A Geek and his PVR

Fighting an uphill battle against my PVRs diminishing freespace

Archive for Review

Review of The Loop

The Loop
(Thursdays on FOX at 8:30 after That 70’s Show)

Sam (Bret Harrison; Grounded For Life) is the youngest executive at TransAlliance Airways. He is also the only one of his friends with a “real? job, i.e. one with a desk and paperwork and everything else in an office. He lives with his older brother Sully(Eric Christian Olsen), the slacker, and two friends from college, Piper (Amanda Loncar), the girl he likes but, who is attached and oblivious to his intentions, and the hot bartender girl, Lizzy (Sarah Mason; Quintuplets).

He has to constantly balance work and his social life, sometimes to the detriment of both. At work, he is berated by his cantankerous boss, Russ (Philip Baker Hall), harassed by the VP, Meryl (Mimi Rogers), and belittled by his MIT-educated assistant, Darcy.

I’m excited to see that Bret Harrison has a lead role, after the cancelation of the little-appreciated Grounded For Life. He definitely seems to be holding together this band of misfits rather well. So far the show has been pretty consistently funny, although his friends seem to be the weak point of the cast.

From my perspective, having recently had to make a similar transition from college to career while my friends all continued to party, I can certainly sympathize with his situation, which may make it all that funnier for me.

So, anyway, decent cast, good writing, and just enough goofiness make this an agreeable way to travel.

Grade: B+

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Review: Life On Mars

Life On Mars
Mondays on the BBC, episodes available from various BitTorrent sites for those in the US
Grade: A-

Life On Mars is the story of Sam Tyler, a detective inspector, on the case of a serial murderer, who gets hit by a car and falls into a coma. Inside this comatose state, he is transported back to 1973, where he finds that he is an inspector working on a murder that seems to be the work of the same killer. Unsure of how to exit the coma or if he even is just imagining everything, he decides to stay.

At its core, Life On Mars is a fish-out-of-water drama, but with an added supernatural element. Sam wants desperately to go back to his own time to help his girlfriend, but the clues he finds in the past might help him in the future. The biggest problems he faces are the “backwardness? of the times, e.g. sexism, an absence of sophisticated forensic tools, and as he regards it, a lack of professionalism. It’s very Starsky and Hutch but in England.

I decided to check out the show based on a description on TVSquad (damn you guys for giving me something else to watch) and so far I haven’t been disappointed. It’s very well written, the acting is excellent. Actually the worst thing about the show is more a fault of mine, as I have a problem understanding some of the slang. If you get a chance, download an episode or two and check it out.

Midseason Series Premieres Reviews

ABC

Emily’s Reasons Why Not
(Monday at 9:00)
Grade: D+

So, I just read that ERWN’s production has been halted by ABC. This could mean any number of things, like they want to retool the show, but most likely it means that it will be canceled.

In short, Emily (Heather Graham) is an editor for a publishing house, and if she can think of 5 reasons why a guy is not right, she’ll dump him. She has a female friend and a gay friend. They assist her in this quest. She also has an office rival. In the premiere, she has just broken up with her boyfriend, who is also who’s book she’s publishing. She then dates the new marketing guy. He is reluctant to get physical, and has “weird? habits, thus leading to the “Reasons Why Not? and subsequent dumping. Most of the reasons are fairly shallow, except for the biggy, she thinks he’s gay and her friends gaydar concurs, while the truth is, he’s a Mormon virgin. (What?) Thus is the first episode.

In homage to the show, let me review it with Mike’s Reasons Why Not to Watch.

  1. Annoying, annoying (yes, 2 times annoying) voice over and goofy-ass graphics for the “Reasons Why Not?
  2. Only one reasonably likable character and one incredibly, horribly annoying character
  3. Writing is, in a word, dull
  4. Compared to Sex and the City in way too many reviews, usually disparagingly
  5. Just not funny or remotely original

It’s not that a show needs to be original, but if it’s a sitcom, it should at least elicit some laughter. This show just did not. It also seemed to suffer somewhat from schizophrenia, jumping from a surrealistic chick-com (ala Ally McBeal) to more standard sit-com-y conventions and many other points in between and farther out. Let me give some suggestions to the producers, such as, tone down the “reasons why not?, get rid of the rival co-worker, and give her friends something to do, other than bitch about Emily’s boyfriend du jour.

Crumbs
(Thursday at 9:30)
Grade: C+

Mitch (Fred Savage; The Wonder Years) is a “famous? screenwriter who had escaped his family after the traumatic death of his older brother. He returns home to help out after his mom (Jane Curtin) is released from the mental hospital for attempting to run down their father (William Devane) with a car. His father has left his mother and is having a baby with his new girlfriend. His brother still resents him for running away. Did I mention his family runs a restaurant? Mitch is in the closet, his brother Jody (the Chef) is a player, and his father secretly does the books for the restaurant when not at his new job as a new-agey massage therapist. And his mother is still crazy.

As far as sitcoms go, Crumbs is pretty decent. There were some good laughs, and the cast seems to work as a dysfunctional family should. The show was based on the creator’s actual family and events that happened to them, so at least the premise has a smidge of truth to it. It remains to be seen whether it will fall into typical sitcom plots and jokes, or will it rise above and be truly a show for the ages. (My money’s on the first one)

One more note about this show, the laughtrack was unbearably loud and intrusive.

CBS

Love Monkey
(Tuesday at 10:00)
Grade : A-

Tom Farrell(Tom Cavanaugh; Ed) is a sucessful A&R rep at a large music corporation. He lives music, literally, music is his life, and he has a “golden ear? for what is good. In the process of trying to get a talented singer/songwriter to sign with the label, he speaks his mind about what he thinks the label should be, and is fired for it. His girlfriend at the same time comes to the realization that Tom is not who she’s looking for and dumps him. He then tries to start his own label and continues to pursue the talent. Eventually he realizes he should be letting the talent do what’s best for them and not what’s best for him. Tom then gets offered a job at a small label run by a friend, who’s happened to have signed the guy he was after.

I really like this show. I never watched Ed much, but apparently Tom’s character is similar in many respects to Ed. Which if true, it’s too bad I never watched Ed. The supporting cast is excellent, it’s good to see Judy Greer and Jason Priestley. The writing seems good, and the music is excellent. It seems as though no reviewer can write about this show without making a comparison to High Fidelity, which for better or for worse, it does seem to draw some inspiration from, most especially the music snob slant of Tom’s tastes. I guess because I’m a bit of a music snob myself, I can relate to many of Tom’s observations about the “biz.? Maybe I just hope that there is someone out there like Tom, looking for the next great sound, not just the next Big Thing.

NBC

The Book of Daniel
(Friday at 10:00)
Grade: B

There’s so much stuff jammed into the season premiere, it took 2 hours to tell it, so, here’s the shortish version. Daniel Webster (Aidan Quinn; Desperately Seeking Susan [ha!]) is an Episcopal priest, with a borderline alchoholic wife, a daughter just caught for dealing pot, a gay son, and a horny adopted asian son. His sister-in-law is a burgeoning lesbian, her dead husband ran off with $3.2 million of the church’s money and is found dead with the money still missing. Oh, and Daniel talks to Jesus, in a he’s invisible but in the room kind of way. Daniel’s boss, the bishop (Ellen Burstyn) is hassling him, and his father, another bishop, doesn’t think much of him. There’s actual even more things going on, but if this has interested you enough already, maybe you should check out the show.

I like this show. Not love it, but it’s definitely interesting. What I like best is when Daniel talks to Jesus, because, it’s pretty funny usually. Jesus is a bit mysterious, and a bit cryptic. The daughter is also pretty good. What I don’t like about the show is the fact that every time they talk to or about the gay son, it has to be mentioned that he’s gay and they seem to make a huge deal of it. There’s actually a lot of different plot threads going on, and it’s a bit confusing. Though to be honest, when I watched the second episode, I was playing a videogame and not really concentrating on the TV. Anyways, I think it’s interesting enough to keep watching.

Four Kings
(Thursday at 8:30)
Grade: C+

Ben’s (Josh Cooke; Committed) grandma has died and left him a gigantic NY apartment, into which he invites his 3 best friends to live with him. Barry (Seth Green; BtVS, Austin Powers) is a music producer, Jason (Todd Grinnell) is a real estate developer working for a Trump-type mogul, and Bobby (Shane McRae) is a slacker. Ben is the serial monogamist of the group, where Barry is the perpetually put-upon loser in the love game. This is a situation that would only be found in the sitcom.

Once you get past the very Friends-like setup of the show, you find a show that’s struggling a bit to find its feet. There have been a few very funny moments and quite a few more where the jokes fell flat. You can see that there is a long friendship and familiarity between the characters though, especially in the in-jokes and strange rituals that always seems to manifest in groups that have been friends for a long time. The show is not bad, but is just so uneven, that sometimes even the good laughs are dragged down by lame setups and unnecessary selling of the joke. I really want to like this show, as Seth Green definitely has the comedic abilities, and is especially funny when playing indignant or angry, but the Jason and Bobby characters I find not really that funny. I don’t know if the writers just haven’t found good material for them, or what, but I hope that they can make a better contribution to the show soon.

Midseason grades are in for the upperclassmen

Well, here’s the midseason grades for returning shows.

First semester grades

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Midseason grades are in!

OK, here’s a update with Midseason grades for all the new fall shows. I’ll put up some reviews of the new midseason shows once they premiere. Here’s what I’m likely to be watching that’s new. Emily’s Reason’s Why Not, Skating With Celebrities, Crumbs, Four Kings, Courting Alex. On with the grades.

Season Premiere Grades

1st Semester Grades

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Fall TV Returning Series Grades (repost from other ‘blog 10/28/05)

Let’s consider this their 1st semester grades. It’s a good thing I’m grading on a curve…

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New series first semester grades (repost from other ‘blog 10/27/05)

Well, since it’s now deep enough in the fall TV season for some series to be showing repeats in the ramp up to November Sweeps, I thought I’d catch you up with my current thoughts on the new series and even just the latest seasons of favorites. I think for now, though, an update of new series will have to do.

(Since this was originally posted, some of the shows have been canceled. Reunion, Kitchen Confidential, and Threshold)

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