Friday, June 09, 2006

Witches, stars and money

In today's All TV column, Matt reviews season three of "Entourage," which he liked. I did, too, and it'll be one of the summer staples of What's Alan Watching?, along with "Deadwood," "Rescue Me," and other shows I'm still working out. Something that probably won't be a staple is "The 4400," which I did take a second look at and even gave a positive review to in the column today, but which I still don't love enough to commit to watching every week. Good story, mediocre characters.

I already linked to my "Windfall" review a few days ago, and I don't know how much more I have to say about it, save that I could have done with at least two fewer "Oh, my God!!!!!!" scenes and that I'm already bored with the Jason Gedrick/Lana Parilla/Sarah Wynter/Luke Perry love quadrangle.

One show I didn't get a chance to review for space reasons was "Hex," which is sort of a British "Buffy" about a teenage girl with supernatural powers who fights evil at her boarding school. A few brief spoiler-laden thoughts after the jump, for the benefit of anyone who watched it.

One of the first notes I took as I watched the pilot (which, as all BBC America screeners are, was the uncut British version, so I can't speak 100% to what aired) was "Is there a typo in the title? It sure seems like the H should be an S." Witchcraft and female sexuality have often been linked, but after all the underwear-posing, porn-watching parties, Thelma the lesbian hitting on Cassie, Cassie getting tarted up immediately after discovering her powers, etc., etc., it felt like the show was either beating me over the head with the link or just really eager to keep the fanboys' attention.

Thelma was definitely my favorite character, and the one the writers had invested most of their energy into, so I was both surprised and oddly pleased when she got killed. Shows don't usually bother giving sacrifical lambs this full a personality (JJ Abrams got talked out of killing Jack in the "Lost" pilot, and even Eric Balfour in the "Buffy" pilot was really just Xander, only less so). So while I was disappointed at the thought of losing the show's most interesting character, I also admired the show for making me care this much about someone they were going to bump off, which suggested that the stakes might be continually high. But when they brought her back as a ghost in the final scene, I was just as pleased. Basically, I'm easy to please.

Not sure yet how interested I am in Cassie, and I'm hoping they give Colin Salmon more to do in future episodes. I suppose I could just go over to some British fan sites to find out, but I hate spoilers. So if you know more about the show than I do (i.e., anything that happens after the pilot), please refrain from mentioning it in the comments.

12 comments:

R.A. Porter said...

I think "The 4400" might be making a good attempt this year at improving the character-story ratio. They've got Jeffrey Combs signed on for, I believe, nine episodes. Since last season he stuck himself with Reanimator fluid - uh, promicin - his story arc this year will be about gaining powers and stealing scenes from every other actor.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Combs is fun, and they have some other good people in there (I keep waiting for Garret Dillahunt to either start slashing throats or deliver the Sermon on the Mount, though), but the writers generally invest a lot more detail into the one-off guest characters more interesting than any of the regulars.

jim treacher said...

Ooooh, Jeffrey Combs. They should do an animated series with The Question.

Jaynee said...

I've heard they are taking 4400 in a new direction and focusing less on "The 4400 of the week" type stories. Don't know if that's true, but that's what I've heard. Either way I CAN'T WAIT.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Based on the season premiere, that's definitely the direction they're going in, though as I said, I always found the 4400 Of The Week's to be more interesting than the regulars, so I don't know that that's a plus for me.

And a Question spin-off would be righteous. He's playing a significant role in a comic book called "52," and I hear Combs' voice whenever I read his dialogue.

Jim Treacher said...

Same here. "Elf needs food badly."

dez said...

Aww, I wish you would watch and blog about The 4400, Alan! I thought last night's opener was quite interesting. Can't believe they offed a major character already--did the actress want more money or something, if you know?

dez said...

Hope this doesn't post twice (silly website!):

Aww, I wish you were blogging about "The 4400"! I thought last night's opener was very interesting. Can't believe they offed a major character already--do you know if the actron wanted more money or something else, Alan?

R.A. Porter said...

Alan, you're a wee bit of a comic geek...have you read "Rising Stars" by Straczynski? The similarities between that and "The 4400" went way beyond eerie into the Harlan Ellison + "Terminator" territory in last night's season premiere.

The fields of wheat in the barren wasteland were just a bit much.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dez, according to one of the producers, it was "for business reasons." So, yeah.

Rick, I've only read a little of "Rising Stars" (JMS' comics work has never done a lot for me), though I felt there were more similarities between it and "Heroes" than I saw between it and "The 4400." Not sure I ever saw the issue with the wheat field.

R.A. Porter said...

Basically, the Special with telekinesis turned over all the topsoil in the Middle East, creating vast expanses of arable soil. It was the similarity of tone, however, that got me. The Specials, like the Nova Group, were just going to do whatever needed to be done to make the world better, whether humanity was ready for it or not.

There are still rumors that "Rising Stars" will get a film or television treatment, but I have no idea if that's fanboy wanking or serious speculation. Of course, if it did, it would be mocked as a ripoff of "Heroes" and "The 4400" by the majority non-geek population.

dez said...

>>Dez, according to one of the producers, it was "for business reasons." So, yeah. <<

I guess she caught Bitty Schram Disease. Ah, well.