Archive for the 'TV' Category

Review: The Dresden Files 101 – 103

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

A new series on the Sci-Fi chan with big behind-the-camera names attached to it. First of all, Nicolas Cage is an executive producer. Probably more of a monetary title, the other names are pretty much the creative forces. Headed by Hans Beimler and Robert Hewitt Wolfe, things are looking positive. After all, these two were prominent writers on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Like their colleagues, I follow them closely (Rene Echevarria/Now and Again, Dark Angel, The 4400 – Ronald D. Moore, David Weddle, Bradley Thompson/Battlestar Galactica – Ira Steven Behr/The 4400 – Michael Piller/The Dead Zone), the list is filled with only quality shows.
Somehow though, they’ve taken a turn somewhere, and it’s one I don’t like. Totally abandoning in-depth character exploration and development, they’re probably chasing the books (can’t really tell, I avoid books like the plague) and going for the most simple style of storytelling set in a fantasy world with wizardry and accompanied scary creatures like werewolves and demons. This means an unrestricted way of going through the story, including easy endings with made-up potions or magic artifacts. Loosely translated, it’s a pretty lazy job. The beauty of their earlier works was that it was actually sci-fi (also unrestricted story telling), but they’d bound it closely to reality, both in story- and characters-wise, with real consequences.
All that cutting-edge stuff is now muddled into the pool of ordinary episodic forget-me-easilies. I give it a few more weeks, but don’t expect me to hang on if the direction stays the same.

Review: Dirt 101 – 102

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Nice effort from FX to start another serialised show. Except, it’s kinda boring. We have Courtney Cox as the head of two magazines, one classy People style, and the other a tabloid. With the help of a schizo photographer, we get to dig into a few celibrity scandals. Even though they throw in a few personal dramas, it’s still not interesting enough to keep watching it. Especially now that most networks either kick off the second half of established shows (Monk, Psych, Prison Break), or serve up an entirely new batch (Kings of Prosperity, In Case of Emergency), all kicking up in high gear, just in time for the February sweeps.

Review: Big Day 101 – 109

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Airing on ABC, basically replacing the lowly rated Help Me Help You, it’s 24, but then in single camera comedy form with a wedding as the center piece. There’s also no real serialisation going on, every episode containing its own new problems, all of which will be solved at the end. First few episodes seemed fresh, but by now, the formula seems too obvious. With just simple problems and fights, you don’t have comedy. Characters have to be funny too. And in this case, it’s just so-so. For time-killing purposes, it will do, but with new shows airing this month, who knows how long it will hold up ?

Review: Day Break 101 – 108

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

ABC is struggling quite a bit with new shows this year, already yanking The Nine and Six Degrees so swiftly. And now I have to review an already canceled show too. Premise is not really new, most resembling Tru Calling, ‘cept it’s a same day loop. Pilot was contrived with clues too obvious before the loop even happened. Strangely, following episodes tried different things every time, making it surprisingly entertaining (though pretty highly unbelievable how things changes with little variables changed). Then again, the cancelation came quickly, so no withdrawal symptoms or real sadness will ensue.

Review: Shark 101 – 108

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Still hanging around CBS, here’s another legal drama, from the DA’s stand of point. Off to an interesting start, mainly focusing on James Woods’ character, after a while, it’s highly formulaic. The cases following certain story points and turns, and hence become a bit predictable. Mostly, it’s a James Woods one-man show (one half as an Assistant DA, one half as a father of a teenage girl), as all the other characters are just neatly dressed up furniture. So it won’t make the must-see list, but it’s high on the killing-time list.

Review: The Class 101 – 110

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

After Friends, there hasn’t been anything on TV that copied the same feeling. With The Class, David Crane (exec producer of Friends) sets shop at another TV station, CBS. Partnering with Jeffrey Klarik (formerly Mad About You co-producer), and you have the best sitcom entry for this season. Of course, it’s no contest when it comes to comedy in general (single camera comedies like My Name is Earl and Extras win hands down), but for the “simple laughter” category it’s good enough.
A few positive points are, the ensemble cast, while the characters start seperately, they’re slowly written into each other, which is nice. Then there’s the continuity, long developing story lines, and every episode ends with a “cliffhanger”, which adds something extra to keep you watching. The humor itself is exactly what you expect. It’s a bit of the same craziness you’ve loved Friends so much for. Laugher-wise, it’s still hits-and-misses, but the hits win it overall.

Review: Jericho 101 – 109

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Barely have I finished reviewing the current new batch of new TV shows, and I have another batch waiting already. Moving on to the last station, CBS, home of Bruckheimer, procedurals and other episodic easy to digest chunks. But wait, the premise of this show (nuclear fallout) doesn’t fit in at all. Well, lucky us, something different. With world destruction and isolation as the main themes, it’s dramatic, and sometimes action packed. It focuses on bonds made during these stressful times and how people react in these harsh times. And with a whole town to write about, I think there’s a lot of life left in this series (bar another nuclear blast coming down).

Review: Justice 101 – 108, Standoff 101 – 106

Monday, November 13th, 2006

One round for Fox, it’s a short list (as all the other new shows from this male oriented TV channel weren’t that interesting at all). These two new entries aren’t aiming for the must-see status either though, being fairly episodic and predictable.
Let’s start with Justice, before it is canceled. Oh wait, just received it on the telex, it’s just been axed. Ah well, it was a typical Jerry Bruckheimer production, and it’s another legal drama (just like last year’s Just Legal on the WB), but unlike the previous lower budget attempt, it’s the fully flashy CSI style visualisation, with the suits and the set design to match. But other than that, the characters were pre-defined, but still lacking depth and detail, while the stories weren’t really that interesting at all, leaving no other judgement available than the usual time killer.
As for Standoff, almost the same judgement has to befall on this hostage negotiater based series. While a smaller cast will make the focus shift more easily on the two main characters and their relationship, this also hasn’t been really developed well, still focusing on the case at hand every week. For the guys, there are two hot chicks admire here (Rosemarie DeWitt and Raquel Alessi), but again, predictability is something you can’t negotiate around. This series will have to up the ante if it doesn’t want to drop off my time killer list.

Review: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip 101 – 105

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Another new NBC entry, with a title to match the intricate workings of a late night sketch show. Basically the whole West Wing team are behind the scenes, and you’ll get what you’ve paid for. It’s mostly indepth storytelling in a subtle dramatic way. woven into a overly smart script (sometimes too smart for my taste). This means you won’t get your bite size lowest common denominator easy laughs, nor will you get the cliches you’ve seen too often during primetime. However, you most certainly will get more satisfaction and appreciation for the extra dedication to create something special, and that’s what really counts. And hey, even Matthew Perry impresses me in this drama role (after being very not funny during the last few seasons on Friends), and that says a lot.

Review: Heroes 101 – 105

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

On to NBC, which last year only had My Name is Earl as a hit (while I watched the halfway canceled E-Ring just to fill time), now has 2 new strong entries for this fall.
I’ll start with Heroes, basically a toned down version of The X-Men (less obvious, more subtle, but they did copy Xavier’s opening narrative a bit), combined with bits that made The 4400 special (intrigue slow story telling, with indepth character development). A bit of stealing, but better a good steal than a bad own creation. I guess it’s the story telling that really does it, while writing with a tentative doom looming around keeps the adrenaline pumping. Besides personal drama, there’s mystery and humor. As a whole, it’s an intriguing experience, and a hit is born (ratings are well in the top 10 range, and a full season order has been confirmed).

Review: Ugly Betty 101 – 105

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

The last new show coming from ABC that I’ll review. As the title might suggest, it’s (like more ABC series) a bit geared towards the female audience.
People who’s seen this years breakout hit movie, The Devil Wears Prada, and liked it, will probably like this show too. Though the first few episodes will have a lot in common with the movie, story wise. People will mistake this as a movie rip-off, but this show is a remake from a Mexican series (which precedes both the Prada book and subsequent movie).
So, anything special besides that familiar story (strange duck struggling at work, in and ex-company rivalry) ? Not really. There’s a light drama to be found next to the self-deprecating wit, and there’s a strong female lead character that’s doesn’t fit your everyday heroine mold. Also, there’s a mystery unfolding as a dark B-story. But all in all, it’s not enough to make it must-see TV.

Review: The Nine 101 – 104

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

I started with it, so let’s finish the new line-up from ABC. The Nine is much like the earlier reviewed show, Six Degrees, but in a reconfingured and inverted way. With nine people experiencing the same tragic event, and the aftermath that ensues, certainly makes for a more intense drama. How the characters bump into each other later on, is also less contrived. But the synopsis makes you wonder how long you can stretch it, but so far, the flashbacks combined with current day events, work out pretty well. In what seems like a strategy to keep the pace going, minor gaps are visible here and there, much like how E.R. introduced the hectic atmosphere (and mindfully forgets to pick up story lines now and then), but at least it means you won’t fast forward that easily (or in Six Degrees’ case, axe it totally). Short of the flashbacks becoming overbearing (rehashing, instead of delevering new information), I’m definitely looking forward to this as a whole season.

TV Fall Schedule, almost final

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Yupz, I’ve finally almost figured it out. Let’s start with some more axe swinging first though. It’s goodbye to:

20 Good Years (I’m in no need for another comedy with John Lithgow hypering around)
30 Rock (bad non-funny half hour version of strong NBC debut Studio 60 on Sunset Strip)
Runaway (Mild Prison Break rip-off, geared towards the CW teen demo target)
Smith (can’t say I haven’t seen it all before, even this year, like NBC’s Heist and FX’s Thief).

So on to my list:

Old Toppppperrrs:
South Park
Battlestar Galactica
Prison Break
Boston Legal
Grey’s Anatomy
My Name Is Earl

New Topppperrs:
Brothers & Sisters
The Nine
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Everybody Hates Chris
Criminal Minds

Backup list:
Ugly Betty
The Class

So, still a solid 18 hours of TV. But I’ll manage, don’t worry.

Review: Extras 201 – 206

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

There was a time I was hoping for another season of The Office (the original, of course, not the NBC version). Luckily Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant moved on to newer things and Extras was born. Beyond expectations, it stood on its own, and this second season proved these comedic geniuses are still on top of their game. While keeping it legendary short, it makes you only want more, but it’s still better than a longer half baked season. The story line continued to another place where different poignantly akward situations were displayed, while not relying too much on the cameos (which were still a riot nonetheless).
There is, as always, the fear that this will be the last season (just like The Office had only 2 short seasons), but at least every single episode was an instant classic.

Review: Brothers & Sisters 101 – 104

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

While I certainly don’t like them all, ABC has a strong drama line-up, unlike any other channel. This seems like a limitation, but actually gives it more variety (than say, CBS’s forensic and procedural shows).
On the drama side, there hasn’t been anything quite like Party of Five (which ran on Fox from 1994 till 2000) on the air, with the same urgent familial feel to it, but Brothers & Sisters comes close. Not quite, because the situation isn’t quite as dire and in this case, they’re all adults. Still, it’s a nice try coming from the other creative half of the now ended Alias (Ken Olin writes/directs/produces, while JJ Abrams is involved with the other 3 shows currently running on ABC), and for pure family drama, it’s the strongest entry this year.