Friday, October 06, 2006

Behind my back

So let's see... while I was at the ballgame, the CW flip-flopped its Sunday and Monday line-ups in an attempt to save Chris and the other sitcoms, NBC ordered the "Kidnapped" producers to wrap up the storyline in 13 episodes to avoid the "Reunion" problem (though I believe they'll air all 13 -- even on Saturdays -- when I see it), "Heroes" became the first new show to get a back nine order, ABC is going to slot "Big Day" in where "Knights of Prosperity" was supposed to go, Fox is moving "Justice" to Mondays and "Vanished" to Fridays post-baseball (which means neither show qualifies for the dead pool yet, and I fear that even my pick, "Happy Hour," ain't dead yet), and...

Geez, a fella goes to see his ballclub flail around at a bunch of 100 mph pitches, and the next thing he knows, primetime has been turned upside down. Apparently, I can never leave my desk again.

I'll catch up on Wednesday TV later, but spoilers on (in order), "Survivor," "The Office," "Ugly Betty" and "Grey's Anatomy" just as soon as I recharge my power ring. In brightest day, in blackest night...

Two weeks after Jeff Probst gave his own ruling on Brown v. Board of Education and bussed the tribes together, "Survivor: Eugenics Wars" has become just another season of "Survivor." And that's fine, I guess. I like some of the players (Yul, Nate, Jenny), hate some others (Parvati, Adam, Ozzy) and am entertained by but ambivalent about a few more (Cao Boi, Roller Girl). Arguably a more interesting start than Exile Island or Guatemala. But 13 seasons in, there are only so many different iterations of island strategery, of the young vs. old, productive vs. lazy, man vs. woman, freak vs. geek tribal schisms that you have to be a major "Survivor" junkie to still get excited about it all. Well-made season so far, but the racial stuff was by far the most compelling element, and that's been dropped, for now. Ah, well; at least that pompous granite block J.P. got kicked to the curb, and even seemed gracious in defeat.

Things are very amiss at "The Office," but intentionally so. Jim really was the glue holding the Scranton branch together in various ways; if he was still there, Dwight would be too busy wigging out over Jim's latest prank to even consider listening to Lady Angela MacScotttish's advice about a palace coup, Pam would feel too self-conscious to try dressing cuter in the office (that, or Jim would have steered Creed right the hell away from the reception desk), etc., etc. Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice -- er, I mean Stamford -- we discover that Michael's not the only branch manager who wastes valuable company time on his own frivolous obsessions. Hell, compared to the number of video game sessions that Jim seems to deal with in a single day, 30 minutes a week for a team-bonding movie (which nobody but Pam really seemed to mind) seems practically brilliant. Of course, that doesn't count the many, many other ways that Michael wastes time, but for all we know Josh is just as bad, just not as clumsy about it. Now that Daniels and company have laid their cards on the table about Jim and Rashida (which we all suspected was coming), I'm curious to see how the 'shippers react. Will they be burning the poor newbie in effigy, cussing out Jim, writing off the show altogether, or actually watching with an open mind to see what happens next?

Favorite moment of the episode: Jan telling Michael about her conversation with Dwight, followed by Michael immediately asking what she was doing at the dentist. Oh, Michael: so naive, so innocent, so stupid, so funny.

Seems a bit ironic that, in an "Ugly Betty" about a perfectly gorgeous actress who feels pressured to lose weight to look like all the other Hollywood lollipops, America Ferrera has clearly dropped a few dress sizes since the pilot. A good follow-up to the pilot, I thought, particularly the stuff in Queens -- a well-choreographed catfight (and by "well-choreographed," I mean "clumsy as hell, preferably with hair getting caught up in jewelry") is never not funny -- though my interest flags whenever we get into the soapiest elements with the dead/not dead former editor. That's my problem, though. Seems like every year I pick one soap opera that I like in spite of the soapy aspects. I used to like everything about "The O.C." except for Ryan and Marisa, I watch "Grey's Anatomy" in spite of Meredith and McDreamy... hey, speaking of which...

Another busy, fun "Grey's Anatomy." Allan Heinberg, the man responsible for Seth Cohen's comic book obsession on "The O.C.," has been on the writing staff all of five seconds and he already had George dropping Green Lantern references in an episode that he didn't even write. Does that qualify as a super power? I liked the indestructible girl storyline -- Abigail Breslin is the rare talented kid actor who still seems like a kid -- even though I kept waiting for her to stick her hand in an In-Sink-Erator, just to see what legal hijinks would ensue in the real world. Hell, I didn't even mind the love triangle storyline for once, since McDreamy was supposed to be acting like an ass this time. The only time I really got annoyed at all was when Bailey was meeting with the Chief about Izzy. I'm sorry, Shonda: you wrote yourself into this corner, then sealed yourself in with some brick and mortar, and I'm not buying any attempt to pretend otherwise.

What did everybody else think?

11 comments:

Cheesesteak said...

Actually, the reaction I've seen from Jim/Pam shippers, it's actually a pretty good and open-minded online. I guess Karen's likeable enough that at this point, they just want Jim to be happy.

This is probably setting up a long-distance relationship for Jim if/when he comes back to Scranton. That he'll be in a happy relationship will put Pam in the position of piner.

Alan Sepinwall said...

One thing I neglected to mention about "Survivor": as Jenny went over to talk to Parvati, I said to Marian, "If you're planning to get rid of some beefcake, you can't depend on the island skank!" Fortunately, they had a friendly gay guy handy, and from the final vote it looks like Parvati (and Adam!) got swayed in the end.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And one more, since I was obviously rushing to post this morning: Dwight making his sales pitch while violently but meticulously preparing his pancakes was horrifying, yet funny.

Matt said...

Too bad about Knights. I was kind of looking forward to that show. I hope they reschedule it soon.

MMg said...

I might be just reading to much into it because I am on the Jim/Pam team, but doesn't Jim seem kind of unnerved by Karen and she is obviously crazy about him?

La Binsk said...

Hey, Alan, I didn't know you were a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Heh.

Joel said...

I think the best thing is that Jan always seems exasperated with Michael, constantly yelling at him and telling him how inappropriate he is, but always shows little signs that she cares about him. She didn't have to call Michael after Dwight met her behind his back, but she did. I don't think that was a purely business decision; she likes the poor schmuck and doesn't want to see him get fired.

By the way, did it seem weird that Michael could be that cunning and deceptive? It worked, but it just seemed out-of-character for him.

Artemisia said...

Joel, I thought it was out of character, too. Nothing we've seen so far has indicated that he could sustain that kind of thing for more than a minute; he's just not that subtle. But it was so funny, I didn't mind.

Dwight killed me this episode with the waffles and his Neitzchean "Don't be naive!.....You can be in charge of the women."

I'm one of the people that will be annoyed if Jim hooks up with the new coworker.

Dark Tyler said...

The moment little miss sunshine uttered the word "superhero", the first thing I though was that Allan had done it again. He even did it over on Sex & the City! You gotta hand it to the guy- he's written for practically every beloved soap of the 00s and he's managed to geek up everything!

(and, along with Joss Whedon, is the only fanboy tv writer who's actually produced some great work in comics, too)

jaynee said...

I didn't think Michael's reaction was weird. Think about it - as much as Dwight annoys him, Michael LOVES the fact that Dwight absolutely worships him, and Michael probably felt incredibly betrayed by the *one* person he knew he could count on in the office. So I didn't think it was too much of a stretch to think Michael could so overreact to the news that Dwight was trying to oust him.

Alan Sepinwall said...

re: Michael's cunning, I thought it was played just right, in that he only seemed clever and convincing because he was dealing with gullible, literal-minded Dwight. Stanley or Ryan or Angela would have seen through Michael in a second and asked why he was wasting their time.