Three down, don’t know how many to go…

September 4th, 2013

Just watched three of the new season pilots from ABC that are up on Hulu (The Trophy Wife, The Goldbergs, and Back in the Game).

The good news is, that’s an hour and a half a week of new shows I won’t have to worry about watching ever again.

Now, don’t get me wrong. None of these shows are horrible. But, at best, they’re mediocre. During the three half-hour(ish) shows, there was barely a chuckle raised. Even the likes of George Segal, Bradley Witford, and James Caan couldn’t raise the level of the standard, pandering, and gimmicky writing.

The Trophy WIfeThe Trophy Wife

Though it’s over-loaded with characters–the titular trophy wife, her new husband, his two ex-wives, and three kids–those characters are at least vaguely interesting and, even in the cacophony of the pilot, relatively distinctive.

But the tropes run hard and fast. The new wife is almost young enough to be another daughter. One ex-wife is a stern and stoic doctor. The other a flighty, well-dressed, hippy-type with what seems barely a basic grasp of reality. The husband a high powered, yet somehow still inept lawyer. It’s a hard sell to make me believe any of these people were/are married. And all the kids are trying to play one off the others.

The real joy in the show, though, could come from the kids. At least if the writers can really let them be the focus. Pull the two exes into sporadic supporting roles, focus more on the new family unit, and you have enough space to really have a comedy with some heart.

Without doing that, I’m afraid it’s just going to be more noise and glaring as the old wives try to out-do the new one in zaniness.

The GoldbergsThe Goldbergs

There is no doubt that this show desperately wants to be The Wonder Years for the 80s generation. But, again, instead of something that feels real (like The Wonder Years) we’ve got a show that feels overly crass and lacks charm most of the time.

Even if that was really how Adam Goldberg’s life really was circa 1985, I don’t think a ton of people are going to relate to it… or want to relate to it. At least I hope not.

This show takes dysfunctional families to the next level. And, while it tries to reclaim some measure of heart and familiarity in the final minutes, it lacks the clean flow of even the early seasons of other “regular family” TV families over the years (like Roseanne and even Married With Children).

Again, maybe it’ll find its stride as time goes on, but there’s nothing in the pilot that makes me want to stick around to find out. I’ll just let it stumble around and, if it does end up getting better, I’ll go back and catch it after the season is over. Maybe. (Probably not.)

Back in the GameBack in the Game

By a very narrow margin, this show has the most potential to be kind of good.  While the setup is oddly close to a number of other, much better shows–divorced daughter moves in with her father. who was never really there for her growing up–there weren’t a lot of needless “complications” thrown in to make the show “better”. Everything that flows in the show, more or less makes sense and doesn’t feel thrown together.

Perhaps the biggest thing that gives this show a chance is the that, with baseball/softball as a main focus, there’s a distinct framework in which stories can be framed. We’ll get to see the characters develop as the team of misfits they’re coaching pulls together. Should be good for at least one season.

I do hope that they add a little more variety to James Caan’s father/grandfather character, though. What they’ve got him doing in the pilot–gruff, disinterested, drunkard–is really a waste of the man’s talent.

So, yeah… maybe in a year I’ll revisit these on Netflix. But I’m not going to waste five or ten hours of my life on either of them (depending on how long they last) until they’ve run their course and their growing pains are over.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

June 23rd, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Vampire HunterThis wasn’t one of the movies I’d really planned on seeing in theaters, let alone on it’s opening weekend. But an old friend was in town and, after dinner, we decided to hit up a movie. Of everything that was playing that neither of us had seen, we chose Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, kind of on a whim.

I was not disappointed.

Of course, I also wasn’t expecting much.

This movie is, without a doubt, completely awful. Everything is over done. Very little (nothing if you’re familiar with horror films and standard plot twists) is surprising. As if the main concept itself weren’t ridiculous enough for you, they way it all meshes with history (the cavalcade of famous historical names and situations) should put you over that hump.

And that’s why you should definitely go and see it.

This movie is awful in all the best ways. It never has any illusions about what kind of film it is going to be. The shooting style is closer to what you’d see in an installment of the Resident Evil franchise than you would on PBS. (As I understand it, the book is written in the style of a standard historical memoir… there is absolutely no illusion of seriousness in the film.)

Pure and simple, this is popcorn-chomping camp at it’s best.

So completely over the top…

Far too many films like this take themselves too seriously in some parts and then smack you across the face with a scene of sequence that doesn’t fit with that supposed gravity. Everything in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is over the top. The drama passes directly into over-wrought melodrama. The fight sequences are amazingly over-choreographed and complex. The two climactic chases/boss fights in the film are done on a scale that’s hard to find sensible (and would have been absolutely impossible without the teams from a handful of digital special effects houses).

Nothing about this film is terribly subtle or small. Because of that, it works perfectly. Everything fits perfectly together.

(And, really, the fight sequences are pretty impressive… once you get over the idea that this is the 16th President of the United States swinging that ax around.)

I give a lot of credit to the actors and director. They pull all this ridiculousness off without a single wink to the camera, something many other films seem to think is funny (but often isn’t).

Technically, very solid…

From a purely technical point of view, this film is put together very well. The massive amounts of CGI blended well on the screen. The horribly over-designed vampires were relatively consistent to be believable in the world. The pacing and plot of the story moved and held together well. Nothing came out of nowhere–every gun used in the final scene had been on the mantle in a previous act, so to speak.

The acting was very solid. Benjamin Walker as Honest Abe was great with the physicality and, with the costuming and makeup, looked a whole lot like Abe in his presidential years. Rufus Sewell is appropriately arrogant, plotting, and utterly detestable as the big bad ancient vampire manipulating things. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is utterly charming as Mary Todd. And keep an eye out for Alan Tudyk as a well known Lincoln-related historical figure (not a lot of screen time, but as is always the case with Tudyk, golden the entire time).

Fun and funny, like I haven’t seen in a while…

As my friend I was with will confirm, I laughed more during this film than I have at most comedies I’ve gone to see in the past two decades. I haven’t seen such well executed camp and excess in a very long time (so long that I’m hard pressed to even think of the last time I was so entertained by it… perhaps an old action flick like Escape from L.A. or Big Trouble in Little China).

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has definitely made it right to the top of my list of horrible films that I’m glad I’ve seen in the movies. (That list also includes Snakes on a Plane, seen on opening night with an audience that I’m pretty sure shouldn’t have been behind the wheel for hours after the film, and Zombie Strippers, which had some surprisingly highbrow moments in it.) It’s horrible in the best ways possible.

Go in expecting some fun, near-mindless, horror/vampire-flavored action and you won’t be disappointed. Go in expecting a movie that takes itself seriously and you’ll walk away hating it.

Dark Shadows Returns, Will Burton Make it Work?

March 16th, 2012

Dark Shadows new castIn case you haven’t heard, Tim Burton is coming out with another film where Johnny Depp is playing a pale, maladapated man who’s completely out of place even among the not-quite-normal people around him.

This time around, it’s in a reboot of classic horror soap opera Dark Shadows.

I grew up having vague memories of watching a few episodes of the original when it was still airing regularly. More solidly, I remember when the Sci Fi Channel was re-running the classic series. It was always interesting, if not entertaining. Not always what we’d call “good” by today’s standards, but in context of its time, it was something kind of daring and unique.

In a nutshell, I love the original, flaws and all.

I was excited about the new film coming out.

Then I watched the newest trailer.

It kind of looks like a screwball comedy.

The only reason I’m really still willing to give it a chance is because of the creative team involved.

I was expecting some humor–because, really, once you set a vampire-based story in the 70s, how can you not have some  humor? But this trailer makes it look a wee bit too off-the-wall silly. (At least literally in once scene…)

The original was, honestly, pretty crappy. But it had a solid story core that caught people’s attention. Even through the awful production values, bad acting (accentuated by at least a few of the actors being drunk or hung over frequently during the live shows), and the simple fact that it was a daily soap opera, the uniqueness of it grew a great fan base.

Barnabas CollinsJonathan Frid as Barnabas was distinctly not leading-man material, which made the character all the more interesting.

The 90s remake with Ben Cross as Barnabas brought more style to the story, for sure, but overall that take on it lacked something that the original had (as it didn’t exactly bring in the eyeballs, if I recall correctly).

Ultimately, memories of Dark Shadows lead to the more recent supernatural soap Passions, which had a good run up until a few years ago when it exited the network lineup (along with some much longer-running daytime soaps). They developed a good fan base, created quirky, memorable characters, and played off of the standard soap and horror tropes well enough.

Hopefully, Burton, Depp, and crew will manage to find the spark that keeps the original so fondly remembered while still opening it up to a new generation of fans.

But based on that trailer… I’m not going to hold my breath…

Check out the trailer and let me know what you think:

A Conspicuous Copyright Casualty – Chrysler’s Superbowl Ad

February 6th, 2012

Copyright QuestionLike millions of other people, I watched the Superbowl on Sunday.

Like a good bunch of those people, I really don’t care about football. I watched it for the commercials.

Now, some of the best ones made their appearance days before the Big Game (which I think was a mistake). Luckily, there were some other good ones that hadn’t seen the light of day before they showed up on the TV screen.

One of those good ones was Chrysler’s all-American rally cry lead by the ever gruff (yet classy) Clint Eastwood.

I’d share that video with you except, well…

Chrysler Superbowl Ad taken down by NFL

That’s right, Chrysler was served a takedown for their own ad by the NFL. Less than a few hours after the spot aired.

If that’s not some crazy copyright wrangling, I don’t know what it.

A conspicuous action like this should serve to show us all how insane some of this (probably automated) copyright enforcement has gotten. We should also be aware of how much worse it could get.

Right now, Chrysler is probably losing thousands of dollars of revenue because of this–and spending thousands more dollars on lawyers to fix it. (Assuming they’ve noticed… and, man, I hope they’re properly monitoring their own sites!)

Here’s the thing: If your goal is to get your brand out there with an awesome advertisement–be you an iconic American car company or a multi-million-dollar sports/entertainment/merchandising franchise (like the NFL), why would you not want people sharing your advertising?

I can’t wait to see how this plays out over the next few days…

Speaking of sharing and ads: if you want to see (most) of the rest of the Superbowl ads, Buzzfeed has a great list. Check it out here.

And if you like what I write, feel free to share it. (I won’t serve you with a takedown notices… as long as you give me credit for my work.) 😉

Winter Season 2011-2012: New Shows

January 29th, 2012

Television ReviewsOnce upon a time, there were only two seasons on TV: Fall and Summer.

Now, things being what they are, we should just be honest and admit that there are four. Forget this “mid-season premiere” fallacy. If we’re luck, a season these days is 12 episodes. Shows that do 20+ episodes a year are, effectively, on for two seasons for every one they count. Everything else (especially stuff on cable channels) splits around the 12 episode mark.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s premiered in the new Winter season so far.

Alcatraz (Fox)

Another JJ Abrams show about strange goings on with time and conspiracies on an island. Not exactly the same formula as Lost, but close enough to raise some eyebrows. Those raised eyebrows went from skeptical to impressed after the first couple of hours, though. Same Neill does a good job of adding class and creepiness to the story. It’s different enough from other shows that it can keep you guessing at least a little. For now, it’s more of a police procedural, with the main characters hunting down bad guys as they appear, but I’m betting that before long some more internal drama will kick up some waves. Assuming, of course, that the show doesn’t get canceled.

Are you there, Chelsea? (NBC)

A semi-autobiographical sitcom from comedian/author/talk show host/bad girl Chelsea Handler, in which she plays the older sister to Laura Prepon’s portrayal of herself. Sadly, this show just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe it’ll grow on me with time, but the whole caustic bad girl thing doesn’t work for me unless there’s that “heart of gold” tacked on… or some serious repercussions for that lifestyle. The cast seems solid and I’m pretty sure the Jersey Shore and Real Housewives viewers would love it.

The Finder (Fox)

Oh, another quirky crime fighting show. This one about a guy who (surprise, surprise) is really good at finding things. Perhaps due to brain damage received while serving in Iraq. If it wasn’t for Michael Clarke Duncan being in this show, I would have just passed it up. It’s cute, has some potential, but hasn’t found it’s stride yet. Maybe in another few episodes my opinion will change, but as of right now, I don’t find anything special about it.

The Firm (NBC)

The cast of this new series is pretty darn good. Two Cylons, some strong alumni from other shows, one of my favorite kinda trashy actresses (Juliette Lewis)… but so far they’re being totally wasted on more or less standard plots that have been done everywhere (recently, too). Grisham’s stuff is usually pretty suspenseful, with some sharp dialog and forceful characters. The film that this series is following up on was one of the first big hits from him that made the leap from the page to the big screen, a handful of others followed and they were all pretty good. I keep hoping this one will live up to it’s name, but it hasn’t yet.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Fox)

This is another show that, if it did anything other play exactly to stereotypes, would be almost good. But, hey, if you like a show about completely incompetent parents (to the point where you wonder how their kids made it to be teenagers), this may be for you. There have been a couple of sweet “awwwww’ moments, but they were almost immediately counteracted by some bit of vitriolic barb from one or more characters. This show doesn’t have heart and, thankfully, it also seems it doesn’t have good ratings.

Rob (CBS)

I never liked Rob Schneider much when he was on SNL. Can’t say I care more for him in his own show. Especially when it’s a premise that’s been done so many times before, with more style and less stereotype. Schneider plays a character (oh-so-creatively) named Rob who’s just married a younger woman on a whim in a Vegas wedding. Now he gets to meet her parents, who just happen to be Mexican. Supposedly, culture-clash hilarity ensues. I had some hope for this show when I saw Cheech Marin was in it (the bulk of the cast is actually talented, really), but he doesn’t have enough to work with to make this worth watching. It’s one thing to use a stereotype as a jumping-off point for comedy in a “haha! It’s not really like that!” sort of way. That’s not what this show is doing. It’s relying firmly on the stereotypes themselves–of Mexicans, Americans, men, and women–for it’s  humor. That ship sailed decades ago, do something new or go away. (Sadly, the ratings indicate that this show won’t be going away.)

Work It (ABC)

Thankfully, this show didn’t last. Like many other shows this season, “stereotype” is the name of the game. If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember an old show called Bosom Buddies that introduced us to Tom Hanks and Peter Scolaria as two guys who dressed as women to get an apartment in a single sex building. That show worked for two reasons: it was vaguely plausible at the time and we didn’t know any better. Pretending you’re a woman and getting a job selling pharmaceuticals in this day and age? I don’t think so. One background check would out you right there. That small bit of reality aside, the show just wasn’t funny. It managed to be insulting to both men and women. Can’t say I’ll miss this one at all.

There are a few more shows premiering soon (and a couple that are on other networks), so expect another installment soon.

Fall Season 2011: More Reviews

November 3rd, 2011

Television ReviewsOkay, we’re now a few weeks into the new season and everything I planned on watching has premiered. Some of it has been very good, some of it has been very bad, and some of it is already gone. Here’s a look at what wasn’t covered last time.

How to be a Gentleman (CBS – canceled after 2 eps)

The pilot was a little uneven, the characters not all that likeable, but the premise was an interesting one and, if given time, it may have found its legs. By far, of the three different “Man” shows that premiered this season on the regular networks, How to be a Gentleman was the one I found most palatable. Further proof that my tastes are not always the tastes of the nation.

Suburgatory (ABC – picked up for full season)

Honestly, I hated the first episode of this show. It felt both derogatory and disgusting in pretty much every way. It was full of bad, over-used stereotypes, oddly convoluted situations, and not a single feeling that rang true. I know Jeremy Sisto has talent. Cheryl Hines, too. Relative newcomer Jane Levy isn’t bad at all. And seeing Alan Tudyk on the screen just makes the Browncoat in me very happy. But the show just didn’t grab me. Then there was the second episode… and the third… and, well, I’m still watching. I’m not sure exactly why, but the show’s growing on me. They’ve settled into a nice groove, it feels more like parody than just some badly stylized depiction of a skewed reality, and they’re starting to play with some more daring social commentary. If they keep it up, it may end up a very creative and fun show.

An American Horror Story (FX)

This is the show I was anticipating the most. It has not disappointed me. By far it is one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen on television in a very long time (perhaps since Twin Peaks). The mix of supernatural threat with real, raw, emotional stress just keeps you on edge. The performances by Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott as a couple who’s relationship is already stretched to near breaking when they move into the very haunted house may be a bit too much for some people to watch–the arguments they have read very much like ones I’ve seen play out. I’m not sure where they’re going with the story in the long run, but the atmosphere they’re building and the supporting cast and history they’re revealing has been nothing short of impressive.

Once Upon a Time (ABC)

This is the other show I was really looking forward to. I’m a sucker for slightly twisted fairy tales (am I the only one who remembers The Charmings fondly?), but this show has managed to deliver a compelling set of at least vaguely familiar characters in a way that has definitely grabbed the general population. Mixing flashbacks to a fairy tale land with a main plot set in the familiar world the characters have been flung into (with their memories of who they were erased), the show has at least one or two seasons of good plot development in it.

Man Up! (ABC)

This was the second of the “Man” shows to air on the regular networks this season. It’s not the worst, but that’s not saying much. Where How to be a Gentleman has some vague class and potential to get at actual issues of what being a “man” really means in today’s world, this one was just a rehash of everything that’s come before played out with a stereotypical set of male friends. I don’t think I laughed once during any episode I watched and it most certainly did not inspire any thought about the subject. At least not other than “Really? Is this what people still think?”

Last Man Standing (ABC)

Tim Allen’s apparently long-awaited return to sitcom-land couldn’t have fallen more flat for me. I loved Home Improvement, Allen’s Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor was gruff, a bit dumb, but full of heart. In Last Man Standing, his Mike Baxter has two out of three of those but has also added neo-Conservative, backward, and annoying to the list. What’s missing? Heart. At best, this show is rehash of Home Improvement‘s “man” jokes. (Yes, this is the third of those “man” shows this season.) I thought, briefly, they were going to do at least one interesting thing–have Baxter do video blog bits that start out promoting products at the Bass Pro-like sporting goods store that he works for but turn into rants connected to events in the episode. With proper cultivation, consistency, and better writing, that could’ve made the show worth watching. But, based on the episodes I’ve seen, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be happening regularly.

Grimm (NBC)

This is the other fairy tale based show that’s premiered this season. It’s got a completely different flavor than Once Upon a Time, being more of a cop show than anything else. Airing against the CW’s Supernatural, I think it’s going to have a little bit of a hard time finding it’s audience… since it’s going after the same one (which is already at least slightly split between Supernatural and Fringe). It’s not bad, which was a slight surprise based on how so many of the promos looked. Apparently it’s one of those shows that doesn’t work well in clips, but, when you have an actual feel for the characters, it holds up pretty well. At least the characters are a wee bit confused at the idea of monsters being real. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Updates:

  • Playboy Club first show to go. This makes me sad. I think the show had potential.
  • Free Agents canned. It didn’t even last as long as the British show it was based on.
  • Revenge picked up for full season. This show never grabbed me, but apparently people like it.

For fun:

10 shows canceled in 3 episodes or less. How many of these do you actually remember?

The 2011 Fall Season: New Shows

September 28th, 2011

Television ReviewsSince I’ve been quite remiss in reviewing things anywhere outside of Twitter and in person lately (like, for the past few seasons), I thought I’d round up some quick thoughts on what I’ve seen of the new 2011 Fall Season of shows so far.

The beginning of the season is always a busy time for me. I try to give most new shows a chance, usually watching (or suffering through) at least three episodes before making a definitive decision on whether it’s worth my time or not. Far too often, the ones I like the best, don’t last much past that third episode.

I haven’t bothered to note days and times, as those inevitably change. But, each title is linked to the IMDB page for the show, so you should be able to see where it shows up on your local schedule through their tools.

So, without further delay, here’s what I think so far (often based on less than three episodes).

2 Broke Girls (CBS)

This one’s growing on me. I’m a bit of a Kat Dennings fan (or so it would seem… I remember her back in her Raising Dad days). The first episode was a little rough, but there were some genuine laughs and a good bit of heart in it. The characters may be a bit much for some–definite stereotypes abound and the “hate the rich” schtick can get a little repetitive–but I think there’s room for some good growth. The second episode showed some of that growth. I hope it gets a full season.

Charlies’ Angels (ABC)

I’ve heard that this was one of the more anticipated shows premiering this season. That’s really too bad. My eyes were rolling in the first fifteen minutes. The dialog is horrid. The plot contrived. And the overall quality of the show would even make a fan of 70s and 80s action shows (like the original Charlie’s Angels) wish for better days. There’s a chance I’ll suffer through one more episode, but unless there’s a serious improvement in quality, acting, writing, pacing, and, well, pretty much everything, it won’t get a third hour of my life.

Free Agents (NBC)

I like Kathryn Hahn. I like Hank Azaria. I want to like this show a lot. The first episode really didn’t do it for me. There were some good bits, but the supporting cast of flat, one-joke characters really didn’t do it for me. Nor did the reliance on the slew of sex jokes. But, there was still something good that shone through and, by the second episode, some things were toned down, others were polished up, and the chemistry between the leads may be just enough to save the show from being too bad to watch.

A Gifted Man (CBS)

I knew going into this one that it was being billed as the new Touched by an Angel (a show I never cared much for). What I didn’t know was just how bland and unoriginal the plot as a whole was going to be. There’s nothing that makes this show stand out from any other story that’s ever been told that involves a person who’s kind of a bastard being forced to redeem himself. Even Eli Stone (from a few seasons ago) did a better job of making the premise not just believable, but fun… and not overly sappy. This show, way overly sappy. Diabetic shock levels of sappy.

New Girl (Fox)

I absolutely adore Zooey Deschenel. But the pilot of this show really didn’t work for me at all. The filming style didn’t match the writing style and that just left a very talented cast falling flat. The premise is classic and rich with comedy potential. I know Deschenel can pull of some great stuff (and the show even manages to let her showcase her vocal talents a bit). I just hope the writers, directors, and the rest of the crew can decide what kind of show they’re making. The second episode seems to be a bit better, so that bodes well.

Pan Am (ABC)

They crammed a whole lot into this pilot. Almost too much. It was a bit tricky to keep track of who was who and what they were up to. But the groundwork they’ve set opens the door to a whole lot of plot possibilities. This is the second big 60s period show that’s debuting this season. Unfortunately, both are being compared a lot of Mad Men, even though they don’t have much in common other than the rough time period. Pan Am is something I think will be worth watching. I also think it stands a big chance of being one of the first canceled.

Person of Interest (CBS)

I wasn’t sure how this show was going to play out. I’m pretty darn happy with how it did. The plot premise is awesome–computer guy creates a program for the government that crunches through tons of data (email, video surveillance, cell phone calls) and spits out predictions of who’s a terrorist. As a side effect, it produces a whole lot of other “hits”, those are the “persons of interest” that the show is about. People who are going to be in trouble, somehow. Jim Caviezel does a great job as the heavy and Michael Emerson is almost too close to his Ben character from Lost, but the potential for interesting plots and solid action should keep the show on my “must watch” list.

The Playboy Club (NBC)

This is the season’s other 60s period drama. I liked it. It captures a lot of flavor and atmosphere. The characters have interesting backgrounds and the setting is swanky. Right off the top, there’s a mob plot, a political plot, and a bit of social commentary. If the show makes it even halfway through the season I’ll be surprised.

Prime Suspect (NBC)

Yet another cop show. I wasn’t at all excited about this one, but tuned in to see if Maria Bello could make it interesting. Once they got past showing us how sexist the precinct was and got on showing us that her character was, indeed, an awesome cop, the show actually got to the point of being above average. I don’t know if I’ll keep watching (there are only so many police procedural shows I can watch, and NCIS is already on my list), but it’s definitely on track to being a good show.

Revenge (ABC)

I keep thinking this is a CW show. I suffered through the pilot and will probably suffer through the second episode when I get around to it on the DVR. Basically, it’s The Count of Monte Cristo wrapped in Dynasty. No real surprises, standard characters, average performances. Not exciting at all. Also nothing shocking about it–Desperate Housewives has done more shocking things in mid-season episodes than this show did in it’s pilot.

The Secret Circle (CW)

This is a CW show and it shows. The teen-flavored cast fits right in with the stable of other shows on the network. It’s the twist to the normal high school hijinks that adds just enough flavor to it to make it worth watching. The mystery of why, in a town where there is a long history of magic using witches and wizards, the older generation is trying to keep the young’uns from realizing their own power is wonderfully metaphorical and very well played. The show has a nice edge to it, going a bit dark in places to add depth to what would otherwise be Charmed-lite. I’m very curious to see how it plays out.

Terra Nova (Fox)

Now this is the show I was most eagerly awaiting on the regular networks. It’s solid scifi–time travel, technology, and dinosaurs–and full of as much plot as action. It echoes back to one of my favorite canceled series, Earth 2, with it’s potential political intrigue. The first half of the two-hour pilot is a little rough and oddly constructed at times, but by the time the credits roll (after the massive dino fight), I was left feeling very happy and excited about the show as a whole. This, of course, means it will probably be canceled right quick. (It’s expensive and didn’t do exceptionally well ratings-wise, up against a slew of other popular things, including football.)

Unforgettable (CBS)

Yet. Another. Cop. Show. This one a gimmick cop show, along the lines of The Mentalist or Castle (more the former than the latter). The hook here is that the lead character can remember everything. This opens the door to an almost overused effect of her walking around herself as she goes back and searches for new clues in places she was before. There’s really nothing special about this show. The gimmick is going to get old fast, the performances aren’t compelling, the character back-stories are commonplace and uninspired. Shows like CSI eat shows like this as a snack.

Up All Night (NBC)

This is another show I desperately wanted to like (being a Christina Applegate fan and all). But, unlike Free Agents which showed some heart and space to grow, Up All Night has yet to convince me there’s a comedy goldmine in their show. In the space of two episodes, all the “new parent” jokes have been done and done again. And not even in new or exciting ways.

Whitney (NBC)

I was worried that the massive promotional campaign for this show had let us see everything that could be funny about it. Thankfully, there was more. And some of it was even good (and not a sex joke). Show creator and lead Whitney Cummings (who’s also one of people behind 2 Broke Girls) isn’t half as annoying as I thought she was going to be. The relationship between the two main characters manages to be non-sterotypical in that they don’t always fight, they don’t always make cynical jabs at one another, and they actually have a chemistry that leaves you feeling that, no matter what, they do care. That feeling hearkens back to Roseanne, possibly one of the best and most honest sitcoms ever made. I hope it keeps up the heart and humor.

So, that’s it so far. There are a few more shows premiering this week and others through October, so there’s bound to be updates.

What’s your favorite new show so far?

Update: Check out the rest of the new shows.

 

Monster Factory: Puppet-filled Fun

November 11th, 2010

What do you get when you put a few little green monsters in a high school? Well, in the real world you’d probably get mass hysteria. In animated form, probably something akin of Invader Zim. But if those monsters are puppets and the rest of the student population isn’t, then you get Monster Factory.

Here, check out the trailer:

Like what that has to offer? I’ve found the episodes that are out so far to be pretty funny and it looks like there’s more entertaining stuff coming down the pipe.

Even better, this Canadian production has the full marketing machine all ramped up–you can buy your own little monsters and everything. (I’m pretty sure the plush critters came first, but the site is well designed and I like the little bios with each of them.)

Next time you’re looking to be entertained for a few minutes, pop over to the Monster Factory and watch their newest releases. You get one ever two weeks.

Frak Me: New BSG Series On Deck

October 22nd, 2010

Battlestar Galactica LogoLooks like SyFy is aiming to cash in on the still strong Battlestar Galactica fanbase.

The new series, Blood and Chrome, sits nicely between the immensely popular reboot of the cult classic BSG series and the still trying to find it’s foothold Caprica.

As they describe it:

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome takes place in the 10th year of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, a sentient robotic race, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a brash rookie viper pilot enters the fray. Ensign William Adama, barely in his 20’s and a recent Academy graduate, finds himself assigned to the newest battlestar in the Colonial fleet… the Galactica. The talented but hot-headed risk-taker soon finds himself leading a dangerous top secret mission that, if successful, will turn the tide of the decade long war in favor of the desperate fleet.

Sounds like it could be a good, gritty, war story. Lots of action and a clear focus.

Which, of course, would put it well ahead of Caprica, which, just over halfway through its first season, it still hasn’t grabbed me (or a number of other people I know who were BSG fans). Thankfully, it seems it’s at least finally settled into a groove of some sort (kind of like the classic primetime soap Dynasy, except with proto-Cylons and other sci-fi trappings). It may still grow a solid following, the potential is there.

Hopefully Blood & Chrome won’t stumble quite so much and will give Caprica something to aim toward that’s a little closer in the time line than the show that (re)started the BSG craze.

More Balanced Commerical Sound Almost Mandated

October 1st, 2010

For those of us who still watch TV real time (sometimes), there’s good news coming in from Washington.

It’s about to be mandated that the volume of commercials be comparable to the volume of the show they appear during. That means no more having to clap your hands over your ears when a car commercial suddenly ups the volume to deafening levels in order to try to get your attention.

According to an article published at local DC station WUSA 9’s website:

The Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt.

The House has passed similar legislation. Before it can become law, minor differences between the two versions have to be worked out when Congress returns to Washington after the Nov. 2 election.

Apparently, advertisers still think getting people’s attention by any means necessary still works. Thankfully, this legislation will take away one of their more annoying weapons in that arsenal. Maybe now they’ll actually try to do more of what actually seems to work: making more interesting commercials. (See Old Spice or the equally viral Never Say No to Panda commercials for some good ideas, heck, even the classic Budweiser frogs got the job done without making us deaf!)

Now if only someone could come up with a way to make locally produced commercials not look like they were made 20 years ago…