Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

3 New Fall Shows: Meh

I find Fall TV to be an interesting phenomenon. We go into it expecting most of it to be terrible, and that most of the new shows will be canceled within a few months. Entertainment magazines and bloggers make predictions about what will be first on the chopping block. I understand all about Sturgeon's Law (that 90% of everything is crud), but I still have to wonder why TV networks can get things so wrong so regularly. Is the answer just that making TV shows is really hard? Or is it that TV studios are really stupid?

Anyway, I've been watching more TV than I would like lately. Which is not to say that I don't like watching TV, but that I haven't been sleeping much this last week (due to a cold that didn't let me breathe when I laid down, and also due to a baby who is currently for sale.) (Cheap!)

A few thoughts on the new season. I'll quite likely spoil things without warning (or regret).

The Event

The premise of this show is surprisingly simple for being a big conspiracy show. There are two main plots: one has a twenty-something guy who's trying to find his kidnapped girlfriend (whilst being framed for a murder), and the other has the President of the United States dealing with some aliens in an Alaskan prison. The aliens have powers, they look like humans, they've infiltrated society. And so on.

So, it's going to be more long-form mystery/conspiracy stuff. The question is: will it be good, like the first season of Heroes, or will it suck, like all the other seasons of Heroes? Will it be layered and complex, like Lost, or will it be a cheap mystery/conspiracy knock-off, like FlashForward? My answer: almost certainly the latter.

Here's the biggest problem with The Event: they don't have enough ideas. The structure is great and fun, how they bounce around through the time line to see different things from different angles. But here's the problem with that: the different viewpoints don't reveal anything significantly different.

For example: we knew that Leila (the aforementioned girlfriend) was kidnapped from her room on the cruise ship. The show had explained that, it had inferred that, and then we saw her with the kidnappers. But then we have a flashback where we get to watch it happen--for no reason whatsoever. Both of the episodes so far have been full of this kind of thing: flashbacks that reveal nothing, give no clues, no additional insights. It's like they have 20 minutes of good material (well, "good" material) and then they have pad the rest of the hour with repeated, obvious fluff.

All of that said, I don't hate the show and I'll probably give it a few more weeks to find its feet before I give up. I don't know why. I think it's because the actors are likable. There's nothing about the show that's really making me mad--just making me sad. You've disappointed me, The Event. I expected more from you. I want you to think about what you've done. (Or not done.)

Survey says: I'll give it another few episodes.

Hawaii Five-O

As the well-known theme music came on, my baby said "Gramma". The point of this story is to show you how adorably cute my little baby is, and how obsessed my mother is--my parents' NetFlix queue is an endless string of Hawaii Five-0 discs.

Despite that, I am not too familiar with the old show. I watched a few episodes, but not enough that I really knew all the characters. Which, it turns out, is just fine because the new show doesn't have much to do with the old one.

One of my biggest pet peeves with cop shows is the complete disregard for reality. I'm not talking about nitpicky stuff about the details of police procedure--I'm talking about the big stuff that gets cases thrown out of court: illegal searches, beating up suspects for information, shooting indiscriminately. We, the viewing public, are not idiots--we know these basics of the law--and yet most cop shows (NCIS, Criminal Minds, Bones, Law and Order: SVU, CSI, etc) all ignore these things completely. And--SPOILERS!!!--so does Hawaii Five-0.

Here's the really weird thing about the show: the characters are all bland stereotypes, especially the main character, Steve McGarrett. But Danno is really interesting. It amazes me that the same writers who created everything else also created him. (My guess: it has more to do with the actor than the writers.) (Neat trivia: the actor is James Caan's son!)

Survey says: no thanks.


This is a show about US Marshals who are tracking down bad guys. The end. That's all you need to know.

And actually, that's just fine, because every time that they take a break from the plot to focus on the characters--such as the interaction between the marshals when they're eating breakfast--makes me want the bad guys to shoot them all.

I missed the first episode, but the only redeeming quality to the second episode was the bad guy, played awesomely by Robert LaSardo. Alas, the bad guy was captured and won't be in other episodes.

Survey says: Meh. I'll probably treat this show like I treat Bones: if it's on, and it's late at night, and the remote is too far from my hand, I'll watch it.

I think that's all the new fall shows that I've watched so far. I'll try to catch up on some of the others and blog again if any of them are any good. (Unlikely.)

What have you guys been watching?


At 9/28/2010 4:55 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

We're watching a bunch of new shows this season too, and I think I can help out.

The Event: I like this one more than my wife does. We both like Jason Ritter (Joan of Arcadia, The Class) but she doesn't have the patience for long-game mysteries like I do. (One ad referred to the show as If '24' and Lost had a baby... Cheesy, but awesome!) She didn't care for the "17 minutes earlier" bits, either, but it's just another form of storytelling.

Hawaii 5-0: You may have missed this, but they address your pet peeve: the governor (played by the windblown Jean Smart) basically gives them immunity and whatever they want, so they don't have to follow typical cop procedures. I think it'll be a fun show.

My personal pet peeve is that when anyone talks about this show, they NEVER mention the earlier Hawaii show a couple years back with Eric Balfour. It wasn't great, either, but it was fun. Only lasted a season. Hmm, maybe that's why no one mentions it.

We're not watching Chase. My wife is already fed up with the OTHER female U.S. Marshal show (In Plain Sight)

Here are some others:

The Whole Truth : Not bad, IMO. Has Rob Morrow (a bit different from Numb3rs) as a defense attorney matching wits with an old friend.

The Defenders : Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell. They're Las Vegas defense lawyers, and while the show has more humor than most law dramas, it also has a bit more sleaze.

Outsourced : Has a promising premise: US manager is sent to manage a call center in India, the company sells novelty products. Stereotypes and a long conversation about intestinal difficulties from eating the food, make this one too cringe-inducing to watch again. The main actor doesn't have much of a resume, but he reminds me of someone that I can't quite place. It's driving me mad!

Running Wilde: I think it's supposed to appeal to fans of Arrested Development, considering Will Arnett essentially reprises the role of Gob. Here, he's trying to win the affection of his lost love of 20 years ago, Keri Russell (and her daughter, Puddle)

The new show I'm looking forward to the most is No Ordinary Family, something like a cross between Heroes and the Incredibles. We'll see which side they fall on.

At 9/28/2010 6:15 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Jon, your point about Hawaii Five-0 only adds to my pet peevyness. The governor has no authority to let her task force do unconstitutional things. Ugh.

Outsourced does look like it could be fun.

I haven't heard much about Running Wilde, but I'll watch just about anything that has Keri Russell.

At 9/29/2010 1:15 AM, Blogger Marta O. Smith said...

Most of the new shows are forgettable. I'll just stick with "Castle."

At 9/29/2010 10:14 AM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

I know that this makes me an outcast among authors, but I really kind of dislike Castle.

At 9/29/2010 6:49 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Blasphemy! Castle is so awesome!

He's much more fun to watch than Murder, She Wrote. =)

H5-O: She calls them a "task force." Maybe they're a black ops team? Perhaps the writers decided that we viewers are tired of waiting for warrants and due process. We want to see people bear arms and bare midriffs.

At 10/11/2010 12:10 PM, Anonymous bj said...

Honestly how many US Marshal TV shows can we handle. I am no real big TV watcher but OMG there are like 5. I like In Plain Sight as that is the first one I watched. Sheesh, has Bruckheimer reached the end of his creative barrel that he has to copy cable shows for prime time network. Just confirms why there is really no reason to watch the big 3 anymore.


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