Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fall TV So Far: Tuesdays & Wednesdays

Tuesdays


Beauty & the Geek
[s4 ep01]: "When Worlds Collide"
[s4 ep02]: "Opposites Attract"
[s4 ep03]: "Double Dare"
[s4 ep04]: "It's Not Rocket Sciece"
[s4 ep05]: "It's Good to Be King"

While the season premiere had a few tasks for the geeks that were more degrading than the show usually stoops to, this has still been a decent season. Bringing on one female geek and one male "beauty" was a good idea. Luckily, those two have survived the game long enough to make things interesting. Had they been voted off earlier, the premise would have been wasted. Perhaps in season five, they should have two such teams. Overall, both the geeks and beauties are more likable than in some previous seasons. To me, this goofy little reality competition show has surprising moments of emotional depth and still qualifies as the "social experiment" that it claims to be. It's one of my guilty pleasures, and with short seasons, I wish it was on twice a year like Survivor is.

House
[s4 ep01]: "Alone"
[s4 ep02]: "The Right Stuff"
[s4 ep03]: "97 Seconds"
The recent cast shake-up hasn't really felt like much of a shake-up at all, further proving that Hugh Laurie's multi-award-winning preformance as Dr. House is the heart, soul, brain, liver, kidneys, and technically even anus of this medical drama. It's been interesting getting to know the dozens of prospective candidates hoping to get hired by House and the tactics to which they'll stoop to get further ahead in the line. As always, House rises to the occasion with abrasive wit, degrading comments, and a virtually-deserved smugness. It almost makes you forget Chase, Cameron, and Foreman, but they're still there, in different ways, and probably returning to prominence in future episodes. A growing cast and new character directions may very well help the show, but it couldn't hurt it as long as House is House and is played by Hugh Laurie.

Boston Legal
[s4 ep01]: "Beauty and the Beast"
[s4 ep02]: "The Innocent Man"
[s4 ep03]: "The Chicken and the Leg"
[s4 ep04]: "Do Tell"

David E. Kelley finally got the cast just right, by promoting two interesting & quirky recurring characters to full cast status and bringing on a beautiful, British, inexperienced counterpart for one of them. There's also Sapphron Burrows who plays off of Alan Shore, but she still seems stiff. Despite Alan's supposed obsession with her, I don't get a good sense of her personality. Then, there's John Larroquette as Carl Sack, the new managing partner, love interest to Shirley Schmidt, and subsequent rival of Denny Crane. Of course, David E. Kelley couldn't leave well enough alone (he never can) and, as of the fourth episode has already brought in another new cast member playing another new associate. She's not as endeering as the pre-existing characters, so I hope Kelley doesn't overshadow established characters with this annoying new girl.

Wednesdays


Pushing Daisies
[s1 ep01]: "Pie-lette"
[s1 ep02]: "Dummy"
[s1 ep03]: "The Fun in Funeral"

This show is the critics' darling of the new season, but I'm one of very few people who just can't seem to love it. There are definitely redeeming qualities, including the high production values and the good performances. But, the premise of the show seems morbid and full of logic flaws (even for a fantasy-based show), the constant narration gets annoying, and the show seems to drown in its own cuteness and over-stylized look. I gave the third episode only 1 star, not necessarily because it was bad but because it was a challenge to watch it. Parts of the episode annoyed me, and other parts didn't grab my attention. This show and I seem to be on different wavelengths so far.

Kid Nation
[s1 ep01]: "I'm Trying to Be a Leader Here"
[s1 ep02]: "To Kill or Not to Kill"
[s1 ep03]: "Deal With It!"
[s1 ep04]: "Bless Us and Keep Us Safe"
[s1 ep05]: "Viva La Revolution"

Personally, I think having kids in charge of their own living enviroment, food preparation, rules, and decision making is enough of a social experiment; holding the experiment in an old west ghost town sometimes goes too far. For instance, instead of beds, running water, and their own tooth brushes, the kids sleep on the floor in sleeping bags, have a single external water pump, use the bathroom in outhouses, and used baking soda and their fingers for dental care before winning toothbrushes as a prize on day 16. Also bizarre is making the first two challenges water-based activities when the show was filmed during a cold time of the year. These nitpicks aside, the rest of the show is great. It's interesting getting to know 40 kids, and I'm proud of some of them for their determination, intelligence, maturity, and heart. It's that element of the show that keeps it entertaining and inspiring.

Private Practice
[s1 ep01]: "In Which We Meet Addison, A Nice Girl From Somewhere Else"
[s1 ep02]: "In Which Sam Receives an Unexpected Visitor"
[s1 ep03]: "In Which Addison Finds the Magic"
[s1 ep04]: "In Which Addison Has a Very Casual Get Together"

Personally, I thought the pilot episode was stronger than many critics gave the show credit for. But, since then, the show has remained steady and consistent but not spectacular. The worst part of the show is Addison, a character who seemed far less neurotic and annoying than she did on Grey's Anatomy. Of course, I also didn't find her interesting enough while on Grey's Anatomy to warrant her getting her own spinoff, so I guess they had to make her "interesting" somehow. (It didn't totally work.) Some of the other characters are pretty good though, and I like the performances. The scripts just need to be a little better. I'm already tempted to drops its parent show Grey's Anatomy. If neither improve quickly enough, I may be dropping them as a set.

Bionic Woman
[s1 ep01]: "Second Chances"
[s1 ep02]: "Paradise Lost"
[s1 ep03]: "Sisterhood"
[s1 ep04]: "Face Off"

The biggest disappointment of the season so far is Bionic Woman. The plotlines are boring, some of the performances are flat, and some lines of dialogue are shockingly bad. In general, the show just seems misguided. The Jaime Sommers character is not compelling, her relationship with her sister is uneven and unconvincing, the stunts look blatantly fake (wire work), and the secondary characters add little value (unlike the great ensemble characters of new shows Chuck and Journeyman). I still like the premise enough to give it a try a little longer, but the show will need to improve quickly to keep me tuning in for many more weeks.

South Park
[s11 ep08]: "Le Petite Tourette"
[s11 ep09]: "More Crap"
[s11 ep10]: "Imaginationland (Part 1)"

Sometimes, South Park is ingenious and poignant. Sometimes, it even finds a way of delivering a moral message that could be -- dare I say -- educational. Other times, it's just vulgar and immature. Unfortunately, this season (technically, the post-hiatus 2nd half of a season started earlier in the year) is off to one of those bad starts. The Tourettes episode could have been genius, but it was just an excuse to say hundreds of cuss words in 30 minutes. The crap episode was a little more bearable, but was not particularly funny. The Imaginationland episode appeared to be headed that same direction until it redeemed itself with a slew of nostalgib childhood entertainment references from the 1980s and by picking on Michael Bay for being a film director only concerned about special effects and explosions (as in the recent Transformers movie he hacked together). Now, I'm actually looking forward to the thrilling conclusion to this two-part episode.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I agree, Bionic Woman has not yet lived up to its hype.

Here's hoping David Eick finally gets the show on track and matches BSG's quality.