Friday, November 14, 2008

mid-season TV review: part II

Here's the second round of the TV season reviews...

30 Rock: Well, considering there's only been three episodes thus far... I always enjoy myself during this show. I think the characters are fantastically hyperreal and yet entirely relatable and understandable. But this show is great for it's sight gags (see clip above -- is that... a claw?) and it's one-line jokes (typically from Jack, Tracy, and Kenneth). Speaking of Kenneth, how great was this line: "I don't believe in hypotheticals. It's like lying to your brain." The goods: I loved Will Arnette in the premiere (but I missed the world's shortest robe). The Oprah guest stint was well played out -- but only because Liz Lemon was talking to who a 12-year-old who, due to her drugged out condition, made Lemon think she was sitting next to Oprah. So far, the best part of the season was a throw-away line from Jack. He mentioned that he met his assistant Jonathan while drugged out on a plane trip, and he thought he was actually sitting next to M. Night Shyamalan. The bads: Jenna's character still isn't fleshed out very well (though her "black walk" while singing The Wiz was hilarious).

Dexter: I'm just not into this show, and I can't believe Showtime ordered two more seasons. I can honestly say that I probably won't watch them. I'm getting annoyed with the (now) seasonal theme redundancy. Dexter-the-serial-killer finally finds someone who knows his secret and still loves him -- in Season 1 it was his brother, who he had to kill, and in Season 2 it was his girlfriend, who he also had to kill -- and now it's Miguel Prado, a blood-thirsty DA. Is there any doubt that Miguel will die at the end of the season? He's a bit too eager to kill, and I don't think that will sit well with Dexter. The goods: Michael C. Hall's performance is why you watch this show. The bads: The writers keep telling us that Dexter can't feel emotions -- as evidenced in most of Dexter voiceovers -- and yet Dexter had showcased genuine emotion on multiple occasions. Also, there's way too much drama with the supporting characters. They're supposed to be fun characters. Why is Deb's constant cursing no longer funny?

Eli Stone: Honestly, this is one of my favorite shows. I'm not religious, so I don't watch this show for the faith aspect. Season 1 was great in that it balanced between Eli lacking faith and needing science to explain his prophetic visions, and in Season 2, Sigourney Weaver played God's assistant (?) and told Eli that his visions are in fact from God, and this was pretty much accepted as fact because if Eli didn't have the visions then his brother Nate did. Johnny Lee Miller is so fantastic as the lead, and he's so engaging and interesting that I want to follow him. The other characters are getting better as well, especially Jordan and Taylor, neither of whom I cared for last season. But why is Maggie still here? She's beyond annoying. The goods: The building collapse episode was well done, and it allowed for a natural shift for Jordan to branch out into his own firm. I also loved this week's episode where Matt Dowd grew a conscience but couldn't handle it. "I like to sleep at night," he said, knowing full well what he was walking away from. The bads: Maggie. Maggie. And, at this point, everyone involved with Eli has experienced his visions directly, and yet, depending on what the narrative calls for, everyone seems to switch between believing him and calling him a crackpot. For me, I think only his brother Nate should believe him. Everyone else should be skeptical. Oh, and I don't like Maggie.

How I Met Your Mother: I have absolutely no idea how this show's doing. I didn't start watching until this season, and I'm a bit irked that we're so far along and we still haven't met the mother -- or if we have, it still isn't known to us, which means it's also not known to the main character's kids. The show's premise is about a guy telling his kids how he met their mother, when instead it should be called The History of My Adult Love-Life (And Your Mother's Involved Somewhere). I know that I should ignore that just enjoy the storylines, but then the writers should have made the storytelling a gimmick rather than the premise. At any rate, I enjoy all of the characters -- especially Barney, always Barney -- and the quotidian situations are usually relatable enough to be entertaining (like searching for the perfect hamburger). But I don't really care about these characters. My heart's not invested in any of them. And all comedies need their Ross and Rachel, their Pam and Jim. So why is the audience rooting for Ted and "Aunt Robin"? The goods: The jokes are extremely well written, and the deliveries are even better. The bads: Why are these characters stuck in a perpetual state of growing up without becoming adults?

Big Bang Theory: Everyone loves Sheldon and he's obviously the star of the show, but why aren't the supporting characters -- and the other main character, Leonard -- spotlighted more? I think this show really excels when things take place in the workplace as opposed to the apartments. The goods: I geek out over science talk, and any BSG reference automatically wins me over. Also, Sara Gilbert joined the cast and she's fantastic -- but why hasn't she been in more episodes? The bads: I'm not sure what happened between Penny and Leonard. They went on a date but it didn't work out, and yet Leonard still pines over her? They need to have more scenes together, alone. Lately Penny's had so many scenes with Sheldon (this week's episode pitted them against one another as the A-storyline) that I wonder if the writers are going to make them closer because Sheldon's the star of the show and Penny's the only female.

Desperate Housewives: The show is DEFINITELY better than last year, and the five-year leap forward helped. I mean, how much trouble can Wisteria Lane get into every year? But I have a hard time believing that Bree's daughter Danielle suddenly came and took her son back (what a ridiculously convenient way to get rid of a child on the set), and I don't think Gaby would forget how to style her hair just because she has two kids. Yes, she might not do her hair and makeup every day, but when she does go out, I would think she would go ALL out. And Gaby's fashion sense completely went out the window. If Gaby's strapped for cash, she's going to wear a t-shirt and jeans. She's not going to wear mismatched color schemes and layer clothes that shouldn't be layered. On the plus side, Susan's anti-relationship storyline was good (but now she's committing to what's-his-face and her character's losing edge again). The goods: Neal McDonough is fabulous, but why is Mrs. McCluskey his biggest foe? Also good is Bree's marriage trouble with Orson. It makes sense that they would have trouble adjusting to both Bree's newfound fame and Orson's post-prison life. The bads: So in that missing five-year span, Tom suffered a heart attack and is now going through his mid-life crisis, and yet he tells Lynette, who went through chemotherapy and lost her hair because of cancer, that she doesn't understand? Did he forget that his wife almost died? And why don't the housewives have scenes together anymore? No one goes over for drinks or to play cards anymore? The storylines are too isolated from one another.

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