Monday, September 27, 2010

New Fall TV: Week 3, Part 1

Away we go...

The Event - Mon 9/8 Central, NBC

On Mondays after "Chuck", I might give "The Event" a shot for awhile. Those of you burned out on "event" type shows (see "Flash Forward", "The Nine", and of course "Lost") probably need not apply here. There's a lot going on in this show and it tends to utilize a lot of flashbacks to tell its story so some folks may find it confusing, but they're mostly used in ways that heighten the storytelling.

Sean Walker is our viewpoint character: a normal guy going on a cruise with his girlfriend, where he plans to propose to her. On the cruise, everything starts to go south. His girlfriend disappears and all record of them ever being on the cruise is wiped out. Seven days later, Sean is on an airplane at Miami International with a gun trying to get into the cockpit. How did we get from point A to point B and why? Questions that will have to be answered in the future.

Alongside this story is one of governmental intrigue. In Alaska, the US government has been secretly holding a group of people in a prison camp for years. When the President finds out about it, he decides to hold a press conference to tell the American people. Be forewarned, there are sci-fi elements at play here. It's not overtly stated, but there are signs that the prisoners in Alaska are aliens or some other sort of extraordinary beings. Both stories collide in the final five minutes. We'll see where it goes from there.

Catch up on Hulu, if'n it sounds good to you.

Lone Star - Mon 9/8 Central, FOX

This was probably the most critically acclaimed new network drama of the fall, so of course it's tanked miserably and will probably be cancelled soon. It's a shame as I actually enjoyed it, although a large part of that might have to do with the fact that it's not a law or cop drama. I can see where it would lack broad appeal, though.

The main character is essentially a two-timing bastard of a con man. He's running two long cons in separate cities in Texas which he splits time between under the guise of perpetual business trips. With a wife in one and a live-in girlfriend in the other, he really should be the worst kind of human slime. To this, two aspects have been added in an attempt to get viewers to invest in the character: 1) He doesn't want to be a con man anymore. His father has raised him that way and essentially forced him to be one since a young age. 2) He is genuinely in love with both of the ladies in his life. If you can buy that, then you've found your way in. Ah, well. Slow-burning character dramas never make it outside of cable.

Catch up on Hulu, if you're looking for a short-lived shot of non-formulaic television.

Mike and Molly - Mon 9:30/8:30 Central, CBS

Not much to say here. This is a laugh track sit-com about two fat people falling in love. Trust me, I wouldn't say fat people if it weren't the actual premise. Call me a snob, but standard sit-coms need to be impossibly funny these days for me to want to watch them and this one's just not there.

Mike (comedian Billy Gardell - I know him from "Lucky") is a cop. Molly (Melissa McCarthy - Sookie from "Gilmore Girls") is an elementary school teacher. They meet at Overeaters Anonymous, and by the end of the first episode have plans to go on a date. Ho hum.

Catch up on the CBS website to see the latest in fat jokes. Oh... the fat jokes. Moving on.

Hawaii Five-0 - Mon 10/9 Central, CBS

Big. Dumb. Action. Woo! If you like explosions, car chases, gunfire, bikini-clad babes, and your revenge stories served tropical style then Hawaii is the place to be. Unlike other recent big dumb action reboots (see "Knight Rider" & "Bionic Woman") this one plays it pretty straight. There's a little humor, but it's not forced or campy like those shows were. Alex O'Loughlin ("Moonlight") is just as stiff as ever, but it almost manages to fit the character here. Scott Caan (Ocean's 1n movies, among others) is the standout here as Danno, if there is one. Check your brain at the door and enjoy the ride if you want, but I don't have room for this sort of thing on my DVR.

Catch up on the CBS website.

Chase - Mon 10/9 Central, NBC

The less said, the better. An uninteresting group of US Marshals chase (do you get it?) dangerous fugitives every week. Truly bland and forgettable. Where's Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones when you need them?

Try to stay awake at Hulu.

I'll be back tomorrow with Tuesday's shows. There's actually a real winner to be had there.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Fall TV: Week 2

Quick and Dirty, because I have to run.

Outlaw - NBC, Fri 10/9 (special premiere Wed, Sept 15 10/9)

Starring Jimmy Smits ("Dexter" Season 3, "Cane", "NYPD Blue"), "Outlaw" is the ridiculous story of how the "most conservative" member of the Supreme Court quits to become a crusader for righting injustices. Add in the fact that the character is defined completely by his behaviors as a gambler and a serial womanizer and you can see why this train wreck has been relegated to late on Fridays. In theme, I think it will probably run like a bunch of other short-lived law dramas (see "In Justice" as an example), just not as good. I've watched to the first commercial break, and I've seen enough to tell you to stay away. Far away.

Sym-Bionic Titan - Cartoon, Fri 8/7

I can't tell you a whole lot about this one. The two short preview clips I've seen involve giant robots from space fighting each other and terrifying Earth's population. A good sci-fi cartoon could be interesting, but I'm not sure this is it. Wikipedia tells me that it blends "high school drama" with the aforementioned giant robots. Not sure how or if that works, but I think I'll be giving this one a pass.

Boardwalk Empire - HBO, Sun 9/8

HBO's latest, "Boardwalk Empire" is the tale of gamblers and bootleggers in Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition. It has an excellent pedigree: created by one of the chief writers of "The Sopranos", the pilot is directed by Martin Scorsese, and it stars Steve Buscemi. If I had HBO, I would certainly be watching this. I'm sure I'll find a way to get a hold of it eventually.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week 1 Recap

Before we move on to this week's new shows, I'll give a few quick thoughts about what I watched from last week.


This was my most anticipated show of the week, and it mostly lived up to my expectations. I'm unfortunately not planning on getting too attached though, as it apparently failed to draw much of an audience. Hank (Donal Logue) is a former cop, now operating as a small-time unlicensed P.I., and Britt (Michael Raymond-James) is his best friend and partner. In doing a favor for an old friend, they find themselves wrapped up in a plot involving murder, fraud, and adultery that may leave them on the wrong side of the law.

This is a tough show to describe. It's very funny (both with one liners and more subtle humor), but it's also pretty coarse and violent. This ends up making the show pretty uneven in a lot of ways. In the matter of a few scenes we go from a murder scene so grisly you can almost smell the carnage to a humorous back and forth between Hank and his legal advisor to a brutal fight scene in a parking garage with armed thugs. Come to think of it, that's probably exactly what you should get when you combine the grit of "The Shield" with the humor and charm of Ocean's Eleven.

We'll definitely keep watching, but it'll be interesting to see if it can settle into its own groove eventually. I think it's worth a look. If you don't find the first 15 minutes enjoyable, it's probably not going to be for you. You can catch up for free on Amazon or iTunes.


This was... okay. I'm not familiar with the previous Nikita properties, but this is apparently a continuation of sorts from where they left off. Nikita is a highly trained assassin, but now she's gone rogue in an effort to bring down the corrupt organization ("Division") that trained her. The "twist" (in quotes because the twist in pilot episodes almost always involves revealing the real premise of the show) at the end was probably enough to make me try this for another week or two: Nikita has inserted a mole into Division in the guise of a fresh, raw recruit. Chatter on the Interwebs has actually compared this to "Alias" in a lot of ways. I only watched that enough to know that I will never need to see Jennifer Garner in another wig before I die, but if it tripped your trigger you might give this a shot.


Mentioned this briefly in the comments last week. I ended up watching this anyway (old habits die hard), and it was not as bad as I had anticipated. I won't be watching it again anytime soon, but it has a certain charm to it despite the questionable cheerleading routines and Disney Channel alumni.

Regular Show:

Made a place for it on my DVR. I don't watch a lot of cartoons, but this is easily the funniest new one I've seen in awhile. For those of you who didn't get a chance to check it out before it was removed from YouTube, someone new has uploaded it. I've updated the link in last week's post, so if you haven't already check it out now while it's still there. This week's episode has also surfaced on YouTube. Still funny, I highly recommend.

There are only three new shows this week. I'll do my best to get something up tomorrow for them.
Outlaw - NBC, Fri 10/9 (special premiere Wed, Sept 15 10/9)
Sym-Bionic Titan - Cartoon, Fri 8/7
Boardwalk Empire - HBO, Sun 9/8

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Fall TV: Week 1

For those of you who have been reading here at the Tower for awhile, you'll recognize this time of year as when I valiantly attempt to watch a lot of new TV shows, write about them, and fail miserably. So I'm not going to even attempt this year, at least not the way I normally go about it. I think some of it has to do with my complete apathy toward most of the new shows this year, but it's mostly just an attempt to keep my sanity.

Instead, I'm going to preview each week's new premieres with some quick thoughts about what to expect. If I actually watch a show, I'll probably come back with a slightly more in-depth review. So without further ado, let's get going with Week 1.

As with most years, this is where the CW attempts to get some traction with their new shows before the other networks start up for the year. You may recall that last year featured the new Melrose Place (18 episodes before cancellation), TBL (2 episodes before cancellation, although you can watch 3 more on YouTube - yay?), and The Vampire Diaries (back Thursday and still going strong). This year, the CW is only debuting two new shows: Hellcats and Nikita.

Hellcats - CW Wed. 9/8 Central

Inheriting TBL's spot from last fall, I will be horrified at the taste level of the American public if this lasts more than two episodes. Ostensibly along the same vein as the brilliantly saccharine Bring It On, Hellcats details the "secret life" of college cheerleading. Outside of the concept itself though, it looks like everything goes horribly wrong with this one. I've only seen brief preview clips, but the level of acting featured here is on par with made-for-TV ABC Family movies. I guess that's what you get when you cast two Disney Channel graduates as your leads. I'd recommend staying away, unless you really like cheerleading.

Nikita - CW Thu. 9/8 Central

I honestly have no idea what to make of this one. Based off of the critically acclaimed movie and TV series "La Femme Nikita", Nikita is the story of a deadly, but beautiful, female assassin. CW isn't sharing much in the way of real previews on their website, so I can't tell you if this will be any good. The formula seems like it would be hard to mess up: take a pretty actress and have her beat up a bunch of people. If that sounds at all appealing, I'd recommend you give it a try. I'll give it a shot to impress me this week. Knowing the CW's track record, it probably won't.

FX is debuting a new show this week, too. Unlike the CW, their shows are usually pretty good.

Terriers - FX Wed. 10/9 Central

I'll throw some words at you and see if they stick. Creator of "The Shield". Writer of Ocean's Eleven. Donal Logue. If you're me, all of the above are reason enough to give this show a try. Billed as a comedic drama, this is the story of two would-be private investigators struggling to make a living in the modern world. The PI's are played by the aforementioned Logue ("Grounded for Life", The Tao of Steve) and Michael Raymond-James (the "Cajun" from season 1 of True Blood), so I'm expecting it to be both funny and well-acted which is all I can really ask these days. I'll report back with more on this one after the premiere.

If you're into the cartoon thing, Cartoon Network also premiered a couple of shows this week. Sandwiched on Monday nights in between two episodes of "Adventure Time" (a fun and quirky show in its own right) are:

Regular Show - Cartoon Mon. 8:15/7:15 Central

Despite the title, this is no regular show. Featuring a blue jay, a raccoon, a talking gumball machine, a lollipop-headed man, and a yeti (voiced by Mark Hamill), Regular Show is an infectious and funny little show. The first episode (which you can track down on YouTube if you're so inclined) involves a Casio keyboard (stolen from a wizard) that grants the player magical powers. Clocking in at 12 minutes, it's easily short enough to maintain its high-octane pacing without wearing you out. Check it out.

MAD - Cartoon Mon. 8:30/7:30 Central

This is essentially the folks at MAD magazine attempting to crank out a kid-friendly version of "Robot Chicken": short vignettes and parodies that are more miss than hit. The first episode (also on YouTube) had a couple funny bits, but the largest pieces (a parody of Avatar and a mash-up of all things "CSI" with "iCarly") both fell flat for me. This show is also only 12 minutes long, so if it sounds even remotely funny to you, it probably wouldn't hurt to check it out. I'll pass.

I'll be back next week with a preview of three brand new shows. Week 3 will be the real doozy as that's when almost everything new (17 shows) finally debuts.