Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Biker boy

Today is my first non-review column in a while, as I look at some notable ratings performances from premiere week (plus Monday night, where "Heroes" opened big, "Studio 60" continued to do meh and "Runaway" ceased to exist).

Since there's already a thread for "Gilmore Girls," and since "House" is quickly becoming a show whose goodness is consistently specific, I don't have much to say about it, save that House was funnier than usual (especially answering Cutty's phone, quoting "Casablanca" to an oblivious Thong Girl, and in the "You can't stop our love!" bit from the previews).

So that leaves "Smith," which I'll discuss in more detail just as soon as I finish calling all of my spouse's known associates...

The good:
  • Virginia Madsen got more of the focus, even if her story was inherently repetitive.
  • More Shohreh Aghdashloo, too.
  • The show is following up on Annie's screw-up with the tasered woman (there were better ways to brush her off in the first place, and once put in that position in the alley, she probably shouldn't have let her live).
  • The placeholder robbery story involved the three most interesting members of the crew.
The bad:
  • The motorcycle chase was beyond cheesey, and it kept gooooooooing. I'm not inherently opposed to chase scenes, but they either need to be shot with a hell of a lot more flair than we got here, or the emotional stakes need to be a lot higher. This was just a bad time-filler.
  • There was a witness to Jeff killing the bad surfer dudes? Huh? Wha? The whole point of the way that sequence was shot was how beautiful and isolated the spot was; if there was anyone within a distance to actually witness the killing, they wouldn't have gotten a good enough look for a police sketch. (And what homicide cop lets a drug dealer keep the sketch of a murder suspect he has the motive and the means to track down and kill on his own?)
  • The use of the temple from "The Usual Suspects" as the meeting place. I get that it's a beautiful location, but one of the best, most famous crime movies of the past decade used it prominently in almost exactly the same circumstance. Not as lame as that time Wells tried to steal The Board from David Simon's "Homicide" book for an early '90s cop show he was doing, but still something that invites unflattering comparisons.
The meh:
  • I don't mind seeing an occasional smaller robbery in between the crew's bigger scores, but even that's not going to be realistic every week. I wonder what an episode without any kind of heist will look like.
The ugly:
  • Ray Liotta's face scares me. It just does.
What did everybody else think?


Dale said...

Something puffy about that face.

Ryan said...

How many times does a police sketch look EXACTLY like the guy?

Dan Coyle said...

I find myself liking the characters- particularly Annie- more than the plots. I like it that Bobby's one of those suburbanites who just isn't satsified.

I enjoy Annie's double dealing and just gleefully amoral attitude, and there's no attempt so far to soften her. Usually by episode 2 they bring in the long lost daughter or the best friend she really cares about. Nope! I did suspect she got that ID stuff to track down the witness, but no dice there.

Jim and Tom are the kind of characters that slashfics were created for.

Anonymous said...

The week 2 ratings are in. I don't think the one will be around too much longer.

Alan Sepinwall said...

While the week two numbers took a dip, the ratings for Boston Legal dipped even more. Second place probably wasn't what CBS was hoping for here, but they'll take it.

Sars said...

Word on the motorcycle chase. A musical montage, in only the second episode? Weeeeeak.

Anyone else think Liotta had Some Work Done? Or that he got eyeliner tattooed on...something? His eyes look different.

bill said...

I'm enjoying it. It's not award winning TV, but it doesn't appear to be insulting. Drop the heist of the week and show us some more character development. Madsen's obviously has a background...I'm just trying to figure out if she knows Liotta was a thief, but is supposed to think he's gone straight, but suspects he hasn't.

I suspect the gang will get hit from three sides: the wife, the FBI, and the Hawaiian drug lord. Tough day at the office for a guy just trying to make enough FU money to retire and spend more time with the family.

Anonymous said...

Alan, can we get a thread to talk about the delightfully trashy Nip/Tuck? Lesbian organ thieves? Golddigging black escorts? Pot brownie hallucinations? This episode was money in so many ways.

anon said...

If you can suspend your disbelief, _Smith_ is a fun show. If you can't -- Well, you start asking yourself, how many primetime TV newsworthy heists is this crew (or subcrews thereof) going to pull off in a season? And this is just one crew? Good lord, the country should be in chaos! Some crews' probably breaking into my house right now!

And it pains me to say that I don't really feel much chemistry between the leads -- and I like Smart, Baker, Liotta, and Aghdashloo. The only really compelling character to me is Madsen's, and I think that may be because her backstory is unfolding at a more leisurely pace, without indie rock music, high speed vehicle chases, or dramatic disposals of cellphones. Her "action sequence" this week involved opening drawers and making phone calls, and I still found it more intriguing than anything else that happened in the hour. (Though my strongest response was at the telegraphed ending of the episode -- if only the flip-flopped man had started his search at the SoCal border. Then they could save him for next season, where he'd just appear ringing the doorbell of people's houses, consulting his frayed police sketch, and shooting anyone with long curly hair and sunglasses in the face.)


Alan Sepinwall said...

No "Nip/Tuck" for this boy. The show is watchable to me in small doses, and barely even that of late. If it wasn't for Peter Dinklage, I'm not sure I would be even look at it anymore. And when I saw Roma Maffia wake up in the tub with ice resting against where her kidney used to be, I was out for good. Ryan is really going there? Really? The best he's got is a tweak on one of the hoariest of all urban legends? And after he swore up and down that he wanted to get away from the crime element of season three?

Dark Tyler said...

Yes, but-but-but... The peanutbutter!! I mean come on! Plus, the meaningless guest stars gallore! This show is pure trash, so much in fact that I think at this point nobody really cares about making it good, you know? I'm having sooo much fun watching it!

Anon said...

Re: Nip/Tuck

What Alan said. The Carver pretty much ate the show last season, and I don't see them coming back. Guest stars are not a sign of creative renewal. In its first two season _Nip/Tuck_ was glorious trash...It's not so glorious anymore.