Monday, September 25, 2006

More TV Nonsense

Last week was Premiere Week!

Or was it?

There are still dozens of new and returning shows left to premiere, including Lost, Veronica Mars, Lost, Smallville and Lost. But here are my early thoughts on what we've seen so far (and by we've I mean I've, because television is my current drug of choice while yours is baking or the Bible or a successful career). Let's go!

Prison Break - Like I said a few weeks ago, what was a very set-driven show last season has morphed into a Fugitive type serial, this time with a whole host of men-on-the-run. The first three episodes stuck to the "we gotta get to Utah and find the buried treasure" plot that was introduced late last season. There have been some genuinely creepy moments (mostly involving T-Bag getting his hand sewed back on and giving evil looks to minors), and exciting ones as well. But the whole bit with the tattoos keeps going and going and's like Michael mapped out the rest of his life on his blasted arms. At some point he's going to have to start thinking on his own, but I have a feeling that's not going to happen anytime soon. In addition, the whole subplot involving Robin Tunney's character has completed stalled with her death and with Patricia Wettig's (Vice-President Reynolds) bolting for greener pastures on Brothers and Sisters. The Fugitive angle only works as long as someone is actively trying to prove Lincoln Burrows' innocence. We'll see what tonight brings.

Vanished - Vanished had better shape up soon. The mood and tenor of the show are fantastic: they do 24 even better than 24 does 24 these days. But the cast is a bit on the weak side: there's no Keifer Sutherland or Hugh Laurie to really take the reigns and lead this show. Heck, I'd settle for someone like William Fichter, whose been a terrific foil for Michael over on Prison Break. Luckily, another Invasion alum, Eddie Cibrian, is rumored to be joining the cast soon, but the cast isn't all what ails the show. The plotting has been sketchy for the past couple of episodes, with an absurd suicide, a pointless ransom drop-off (which was done much better in the first episode of NBC's Kidnapped), and a Kim Bauer-ish subplot involving the Senator's daughter, her affair with a Supreme Court nominee, and her relationship with her current boyfriend. With Heroes starting tonight, Vanished's days might be numbered.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - I shared my pilot episode thoughts last week, but on a further note, I'm really looking forward to the new episode tonight. From what I've heard around the horn, it's even more entertaining than the pilot, as we get out first real look at the late-night players and into how the show is made. And while the pilot was a little over-the-top preachy at times, future episodes ought to bring the funny.

Smith - I was thoroughly unimpressed with Smith. Ray Liotta plays a great thief, but so does Andre Braugher, and much better I might add. While Smith went with the slick Oceans 11 vibe, it doesn't sit well when its lead characters kill innocent guards during a heist. Andre's Braugher's (short lived?) Thief dealt with the moral ramifications of murder in a way which would have made Flannery O'Conner proud. It was FX-ey without being gratuitous about it. But apparently, no one was watching. So now all we're left with is the CBS version. Joy.

Jericho - I was honestly looking forward to Jericho, until I started watching it. Whereas Lost began with a bang, Jerichoo sort of whimpered along for a good 15 minutes. Remember the first few minutes of Lost's pilot, when Jack sort of woke up on the island, stumbled onto the crash site and started saving people left and right? Jericho had none of that. When the actual disaster actually happened (a nuclear explosion), it was too far away to do any serious damage to the town. Instead, we got two bus crashes: one a school bus which was rescued by the mayor's black-sheep son, and another a prison bus with a bunch of nasty convicts onboard, which dun-dun-dun, was left for future episodes to resolve. The cast has the same problem as Vanished, thus far. Skeet Ulrich is no Matthew Fox, you know? And don't get me started on the amateur tracheotomy. It had me in fits of giggles. Not a good sign.

Kidnapped - Vanished sometimes seems like a 24 knockoff, which is the intent, I guess. Kidnapped, on the other hand, sometimes seemed like a TV mini-series knock off. A well-produced, handsomely shot and expertly acted TV mini-series knock off, but still a knock off none-the-less. The production values are high, on the order of a John Wells/Aaron Sorkin type series that NBC loves so dearly (even the credits seemed very NBC-ish, somehow). But Delroy Lindo and Jeremy Sisto bring something to Kidnapped that most new shows this season are lacking: gravitas and great chemistry. Word is that Kidnapped failed to deliver in the ratings against CSI:NY, which could signal the return of the original Law & Order to its old stomping grounds on Wednesday at 10/9 Central. And that would be a shame. The next two weeks will probably decide Kidnapped's fate. Here's to crossed fingers and knocks on wood.

Grey's Anatomy/Six Degrees - I'm not sure what I expected. I caught most of Grey's while waiting for the premiere of Six Degrees, and I was disappointed on both counts. Grey's was everything I loved/hated about Dawson's Creek. Some capable acting, witty dialogue, and loads and loads of emotional porn. I couldn't handle it then, and I can't handle it now. Melodrama can be loads of fun, as long as its broken up by super-powered teens or mystery islands. That being said, Six Degrees didn't do anything to brighten my spirits. J.J. Abrams had nothing to do with the writing of the pilot episode, and it showed. The plot was just one cliche right after another, which could probably describe any TV show when you get down to it, but Hope Davis was the only actor who was able to transcend the trappings of TV drama with her performance. Everyone else just basically went through the motions, and delivered a pretty boring pilot in the process. The sad thing is, it's light years ahead of its competition with Shark and ER, so given time, maybe it'll make something of itself. I'll be back for episode two, though now, just out of curiosity.

Men in Trees - This is the kind of show I will like 20 years from now, if I someone happen to be a woman by then, too. It's light and breezy, all girl-power for the soccer mom who-may-or-may-not-be-in-a-serious-relationship set. Anne Heche is wonderful. The cast around her is great. And it's set in not-New York, i.e. Alaska. But I'm not in my 40s. And I don't have a uterus. So there's not much left for me here. Oh well. I'd like to see it make the cut, though. It's the kind of TV that really deserves to be on TV. Honest.

That's it so far. Keep reading though, below, I actually blog about something that might matter to you. God help me, I've still got it!

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