This year's scorecard

Pretty much everything that launched this season has fallen by the wayside for me.

The exceptions? Modern Family is the one sure winner. Even going through blatant product placement in an episode or two, it still remains so human… and so funny.

I think the only other new season show I’m still watching is FlashForward, and that’s encouraged by Mrs. Nat’s TV liking it. It’s good to have something with intricacies to share. I could see myself watching some more Three Rivers, actually, but it’s not worth recording when it runs against something I’m already watching (Desperate Housewives.)

Oh, I guess technically I’m still watching b, but let me see two episodes before I call it a success.

Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 10:47 pm  Comments (3)  

White Collar

The new USA Network series White Collar has a good central premise (a good-lookin’ white collar convict with strong criminal talents gets sprung from prison to help the FBI) and is overall a smooth piece of work. Some thought clearly went into the long term, with at least as much creative attention being paid to the agent who originally arrested him and is now his handler, treating him not as a talentless loser to always be shown up by the slick con man, but as a generally capable man whose honest career path has less of a payoff. Supporting characters and a running storyline are set up. And the overall goal here is “fun and stylish”, not somber and serious; not as light as, say, Castle, but not headed off into CSI territory.

But there is one weakness apparent in the pilot, and it’s a major one. The actor playing the con is a good-lookin’ guy; really, he brings to mind Paul Gross in a lot of ways, and we like Paul Gross around here. But damn, the fake Paul Gross doesn’t have the real Gross’s acting chops. He never brings you into the character, never gets you caring. He comes across as all surface, no humanity. So the only place to go for the humanity is the FBI handler, which is in the hands of an actor that can handle it.

So this fake Paul Gross series is better than this year’s real Paul Gross series, but not as good as it should be.

Published in: on October 25, 2009 at 11:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Crossword time

After doing this week’s Saturday L.A. Times puzzle in a little over 9 minutes (good, but not a record), I realized that I had never done last Saturday’s, so I went for it. Warmed up, I got it in 7:34, beating my previous record (8:01) by almost half a minute… and that’s after losing a whole minute because I had mis-voweled 1 down.

Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

The one with the gravy

Tonight’s meatloaf:

  • 16 ounces of ground turkey, in burger form (it was cheaper)
  • 12 ounces extra firm tofu
  • a pint of brown rice left over from a Pick-up Stix order from a couple days back
  • raisins
  • one medium egg, raw
  • two sticks of mild cheddar cheese that my daughter requested we buy and then didn’t like
  • about half a packet of gravy that came with a frozen turkey we ate at least half a year back, probably closer to a year.

Result: yum. Yes, yes, the gravy probably made it horribly evil for me in terms of sodium, but still, yum.

Published in: on October 20, 2009 at 6:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Captain Lou Albano

Evanier is reporting the death of Captain Lou Albano, the wrestling celebrity. And he’s reporting that he was a nice guy to work with… which he was, once he shows up. But my one dealings with him were in regard to an appearance he was making at a comics shop, connected to a guest appearance he made in the Honeymooners comic, when he showed up hours late.

Do you know what it’s like to be helping take care of a comic shop filled to the brim for hours with frustrated young wresting fans with no interest in comics? “Not much fun” is the correct answer.

But Albano charmed them all when he did show up, hours late. He was good at what he did, played the celebrity game well. Much to be said for that.

This isn’t meant to be overall a comment on the man himself, may he rest in peace. Just the memories he brings to mind.

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Prize talk

On one hand, I agree with those who say it seems a mite early for Obama to be getting the Nobel Peace Prize. Not that I would be that shocked if he earned it along the way, nor that I can name anyone particularly more deserving this year.

On the other hand, many of those complaining would be doing so even if all he had won was the Nobel Most Improved Bowler trophy.

Published in: on October 9, 2009 at 9:34 am  Leave a Comment  

the dying has begun

I’ve heard of shows canceled before they aired, of course, but I don’t recall running into this one: an already-extant show getting canceled before the new season but after production had started on the new season. Yup, the dark cop drama Southland is toast.

Modern Family has been picked up for the season, yay! Cougartown and The Middle too, which doesn’t elicit a particuar “yay” here, but good for the people who like it. Why, that’s a full 3/4s of that Wednesday night line-up. Feeling left out, Hank? Sorry, bud, I think you earned it.

And I’ve decided that I’m glad that The Beautiful Life got the ax before I watched an episode, because it meant that I was psychically relieved from any burden to watch every new show. That means I’ve been free to skip The Cleveland Show, a spin-off of a show that I found unfunny for the first episode I saw, have felt was unfunny from any clips I’ve seen in the years since, was revolted by the material they infested the Emmy awards with… and the ads for this new show make it look like it achieves the same level of crapitude as that one. If it turns out to be a work of genius, don’t tell me.

Published in: on October 9, 2009 at 7:27 am  Leave a Comment  

The Middle

The Middle has more in common with Malcolm in the Middle than just the name. Some of the feel is the same, although the central hero is the mom, and the dad seems curiosly sane, stable, and supportive for a wacky-family sitcom dad.

But, well, about a week after seeing the pilot, about all i remeber is that the weird little kid is weird, that the actions are often improbable, and it all seemed too invented and not that funny. I really can’t tell you much about the details any more. It didn’t settle into my brain, and that’s nota good sign.

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 10:54 pm  Comments (2)  

Trauma and Three Rivers

If Mercy is medical workers as tough gals, then Trauma is medical workers as action heroes, and Three Rivers is medical workers as miracle workers.

Trauma is about EMTs, The first episode opens quickly with an action sequence, expensive to shoot, during whic you’re wondering which of these characters are going to buy it. Then halfway through it, there’s another action scene, a freeway accident, during which you’re wondering who is going to get it. And so, we see what will presumably be the center of this series. It’s hard to take the character drama too seriously, since the characters are broady played. I’m not particuarly up for the action, myself, but I can see how this would attract some viewers.

Three Rivers is a show that’s in it for the cultural good. It’s about transplantation, so the show is a not-so-subtle sell job for donating your organs. And even beyond that, it tries to be very pro-social. The show opens with a man of middle eastern background at work, and they go out of their way to show not only that he’s a nice guy, but that he’s specifically nice to a white former American serviceman. It’s done ina¬† very upbeat, hopeful, pro-human manner. And it’s done with Alfre Woodard, which makes everything better. It’s heart is transplanted in the right pace; I’m just not sure that its cases-of-the-week will actually be interesting and fresh without being silly. Watchable, but certainly not a must-wath.

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 10:45 pm  Leave a Comment  


The pilot of Mercy opened with one of those icky medical moments that made Mrs. Nat’s TV insist that I watch it some other time, when her feminine delicate self not around… and then went on to be an all-for-the-girls show.

The nurses of Mercy Hospital are too filled with the wonders of womanhood for their own good. One (the central character, who has served duty as a medic in our current conflicts) knows too damn much for her own good, one is too tough for her own good, and one is too caring for her own good (played by Michelle Trachtenberg, who still comes across as too young for any room she’s in, and too pale for any planet that has a sun.) At heart, this show doesn’t want to be ER, it wants to be Army Wives. It’s filled with conveniently interesting men who are there for love interest questions alone. And there’s nothing wrong with that, in a show for women. But it’s too blatant in what it is to be a show for me, and even that brief opening bit of ugggh material drove the one adult female here out of the room. It should rerun fine on Lifetime if it lives long enough, but I see no reason to suspect it shall.

Published in: on October 5, 2009 at 12:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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