Suits

Suits is a new USA Network series about a guy who’s smart enough to pass the law school bar exam for others, but can’t complete law school himself… and the lawyer whose unwise enough to hire him on to pass for a lawyer anyway. Now he must do law-things and not get caught by the other people at the Big Powerful Law Firm.

So what we have here is a premise that is simultaneously heavily manipulated and not that interesting. His problems are all of his own making, and if he just chose to apply his vast learning skills and apparent photographic memory to, well, anything else, he would do just fine.

There’s a germ of something that might be workable here; I could see a series that’s about an entire firm of fake lawyers – this guy, one outright con man, one “jailhouse lawyer”, and one disbarred lawyer – run at about the Psych level of realism. But this is a little too serious, and doesn’t come across as being different from a non-isn’t-a-lawyer lawyer show in any way that actually makes it more interesting.

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 5:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Falling Skies and Wilfred

Catching up on new TV.

Falling Skies is off to a wise start. It’s an alien invasion story which starts after we have already basically lost the battle; the aliens have killed our power, enslaved our children, and destroyed our population centers. The series focused on the survivors, who are fighting back or running away, trying to find survival in this alien-dominated world.

So the story, at least at the start, is less about the battles and more about the people, and how they interact under these circumstances. That makes it more of a modern series, more of the 21st century Battlestar Galactica than the 20th century Battlestar Galactica… and it’s off to a better start than that one was to me. No sign of actual bad guys among the good guys (yet), just people with differing focuses, and that’s reality. Very non-human aliens suggest that it won’t be about them, won’t be V… although there is at least one vital clue that There’s More To The Alien Story Than It Appears.

It’s attitude is, well, a bit Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with the man with book learning and serious intellectualism is more the right man for the modern conflict than the experienced warrior is. That’s appealing for me, but I admit that it’s appealing as a non-warrior book-learning man. The reason I like Liberty Valance is it values people more like me (although more heroic, of course!) Noah Wylie does a fairly good job being the non-aggressive academic who finds himself needed. But when I see Wylie, the first words in my mind are always “John Carter”, the character he played on E/R, so frequently refered to by his full name. And then the next three words in my mind are always “Warlord of Mars”, which, if it doesn’t make sense to you know, Disney will make sure you understand in the next few years. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter books were filled with six-limbed aliens, so to my, it just seems right to see Wylie battling six-limbed aliens in this series.

Smoothly made, but it’s definitely one of the shows that is now designed for the big HD sets which all of America but me seems to have…

Will be watching this for at least a while.

Wilifred is an odd duck of a sitcom. Elijah Woods plays a suicidal tightass who sees his neighbor’s dog as a man in a dog suit, able to converse with him on dog topics with the full foulness of a dog. If the first episode was funny, it wasn’t ha-ha funny, it was “does that smell funny to you?” funny – really, do they think there are seasons of humor to be had in this? I admire its conviction in itself, its choice of style, but if this were a Saturday Night Live skit, I’d groan when I saw it was recurring.

Published in: on June 26, 2011 at 4:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Goldfish Meatloaf, take 2

Last night was meatloaf night again. I now make sure Allison makes one idea contribution to each meatloaf, thus ensuring her support for it. This time, she remembered me saying that I’d used Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers in an earlier meatloaf, so she wanted that. I point out that it hadn’t worked out so well last time, as the crackers hadn’t soaked into the meatloaf, so they ended up as burnt bits. We agreed that the crackers should be ground down.

Ingredients:

  • one school of goldfish
  • about 20 ounces of ground beef. That’s right, boys and girls – beef this time, not turkey
  • one container of leftover rice from a Pickup Stix order earlier that week
  • leftover peas
  • leftover whole wheat spaghetti, chopped up
  • two packets of light soy sauce
  • one large egg
  • a bit of spaghetti sauce
  • a lot more spaghetti sauce
  • shredded cheese blend

Mixed together everything except the more spaghetti sauce and the cheese. Put into a glass pie plate, because Mrs. Nat’s TV has decided that she likes that form better, as it has more surface area and thus more opportunities for the burnt bits that remind her of her dear mother’s overcooking. Topped with more spaghetti sauce. Put it in a getting-to-375 over for a reasonable while, adding cheese on top about 2/3s of the way through.

Result: success in the eyes of everyone but the not-quite-2-year old, who just wasn’t in to eating last night. Not as good as the previous one, and I could have let it cook a mite longer to satisfy the Mrs. and her desire for hideously charred flesh.

Published in: on June 26, 2011 at 12:44 am  Leave a Comment  

New York!

New York!

Published in: on June 25, 2011 at 2:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Overplussed

Just caught a Dell Computer TV ad that tells you that you can “choose from over twenty plus covers”. Not just 20. Not just over 20. Over 20 plus! That’s a lot!

Published in: on June 23, 2011 at 3:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Happily Divorced

My interest in Fran Drescher goes all the way back to her appearance in the film Doctor Detroit, in which her trademark voice grabbed a very semitic part of my soul and dug its way in. I’ve enjoyed watching her over the years, even when I’ve not always enjoyed the material she’s been involved in.

Happily Divorced brings some of the key behind-the-camera names from The Nanny to a new TVLand series. In this case, the concept is a workable one; Fran plays a woman whose husband came to realize he was gay; they divorce, but due to economic situation, they continue living together. (It’s derived somewhat from Fran’s marriage to the series cocreator, who turned out to be gay.)

It falls into the pattern we’ve seen in the recent run of TVLand original sitcoms – good older cast members, shallow treatment of everything, heavy on the sex. There’s good folks, good concept here, if they can rein it in, they may have something. But if it’s just more of the pilot, an endless string of “how could I not realize he was gay when he used to do this stereotypical gay thing” gags.

As for Ms. Drescher… hmm. It seems to me that working actresses face a decision at some point — they’ve been playing the pretty lady for so long, but their hitting the age where work is harder to get. Do you get the plastic surgery, try to keep looking a bit younger than you are, get a few more years of work out of it? It’s an understandable decision to take… but a few years later, you can end up looking like something not quite human. You don’t look like a lovely-aged distinguished older woman; you end up looking like a poorly-made mannequin. Drescher, while not the worst example, has a face that looks pumped out and dead, and the stiffnesss seems to have an effect on her delivery. Her nasal tones are still there, but her comedic delivery is off its peak..

And speaking of those nasal tones, there’s one source of humor they seem to be pedaling back from here. Not only is there no reference in the episode to her being Jewish, it seems to be specifically contra-indicated. Her mother is played by Rita Moreno – one can’t complain about the talent she brings to the show, but she doesn’t scream Drescher’s mom – and her dad is Robert Walden, who can read somewhat Jewish but never as much as Drescher does.

It could be saved, but having seen the direction that TVLand sitcoms take, I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

Published in: on June 21, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

SPOILER WARNING: Super 8 and other Spielberg films

I saw the Stephen Spielberg-produced Super 8 the other day (and yes, you can follow it without having watched The Super or 6 intervening films), watched it all the way through the climax, where the alien get in his spaceship and heads home. Spielberg, one may remember, is the man who directed Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where at the climax, the aliens take off in their spaceships and head home. And also E.T. the Extraterrestrial, where the climax was when the alien got on board the spaceship and headed home. And Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where the climax is when the aliens take their spaceship on home.

I still haven’t seen his film Munich… and now I’m afraid to.

Published in: on June 18, 2011 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

RepalyTV not so dead

Turns out there’s a system of private services that can be used to keep our ReplayTV supplied with its needed data grid. TV may change for the rest of the world, but we will be able to remain in our Low Density but very functional world…

Published in: on June 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Franklin & Bash

Cutesy, unconvincing not-very-much-about-the-law lawyer show, with cutesy cases and not very humorous humor. If you’re feeling very bad The Defenders withdrawal, then this weak tea may help. Otherwise, skip.

Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Love, 21st Century American Style

Fiction anthology series have a long and storied history in American TV, but it’s been decades since one could be called a mainstream success. We can talk about our Twilight Zones, our General Electric Theaters, and yes, even our Love, American Styles with regard to their impact, but it’s hard to show their format as a surviving one. Love Bites is clearly an attempt at updating a Love, American Style, with several shorter humorous romance-related tales per episodes. Theupdating isn’t just a matter of increased sexual frankness, although that certainly takes place. To make it different, to give it that continuity that makes people want to see episode after episode, there is a group of continuing characters – sometimes they ar used as central characters, but they will also use them as tertiary characters, making a brief appearance to justify the inclusion of some story featuring guest actors we have never seen before and will likely not see again.

Does it work creatively? Well, the two episodes I’ve seen so far seem to – not some great amusing hit, but watchable TV.

Will it work commercially? Harder to guess. Anthology-with-a-framework isn’t exactly a new concept; after all, one could use that to describe Fantasy Island and, even moreso, The Love Boat… but both of those series were revived in the not-to-distant past, both unsuccessful. But during a summer when there’s little to put on my soon-to-die ReplayTV, I think I’ll keep this one going.

Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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