Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday Night.

First of all, before we get any further, let me just say that if you have an opportunity to go see CATFISH in theatres, you need to. It's an exceptional movie. And it's a Cinderella story for the indie filmmakers. But really, it's wonderful. It deserves to be a hit.

Ok, let's talk Tuesday television --

[So, if you haven't watched all your shows from last night yet, you'll probably not want to read my following reviews because I talk about plot and characters and all that.]


Glee. Glee, Glee, Glee. You delightfully surprised me. If you have been on the fence about this show, which I have for most of its run, you will find the premiere to be surprisingly fresh. Of course, there is the tired plot line of -- Glee is in danger of not having enough members! -- but for once I feel like the stakes are real. The writers are introducing problems that don't get solved before the end of the show. Glee is still one member short. [Which is too bad, because I was really hoping Sunshine would stay around. She has got a killer voice.] Power dynamics are shifting. Finn is off the football team with little hope of being reinstated. Quinn is back to her life as a head Cheerio. And Artie and Tina -- aww, so sad! Finally I feel like both Glee Club and the kids in it are risking and losing and NOT getting everything resolved neatly in the last act. A show where the stakes feel fake is a show with no real drama. And for once -- there was no love interest for Mr. Shu.

I do wish the songs were a little more integrated into the plot, but at least I didn't throw anything at the TV when they did "Billionaire" [cannot stand that song anymore]. And let's be honest -- IS there a more unlikeable character than Rachel?


Will Arnett. David Cross. Keri Russell. Cute little girl with interesting facial expressions. Oh how I want to like you. But at the end of the pilot, my flatmate and I looked at each other. "Eh" was the consensus.

What was it that failed to resonate? I think part of it was, sadly, it just didn't seem that funny. There were funny moments, but it felt like comedy I would write. Forced. Humor seemed not to stem from characters but rather from weird scenarios the writers could throw in. I'm not saying there weren't funny parts. But in Running Wilde humor comes from Will Arnett investing in a tiny pony and giving himself a humanitarian award where as in an excellent show like Arrested Development, humor comes from the things the characters say and do that come from just being who they are.

Running Wilde, I'm sorry that you'll be uselessly and detrimentally compared to Arrested Development for most of your run. That's the blessing and curse of hiring Will Arnett.

Worth a second shot, if only because I desperately want to like it.

DETROIT 1-8-7:

I have ulterior motives for wanting this show to do well, it's true. And I have to admit that I was a little distracted when I was watching it [it's a cop show. Procedurals give you an excuse to multitask]. But they have definitely reeled me in for a second episode next week.

First of all, who doesn't like a good who-done-it? And like I said yesterday, L&O has left a hole. Detroit 187's pilot followed Detective Washington on his first day as a homicide detective, an excellent entrance into the homicide world. And I think they did a great job keeping true to their cop format but drawing in little things about the characters, their work lives and their home lives. You can tell they've put a lot of thought into developing their characters and their relationships. Washington and Fitch have a great awkward relationship going as the green detective and the stern veteran. And you just have to feel for Fitch's crush on Sanchez. Especially now that she's got Mr. February John Stone riding with her.

But the thing that really brought me in was the last 30 seconds. These writers showed that they aren't afraid to take risks and raise the stakes and leave us in a cliff hanger. Way to go, procedurals!


I forgot to DVR this and it's not on Hulu yet [EDIT: Because it premieres NEXT week], so instead I'll offer you...


Lonestar was the scaping goat of Monday night. I myself opted not to DVR it though I was mildly interested [I don't know why. Was I afraid we were going to run out of room on our DVR?]. I wish I had because, though the ratings were bad and the trades were calling it DOA, the people who saw it had only excellent things to say about it. So I watched it on Hulu instead of my excellent television to see how I swung in the controversy around it.

Lonestar deserves a shot, people.

This was an hour of good television. You have a likeable character [in MY opinion, though people will disagree with me] caught in a terrible situation that is mostly the fault of the emotional manipulating of his father where he is really trying to do the best he can and follow his heart. This kid is morally CONFUSED yes, but you can still see him trying to do the right thing, which doesn't make him completely reprehensible.

At first I was annoyed that his dad let him out of the con that easily. And then confused and disappointed by the last minute where he takes his girlfriend to Vegas to marry her. Then I realized why I had a problem -- I wanted to story where a reforming con man must struggle with his oppressive, manipulative, and blackmailing father to establish himself as a legitimate businessman with a sacred marriage.

This is not the story the writers are telling.

Instead, they're telling a story about a morally confused man who's trying to do the right thing by one part of his life while following his heart at the other end, reimplicating himself in the con. So now the con isn't externally forced upon him by his dead. He's WILLINGLY returning to his double life and moral ambiguity, all the time thinking that he's going to be able to do right by everyone. And honestly, that's way more interesting than the story I thought I wanted them to tell.

The sad thing is, you hardly ever increase your ratings. If a show has poor ratings in the beginning, the predictable thing is that it will continue to decline. The bad press hasn't helped either -- can you imagine how nervous the people who greenlit the show are with all the devastating headlines? No matter how engaging Lonestar turns out to be, I think it's been bludgeoned beyond resuscitation.

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