Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's a "What-I-Watched" Wednesday

Okay, between computer mishaps and $*%#& allergies, I've fallen behind on my Film and TV reviews, so I figured I'd just do one mega-post to get caught up. Enjoy

MOVIES

The Wild: Sub-par animated film about a group of zoo animals who wind up traveling to the jungle to rescue a runaway lion cub. This one might appeal to the little ones, but it doesn’t hold a quarter of the wit and humor necessary to maintain an adult’s interest. A couple of chuckle-worthy lines (I have a feeling PigPen will be quoting “That proves it, my mother must have drank pool water” line for a while) and a nice bit with the chameleons, but this is pretty much a misfire on all levels.

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: Latest installment in the car racing series which apparently has next to nothing to do with either of the first two, neither of which I’ve seen. This time around we have a troublemaking speed freak who gets shipped off to live with his estranged dad in Tokyo and then gets involved with the world of underground drift racing. Not a great film, but not as bad as I thought it might be. The script, while predictable, wasn’t cringe-worthy; the acting was passable, and a couple of the actors were actually likeable; and, of course, there were lots of cool car racing scenes. All in all, not bad for a mindless piece of escapism.

Stick It: Enjoyable enough comedy about a rebellious teen who is forced to re-enter the world of gymnastics or be shipped off to military school. Fairly predictable, but I didn't watch it expecting a complex, layered work of thought-provoking cinema. No, I watched it expecting some funny one-lines and some entertaining gymnastics, and that's what I got.

The Proposition: Australian Western about a former outlaw (Guy Pearce) who is blackmailed by a driven lawman (Ray Winstone) into hunting down his older brother in order to save his younger brother’s life. An interesting film that splits its time equally between Pearce’s quest for his brother and Winstone’s struggle to maintain order in his command and at home with his sheltered wife (Emily Watson). A word of warning: some the accents are really thick; I had to turn the subtitles on pretty early to catch most of Pearce’s dialogue. Also has a nice cameo by John Hurt as a drunken bounty hunter who waxes philosophic on Darwin and Origin of the Species.

Lonesome Jim: Off-beat indie about a depressed young man (Casey Affleck) whose return to his home town sets into motion a chain of events that throws his family’s lives into chaos. At times slow-moving, Jim’s biggest problem is that the titular character isn’t really all that likeable; when the single mom romantic interest (Liv Tyler) keeps pursuing him, all I could think was “Why?” But, while Jim might not have been an easy character to identify with, the film maintained my interest thanks to its dark sense of humor and the hilarious performance of Mary Kay Place as Jim’s bubbly and clueless mom. This one’s not for everyone, but fans of the off-beat might like it.

Gojira/Godzilla: The first DVD release of the original, uncut Godzilla film, along with the original American cut, now with more Raymond Burr action! Both versions of the film were quite a change for me, considering that I grew up watching the later, kiddie friendly version of Godzilla . . . you know, the one that acts more like an overgrown radioactive professional wrestler and less like the physical embodiment of the horror and destructive power of atomic weapons. Watching Gojira reminded me of my experience watching the original King Kong in that the monster was actually much more monstrous than I expected, with actual on-screen deaths and not just random property destruction. Despite some goofy looking shots of puppet-headed Godzilla, Gojira holds up fairly well, both in terms of story and in special effects. The American version, not so much; Burr’s insertion into the film is so obtrusive that it was difficult to suspend disbelief.

TV

In deference to Cap’n Cluck, this week I shall be arranging my viewage according to what day each show airs. Also, all new shows (as in "new this season") will be underlined.

**MONDAY**

The Class (CBS 7:00): This episode felt like a slight improvement over the first, and I have to wonder just how much of that improvement was the show finding its rhythm, and how much was the fact that the oddball sister had only a single line. I’m still not happy with the adulterous subplot, and not because of any moral grounds; I just find the characters bland. Still, the fact that the show will soon be adding long-time favorite Sara Gilbert to the show in a very Darlene Connor type of role makes it much more likely for me to keep watching.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): Excellent episode just for Barney’s sheer jackassery alone; Lilly's twin-move at the end was just icing on the cake.

Heroes (NBC 8:00): New series about a group of people who suddenly discover that they’ve developed superhuman abilities. As you can imagine, the concept just screams Cap’n Neurotic, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the debut. How does it hold up to my expectations? Fairly well, all told. I did find the introductory text to be a tad heavy-handed, and the special effects during the climax of Milo Ventimiglia’s rooftop dive were a bit shoddy. On the other hand, it has a great cast, and I’m intrigued by several of the storylines, particularly the indestructible cheerleader and the mysterious mirror image of Ali Larter. And the breakout character has to be the enthusiastic teleporter Hiro, and I’m not just saying that because he gets his time travel theories from the Days of Future Past storyline in X-Men. I’m curious about where it’s all headed, and as of now am in for the long-haul.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC 9:00): Love this show. Love, love, love, love this show. Watched it twice, laughed just as hard both times. This episode felt much more West Wingish than the premiere, which, considering how much I loved WW is not a bad thing at all. I don’t know if the execution of the musical number quite lived up to the buildup, but that’s a small quibble in the episode that introduced us to The Clock. Lots of familiar faces in the writers’ room, wonder how many of them are around for the long haul.

Taped but haven't watched: Prison Break (Fox 7:00)

**TUESDAY**

Gilmore Girls (CW 7:00): There was a lot of concern heading into the season about the quality of the show following the departure of Team Palladino. After watching last night’s premiere, those concerns have been laid to rest. The writers have captured the cadence of the characters wonderfully, and few things have given me as much joy as watching Paris doing screening for her SAT Prep course. The only thing that bothered me about the ep was something that was really out of the control of the creative staff, as they merely had to deal with the fallout from the season finale. The scene where Luke made his plea to Lorelei definitely tugged at my heart-strings. I’m interested to see how long before the two of them manage to work through everything.

Help Me Help You (ABC 8:30): New sitcom starring Ted Danson as a blowhard psychiatrist who tries to fix other people's lives while his own is falling apart. And while that description sounds terribly generic, I will state for the record that this is my favorite new sitcom of the season by leaps and bounds. Dark, sarcastic, witty, well-written single-camera show filled with interesting characters . . . which means that, since it's on ABC, it will quickly get cancelled. Still, while it's on, I encourage you to give it a shot; at least one or two of you won't be disappointed.

Smith (CBS 9:00): Promising new series about a group of international thieves led by Ray Liota. Have only seen the first episode, so I’m not sure if the series will be all about the heist-of-the-week or if it will focus more on the gang as the authorities search for them. Biggest revelation in the first ep for me was Amy Smart, who played a role so far gone from what I’ve seen from her before it blew me away; who knew she could play a hard-as-nails femme fatale?

Eureka (SciFi 8:00): Last week’s episode where people in the town lost all their inhibitions was one of the best so far. I’m hoping that the show gets picked up for another season.

Premieres next week: Veronica Mars (CW 8:00), Friday Night Lights (NBC 7:00)

**WEDNESDAY**

Bones (Fox 7:00): Glad that Bones and her new boss are still getting along; the fractiousness would have driven me away from an otherwise enjoyable show before too long. My favorite part of last week’s episode was the reminder of Hodgins’ paranoiac tendencies during his Illuminati rant.

Kidnapped (NBC 9:00): I meant to re-watch the series premiere last week to refresh my memory from when I saw it on DVD, but time constraints made that a bit troublesome. But while I didn’t watch it, I thought I’d reiterate how much I enjoyed it, and urge everyone to tune in to the new episode tonight.

Premieres next week: Lost!!!!!!!! (ABC 8:00), The Nine (ABC 9:00)

Taped, haven't watched: Jericho (CBS 7:00)

**THURSDAY **

My Name is Earl (NBC 7:00): Have I mentioned recently how badly Jaime Pressley was robbed at the Emmys? Last week’s episode served as a reminder of how egregious a snub that was.

The Office (NBC 7:30): So many great things in this episode, most of them revolving around Jim and Pam adapting to the absence of their usual partner in crime, from the reactions of Jim’s new co-workers to his antics to Ryan’s reactions to Pam’s looks and giggles. But nothing else beat the whole gaydar bit.

Survivor (CBS 7:00): Two weeks in, and I haven’t disagreed with an elimination yet. I did, however, find the throwing of the immunity challenge to be not only of questionable strategic value, but also really, really obvious. Was surprised Jeff didn’t call them on it. Of course, he was probably too surprised by the whole “it’s love at first sight” revelation to go back to actual game-play questions.

ER (NBC 8:00): The resolution to the world’s most melodramatic season finale of all time was not quite as melodramatic as its genesis, but it was close. Hated the whole rape aspect of Sam’s situation; I suppose the writers thought it was necessary to justify her pulling the trigger, but it made me horribly uncomfortable.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC 8:00): One of the things I love about this show is how well it manages to shift from drama to comedy and back again without losing focus. Callie’s speech about why the doctors are all socially backwards was the high point of the episode for me; I hope Sarah Ramirez is here to stay.

Six Degrees (ABC 9:00): New series predicated on the idea that a group of random strangers are all connected to each other by a string of chance meetings and coincidences. A strong cast plus some interesting twists has me willing to give this show a shot, but I do question exactly how long they can keep the mystery up without it getting tiresome.

CSI (CBS 8:00): I only watched the season premiere because The A.C. had mentioned how much he disliked the ending; after watching it I totally concur. If the rape on ER made me feel hate, the rape of Catherine made me feel hate, disgust, disbelief, and tons of other negative emotions.

Shark (CBS 9:00): So-so new drama about a high powered defense attorney who switches to the prosecution after one of his former clients kills someone. Woods does tolerably well with what little he’s been given; I wish I could say the same of poor Jerri Ryan. Doubtful that I’ll keep watching this one.

Premieres tomorrow: Supernatural (CW 8:00), Ugly Betty (ABC 7:00)

**FRIDAY**

Men in Trees (ABC 8:00): New show about a big city professional trying to adapt to life in a small Alaskan town filled with quirky characters. Now, if you’re thinking “Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the idea behind Northern Exposure,” then you’re not alone. However, there’s a world of difference between the shows, and not just because this one focuses on a female author and not a male doctor. If nothing else, NE was about twenty times quirkier than MiT. Three episodes in and the show is still struggling to find its balance; so far I love most of the supporting cast, especially Emily Bergl as the stalkerish yet na├»ve Annie, Derek Richardson as her goofy yet endearing love interest Patrick Bachelor, and the always excellent Cynthia Stevenson as Patrick’s grumpy police officer mother Celia. However, I cannot stand the relationship between Anne Heche’s character Marin and her romantic interest; their fractious interactions annoy rather than amuse. I’m hoping that they come to a more amicable understanding soon.

Stargate: SG-1/Atlantis (SciFi 8:00/9:00): Mid-season finale cliffhangers: gotta love ‘em. Unless you’re like me, in which you curse them loudly.

Premieres next week: Battlestar Gallactica (SciFi 8:00)

**SATURDAY MORNING**

Legion of Super-Heroes (Kids WB): I am a long-time fan of the Legion, and have been looking forward to their animated series with a mixture of hope and fear. Thankfully, the hope was fulfilled more than the fear. Yes, the design-work still makes me cringe, and yes, I hate that they’ve decided to make Brainy into a morphing megabit of some sort, but overall I was happy with the end result if for no other reason than an interesting use of Triplicate Girl and her patented trijitsu.

**SUNDAY**

Amazing Race (CBS 7:00): I can’t come up with anything to say about this episode that’s anywhere near as funny as this person’s review, so go read that instead.

The Simpsons (FOX 7:00): It's been a long, long time since I've actively looked forward to watching The Simpsons each week, and so far this season hasn't done anything to renew my enthusiasm, although I will say that the White Stripes cameo a couple of episodes ago was brilliant.

American Dad (Fox 7:30): The return of the letterboxed digression was excellent, although it did leave both PigPen and The Anti-Cap'n horribly confused.

Family Guy (Fox 8:00): Is it just me, or has this season been a little weak so far? Still some laugh-out-loud moments in each episode (the proctology episode had quite a few), but it just doesn't feel as consistent as it once did.

Taped but haven’t watched: Brothers and Sisters (ABC 9:00)

4 comments:

Cap'n Cluck said...

Cheers, for the days and times!

Gilmore Girls -
I didn't like that they started the beginning of the show on a serious note. They always have some sort of quarky beginning before the titles. I did, however, LOVE Paris' SAT Prep.

Help Me, Help You -
HQ and I caught this last night after Dancing with the Stars. Within 2 minutes of the show I stated that this was your type of show.

So excited about Lost! After all, it is where my signature came from!

Have a Cluckity Cluck Cluck Day

iamam said...

I have been on the fence about Help Me Help You since I first saw the promo for it last week. It's still in my "stuff to watch" stack of videotapes, and I was hesitant to even try it, but I think I'll give it shot, since you had such nice things to say about it.

I think I might be into Heroes for the long-haul as well, and Hiro -- Gee, I wonder how the writers came up with THAT name -- is my favorite, too.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Cluckity - cracks me up that you pegged HMHY as a Neurotic type of show. Good eye!

I'm only 4 eps away from finishing up the Lost season 2 DVDs. Once again, amazing how much more coherent the season seems after watching it all in one big dose

iamam - hope you like HMHY as much as I did. And at this point I'm thinking Hiro will be the breakout character of Heroes, if for no other reason than that everyone else is so danged serious, and he's just having fun.

CAP'N Disaster said...

I think I am really going to enjoy Heros as well. Hiro was my favorite in the first ep...he's hilarious. I was really surprised at the end when the politician brother started flying, I wasn't really expecting that. My one thought, just as a side thought, is if I were a cheerleader and randomly decided to throw myself off of things to see if I would get hurt or not, I'd change out of my cheerleading outfit (cheerfit?) before doing so...those things are expensive to go and tear it up like that jumping off things and walking into burning buildings and all. But whatever. And...why on earth was she taking off her ring AFTER she had washed the dishes already????