I’m playing a bit of catch-up here, TVwise.

The ending of Lost was… well, I would say disappointing, but really it was what I realized long since it would be. It tied things up in terms of character logic, not in terms of story logic. If teh world was warped to the way I’d want it, this would’ve been some sort of fair-play whodunnit, where the ending gives you an explanation that makes everything before it make sense, some setting of triggers from which all of it understandably arose. But no. The island had power because, well, that’s just how it was. The island had a four-digited statue and ancient Egyptian influences inside because, well, they looked cool, I suppose. The only thing that got explained was the parallel storyline of the final season, and even then it was far from clear why so many of them had to suffer on SPOILER ALERT entering heaven. The long drawn out death of Jack seemed to highlight that, hey, we think having a drawn-out death would make a cool ending. All in all, the years I spent watching the show weren’t wasted, but I cannot say that the ending rewarded that investment the way that, say, Veronica Mars rewarded the viewer at the end of each of the first two seasons.

The end of FlashForward was a different situation. This was, after all, not meant to be an ending, it was meant to be a cliffhanger, for the future seasons that will now never come. And yet, it left me not wanting more. The series was smooth enough, interesting enough that I followed it for the entire run, but it was throughout much more about the mystery and the mechanics than what would intrigue me about the concept – how do people respond to knowing the future. We definitely saw moments of that, mostly very fatalistic moments (the club for those who had not seen the future, the suicide to change the future), but there are so many little ways things change (what would happen to sports gambling when someone may have been looking at the season-to-date summaries during their flashforward?), so many basic personal things. The characters weren’t interesting to watchin and of themselves; there was no equivalent of Lost‘s Sawyer, who we loved to watch, or Hurley, who we loved to love.

I was glad that early in the year I had removed my rule of watching at least one full episode of every new primetime network fiction show. All the ads for Happy Town kept making me not want to watch, as they promised nothing but bleak ugliness. And when the ads would say “but don’t be fooled by the name”, my brain would continue “…it’s really an unincorporated hamlet!” (Which is really just a riff on a Simpsons gag about Monster Island.) I accumulated episodes on my DVR while I decided whether to watch… but then I was going to upgraded my DVR with a larger hard disk, so those were about to be functionally wiped out. I did give it a ten minute try (despite the fact that the cancellation of the series had been announced by then), and it lived down to my expectations. When I saw an online discussion calling for ABC to reverse their decision about this amazing series, my beliefs in it were confirmed when a viewer said that now all he had left to watch was Criminal Minds. Goodness, they couldn’t even get me to watch that show this week and it had Tim friggin’ Curry on it.

Much that I’ve been watching this season will not be around for the fall. Lost, FlashForward, Better Off Ted, Scrubs, Dollhouse, Defying Gravity, Monk, Saving Grace, and Old Christine are gone. I thought¬† Friday Night Lights was burning through its last few now, but I must correct myself; it’s filming its last few now, so that’s one more season to go. This seasons did grant me some new shows that are surviving to entertain me further – Modern Family, Parenthood, Human Target – but if I’m going to keep consuming TV at the rate I have been, the fall better bring an unexpectedly large load of goodness.

Meanwhile, here’s a sign that your marketing department has not been doing as good a job as it should: the local paper announced the return of Flashpoint, the generic modern cop show from Canada, as a new series. Apparently, they hadn’t even noticed it existed.

Published in: on May 30, 2010 at 10:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Odd Cop-le

One’s a dark-suit-wearing, everything-by-procedure kind of guy, while the other is a loose cannon. One’s a long-time veteran, the other is a newcomer, played by that Hanks guy. They may not play well together, but they get the job done. That, of course, the 1987 movie Dragnet as well as the new Fox series The Good Guys, which aired an early “preview” episode last night.

My first impression of the show is that it’s very full; there’s a lot packed into the episode; when my brain said the hour was about up, the show was actually nearer the halfway point. My next impression is that the general tone is very strange. It’s far from serious, it is intentionally over the top (to the degree that it will be hard to invest one’s self in the characters), and yet it’s obviously trying to have some heart, some pro-humanity core that will make it lovable. It has a lot of action that seems to be trying to be both over-the-top and invest-yourself-in-the-risk adventure. All of that just left me feeling uncertain how I was supposed to react. This may well be one where if you let yourself soak ina¬† few episodes, you’ll buy into its rhythms.

There’s some good casting here. Colin Hanks plays the button-down young cop with charm and intelligence, a good beleaguered acceptance of the situation he is in. Bradley Whitford plays disheveled nicely, giving him a strong contrast from the roles he played on West Wing and Studio 60 without coming across as a different actor.

I was momentarily surprised to see Nia Vardalos as a “Special Guest Star”, and for a moment there I thought it was her doing a favor (Colin’s dad and stepmom were producers on her breakout film success, My Big Fat Greek Wedding). And then I thought about the path of Ms. Vardalo’s career, and wondered who was doing who a favor… and that’s probably too ungenerous.

Overall, The Good Guys is at this point for me a befuddlement, although at least an energetic enough one that I’ll give myself another episode or two to soak in its odd mix.

Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Square thoughts

So Mrs. Nat’s TV and I are watching last week’s Flashforward, and there’s a character doing a police search for something who says “I’ve covered a five block radius, only three to go!”

And dadgummit, it was the Mrs. who noticed that. “Is that as crazy as it sounded?”

Yes. Yes it is.

For the math-imaired out there, if you’re searching an 8 block radius, and have so far searched a five block radius, you are not most of the way there. In fact, the amount of work that you have left is more than one-and-a-half times as much as the work you’ve already done.

Published in: on May 11, 2010 at 5:51 am  Leave a Comment  

And then there’s “mostly complete”

“There is complete, then there is most complete!” announces a current ad for Centrum, as if this is supposed to impress us, letting us know that Centrum is the most complete.

Problem is, “most complete” is the lesser situation. “Complete” means that it has 100%, it has it all, there cannot be more complete than that. “Most complete” means that it could well be less than 100% – in fact, probably is, if you’re mentioning it, because if it was complete it would be inherently the most complete. You could be 4% complete and claim to be the “most complete”, if your competition is only 3% complete. So yes, being most complete is good in a competitive market, but trying to make it sound like the comparative is better than the superlative merely paints you as missing the mark.

Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 3:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Romantically Challenged

I missed the first episode of Romantically Challenged, due to a yet-unexplained failure of a DVR for an entire night of prime time. So I started with the second episode of this Jim Burroughs-directed ensemble sitcom, and promptly felt like I didn’t know the relationship between the characters, which would seem vital. They slipped in bits along the way, but, well, I suppose I’m too dense for anything more complex than Friends, where they smartly put it in the title. (And they haven’t put it immediately online., which should be a no-brainer for the pilot these days.)

So I can say that it seemed like a workable but not immediately impressive basic Friendsesque romantically-themed sitcom, but cannot go into more detail than that.

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 5:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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