

Trivia question of the day - how many VCRs does Etoad own?

Bubblegum Tate said...

Okay, only because I can, and because the EToad saw fit to mention me specifically in his post, I'm going to chime in on a few of these picks.

1. Bones: Man, if you're going to have a show about how the law and the science interact, it might be helpful to have people on the show who KNOW HOW BOTH THE LAW AND THE SCIENCE WORK. So far, I'm forced to buy into being able to tell how long people have been dead based on what bugs have been eating them and how much of them is gone. However, the legal aspects of this show are totally from outer space.

First of all, if anyone has a good reason why the FBI is involved in these murders (ep 1 and 3, I haven't watched 2 yet), I'd love to hear it. Not that the wife and I are experts on all facets of FBI jurisdiction, but none of the obvious ones seem to apply, and believe me, we put some thought into it.

Second, and this is the most glaring, if an agent of law enforcement, which Temperance most certainly is once she's involved in the investigation, invades someone's house seeking evidence it is EXACTLY the same as if the cop/special agent had done it himself! What's more, she breaks into somebody's house and SHOOTS THEM. Bottom line, her ass goes to jail for criminal assault. And the killer's house was illegally searched and any evidence was illegally seized, so its inadmissable and, since they'd already established they had no case, his ass goes scot free. In fact, his ass goes scot expensive because he's going to sue Temperance, the FBI and the Jeffersonian if possible and take a lot of their money.

And its really unfortunate that my belief suspenders are getting snapped so hard, because I really like 3/4 of the characters on this show and their interaction is really clever and fun. David Boreanaz is a cool cat kind of guy who's playing a cool cat kind of guy with a badge and gun, so he's getting that right. Temperance is funny in her inability to relate to people pre-mortem. I agree with Todd that the "I don't know what that means" moments are pretty damn hilarious every time. The asian assistant is wacky and cute and going to be the obvious sex (not romantic) interest for Booth (who wants to lay on odds on how long it takes them to hook up and how long after that it takes Temperance to realize she has feelings for Booth?). Temperance's boss at the Jeffersonian is a real hoot and I long for the day that I can impose a "I only talk to PhDs" rule. The other two assistants and Booth's boss are more or less cyphers as far as I'm concerned, but I'm enjoying everybody else so much I don't care.

I like this show, I'm watching this show, but complete inattention to detail will be frowned upon and, potentially, not tolerated.

PS - I stopped watching CSI because the three eps I watched, they half assed the science. Its a freakin' science cop show! How can they half ass the science?!? Plus, CSI guys are kept in dark rooms with microscopes and test tubes, they dont' carry guns, they don't talk to witnesses, they don't carry on investigations! JEEZ!

Lost: I only recently discovered this show thanks to the wonders of DVD. The wife and I were planning on watching it via netflix, but we loved it so much we wanted to be ready for the season premier and ran out to buy the first season set. MAN, what an amazing amount of mystery and tension and character interplay! JJ Abrams hits one out of the park again!

Incidentally, its really amusing to me to hear that the original concept for the show was essentially Melrose Place meets Gilligan's Island. They sent it to a very busy JJ to "punch it up" and JJ called back asking them what the story was. Priceless!

I don't know what I expected from the most obvious dangling plot thread from the finale, but it delivered. And it delivered without solving any mysteries and, in fact, introduced a lot more. I can unequivocally say that I am looking more forward to Lost than any other show this season, and that includes Alias even with its amazing cliff hanger finale.

My Name is Earl: I think I expect too much from Jason Lee.

It seems like everybody else is like Todd, didn't expect much and got more than they bargained for with this show. Unfortunately, seeing Jason Lee in it just caused me to set the bar too high.

Now, don't get me wrong, there were some pretty funny moments in this show. Darnell may be the funniest damn thing about the show, and it would be tough for that cat to be more understated (a haircut would be the only thing I could think of).

I liked it enough to watch it again, having watched the second ep tonight, this show seems destined to amuse me but always leave me feeling like it could be so much funnier if they'd just turn Jason Lee loose.

Okay, outside of cartoon talk which is better left to IM, that's about all the television I watch (until 24 and Alias come back on). Apparently I have to take all my opinions and concentrate them into a tiny amount of shows. Who knew?

Tate out.

Cap'n Cluck said...

SUPERNATURAL

It thouroughly confusses me that the character named Dean in this show is not played by Jared Padalecki! Seeing as how he played Dean on Gilmore Girls. He is calling his brother by his own name! Couldn't they have picked a different name for the Dean character. Especially since it is on the same network!

Cap'n Neurotic said...

It thouroughly confusses me that the character named Dean in this show is not played by Jared Padalecki!

You and me both, Cap'n Cluck, you and me both.