Saturday, August 8, 2009

TV Quickies

USA's In Plain Sight is a mildly entertaining diversion, but the best reason to watch that show continues to be the droll wit of Fred Weller's Marshall Mann sidekick. Oh, and the show's creator is leaving after this season, and doesn't sound exactly happy about it. At least he's taking Jinx with him.

Speaking of mildly entertaining summer diversions, I like the cast of Leverage, but can't for the life of me figure out Beth Riesgraf. She's either one of the worst actors on television who can't facially convey normal human emotions in any scene she's in, particularly when she's not the center of focus, OR she's absolutely brilliant, giving her somewhat mysterious and off kilter character perplexing line readings and throwing exaggeratedly muggy (and adorable) expressions from her visage.

The Dollhouse DVD is fantastic. "Epitaph One" is truly the mind-blowing revelation you've heard about, and pulls brilliant, heartbreaking performances out of everyone involved (especially Topher!). And the original pilot is much, much better than the aired pilot, with 100% less head-scratching hostage negotiation. The special features are entertaining, and similar to what you've seen on other Whedon discs. (I hope to catch the commentaries later this week).

I had a coupon for a free movie on DirecTV on demand, and used it on the third Underworld movie. If you're going to watch a silly, blue tinted movie about the emancipation of werewolves, it certainly helps to have thespians Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy around to chew scenery and class up the place a bit. (Pouty Rhona Mitra as an undead kickass princess doesn't hurt, either).

The Burn Notice finale was great, though I did think they wasted too much time this season with the woefully miscast Moon Bloodgood as Det. Paxson. Some online reaction was surprising, in that people complained (SPOILER) that Michael shot Strickler "in cold blood." First, Strickler had a gun on him, so it wasn't exactly "cold blood," and second, I was glad that Michael took direct action against a rather unsavory character. Too often on Burn Notice, the bad guys wind up arrested or humiliated or driven out of town. I think that someone with Michael's background wouldn't hesitate to put someone down if they needed putting down, unless the act itself interfered with completion of the mission or hampered his long term plans. And while he was killing things that needed killing, he could have shot all the Irish accents that came out of a community theatre production of Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

Similarly, I've been catching up on Bruce Campbell's one season cult classic Brisco County Jr., which is a trippy Wild Wild West like show combining frontier adventure with dollops of sci-fi (it was co-created by Lost EP Carlton Cuse, if that tells you something). It's a fun show, particularly for fans of The Chin, but I think at the time it might have played things for the kids too much, since hardly anyone ever gets shot - on a show full of bounty hunters and quick-drawing gunslingers.

I also decided to pick up some reruns of Sons of Anarchy on FX, and after the first two eps, I have to say it's quite intriguing. Don't know why I missed this first time around, but it shows quite a bit of promise.

Speaking of FX, I think I've mentioned this before, but I blazed through the entire series run of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and it's got to be one of subversively funniest things I've ever seen. It's absolutely, gloriously politically incorrect, and for that, I love its shriveled, dark heart.

Warehouse 13, SyFy's new (Bones + X-Files / The Librarian x Friday the 13th: The Series) show, gets better each and every week. It's really well cast and a lot of fun, though the writing (and plot machinations) could use some tightening.

So, Paula Abdul is off American Idol. To which I say, thank Zeus. Look, the other two chair fillers to Simon's right are just as inept. Randy is a self-absorbed ("Did you know I worked with Mariah, dawg? And I toured with Journey?") fountain of idiotic catch phrases ("for me, for you" "molten hot" "work it out" "aiight" "dawg") that doesn't do a think to elevate the contestant critiques. Given her background in the industry and CV, I had hopes for Kara. But whether it was her role as the "fourth wheel" on a panel that tended to drone on already (when it wasn't interrupted by witless audience reaction, wasting even more time in already overstuffed shows), the criminally incompetent directing and production that actually reduced the meaningful content of the shows (the singing) while allowing it to consistently bloat beyond all reason and fuck with DVRs all across America, or her own cosmic gift for malaprops (Studio 57, for example) and incoherence ("early" Aerosmith and "artistry"), she didn't exactly make a great first impression. Still, given a choice of whom to boot among Kara, Randy and Paula, I would have given Paula the pink slip. The former have more "credibility" on their actual resumes than Paula, a performer never known for her "vocals" (or production or songwriting) anyway. And I prefer my entertainment scripted if I want to watch someone strung out on pills (Greg House), verbally incomprehensible (Tracy Jordan) or endearingly supportive (Hurley). Personally, I would have wiped out all the judges sans Simon and started over, but hopefully, given the contract situations, that can be taken care of after next season. (Kara had a one year option picked up, and Randy is signed through next year). Almost anyone would be better. What about Elton John? Jody Watley? Susanna Hoffs? Or my personal choice, Harry Connick Jr. (mentioned back in a 2008 "how to fix Idol" post, along with some other fixes for common Idol problems). Initially the silver lining (inside of the gold lining of 86ing the less intellectually gifted half of the duo who sang "Opposites Attract") in all this was that we'd be back to a somewhat more streamlined panel of three, instead of the performance eradicating blight and bloat of four that submarined much of this last season. However, the producers have stated that they plan to press on with four judges in a yet to be determined fashion, whether it be with a permanent replacement or rotating guest judges (such as they're doing early on with Posh Spice and Katy Perry). Sigh.


  1. I am loving Warehouse 13...great little summer show. I agree, the writing isn't always the tightest, but I am consistently entertained.

    I still think there is hope for Kara if we could replace Randy with someone who is not totally useless...adding freaking Posh Spice and Katy f'n Perry is NOT the answer.

  2. Yeah, I always try to give shows a "first year pass" if I'm hooked by the cast or concept. Some shows come out guns a blazing (like Lost, Deadwood, Dexter and Firefly for example), but others take some time to find their footing (like X-Files, Big Love or Fringe). I'll give W13 some time, but as you say, I'm entertained with every ep, so there's only a brighter future if they keep going on the entertaining track they're on.

    As for Kara, it really can't get any worse. Her time was squeezed, she was new and constantly a source of overruns (that weren't always her fault) and her "coronation song" sucked sweaty balls. So...nowhere to go but UP! If she's a talent, she'll read and take to heart all the criticisms and work her ass off to not embarrass herself this year. And what about this, replace Randy with Katy or Posh, and instead of them saying a word, they just stand up and we look at them? (He says, as an unabashed fan of big-racked Zooey Deschanel clones / English accented asymmetrical bobs).