Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Watch It Or Drop It? Also: Aliens In America = Awesome

And it's Wednesday - one day closer to the weekend and overall a pretty good day so far. So I watched Larry Craig interviewed on NBC last night ... it was one of those weird interviews where you're kind of half-listening to him speak but mostly going all Larry David and giving him the squinty-eyed "so, did you do it or not?" look. The fact is that Craig came off very well in the interview, which was a stark contrast to most of his TV appearances where he comes off like a passive-aggressive idiot. However, aided by Matt Lauer's fairly soft-ball line of questioning, Craig and his wife were the perfect picture of down-home elderly gentility, and their "oh, gee golly I was oh so surprised by that mean old policeman!" strategy certainly seemed to pay off - the two came off as befuddled grandparents rather than as devious liars (which may very well be what Senator Craig is ...). The fact is that the truth will eventually come out one way or the other, especially in this day and age, so if Craig is temporarily getting away with deceiving the public, I doubt it will last for long.


So, it's about that time where I realize that I am but one man, and I can only watch so much TV on a regular basis without going insane. Therefore, it's time to start dropping shows, which is at times a painful process and at times fairly liberating. I mean, there's shows like Journeyman that I really WANT to like, but after a few episodes I just realize that, while it may be a well-done show, it's simply not for me. Same goes for Life - I really like the acting and the main character, but I am just not a fan of most procedural shows in terms of format, and find it hard to commit to watching them on a weekly basis. So of the new Fall shows - here's where they currently stand with me:

DEFINITELY WATCHING (for now, at least ...):

- Pushing Daisies: An amazing show that is like nothing else on TV, I've loved the first two episodes and can't wait to see where it goes from here.

- Chuck: A fun, funny show that really appeals to my particular sensibilities, even if it seems to be quickly falling out of favor with the hipster crowd (see the slew of negative comments on The Onion). I really like the style of Chuck though, and feel like it's the best of this year's crop of slacker / geek comedies.

- Gossip Girl: This one really surprised me as I wasn't expecting to like it this much. Now, I don't know how long it will hold my interest, but for now, count me in as being hooked. A great enemble cast and particularly smart writing doesn't hurt.

- Aliens In America: The best sitcom of the season, Aliens is growing on me more and more with each episode. It has a great point of view and is legitimately very funny - I hope more people watch!


- Bionic Woman: This one is more in the "will keep watching" category, but I need some reassurance that this one has some direction and promise. After a few creative shakeups, I'm hoping things stabilize enough to pick up some positive momentum. But the concept is cool enough to keep me watching for now as I wait to see if the show can find its legs.

- Reaper: I really, really want to like this show, and hearing how enthusiastic some others are about it makes me want to keep giving it a shot. I just feel like it's already so predictable and formulaic after only four episodes. With Chuck, I get a lot of enjoyment out of Chuck's spy missions being played out. With Reaper, I enjoy the smaller, in-between moments, but the actual monster-of-the-week plotlines leave me very disinterested. This one is closer to the "dropping it" category for me.

- Dirty Sexy Money: Here's one that I really like in all respects - great cast, smart writing, fun characters, and an intriguing overarching mystery. The problem? I'm just not sure if I have time to keep watching it, and despite all of its stengths, the show is not SO good that it has that "must see this now!" feel. Part of it may simply be that as good as this is, the subject matter is simply not all that interesting to me in and of itself. I'll have to wait and see on this one.


- Back To You: At first, I was pretty high on this show and saw it as a rare gem in TV land - an old-school sitcom that was actually funny. However, turns out I was wrong on the funny part. Actors like Kelsey Grammar and Fred Willard are all very much capable of being hilarious, but the fact is - watch this and the ultra-lame Till Death back to back, and you realize the only real difference between the two is the pedigree of the former's cast. Considering that this is on opposite the stellar Pushing Daisies, I won't be coming back to Back to You.

- Journeyman: Like I said, Kevin McKidd is great, and I am predisposed to like any show about time-travel. Except, turns out this show is not about time-travel, it's a procedural / soap opera that happens to use time-travel as a plot device. That isn't to say that this is not a very well-done show, just not necessarily for me.

- Life: Again, it's simply a matter of not having time to watch and not being a big fan of procedural shows in general. I would encourage anyone to give this show a try - it's well-acted, has a great lead character, and is a nice twist on the procedural cop drama. But it is still a procedural cop drama ... which just isn't my cup of tea (I don't like tea, but you get the point).

- The Big Bang Theory: I thought this show had some potential, but I quickly grew to really dislike its cartoonish characters and ham-fisted humor. Sure, I used to love Steve Urkel back in the day, but Big Bang is no Family Matters.

And that's where I stand as of now ...

But about Monday's ALIENS IN AMERICA ...

- I loved this episode. I thought it was hilarious, and featured the most well-rounded portrayal of the characters yet, with the parents starting to feel a bit more likable and Justin having some of his best moments yet. I thought the main plotline was pretty smart and very hilarious - Justin has long been part of his school Rocket Club, the only catch is, there is no Rocket Club, it was just an excuse for he and his friends to sneak into R-rated movies and such without having to worry about what to say to their parents. So when Raja joins the club, the innocent Pakistani finds himself unable to lie about what's going on, thus blowing the kids' cover, and forcing them to start a real Rocket Club as penance. So when Raja goes to buy parts for his model rocket, he is of course suspected of some kind of terrorist plot, and an investigation begins, meaning that his computer is confiscated. Justin jumps to Raja's defense, and launches a campaign to stop the computer from being examined. However, the real reason for this is that Justin has been using Raja's un-password-protected computer to look at porn, and he's nervous he'll be exposed. Okay, that is semi-brilliant right there, and what we got was a tightly-constructed, hilarious story that brought to mind the likes of Malcolm in the Middle or Arrested Development - absurd, over-the-top, yet with a genuine quality that made all the characters come off as very real despite the random circumstances they're thrown into. Great stuff, watch ALIENS!

My Grade: A

- Alright, I'm out for now. PEACE.

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