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Finale Reactions Part Deux

August 15th, 2012 (07:30 pm)
current song: "Billie Holiday" by Warpaint

Bones

This year, Bones had a smart season finale. While it included plenty of twists and turns and a cliffhanger to boot, the surprises were built upon pre-established character truths. Nothing felt rushed. Nothing felt convenient – a plot point inserted to drive storyline when character motivations should do so instead. And everything was laid out for viewers to follow themselves... unlike last year's season finale. I was also pleased with the fact that Pelant was back, but, rather than wrap up his arc and neatly end the season with a clean, closed case, Bones extended it, leaving the audience in the middle of the mystery. In addition, for the first time in years, the Jeffersonian family is being torn asunder, creating tension where usually there is none and making this case personal. Perhaps there is a risk for mistakes when emotions are entered into the equation, but they also make for a more compelling mystery... as does the fact that the killer this time is as intelligent as those working to catch him. Plus, Bones inserted the public library into this story. You can't go wrong with that as your secret, super ingredient.




Grimm

Grimm's season finale did not offer any closure, it didn't answer any questions, but it certainly set the show up for its second season. Rather than resolve any current mysteries – who or what is Captain Renard and why exactly were Nick's parents murdered, the series introduced several new unknowns, literally leaving its audience smack dab in the middle of what could very possibly be two life and death cases. Not only is the hunt still ongoing for the three, powerful gold coins, but the Grimm season finale saw Juliette being attacked by Adalind's cat and Nick learning that his mother is actually alive. While I by no means am a fan of the Juliette character, she now appears to be a wessen which should certainly prove to increase her interest factor. What's more, what's better is the fact that Claire Coffee's Adalind is still alive, still plotting, and still out to get Nick, meaning that she will hopefully be back again next season. Whether Nick has stripped her of her supernatural powers or not, Adalind is decidedly still a witchy woman, their relationship the most compelling and electric of the entire series. What I would love to see is for Juliette to wake up under Adalind's control, the black cat to Adalind's former Hexenbiest self – the first step in Adalind's quest to reclaim her powers. I'll take anything, though, that will keep Adlind and Nick in each others' orbits, anything that will eventually lead to them sharing each others' beds.




Scandal

While I am not arguing with the fact that the season finale of Scandal was both entertaining and gave its audience two rather juicy cliffhangers, it just didn't feel like the end of a season. Rather, the episode that aired prior to the season finale – 1.06 should have been the season's conclusion. Unlike its successor, it was the emotional juggernaut of the season. With the flashbacks it explained everything which led up to Amanda Tanner's murder. It had sex; it had violence in what was the best scene the show has yet to offer its viewers: when Billy exploded and ranted towards the journalist he was using to smear the president and then finished his vent by stabbing a pair of scissors in the same journalist's jugular. Now, that's how a show ends its debut season. Instead, the real season finale saw the Amanda Tanner mystery and the president's affair with her neatly tied up in a pretty bow. Oh, there are still secrets to be exposed – the first wife's duplicity and Cyrus' responsibility for contracting the death of the White House aide, but, despite this, there was still closure to the storyline. As far as Quinn's identity, the problem with this mystery is the fact that, despite being a main character, viewers have yet been given a reason to care about her – her past, her pain, even her real name. Consequently, that cliffhanger – who exactly is Quinn? – just becomes nothing more than a teaser.




Revenge

Unlike many of the other shows I watch, I didn't view the Revenge season finale until months after it aired because I wanted to wait and savor it. And it was worth saving. Part way through the episode, I started to question the writers' intentions, because everything was just falling together beautifully. The evidence against Conrad was safely delivered to the Feds, Emily saved Nolan while managing to retain her humanity, she broke off her engagement with Daniel, she admitted that she wanted to be with Jack – even going so far as to make plans to meet him and tell him the truth. But this is when things got really interesting. I pride myself on anticipating what's next on my favorite programs, but I never saw the twist of Amanda returning, pregnant with Jack's child. Now, whether Jack is really the father or not has yet to be determined, but talk about your clever maneuvering. Likewise with the reveal that Emily's mother is still alive, though I wasn't surprised that the frame job against her father went above and beyond the Grayson's. Meanwhile, there were three other 'big' moments during Revenge's season finale: Charlotte's apparent suicide, though her loss would be minimal – really, the only drawback being the unexplored relationship between her and her half sister; Daniel and Ashley growing closer which was not altogether a surprise given her opportunistic tendencies, though her remarks about how she has always looked after Daniel were curious; and, finally, Victoria's demise – something that, if real, will be shocking... simply because Revenge dared to go there. However, Victoria's death, in all likelihood, will prove to be greatly exaggerated. I mean, can you imagine this show without Madeliene Stowe, without Victoria, her machinations, her rivalry with Emily, and her bandage dresses? Frankly, I can't.




The Vampire Diaries

To culminate a rather lackluster season, The Vampire Diaries' season finale felt a little flat. It's best moment was when it was revealed that Klaus is still alive in Tyler's body thanks to Bonnie's interference. Besides that, though, everything else was expected. It was time for Elena to become a vampire. If she didn't soon, it would have become downright implausible for her to remain alive. It also wasn't shocking that the show elected to kill off one of its remaining human characters... after, of course, turning him into a psychopathic vampire, vampire hunter. While Jeremy will no doubt flounder without Alaric's guidance, especially now that his sister is a member of Mystic Fall's undead community, it will be Ric's friendship with Damon that will be sorely missed. It was the most mature, intricate, and compelling relationship The Vampire Diaries offered its viewers, and, now, it has been sacrificed to allow Matt Davis to spread his wings on a show that sounds... well, let's just say that it sounds unworthy of him. Returning to the series' season finale, though, there's one big question that the show must answer when it returns this fall: whose blood sired Elena? While I'm pleased that she chose Stefan, I have no illusions about the program actually being finished with its signature triangle. I want Damon to move on and find someone who is worthy of his love and someone who is also his equal, but, if Damon turned out to be Elena's sire, their bond would surely throw a monkey wrench into her reunion with Stefan. All in all, it wasn't a horrible episode, but The Vampire Diaries can do better.




Fringe

While the season finale concluded – we think – the storyline concerning the collision of the two universes in order to create a new one, this year it felt like Fringe had two seasons finale, the second giving viewers a glimpse into the future. “Letters in Transit” (4.19) also felt like a season finale, because it should be the episode which propels the show into its fifth and final season. September prophesied a world where the observers were in control and humans were essentially their submissive slaves.. not that the Fringe Team has any knowledge of the future (unlike viewers) or of what September's cryptic words actually mean. Normally, I would argue against viewers knowing more than the characters themselves (for it would be similar to spoilers), but, in Fringe's case, because of the show's complexity, this knowledge of the future gives viewers a fighting chance of keeping up with the impressive Fringe-verse. At the same time, though, as the characters in the original universe strive to prevent the observers from taking over, the program cannot be finished with the alternate universe. Maybe the bridge has been closed between the two worlds, but Lincoln is still on the other side, and its stories still need to be wrapped up. Plus, consider the fact that Peter and Olivia's daughter from the future is named Henrietta... perhaps named for Olivia's friend from the other side, Henry? Only thirteen episodes of this stellar series remain, and it's hard to imagine how everything will ever be covered, but I'm sure as hell going to enjoy watching Fringe try to.

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Please, AMC, I Want Some More... The Killing, That Is!

July 16th, 2012 (10:26 pm)
current song: "Ruin" by Cat Power

Twenty-six episodes later, we finally found out who killed Rosie Larson. While many were upset last year when the first season ended and the murderer was still at large, I was perfectly content to watch what really had become an experiment of a television show – and a good one at that – play out on my TV screen. The Killing is darker, grittier, and it could even be said more depressing than any other program out there, and it quickly became about the people involved in the case more-so than the case itself. With the smorgasbord of procedurals currently clogging the airwaves right now, The Killing was/is a breath of fresh, rain-scented air, an excellent study in character driven storytelling.

Amazingly, despite having more than eighteen hours of programing to watch for this series, it was not easy to predict who the killer was. Once the murderer's identity was revealed, everything made sense. Viewers realized that they had been blindly staring at some of the most important clues since the very beginning of the show, and the revelations explained so much – both about some of the characters and about the actual murder itself. Best of all, solving the case brought it full circle, reconnecting all the seemingly separate storylines created by Rosie's death and showing that the connections between these characters who never should have been related to one another were there all along, and it was because of these secret, sometimes nefarious, and always unpredictable relationships that Rosie was murdered in the first place.

What is astonishing about The Killing is just how despicable its cast of characters were eventually proven to be. To think of Rosie obliviously growing up in the middle of such a cesspool is astonishing. She had no idea what any of the people in her life were really like, and, if it wasn't for her death, no one ever would have been the wiser. And the corruption went beyond just Rosie's immediate circle of friends and family. Crooked cops and even more crooked politicians, murderers who are more sympathetic than the victim's own mother, and those who were ostensibly the good guys – Holder and Linden – suffering from addiction and an undisclosed mental illness, respectively. It's a wake up call, really – to see such a believable crime surrounded by such flawed – layered yet flawed – people. Away from our safe bubbles, such a world like that portrayed on The Killing actually does exist.

But what's next for the show? The ending was ambiguous to say the least. Yes, the case was solved, the murderer was revealed, and Linden and Holder finally seemed to find a balance in their partnership... only for Linden to – what? – walk away? And now what? Yes, she got her badge back, but she's still facing an investigation by IA. Plus, she's homeless, her savings has to be depleted at this point, and she's a cop, a detective. She won't be able to just quit, no matter what she says or even thinks she wants to do. Then there's her son – Jack – who, for once, Linden did the right thing by when she sent him to stay with his father. While I do not deny that she loves her child, Linden is a horrible mother. And let's face it: her portrayer, Mireille Enos, is at her best (entertainment-wise) when she's tortured and on the edge. Once she's happy and content, the show will lose its edge and one of its strengths.

However, not its greatest strength, and that would be the character of Holder. I could dissect Holder's character for days, picking apart and praising all of his and Joel Kinnaman's nuances, but I won't. Let's just say this: more than anything else, if I have seen my last Holder scene, I'll be crushed and so disappointed. He is hands down one of the best, most compelling and evocative characters to hit television in years. Bottom line, I NEED more Holder (and I wouldn't mind a hookup/relationship between Holder and Linden while The Killing's at it, too).

As of right now, though, The Killing has not been picked up for a third season. If it was (and it better be), the show will have a chance to retool itself, to almost start fresh, only having to retain Linden and Holder, really. This is just another reason why the series is so different than everything else offered on television – network or cable. In fact, despite its serial nature, it's more like a movie or, actually, like a mini-series. Now, for the next mystery, while the cops don't know who killed Janek Kovarsky, viewers do. Rather, I'd like to see a case come up which echoes the one that still haunts Linden to this day, the one that first sent her to the psychiatric ward. Not only would this be enough to pull her back onto the force, but it could reopen the previous case and reopen all of her old wounds. After all, an angst-ridden The Killing is the best kind.

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A Covert Affair to Remember

July 12th, 2012 (09:27 pm)
current song: "Sleeping Uto" by Grizzly Bear


I still need to finish wrapping up my thoughts on this spring's season finales (I only have one show left to watch and review). In the meantime, though, I was thoroughly impressed by the season three premiere of Covert Affairs and wanted to touch upon it quickly.

Obviously, the most unexpected moment was when Jai (Sendhil Ramamurthy) died suddenly in the opening scenes of the episode. And he died powerfully, too – murdered by a car bomb just after recruiting Annie on a covert assignment to investigate the CIA. While I liked the character of Jai, appreciated his chemistry with Annie, and will miss Ramamurthy, he was an underutilized piece of the show's puzzle. It often seemed liked the series didn't know what to do with him. If that was really the case, they finally figured it out, because it looks like his death is going to facilitate an entire season of storyline and help to darken the show's mood.

First and foremost, it quickly became apparent that Annie was quite affected by her friend's death. She feels guilt, she's scared, and that was all before her entire work environment was shook up – both she and Auggie getting reassigned. Though the friends will still share plenty of scenes, they're not partners so to speak any more. As he worries about her out in the field without him protecting her back from afar at home, Auggie should become aware of his feelings for Annie... just as she is aware of hers, only it might be too late by then.

While the overarching mystery of Jai's death and its impact upon Auggie and Annie's relationship will be compelling (kudos to
Covert Affairs for finally embracing a less procedural format), what I'm really intrigued by is the new man in Annie's life (played by Richard Coyle). Sure, he's a mark at this point, but she slept with him; she crossed that boundary, and, whether an agency cliché or not, her emotions will become involved. There's obviously an attraction there for the both of them, and say what you will about Piper Perabo, but she oozes chemistry with just about every male star she shares the screen with. To make matters even more interesting, her new boss – Lena Smith (played by Sarah Clarke) – endorses such... hands on espionage. Whatever gets the job done, so to speak. Basically, Annie's leash has been cut, she doesn't have Auggie or Joan holding her back, and anyone familiar with the spy genre knows that, when you mix business with pleasure, people always end up hurt and oftentimes dead. Lines get blurred, and life loses its concrete, black and white hues, instead blending into various shades of gray. This is also when television gets really interesting.

Because of all these changes – some of them quite surprising, it feels like the season three premiere of
Covert Affairs was the start of a brand new show. I, for one, am optimistic about these changes and look forward to as many complications and as much murk as the program wants to throw in its audience's direction. Now, if it could just figure out how to give the character of Danielle some depth and an actual storyline, it'd really be cooking.

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Pilot Postmortem: Dallas

Premise

Really? Is the premise even necessary for the second coming of this iconic show? Even if you've never watched an episode of the original Dallas, you've heard of it; you're aware of the legendary mystery of “Who Shot JR?” Hell, there were t-shirts made to commemorate that record breaking storyline. Now, though, more than twenty years after the original series aired its finale episode, Dallas returns, this time on cable instead of network television. Focusing on the rivalry between John Ross Ewing who is a chip off his father, JR's, block and Christopher, Bobby's adopted son, these two cousins not only share a last name and an interest in the energy market, but their personal lives are quite entangled, too. Despite the fact that Christopher returns to Southfork with a fiancee, he's still very much in love with his ex and John Ross' current flame. Toss in a clinically depressed and institutionalized JR, a recently diagnosed with cancer Bobby, and a Sue Ellen with ambitions of being the next governor of Texas, and that's a recipe for ten gallons of drama. It's a different decade, a different century, and a different millennium, but it's the same old Dallas. And that's a good thing.

Strengths

Though the show has been re-imagined, it has not been remodeled. This version of Dallas keeps what worked about the original – the themes of family, betrayal, and desperation... for success – and simply modernized it, made it relatable for a new generation. To do this, the Ewing family is not just interested in oil anymore but also alternative forms of energy as well. Rather than JR and Bobby battling over the family business, their sons – John Ross and Christopher respectively – are fighting over what the family business will be. And, oh yeah. There's also the pesky fact that they're both interested in the same woman, too. While their fathers never wanted to be with the same woman, they certainly had their fair share of fights over the opposite sex.

Speaking of their parents, that's another of Dallas' strengths: while the younger generation is central to the show, the older generation isn't down for the count yet either. Bringing back original cast members Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, and Larry Hagman, Bobby, Sue Ellen, and JR are both reminders of the past and players in the present. Though their lives have changed, their personalities have not. They're the same exact characters viewers loved and loved to hate twenty-one years ago, grounding the show and giving it such a rich history – a luxury that most new series must work hard for and, even then, sometimes never achieve.

The younger generation has been cast well, too. Josh Henderson who plays John Ross and Jesse Metcalfe who plays Christopher (both from
Desperate Housewives) share chemistry with their fathers and each other. They play rivals well. As for their female counterparts, while Jordana Brewster (Fast and Furious Series) is more well known, I'm intrigued by Julie Gonzalo's (Eli Stone, Veronica Mars) addition to the show – not so much because of her character per say but because I'm curious as to how she will fit on a primetime soap, her previous roles being on quirkier dramas, her acting style lighter and more humorous. While the audience might occasionally laugh while watching Dallas, the chuckles are dark, sometimes even malevolent and sinister which is not exactly what Gonzalo is known for. Finally, rounding out the main cast is newcomer Brenda Strong (also of Desperate Housewives fame), and she plays Bobby's wife, Ann. (More on Ann later in the post.)

Finally, it's the little things which set
Dallas apart from other programs. Visually, it's stunning. From the sweeping vistas of the Texas countryside, to the beautiful young cast, to the refined opulence, the series' design elements shine. No scene better exemplified this than John Ross walking through the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. A nod to the past and a wink at the changes which have occurred since the original series went off the air, it told viewers exactly what show they were watching. Meanwhile, Southfork has been given a facelift, but the famous gates remain, the yellow striped awnings still held court, and the majestic, curved staircase made you just imagine Miss Ellie, Sue Ellen, and Pam sweeping downstairs on their way to breakfast. There were horses and cattle, a helicopter ride, and even a Ray and Lucy sighting (Steve Kanaly and Charlene Tilton). The opening credits were reminiscent of the original's – the same theme declaring that Dallas was back, and Christopher even sped away from Southfork in a car very reminiscent of the one Bobby gave Pam in the episode “Black Market Baby.” All of this combined proves that those at the helm of this new series have respect for its predecessor, and this is perhaps the show's greatest strength of all.

Weaknesses

This Dallas continuation series is good, but it's not perfect. While the writers seem to have a firm grasp upon the men of Southfork Ranch, the women's characterizations were a touch disappointing. Let's start with Elena. Growing up with John Ross and Christopher, the three of them were best friends; then she and Christopher dated, became engaged, and finally had an ugly split – one still unresolved; and, now, she's with John Ross yet still in love with his cousin. While I have no problem with this tangled triangle, I don't like the fact that Elena is so seemingly manipulated by others... including John Ross. If she's the woman that both Ewing heirs love, then she needs to be worthy of them – strong, spunky, independent, smart, and their equal.

Additionally, I'm less than sold on the addition of Bobby's new wife, Ann. While I have nothing against Ann's portrayer, Brenda Strong, I also have no emotional attachment to Ann either. We're going to get to see the younger generation fall in and out of love, but Bobby and Ann are already married, a done deal, and we know none of their backstory. She also has the fact that she'll never be Pam working against her, too. I realize that Pam's fate has never been revealed, and I know that Victoria Principal has no interest in returning to the role which made her a household name, but I've always been a Bobby and Pam shipper, and I've never liked him in any of his other relationships. It won't matter if Ann someday in the future wins me over; there will always be a part of me that will hope that Pam returns to Bobby. At least Cliff (Ken Kercheval) is still alive and kicking. In fact, he runs Ewing Oil,
and he'll be a part of this new series. Bobby might be missing his other Barnes half, but JR's still got his.

Premiere Ratings

Television welcomed Dallas back with open arms. The series averaged 6.9 million viewers, and, though it predictably skewed slightly older, it still managed to nab TNT 2.5 million viewers in their key 25-54 demographic. These numbers were good enough to make Dallas Wednesday night's most watched television series – both on cable and network TV, and it was the highest rated premiere for a scripted cable series so far during 2012.

Conclusions

If you don't watch Dallas, then you're either an idiot like that Cliff Barnes, a drunk like Sue Ellen, or an interloper like Clayton Farlow. Besides, you wouldn't want to disrespect JR would you? After all, he doesn't take betrayal very well. He just likes to dish it out.

Bottom line? I've been anticipating this continuation series for YEARS. Now that it's here? I wasn't disappointed.

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Pilot Postmortem: Bunheads

Premise

With her life going nowhere, Michelle, a Vegas showgirl elopes, running away with her new husband to his small hometown where she's met with less than a warm reception. Her new mother-in-law is a former dancer as well, and she runs a dance studio, giving the two women something in common: their love of dance.

Strengths

It's tricky to really assess Bunheads' strengths and weaknesses, because the show's traits could easily be both. This show marks Amy Sherman-Palladino's return to television. Most well-known for Gilmore Girls, Sherman-Palladino has transferred much of what worked so well for her former series into this new show. On one hand, Gilmore Girls was a wonderful program, worthy of emulation. At the same time, though, it leaves big shoes for Bunheads to fill, Sherman-Palladino's former series casting a wide shadow over her new one. The comparison could hurt Bunheads. Conversly, because of these similarities – the rapid, quick-witted dialogue, the strong female characters and female relationships, and even the setting (a small, quirky town) and certain production values (I spotted a Jeep in the series premiere, and the same lyric-less, guitar driven music was heard throughout the episode) – could label the new program a copy of Sherman-Palladino's old show and give her the reputation of a one trick pony.

With this said, the show has cast its leads well. An unknown to television, Sutton Foster is charming and quite capable of handling Sherman-Palladino's trademark fast paced repartee. Very much like her
Gilmore Girls' predecessor, Lauren Graham, Foster has great comedic timing, though it has yet to be seen how she will handle the more dramatic moments and whether or not she can play a romantic lead. Then there's also Gilmore Girls' alum Kelly Bishop who plays the mother-in-law. While her decorating sense is a far cry from Emily Gilmore's, Bishop's new character – Fanny – is quite reminiscent of her former role, something again which could be a stroke of genius or a strike against this new program. The bottom line, though, is that Foster and Bishop have great chemistry with each other.

This is a good thing, because, as the end of the premiere episode made apparent, their relationship is going to be the central one to the series. I think this is one of
Bunheads' strengths. By starting out the series with the lead character already married, this diminished future opportunities for romance and drama. There would be no waiting for chemistry to strike, no anticipation of Michelle someday falling in love, not to mention the fact that, a nice guy or not, it wasn't realistic for someone like Michelle to end up with someone like Hubble. By killing him off at the end of the first episode, this provided a great jumping off point for the rest of the series, creating a very interesting dynamic between the mother and daughter-in-law pair. Both will no doubt feel guilty, and they'll be trying to find a way to co-exist. What's intriguing is the fact that, despite Michelle marrying Hubble, its Fanny she and her life were really in need of. In the future, toss in some romantic entanglements, and their connection is just ripe for compelling (yet amusing) drama.

Weaknesses

As previously mentioned, one of Bunheads' greatest strengths – its similarity to Gilmore Girls is also probably its biggest weakness as well. Really, only time will tell how this dynamic will play out for the show. In addition, though, I must also pick at the Vegas sets which were disappointing, and I felt the the setup for the show was extremely rushed. As what often happens when a pilot if plot driven rather than character driven, the episode didn't feel very organic. Instead, it was forced which was out of character for a Sherman-Palladino show. Based upon the chemistry between Foster and Bishop and the very intricate relationship forming between their characters, I don't fear that this will become the norm with this series.

Premiere Ratings

The ratings for Bunheads' premiere episode could have been better, but they also could have been worse, too. Attracting 1.7 million total viewers (735,000 adults ages 18-49), the pilot scored higher numbers for its launch than both Jane By Design and The Lying Game, though it was beat by the series premiere of Switched at Birth. Though the industry made it a point to mention that the show debuted alongside game six of the Stanley Cup Finals, perhaps what is more pertinent is the fact that it aired after Secret Life of the American Teenager whose numbers saw a steep decline during its fourth season. I, for one, would have preferred for Bunheads to have Pretty Little Liars as its lead in. I'd be curious to see the difference in its ratings then.

Conclusions

As a fan of Sherman-Palladino's former work, as a fan of Kelly Bishop (side note, this role reunites her with her Dirty Dancing choreographer, Kenny Ortega, who served as the director of Bunheads' pilot), and as someone who saw potential in this series premiere, I will tentatively continue to watch Bunheads. I'm also curious to meet more characters as the town is further fleshed out and Michelle settles into her new home. I'm not sold completely, but Sherman-Palladino and Bunheads have convinced me to give them both a chance to find their rhythm together.

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Spring 2012 Primetime Television Finale Reactions

Better late than never, right? The truth be told, I haven't commented upon this year's finales yet, because I haven't watched them yet. Sometime during the 2011-2012 television season, I lost interest in many – if not most – of the shows that I follow. Granted, this is partly due to real life holding a front and center role in my mind, concern for my professional career outweighing the fun and frivolity of blogging about television, but my lack of interest is also rooted in the series themselves. Many of my favorite shows seemed to have dropped the ball this season. However, summer television has arrived, and I have cable series that I want to catch up on, too. Before these shows can be watched, I need to finish their regular season primetime counterparts, especially since their Hulu expiration dates are, for some programs, quickly approaching. Due to the untimely manner and the sheer amount of viewing I need to partake in, look for my comments to be brief and too the point. I'm sure it'll be a welcome relief.

Grey's Anatomy

Putting aside which characters I like and dislike, whose storylines I find intriguing and whose storylines I find to be tired and old, it was not a smart decision by TPTB behind Grey's to kill off Lexie. Love her or hate her (and, if you're curious as to my position, earlier remarks about the show will be able to answer your question), Lexie was a Grey... you know, a member of the family the show is named for. Longevity-wise, killing her character just does not make sense. Even if Meredith left, even if Ellen Pompeo someday decided not to renew her contract, yet ABC was still interested in picking up a Meredith-free Grey's Anatomy, the show could go on as long as it had Little Grey to focus on. Now, it doesn't. And, unfortunately, Chyler Leigh is not the only actress to leave the series. It has also been revealed that Kim Raver is gone as well, though her exit was far less... promoted. Yes, those oft-repeated promos telling of a tragic death via the plane crash many of our favorite Seattle Grace doctors were in was attention-grabbing, but it was also misleading as well. The actual product wasn't nearly as intense as promised, particularly because all the suspense was killed when, just minutes into the season finale, it was revealed that Lexie would be the one to die. As for the rest of the episode, it was melodramatic, and it was soapy, but it wasn't entertaining. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was frustrating. I, for one, won't be shocked if Grey's suffers a big drop off in numbers next season. That season finale is not how a show rewards and keeps loyal viewers; it's how one alienates them.

The Office

This season has not been a strong one for The Office... for reasons that I have previously delved into, and I fear for the future of the show. Looking back, it probably would have been best for the series to have ended when Steve Carell left, but a year and several more cast changes later – both additions and subtractions, and NBC is still invested in this program. This season will be the last for Mindy Kaling, though Mindy's absence will be felt more behind the scenes. Plus, there were rumors of a possible Dwight spin-off. However, this thankfully appears not to be happening. Considering The Office is at its strongest when it focuses upon the Dwight-Jim frienemy bond, without half of its dynamic duo, the show would have been lost. Even with him, that still might be its fate. Hopefully, with Robert California gone and this ridiculous Saber experiment over with now, the series will once again focus upon the characters and relationships viewers have watched and loved for years. The Office wasn't allowed to go out on a high note when it was at its peak. Now, we just have to hope that it doesn't crash and burn. It's certainly not must-watch television any more. I would just hate to see it fall even further.

GCB

This season – series – finale was bittersweet: sweet because it was entertaining but bitter because ABC did not renew this series. Before its premiere, GCB was not one of my most anticipated new shows of the season, and I was only lukewarm towards its debut episode, but the program got better and better as each episode aired, eventually getting to the point where it was one of the shows I looked forward to the most every week. While its finale was nothing revolutionary or even surprising – it was obvious Lucia was Rip's daughter, not his mistress; it was too soon for Amanda to settle down and fall in love again, no matter how charming and attractive Luke was; and the pastor was certainly not subtle about his feelings for Amanda, but, still – predictability aside... or perhaps even because of it – after all, it would make laughing along with the girls just that much more fun, GCB was female driven satire with a large side of big Texan... charm. If nothing else, the show's finale proved just why the series will be missed, why ABC made a mistake by not renewing it.

Modern Family

Up until the finale, I had been disappointed with the second half of Modern Family's third season, but 3.24: “Baby on Board” was superb, reminding me of why I love this show so much, why it's the best comedy on network television. And it wasn't even Gloria's pregnancy reveal, though I think this move by the show was a stroke of genius which will provide it with seasons of future storylines and hilarious situations. Rather, it was so well balanced. Everyone got to be funny in the season finale. In addition, those who are usually so flamboyant and over the top were more subtle, and this worked well, because the material was so strong in 3.24. Finally, I must add that I'm thrilled that Dillon is back. He just plays so well off the entire family that I would love to see him become a series regular. Perhaps next year that t-shirt business of his doesn't turn out to be as huge as he anticipates, and, homeless, he moves in with the Dunphy family. Or perhaps Gloria hires him to be a manny. That would be fun: a Manny and a manny living in the same house... with Jay. Anyway, the point is that, once again, Modern Family closed on a high note. So far, “Baby on Board” has been the strongest finale I've seen yet.

Castle

As what is becoming habit, Castle closed out its fourth season by further exploring the case involving Kate's mother, only it wasn't the investigation itself which proved to be the most intriguing aspect of the finale. Instead, as is Castle's modus operandi, it was the emotional impact the investigation had on the show's four main characters which proved to be entertaining. The mystery itself is so convoluted at this point that viewers have long since stopped being able to follow along with the clues. Once this happens – once the audience becomes incapable of solving the mystery for themselves, the fun disappears. However, despite this, Castle still managed to close out the season in an interesting fashion, primarily because the family – that of Castle, Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito has now been split up. Furthermore, Alexis is leaving for college, so logistically speaking, it was the perfect time to put Castle and Beckett together. While they've finally managed to figure their feelings and relationship out, everything else has fallen apart, so, while they play happy couple next season, the series will endeavor towards righting everything else that has gone wrong. This was smart on Castle's behalf, because it allowed them to buck the Moonlighting curse before all the dancing around each other performed by the show's super couple became too annoying or too cliché. As a side note, I found the penultimate scene between Castle and Beckett very familiar... as I'm sure many other Liason (General Hospital's Jason and Elizabeth) fans did as well. After all, they were the first couple on ABC to share such a moment, answering 'you' to the question 'what do you want.' The dialogue wasn't a mirrored copy, but it was pretty damn close.

tubulariffic_tv [userpic]

2012-2013 Upfront Analysis – First Impressions

May 21st, 2012 (10:56 pm)
current song: "Get Free" by Major Lazer & Amber Coffman


ABC

* How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life)
Stars: Elizabeth Perkins (“Weeds”), Sarah Chalke (“Scrubs”), Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), Orlando Jones
Executive Producer/Writer: Claudia Lenow (“Less than Perfect”)
Executive Producer: Brian Grazer (“Friday Night Lights”, “24”, “Arrested Development”)
Premise: A recently divorced woman (Chalke) moves back in with her parents... only they're wild and crazy and she's the conservative one.
Time Slot: Tuesday 8:00
First Impression: The humor is predictable, but there's charm and a great cast. I highly doubt it'll do anything, though, to stand out and become a must-watch.

* The Family Tools
Stars: Leah Remini ("King of Queens")
Executive Producer: Mark Gordon ("Grey's Anatomy", "Criminal Minds")
Premise: An unlucky and unsuccessful in business son takes over his ill father's beloved handyman business.
Time Slot: Tuesday 8:30
First Impression: Underdog humor meets physical comedy with a little family dysfunction tossed into the mix equals nothing special.

The Neighbors
Stars: Jamie Gertz ("Still Standing")
Executive Producer/Writer: Dan Fogelman ("Crazy, Stupid, Love"), Aaron Kaplan ("GCB"), Jeffrey Morton ("Modern Family")
Premise: A typical American family is lucky enough to purchase a home in a gated, exclusive New Jersey community... onto discover that all their neighbors are aliens.
Time Slot: Wednesday 9:30
First Impression: Great behind the scenes pedigree; awful trailer. And alien humor has been done - and successfully, too - before.

Nashville
Stars: Hayden Panettiere ("Heroes"), Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights"), and Jonathan Jackson ("General Hospital")
Executive Producer/Writer: Callie Khouri ("Thelma & Louise", "Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood")
Executive Producer: Loucas George ("The O.C.")
Premise: An aging country star with a bevy of family drama seeks to revive her career by opening up on tour for a scheming, talent-less pop star.
Time Slot: Wednesday 10:00
First Impression: I abhor country music, but this looks superb. On the back of powerhouse Britton, it has everything a show could ask for: drama, intrigue, romance, and good old fashioned snarky, soapy goodness.

Last Resort
Stars: Scott Speedman ("Felicity"), Robert Patrick ("The Unit"), Autumn Reeser ("The O.C."), Andre Braugher ("Homicide"), Dichen Lachman ("Dollhouse")
Executive Producer/Writer: Shawn Ryan ("The Unit", "The Shield", "Angel")
Premise: After disobeying orders to nuke Pakistan, a submarine crew goes AWOL on a deserted island while trying to clear their names.
Time Slot: Thursday 8:00
First Impression: It seems very summer blockbuster-esque. What appeals the most is the show's pedigree. I'm worried about the type of visuals and stunts needed for a show like this - if they will be possible on a TV budget.

Malibu Country
Stars: Sara Rue ("Less Than Perfect"), Lily Tomlin ("The West Wing", "Murphy Brown"), Reba McEntire ("Reba")
Premise: After divorcing her cheating, country music legend of a husband, Reba moves her family from Nashville to Malibu to start over, begin her own music career, and navigate the culture shock.
Time Slot: Friday 8:30 (starting in November)
First Impression: Oh, how pedestrian! The only laughs this show should get are those from the laugh track. Awful.

666 Park Avenue
Stars: Dave Annable ("Brothers & Sisters"), Rachael Taylor ("Grey's Anatomy"), Vanessa Williams ("Desperate Housewives", "Ugly Betty"), Terry O'Quinn ("Lost")
Executive Producer/Writer: David Wilcox ("Fringe")
Executive Producer: Matthew Miller ("Chuck", "Las Vegas"), Leslie Morganstein ("Gossip Girl", "The Vampire Diaries", "Pretty Little Liars")
Premise: When someone moves into 666 Park Avenue, their every desire becomes realized... as the new managers quickly learn only, in return, the residence gets a hold over all its inhabitants.
Time Slot: Sunday 10:00
First Impression: Dark, seductive, and sexy as hell - a primetime soap with a supernatural, mysterious twist. I'll be moving in, please. Thank you.

* Mistresses
Stars: Jason George ("Grey's Anatomy"), Alyssa Milano ("Charmed"), Yunjin Kim ("Lost")
Executive Producer: Rina Mimoun ("Gilmore Girls", "Everwood"), Robert M. Sertner ("Revenge", "No Ordinary Family")
Premise: Four women living four distinctly different yet scandalous lives make up a group of friends.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: It looks like a chick-flick with a voice over that lacks any compelling hook or unifying theme. The annoying music in the trailer didn't help at all either.

* Red Widow
Stars: Radha Mitchell, Jaime Ray Newman ("Eastwick")
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg ("Dexter", "The O.C.")
Executive Producer: Tim Iacofano ("24"), Howard Klein ("Parks and Recreation", "The Office")
Premise: After a woman's husband is murdered, she takes on the mob and the FBI in an attempt to discover the truth behind his death and break her family free from the violence.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: It's nothing original, but that doesn't mean that it can't work. I'm put off by the relatively unknown cast and the fact that the screenwriter behind the Twilight films is penning this project.

* Zero Hour
Stars: Anthony Edwards ("E.R.")
Executive Producer/Writer: Paul Scheuring ("Prison Break")
Premise: A paranormal enthusiastic, his two young sidekicks, and an FBI agent work together to follow the clues of a treasure map from inside of a clock in the hopes of finding Edwards' character's kidnapped wife, perhaps saving humanity in the process.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: It's high concept, and we know how well that has worked for network TV since "Lost." It's also a religion based conspiracy mystery - ala The Da Vinci Code, meaning that it's sure to piss some people off. Bottom line, I didn't see any chemistry between the lead couple, and their relationship is the emotional basis for the entire show. This doesn't look too promising.


CBS

Partners
Stars: Sophia Bush ("One Tree Hill"), David Krumholtz ("Numbers"), Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty"), Brandon Routh
Executive Producer/Writer: David Kohan ("Will & Grace"), Max Mutchnick ("Will & Grace")
Premise: Best friends and business partners must adapt when one of them becomes engaged, despite both being in committed relationships.
Time Slot: Monday 8:30
First Impression: As always, Michael Urie is utterly adorable and charming. The rest of the casting... Brandon Routh playing a gay, Michael Urie's boyfriend; Sophia Bush engaged to David Krumholtz? Uh... say what? And what's with CBS's fascination with architects? These two literally follow Ted on "HIMYM." Strange.

Vegas
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jason O'Mara ("Terra Nova", "Life on Mars"), Michael Chiklis ("No Ordinary Family", "The Shield")
Executive Producer/Writer: Greg Walker ("Without a Trace")
Summary: Set in 1960's Vegas, a former WWII military police officer now rancher is taxed with taking down the new to town, Chicago gangster with the assistance of his brother, his son, and the ADA.
Time Slot: Tuesday 10:00
First Impression: It's a western meets a mafia drama period piece with an excellent cast, only the trailer/behind the scenes preview made it look very hokey.

Elementary
Stars: Jonny Lee Miller ("Eli Stone"), Lucy Lui ("Southland", "Dirty Sexy Money"), Aidan Quinn
Executive Producers: Carl Beverly ("Justified"), Sarah Timberman ("Justified")
Premise: In this modern day, NYC set adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock is a disgraced ex-Scotland Yard consultant fresh out of rehab and paired with an addiction specialist Dr. Watson. Together, the two of them will help the NYPD close its most complicated cases.
Time Slot: Thursday 10:00
First Impression: While intrigued by the modern spin and charmed by Jonny Lee Miller, I'm afraid this could get lost amongst all the other cop dramas with an eccentric, comedic twist. It also seems inevitable that Holmes and Watson will end up together, but that definitely changes the pair's classic setup, and I don't know how I feel about that.

Made in Jersey
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan ("Desperate Housewives", "Sex and the City"), Erin Cummings ("Detroit 1-8-7")
Executive Producer/Writer: Dana Calvo ("Covert Affairs")
Executive Producer: "Kevin Falls ("The West Wing")
Premise: While Martina Garretti might not have an Ivy League education, her street smarts and tenacity help her stand out at her prestigious New York City law firm.
Time Slot: Friday 9:00
First Impression: It's a combination of the prototypical underdog from the wrong side of the tracks meets girl power liberation story. I've seen it before, I'll see it again, but I won't be seeing this.

* Golden Boy
Stars: Kevin Alejandro ("True Blood", "Southland"), Bonnie Somerville ("NYPD Blue"), Chi McBride ("Pushing Daisies", "Boston Public"), Holt McCallany ("Lights Out")
Executive Producer/Writer: Nicholas Wootton ("Chuck", "NYPD Blue")
Executive Producers: Greg Berlanti ("Brothers & Sisters", "Eli Stone", "Dirty Sexy Money", "Everwood"), Melissa Berman ("Eli Stone", "Dirty Sexy Money"), Erin Mitchell ("Cold Case"), Richard Shepard ("Ringer")
Premise: Golden Boy follows the career of the youngest NYC police commissioner, focusing on his time as a detective and the intricacies of his professional and personal relationships and the consequences he pays for his fast ascension.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: There is no trailer for this pilot, but it has a great pedigree.

* Friend Me
Stars: Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Executive Producer/Writer: Alan Kirschenbaum ("Raising Hope", "My Name is Earl")
Executive Producers: Eric Tannenbaum ("Two and a Half Men"), Kim Tannenbaum ("Two and a Half Men")
Premise: Two Indiana to California transplants have different ideas on how to socialize: one relies on technology, while the other hangs up a flyer, resulting in the two friends meeting a lot of new people.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: Again, there's no trailer, but, come on - it's McLovin!


CW

* The Carrie Diaries
Stars: AnnaSophia Robb, Austin Butler ("Life Unexpected", "Switched at Birth"), Matt Letscher ("Scandal", "Bent", "Eli Stone")
Executive Producer/Writers: Candace Bushnell, Amy Harris ("Sex and the City", "Gossip Girl")
Executive Prodocers: Len Goldstein ("Hart of Dixie"), Stephanie Savage ("Hart of Dixie", "Gossip Girl", "The O.C."), Josh Schwartz ("Hart of Dixie", "Gossip Girl", "Chuck", "The O.C.")
Premise: This is a Sex and the City prequel, set when Carrie is a high school senior.
Time Slot: Monday 9:00, midseason
First Impression: This is unnecessary. How can you do "Sex and the City" while Carrie's a teenager; without Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha; and on the CW? Have backers learned nothing from Sex and the City 2? Leave Sex and the City alone!

Emily Owens M.D.
Stars: Mamie Gummer ("Off the Map"), Justin Hartley ("Smallville")
Executive Producer/Writer: Jennie Snyder ("Gilmore Girls", "90210")
Executive Producer: Dan Jinks ("Pushing Daisies")
Premise: The life of a first year hospital intern is equated to high school.
Time Slot: Tuesday 9:00
First Impression: It looks like a cattier, not as well cast, cheaper version of "Grey's Anatomy." And Denver, really? That's your setting? Ugh.

Arrow
Stars: Stephen Amell ("Hung", "Private Practice"), Paul Blackthorne ("Lipstick Jungle", "24"), Katie Cassidy ("Melrose Place", "Gossip Girl")
Executive Producer/Writers: Greg Berlanti ("Brothers & Sisters", "Eli Stone", "Dirty Sexy Money", "Everwood"), Marc Guggenheim ("Brothers & Sisters", "Eli Stone"), Andrew Kreisberg ("Warehouse 13", "Fringe", "Eli Stone")
Premise: Based upon the comic book character, this is a new action-adventure series.
Time Slot: Wednesday 8:00
First Impression: I was very... um, impressed by Stephen Amell in the clip for this show, but I have no interest in the series' story.

Beauty and the Beast
Stars: Kristin Kreuk ("Smallville"), Nicole Gale Anderson ("Make It or Break It", "Jonas")
Executive Producer/Writers: Sherri Cooper ("Brothers & Sisters"), Jennifer Levin ("Brothers & Sisters", "Without a Trace", "Felicity")
Executive Producers: Paul Junger Witt ("Empty Nest", "Golden Girls"), Ron Koslow ("Moonlight")
Premise: This mixes the fairytale classic with a procedural element.
Time Slot: Thursday 9:00
First Impression: The trailer doesn't show much, but the show has an amazing behind the scenes pedigree, a great lead in from "The Vampire Diaries," and it fits with the CW's image. I will cautiously wait to see more from this show.

* Cult
Stars: Matt Davis ("The Vampire Diaries"), Jessica Lucas ("Melrose Place"), Robert Knepper ("Heroes", "Prison Break")
Executive Producer/Writer: Rochne S. O'Bannon ("Farscape")
Executive Producers:
Stephanie Savage ("Hart of Dixie", "Gossip Girl", "The O.C."), Josh Schwartz ("Hart of Dixie", "Gossip Girl", "Chuck", "The O.C.")
Premise: After his paranoid brother disappears, Jeff starts to investigate the show "Cult," which his brother predicted would do him harm.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: No trailer has been released for this show yet, but the premise is convoluted to say the least. I fear for Matt Davis and wish he would have stayed on "The Vampire Diaries."


FOX

The Mob Doctor
Stars: Zack Gilford ("Off the Map", "Friday Night Lights"), Jordana Spiro ("My Boys"), Adam Harrington ("The Secret Circle"), Jaime Lee Kirchner ("Mercy")
Executive Producers: Josh Berman ("Bones", "CSI", "Drop Dead Diva"), Michael Dinner ("Justified", "Chicago Hope", "The Wonder Years"), Rob Wright ("Drop Dead Diva", "Las Vegas", "Crossing Jordan", "Charmed")
Premise: To bail our her brother's life-threatening gambling debt, a hotshot cardiothoracic surgeon agrees to be a doctor off the books for the mob, keeping her side "project" a secret from everyone else in her life.
Time Slot: Monday 9:00
First Impression: A new perspective on the mob, this combines a medical drama with a crime thriller. The show is further enhanced by its conflicts aspects - to do no harm versus the cutthroat world of organized crime. This hasn't made a big splash yet, but it looks like it very well could. I see a lot of potential here.

* The Following
Stars: Maggie Grace ("Lost"), Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy ("Rome"), Natalie Zea ("Justified", "Dirty Sexy Money")
Executive Producer/Writer: Kevin Williamson ("The Vampire Diaries", "Dawson's Creek")
Executive Producer: Marcos Siega ("The Vampire Diaries", "Dexter")
Premise: Nine years after putting away a famed serial killer, a retired agent forms a team to not only recapture the escaped convict but to also catch his following - or cult - of serial killers.
Time Slot: Monday 9:00, midseason
First Impression: I didn't want to like this show, because I fear that it could take Natalie Zea away from "Justified," but it looks really good. Led by a superb cast with interesting characters and relationships, this show looks to put just as much focus on the bad guys as it does the heroes... and I like that.

Ben & Kate
Executive Producers: Peter Chernin ("Terra Nova", "Breakout Kings", "New Girl", "Touch"), Katherine Pope ("Terra Nova")
Premise: To help his single mother and straight arrow of a sister raise her five year old daughter, troublemaker Ben moves in.
Time Slot: Tuesday 8:30
First Impression: I was pleasantly surprised by this trailer. There's really no one recognizable on this show, and the actors aren't your typical Hollywood beautiful people, but this makes it seem more real. Sweet, funny, and charming, I'll probably give this a try.

The Mindy Project
Stars: Ed Helms ("The Office"), Bill Hader ("Saturday Night Live"), Mindy Kaling ("The Office"), Anna Camp ("True Blood", "The Good Wife"), Richard Schiff ("The West Wing")
Executive Producer/Writer: Mindy Kaling
Executive Producer: Howard Klein ("The Office", "Parks and Recreation")
Premise: While quirky Mindy is a successful OB-GYN, her personal life is a disaster. The show follows her at work and at play shenanigans.
Time Slot: Tuesday 9:30
First Impression: This is like "New Girl" but without all the put-upon nerd humor, and Mindy is a girl everyone should want to be friends with. Great dialogue, and the cast seems to really gel with each other well.

* The Goodwin Games
Stars: Scott Foley ("Grey's Anatomy", "The Unit", "Felicity"), Becki Newton ("Ugly Betty"), Beau Bridges
Executive Producer/Writers: Carter Bays ("HIMYM"), Chris Harris ("HIMYM"), Craig Thomas ("HIMYM")
Premise: After their father passes away, three adult siblings find out they could inherit $20 million... if they pass the challenges their dad set up for them before he died.
Time Slot: Tuesday ?
First Impression: Scott Foley is funny! All around, this show looks good, and it has an original plot. I'm intrigued.


NBC

Revolution
Stars: Billy Burke ("24"), Giancarlo Esposito ("Once Upon a Time", "Breaking Bad"), Andrea Roth ("Ringer", "Rescue Me")
Executive Producer/Writers: J.J. Abrams ("Alias", "Felicity", "Lost", "Fringe"), Eric Kripke ("Supernatural")
Executive Producer: Bryan Burk ("Alias", "Lost", "Fringe", "Person of Interest")
Premise: In the future, one day electricity just stops along with everything that uses it. Life returns to a simpler time. But what if someone was behind the blackout? This sets up a science-fiction mystery and a race to protect the future.
Time Slot: Monday 10:00
First Impression: The trailer looked impressive. Whereas the name J.J. Abrams used to be synonymous with quality television, his last few series have been disappointments. Perhaps this new series can turn this trend around. It's high concept, but it's retro feeling as well; it has a great cast led by the understated cool of Billy Burk; and it's visually stunning due to the lack of modern conveniences. The only thing that scares me is that it's on NBC, though the network did give it a prime time slot following "The Voice."

* Infamous
Stars: Victor Garber ("Alias", "Eli Stone"), Laz Alonso ("Breakout Kings"), Tate Donovan ("Damages", "The O.C.")
Executive Producer/Writer: Liz Heldens ("Friday Night Lights", "Mercy")
Executive Producer: Gail Berman ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Angel")
Premise: After a wealthy socialize dies, an FBI agent, suspicious of the death, sends the woman's former best friend and the socialite's family's former maid's daughter into the house undercover to discover the secrets which led to the wealthy woman's murder.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: To me, this seems like the heir-apparent to "Desperate Housewives" with a little "Revenge" tossed in. It should prove to be less campy, though. Again, I wish it wasn't on NBC, but I'll try it... if only for Victor Garber, though the series seems to have more than just this actor going for it.

Do No Harm
Stars: Alana de la Garza ("Law & Order"), Phylicia Rashad ("The Cosby Show"), Steven Pasquale ("Rescue Me")
Premise: For years, a successful doctor has been suppressing his alter personality with the help of an experimental sedative, but, when his body develops a tolerance for the drug, his alter reemerges, looking for revenge.
Time Slot: Sunday 10:00
First Impression: Rather than a trailer, NBC released a short clip of this new show, but all I can say is how did this end up on primetime television? It's just so... hokey. The medicine aspect is very sci-fi/graphic novel-esque, but the alter is very daytime. I hope this show has some hidden depth to it somewhere. Otherwise, this could be bad - really, really bad.

Chicago Fire
Stars: Jesse Spencer ("House"), Lauren German ("Hawaii Five-0"), Taylor Kinney ("Dating Rules from My Future Self", "The Vampire Diaries"), Monica Raymond ("The Good Wife", "Lie to Me"), Eamonn Walker ("Oz", "The Whole Truth", "Kings"), David Eigenberg ("Sex and the City")
Executive Producer: "Peter Jankowski ("Law & Order", "Law & Order SVU", "Law & Order Criminal Intent"), Dick Wolf
("Law & Order", "Law & Order SVU", "Law & Order Criminal Intent")
Premise: This show gives an inside look at the men and women who risk their lives everyday as firefighters, rescuers, and EMT's in order to save others. After losing one of their own, tension mounts, escalating the squads' typical level of angst and drama.
Time Slot: Wednesday 10:00
First Impression: Well, NBC got one thing right with this show: in the first clip I ever saw of it, Taylor Kinney was shirtless. While I was never a "Law & Order" fan, I can appreciate this show's pedigree, and it has a solid cast. This looks to be worth giving a chance.

* Next Caller
Stars: Dane Cook, Jeffrey Tambor ("Arrested Development", "Bent"), Collette Wolfe ("Cougar Town")
Executive Producer/Writer: Stephen Falk ("Weeds")
Executive Producer: Marc Buckland ("My Name Is Earl", "Ed")
Premise: When a fresh faced NPR host is brought in to co-host with a raunchy shock-jock, chaos ensues.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: Seeing Jeffrey Tambor on another show just makes me even more bitter about "Bent" all over again. Plus, I don't like Dane Cook. However, I do like the premise of this show, so I'm torn.

* 1600 Penn
Stars: Jenna Elfman ("Dharma & Greg"), Bill Pullman, Josh Gad
Executive Producer/Writer: Josh Gad, Jason Winer ("Modern Family")
Premise: This show is about your typical American family: the father's remarried, the oldest son has to move back home, and the younger siblings have school drama... only this family lives in The White House, because their patriarch is the president.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: Well, the clip shows that Josh Gad is funny, but not a single other main character was featured. I do like the premise, though it's a wait and see at this point.

* Save Me
Stars: Anne Heche ("Hung", "Men In Trees"), Alexandra Breckenridge ("Family Guy", "Dirt"), Heather Burns ("Bored to Death")
Executive Producers: Vivian Cannon ("The Big C"), Neal H. Moritz ("The Big C", "Prison Break"), Scott Winant ("thirtysomething", "My So Called Life", "Huff", "Californication")
Premise: After choking on a sub and nearly dying, a woman is revived and returns with the powers of prophecy, throwing her life and the lives of those around her into a skeptical tailspin.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: Anne Heche's crazy has finally been put to good use. If anyone call pull off this role... But, other than that, I always get skittish around religion. Even when handled humorously, we saw how long "GCB" lasted, and it was a good show on a healthy network.

Guys With Kids
Stars: Jamie-Lynn Sigler ("Entourage", "The Sopranos"), Anthony Anderson ("Law & Order", "The Shield"), Jesse Bradford, Tempestt Bledsoe ("The Cosby Show")
Executive Producer/Writer: Charlie Gandy ("The Office", "Saturday Night Live", "The Daily Show with John Stewart")
Executive Producer: Jimmy Fallon, Amy Ozols ("Late Night with Jimmy Fallon")
Premise: The show takes a look at modern fathers - whether married or divorced, working or stay-at-home - and how they maintain their friendship.
Time Slot: Wednesday 8:30
First Impression: Isn't this just Will Arnett's "Up All Night" character multiplied by three? From the man who brought us Tebowie, I find this disappointing. It's so... safe and pedestrian, boring and cliche.

Animal Practice
Stars: Tyler Labine ("Reaper", "Invasion"), Justin Kirk ("Weeds")
Executive Producer: Anthony Russo ("Community", "Happy Endings"), Joe Russo ("Community", "Happy Endings")
Premise: While great with animals, vet - Dr. George Coleman - is terrible with people... and that's before his ex buys the animal hospital he works at, and she's intent upon a little payback.
Time Slot: Wednesday 8:00
First Impression: Animal humor is for five year olds. That's not me, and that's not the demographic NBC needs to be courting. Pass.

The New Normal
Stars: Jayson Blair ("The Hard Times of RJ Berger"), Ellen Barkin, Justin Bartha, Leslie Grossman ("What I Like About You", "Popular")
Executive Producers/Writers: Ryan Murphy ("American Horror Story", "Glee", "Nip/Tuck"), Allison Adler ("Glee", "No Ordinary Family", "Chuck")
Executive Producer: Dante Di Loreto ("Glee", "American Horror Story")
Premise: A successful couple in a committed relationship have everything but a child. They seek the assistance of a surrogate - a down on her luck yet fertile single mother - in the hopes of realizing their dream of having a family.
Time Slot: Tuesday 9:30
First Impression: I have not been impressed by Murphy's work as of late, and he tends to forget about projects once their new penny shine has worn off. I also worry that this is too progressive for network television (without the traditional aspects like "Modern Family" to help balance/soften it), though perhaps it's because of this reason that we need this show on TV in the first place. I'm curious to see Ellen Barkin on the small screen, too.

Go On
Stars: Matthew Perry ("Friends", "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", "Mr. Sunshine"), Laura Benante ("Playboy Club", "Eli Stone", "Law & Order SVU"), Allison Miller ("Terra Nova", "Kings")
Executive Producer/Writer: Scott Silver ("Friends", "Joey")
Premise: After his wife dies, popular sportscaster Ryan King takes some time off, but, when he wants to go back to work, his boss won't allow him until he seeks counseling.
Time Slot: Tuesday 9:00
First Impression: I wish Matthew Perry would quit signing on to every show that comes his way. Oh, he's his usual charming self, but I've never pictured him as a sportscaster before, and this premise doesn't seem long-reaching. This looks like yet another one and out (season-wise) for Perry, though NBC did give it a prime spot after "The Voice - Results Show."

* Hannibal
Stars: Hugh Dancy
Executive Producer/Writer: Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies", "Dead Like Me")
Executive Producers: Sara Colleton ("Dexter"), Jesse Alexander ("Alias", "Heroes", "Lost")
Summary: Information has yet to be released about this series. In fact, it's still being cast.
Time Slot: ?
First Impression: It just seems like a show based upon movies which are quite out of date would be considerably crippled by its limited appeal.




* Denotes midseason

tubulariffic_tv [userpic]

Sweet and Satisfying Parting Sorrow

April 19th, 2012 (02:06 pm)
current song: "Mind Control" by Friends


On Tuesday night, Ringer concluded its first... and likely only... season, going out with several bangs and on a high note. The finale was a reminder of how good this show could have been and how much better served it would have been had it aired on another network, particularly a cable one. The CW appeals to a very limited audience, and being on the network labels a show and, whether justified or not, pigeonholes it into a certain genre, one which Ringer did not fit. In fact, the show should have been much darker and grittier... which would have easily improved it, only that would not have fit with the CW's brand. But this argument is all rather meaningless, because what's done is done... including, in all likelihood, this show. Episode 1.22 - “I'm the Good Twin,” though, certainly tried its damnedest to make a case for a second season.

Much of the series was bogged down by unnecessary storylines and characters. Because the season finale cut out much of this and got back to the brass tacks of this show – the fact that Bridget stole her sister's identity in order to hide from the mobster who wanted her dead, it was more compelling. Plus, it definitely moved at a much faster pace which benefited the show's premise.
Ringer was always at its best when Bridget was the focus. Despite her flaws, she was quite easily the most likeable character, the most relatable, and she was also the series' heroine. When told from her perspective, the story had more emotional weight – meaning that, practically everything else bogged the show down. From Machado's ridiculous affair with his stripper snitch, to unsympathetic Siobhan's manipulations, to almost all of Malcolm's entire arc on the show, none of this was needed and, in fact, crippled the central mystery.

Imagine what the viewers' shock would have been if they had believed Siobhan dead right along with Bridget all the way up until the season finale. Instead, for months the two identical sisters were running around the same city – one of them completely unaware of the treachery visited upon her. While, granted, New York City is huge, Bridget and Siobhan often frequented the same places; they associated with many of the same people. It became ridiculous that they never ran into each other, no matter how careful or meticulous Siobhan was. Plus, in almost every other aspect of her life, Bridget was rather quick witted. She had street smarts, yet all the constant near-sightings made her look inept. What's more, the twist that Siobhan was (still) pregnant - and with twins - would also have been better served had it been saved as a major reveal in the finale, especially since we never learned the babies' paternity anyway.

While I like to think that, unseen by viewers, Siobhan had been sleeping with John/Charlie as well and that he is the father of her children, this seems unlikely, particularly because John was killed (and prematurely so, especially in light of the fact that both Siobhan and Bridget's enemies were apprehended/shot in the last two episodes of the series, and he would have been a nice villainous addition to a hypothetical second season). Plus, Billy Miller had chemistry in spades with Sarah Michelle Gellar – something she lacked with all her other male leads except for Ioan Gruffudd. Speaking of which, while I appreciated the storyline of Bridget as Siobhan falling in love with her sister's husband and, in turn, Andrew falling back in love with his wife who had oh-so-suddenly changed and for the better, their romance was nothing compared to the beautiful angst that was their break-up. The two actors were superb in this heartbreaking scene together, making me yearn for more tortured love for them, but, like with a baby-daddy role for John, this, in all likelihood, won't be happening because of
Ringer's imminent cancellation.

But what if the show was saved and did get a second season; what then? Almost every single storyline was resolved. Catherine was apprehended, Bridget shot Bodaway, Siobhan's plans were destroyed, Bridget's fairytale relationship with Andrew and Juliet fell to pieces around her when she revealed the truth of her identity, and Bridget learned of her twin's deception. Sure, there were loose pieces to all these storylines which would need to be tied up, but those details would not sustain an entire season. All that remained was learning the true paternity of Siobhan's daughters and the sisters putting their lives back together – Siobhan by attempting to get her old lifestyle back (no doubt by using her newborn children to her advantage regarding Andrew and his money) and Bridget by trying to win back Andrew's affections and dealing with the consequences of her sister's betrayal. This does not an entire season make.

Granted, by the final episode, the series seemed to sort out its supporting characters. Juliet was a compelling addition and would prove interesting in dealing with both versions of her step-mother if
Ringer lived to see another day, and Henry finally found his voice, grew a backbone, and proved himself to be worthy of a storyline. Though only on a platonic level, I could imagine him and Bridget teaming up together to work against Siobhan, particularly because he now has Siobhan's stolen money to bankroll their efforts. And Andrew was always interesting, particularly in his interactions with Bridget. But everyone else is either dead or made superfluous (Machado) by the conclusions of the first season's arcs. Perhaps there are storylines left to be told, but they would lack the film noir style of mystery that was supposed to define the program. While I would watch a second season – or at least give it a chance and hope for the best, I'm not sure I have faith that Ringer would be able to deliver what moments of the series promised but the entirety of the show couldn't quite achieve.

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Everybody Loves a Benedict Arnold – Grimm

April 18th, 2012 (11:33 am)
current song: "Sinful Nature" by Bear in Heaven


In last week's episode of Grimm, Adalind saw both her hexenbiest powers disappear at Nick's hand – or, more accurately, his blood – and the only two people in the world that she loved abandon her, leaving her vulnerable and ripe for switching teams. So, it's now time for her to put her white hat on.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and Adalind has certainly been scorned by Sasha Roiz's Captain Sean Renard. At the conclusion of “Love Sick,” Adalind was devastated. She found her strength from being different than everyone else, in being more than just a pretty face, and she was different because of her hexenbiest powers. With those stripped away from her, she has lost her confidence but certainly not her power. No, the Captain made a glaring mistake by simply allowing her to walk out of his life after discovering that she was no longer a witch. Though she can't use spells to do his dirty work anymore, she does have knowledge of who... and what... he really is, and, as the old cliché goes, knowledge is power, especially since Nick has no idea what he's up against, and that's the Captain's greatest advantage. For now.

While Adalind will no doubt be bitter towards Nick for killing her hexenbiest, what he did to her wasn't personal. He was good, she was bad, and they fought. The Captain, however... what he did to her
was personal. That pain will resonate deeper and far longer than anything Nick did to her. Plus, Adalind is smart. She'll recognize the fact that the best way to hurt the Captain in return and get her vengeance will be to work with his enemy. Oh, it won't be an easy sell. Nick will have his doubts about Adalind's sincerity towards helping him, especially given her role in his aunt's death, but that's part of the beauty of the idea.

As previously stated, David Giuntoli's Nick has so much more chemistry with Claire Coffee's Adalind than he does Bitsie Tulloch's Juliette, his girlfriend. At this point, Nick hates Adalind, too, but that kind of strength of emotion is powerful, and it can incite so many other feelings as well. First, these two would have to slowly form a bond of trust. Trust would then lead to respect, and, though I don't foresee them ever being friends, Nick would be able to share so much more of himself with Adalind than he ever could with Juliette, simply because Adalind is a part of his world. There's already an undertone of desire between them – the passion that is born from animosity. Combine this with constant interaction and the two of them saving each other's lives a few times, and, eventually, a very interesting romantic pairing could be born. And then Grimm would have itself a classic star-crossed lovers storyline. Even though Nick killed Adalind's hexenbiest, she was once his natural enemy, and it would be safe to presume that she would carry the hexenbiest gene, providing years of relationship angst and drama. A grimm and an ex- hexenbiest as lovers would be far more entertaining than a grimm and an unsuspecting so therefore naïve and frankly irrelevant vet. More than this, though, imagine the ripple effects of a relationship between Nick and Adalind across the canvas.

Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and newly added season two regular Rosalee Calvert (Bree Turner) would immediately distrust her – probably even more so than Nick, because they were not there to see Adalind's devastation and therefore a spark of her humanity after Nick killed her hexenbiest. In fact, they would always doubt her and, in all likelihood, be resentful of Nick for bringing her into their fold, giving their group a very interesting and conflicted dynamic. In addition, Nick's relationship with his partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby), would obviously be negatively impacted as well – perhaps even destroyed. Whereas Nick was adamantly opposed to Hank dating Adalind, for him to then take up with her himself, especially because he was supposed to be in love with Juliette – well, that would ruin their trust, their friendship, and probably their partnership as well.

All of this because of one man's mistake and another's attraction to a woman he shouldn't want but I believe secretly does... even if only subconsciously. That's compelling television.

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Contemplating Cable's Best


Justified

The season finale of Justified certainly brought with it some violent visual shocks and awes. A man Raylan respected and often worked with, Tom (Peter Murnik), was murdered, Dickie (Jeremy Davies) was shot, and there was a shootout at Limehouses' (Mykelti Williamson) during which Quarles' (Neal McDonough) arm was cleanly severed off below his elbow. But the death and destruction courtesy of all the twists, turns, and backstabbing wasn't what was most impressive about “Slaughterhouse.” No, that distinction went to the quieter moments.

Ever since Winona left Raylan (again), he's been drinking more heavily, but he hasn't fallen apart. He has done his job without getting into too much trouble. Hell, he even had a one night stand with the bartender at his new place of residence. None of this mattered, though, when Raylan found himself in perhaps his darkest place yet. After learning that Arlo shot Tom – not because he's crazy or because Tom was a cop but because Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) saw a man in a hat pointing a gun at Boyd, there was only one person Raylan wanted to talk to. He ran to Winona, and she listened to him, despite the fact that it was the violence of his life which drove her away from him in the first place. They spoke in hushed tones, no angry or accusatory words were exchanged, and their usual passion for each other was lacking in the scene, but the former couple was nonetheless connected during their exchange, proving that, in one capacity or another, Raylan needs Winona in his life. Plus, Winona is the mother of Raylan's unborn child, emphasized as he slipped out of the house with a passing glance of his hand across her swelling stomach.

Now, there have been rumors swirling that Natalie Zea will not be returning for
Justified's fourth season, rumors that I hope are sincerely false. While her character might not be as front and center as some of the others, Winona is one of the most essential pieces of Raylan's complicated puzzle. Together or apart, his love for her is both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness – one that has yet to really be explored. I find it amazing that none of his adversaries have yet to really use Winona against him. Now, add a child to the mix, and that makes her even more of his achilles heel and someone who definitely needs to be a part of the show's canvas. Plus, it cannot be argued that Zea and Olyphant sizzle on screen together.

Meanwhile, the fates of many of the series' criminal elements are also up in the air. Arlo might be insane, but, by copping to both Tom and Devil's deaths, he guaranteed Boyd's (Walton Goggins) freedom and, in what will likely be his own in a few short months. Because of his obvious mental condition, he'll receive a lighter punishment – perhaps even a stay in a psychiatric facility – something that will be extremely easy to break out of and extremely easy for someone with Arlo's connections to be released from. Then there's Dickie who was shot, but it was made unclear whether Raylan's bullet was deadly or not. The same thing applies to Quarles. He was injured, but was it fatal? Plus, there's also the entire mess between Limehouse, Johnny (David Meunier), and Boyd. Yes,
Justified provided some resolution to the third season's arcs, but, more so than in past seasons, it also feels like the series left many questions unanswered, or, at least, the answers that were provided are still open for interpretation. This is promising, because both Quarles and Limehouse were interesting, complicated villains, and they certainly make good playthings for Boyd and good adversaries for Raylan; this is also frustrating, because now we have to wait nine months for Justified to return again.

Mad Men

5.05 - “Signal 30” was, in my opinion, Mad Men's strongest outing this season thus far. The reason why this is so, however, I find disturbing. Up until this year, the series' focus has always been on John Hamm's Donald Draper. While other characters are sometimes featured more heavily than others, Don drove storyline, and he carried the series. All the other characters found pieces of their personalities reflected back at them through Don, and the show used Don to portray the changes time wrought upon the county, but this is no longer the case. “Signal 30,” instead, focused upon Vincent Kartheiser's Pete, Aaron Staton's Ken, and Jared Harris' Lane and was stronger because of it, because, in less than half a season, Don has become nearly superfluous and definitely stuck.

While I have no problem with the idea of Don maturing, growing, and becoming a better man, is that really what he's doing? Because his relationship and subsequent marriage to Megan happened so quickly, we never really got to see how these changes managed to take place in Don, so they have become unbelievable. It certainly cannot be denied that he's going through some kind of crisis, but, in the meantime, he's become... boring. The demons are still there, but he's repressing them. I have no doubt that, in lying to himself, Don is also setting himself up for perhaps what will be his greatest fall yet, but this space in between while we wait for his precarious house of cards to collapse around him has rendered Don obsolete. He's a shadow of his former self and, consequently, a fraction as entertaining. There is hope, though, because, after more than four seasons, Don knows less about himself than he ever has before.

At the same time, it's like Pete has turned back Don's clock and is living his life with Betty all over again – only, rather than depicting the years viewers already saw between Don and his ex-wife, the show is taking us back to the beginning of Don's marriage, back to when he and Betty were first starting out in the suburbs, back when things really started to fall apart. The beauty of this, though, is that the storyline doesn't feel redundant, because Pete and Don are so vastly different from one another. Pete's demons are far more external. Perhaps this is why he's also much more defensive of his actions, especially towards Don whom he both idolizes almost as a father figure and detests for the same reason at the same time.

Meanwhile, there's Lane who seems to be regressing emotionally... or, perhaps more accurately, discovering himself and his emotions for the first time. There's this sense about Lane that he has always been dissatisfied with his life, but, for the first time, he also feels like he is entitled to his feelings and, thus, is actually exploring them. Consequently, he's bored with his job and wants to see something more than a column of numbers result from the efforts of his own hands. Hence, in 5.05, he attempted to bring in an account to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. It also explains his sudden need to assert his dominance sexually (his crush upon Joan) and as a man (his fight with Pete... which, as a side note, was hilarious, and it's shocking that it's taken
Mad Men five seasons to resort to fisticuffs in the office). All of Lane's progress, though, is dulled by the shadows of both his wife and father looming behind him. Until he deals with both of these demons, he'll never be happy or satisfied.

Finally, “Signal 30” also focused upon Ken Cosgrove. Through his blossoming friendship with Peggy (this is fascinating on two levels – one, because they have nothing in common yet compliment each other well and, two, because was I the only one who saw some chemistry between them?) and his wife's loose lips at a dinner party hosted by Pete and Trudy, it was revealed that Ken is still writing. In fact, he's had enough short stories published that he was contemplating putting together a collection for a book. Roger attempted to stifle this, only for the episode to end with Ken sitting up in bed late at night writing a piece inspired by Pete and his insecurities, something that was no doubt Cosgrove's way of retaliating for what he believes to be Pete's attack upon him by Pete tattling to Roger... only I wonder if it actually was Pete who went to Sterling. For some reason, the move reeked of Peggy's underhanded tactics to me. After all, friends or not, she wouldn't want to lose her accounts man, because we know just how ambitious Peggy is, and her ambitions start and end at work. She couldn't have Cosgrove distracted by his little stories, could she?

The Killing

A pattern emerged last night on AMC, for The Killing also had its strongest outing yet for its second season. 2.04 - “Ogi Jun” saw the series return to form as there was both storyline and character development. As Holder (Joel Kinnaman) said of his partnership with Linden (Mireille Enos), “at least we're back to normal.” The odd pairing shared both some lighter moments as Holder, fitting with his penchant for getting Linden to actually talk, teased her about a no-strings attached relationship she had with an FBI agent who works organized crime and pissed her off enough to leave him behind to stake out their latest suspect's apartment while she went off on her own once more. This doesn't mean that these two haven't grown together in some ways, however. While perhaps seemingly silly, Holder is once more eating meat, meaning that he's letting go of some of his self-rules, which one can assume he set in the first place to give himself some control. He's not using again, but he is certainly battling his demons, only now he's seemingly doing so more openly in front of Linden... whether she wants him to or not.

Partly, her distraction can be blamed upon the fact that her ex is suing her (and rightfully so) for joint custody of their son. In addition, just like former suspect Kris (Gharrett Patrick Paon) was used to reflect the demons in Holder's past, the show has now provided a suspect with whom Linden will be able to identify. It turns out that the man with the Japanese anime tattoo was a foster kid... a foster kid who was in the system because his young, teenage mother couldn't be a parent and dropped him off on the steps of a church because his father had been murdered by none other than Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton) on the orders of his former boss, Janek Kovarsky (Don Thompson). What's more, his father was shot in the head and then hogtied and dumped into the trunk of a car. Sound familiar?

Only, on
The Killing, it's never that simple. It's still unclear just how much of his birth father's history Rosie's friend/lover was aware of? Even if he did know everything, why go after Rosie; why not just target Stan himself? Plus, why work for the man who ordered Stan to murder his father? It seems more likely that he and Rosie were working together to uncover something – perhaps the true depth of Kovarsky's power and corruption – and she was caught and taken care of, while he has to bide his time and continue their search alone. This is just supposition, however. No matter where this latest twist goes, though, it's intriguing... as is the fact that, as I predicted, Rosie's Aunt Terry (Jamie Anne Allman) has some kind of connection with Michael Ames (Barclay Hope), pulling Rosie's ex Jasper (Richard Harmon) back into the mix of the investigation as well. While some viewers might be frustrated by the fact that, as more episodes air, less becomes clear about who killed Rosie Larson (Katie Findlay), but I, for one, am enjoying the murky depths of this mystery.