New Shows: More TV Short Takes…

October 3, 2009

Brothers (FOX 8:00 p.m. Fridays) – love CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers, but everyone is trying way too hard to make this show any fun to watch.

The Cleveland Show (FOX 8:30 p.m. Sundays) – we lose King Of The Hill to make room for this?  Not a good trade.

Community (NBC 9:30 p.m. Thursdays) – getting better so that by the third episode it wasn’t too bad and just might jell before the end of October (in time for the midterm examination).

Flashforward (ABC 8:00 p.m. Thursdays) – good production values but very high concept.  How are they going to sustain the tension in an episodic format without getting silly?

The Forgotten (ABC 10:00 p.m. Tuesdays) – similar to but not as engaging as Cold Case because the cases lack sufficient detail.

Hank (ABC 8:00 p.m. Wednesdays) – Kelsey Grammer’s bluster is just not that funny this time around.

The Middle (ABC 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays) – a Malcolm In The Middle knock-off without the humor or the heart.

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Capitalism: The Movie is Better than the Subtitle

October 3, 2009

The Greensboro audience surrounding me at the 7:35 screening last night was enthusiastic, but that’s likely because viewers knew what they were going to get with Michael Moore’s new documentary Capitalism:  A Love Story and bought  tickets based on those expectations.   By now, Moore’s shtick is familiar and – while I think he usually goes too far with some of his manipulations and injects too much of himself into his movies – it is effective.  This time around, the pacing is a little off, the film is a little long, and some of the narrative dots need connecting, but Capitalism succeeds overall by tapping into our national angst and casting timely events into a larger historical context that while admittedly subjective is neither overly dumbed down nor entirely off-base.  See it for yourself, make up your own mind, and join the conversation.  I still think the movie is better than the subtitle, which suggests a theme or tack not really developed in the film.


Witches and Cougars and One Good Medical Show…

October 1, 2009

Obviously, someone thought a television adaptation of The Witches of Eastwick was a good idea…twice.  This is the second time a pilot for the series has aired, and this time more than the pilot has landed on the schedule (Eastwick ABC 10 p.m. Wednesdays).  Bottom line:  it feels like a 1980s era show without any kitsch to offset the dated feeling.  Yawn…

Cougar Town (ABC 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays) might turn into a hit for Courteney Cox (and I do love Dan Byrd as her son along with a strong supporting cast of neighbors, co-workers, and an ex-husband), but I sense some predictability on the horizon.  I think the “boy toy” she met in the pilot will soon be traded for the “age appropriate” and newly divorced neighbor across the street.

I very nearly hated Trauma (NBC 9 p.m. Mondays).  It takes more than blaring music and frenetic editing to make action sequences exciting.  What’s needed is a context in terms of characters the audience cares about and storylines with more at stake than one colossal accident after another.  Trauma offers an unsatisfactory compromise:  melodramatic situations and dialogue that seem lifted from a soap opera while the narrative is complemented by an uninspired visual style.

While neither Trauma nor Mercy come close to my favorite medical drama ever, ER (I was a fan of the series through ups and downs until the final episode), but Mercy (NBC 8 p.m. Wednesdays) shows some promise.  Taylor Schilling plays a nurse who returns to a hospital job in New Jersey after a tour in Iraq, and her reentry is complicated by romantic conflicts with not one man but two.  I’m going to give Mercy a few more episodes to see how things unfold.  We’ll have to wait until Sunday to see how Three Rivers fares – this  medical drama  is set at an organ transplant unit.


Modern Fun

October 1, 2009

I thought the fifth episode of Glee was the weakest of the lot – not enough emotional highs and lows with quirkiness pulling everything together – but I’m not giving up on this series!  On the other hand, Modern Family (ABC 9 p.m. Wednesdays) went from promising pilot to polished second episode.  The series is built around vignettes featuring three nuclear families that form an extended family – a brother and sister with mates and kids of their own are also linked to their father (yes, this is the show with “Al Bundy”), who has a new wife and stepson.  We’ll see how Modern Family evolves in coming weeks, but right now it looks promising.