Category Archives: new season

Arrow: Year One

Last night the CW aired an intriguing hour of television called “Arrow: Year One.” Narrated by Stephen Amell, the actor who portrays Oliver Queen, it tells the tale of the first season of “Arrow” somewhat chronologically, by storyline, by character, and by episode.

When I say intriguing, I mean odd for the medium. What we saw is essentially a clip show, with a voiceover telling us exactly what we’re seeing. Anything that wasn’t clear in viewing the last season, we’re told outright. For instance, things we viewers may have assumed, like names, are verified in this ‘special episode.’

We get to the end of the tale, and our season one cliffhanger. The Undertaking ultimately involved destroying The Glades with an earthquake device, and succeeded. Of course it all ends with a two-minute preview of season two. Here, however, is a juicy clip from season two they didn’t show. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Yeah, baby. Be here next week for a review of the first new episode of “Arrow.”

Take the Poll

I keep forgetting that Blogger has a polling system. As long as we have it, we might as well use it, right?

As you can see by looking to the immediate right, the question up for polling right now is: What is your favorite new or returning TV series this season?

Your choices include, in no particular order or preference: The Waking Dead, Dexter, Homeland, Treme, Elementary, The Big Bang Theory, American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Revolution, Castle, Glee, Person of Interest, Survivor, Fringe, Vegas, Arrow, Copper, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, or 666 Park Avenue. And if your choice isn’t reflected there, please click on Other? and let me know what you think, deal?

Revolution

I recently had the chance to view the pilot episode of “Revolution” via OnDemand. Apparently it’s also on Hulu and NBC.com, so I have to wonder if anyone will watch this when it airs Monday night. After the last few television projects from J.J. Abrams, I was prepared to be unimpressed, but I gotta say, I might give this a shot. It actually seems like it might be fun, conditionally, that is.

The concept of “Revolution” is a world where all the power has gone off. Logic dictates some sort of electromagnetic pulse possibly, but who knows really what it could be in a J.J. Abrams show? Didn’t he make up that island you could drive on “Lost”? So the power goes off, and our story begins fifteen years later. America has devolved into small villages of folks living off the land and warring militia states. Still, nobody has gotten the power back on, or even had the know-how to build a simple generator. Did no one pay attention in high school science class?

Logic aside, it does have its moments that set it slightly above other scifi fare currently on TV. I like our reluctant hero Miles, played by Billy Burke, who is like a mild-mannered badass with a sword. I also like our middle management villain Neville, played by Giancarlo Esposito, Fring from “Breaking Bad.” He plays the baddie with the same quiet deadly charisma of The Operative in Serenity.

“Revolution,” created by Abrams, and with this pilot episode directed by Jon Favreau, also depends a lot on its potential genre nerd cred. One of the best moments in the pilot is when Charlie, played by Tracy Spiridakos, and someone who has lived most of her life without power, reveals her secret stash – in an Empire Strikes Back lunchbox, and we hear a few notes of John Williams movie score. Moments like that elevate this show, and make me want to keep watching.

The only thing that would keep me from watching, and it’s the condition I spoke up at the beginning of this review, is that plot device that the show revolves around. What caused the black out? If that will be the carrot on a stick, that keeps viewers watching, yet never gets revealed, I think I’m out. I don’t want another “Lost,” and I certainly don’t want another “Flash Forward” or “Journeyman” where we never find out what happened.

Now watch the following preview at your own risk. It’s one of those that pretty much tells you everything that happens in the pilot, right in the preview. Stupid television executives…

New Season Fail?

I hate to say it, but other than the “Wonder Woman” pilot from David E. Kelley that NBC did not buy, I haven’t really seen anything from this newest TV season that has impressed me, nothing.

I love Zooey Dechandel, so I checked out her sitcom, “New Girl,” on Fox. First I was curious what someone like her who has been so successful in movies would want with television. I mean, this had to either be a great show, or a lot of money, right? Well, it turns out it might just be money. She’s fun and hilarious, but her three male co-stars were unwatchable. The problem – there’s three of them and just one of her. Awful.

Also on Fox, I tried the much anticipated “X-Factor” from Simon Cowell, and again, I was unimpressed. For someone who wanted to make a show that wasn’t like “American Idol,” it sure seemed a lot like “American Idol,” and not in a good way. Here’s hoping that Simon, along with Paula Abdul, return to “AI” next season. It will be better for everyone.

As long as we’re beating dead horses, the show I most was interested in this new season was “Terra Nova,” which at first glance kinda looked like an American version of “Primeval.” If only it was. I’d take another rip-off of a mediocre British scifi series over this dreck any day. Where were the freaking dinosaurs? Damn tease.

Look, don’t show dinosaurs in your thirty-second previews of the show for the last four months and not put any damn dinosaurs in the pilot for over an hour. To quote Millhouse in one of my favorite “Simpsons” episodes – When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?”

There were other series that were disappointments. “Unforgettable,” “A Gifted Man” and “Person of Interest” all had intriguing concepts, and quickly displayed with second episodes that they were all three simply formula shows. I don’t think we will ever see any progress on the main plot that got us hooked on the show, but will just be case of the week series. Damn shame too.

I was even disappointed by “Homeland.” It reeked of predictability for me. Again, a fine concept that just didn’t do it for me on the screen. Wow. When the pay cable shows aren’t good, you know it’s a bad season.

“Pan Am” was a pilot that has to be seen to be believed, so if you didn’t catch it, check OnDemand and see it. Not just for the now anorexic Christina Ricci, you need to see this decidedly confused show. First it’s kinda “Mad Men,” then it wants to be a comedy, then it’s an Airport movie and finally at the end it’s a spy thriller. See it while it lasts, it could be the quirky fun hit of the bunch, so bad, it’s good.

The only show I thought had promise, was canceled before I actually got to see it, which shows you just how on the mark I am with these things. Like “Pan Am,” it’s a period piece, same time frame, but this one’s deadly serious. “The Playboy Club” is/was about a mob murder in, you guessed it, a Playboy club. It had much promise, but, unfortunately, dead on arrival.



It looks like we’ll have new replacement shows coming up quickly as I think many of these are headed to the same fate as “The Playboy Club.” Hmmm… maybe NBC should take another look at “Wonder Woman”…

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Wonder Woman 2011

When this was being made, there was a lot of negative buzz about David E. Kelley’s pilot for a new “Wonder Woman” TV series. Much of the controversy came from absurd things like Kelley (of “Ally McBeal” and “Harry’s Law” fame, among others) calling it an ‘office romance and drama,’ not words usually associated with the Amazon Princess. And then there was the costume controversy – she was wearing long pants instead of her decades traditional star-spangled hot pants. I don’t like any of the new variations on Diana’s costume personally, but let’s face it, that’s not that much of a big deal.

As things turned out, NBC (or any of the other networks either) did not pick up the pilot and there won’t be a “Wonder Woman” TV series, at least not this year, and not by David E. Kelley. But I did get the chance to take a look at this notorious pilot recently, and I have to tell you – it wasn’t half bad, and what was wrong with it, really really wrong with it – had nothing to do with costumes or office romance drama. It was just stupid.

The things that I thought I would have a problem with – the office setting, actress Adrienne Palicki as Wonder Woman, and yes, to an extent, the costume(s) – were all very good. She was terrific, and she, and writer Kelley, actually do get the character. I didn’t mind the office stuff, it’s actually quite good and mirrors the Wonder Woman Foundation from the George Perez era of the comics. In fact, one scene, in which Diana says the T word which probably put off the networks who wanted to run this in the family hour as a kids show, is one of the best written in the pilot.

The costumes, and there are more than a few, look good, and that’s all on Adrienne Palicki who looks darn good as the Amazon Princess, and unlike many recent superhero film incarnations, the colors are bright primary colors that stand out, the way superhero colors are supposed to. I like the costumes, I like the variations, and I like Palicki. She did, and would have made a terrific Wonder Woman.

The special effects, while incomplete in the pilot copy I saw, were very good. I like the jets, even though they were not invisible. I like the action scenes, Palicki can kick serious ass! And the thing I liked most, effects-wise, was the way Diana would whip out her lasso at super speed. It almost seems to fly from her wrists a la Spider-Man, and it looks great. And the bullets and bracelets trick is the best I’ve seen live action.

And there are many things to like here. Cary Elwes is as good as he’s been in years, this could have been his comeback. Elizabeth Hurley works well with what she has to work with in cardboard villain Veronica Cale, too bad they didn’t use the VC from the comics who has a bit more personality. The Dr. Phil and Nancy Grace cameos are fun too. Even the parts I had heard about like frumpy Diana Prince, old maid and cat lady, were nowhere near as bad as I thought they would be. That actually works.

The stupid that ruins this pilot is in the writing. David E. Kelley is a veteran of legal TV series, with stuff like “Boston Legal,” “L.A. Law,” “The Practice” and the film From the Hip, as well as the aforementioned “Ally McBeal” and “Harry’s Law” under his belt, I am astounded how he can produce a script with so many holes in it when it comes to simple procedure.

Sure, Veronica is a super-villain and an evil drug dealer, but she could have easily had Wonder Woman up as many charges if not more that she herself was arrested for. Wonder Woman violated civil rights, committed slander, and even murdered one or two people. She’d better have some good lawyers, because if there are any other superheroes in this world, they’re coming after her.

It’s even worse because Diana is surrounded by people who are paid to counsel her on such matters, and none of them seem to have any problems with her behavior. For example, you do not call a press conference and call someone a drug dealer with no evidence whatsoever. That’s just one of the stupidities that ruined this for me. I wanted to like it, I really did, but the script made it impossible.

Above, a fan made opening for the pilot, using actual footage and the 1970s theme, from YouTube.

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Mike and Molly

The Bride and I watched quite a few of the new series that debuted these new Fall TV season. We watched episode after episode, unsure if we really liked what we saw or not, and asking each other, sometimes comically, after each one – “Did we like this?” and deciding sometimes hesitantly – “We’ll give it another episode.”

One of these shows was “Mike and Molly.” Being proud geeks and nerds with no shame, we both like Chuck Lorre’s “The Big Bang Theory” quite a bit and were saturated with promotion for “Mike and Molly” during that program. It seemed like worth a look, so we gave it a shot. The series follows a couple, both quite overweight, a cop, Mike, and a teacher, Molly, as their relationship slowly evolves from dating to serious. As far as a relationship show, it’s successful, but the humor often flows from their size and weight.

We were not fans of “The Big Bang Theory” at first. We eventually caught up with it after a few seasons. The reason we didn’t dig it at first was that most of the humor was based on nerdiness, and was more of the laughing-at-us type rather than the laughing-with-us stuff. We tired quickly of being made fun of. Now, the show is more edgy and in sync with the subculture, and for us, funnier.

“Mike and Molly” operates on much the same formula, only against bigger people instead of nerds. I might be making much of this as fat people have always been made fun of, but really, isn’t this just lazy writing? Taking the cheapest shot possible. Racial humor is only a step below. It’s all discrimination.

All that said, “Mike and Molly” has a lot going for it. Their romance is heartwarming and awkward and real. Other than fat jokes, a lot of the more recent humor has been sexual in nature, much of it coming from the comic genius of Swoosie Kurtz. And the wonderfully talented Nyambi Nyambi as the coffee shop owner is the highlight of every episode. We’ll stay with this a while, and hopefully it can mature past the fat jokes.

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The Event

Seems like since the success (and fall) of “Lost,” the various television networks have been searching for the next quirky overly hyped blockbuster. There have been a lot of attempts. “Fringe” has been, at times, interesting. “Flash Forward,” also on the ABC network came the closest in my opinion, but unfortunately it was canceled before it could really start rolling.

The newest contender, and the one that wins hands down in the overly hyped category at least is “The Event.” A lot of folks tuned in for that first episode just because they had been hammered for months with constant advertising by NBC of “What is The Event?” with the weird stylized backwards ‘E.’ When the pilot aired, it was bad, except for the last two minutes.

As a matter of fact, I thought it was so bad that it was almost unintentionally funny. The flips back and forth between scenes and time frames got to be monotonous after a short while. It became a joke. If the producers were planning to do an outright parody of shows like “24” or other such one hour drama thrillers, they succeeded too well.

The hook, that last two minutes of the pilot, that dramatic special effect that comprised the cliffhanger rocked the house. It was reminiscent of the final moment of the first episode of “Heroes,” shock and awe. Two problems with that – following episodes got weaker and weaker with their cliffhangers, and much like “Heroes,” it could not top that moment. That NBC used that moment to hype the next episodes didn’t help either, especially in a world of Tivo and DVR, where that commercial spoiled it for most of the nation.

“The Event” in the weeks that followed lost much of its audience. It might be an interesting concept, but unless they keep our attention on a regular basis, I see it as the next “Heroes,” and not in a good way.

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Venture Bros. Season 4

Season 4 of “The Venture Bros.” begins Sunday night on Cartoon Network.

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The Show that Wouldn’t Die

Since its debut on Fox in March of 1999, “Futurama” has had a rocky existence on television. The animated series, revolving around an inept pizza delivery guy frozen and released on the unsuspecting 31st century, has been canceled and un-canceled more times that I want to count. The warmness toward the program is probably due to its creators, David X. Cohen and Matt Groening, the latter being the creator of “The Simpsons.” Fox wouldn’t do anything to tick off the creator of their continuous cash cow, not if they were smart, but eventually dwindling ratings held sway.

After being syndicated on both Cartoon Network and significantly Comedy Central after (and during) its cancellation(s), “Futurama” proved successful enough to have four direct-to-DVD movies made, essentially a ‘fifth season.’ Ironically enough, these movies separated by months in between was really no more erratic that the schedule Fox was airing the series anyway when it was officially a Fox program. These DVDs were equally successful to merit the return of “Futurama” as a regular series on Comedy Central with twenty-six new episodes for mid-2010. I wonder how hard Fox is kicking themselves now?

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V Returns

The re-imagining of the 1980s scifi TV series “V” – coming to ABC in the fall.

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