What We’re Watching: Monday & Tuesday

I find myself with a strange feeling this TV season: a lack of interest. Sure, I’ve got favorite shows I like tuning in to, but it feels like I’ve got a lot less of them to look forward to, possibly because Lost is gone. There wasn’t another show in the history of my television watching career that engrossed me as much as that one and got me so excited about an hour of TV. Maybe it’s because most of the new shows aren’t so good. Here’s the break down for the first section of the week as far as regular viewings go.

For all the years I’ve been in New York, I’ve been looking around for a good syndicated block of reruns between 6 and 8 that would stay consistent and, for the most part, I’ve been unsuccessful. That is until recently. VH1 scored Saturday Night Live reruns from the 90s which have been a lot of fun to watch, even when I’m reminded that that was an era when skits tended to run WAY too long. It’s still fun to see a lot of today’s big stars and musical acts on the show both in the cast and as hosts. It’s even more fun to see long forgotten folks like Finese Mitchel and Sysqo perform. That takes care of the 6 to 7 block and then we bounce over to a local station called My9 which runs How I Met Your Mother. The only problem I foresee is that, with only a few season under its belt, I’ll be rewatching these episodes over and over again.

MONDAY

8:00pm – HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
I’ve already gone on record with the potential problems I see with HIMYM, but I still enjoy this show better than most of the others I watch on a weekly basis. I’ve grown to really enjoy these characters, but I still think there needs to start being some resolution to the overhanging “mysteries” or else this one could start feeling a little tedious. Like I said though, great cast and still one of my favorite, most looked-forward-to shows.

8:30pm – RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS)
Rules of Engagement is a show we only started watching because it was on right after HIMYM and nothing else was on, but I’ve actually come to enjoy it. Sure, it’s a jokier type of sitcom with lots of jokes being tossed around that aren’t hilarious, but funny enough to get a laugh. I like seeing Patrick Warburton and David Spade doing their things, plus I find the dumb neighbor/friend guy oddly charming. I’m in it with this series, though if something more interesting came on I think we’d jump ship in favor of that. 

9:00pm – THE EVENT (NBC)
AS regular readers might remember, I wasn’t really all that into The Event when it premiered. I’m even less so now and barely still pay attention while the missus watches. I think she’s getting pretty sick of it too. I spent way too many episodes wanting to slap Jason Ritter for saying “My girlfriend!” so much that I don’t think we can ever be okay again (at least not on this show). I appreciate that they’re trying to move things along at a faster clip, but I just do not care about any of these people or what’s going on. I have the vaguest interest in what’s happening with these supposed aliens (though my money’s on dimensional or time travelers), but I could really just look it up in Wiki at some future date and feel satisfied. Probably moreso because I wouldn’t be wasting my time watching a lackluster Lost wannabe. 

10:00pm – CASTLE (ABC)
I almost feel bad for not liking Castle more. I really like the cast and the dynamics of the characters, but it just feels so hacky lately. From the wacky set-ups for crimes this season (steampunk AND time travel in one episode?!) to the increasingly formulaic plot, I’m getting worn down. How many times can they run across a suspect who lies so well that they completely buy his story and move on only to come back to him or her later in the episode to realize he or she is really the killer? It’s boring and, personally, I expect more from a show with Nathan Fillion on it. Hopefully this one will pick up because the missus still LOVES it, while I just keep thinking about how much better Bones is and wishing Netflix would send the first disc of last season already so we can start the long road to catching up.

TUESDAY

8:00pm – GLEE (Fox)
This one’s completely because the missus likes the show. She’s a big fan of musicals and show tunes and whatnot, so this is right up her alley, which is unfortunate, because I find it to be one of the most wildly inconsistent, sloppy and increasingly gross shows around. Anyone else see the Rocky Horror episode tonight where the teacher actually considered and planned on dressing up in gold shorts and performing a sexually charged number with one of his students? Sure he practiced with the hot red head teacher, but he was actually planning on jumping in and doing that. He’s just one of the many headache-inducing characters on a show filled with them. I’ve heard the argument made that you’re not supposed to expect anything from Glee but high school drama and musical numbers, but I call bullshit on that. The very basis of ongoing fiction of any kind is based in consistent characterization and this show lacks it for the most part. However, I do love Brittany’s throwaway lines. Those are just solid and sound like they’re being written by someone from 30 Rock.

9:00pm – RAISING HOPE (Fox)
I can’t remember the last time I watched this much Fox programming on a single night, but I find myself really liking Raising Hope. It’s clear the show was created by the brains behind My Name Is Earl as both showcase small town folks without much money doing what they can to get by. Hope revolves around a guy discovering his one night stand turned out to not only be a serial killer on death row, but also pregnant with his child. Now he’s raising the kid with his parents who had him at a really young age (his dad looks about the same age as him at times) and his mom’s grandma played by Cloris Leachman. Hope can be a little too weird and a little too jokey at times, but I think it’s starting to hit its stride. Plus, the Halloween episode featured homemade Batman and Robin costumes, so bonus points for that.

9:3opm – RUNNING WILDE (Fox)
Running Wilde, on the other hand, is not a show I’m enjoying much and I’m starting to get the feeling I’m not the only one as Fox decided to run two episodes of Raising Hope tonight instead of one of each, like usual. I am a huge Arrested Development fan, so I should like this show with its use of Will Arnett, David Cross and that fact that it was co-created by Mitchell Hurwitz, but Wilde suffers from two afflictions. First off, it’s not very easy to jump into. We missed the first episode and had trouble figuring out what the relationship between Arnett and the still-hot Keri Russell was. That’s not a good thing for a new show and something that AD suffered from (I still have trouble describing it to friends who missed out the first time around). The other problem is that it just feels like a rehash of old material. Arnett’s playing GOB from AD, Russell feels like Felicity though I never watched that show, plus the premise is a more exaggerated version of Dharma & Greg without the love. I’ll be curious to see what Fox replaces this show with if it does get the axe.

10:00pm – PARENTHOOD (NBC)
Parenthood continues to be one of the best written, most solid shows on television. I’d honestly put it up there with Mad Men. There’s a lot more in Mad Men considering it’s a period piece, but like that show, the Parenthood creators do an amazing job of juggling a small army of fast talking characters, giving each their moments to shine and great lines. Great writing mixed with a great cast makes for great TV, but for some reason I don’t find myself looking forward to this show on a regular basis. I’m happy when it’s on, but never excited for it. I wonder if that’s because it’s a drama and not an action show. I’ll have to think about that. I’ll be back on Thursday with more shows I’m watching. What are you viewing on Monday and Tuesday?

Tale Of The Tape: Bones vs. Castle

When I first heard the pitch for Castle–a male writer follows around a female cop for research–I thought it sounded like a gender reversed Bones. That being said, I had only seen a few episodes of Bones and was wooed by Nathan Fillion’s charm (plus the fact that Castle doesn’t conflict with any other shows we watch) and became a regular Castle watcher. But, after watching four seasons of Bones in about a month, I figured the blogging world could benefit from a side by side, tale of the tape comparison between the two shows about crime fighting pairs in which one of the members happens to also write books. And away we go. Continue reading Tale Of The Tape: Bones vs. Castle

Web-Based Shows On DVD: Dr. Horrible & Angel of Death

dr horrible In an odd twist of fate, I watched two DVDs made up of material that was originally intended for the internet. First up, Em and I watched Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I remember when it was coming out online, but I wasn’t really high on Whedon at that point because I didn’t love Astonishing X-Men and I hadn’t yet watched Firefly, so I didn’t mind skipping it. But, after watching through Buffy all the way through again and really enjoying the Firefly/Serenity world, I put the DVD on our queue. Of course, after the slew of horror movies I watched in October, it got pushed back. Anyway, we finally watched it and both really liked it.

But really, this thing was designed for us to like it. It’s written by Whedon and stars two guys from shows we both love: Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother and Nathan Fillion from Castle and Firefly. Plus, there’s singing, which Em loves. And superheroes which we’re both fans of. So, yeah, you couldn’t get much more inside our wheelhouse. I’m sure everyone’s already seen it and I’m the last person on the planet to check it out, but I will say that the ending really surprised me. Here you think you’re watching this fun, light goofy movie and then kablammo. I guess I should have expected it from Whedon (this is the guy who now has me looking at every horror scene and trying to figure out what the twist will be – the GIRL is the vampire, not the guy!). But still, wow. I didn’t see that ending coming.

angel of deathThe other web-based movie I watched was Angel of Death and this one was completely random. I added the movie to my queue solely because Zoe Bell is in it and I find her incredibly attractive and she’s an ass-kicker, so I figured it would be a good action movie, even though I wasn’t familiar with it. And yeah, even though I didn’t like Death Proof and I’m still not sure if I like her acting (I can’t tell if her delivery is off just a tad or if it’s just her accent), I was still excited. Then I popped the DVD in and it said “Ed Brubaker’s Angel of Death” and I freaked out a little bit. I can’t believe I haven’t written more about Brubaker on this site, but his Captain America is one of the greatest long-term comic book series’ of all time. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not reading that comic.

So, I did a little searching online and remembered when this thing was coming out. I guess it was webisodes or whatever. But, watching it all together on the DVD, it really did feel like a movie instead of a serial. Plot-wise, you’ve got Bell playing a hitwoman who gets stabbed in the head and starts feeling bad about accidentally killing a little girl, so now she goes on a revenge kick killing the bad guys. I can’t say I was paying 100% attention, but I didn’t really have to. Aside from Bell, Doug Jones and Lucy Lawless were in it. Ted Raimi’s also in it, but I honestly didn’t see him. I really should pay more attention.

Anyway, I’m torn about the movie. It’s nothing spectacular, though it LOOKS fantastic. Like I said, it doesn’t feel like a web-based series (though neither does the Totally Rad Show podcast, so take that for what it’s worth), but it also doesn’t feel like the high caliber of story I’m used to from Brubaker. Maybe that’s because his comics deal in genres that aren’t as popular in comics as they are in movies. The noir thing is pretty common in films, but not comics. So, Bru writing a noir/70s-ish movie doesn’t seem as groundbreaking as his comics. To be fair, though, I probably should give the disc another watch (I’m not going to now though).

I also watched a few of the special features on the DVD (there are a good number) which were kind of interesting. There’s a whole feature about Bru which is cool, though listening to Bell call him a geek is both funny and a little cringeworthy. I also had a much more curmudgeonly view of Bru from my days at Wizard, though he was incredibly nice the time I talked to him for a big Captain American retrospective Wizard did about three years back. I guess you just assume he’s grim and gritty because he does that so well, but in the doc he comes off as a dude whose dream is coming true by being able to jump from comics to movies and I certainly can’t blame him. As a hopeful comic writer myself (I’ve finally getting some outlines together for submissions) he’s absolutely one of my heroes and I can only hope for a career (if it happens) even remotely similar to his. Well done Ed!

Firefly: The Series (2002)

As I mentioned in one of these posts over the last few days, the missus and I have been watching a bunch of TV on DVD lately. We burned through the second season of Mad Men and all of Firefly and are four discs into the first season of Alias. I completely missed out on/didn’t care about Firefly when it first aired and didn’t have much interest in it until recently when Rickey and Sam gave it to us to check out and we couldn’t say no (also, nothing else is on). I’ve been told the proper order to consume the entertainment in (TV, both comic series’ and then Serenity), so I figured I’d blog about them in that order.

Damn, this is a great show you guys. I realize I’m super late to the game on this, but Joss Whedon actually really impressed me with this show. I’ve been kind of down on him after being really bored with the one episode of Dollhouse I watched and not being too impressed with Astonishing X-Men. Being a big fan of Buffy, both of those were disappointing for me. Plus, we went back and watched the first season of Angel, which was hard to get into. I was starting to think that Whedon didn’t have the ability to hook viewers with a new show right away. I was getting sick of people saying “Yeah, the early stuff isn’t great, but you’ve got to get through it to get to the good stuff.” What kind of rationale is that? I understand that in the age where we can watch everything online or on DVD that it becomes much easier to go back and catch up on a show that got bad or started off poorly, but why should we? If you want me to watch your show, here’s an idea, wow me from the beginning.

And that’s exactly what Whedon and company did with Firefly. Right out of the gate, BAM, I’m engrossed. The characters are cool and interesting and all have their own mysteries about them. Things are seeded for future episodes (something Whedon does better than most) and the effects are sick. I was surprised throughout the entire series how good the spaceships, space stations and alien worlds looked. Plus, of course, the premise of “cowboys in space” is just too cool.

Firefly also doesn’t get too caught up in the characters that Whedon seems stuck on now. You don’t have the geeky guy and Kaylee only kind of gets into that Kitty Pryde territory that Whedon so clearly loves. Plus, Mal’s just a rad character, kind of Preacher meets Han Solo and Nathan Fillion does an awesome job with him.

I’m also a big fan of Jayne because, to me, he’s the Wolverine of the group. He’s the badass, a/immoral dude who loves what he does and is the best at it (at least amongst the crew). But, unlike the merry mutant, Jayne isn’t over used. He’s like Wolverine at his earliest, a cool character who we got glimpses of without being overloaded on him. It’s a good way to go.

I think my favorite episode has to be “Out Of Gas.” The story structure, presentation and character development are all just crazy awesome, but the finale “Objects In Space” was also pretty sick. I liked Early and was glad to see River not just be a crazy weirdo. These are the kinds of episodes that Whedon excels at, it’s too bad they tend to take place late in a season.

I don’t know why the show was canceled or any of the details (because I didn’t look them up, I don’t want any more spoilers than what I already know), but it really is too bad Firefly didn’t get the proper support from the network (like airing the episodes in the correct order). It came out during my college days, so I assume that’s why I was out of the loop (though I do vaguely remember it’s existence).

Here’s hoping that whatever Whedon’s next project will not only start off strong, but get a network backing it that knows what to do with his kind of show. I’m even contemplating going back and watching Dollhouse’s first season in short order. I keep hearing about some kind of game changer, but, I gotta be honest, I REALLY didn’t like that one episode I saw. I mean, it was BAD. I guess I could skip it (or at least the “most dangerous game” parts. Uch, I don’t even like thinking about it.

Up next? The trades!

Mid Season Replacements

Welcome to the middle of the season folks. No, I haven’t gotten my calendar out to see how many episodes of Big Bang, How I Met Your Mother or The Office are left, but I can just tell. How? I’m a genius. Well, no, not at all. I can tell because we’re getting hit with a slew of new shows that may or may not still be here by the end of the actual season. Over the next few weeks (and the previous four-ish) you’ll see the networks put a big push behind these shows they hope will fill the gaps in their line-ups, which, let’s be honest, weren’t exactly bustling with new, innovative and interesting shows as I mentioned before.

Anyway, I’ve caught a few episodes of these new shows here and there and will be offering up my opinions on each as is my blog-given right.

CASTLE
Monday 10:00 (ABC)
Live everyone else, I saw a TON of previews leading up to the premiere of Castle. I wasn’t really sold on the “writer teams up with a cop” shenanigans the ads were trying to sell me (it seemed like Bones with reversed genders), but I like Nathan Fillion and wished him success. Well, I found myself without anything to watch on Monday night last week so I checked it out and it wasn’t bad. This week’s episode was pretty good too, if a bit overcomplicated. Fillion’s rad and the lady copy is growing on me. There are two aspects that I really like though. First off, I like his family. His daughter is smart and kind of the anti-Gossip Girl while his mother is a former (?) New York actress who likes to party. Not exactly the most original dichtomy, but it all works well together (you might recognize the mom as Greg’s mom on Dharma and Greg). The second thing I like is seeing a writer at work on a TV show. Sure, he’s supposed to be a grocery story aisle novelist, but he thinks like a writer and I just like seeing that, being a self proclaimed writer myself.

DOGG AFTER DARK
Tuesday 8:30PM (MTV)
Dogg After Dark is kind of like Hugh Hefner’s old show where he’d just walk around a party in a loft and talk to people except this time it’s
the Dee Oh Double Gee sporting shades in a huge nightclub and “bumping into” celebrities. I’ve only seen it once, but he called a lot of dudes cousin and then someone sang at the end. I didn’t even realize until I just looked things up for this blog that it’s on Tuesdays, a day I don’t have anything to watch, so I’ll have to give it a look next week.

BETTER OFF TED
Wednesday 8:30PM (ABC)
The Better Off Ted ads did a good job of getting me to want to watch the show, mostly because they heavily featured Portia de Rossi who, aside from being SUPER hot, also gets a near-infinite pass for being on Arrested Development. I tried watching the first episode online, but it got really skippy so I quit and watched the second episode last night. Due to some phone calls, I missed the second half of the episode, but I liked what I saw. The premise is kind of tough to explain (the main character actually does a pretty good job in the opener of the first episode), but I like the fact that it focuses on characters from all over this huge research and development company. I’m not completely sold, but I’ll be back next week.

DOLLHOUSE
Friday 9:00PM (FOX)
I saw one episode of Dollhouse, the second one, and will not be watching any more. I was pretty bummed by how not-great this show was, but I wasn’t surprised. I had heard the production had hit a lot of bumps, plus I’m not an Eliza Dushku fan, so this didn’t feel like a home run from the beginning. I also felt like they didn’t do a good job of letting us know what this show was about (or even letting me know it was on). At first I thought the dolls were supposed to be some kind of super agents, but it turns out they’re kind of prostitutes? I dunno. The problem with a show where the main character is blank is that you really have to like the actor or actress because that’s all you’ve got for lack of character (though I’m sure all that will come back in the memory flashbacks that will probably become important at some point). It also seemed like all the characters were just rehashes of other Joss Whedon characters, like the nerdy tech kid. I know that Whedon has a tendency to start his series’ slow and then really kick it into gear (like Buffy and Angel, I haven’t seen Firefly yet) and I hear there was a big game changer last week (please spoil it in the comments, I’m curious), but I don’t think I’ll be coming back to Dollhouse.

KINGS
Sunday 8:00PM (NBC)
I probably shouldn’t even include Kings on this list because I saw about 20 minutes of one episode. But in that 20 minutes I saw a show that I definitely want to catch up on. There’s such a deep history to this show about America if we had kings (something I think NBC should have advertised way more clearly). The series seems taylor made for my ilk, by which I mean fans of well thought out alternate realities. There’s a ton of history ready to be mined here. Hopefully I can get caught up so I have an idea of what’s going on this week (if I remember to watch).

And a few other shows I’m looking forward to:

THE UNUSUALS
Premieres April 8, Wednesday 10:00PM (ABC)
and
THE DUEL 2
Premieres April 8, Wednesday 10:00PM (MTV)
Before realizing both of these shows will not only be on at the same time, but also starting on the same day, I was kind of looking forward to The Unusuals. Again, the concept seems a bit whacky, but I really like the cast: Michael from Lost (Harold Perrineau), Joan of Arcadia (Amber Tamblyn), one of the nerds from Dazed and Confused (aka the crazy roommate from Friends, aka Adam Goldberg) and a guy from 28 Weeks Later (Jeremy Renner). But, alas, my attention will be diverted thanks to the latest Real World/Road Rules Challenge, which starts the week after one of my top 5 favorite shows, The Real World Brooklyn, ends. This one will be dubbed The Duel 2 and promises to have a fight between Real World Paris castmates Adam and CT!!! (If that made sense to you, we can be friends forever.)

So, what shows are you watching? Seriously, please comment, I need to know that SOMEONE’s reading.