Monday, October 22, 2007

Pilot Reviews Samantha Who and Viva Laughlin

The final Fall Pilot Reviews are here for your reading pleasure, even though one of them has already been canceled.  Yup, I was too slow in getting this blog out.  If I had done it yesterday while watching football, I would have beaten the ax, but alas, the ax beat me.  Not that I'm too surprised.  I also wish that I had already done my review before tonight, because I would have made my Tom Baldwin reference before he appeared on Journeyman tonight and I would have looked like a psychic.  Oh well.  At any rate, here are the final two Fall Pilot Reviews...


The show had some funny moments, there is no denying that.  The premise was interesting and for the most part entertaining.  Jean Smart was, as always, brilliant, and the show is worth watching if just for her.  Christina Applegate has grown tremendously as an actor as well since her days as a Bundy, and it is hard to find fault in her performance.  The main problem with this show is that I can't really see it remaining interesting for a long period at a time.  Shannon mentioned that he felt that Pushing Daisies could have easily been done as a theatrical release, and I agree, although I think that as the show has gone on the past few weeks, it has continued to stay fresh and interesting.  I'm not sure that the same could be said for Samantha Who?.  For a few weeks, the premise will work, but how long can it really take the main character to find out the bad things she did before losing her memories and try to become a better person?  I think that this would have made a great romantic comedy.  Girl loses memory, finds out that she was bad and because of it had lost a great guy, remedies it, and gets back said guy.  There are laughs there are tears, and you go home happy and full of too expensive popcorn.  In a sitcom, I think the idea will only be watchable for a few episodes.  I also didn't like the jokes at the expense of the over weight lonely and unpopular girl.  They were too easy and truthfully pretty lame.  Sitcom writers should be able to come up with something better.

Interesting Fact: The cast is made up of recognizable faces from lots of other shows, already mentioned Christina's famous former role on Married/With Children, her best friend Andrea is played by Jennifer Esposito who was on Spin City, Samantha's mother is played by the aforementioned Jean Smart, who has had a recent outstanding turn on 24, but is most well known of course for Designing Women.  The boyfriend is played by none other than Barry Watson formally of 7th Heaven, (making this the second blog entry with a 7th Heaven reference in the last three entries, what are the odds of that?) and Frank the doorman is played by former Vulcan Tuvok of Voyager, aka Tim Russ.

Pilot Grade: 83%


I honestly don't know where to start with this show.  Seeing as it has already been canceled, perhaps it doesn't really matter, but I'll give it my best shot anyway.  The show is horribly acted, it doesn't come off as realistic at all, and that's even without taking into account the "musical numbers", if you could even really call them that.  (More on that in a moment.)  The emotions portrayed by the actors in this pilot made soap opera acting seem Academy Award worthy.  It would have been humorous if it weren't so obvious that the show was taking itself so seriously.  Hugh Jackman at least seemed to be having fun with his role, but he was the only one.  Of course, considering that his character was introduced as being synonymous with the devil, his was the only character worth having fun with.  And what a waste of D.B. Woodside, recently brilliant in the last few seasons of 24 and before that on the final season of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.  In this he's a kiss ass who likes to laugh sycophantly, not pretty, and not a role worthy of the talent that D.B. has so recently shown.  Speaking of wasted talent, what the hell is Melanie Griffith doing in this mess?  Oh well, it's very likely that within a couple of years no one will remember that this ever took place, and the IMDb reference will be the only reminder of this shameful moment in her career.  Just looking at the idea, it seems interesting.  A murder mystery musical.  Okay, I'm intrigued.  The execution, however, was terrible.  I'm not sure that Lloyd Owen was the right choice for the lead role in this series, he comes off as a lame Tom Baldwin (from the 4400, and I swear I was going to say that even before his cameo in Journeyman tonight as Dan Vasser's father in the past), he definitely doesn't do the job that other British actors have done in playing American (or at least with American accent) characters have lately such as Kevin McKidd in Journeyman, Jaime Bamber in Battlestar Galactica, or Michelle Ryan in Bionic Woman.  But the poor acting isn't the only problem.  The characters are completely unlikeable, which is a bad thing for a murder mystery, because if you don't care about the characters, you don't really care who did it.  Even that isn't the only problem, the "musical" portion of the program comes across (I guess I should say came across seeing as the show is now canned) as cheap karaoke.  The original versions of the songs are playing while the character sings along with the original artist.  It's like a bad talent show where the person's "act" is singing along with the cd

Interesting Fact: Lloyd Owen, the miscast lead actor (and Tom Baldwin wannabe) was once Dr. Henry Jones Sr. That's right, the father of our favorite archaeologist Indiana.  He played the role popularized by the great Sean Connery in the television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

Pilot Grade: -25%, that's right, I went negative.

Until Next Time, how about Veronica Mars on Heroes?  Creepy.  I love Micah's cousin's power, that's awesome, and it looks like Parkman has even more powers to look forward to, but his daddy's evil, let's hope he can stay the same great guy we've known and loved since Felicity.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pilot Reviews Woman's Murder Club

The Reviews of the new fall pilots on network television continue, but are winding down.  Tonight was the return of Angie Harmon (Law & Order) to television in...


I'm glad that Angie Harmon is back on television.  She's very good, and there is no denying that.  Unfortunately, this show is nothing compared to Law & Order.  It's not at all believable in my opinion.  Women might talk like this amongst themselves, I can't claim to know for sure not being a woman, but it doesn't feel real to me the way that, for instance, Sex and the City did.  I do know that it is extremely unlikely that the detectives would take their main suspect into the morgue to get a look at the victim.  As for Angie Harmon, I still think she's a great actress, but her character's got some flaws.  For a character that supposedly has a problem with how seriously she takes work, she sure spends a lot of time at work with her friends talking about their personal lives.  You'd think that she wouldn't be so keen to talk about personal stuff with a dead body just outside the window if she takes her job as seriously as everyone claims.  The show, like Journeyman is set in San Fransisco, but it doesn't feel like San Fransisco the way that Journeyman does.  The set for the San Fransisco Register is completely boring and as a main character works there, you'd think they'd have put a little more into the set.  (Something that Journeyman definitely did, their San Fransisco Register set is awesome).  They have the establishing shots, but San Fransisco is a very unique city, and it takes a lot of effort to make wherever you are shooting emulate it, it certainly takes more than just some establishing shots, and I don't feel like Woman's Murder Club made that effort.  All in all that's what I feel about the entire show, there just doesn't seem to be that much effort, its as if they just wanted to make a cop show, Sex and the City style, but without the style and believability that Sex and the City had.

Interesting fact: the show is based on a series of novels created by best selling author James Patterson, and he serves as an executive producer.  The creators of the television adaptation were writers on the fx show The Shield, although this show is much lighter fare than that cop show.

Pilot Grade: 57%

Until Next Time, I hate that for the second consecutive week, the TCU Horned Frogs will not be available to me on television, what the hell is up with that?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pilot Reviews Life is Wild and other tv thoughts

Well, the pilots have been slowing down, there are just a few left.  One of them was last Sunday, I watched it online, Life is Wild on the CW.


The show is your typical Sunday night family type show that used to dominate the screen.  You remember, Highway to Heaven, Life Goes On, Touched by an Angel, 7th Heaven: the family drama.  I don't know how successful this one will be, partly because if I wasn't such a big fan of Smallville, I might not have even realized that this show existed.  I hadn't heard a thing about it despite having read about (I thought) all of the upcoming shows so that I would be able to review each of them.  Somehow this one slipped through the net.  I actually saw the commercials for it during Smallville, but quickly forgot about it, until I saw trailers for the second episode during Reaper this week, so I went online to see if I could watch it.  Thankfully, the pilot was available on and I am able to give you this review.  As I said at the beginning, it reminds me of the old family friendly dramas, not that there is anything wrong with that.  Life Goes On was a great television show, and 7th Heaven was pretty good in it's prime.  It seems that the show is going for the realistic family feel that Kyle XY has down pat, but Life is Wild falls a little bit short of that.  The family for the most part doesn't feel completely realistic, in fact it feels forced.  The premise of the show feels a bit forced as well.  The whole show has a cheesy feel to it.  Of course so did 7th Heaven; this show can overcome the cheesiness just like that one did.  Despite it's flaws, the show has undeniable heart, and the fact that it's set in Africa is pretty cool, if only because Africa itself is undeniably cool.  While it took a long time for me to really get into it, primarily because I didn't find the family too realistic, the story (while predictable and cheesy) ultimately won me over in the last act.  I let myself just fall for the traps that the show was setting, and ultimately enjoyed it.  Yeah it's predictable, yeah it's cheesy, but it is what it is, and if you just accept that, than you can enjoy the show.  As another plus, the lead actress, Leah Pipes is amazing.  She's the best actor on this series, by far, and adds believability to the rest of the cast simply by having the story told through her character.  I really think that Life is Wild has the potential to be the type of show that the others I mentioned were, but it's going to have to have a lot more visibility first.  It deserves a look just because I think that there is a place for that type of show on network, even if the network is the CW.  I'll always remember growing up and watching Highway to Heaven, then later watching Life Goes On, and finally 7th Heaven together as a family.  I would like for other families to have that same experience, and I think this show can provide it.

Interesting fact:  The show is actually filmed on location in South Africa, and is based on a British TV show titled Wild at Heart.

Pilot Grade: 79%

Other thoughts about tv shows...  SPOILERS INCLUDED

Chuck: I'm caught up now, and this show just keeps getting better, the third episode was the first to have the opening credits.  The theme music is Short Skirt, Long Jacket by CAKE!

Heroes:  At first I really didn't like the fact that Claire's new friend could fly, we already know someone who can fly.  But with the reveal about Sark's power (I call him Sark because that's who he was on Alias, I'm talking about Hiro's hero from ancient Japan) it is clear that powers can and do repeat, which I guess makes sense considering that it is an evolutionary thing there would be some repeats.  My other problem was with Peter.  I didn't understand why he didn't just use his power to get the box, but I guess that it makes sense that without knowing who he is, he doesn't have any faith in his powers either (much less know exactly how to use them).  I'm wondering if because of the plot holes in season one, I'm just expecting them here in season two, or if there actually are weaknesses in this show.  I honestly am not sure which, but I'm not ready to give up on Heroes yet.

Friday Night Lights:  As regular readers might recall, this was last years winner of Josh's Choice for Best New Show of the Year Award.  After one episode of season two, I am very worried it will not be able to sustain it's success.  Granted, that success was largely critical, as it was not watched by a large amount of people, but the first episode had a few moments in it that I found incredibly hard to accept.  That is very disappointing as the best part of this show last year was that it was incredibly real.  I hope that it corrects itself soon as I love this show too much to watch it destroy itself.

Prison Break:  This show is strangely addictive.  I've quit on it three times only to get myself caught right back up on it and watching it again.  I can't explain why.  I really hope that Sarah Tancredi

NBC: Man, even with the worry about Heroes and Friday Night Lights, you've got to be impressed with NBC.  Every one of their new shows was impressive, and with each episode, Chuck, Journeyman, Bionic Woman, and Life each just get better.

Until Next Time, Kudos to NBC.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Catching Up and it Turns Out I'm Not the Only One Missing LOST

So, due to all of the sports, I'm a little behind on my television viewing.  That should be easier now that baseball is over.  (Yes, I realize that technically baseball is still going on, but the pain of being swept out of the first round makes it hard for me to watch baseball without bursting into embarrassing tears.)  What's also bad is that the one series I predicted would be a sweep was the only series that wasn't.  Oh well.  Try again next year.  (For the record though, I have the Indians beating the Rockies in the World Series.)

Anyway, to get to my point, I only just watched the second episode of Chuck.  In the episode, Chuck is undergoing tests by some Government Doctor, and he's looking at pictures that trigger the computer in his brain, one of which is of an airplane.  Seeing it Chuck says, "Oceanic Flight 815 was shot down by surface to air missiles ... who worked on subterranean ... beneath the ... international airport."  That's all I was able to understand despite watching the scene about a hundred times.  Not that it really has any bearing on our friends so recently from the mysterious island, as so far as I can tell there is no connection between this show, Chuck, and LOST.  My feeling is that it was just a tiny shout out to LOST, but still it was a heart stopping moment when Chuck mentioned that fateful flight.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this shout out sized treat with you, my reading public (small though you are) as something to help tide you over a little bit at least as we patiently (or try anyway) wait for LOST to return.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pilot Reviews Moonlight, Aliens in America, and Pushing Daisies


Now, those of you that know me well know that I love sci-fi and fantasy, and that includes shows with mythological creatures such as Vampires.  I also love mystery due to reading lots of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew growing up, moving from that into the great Agatha Christie.  So, a melding of the two is a recipe for success, at least in my opinion, and I'm glad that a television show finally melded these two loves I have into an exciting and interesting show.  Of course that sentence was relevant years ago when Joss Wheden brought us the fantastic show ANGEL.  Then, also, there is the amazing book series, recently turned into a pretty good television series, The Dresden Files.  Both of those are far more interesting and original than Moonlight, a show about a private investigator who also happens to be a Vampire.  Unfortunately, the show is pretty uninspired.  The pilot is incredibly predictable, I had the whole thing figured out less than 15 minutes in.  The acting wasn't anything special, and the dialogue was pretty boring.  The only thing in the pilot that I liked was the friend vampire of the main character vampire (sorry it wasn't interesting enough of a show for me to remember names).  He had some life to him (interesting since the character he was playing is one of the undead).  Other than some funny moments provided all to briefly by him, the show had no real redeeming qualities.

Interesting fact: The one character that I liked in the show, played by Jason Dohring, is a cult favorite character in the sadly departed show Veronica Mars.

Pilot Grade: 11%


There has been a lot of talk about the death of the sitcom, which in my opinion is a very sad thing if it is true.  When a sitcom is really good, it can remain in the watching public's consciousness forever.  I'd like to think that the sitcom isn't dying, we're just in a lull of good sitcoms being produced.  Thus far this season doesn't seem to be changing that situation for the most part.  Happily, Aliens in America is the exception.  This show was extremely funny (which is a necessity for a sitcom, it's part of the definition people, yes ABC I'm talking to you), the situations, while taken to a bit of a funny extreme, where at the same time extremely believable, as were the characters, which made for that all important element, heart.  So far Seinfeld is the only show that survived (and indeed prospered) without it, and no one else is Seinfeld.  It was funny, the dialogue was sharp and funny, and the actors were all excellent.  It managed to take a possibly sensitive subject and find the humor and heart in it.  For those of you who don't know, it's about a middle class family in Wisconsin who decides to take on a foreign exchange student, expecting a blond haired, blue eyed, athletic European, but instead they get a Pakistani Muslim.  Horrified, the mother wants to return him.  She tries to explain to her husband that he could be a terrorist,
"Some of them pass themselves off as students.  Bill O'Reilly says so.  You need to watch more news."

"Honey, it's Midora Wisconsin."

"What so now Midora's not important enough to blow up?  Where's your civic pride?"

Through a majority of the episode, the mother is not shown to have the best qualities, but that's just to set up the moment at the end that brings a little bit of a tear to your eyes for a reason other than because you've been laughing nonstop (although that is also true).  This is a show that comes around at the right time, but it is about more than Muslims are a lot like us, it's also funny, like a sitcom should be.

Interesting Fact: David Guarascio and Moses Port, the creators of this program are both former writers of the sitcoms Just Shoot Me and Mad About You.

Pilot Grade: 94%


Visually stunning, well acted, and superbly written, this is a show with some promise.  The pilot was very well executed.  It was funny and suspenseful at just the right times.  It had some great lines and great moments between the characters.  The main character, Ned says to his childhood sweetheart, who he is unable to ever touch again, "I'm not into the hug."
She responds, "Than you haven't been hugged properly, it's like an emotional Heimlich."

That's awesome.

Later in the episode there is this exchange between Ned and his business partner played by the great Chi McBride.

Chi: "You know what?  I'm glad you did it.  It makes the worst thing I ever did seem insignificant."

Ned: "Listen to you all Judgey-judge."

Chi: "Judgey-judge?"

Priceless.  The comedy is primarily dark comedy, which is dicey, but when it's done right, I love it.  This show does it right.  Add in the visual look of the show, which is beautiful on top of being original, and you've got a good show.  Add in the emotional punch of the un-requitableack to life, but if they ever touch again, then she's dead for good.  That's just genius.  So there is a lot to like about the show.  I wasn't a huge fan of the omnipotent narration.  It fits, I guess, but I would have liked to see them go a different route.  The other thing is I'm not exactly sure where the show goes from here.  I'm guessing it becomes a bit of a mystery show, with them having to solve various cases each week, which is different than I was expecting.  I would have liked a better idea of the direction the show was headed from the pilot.  Overall, however, it appears that it might be a good show.  At the very least it will be a treat for the eyes each week.

Interesting fact: It is Executive Produced by the great Barry Sonnenfeld who directed Men in Black and Get Shorty, and used to be the Cinematographer for the Coen Brothers.

Pilot Grade: 91%

Until Next Time, Glad to see we finally got some positive reviews again.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Pilot Reviews Cavemen and Carpoolers

The reviews of the fall pilots continues with what ABC is advertising as a "Man Date", I know that some men are bad at planning dates, but this is just embarrassing.


Well, I was actually looking forward to this show.  I love the commercials.  Unfortunately, the actors from the commercials aren't in the show.  Sadly, what works brilliantly in a 30 second spot fails miserably in a 30 minute show.  In the commercials, one of the cavemen takes huge umbrage to the portrayal of his people in the Geico commercials, and his sarcastic response to the situation is hilarious.  In the show, they make Nick more of a Sape (short for Homo Sapian) hater than a Caveman defender.  It's not funny, it's a little sad actually.  Speaking of funny, I wonder if they even attempted for funny in this show.  Generally that's the point for sitcoms, but I didn't laugh at all during the episode.  I was greatly disappointed, and will most likely just wait for more commercials to get my caveman fix.

Interesting fact:  This is the second show that was based on a commercial.  Bob the talking baby got a television show after pitching for an Internet business.  That show failed miserably, but luckily, Bob was able to get another job as the pitch man, er, baby, for Quiznos.

Pilot Grade: 0%


When you have two television shows in one hour, you hope that at least one of them is good.  Sadly for ABC Tuesday nights, such is not the case here.  While I'm a fan of Jerry O'Connell from his fine, fine work on that awesome television show Sliders, he's not the greatest actor in the world.  He could probably do alright in a comedic role on a sitcom, after all he was really good in Jerry McGuire, but it would require better writing, and a much better situation than this one.  I really don't know how this even got green-lit.  Is there anything worse than driving to work?  Not much.  So why in the world would you think that the drive to work is a good place to stage a television show?  The characters aren't very interesting, and the pilot did a very poor job of making them seem at all realistic.  For the second consecutive supposed comedy I failed to laugh.  At least in this show, I could tell they were jokes, unlike in Cavemen.  Sadly, they still weren't funny.  At least they tried though.

Interesting fact: Fred Goss who plays Gracen was last on the ABC comedy Sons and Daughters which was a largly improv type show and despite not being watched by many people was a very enjoyable show that has become a cult favorite.  I don't see the same for this show.

Pilot Grade: 7%

Until Next Time, tonight is the pilot of Pushing Daisies, one of the most anticipated shows of the year