Very brief thoughts on "24," "The Riches" and "The Black Donnellys" coming up just as soon as I practice my chokehold move...
"24" continues its annual middle third dip; the only difference here is that the first third wasn't so hot, either. The writers are cobbling together bits and pieces from other seasons with minor tweaks (the Powers Boothe march to war plot is straight out of season two, with the difference being that the President himself is the one itching for an immoral war), but without the unifying Big Idea that Howard Gordon says they try to find for each season. I'm either apathetic or outright hostile towards most of the new supporting characters -- I'm a Ricky Schroder fan going back to his OCD/snot-rubbing days on "NYPD Blue," but Doyle may be the most badly-introduced TV character since Ana-Lucia on "Lost" -- and Jack is disappearing far too much within episodes.
The commenters last week seemed more into "The Riches" than I was. I think it works in spots -- the Russsian Roulette game with Wayne/Doug's golfing buddy was great -- but on a broader level I feel like the show's holding me at a distance.
Meanwhile, "The Black Donnellys" has turned into a punchline on a lot of other TV blogs and message boards; I've seen a phrase like, "Well, I didn't like this episode of Show X, but I watched it after The Black Donnellys, and it was a masterpiece in comparison." Maybe it's just my blind loyalty to the "Young EZ Streets" vibe Haggis and Moresco are going for, but I still don't hate it. That said, there be problems. Though NBC wouldn't allow the show to be a '70s period piece as originally intended, I think references to contemporary life should be few and far between to create the illusion of timelessness, and the entire subplot about Louie Downtown's tricked-out cell phone keeps ruining that. Also, while I like the rotating audience for Joey Ice Cream's narration, it feels like the writers have already started moving away from the unreliable quality of his stories that was one of the show's most appealing traits.
What did everybody else think? Anybody even watching "Donnellys" anymore?