2pid's not stupid

As everyone who memorizes the blog would know, I’ve been looking forward to the new version of Rob Thomas’s Cupid, which launched tonight. And it ain’t bad. This is a tale of, well, Cupid. Or a madman who thinks he’s Cupid, although that seems rather unlikely (in context). He believes he’s tuck on Earth until he brings 100 couples together, and he banters with a cut demale psychiatrist who needs to cure him.

A show like this rests heavily on its lead. The first time ’round, Jeremy Piven did a wise, slick, but not disinegnuous turn, making a magical series. This time ’round, the new guy brings more of a friendly puppydogness to it, but still manges to capture a sense of smoothness. He also has these odd leaks of intelligence, as though he always has a strong brain lurking there but it usually doesn’t get past his being in the moment. That works… although arguably it works better conceptually if he is insane. Sarah Paulson fills the Paula Marshall role of the smart, lovely woman whose intense anti-romance logic does not hide the broken heart that motivates it.

They’ve switched some things up from last time, kept one strong little visual item (keeping track of the number of couples he’s brought together using a pool scoring string), and all in all it works. Check it out, Tuesdays, ABC.

Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Motherhood Down

In The Motherhood is an ABC sitcom that wants to be a bit of a motherly Seinfeld, with central characters involving each other in their lesser instinct and the fallout thereof. Some good cast, some nice touches (good to see a mixed-race couple, in contrast to Seinfeld‘s myteriously negro-free New York.) But it lacks one vital element, and that is humor.

Party Down is a bit more problematic, because it has its humorous moments, but I’m not sure that it adds up to much. But I have my hopes, because this tale of a bunch of caterers comes from Rob Thomas, creator of Cupid and Veronica Mars. And for Veronica Mars fans, there are some definite gifts., as Thomas is reusing cast members. The guy who played Dick Calabasas is a regular. Guy who played Veronica’s Dad guests on the first episode, and Veronica herself is an upcoming guest.

And there is comedy to be had in the group of folks who are catering because they have nothing else to do, but there is a problem. It reminds me of the Ricky Gervais series Extras, both in texture and in the way it looks down on the losers around the edge of the Hollywood dream. It’s a bit of a bully.

But there is enough here for e to give it some time to convince me. If you like Rob Thomas’s other works (or Extras, for that matter), certainly worth a look. And if you’re wondering why you haven’t been seeing it — it’s on Starz. You get Starz? Didn’t think so. Neither do I. But Netflix is offering it up for streaming.(The somewhat jerly sreaming probably didn’t improve my experience of the show.)

Published in: on March 28, 2009 at 10:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

A thicke list of acts

In case you’ve yet to figure it out: whenever they list a URL on How I Met Your Mother, you should enter it.

Published in: on March 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm  Comments (1)  

Better Off Illustrated

Better Off Ted is a comedy about the R&D division of a mutinational corporation. The goal is to be very stylized and over-the-top; this is more Working than The Office. But, well, it would be better as a comic book.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the television medium. I’ve watched a few hours of television and enjoyed most of them. But TV shows have too many hands in them, too many people who might not quite be on the same page and might get things wrong. In this case, a good script was damaged badly by bad line readings. You’d hear a line — well, I’d hear a line — and think “that should’ve been delivered like this.” It does play more with some characters than others; the central character Ted (a hyper-competent and likable corporate man who privately fights with his beliefs that the company is doing things wrong) and Linda, the cubicle dweller who has found on odd outlet to deal with her need for rebellion (played by Andrea Anders, who was saddled with the thankless task on Joey of being the unrealized love interest who seemed only to be in there because unrealized love is a generic sitcom building block), mostly come off well. In contrast, the boss, who was clearly supposed to have a corporate officiousness that covers, if only briefly, the oddness of everything she’s ordering done, come off as odd first. Now, I don’t blame that on the actress; Portia DiRossi is talented, if inherently odd. There are too many other little bits that are misdelivered and mistimed that I have to believe there is a failure of direction, that the director didn’t manage to quite wrap himself around a tone that worked and ended up flailing.

Better Off Ted would also improve with the non-linear time sense of comic books. It would be easy in comics to bury a minor back-and-forth gag in a single dialogue-heavy panel, have it be a humorous aside. But run in real time on TV, that little bit of minor characters bickering (say) takes up the time and feels the same importance as central character/concept stuff. There are, of course, ways to very effectively throw in the minor gag where it carries the humor without misplaying its importance (look at David Hyde Pierce’s work on Frasier, he pulled it off constantly), but it is hard to mesh that with the style they’re using here.

The good news is that this is the first episode. These things are fixable. Will they fix them? I hope so.

Edited to add: Looks like the writer was the director on this, Victor Fresco. So did he not know what he had? Just couldn’t recognize a performance when it worked? Had outside interference?

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 7:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Dollhouse thought

It’s been bugging me, the mind tech guy. Seems horribly young to be as expert as he is supposed to be.

But then it was established that Dollhouse has been around since the late 1980s. So he couldn’t have been the original guy… which means he’s been imprinted with that guy’s abilities.

Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kings

Finally caught Kings last night, although the stream from the NBC website was at a low enough frame rate that it seemed a little more abstract than it was supposed to.

Basically, this is a series about a powerful man with a wife and adult children who live under media scrutiny in the big city, with the protagonist being the upstanding outsider who they both befriend and find useful. If this makes you think of Dirty Sexy Money, well, you won’t be the only one (and if you and everyone else don’t think of DSM, then I guess I’m the only one.) However, that show was about salacious silliness, at least when it was any good; this show is supposed to… um, I’m not sure. I’m not sure it’s supposed to be a serious look at how monarchy would work in a modern, first-world nation, but we don’t get much of a sense of how it works, and the world construction around it, while not very detailed yet (I’m sure more will be revealed) is unconvincing in what it reveals. It may be supposed to be a translation of traditional power dramas to modern times. But the overall effect of the two-hour premiere (clocking in at about 83 minutes on the ad-free internet stream) is Here’s A Bunch Of Obvious Plot Points Going Nowhere. Whatever this was supposed to be, it fit its form so exactly that there were no surprises along the way. Everyone was playing a broad type rather than a character (though Ian McShane does play a man of power well, but that was known) and all the steps they took were right in with the definition of that character.

This does not get put on the must-watch list.

Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 7:49 am  Leave a Comment  

One Fewer Thing to Worry About

“Solar is still very hot.”

–Some investment guy

On Point, NPR, today

Published in: on March 17, 2009 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Someone Nat knows on The Colbert Report, part 2

Monday night: Neil Gaiman.

Published in: on March 15, 2009 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Seeing an Angel

Am I crazy? And/or was that Stuart Margolin briefly playing not-Lorne-Michaels on Saturday Night Live a minute ago?? Been a long time since I’ve seen him. (Then again, the bulk of his appearances I’ve seen have been with the now-retired James Garner; you’re probably most likely to have seen him playing Rockford’s friend from the pen, Angel.)

A pleasant surprise out of nowhere.

Published in: on March 14, 2009 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Problem is, there's a job opening

I usually don’t weigh in here on the controversies bopping around the blogosphere. But sometimes, well, I just see that the point is being missed.

In the whole Stewart versus CNBC situation, there’s been a lot of praise of Stewart… but that’s also served as a basis to criticize Stewart. Thing is, I’ve yet to hear anyone claim that Stewart’s criticism of the financial news/hype game was wrong, but hey, Stewart has said a couple of nice things about Obama and hasn’t been as critical of him as of the guy who started a couple wars and was at the helm while the country’s debt multiplied and our economic went in the gutter. But yea, Stewart is at base a comedian and yes, he does have a point of view. He is, perhaps, not the person who should be exposing the lies, the failures, the systemic problems.

But here’s the problem with criticizing him for it: whoever’s job it is to be exposing those things? They haven’t done their job. It shouldn’t fall to the fake news anchor of a comedy show to do this. Ted Baxter should not be exposing Watergate. But if Woodward and Bernstein aren’t doing their job and Ted has the info, then hooray to him for bringing it to us.

Critcizing Jon Stewart for the way he takes on these things is like taking on the town drunk for being sloppy throwing water on a fire. Sure, he’s not doing a perfect job, but the real question is where are the firemen?

(I’m getting a  chuckle out of pundits stating that Stewart spent the Bush years speaking truth to power but now isn’t doing the same to Obama… because the folks making those statements weren’t exactly praising Stewart’s “speaking truth” when they now say it was going on.)

Published in: on March 14, 2009 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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