Thursday, September 27, 2007

Some thoughts on the new TV Season (so far)

New Shows
I saw the Grey's Anatomy episode that served as a pilot for Private Practice, and I thought it stunk stinky stink stuff. A lot of pretty people competing for camera angles and whining about the angst and agony of being successful, wealthy, gorgeous professionals.

Having decided not to ever subject myself to it again, I nonetheless ended up zombied in front of the first ten minutes or so of the premiere, and let me tell you, the pilot was Shakespeare compared to this shit. Private Practice makes you forget that Addison was ever an interesting or compelling character on Grey's; that's right, it's so bad it can travel back in time and make other things retroactively bad. That's pretty bad.

The Bionic Woman does a lot right and has enough going on that some people will be interested in watching. But not me. Although I love seeing Miguel Ferrer and Will Yun Lee in supporting roles, the central characters are incredibly stiff. Casting also has a thing for huge blue eyes, so several characters kind of look alike. Our title character (Michelle Ryan) has a romance with the big expert on bionics (Chris Bowers), and this romance is life-altering for both of them, but it's got anti-chemistry. When they have sex, I want to count ceiling cracks. And the rest of it seems very by-the-numbers, very television: Here's our cool hero, here's our cool villain, look how we've "subtly" established that the kid sister is a computer whiz, and hey, look, technology. Whatever.

Reaper is actually pretty charming. The premise is that a slacker's parents sold his soul to the devil (Ray Wise), payable on his 21st birthday. The pilot opens the day Sam (Bret Harrison) turns 21. There's definitely wit and I definitely laughed, aided by the fact that this episode was directed by Kevin Smith. The sidekick, played by Tyler Labine, is trying too hard to be Jack Black, but overall the tone works. It's a lot like Dead Like Me, except not annoying. Sam's Satanic job is to collect souls who have escaped from Hell and return them. Thus you have a little adventure and f/x every week, and some humorous fights (this week the "vessel" of collection was a Dirt Devil, next week it's a remote-controlled monster truck). Plus, Sam's job is actually pretty moral—he's fighting demons—so he isn't minding it, and you can already see the ironic character arc where do-nothing Sam learns to be a good guy while serving Hell. Plus there's the hopeless crush on the "just friends" girl.

New Seasons
House was the best thing on television for two years, and limped along (no pun intended) last year on a great cast with considerably weaker writing. Unfortunately, season 4 is looking a lot like season 3. The pilot introduced some new twists, but the medicine was stupid, and the outrage was the wrong kind of outrageous. Robert Sean Leonard, as House's only friend, was absolutely brilliant this episode, totally stole the show, but I don't see the holy shit I can't believe I'm watching this dazzle of year one.

Heroes started kind of okay. I mean, it was a very fine episode, reuniting us with characters, checking in on how things have changed, establishing some important mysteries, and introducing some new heroes. But overall, it seemed like an episode for the established fans. I don't see how this particular episode could have succeeded in bringing new viewers on board. Which is a shame, because it really is an excellent show.

(Cross-posted because, when you have your own blog, you can write drivel like this.)