Thursday, November 4, 2010

Looking Over the Wreckage of the Fall TV Season

The jack-o-lanterns have gone mushy, uneaten smarties litter the floor, the American electorate has proven that it is both not very bright and pretty much a dick. Almost every fall show has premiered (I'm still waiting on Human Target, dammit) and I've watched a fair portion, mostly to distract myself from the prospect of the slow dissolution of everything good and decent in our society. Here's the good, the bad, and the meh, in order of awesomness.

Luther - BBC America
Episode Watched: 3 out 6

Idris Elba is brilliant; the writing, acting and direction is lean and crisp. I can't think of adequate superlatives to describe how much I love this show. It avoids being derivative or cliched, and it's like nothing you're going to see on American TV.

Terriers - FX
Episodes watched: 9

Terriers is like reading a good book series. It's complex and rich, and the characters slowly evolve . Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James are excellent as private detective partners, one an ex-cop, one an ex-thief. The leisurely, indie-movie pace is part of its charm, but ironically may be the reason nobody's watching it. People have the attention span of spaghetti.

The Walking Dead - AMC
Episodes Watched: 1

I've been waiting forever for The Walking Dead, and I wasn't disappointed. Lennie James rocks, and if you don't know Lennie James, you fail to rock. It's beautifully shot and appropriately frightening, and I'm glad the zombies look like real dead people, not TV dead people. You can also count me a fan of slow zombies in the great debate of slow versus fast. Promises to be a great ride.

My one caveat is that I haven't really warmed to the living characters yet (except for Lennie James, and his character, as Stephen King might put it, has at least for now "passed from our story") but I suppose you can't ask for everything from one 90 minute episode. If they don't shape up, I look forward to rooting for them to be dispatched in suitably horrifying ways, because that's the kind of mood I'm in lately. I have hopes for Andrew Lincoln, as I've realized my standoffishness towards him may be residue of how much I came to dislike his character in Afterlife. Passive/aggressive much? And besides, Michael Rooker!

Hawaii Five-0 -CBS
Episodes Watched: 6

It's not great art, but it's great fun. I don't care if my opinion is colored by nostalgia, I'm enjoying it. And Scott Caan is the cat's pajamas. I want him to move in next door. And that's high praise indeed, because I really don't like people.

Raising Hope - FOX
Episodes Watched: 6

Low-brow? Maybe. But it's funny and surprisingly sweet. Garrett Dillahunt, Martha Plimpton, and Lucas Neff are all great, and it really is quite hilarious in an over-the-top kind of way.

Well that does it for the bright spots, now the dull spots.

Undercovers - NBC
Episodes Watched: 4

Dammit, I really wanted to like this show. All the principles were swell, but the concept and execution was not. At. All.  Here's hoping all the actors find better work elsewhere, because they deserve it. JJ Abrams, consider yourself on probation.

Blue Bloods - CBS
Episodes Watched: 2

I gave this a shot, mostly because I like Donnie Wahlberg and Len Cariou. But this was talky and dull and derivative. It seemed to consist mostly of Tom Selleck looking pensive. Dude, your face is going to freeze like that.

No Ordinary Family - ABC
Episodes Watched: 1

I like Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz, but the one episode I watched was kind of all over the place. There were some cool moments (like when Michael Chiklis' buddy builds him a lair) but not enough cool to displace the decidedly lukewarm. Where they lost me? The teenage girl finds out she can hear people's thoughts, and throws a whiny little hissy fit. If I was a teenage girl who suddenly discovered I had the power to read minds, I would be immediately plotting my takeover of the world. Just saying.

The Defenders - CBS
Episodes Watched: 1

Let me begin by saying I have nothing against Jerry O'Connell. He seems like a nice guy. I don't really have anything against Jim Belushi, except for the fact that According to Jim has been beamed into space and someday aliens may see it and rush over to destroy the planet. That said, this is dreck. Not malicious dreck, but dreck nonetheless. It's like Funyuns. It's the vaguely onion-flavored Styrofoam of TV.

The Event - NBC
Episodes Watched: 1

It's the present. Now it's 18 months in the past. Now it's 6 months in the past. Now it's 30 minutes ago. It's the present - maybe. It's 30 minutes ago, but from a different angle. It's 3 minutes in the future. It's 8 months in the past, but in a different language. It's the present - wait, it's 1 week ago. No, it's the present.

Halfway in I actively wanted to hurt someone. Instead of 3-D glasses, they should have provided anyone watching this with a bottle of Vicodin and a gun.

Running Wilde - FOX
Episodes Watched? 1/2

This is a black hole that lets nothing funny out. NOTHING.  I would say more, but that would entail remembering watching it.

Bring on the midseason replacements! And where is my Human Target? I need some Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley and Mark Valley to wash the taste of the last few weeks out of my head. 

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