Let me get the basic fact out fo the way: I liked the premier of Touch, the new Kiefer Sutherland drama. Which is a little odd in some ways. First off, I didn’t fully follow the plot on it, which was my fault – as my attention was split with whatever else I was doing while watching it, and didn’t get how various events were connected (I at least assume they were connected). And secondly, the topic has some danger signs – an apparently-autistic boy who actually has special powers to see the future, and communicates through numbers – a heavy dose of “indigo children”-style nonsense; I tend to shy away from fantasy when it seems to endorse some currently-prevalent woo-woo belief.

But the texture of it is a fine, fine thing indeed. Much of the story in the first episode is told not with what’s directly going on with Kiefer and his magical son, but with other, smaller stories that their work has an effect on. That material is fine, each creating it’s own sense of person and place.

The series does tie into the events of September 11th, with Kiefer’s character’s wife having died in the World Trade Center. Something is telling me that this may be the last series to really take that path… I could be wrong, but it feels like enough series have gone after the direct fallout of the attacks. The series is also cryptic; it opens with some unanswered questions, and yes it answers some even in the very first episode, but it also hits us over the head with there being Things We Don’t Know – not only with the magical son, but with the dad as well. Will it last long enough to play out to anything? Or will it just end up being a convoluted mystery series that fails to maintain interest? Dunno. But I’ll watch at least a couple more of this.


Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 6:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Are you there? It’s me, Chelsea

Caught one episode of Are You There? It’s Me, Chelsea It’s a show about a hard-livin’ woman, drinkin’ and humpin’ like a Sex And The City gal. She’s played by Laura Prepon, who is talented and is lovely enough that she could get away with being a little less talented. And she floats mostly over the material, which is not awful, but felt pretty common these days. Generic material, generic rhythms…and what makes it worse, they sell the character out. The episode ends with it making clear that her libidinous attitude gets in the way of the true happiness of being, well, normal. The show chose generic morality over embracing its character; I choose other television over embracing this show.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 5:38 am  Leave a Comment  

How you know you’ve lost a case badly

You’ve really lost a Supreme Court case when the ruling is five to four – but not on whether you’ve lost, but on which reason you’ve lost.

Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Actual quote from this past Monday’s episode of Castle

“Do you play chess, Mr. Castle? There are times when a well-placed pawn is more powerful than a king.”

Well… yes. Because in chess, the king is not strong; in fact, it’s your weakness.

Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Alcatraz and The Firm

The two new shows, Alcatraz and The Firm, both seem to be trying to address the same problem. There is some attraction to running a “big story” or “big mystery” drama, to keep the viewer hooked, a la Lost. However, it’s hard to convince people it’s worth watching if they’re unsure if the full story will ever be told… and even if you keep the show running successfully, the big story does poorly in syndication, which is more built toward people catching an episode here, an episode there.

So both of them set up their big story, but work very hard in their first hours to make it clear that A Story Will Be Told Each Episode. In the case of Alcatraz, the basic pitch is that 300 prisoners who mysteriously disappeared from the famed prison 50 years ago are reappearing, unaged, one at a time, and committing crimes. As such, each episode¬† is about how the investigative team goes after one bad guy, basic cop drama, and then running in the background is the Big Mystery of What’s Going On.¬† The setup is pretty goofy even just beyond the inherent science fiction of it, with the team being pulled together in some unlikely ways (hey, cop, we’re trying to get you on the team by tricking you into being interested. And who do you want for your sidekick? A graphic novelist? Of course!) I’m unsure of how much I can invest in the “find the killer” plots – I’m growing weary of serial killer fiction – but there are a couple characters that I like, most particularly Jorge Garcia. I may watch more.

The Firm is a sequel to the Grisham novel and the movie based thereon, which means that the lead is about to get himself involved with another complexly corrupt law firm. I mean, it’s Jack Bauer syndrome, life repeating itself in intense and exciting ways, showing that one has learned from his mistakes and, in the words of Peter Cook, “can repeat them exactly”. Within this framework, they have the room for the legal case of the week, generic law show stuff.

The look of the work is good, but the writing is less so. The legal case in the pilot had our hero – how we are supposed to think of in that manner, not just as a protagonist – ultimately working against the interests of his client, and doing so without consulting with the client.

Not sure either is a keeper. The Firm seems less clunky, but ultimately less attractive.

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Next Generation

For a while in my youth, my favorite TV show was Speed Racer. I would grow up to do a bit of work on the Speed Racer comic books (really, it was my first work in the field).

This week, the show my two kids, 7 and 2, have been eager for is Speed Racer: The Next Generation. And despite the visual awkwardness of this part cheap CGI, part badly flat animated series, and working through a long-term storyline that I’m not sure pays off enough along the way (from Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmioti, who have writ some good comic books), it’s still very heartening to see them enjoy this echo of what Daddy loved.

Published in: on January 16, 2012 at 4:38 am  Leave a Comment  

How I Found The Finder

The Finder is one of those series focused on One Person With Special Abilities And Quirks, and The Team Around Them. These can be very good, like House in its glory days, or simply entertaining, as The Mentalist sometimes becomes. The Finder specializes in finding things, his talent is being able to get a sense of the details of the situation that must’ve occurred to reach the situation he sees. His team’s special ability is to spend their lives explaining their backstory to anyone who happens by.

Okay, okay, it was a pilot episode, and yes, it needed to introduce the characters. But that means establishing who they are… if you have a series, you have plenty of time to reveal why.

There was something about the pilot, with a desperate man showing up needing his father found, with travel to distant places, with the structure of his crew around him (and not just with his main business handler being a large black man – in this case, Michael Clark Duncan – although that’s certainly part of it) that made it feel like it wated to be Human Target… which is silly, considering HT‘s short run. If somehow that is their goal, it fails. This felt awkward, pointlessly self-important, and not particularly convincing or entertaining.

Published in: on January 16, 2012 at 4:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Lo-way Robbery

The new sitcom Rob, about a an older, short, obsessive-compulsive clueless shmuck who by plot convenience manages to get a beautiful younger Latina to fall in love with him, only to find that her plentiful family does not fail to notice his shmuckiness, is based on one thing: people saying and doing things that people would never ever say nor do, because it serves sitcom comedy. It is deeply and inherently dreadful. Not a second felt real. I shall delete it from my ReplayTV, and it shall not darken this living room again.

Published in: on January 15, 2012 at 12:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Workin’ Git

The new sitcom Work It, about two men who have to pass as women in order to get jobs, got some well-publicized criticism from members of the transgender community for what they see as using the very real trials that they go through as a source for laughs.

Well, they needn’t have worried. No one will be laughing at this. It’s seventeen kinds of awkward, none of them are funny.

You know, I do sometimes have concerns about what message a show is sending, but I will forgive much for actual humor – and “crossdressing in order to secure a job” actually has a good track record in such things as Some Like It Hot and Tootsie (although being on TV, people are more likely to call the parallel to the crossdressing-for-a-cheap-apartment Bosom Buddies). Luckily, I am not faced with any moral dilemma here.

Published in: on January 4, 2012 at 5:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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