Monday, October 02, 2006

Lost in Heroes -- The New Season
One thing is clear about the new television season: Lost has had a huge impact on it. Six Degrees is about people who are connected in various ways but don't know it. The Nine involves a group of people involved in a trauma, and their lives are shown through a series of flashbacks. Heroes also has a story about a group of people connected in some way, who are located in different parts of the world, all linked by what seems to be a sort of genetic experiment. And it's my favourite of the new shows.

Heroes had a very complicated first episode. You had to watch it twice to really follow what was going on. It was something about an Indian professor who was doing research on using genetics to take human evolution to the next level, and he may or may not have been experimenting on people. There are people all over the world who have superhero powers, but don't know it -- except for one, the lovable Hiro from Tokyo, who reads comic books voraciously and has wanted to be a superhero since he was a child. Throughout the ep, I thought maybe his powers were in his mind, and he would turn out to be the only one who WASN'T a hero, but then he did something remarkable by the end of the episode. Heroes had extraordinary ratings for the premiere (I heard 25 million people... is that true?) and if that's really the case, it has a good chance of not being cancelled after 6 episodes.

And therein lies my major concern about investing any time in the new shows. I LOVED Reunion on FOX, and they cancelled it. I adored Miracles on ABC a few years ago. Cancelled. Arrested Development (which, granted, had two and a half seasons, and wasn't axed after a couple of smart half-hours), Firefly, Wonderfalls... so many good shows are left unfinished because some exec didn't have the time to let it flourish. Considering the box office numbers on Serenity, the movie based on Joss Whedon's Firefly, and the sales of the Firefly guidebooks out there, I hope someone got fired over THAT particular idiotic move.

So what do we do? Do we not watch anything? Do we just decide to keep to our shows that are on the air now (Lost, Veronica Mars, Prison Break, etc.) and if a show from the 2006-2007 season does well, we buy the DVDs in fall 2007? It's a toughie. I'd like to say I'm holding out and just waiting, but I'm a sucker for television (obviously). So I've already watched a ton.

Heroes -- as I said, hands down the most exciting new show of the season.

Ugly Betty -- I LOVED this show because I loved America Ferrera, who plays Betty (I saw her at the film festival a few years ago starring in a movie called Real Women Have Curves, and it was a ton of fun). When she walked into the offices of Mode Magazine wearing the fire engine red poncho with GUADALAJARA emblazoned on it, I nearly fell off the couch laughing. But it's laughing in a sad way -- you just want to reach out and hug her, and not let those leeches break her down. Can't wait for the second ep.

Smith -- Felt like a movie, good acting, nice premise, a few surprises... but I'm just not sure it's got what will keep me coming back for more. This might be one of those shows my husband ends up watching and I give up on.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- Definitely one of the most clever shows of the new season. The dialogue is crisp, the acting is superb, and it's SUCH a good idea I'm surprised no one had it sooner (unfortunately, two shows had it in the same season). BUT... I can't help thinking it's West Wing in a TV studio. Josh... I mean, Bradley Whitford, is the guy running things, though Amanda Peet is the president of the network. Personally, I think Amanda Peet was grossly miscast -- she feels out of place, her speeches lack the oomph of a good Aaron Sorkin speech. Matthew Perry is funny, but whenever he delivers a zinger of a line, I can't help but think he KNOWS he just delivered a zinger of a line. This is a clever show that KNOWS it's clever, and that can spell trouble. I hope it can keep away from the contrived dialogue -- there was a scene in the second episode where Perry's character is trying to write the opening scene, and they come up with this Gilbert and Sullivan parody and seriously, not only is everyone in the room on the EXACT same page of the thought process, but one of them says the first line, and the second one comes up with this hilarious second line that not only has the perfect meter, but rhymes. Come ON. (But then they show you the opening number and you think, Oh my GOD... someone let Aaron Sorkin write SNL ... PLEASE.) So I'm going to hang in there, because this show has a ton of potential, and I look forward to it every week.

Jericho -- Dark, it has Skeet Ulrich (who starred in Miracles) though these days he's looking less and less like Johnny Depp (one of my friends compared him more to K-Fed... ACK!) It also has Gerald McRaney, who viewers will either think of as half of Simon & Simon, or Major Dad, or Hearst, depending on your TV viewing and generation you're from. It's a very dark premise -- a nuclear bomb has gone off near Jericho, and through various reports they're discovering it wasn't the only one, and they're beginning to suspect they might be the last people on Earth. It's an interesting premise, and it's frightening, but by the end of the first episode, I thought some of it was pretty cheesy. Ulrich's character is the black sheep of the family (what he did is unclear) and his father has spurned him, but he's involved in one heroic act, and by the final moments of the pilot you can just see the badness on screen... "Oh, SON!" "Oh, DADDY! I LUV YOOOOO!" Yeah... let's just say I have the next few episodes on the PVR, and haven't really had the inclination to watch them yet. I will, though, because I might as well get them in before it's cancelled.

Dexter -- The darkest, weirdest, and certainly most psychotic of the new shows. I don't know if I love it or if it just creeps me out too much yet. The first ep aired last night (on TMN in Canada, ShowTime in the U.S.). The premise of the show is that Dexter (played by Michael C. Hall, who was David on Six Feet Under) is a sociopath. He's a forensics investigator by day, working on crime scenes and helping police find a killer. But he has access to cold case files, and he looks through them, tracks down the suspected killers the police were unable to convict, and follows them until he's sure they really did it. Then he traps them, tortures a confession out of them, and kills them in grotesque ways (the first guy we see him do this to, he hacks off his limbs while the guy is alive and conscious). We find out through flashbacks (there are the flashbacks again!!) that his foster father figured out his son was a sociopath when he began finding little graves of animal bones, and he knew his son would grow up to be a murderer, so he taught him to funnel that rage and focus it on the people who "deserved" it. And you can't help but... kinda... agree. (My brother is a lawyer who believes strongly in rehabilitation of even the worst criminals, so let's just say this show ain't for him.) It's a tough one to watch, and the writers make it that way. (There's a scene where the wife of one of the men Dexter's killed is crying in the captain's office, demanding the department find her husband... for a moment you feel sad, then you realize her husband first molested, then killed, several little boys.) Dexter is charming to people, but he has a coldness and oddness about him that makes you wonder why more people aren't completely weirded out by him. He's just discovered another serial killer in Miami, and instead of putting his head into the case to try to find the guy to convict him, he studies the victims and becomes intensely jealous, because he believes this man has an artistry that he lacks (the man drains the victims of every last drop of blood, then slices the body into several parts and reassembles the parts in public areas). By the end of the first episode, the killer has made contact with Dexter, and Dexter is THRILLED. His girlfriend, played by Julie Benz (Darla from Angel and Buffy) is another emotionally fractured individual who also doesn't seem to realize there's something wrong with a guy who has no interest in sex, and when she tells him she loves him he says, "Oh... OK! Thanks!" I'm going to keep watching this one, but it just might be too dark. What is with Michael C. Hall and dead bodies?

And now my other viewing:

Amazing Race 10 -- I love Amazing Race. I just do. Every season they have some bitchy gay guys, some person with a physical difficulty of some kind, bartenders, twins, cheerleaders, etc. This year we have a father who is "disappointed" in his lesbian daughter, when I believe he should be owning up to his own homosexuality. There's a woman with a prosthetic leg who is absolutely amazing, but her partner... GAH! I just want someone to hold his head in a toilet and flush it about 87 times. He's AWFUL. She seriously wants a relationship with this guy? Really? Then you've got the two rehab guys who are so far just annoying. There's no older couple on this season, which is strange, but you do have two Southerners who, granted, are super sweet and I love them, but if they win the money I hope they use it for dental work. I really like the two Korean brothers. My favourite moment with them was in the premiere, when they learned they were all going to China, and the one guy goes, "All RIGHT! We're going to the homeland!" Pause. Other brother: "Dude, we are KOREAN." Hahahahahaha... this week they all went to Vietnam and visited a POW camp, and while the others were falling all over themselves to grab the clue, the only people who stopped to actually give reverence to it were these brothers. They're probably my favourite team.

America's Next Top Model -- GO TYRA! But WHY oh WHY did you get rid of my favourite one in WEEK TWO?! Sheesh...

Lost -- Can't wait can't wait can't wait can't wait....

Veronica Mars -- Can't wait can't wait can't wait can't wait...

The Office -- How much do I love this show? It's the only show that has me doubled over laughing, even when I'm completely alone in the room. Last week's opening bit with Pam and Michael talking about Michael adopting a child had me in stitches.

My Name Is Earl -- Got the eps on the PVR, haven't watched them yet, but this show is truly brilliant.

Everybody Hates Chris -- see "My Name Is Earl"

Prison Break -- watched the premiere and it seemed so predictable and derivative of season 1 I kept thinking man, they'd better change it up a bit, or they're gonna lose me. So I have something like 6 eps sitting on the PVR and I'll watch it when other things are on hiatus.

Weeds -- still one of my favourite shows, season 2 is just as funny as season 1. The scene where the uncle explains to his nephew how to masturbate without clogging up the plumbing was CLASSIC.

The Wire -- one of the best television shows EVER, this show is far too complicated to watch once a week, so I'm letting it sit on the PVR until they all air, and then we'll watch them back to back.

Life on Mars -- another show sitting on the PVR right now. Only 6 eps, so it's not the commitment the others are.

EastEnders -- yes. I watch EastEnders. It's a British soap opera, it's over the top, and I only started watching in 2003, and BBC Canada is TWO YEARS behind. But hey, it's my thing, and I love it.

Then there are the shows I have on DVD that I want to get through -- Battlestar Galactica (LOVE IT), Profit, Deadwood...

Um. I think I watch too much TV.

But let me know if I'm missing something.


Anonymous said...

oh my god, where to begin? i totally agree with everything you said about heroes ... i LOVE that show. i've been watching a lot of new stuff this season to see what 'sticks' and this is the only one that's a dead lock. the end of last night's episode was absolutely BRILLIANT. and i love, love, LOVE "super-hiro!" hahahha! he's awesome. he's like a japanese hurley -- definitely pegged to be a fan favourite.

studio 60 ... i was reading your thoughts about it and nodding along emphatically. i really wanted to like this ... aaron sorkin, tommy schlamme, brad whitford, matt perry, timothy busfield ... what's not to love? and then i tuned in and ... i hated it. oh god, did i hate it. it reeked of self-congratulatory "heh, aren't we clever -- NBC fired us from the west wing 3 years ago, but here we are, bigger and better than ever, writing our own show about our alter-egos and how very witty/clever/smug/brilliant we--i mean--*they* are!" every time someone in the pilot mentioned how "lucky" they would be to get danny and matt to be their showrunners, my eyes rolled so much, i thought they'd be permanently stuck in the back of my head. yes, aaron. we get it. you're so terribly talented and witty and verbose and intellectual and you're going to remind us every minute that you can. enough, already. not to mention, watching amanda peet "act" is like listening to nails go down a chalk board. she is COMPLETELY miscast and completely out of her depth here -- she flattens every scene she's in. matt perry is fine, in fact, i don't even equate him with chandler any more (the newfound bloat he's wearing helps a lot with that), but brad whitford, much as i love him, is simply playing josh lyman with a drug problem. boring.

smith i love for two reasons: jonny lee miller and simon baker. *ahem.* but seriously ... it's not bad. i have a gut feeling it'll be cancelled, naturally, because i'm enjoying it (i so totally hear you on reunion last year!), but i'll watch until it is. it's interesting (despite amy smart).

ugly betty, i really *wanted* to like, but it fell a little flat to me. i loved the poncho scene (hahahaha!) but it seemed to be too neatly sewn up in a bow at the end of the first episode, and both me and a friend of mine were left wondering where do we go from here? i'm not really sold on her being "ugly", either ... even with glasses and braces and questionable fashion sense, she's still very clearly a pretty woman/girl. meh.

jericho -- more than any other new show this season, this one reminds me of lost simply because of the announcer's "find out what happened to the OTHER survivors by logging in to our web site!" comment at the end of the first episode. :-\ yeah, maybe after you've been on the air a couple of seasons, you can pull that whole media integration thing, but after one lousy episode, when we have no vested interest in ANY charaters yet, yet alone introducing new 'virtual' ones? please.

and the one show you're not watching that you need to? why, house, of course!! :-D

Nikki Stafford said...

I will agree with you on the ending of Ugly Betty. It was totally pat, and I would like to think it's because they were trying to sell the pilot to the station and had to have it all wrap up in a neat bow so Betty would end up OK. It was very convenient, and completely unlikely. Have you seen a picture of the Latino version of Betty (it's based on a South American TV show)? She has greasy hair and awful teeth and is SERIOUSLY ugly, and you're right; our Betty just isn't that ugly. But she's just off-putting enough to clearly not belong in that organization.

As for House... I KNOW. I need to borrow the DVDs from someone, because I tuned into the season 3 premiere, and despite being excited that Glory was on it (from Buffy), I thought, meh. Boring. What is all the hype about? The storyline was derivative, House wasn't as funny as I heard he was supposed to be, and the end to the case of the guy in the wheelchair was as pat as the end of Ugly Betty. Then someone told me that actually, as eps go, that was not one of the better ones, so maybe I just need to begin at the beginning. But do I have time to add another show? ;)