Thursday, October 2, 2008

episodes: terminator, house, the mentalist, pushing daisies, bones

ABC's premiere week campaign hits the nail on the head for me -- it's the week you don't leave your house. Despite my seemingly busy schedule, there are always hours in the day for my beloved TV. I don't plan on reviewing every show I watch, but certainly the premieres are worth discussing. Sad to say, though, I've given up on Fringe. There are too many dark, dramatic shows on TV, and Fringe just wasn't interesting enough. (Although it would interest me to read about any correlations between our crappy economy and the crappy TV ratings...)


Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: I love origin stories... and I love time travel... so why did I hate this episode? It cheated. If Cameron -- a machine -- has memories of a human past, there needs to be a blip, some line, some reference to how a machine can have memories that aren't theirs. And this was not so much an origin story (you still don't see how Cameron was physically modeled and molded after the real-life Allison Young) as it was Summer Glau trying to act. I like her, honestly I do, but I just don't care for her performance as a terminator. And I found myself fast-forwarding through Agent Ellis's scenes with Shirley Manson, who was remarkably miscast for this show. My interest (and unwarranted defense) of this show is waning. If you're going to show us the future, give the audience a constant, a connection to the present -- err, past -- like Kyle or Derek Reese. And I'm still waiting for them to explain how many alternate futures there are... because it seems like every episode branches off on a different future. So where do all these future terminators come from? (Since the terminators have knowledge of each other's existence, then they're from the save future, but whatever.) Sigh. I just don't know. I kind of feel like the writers are winging it, you know? Rating: C.


House: I'm still loving private investigator Lucas, played with such boyish charm that my adoration is growing. It helps that he gives intelligent and interesting insights into House's life, since everyone else seems to ignore him and let him do whatever he wants. And how fantastic was his flirtation with Cuddy? That's an interesting triangle that I could see play out season long (and in this episode, Lucas seems to bring to light the notion that House wants Cuddy, even though I don't think there's really any reason for Lucas to think that), but judging from what I know, I think the Lucas-Cuddy cuteness will be cut off next week, if not dropped all together after this episode. The Taub storyline was uninteresting and fit just a little too nicely with the medical-mystery of the week (which was also uninteresting, despite my love for guest star Breckin Meyer), and I don't remember much about the episode. But I remember every second of Lucas-House-Cuddy. Rating: B?


The Mentalist: Okay, so the second episode was not as great as the premiere, which I think was one of the best series premieres I've seen, but Simon Baker is hypnotic and, ironically enough, he hypnotizes someone in the episode. All he does is talk to her in a soothing voice, and I was like... that's not how you hypno... and then Simon Baker won me over. I would confess anything to him. The crime was silly and I don't think the killer(s) had a particularly believable motive or MO, but the rock-paper-scissors bit with the sheriff was fantastic. What this episode lacked that the first episode had was light-hearted secondary characters. Robin Tunney's character should be the only stern character while the others find things amusing. That would make the dichotomy between Baker and Tunney's characters more intriguing. This was a so-so episode, but it's still not nearly as irritating or mind-numbing or out-of-left-field as Fringe. Rating: B-.


Pushing Daisies: I want to love this show, I do. I love Lee Pace and Kristin Chenoweth, but, despite the amazing production design, the show annoys me.
1. The show underuses Chi McBride, who has such potential to shine on this show, but instead he's an outside character. I don't even feel like he's part of the dynamic. While we're at it, Lee Pace is underused as well -- and he's the lead! He's so mopey that it makes me hard to care about him, and we've seen Pace act in Miss Pettigrew and The Fall. He's a little too charming to mopey, dontcha think?
2. The crimes are not nearly as good as the beginning of last season. Crash test dummies? Fanatical candy-shop owner? Those were great. A crime over bees and honey? Lame.
3. I can't stand Chuck. I don't like her. She's annoying and gets in the way and there's nothing particularly interesting about her. I want Ned and Olive together (and I'm not the only one), but the producer/creator Bryan Fuller has repeatedly said that Ned and Chuck are meant to be together. That's the whole point, right? They can't touch or else she'll die -- so of course they're soulmates. No.
I thought Olive's "get thee to a nunnery" to keep a secret storyline was weak, and her mock Sound of Music scene fell up short. Plus, I never like it when characters lose their possessions when they don't intend to. It's just unpleasant to watch. Although, this storyline did allow for the line, "Unless flibbity-jibbit is a positive term." But the production design -- and I cannot emphasize this enough -- was amazing, truly amazing. From the honeycomb-designed dresses to the black and brown tipped eyelashes to the green habits, the colors and patterns were well designed. And when Ned redecorated his place with Chuck's books, which made his walls look like honeycombs themselves, my heart smiled. Still, this show needs stronger scripts or else I'll give it up for Bones. Rating: B-/C+.


Bones: Is it just me, or should Bones and Booth not be the comedic relief? The whole dynamic relies on the fact that these are two serious people who are serious about their jobs but who loosen up around each other and enjoy one another's company. But now they goof off on the job, and the show is focusing on Angela and Hodgins too much, and Sweets, as much as I love him, doesn't seem to fit into the show's structure. The crime was kind of weird -- a hated office worker is killed for catching two coworkers having sex and then threatening to tell on them. I would like for the crime to take priority over the B and C storylines, and I wish the B and C storylines weren't so involved with relationships. Although I do like the new-intern-new-episode thing going on, but it seems like they're done with that now? I don't know; is this Debbie Downer sticking around? The show seems so polarized now... Booth and Bones in one corner, Cameron, Hodgins, Angela in the other, and Sweets drifts between the two. Maybe it's just me... but I'm less impressed with this week's crop of episodes. Rating: B.

5 comments:

Goddessdster said...

I don't know about you, but I liked last week's episode of Bones much more than this one. Not just because we got the return of Zack, but it felt more on par with previous seasons. Plus, it helped, having Zack around and explaining the bit about his complicity in the murder - which made much more sense than what we were led to believe. Though I do think the Gormagon thing was supposed to play out a little more if not for the writer's strike. Anyway, just my thoughts.

And though I don't watch any of the other shows, I do enjoy reading your thoughts on them, so I hope you keep that up.

keyser soze said...

I completely agree. Last week was a lot better. I never really cared for Zach until he was gone. He was sort of the anchor for the other characters, although the Gormagon storyline was highly unbelievable. And I think the writers tried to fix that critique last week by explaining that Zach didn't actually murder anyone, he only lead to their death. It's sort of a cop-out -- throwing that information out there in retrospect -- but it does make me feel better about Zach's story arc. I mean, the whole point was that logic lead Zach to follow Gormagon, and I didn't buy that at all.

One thing that I do appreciate about this show... they play off the masculine/feminine binary extremely well -- better than any other show. Booth is able to be masculine and vulnerable, and Bones is able to be intelligent/emotionally detached but still sexy. My favorite part of this week's ep. was Angela going to Bones for advice about Hodgins, and Bones doesn't know what to say. "Do you want me to fire Hodgins?" was all she could offer. Fantastic.

Goddessdster said...

One of my favorite aspects of Bones is the way they play with gender dynamics on the show without rubbing anyone's nose in it.

Angela - freely sexual person with very few "hang-ups" but not played as flaky or Miranda-like.

Cam - very much in charge. Confident with being in charge. That she's also a PoC is important, but not highlighted.

Bones - just a mess, but still together at the same time. Which I can relate to (without being a genius and all).

And all the little things that are important, but not pointed to with swirly lights: Booth's faith, the interdependence of the staff, that Hodgins is grumpy still, the way the women wear their hair back at crime scenes (take that CSI!) and dress professionally, not like strippers just off the clock (and again, CSI!), that Booth and Bones still bicker because they are truly different people...I could go on and on.

So I will wait and see what happens, because it is still one of my favorite shows on TV.

keyser soze said...

I absolutely, 100% agree with you. And what surprised me in last night's episode -- that made me realize the greatness of these characters -- is when that guy in the office took a photo of Dr. Cameron on his cell phone. Instead of being offended or feeling objectified or even becoming a sex pot, she just smiled. And that was all the time that was spent on it. And I can't think of any other show where the characters act like real people in real situations. Maybe that's the point of television -- that removal from reality -- but I like my shows to reflect reality. Bones and Booth bickering about their (real!) differences is refreshing, engaging, and certainly relatable. And Angela's openness and candidness is still shown with a sense of confidence and intelligence.

I'm impressed with the writing of the characters. But there's still something off... the characters are almost too self-aware of how they fit into the dynamic of the show, you know? And Sweets needs a storyline of his own so that he's not just a tool for psychoanalytical exposition.

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