Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Blog that's JUSTIFIED. Random TV Thoughts ...

I've been so caught up with talking about the "big" TV shows like 24 and Lost lately that I haven't yet gotten around to writing about some of the other series I've been enjoying (or tolerating) lately. So here's a big roundup of random TV Stuff ...

- SMALLVILLE returned from a multi-week hiatus this past Friday with an episode that was pretty run-of-the-mill. As a certified Superman nerd, I always get a kick out of seeing comic book villains appear on the show, but this week's introduction of longtime Superman foe Silver Banshee was all bark and little bite. Seriously, it seemed to dip into the ol' bag of Smallville cliches for nearly all of its story elements ... actually, make that double-dipped. This one had it all - characters being mind-controlled and acting out-of-character, romantic mix-ups, Chloe and Clark awkwardness, a random villain of the week, etc. Ugh. There were a couple of entertaining bits, but mostly, the tale of Lois and Clark's romantic getaway gone awry was fairly cheesy and periodically just plain lame. Even the f/x, normally above average on this show, seemed pretty low-budg, with the Banshee looking very Halloween costume-ish when her true form was eventually revealed. Meanwhile, there were some developments with Tess and Zod, but, who cares at this point? I find it frustrating that Tess was revealed as a Checkmate agent months ago, and yet there's been zero followup since. I know, next week is an Amanda Waller / Checkmate episode, but still - wtf. My point is, I could barely muster up the energy to care about Tess shacking up with Zod, as I have no real idea what her agenda is anymore. Or Zod's, for that matter. Can we just get him off the show already? It's typical Smallville - introduce a cool character only to run them into the ground. And by the way, yes, "kneel before Zod" is a classic line of superhero cinema, but dude, we don't need someone to say a variation of it in EVERY episode featuring the Z-man, okay? Hopefully, next week's episode will really pick up from where "Absolute Justice" left off way back when. Enough with these filler eps, already. And I know I say it all the time, but for the love of Zod, Smallville, NO MORE MIND CONTROL STORYLINES, EVER! Is that so hard?! Dayum.

My Grade: C

- I've been watching JUSTIFIED, and really enjoying it. I love the hard-boiled, pulpy Western vibe of the show, and Timothy Olyphant is superb as the lead, U.S. Marshal Raylen Givens. I think the show really kicked off with a bang - with one of the coolest and most captivating pilot episodes I've seen in a while. Since then, things have cooled off a bit, but this past Tuesday's ep was really well done. I like that the show has some very serialized aspects while at the same time telling some hard-hitting one-and-done storylines. So far, we've had some really compelling antagonists for Raylen to square off with, and I love all the moral gray areas that the show explores. Raylen is an old-school good guy but also someone who won't hesitate to shoot you down if need be. He's already racked up a pretty high body count on the show so far, and it will be interesting to see that explored as the series progresses. Meanwhile, I'm curious to see the show get back to some of its overarching storylines - the relationship between Raylen and his criminal father, for instance. Still, so far it's been a pleasure just watching the layered storytelling, cool characters, and snappy dialogue of this intelligent yet highly badass new show.

- Another show I've been getting more and more into: UGLY AMERICANS. I think this animated series has so much potential, and I love the crazy world it takes place in. Basically, the concept is a twisted version of reality in which regular people coexist with every manner of monster, supernatural being, or other sci-fi creature ever dreamed up. Werewolves, vampires, zombies, demons, blob monsters, yetis, wizards, witches, and everything in between. Of course, New York City is still the same sort of melting pot it is today, except in addition to different races and religions you have demons and vampires trying to coexist. Like I said, it's a show that has a premise so wide-open that practically anything can happen, and that's a lot of fun. Already, the show has gone to hell (literally), to New Jersey (same thing?), and explored human-zombie prejudices and demon-human love affairs. It's a lot of fun just tuning in to see what crazy premise the show will tackle in a given week. That said, the show needs to be funnier. The concept may elicit comparisons to classics like Futurama, but the jokes have been hit and miss so far. There's a rapid-cut style to the storytelling that sometimes makes episodes feel choppy, but, there are some really hilarious moments scattered throughout each episode. I also love the underground comix-esque art style to the animation. Definitely fits the concept perfectly. At first, I have to admit that I was lukewarm on the show, but it's grown on me over the last few weeks. I'm not saying this is the next Futurama, but for now, Ugly Americans is certainly one of the more interesting things on TV.

- Finally, I'm psyched for ABC's HAPPY TOWN. I saw the pilot episode for this way back when, and really enjoyed it. It just had a crazy, X-Files-ish vibe that I liked, and some really good actors in the cast. Keep an eye out for the premiere in a couple of weeks.

- Okay, short entry today. I'll be back soon with FRINGE thoughts, etc.

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