Too Much TV, Fall ’10 Edition 5

My annual post-premiere week roundup of all the new shows I’ve tried out, so that a) I can advise those of you who want to know what shows are worth your time and b) convince myself that watching all this shit has been worth my time.

I’ll try to disclose anywhere I’ve got friends working or where I’ve worked with principals in the past, though now that I’m getting the hell out of showbiz I feel a bit more comfortable calling a spade a spade when something is terrible.

Starting on Monday nights and going in roughly chronological order, these are the shows I’ve given a chance (anything not listed, I haven’t actually watched):

The Event (NBC, Mondays at 9pm) – Though it was conspicuously lacking in information, the pilot was better than I thought it would be (minus what I found to be spectacularly cheesy visual effects). The producers seemed to quickly realize withholding too much information was going to drive the audience nuts, and they immediately dropped quite a bit of knowledge about what the hell is going on in the second episode. Spoiler (highlight to read): Kerry Weaver is a goddamn space alien! This show desperately wants to be the next Lost, but the characters are way too thinly drawn at this point for it to be comparable. However, it also seems to be avoiding some of the pitfalls that dragged down FlashForward‘s early episodes last year by actually moving the plot forward in a meaningful fashion. It’s a big if, but if they can find a way to significantly flesh out the characters, this could actually turn into a pretty good show.

.

Lonestar (Fox, Mondays at 9pm, already cancelled) – Though I didn’t quite like it as much as most critics did, I thought it had a lot of potential and I’m sorry to see it go so quickly after it pulled microscopic ratings. However, I’m more depressed about what this means for intriguing dramas that require the audience to put in effort to watch them. This show could have been handled better – it got stuck with a deathly timeslot (even behind House it was still up against Dancing With The Stars and NBC’s one out-of-the-gate hit in The Event) and had a very weird marketing campaign, but good luck trying to sell any broadcast network on the idea that any drama requiring the audience to think is going to be viable in the future, even with a better slot and a better campaign.

.

Hawaii Five-O (CBS, Mondays at 10pm) – This is pretty much the Scott Caan Show, and Caan even makes the purported lead, the wooden Alex O’Laughlin, seem useful as a straight man. I’ve got no attachment to the original, but this is still far, far better than I thought it was going to be given the batting average for remakes lately. However, Daniel Dae Kim needs to cut his nasty, greasy-ass hair or I’m going to fly out to Hawaii with a goddamn pair of clippers and do it myself.

.

No Ordinary Family (ABC, Tuesdays at 8pm) – Fun. Needs to get rid of the talking to the camera bit right quick, but Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz are both clearly enjoying breaking out of old characters (him: monstrously corrupt cop on The Shield, her: Dexter’s pushover, now dead wife) and getting to do some much lighter work. The characters could use some more depth, but this one seems promising.

.

Raising Hope (Fox, Tuesdays at 9pm) – I’ve got a couple friends working on this one, but I think I’d enjoy it even if I didn’t. Being about a family of misfits trying to raise a baby, it’s a bit of a weird match for Glee, but it’s got some very sweet humor. There’s a real fine line to walk when you have fairly dim characters between laughing at their antics and laughing at how stupid the characters are, and so far it seems to be walking it nimbly. Martha Plimpton is a real standout as the (very young) grandmother. One drawback: They should have kept the snappier original title, which was Keep Hope Alive.

.

Running Wilde (Fox, Tuesdays at 9:30pm) – Probably a case of having my expectations too high, but this one is just not very good. It’s basically the Arrested Development gang trying to get the band back together, but instead of playing their original songs, they’re playing shitty covers. Huge, huge disappointment.

.

Undercovers (NBC, Wednesdays at 8pm) – For a show about spies, the pilot really didn’t have a whole hell of a lot of action, which was disappointing. The leads are perfectly likeable, though the “They’re spies! Who run a catering business!” portion of the premise is clearly going to need to go away quickly, because it’s so needlessly schticky. I’m still a bit undecided on this one, but the ratings have not been promising.

.

Better With You (ABC, Wednesdays at 8:30pm) – Spectacularly bland. And having one show with a laugh track on a night where none of the other shows have one is really, really jarring, and only points up what a stupid convention the laugh track can be when poorly executed.

.

Terriers (FX, Wednesdays at 10pm) – Well-done little story about a couple of PI’s, which coasts mainly on the buddy chemistry of Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James. I worked on a great pilot that Logue starred in (which sadly got bogged down in legal issues and never went anywhere), and he’s a nice, nice dude, and a great actor, so it’s good to see him on a show that makes use of all of his talents. It’s a nice blend of cop show and character study.

.

Outsourced (NBC, Thursdays at 8:30pm) – Don’t make the same mistake I did of watching the show to confirm how awful it is. Please don’t. I think it was Dan Fienberg at Hitfix who gave the best quote about this show on his joint podcast with Alan Sepinwall of the same site: If nobody on this show had an accent, not only are the jokes not funny, they’re really not even jokes. Just an awful, awful show.

.

Outlaw (NBC, Fridays at 10pm) – This is another one I watched to see if it was as ridiculous as the reviews made it seem, and oh dear god, is it ever. I don’t demand perfect realism out of legal shows, mostly because that would be dreadfully boring. However, I do expect them to take place in a universe that bears some relation to our own, and this one just doesn’t, which makes it impossible to watch if you know a damn thing about the law. Fun party game: Invite a bunch of lawyers over to your house and force them to watch this show. Whichever one lasts the longest without yelling or gesticulating wildly at the screen due to the mind-boggling inaccuracies is the winner.

.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sundays at 10pm) – This show was genetically engineered for greatness from birth, with Terence Winter from The Sopranos writing and Martin Motherfucking Scorcese directing, and it’s a mobgasm of the highest order. Scorcese does a typically outstanding job with the pilot, pulling every mob-movie cliche he can think of out of his bag of tricks and making it seem brand-spanking new, and it’s just masterful. The second episode is also really outstanding, which is a very good sign since it was shot on a significantly lower budget and, you know, not by Martin Motherfucking Scorcese. It’s hard not to talk about this show in hyperbole, and judging by some of the “Well, god, it’s the best thing since sliced bread, but couldn’t it have been better?” reaction coming from some corners, it might be possible expectations have been raised impossibly high. But really, when you strip away the hype and concentrate on the product on-screen, it’s hard to deny that this is far and away the best new show of the year.

5 thoughts on “Too Much TV, Fall ’10 Edition

  1. Reply Patrick Sep 29,2010 5:41 pm

    Glad we’re in complete agreement on Hawaii 5-0, Raising Hope, Running Wilde, and Terriers. I have to admit I did like Running Wilde a little more this week than last week. Cross; “Come on!” Arnett: “Stop saying that!”

  2. Reply David Sep 29,2010 6:02 pm

    Definitely agree with all of your opinions. Terriers hasn’t wowed me yet, so it’s still on the bubble for me (as it is for FX renewing it at this point). And I was also pleasantly surprised by episode 2 of The Event and will be around for much longer than I gave the crapfest that was Flash Forward. Hawaii 5-0 is really fun, and I’m excited for the cast of Law & Order: LA.

  3. Reply Ellen Sep 29,2010 6:13 pm

    Coop: I’ll admit that I did enjoy the absurdity of the treehouse gag where nobody could understand what anyone else was saying. Something about that just cracked me up. But overall, it’s pretty dire. The only prayer is for a sudden, 30 Rock-style discovery of the real voice of the show five or six episodes in, but I’m not optimistic.

    And David, for some reason I actually stuck with FlashForward and it got somewhat better as the season progressed, but not nearly quickly enough for my tastes. And the appeal of all 32 flavors and then some of Law & Order has always eluded me, unfortunately.

  4. Reply e. Oct 1,2010 2:27 pm

    the only show on your list that i’ve watched is undercovers. actually, i only watched 20 minutes of it, so saying that i sat through a whole episode would be false. i just kept saying “i don’t care” at the screen the whole time.

    one new show that’s surprised me with its hilarity? mike & molly. it’s silly and a bit over the top, but it works for me.

  5. Reply Ellen Oct 1,2010 4:49 pm

    I can confirm that Undercovers only gets worse in the second episode. Amazingly, they made the stupid catering bit a BIGGER part of the show.

    I haven’t watched Mike & Molly, my theory being that it’s going to wind up being what happened with Big Bang Theory, where they start out making fun of the main characters (specific instances critics have pointed out: two fat guys get stuck in a hallway? fat guy leans on a table and it breaks? Yeah, fat people are smarter than to actually do that shit), but once they embraced them as humans instead of caricatures, the show instantly became way more entertaining.

    But it’s good to know they may already be finding that voice – it took the BBT guys almost the entire first season to find it.

Leave a Reply