Monday, 13 October 2008

These Weeks In TV Year II (Weeks 4-5) Part 3

I swear, these post titles are beginning to look like quadratic equations.

Tear-Jerking Moment of the Week(s):

Goddamn Coach Taylor! Considering his default personality is "very pissed off", his farewell to Jason Street in the second season of Friday Night Lights made me blub like a baby, and in this season opener his vow to help Smash Williams get the scholarship he has always wanted made me shed multiple tears.

Oh man, it's so good to have this back.


The return of CSI was a muted affair, dealing with the aftermath of Warrick's shooting by the dastardly Undersheriff McKeen. Opening on Warrick's death in Gil Grissom's arms, a large part of the show showed the CSI team dealing with his death, with Gil, Catherine and Nick taking it hardest.

While I had problems with the crime-solving aspect of the episode (how great it would have been to have kept Undersheriff McKeen around, knowing he was the bastard who killed Warrick), the rest of the episode was terrific, and when the usually stoic Gil breaks down during the eulogy to his friend, I lost it.

I guess this is where we start to see Gil get ready to leave the team, prior to the heavily-anticipated arrival of Morpheus. I don't think he'll be crying at any funerals.

Mentalist of the Week(s):

CBS has an honest to God hit on its hands with The Mentalist, which surprises me. While a lot of serialised or complex shows appear to have hit the buffers, procedurals seem to be doing well. The Patinkin-less Criminal Minds is doing great, the CSI opener had the highest ratings of the season so far, and Crime-Fighting Derren Brown is surprising everybody. We thought the second episode was passable at best, but it didn't help that we saw it right after watching the special features for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which included multiple unused clips from the made-up in-film procedural Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime, and lots of extra previews for Sarah Marshall's next show with Jason Bateman (including Divine Justice and Jesus H. Cop). As a result, The Mentalist looked like another spoof, so closely did it hew to a procedural formula.

Still, that formula is subverted a bit. The main character, Patrick Jane, is still disliked by his whole team, and does not do well in action situations: he gets bailed out twice this week, and his plan goes wrong in the final act, leaving him at the mercy of two murderers.

Luckily, even though he's impetuous he's still smarter than everyone else, and solves cases while the rest of the team chase their tails (which is a format convention similar to House's weekly misdiagnosis of a patient and his or her subsequent respiratory arrest/cardiac arrest/anaphylactic shock). Nevertheless, so far we've seen three people get shot because of his intervention, and we're only two episodes in. No wonder no one likes him.

We'll probably stick with the show for a while longer, while it finds its feet, but it occurred to me that I'm already impatient for Jane to use his Amazing Powers of the Brain throughout, getting restless when the show falls back on the usual procedural nonsense (evidence logging, interrogations, mobile phone calls, rap sheets, etc.). It reminded me of being a kid and watching dreck like Knight Rider (original flavour) or Airwolf. I couldn't give a shit about the talky bits. I just wanted to see KITT leap over a hedge or Streethawk use his beam weapon or BA Baracus throw a stick of dynamite at someone. Same here. All I want is The Mentalist hypnotising people and winning rock, paper, scissors competitions. That's the fun stuff. And when is Derren Brown getting a guest spot?

Fashion Faux-Pas of the Week(s):

Even the all-black, all-the-time stylings of the Future Heroes can't top this cringe-inducing ensemble from Don Draper.

His pants/trousers are sort of beige as well. It was a nauseating sight. All he needed to complete it was a pipe and he would have looked like the deluded 50s dad from Ren and Stimpy. The only thing that came close was Maya, again forced to totter around in high-heels and cleavage-tastic dress on account of how hot she is for Suresh, not realising he's all wrong on a genetic level.

Poor Dania Ramirez. I gather her power was going to be used to kill the Shanti virus in season two, but that plan got cancelled when the writer's strike killed the season early. From saviour of the world to hott, scantily-clad babe making failed booty calls to a mad scientist. She needs a better agent.

Still, at least the clothes, horrible though they are, look good on her. These pants, worn by Anna Friel on Pushing Daisies, do not flatter her at all.

And this combo not only features much heinous plaid (or tartan or something ugly), but also a daring top.

When I say daring, I mean, "Why is she exposing that much skin around a guy whose touch could instantly kill her?" It's not the style that bothers me, it's the risk of doom. I really get conniptions when I see them together. Love the show though I do, it really stresses me out.

"Where The Hell Did That Plotline Come From?" of the Week(s):

At the end of a fluffy Ugly Betty, someone pushes Christina down a flight of stairs.

Harsh. I know I'm no fan of Ashley Jensen's mugging, but I don't want her character to actually get mugged. What was great was that the episode had set this up with some stealth, with her former husband and Claire Meade set up as possible suspects. It was especially welcome as the following week brought us the best Ugly Betty episode in some time, overcoming some dreary structural tricks (flashbacks and police interrogations again?) with much humour, silliness, and an almost surprising denouement. I say almost, but the reveal of the attacker would have been more surprising were it not for Rebecca Romijn's obvious pregnancy.

They obviously needed an excuse to lose Alexis for a while, but at least they used her real-world situation in this way, resolving the attacker plot without pinning it on some hastily introduced patsy. This way the assault has some real consequences.

Uncomfortable Scene of the Week(s):

Seeing Paul Kinsey attempt to weasel out of travelling to civil rights battleground Mississippi with his girlfriend Sheila was hard to watch, as Paul's hipster liberalism is punctured in front of the Sterling Cooper bellhop, Hollis, he has just made an effort to greet as an equal.

Liberal white guilt, fractious race relations, relationship strife, the civil rights movement: all commented on in just one minute of screentime. ::doffs cap::

Bravery of the Week(s):

As much as I’m utterly uninterested in any of the characters played by Ali Larter on Heroes, kudos to her for allowing the showrunners to use this photo from her youth.

Humiliating Scene of the Week(s):

This is a personal one. Earlier in the week an attempt at defrosting our fridge cost me a rather large amount of money thanks to some less than clever (i.e. unbelievably fucking stupid) and very impatient behaviour. I don’t want to go into it too much, as I’m utterly embarrassed about it and really furious at myself, but let’s just say that this moment…

…with Betty defrosting a fridge using a bowl of hot water and not a knife and meat tenderiser combo would have been rather helpful if I’d watched it two days earlier. At least our new fridge doesn't smell weird and can't be dismantled by our cat Sydney, I guess.

Asshole of the Week(s):

We love Buddy Garrity from Friday Night Lights, with his bumbling ineptitude and endless enthusiasm.

In the first two episodes of the third season, however, he crossed a line into pure asshole-dom, scheming against Tami over her decision to divert his Jumbotron money into funding the school, and threatening Riggins prior to dinner.

Sure, he's onto something in his distrust of Riggins, and most parents would probably agree, but by not trusting Lila's judgement and ability to understand her boyfriend's childish impulses, he just makes things worse for everyone.

Soundtrack of the Week(s):

The CSI season opener was, as mentioned before, more contemplative than usual, and part of the reason was the lovely ambient soundtrack by John M. Keane, channelling The Mighty Eno or Cliff Martinez. While Forgetting Sarah Marshall writer Jason Segal is onto something when he criticises procedural soundtracks as being little more than ominous tones and atmospherics (Mark Snow, I'm looking at you), this week CSI proved him wrong. It was a joy to listen to, and increased the emotional impact considerably.

Accidental Political Satire of the Week(s):

Obviously Friday Night Lights was filmed a little while back, but surprisingly they still managed to comment on the Sarah Palin vice-presidential debacle with a sub-plot about Tyra Collette trying to win an election by appealing to the groins of intellectually stunted morons, with sassiness, broadly caricatured feminine wiles, and mean-spirited insults.

It's as if the writers have precognition or something.

Best Nerd Reference Scene of the Week(s):

Jim's torture of Dwight, recasting Battlestar Galactica as Dumbledore Calrissian's quest to return the Ring to Mordor, made my hair stand on end.

I'm sure many shared our pain.

Facial Expression of the Week(s):

Is it Noah Bennett donning his famous horn-rimmed glasses?

Olive reacting to a dishonesty overdose?

A rare smile from Stanley, who is only happy when food comes into the equation?

The mysterious Dr. Zimmerman (regrettably not played by the world's best Zimmerman) getting accidentally frozen by Tracy Strauzzzzz?

Tyra Collette moments after her stripper sister gets engaged to Riggins the Elder?

Lily Charles, as a nun, trying to reassure Olive?

Peter Petrelli using Jesse's "sound manipulation" superpower (which, it turns out, is thankfully more like Banshee from X-Men than Michael Winslow from Police Academy)?

Tami Taylor reacting to the political corruption of Sarah Palin Tyra?

Most Insane Televisual Event of the Week(s) Year Decade:

We've almost caught up with America's Next Top Model (it's delayed by about a year in the UK), having just started Cycle 11 after a mostly pleasing Cycle 10 (I'll be getting to that soon, hopefully). Yes yes, this aired a few weeks back, but it's been a busy period in our lives. God! Anyway, within minutes of this cycle season beginning, we were overjoyed at the shambolic and relentless insanity unfolding on our TV. The futuristic theme for the premiere and auditions was the greatest stroke of genius in the show's history, and almost killed us from the laughter. I don't know what I loved most. It was a battle between Alpha and Beta Jay (with Alpha Jay looking utterly mortified by his silver get-up)...

...the laser scanning of the catsuit-clad model-wannabees...

...the Orgasmatron Glaminator 11.0 (what does that even mean?)...

...The Tyrabot (for crying out loud)...

...the three hosts beaming up "fiercely" (which almost gave me a hernia from the laughter)...

...and the entrance of Noted Fashion Photographer Mr. Nigel Barker later in the premiere, this time from a magician's cabinet.

This pleased me greatly. Almost as much as the delicious schadenfreude of vicious bigot Sharaun getting kicked out in the first week. Usually the out-and-out bitches hang around for a few weeks, or right until the end (cat-human hybrid Dominique and the amazing Jade spring to mind), but this time there are so many nasty women in the house that they could sacrifice one straight away and not bore-ify the show later.

Intensity of the Week(s):

For once, there's a challenge to Lance "Intensity" Reddick's Crown of Intensity. In a welcome return to the show, The Haitian, aka Jimmy Jean Louis, has enough dignity left over after getting knocked out by both Ando and Peter (embarrassing) to deliver some awesome intensity.

Still, even that attempt is crushed by the effortless intensity of my man Reddick, here reacting to the news that Olivia has discovered the presence of The Observer.

It strikes me that what we're seeing here is a case of White Men Can't Do Intensity. It could be argued that Don Draper's reaction to the appearance of Jimmy Barrett is a sure-fire winner...

...but I'm not sure that that doesn't count as psychosis rather than intensity. Removing that candidate leaves us with this.

It's just pathetic, really.

Holy shit I've finished! I feel like I've been writing this since February. In summation, not bad stuff, with some great returning shows and the smart move of avoiding new shows and things that are proven to be terrible (Knight Rider). I asked Brian Michael Bendoom what he thought, and...

...I think that's good? [/old man]


Masticator said...

In the spirit of my earlier half-hearted defence of Heroes, I happily admit that I get more enjoyment out of watching it than any other show on TV at the moment. Oh my, it is so very very wonderfully stupid. "Know you? I created you!" is my favourite TV line of 2008. I also liked the appropriation of Temeraire's divine wind as SuperWeevil's power.

You also appear to have a misguided belief that Dania Ramirez's costumes are in some way A Bad Thing. You silly man.

johnilf said...

oh my gawd, i dont even need to watch tv anymore, sum it up my man,!

oh and as a word verification thing i need to post this i am gonna type


what a word.

The Rush Blog said...

"Even the all-black, all-the-time stylings of the Future Heroes can't top this cringe-inducing ensemble from Don Draper.

His pants/trousers are sort of beige as well. It was a nauseating sight. All he needed to complete it was a pipe and he would have looked like the deluded 50s dad from Ren and Stimpy."

Are you aware of the fact that "MAD MEN" is set in the early 1960s and not every man dressed like the Men in Black?

Admiral Neck said...


This is what happens when Adrian Zmed smirks.

"You also appear to have a misguided belief that Dania Ramirez's costumes are in some way A Bad Thing. You silly man."

I have addressed this in another post. You big perv.

"Are you aware of the fact that "MAD MEN" is set in the early 1960s and not every man dressed like the Men in Black?"