Thursday, November 30, 2006

What Alan was watching a while ago

As I mentioned in the comments section for the morning column link, working as a solo critic has cut into my blogging time, and I've gotten weeks behind on commenting on some shows. So, while taking a break from today's marathon of "Sleeper Cell" season two, some quick thoughts on, in order, "Friday Night Lights," "Grey's Anatomy," "Gilmore Girls" and "Dexter," and if there's anything obvious I've left out, we can get a discussion going in the comments. Tally-ho and all that...

Well, turns out NBC didn't show the "Friday Night Lights" homecoming episode out of order, as Tuesday's show clearly took place after the previous one. This wasn't one of my favorite episodes, but even when the show isn't clicking, I can always count on the family dynamics at the Taylor household to keep me engaged. (Taylor had one line about how, contrary to opinion, he does understand women, that I really wish I had written down so I could cite it exactly. The phrasing was very nice.) I would care more about the poor, doomed Riggins brothers and the Street/Lyla/Riggins triangle if the actors playing Riggins and Lyla didn't feel better-suited to "One Tree Hill," and as fair as they've tried to play Street's recovery, him participating in a Murderball scrimmage four or five weeks after he was paralyzed? Huh? I get that it's TV, and that this was around the point where the producers saw the writing on the wall and started cramming as many ideas in as they could before cancellation, but would it have killed them to wait at least until the Panthers season ended?

(On the plus side, NBC is moving the show to Wednesdays at 8 in January, which gets it out of the way of "American Idol" and gives me a Wednesday night show I actually want to watch. Last night's schedule was so barren on every channel that I toggled between "Mythbusters" and the "Clerks II" DVD. But we already talked about Pillowpants and the Listerfiend back in July.)

I'm starting to think I'm not cut out to be a "Grey's Anatomy" viewer much longer. The turducken-sized Thanksgiving episode had the show firing on all cylinders in a way it hasn't since that time Coach Taylor blew up real good after the Super Bowl, and yet it still bugged the hell out of me. Again, we're in the Denny Duquette area where characters are doing indefensible things that both their friends and the audience are supposed to forgive them for in the name of friendship, characterization, whatever, and I just can't do it. When Meredith shut McDreamy down on the subject of whether she should have ratted out Burke and Cristina, it was close to brick-throwing time again. (Ditto Izzie expecting an apology from George when he had exactly zilch to apologize for, given the history and the current circumstances.) The show is still the show; I'm just at or near my limit for what I'll swallow to get to the good stuff.

Speaking of treasure being surrounded by trash, Paris and Doyle's hip-hop dancing was about the only thing keeping me conscious for most of the latest "Gilmore Girls." I like Michael DeLuise when he has a good script and/or director (notably as Sipowicz Jr.), but take either or both of those away and he's always a half-step away from offensive overacting; my head hurt so much listening to him that I barely even noticed the rest of the Luke subplot, and I've lost whatever interest I may have had in the drawn-out process of Lorelai realizing the mistake she made in marrying Christopher.

If I've been sparse in commenting on "Dexter," it's because the show is so consistent both in what it does and how well it does it, and there are only so many different ways I can compliment Michael C. Hall for acting like a man who's always acting or admire the artful framing of the murder scenes. Things have gotten veddy interesting, however, now that the Ice Truck Killer's identity is known to us, and Sunday's serial killer couples weekend to Dexter's ancestral home was a creepy change of pace. I haven't read the book, but knowing that there are sequels (and that the TV show is going to continue), I have a sense of where things are going. But I look forward to hearing at the end of the season how much the show borrowed from the novel and how much had to be invented for series TV purposes.

Back to watching Oded Fehr get kicked in the nuts a lot. To paraphrase a very wise man, "Sleeper Cell" season one had heart, but "Sleeper Cell" season two has knees to the groin.

17 comments:

Katie V said...

Three weeks ago, I realized I too was no longer cut out to be a Grey's fan, and I'm at the point where I'm still reading blog postings about it. Now, however, I think I will have no trouble weaning myself off the show entirely...both watching it, and reading about it. Meanwhile, the girls in my daughter's 4th grade class keep discussing it, which disturbs me to no end but what are you gonna do?

kristinj said...

I actually enjoyed this episode of Friday Night Lights quite a bit. I thought that outside of the Lyla stuff, the actor who plays Riggins did a nice job with the whole confused/angry/sullen teen thing, and the scenes between the brothers (especially their dinner with the Taylor family) worked well. The show really is still trying to cram story in, but hopefully that'll stop soon.

Any actual affection I had for Grey's went out the door with everyone trying to cover up the LVAD (sp?) wire situation. I'm interested in seeing whether Burke will actually be in serious trouble, or it will be handled quickly and absurdly like Izzy's status as a surgeon was.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a major Grey's fan, but this season has irked me to no end... and now that The OC is back in all its fantastic glory, I'm tivoing that instead of Grey's.

Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more. now that grey's has gotten so self-congratulatory and smug and unlikeable, I will return to the OC for as long as it remains. Alan, why did FOX not move the OC to Wednesdays? As you said it is a barren night of tv.

Devin McCullen said...

Well, that's what the Friday night replays are for. Grey's hasn't bothered me that much. And I can see Izzie's point of view - yeah, George was under a lot of pressure, but he didn't have to go about it that way. He basically said "Don't trust her. She's a lousy doctor." to his parents. There had to be a better way to handle that.

jim treacher said...

Re: The barren Wed. schedule, Day Break isn't doing anything for anybody? It's pretty dumb, but somewhere between Mutant X and this, Victoria Pratt learned to act.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Doesn't really matter, Jim. Last night's Day Break barely -- barely -- finished ahead of One Tree Hill in total viewers and was in a statistical dead heat in the 18-49 demo. If it ever airs again, I'll be stunned -- even if he is Taye Diggs.

Kristin said...

My favorite storyline on "Friday Night Lights" is definitely Matt Saracen and his crush on the coach's daughter. So poignant and sweet...I just know somehow he will mess it up because he likes this girl so much...and they both are so inexperienced. But, until then, I am enjoying watching their little romance develop.

I was wincing when I thought Smash might steal the money from the fast food place and get Matt in trouble. So glad that his church unknowingly bailed him out instead. Matt has enough problems with loopy grandma and trying to work, play football, and go to school that I didn't want to see more awful stuff piled on him.

I think I am one of the few that is enjoying "Day Break." I find it very watchable. Interesting to see how Brett the cop finds out new bits of information each time around. Plus, I know at the end of the series the mystery will be solved. That is refreshing in this current season of attempted long-running mystery type shows--Kidnapped, Vanished, The Nine, etc.

Matt said...

While Day Break is disastrous for ABC, it doesn't exactly have a bunch of other options available to it. Nothing's just sitting on the bench ready to go (possibly excepting "Traveler") and the slot is time limited by the return of Lost anyway.

JeffL said...

Daybreak is far better than given credit for. They've really taken a more original and thought-provoking path with the "groundhog day" idea than I thought they would. It's a shame so many have given up on the show, since honestly I think it's better than the current season of Lost.

Manuel said...

i'm actually looking forward to traveler. the pilot was pretty good.

Dark Tyler said...

One vote for Day Break. I hope that, when they eventually cancel it, they'll at least release the reast of the episodes online or something. I mean, it's not groundbreaking by any means, but it's not as dumb or boring I thought it would be. They're really trying very hard not to be repetitive or predictable. The characters are starting to grow on me, too. Would be a pity if (when) it goes.

Anonymous said...

was the line you mentioned...'contrary to popular opinion I'm very good at communicating with women folk...


terry

Lizbeth said...

Alan, maybe you should consider hiring a team of bloggers to do recaps for your site. And by hire, I don't necessarily mean "pay". There are lots of us out here with opinions that will write for free.

BTW: Back when you wrote for the Daily Pennsylvanian I worked in the front office. I wasn't a student, so you probably don't remember me, as I mostly worked days, part-time. At night, I worked in the Philly independent film scene.

It impressed the hell out of me the way you guys put that paper together. I wasn't surprised when you landed at The Star-Ledger.

Joel said...

You know, it's funny. I've really enjoyed Grey's since day one, and am enjoying this season, especially the last few episodes. But if I wasn't paid to review it each week, I probably would have stopped watching it by now.

I think that whole Denny Debacle changed things on the show ever-so-slightly, but significantly. It's this whole feeling that, now that Izzie's has been able to get away relatively unscathed from the whole LVAD thing, and the audience has bought it for the most part, the writers feel they can pretty much spin even further way from reality.

In other words, Shonda Rhimes is now free to fulfill all her high school love fantasies through the doctors at SGH and not worry as much about the pesky medical stuff. And, for some reason, that doesn't sit well with me.

Oh, and each episode has so much going on it gets very tiring to watch. Maybe it's just as simple as that.

Jon said...

My question posted to tvbarn2 and the response. I don't think the information offered is spoilery, but avert your eyes if you are exceptionally cautious.

> I'm not sure if this question can be answered without spoilage, but I'll ask anyway. Does anybody know how much of Showtime's "Dexter" comes from a)
the first book of the series b) the other two books of the series and/or c) the writers' imaginations? I'm especially curious about last night's story -- canon or creation?



From what I remember about the books (read them a while back):

The main mystery (Ice Truck killer) is coming almost 100% from the book. In the books, you don't meet the killer until the final 10-20 pages or so but the books are 100% from Dexter's POV so until he figured it out, you weren't going to meet the killer.

Doakes's issues last night are related to some events readers learn about him in the second book.

I don't remember Rita's husband hanging around in either book. Her children are a lot more damaged in the books, especially the son. Rita's a bit more damaged too.

Debra's boyfriend Rudy wasn't her boyfriend in the book. I don't remember if Debra even met Rudy.

There has never been a mention of a father outside of Harry. The books never leave Miami.

The female captain is far less likable.

The series, while really terrific, lacks what can only be called a certain sense of whimsy that the books have.

jim treacher said...

There are only 2 Dexter books so far. Poor, poor Doakes...