New Season

I wasn't too happy with the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother. I thought Season 1 very funny and just plain cute. However, it is a show with a resident bombastic jerk, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). Harris is perfectly cast and very good at his job (see my post below about great jerks), but he needs to be reined in. Otherwise the show just turns into, well, Two and Half Men: lots of potty humor. Yawn. Yawn. I felt that Barney was expected to carry too much of the premiere. It would be like Hodges (another excellent jerk) being expected to carry an entire CSI episode. In doses, he is fantastic. An hour of him simply wouldn't work.

Hopefully, the show will even out as the season continues. (It could be that they just need to get Alyson Hannigan back into the mix).

Speaking of CSI: Vegas, I was disappointed. The set-up for the cases was blow-your-mind gorgeous. But the mysteries themselves were ho-hum. Even by ho-hum standards. Half-way through the show, I thought, "Oh no. Oh no. They're going to do the Without a Trace thing" where you have fifty minutes of character development to ten minutes of mystery. It was just so "here's another scene where we show you characters reacting to each other." Yuck.

However, the last two mysteries were pretty darn interesting. So I won't give up hope yet.

I didn't see the premiere of House but based on the next two episodes, I would say it is right on the money, as usual. I recently read an article about Hugh Laurie. The article mentioned that a number of networks are now trying to create "hero jerk who tells it as it is" shows. (Justice and Shark, for instance.) Such shows might take off, but the writer correctly expressed some doubt. The fact is House works because of Laurie. It's a British thing. In America, we tend to think of character actors as one-trick ponies. In Britain, a character actor can be fully complex while still remaining on-task (Atkinson in Black Adder; Dawn French as the Vicar of Dibley). Consequently, Laurie doesn't act like a jerk and then act like Mr. Smiley. He retains an inner consistency of idiosyncrasies (and as far as I can tell, never forgets them) along with his flawless American accent and his limp and cane.

Hasn't anyone gotten rid of Ghost Whisperer yet? Yes, I stay home on Friday nights, and I'd like something else in that time slot.

Criminal Minds still has lousy music (although they seem to have punched it up a bit). This is a show that could actually use some more character development (with Mandy Patinkin as the House character). Serial killings are frankly too gruesome for long term consumption. All in all, I thought "The Fisher King, Part 2" was a success. I also have to mention that Gubler (who plays Reid) is possibly the oddest sexy guy I've ever seen on television. He really is sexy, but boy, not at all typical. Kudos. He and Patinkin and Gibson form a kind of triumvirate of intense, sexy, odd guys (with Gibson's "normalcy" offsetting the other two). They are the best part of the show although I like all the other characters, and I think Glaudini is an especially strong character.

Bones was good. I don't really get the point of Tamara Taylor. I don't think scooby gangs benefit from too many additions. Keep it tight and small is my recommendation. I really enjoyed David Boreanaz in the premiere. I think he and Emily Deschanels have great sexual tension, and he was at his most charming. It was like a time warp back to Angel: nice Angel, of course.



Joe said...

Justice was horrible. One problem is that it's about a bunch of amoral lawyers. In other words, it depicts lawyers realistically. One thing that makes House work is precisely that his character is against type. (To be fair, though, I think House is constantly teetering on the edge of failure. Like Bones it is constantly in danger of either becoming boring or a parody of itself.)

BTW, the best shows are on USA, TNT and SciFi.

Eugene said...

The point of Tamara Taylor is that she is quite attractive, but in a different (more natural?) way than Emily Deschanel, which I think helps to accentuate Deschanel's oddness--she's basically turned into Mr. Spock (with Taylor as McCoy and Boreanaz as Kirk), which is a good thing. But her real purpose for being there is of course to forestall hookup between Deschanel and Boreanaz.

Justice also suffers from extreme time distortion. Even though I haven't watched Law & Order in ages, I think Law & Order solved the problem quite handily by splitting episodes in two and keeping the casts tiny, basically 2 x 2, and letting the material carry itself rather than having characters emote a lot--the Dragnet school of acting.

I had higher hopes for Shark, with the perfect casting of James Woods, but it has the same problem--too busy and too rushed. A half dozen ADAs and the daughter. Doctors and cops really can solve a case in a week (or at least render a diagnosis), but the law takes forever. In this sense, Boston Legal has the better approach--a bunch of low-life ambulance chasers in expensive suits dragging out cases forever.

To work, Shark would have to find a way to reliably showcase Woods, but I can't see it happening in the current formulation. Laurie vs. Edelstein works in a way that Woods vs. Ryan can't. Watching the previews, I thought Shark was going to open with Woods running for DA, which would place him in the same role as Fred Thompson in Law & Order.

But as long as they keep writing scenes like when House gets to replay the ending of Casablanca ("We'll always have Fresno"), I'll keep watching.