Last Night’s Shows Today: Eureka, Warehouse 13 & Real Housewives Of New York

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these LNST columns. I’m still watching as much TV as ever, but I’m just not writing about it as much. I guess that’s because a lot of things are in reruns, I haven’ caught on to a lot of new shows and I’ve found other bloggers who write about the shows I like far better than I (and for actual money). Last night was a unique experience though as Syfy launched what looks like a pretty solid line-up of sci-fi themed, hour long shows. I only watched two of them, though because I’ve got to get caught up on my Housewives. Yes, I realize how sad that is.

EUREKA (8:00PM, Syfy)The missus and I lucked out and got completely caught up on Eureka‘s current season a few weeks back. Syfy was running a marathon and we tuned in exactly at the place where we left off during the previous marathon. Last night’s episode was the premiere of the second half of this season (yeah, it’s confusing). If you missed out, this whole season has revolved around Jack, Fargo, Allison, Jo and Henry dealing with a trip to the past that changed the present. This particular episode didn’t deal with that too much, instead focusing on Fargo and Zane accidentally launching themselves into space and everyone else trying to get them back safely. It’s a real “anything that can go wrong, will” story that shows off how good the Eureka writing staff is at playing within in their chosen genres. I’m still on the fence whether not getting into the greater mythology was a mistake or note. On one hand, it’s a kind of season opener so it might make sense to go light on the continuity, however, it’s not a season opener but a mid season opener, so why not jump in with both feet? I’ve got high hopes for the rest of this season. I’m guessing the Big Five’s big secret will start leaking out all over the place and am curious to see what the writers do with that.

WAREHOUSE 13 (9:00PM, Syfy)I didn’t write about it on the blog, but the last season finale for Warehouse 13 was pretty epic. While each episode that season had a solid monster of the week-type set up with Pete, Myka, Artie, Leena and Claudia tracking down artifacts that cause all kinds of havoc while also building on an overarching story. Things got pretty crazy at the end of the season with the world at risk and Myka quitting the Warehouse. The missus caught me up on that because I forgot most of it, so I was pumped for the premiere. And it turned out pretty good. I can’t really explain the episode because I missed a few of the details regarding the specific artifact, but people were getting killed and the Warehouse 13 crew–including new member and walking lie-detector Aaron Ashmore from Veronica Mars!–figuring it out. Of course, they run into Myka in her new day job and she SPOILER winds up rejoining the team with Ashmore staying on as well.

I did have one geeky problem with the episode though. The beginning is kind of ridiculous. Ashmore gets introduced as a New Jersey fed trying to figure out why a rock and roll museum is shooting lightning all over the place. Turns out Jimi Hendrix’s guitar is inside and causing the commotion. Claudia has to screw in his tremolo and whammy the guitar so it stops. My problems were two fold. First off, this whole scene just had a generally silly tone to it. The museum looked like a few pieces of clothes and a rack of guitars placed in an office building’s hallway. The dialog also got a little too inside baseball with Claudia geeking out when fire and lightning is literally inches away from killing her. Even worse than that, though, was the fact that Claudia picked up a normal right handed guitar to play. The problem with that is that, while Hendrix did play a right handed guitar, he flipped it over, switched a few parts and actually played it left handed. So, when she puts the guitar–which is not encased in anything by the way–over her shoulder, it’s normally right handed. If you’re going to throw around years and tremolos, you damn well better get all the details right. Just saying.

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK (10:00PM, Bravo, rerun)Because the missus and I were out of town from Thursday evening until yesterday afternoon, we missed a lot of our regular shows, including Real Housewives of New York and New Jersey. As such, when I saw that these reruns were starting at 10, I passed up on Alphas, but will probably catch up on it at some point this weekend. Quick funny story, I was in the living room watching RHONY while my wife was in the bedroom feeding the baby and watching Alphas. She was disappointed when she came out and I was watching Bravo.

Anyway, I’ve become enthralled with Brian Moylan‘s Housewives posts on Gawker, but figured I’d toss out a few observations of my own (I haven’t read his post(s?) on the most recent episodes. Anyway, the juxtaposition of Ramona dragging her daughter Avery to a burlesque store (which is really a sex store, right?) played up against Jill’s daughter Allie explaining to her that she’s taking a sex class (a pretty popular class at every college, if I remember correctly) and wants to be a sex columnist for a magazine (snicker, good luck with that honey) was amazing. This episode should have probably been called “Ramona’s a bad mother” because after emotionally traumatizing Avery at a sex store, she then meets up with her for lunch and asks if she can make some calls while they eat. Avery explicitly tells her mother that she misses her and wants to spend more time with her parents and Ramona completely brushes her off, later saying that Avery is constantly calling her and her husband to find out where they are and looking annoyed while doing it.

There’s some other junk with mothers and daughters, including LuAnn–who’s become the most insufferable of the ladies by far–teaching her too-hop daughter to drive out in the Hamptons. It must have been a fluke when both of them were in the same county at the same time, so they made the best out of it. There’s also a bit where the Countess’ producer–who happens to look exactly like Tintin–plays her new song for her. It’s awful as you might expect. I hope that guy never works for legit people ever/again.

The rest of the episode revolves around Sonja’s burlesque party (which is why Ramona was in a burlesque store earlier). Most of the attendees didn’t seem to know what burlesque really was as it looked like a messy mash-up of Victorian, steampunk, circus master (Mario) and vintage Clockwork Orange thanks to Kelly. I am absolutely a one hundred percent heterosexual male, yet anytime Sonja smushes her lady bits into a supposedly sexy and far too revealing outfit and starts prancing around, I get a little sick in my stomach. She does not got it, she should not flaunt it, she just looks like a sad old lady looking, nay BEGGING for attention.

Last Night’s Shows Today: Eureka, The Amazing Race Finale & Breakout Kings

I’m toying around with the idea of “Last Night’s Shows Today” being a recurring theme. Maybe not an every day thing, but I do enjoy writing about TV without going super in-depth. Plus, hopefully we’ll get some conversations going on in the comments. So, it’s Monday, time to talk about Sunday’s shows.

EUREKA (Syfy)Okay, we didn’t technically watch Eureka last night, but we did catch a few of the season four episodes we hadn’t seen Sunday afternoon thanks to a Syfy marathon. We didn’t get too deep, but I am very impressed with the fact that they’re dealing with an alternate reality in more detail than probably any other series I’ve ever watched (mind you, I’m not well versed in the ways of sci-fi tv series, so I’m sure there have been others I don’t know about). If you’re not familiar, basically, five characters–Sheriff Carter, Allison, Jo, Fargo and Henry–got sent to the past and their return to the present, along with a scientist from back then, sent some ripples throughout time that have changed things in the present. Maybe it’s because we watched all three Back To The Future movies this weekend and I’m on a time travel/alternate reality kick, but I really dig how they’ve explored these ideas so far. Again, we only saw the first four, maybe five, episodes from the fourth season but I like what I’ve seen so far. For some reason, they split the season up into halves, so we’re hoping to get caught all the way up by the time the second half kicks off this summer. I’m really curious to see how these new elements roll out.

THE AMAZING RACE (8:00-10:00PM, CBS)A few seasons back, the missus and I stumbled into watching The Amazing Race because, frankly, nothing else was on. Since then, it’s become a show we really enjoy and quite look forward to every week when it’s on. This season of The Amazing Race went with the old reality show staple of bringing back past contestants to compete again. I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff and we seemed to have started watching just in time because we recognized most of the teams that came back if not all of them. What I like about TAR is that, for the most part, everyone on the show seems like a pretty good person just wanting to play the game and also make some money along the way. As such, I wasn’t super excited that SPOILER Kisha and Jen won this season. They were pretty nice and played a good game this season, but in their initial one, there was some static between them and Margie and Luke, a mother and son team that also returned for this season but didn’t last long. Margie and Luke were favorites in our house, so we didn’t like Kisha and Jen starting trouble with them, but you add in that Luke is deaf and it just looked worse. Like I said, they played a good clean game this time and won fair and square. I was hoping for Zev and Justin or Gary and Mallory to take home the win, but what are you gonna do? Check out the full, two hour season finale on CBS’s website if you’re so inclined.

BREAKOUT KINGS “One For The Money” (10:00-11:00PM, A&E)I like Breakout Kings quite a bit, but I’ve got this nagging worry in the back of my head. The show’s basically a procedural with three incarcerated felons getting a month off their sentences for every case they work for some US Marshals. I’m all good with that, especially with what I think is stellar casting on all levels (the show was created by the Prison Break folks who might have shared the same casting agent as whoever did Lost–I could really look that up, but just haven’t yet). Anyway, the problem I’m worried about having is that I’m just not sure if I buy that there are this many prison escapes. With other procedurals you’re dealing with murders, missing people and other things that seem to happen all the time (though hopefully not as much as my television would have be believe), but this one has such a specific premise that I worry that it will thin out over multiple seasons and eventually break. Maybe they could ease my fears (again, they’re just tiny because, as I said, I do really enjoy watching these characters do their thing) by doing a few multi-part episodes here and there or by having a few overarching cases to work on.

Anyway, last night’s episode featured the gang going after an escaped hitman played by Mark Pellegrino who Lost fans will obviously know as Jacob and Prison Break fans will remember as Vikan (another dumb problem I have is them casting actors who had stints on PB as other characters, I know most people won’t catch these things or even remember that Pellegrino was on two measly episodes of the show, but it’s a geeky thing I do, especially because I just finished watching the whole series and need to blog about it). Anyway, while they’re trying to figure that out, Shea starts asking questions about whether Ray is actually a Marshal (technically he isn’t anymore) which casts doubt on whether they’re really going to knock the time off their sentences. In a pretty heated moment, Ray admits to what he did to get kicked out and also blows up the cons’ spots by saying what they got arrested for. Of course, during that speech, our little darling decided to test out her less than a week old lungs so I missed some chunks, but I did catch that Lloyd is in prison for writing a prescription to a girl that died. The key to all procedurals, aside from coming up with weird things for your characters to look into (hence why you see episodes about things seen on Dateline a few weeks/months later) is making sure those characters are strong, dimensional and interesting. I think there’s plenty of that to go around and considering how the Prison Break MO got flipped each season and then a few times in the final one, I’ve got hopes that Breakout Kings will stay solid. Also, next week’s episode makes it look like they’re going up against a slasher, so that’s pretty awesome.

Watch it here if you’re interested.

Catching Up On Eureka Seasons 1 Through 3.5

Thanks to the missus and I burning pretty quickly through How I Met Your Mother reruns and the seeming schedule change of SNL reruns on VH1 we found ourselves looking for something new to watch. As we tend to do in situations such as this, we went through shows available on Netflix Instant and decided to give Syfy’s Eureka a shot. That was about a month ago and since then we’ve gone through three seasons of episodes and really enjoyed the show.

If you’re unfamiliar with the premise a US Marshall named Jack Carter winds up becoming the sheriff of a small town in the northwest called Eureka that is actually the home of lots and lots of scientific geniuses who work for a big scientific research company called Global Dynamic. Carter has a daughter named Zoe and lives in an automated house called SARAH. The premise of the show is kind of a mix of monster of the week sci-fi (like Buffy or X-Files) and a procedural cop show a la CSI, but with a lightness to the proceedings that those other shows usually don’t have. Essentially, each episode finds something going wrong with an experiment and Carter, his deputy Jo Lupo and any number of other assorted cast members trying to figure out what happened. While Carter isn’t the scientific genius the other denizens of Eureka are, he does have a keen mind that he uses to solve the crimes.

A town filled with geniuses might sound like it would get pretty annoying pretty quickly, but luckily a good deal of them are pretty down to earth, especially Henry Deacon a scientist who starts the series off working in a garage and winds up having a pretty important position down the line. There’s also Dr. Allison Blake who works for the Department of Defense as the go between between Global Dynamic and the DOD. There’s a “will they, won’t they?” vibe between her and Carter that is a lot more complex and interesting than what that kind of element on a sitcom might be. A big reason for that comes thanks to Dr. Nathan Stark who begins the series as the head of GD (well, after the pilot) and also Allison’s ex husband. There’s a great dynamic between he and Carter, there’s a lot of back and forth insults between the two characters, but, even though it doesn’t get said, you can tell they actually respect one another. I’m trying to think of a relationship from comics that it’s similar to, but I really can’t. It’s kind of like if Tony Stark and Superman were in the same universe, I guess. Stark might look down on Supes for not being as smart as him and Supes might not see what the big deal with Stark is.

Even with the crime-of-the-week episodic nature of the series, the creators still maintain larger arcs that go through entire seasons. One of the earliest mysteries revolved around a division of GD called Section 5 that was somehow connected to Allison’s son Kevin. There’s even an entire alternate reality that Carter lives where he marries Allison and lead a whole life together only to realize it’s not the correct reality. He has to get back to the regular version of reality and put a stop to it by jumping into his past consciousness and stopping the culprit which results in him actually remembering everything from that reality. I liked how they handled this aspect of the story by not being afraid to reference it later, but figuring out a way to keep it from being the focal point for the remainder of the series.

The series really lives or dies based on the performances thanks to the sometimes complicated plots which seem to all be based on real science though taken about 50 steps ahead of what’s currently possible, it seems. Colin Ferguson as Sheriff Carter does an awesome job of carrying that load. He’s no genius himself, but he’s not such a dumbass that you want to slap him. He really is a regular guy who happens to be really damn good at solving crimes. He pulls off the cunning law enforcer really well and yet keeps everything grounded to offer non scientific geniuses like myself someone to related to.

My one real complaint about the series is how some characters go from being a relatively big part of the show to not being mentioned ever again. The first person I noticed this with was Taggart, an Australian character who we saw help Carter out on plenty of adventures. Now, mind you, some of the ancillary characters aren’t in every episode, but do appear occasionally. I’d say that, after a while, Taggart turned into a pretty prominent member of the (for lack of a better term) Scooby Gang. And then, all of a sudden, he was just gone with no explanation. We would found out in the second to last episode of Season 3.5 that he was off exploring something or other, but before that we got nothing. It was almost like he never existed. Speaking of being completely forgotten, that reminds me of Carter’s former flame Callie who ran the Eureka dry cleaners. They seemed to be really hitting off at the end of season two, but then once three hit, she was completely out of the picture and never mentioned again.

Aside from a few minor flaws though, I think Eureka’s a solid show that offers a lot of fun. I’ve read that the fourth season started airing this summer, had a Christmas episode recently and will kick back off later next year, so maybe we can get all the way caught up by then. As I’ve never really been a sci-fi TV fan (I only even watched X-Files sporadically) the only other show I have to compare this one to is its Syfy sister Warehouse 13. Both have lots of fun to them, but there’s just something about Carter that makes me like him more. Maybe it’s that he looks kind of like Indiana Jones…