Sometimes, what an actor has done before warps how you see a show.
Terra Nova, the new series about a cop who time travels into the past, stars Jason O’Mara. You might not recognize that name, but there’s a chance you’d recognize his face – he was the star of Life on Mars, where he played… a cop who time travels into the past. Watching him, my mind kept trying to fit this story into that context of that one. (And surely there will soon be a mashup of the two somewhere online.) Beyond that, the show was smoothly and clearly expensively made. It is a show with some real action moments, chase scenes with dinosaurs… yes, this is set much further in the past than Life was, as humans are leaving the Earth they destroyed for a much more ancient version, seeking it’s resources… but is that all? Things are not what they seem! Shocker! There is both some good action and some good little moments scenes of the cop with his family (at least in the first of the two episodes they aired opening night). It’s the bigger story that I’m less certain about – the real reasons for the travel, the conflicts and conspiracies for which There Is More To Be Told. I’ve already missed the third episode, and am not sure I’ll be watching more, in part because it’s in a bad time slot for us, and in part because… I have the wrong TV. The look of the show is clearly designed around a large flatscreen TV, and it can eb simply hard to see on our used-to-seem-large TV-ratio TV.
Another way casting can confuse the mind is seen in the new sitcom How to be a Gentleman, an Odd Couplesque show about a high-class genteel magazine columnist played by David Hornsby who finds himself learning lessons on integrating into a more lowbrow world from a trainer played by Kevin Dillion. Hornsby, who created the series, isn’t that well cast, but the real tricky casting is Dillon… because after having watched a lot of Entourage lately, this kept feeling like a show starring not Dillon but actor Johnny Drama, Dillon’s Entourage character.
But beyond that, it’s not a good show. Hornsby’s character (as well as his boss, David Foley, is reacting to a buyout of the magazine from folks who want to dumb the magazine down, but we neither get that great a sense of what the magazine was nor of who these people are who want the changes, so it all seems false. As false as the dinosaurs on Terra Nova (oh, didn’t I mention that? they seem a little fakey. But then I suspect that real dinosaurs seemed a little fakey.) It all seems like people pretending there were set-ups so they can just stand there delivering punch lines… and the punch lines ain’t that good.
Falling alseep at the keyboard; please forgive me if it’s not proofread.)