Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I've always been interested in drama

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?

26 comments:

Zodin2008 said...

24--yes, lots of retread stuff from previous seasons but the shocker of having Audrey die was interesting, plus, they have set up a plot for a season 7...Jack tracking down and gunning for Audrey's killers. Revenge is a dish best served...Bauer style.

The Riches--OK, 2 episodes and I am D-O-N-E. Eddie Izzard is genius...but he's the only good thing about this weird show. It feels too "Nip/Tuck" to me (and that's a show I avoid like the plague) and Minnie Driver is downright unwatchable and hateful. I was wishing for Izzard to pull the gun on her and get rid of her. God she's annoying.

I also can't for the life of me understand how critics and Bloggers can call this show better then "Big Love"???? My wife and I got way into BL S1 and are done with "The Riches" after 2 episodes...to each their own.

I just hope they find a better vehicle for Izzard soon...the man is a great talent.

The Black Donnelleys--this is still on? Where's my "Studio 60", NBC....

Zodin2008 said...

One more thing...In know they are re-treading the Evil VP storyline from S2, but the fact that they could get POWERS FREAKING BOOTH to play the VP is worth it.

Booth is so scary, that I half expect the next episode to open with Booth going Hannibal Lechter on Tom Lennox and Karen Hayes.

jim treacher said...

Loved Bauer's tube top. (Somebody on the show has been reading my fanfic!) And you didn't think "I'm Mike Doyle!" as Bauer was cradling his rib fragments was a smooth introduction? You have to wonder if they're positioning Schroder to fill in, the next time Sutherland gets bombed and hurts himself.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Jim, I'm sure that was part of the thinking in bringing in Schroder. The problem is that they've made the character such a rageaholic prick that I can't see the audience cheering him on the way they do Jack. The scene where he interrogated Nadia was almost identical to your average Jack torture sequence, but all I could think about was how Doyle was using excessive force.

Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem isn't just the Doyle character, but Ricky Schroeder is doing a horrible acting job. There was a scene last week where he asked to be patched into CTU where I actually laughed because his delivery was so incredibly wooden.

In the past we've had great actors like Penny Johnson, Xander Berkley, Shoreh Aghdashloo, Gregory Itzin, and Jean Smart rounding out the supporting cast. This year we're stuck with showkiller Rena Sofer and a completely out of his depth D.B. Woodside. Not to mention Eric freaking Balfour. And I blame Dan Feinberg for that one.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Ricky Schroeder manages a) to make me not hate Eric Balfour's presence on the show and b) to look manorexic and bloated at the same time. I didn't think either of those things were possible.

dez said...

As the lone Eric Balfour fan, I hate that he might be the real mole at CTU. I like Milo and his unibrow.

Anonymous said...

I watched the first two episodes of the Black Donnely's. I wanted to like it. I hoped it would be like Sopranos with better looking guys. But it is too boring. Dark and boring.

I also want my Studio 60 back. It's not the best show but it's enough to get my Sorkin fix.

Edward Copeland said...

I'm almost with everyone else on The Riches. I'm giving it one more episode and if it doesn't come together drastically, I'm letting it go.

Rick said...

I'm love-love-loving The Riches. For me its the one new drama on TV right now that is more than its premise -- precisely the reason I'm jumping ship on The Black Donnellys.

dez said...

By the way, as fast as they zip around L.A. on "24" (even with a nuke having gone off relatively close by), nobody has time to inform Veep Tolliver and CTU that Logan has been STABBED? And possibly is DEAD? C'mon!

Jennifer Jaroch said...

Did anyone think what I did about Audrey? That maybe she isn't actually dead, but is being held in a Chinese prison and was just made to look dead? I can totally see 24 following that now that "The Nine" got cancelled. I can also see them going with Jack hunting the killers down, too.

Dez and anyone else: why on earth did they not show anything about President Logan on this episode? Considering how last week ended, I'm very disappointed to see it become nonexistent.

My guess for the mole is Milo. I like him; I like the actor, but that's my guess. Or maybe it's Milo and someone else....eh, who knows with this show anymore.

I've been disappointed with this season. And yet I still watch. We still haven't seen any proper fallout of Jack being held and tortured for so long. Many things not to like....

Dan Coyle said...

I thought I was the only one who was wondering, "hey, weren't we in the middle of something last week?" re: 24. I liked the episode myself, despite the well trod ground.

Why the hell didn't the first responders have hazmat suits? "Hey, there's a NUCLEAR DEVICE landing off the docks there." Then President Dan wouldn't have an excuse to launch an attack. I'll be interested to see if Howard Gordon has the stones to go through with this idea, giving the Neocons the red meat they've wanted.

I don't understand why Doyle wasn't introduced at the season's outset. Schroder looks lost without a paddle, apparently having been given direction to the extent of "Be Hugh Hewitt's wet dream". I agree he looks bloated and manorexic. Perhaps he'll go, like Lennox did, from Bill Kristol analogue to something more complex, but I'm not holding my breath.

Despite my leftie tendencies, I'd rather Nadia actually be the mole, because they've gone the route of innocent mole one too many times. Plus, I wanna see Marisol Nichols bust out some ninja moves.

The Riches only seems to come to life when Izzard is on screen; Doug/Wayne is the most likable character. The others just... they don't click with me. The writers should focus more on Wayne. I find it hard to believe that Dahlia wouldn't be able to adapt as well as Wayne has, heroin habit or no.

The Black Donnellys- CROM! I have never prayed to you before. I have not the tongue for it. But I ask you this: Stop Jonathan Tucker from biting his lower lip IN EVERY GODDAMN SCENE! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!

I don't like Tommy. He's just kind of a jerk. I do like some of the other plots, though, and the cinematography is magnificent.

Wesley said...

I'm still watching the Black Donnellys, Alan, and I really like it. Much better than Studio 60. I too am worried that they are toning down Joey's role as the unreliable narrator. That's one of my favorite parts of the show.

It's frustrating to see how useless Tommy's brothers are. I know that's a major component of the show, but it makes it difficult to believe Tommy would go to such great sacrifices for Jimmy when all I want to do is punch him in the face.

Lynn said...

I wanted to like "The Black Donnellys," I really did. But the Donnelly brothers have to be the dumbest bunch of losers I've ever seen on TV. They make Paulie Walnuts look like a brain surgeon. I've given it up for good, and I wish S60 were back. S60 is deeply flawed but has a lot of good things, too. I find it far more entertaining than TBD.

Tom G said...

Count me amongst those that would rather watch the Black Donnellys over Studio 60. Though I will say, each episode of the BD is a little bit less appealing than the one before.

Dennis Wilson said...

Having never seen "EZ Streets," I find I'm able to appreciate the Black Donnellys on its own, and appreciate it I do, muchly. I'm pareticularly enjoying how every bad decision Tommy leads to an inevitable worse decision later, and on and on down the sinkhole.

The Riches was okay -- it was certainly different enough -- but I'm reserving judgment till we see how it plays out as a series.

owen said...

I'm loving The Riches so far. To me it has almost exactly the same feel as Big Love, and that's a high compliment. The only flaw is super minor: that Driver and Izzard's accents are a bit wonky.

ooda said...

I just got myself a season pass for The Riches, and after watching the second episode, I can't say I'm dissappointed in the purchase.

I mean, I thought the first episode was decent, but this episode I thought was great. The dynamics of the family seem to be working better, and it does seem like the show is getting into a nice grove.

Though I will also admit I did really like (not quite love, but I am eagerly awaiting season 2) Big Love, and this does have the same feel to it. I mean, it could be that it has the same style music playing through it at points of tension, and the premise is somewhat similar, but I still find enough different that I can appreciate both of them.

Minnie Driver I'm liking (didn't really like her the first episode), Eddie Izzard I'm loving (that said, I can't remember seeing him in anything else before (I know, my bad)), the daughter is cute and rational like the Dad (a good thing), and the cross-dressing son I'm liking (it seemed normal the way he was dressed this episode - a dress just seems too novel). Even the other son I'm starting to like, but he's still down my list.

I'm happy to see that it did good, ratings wise, the first episode. Hopefully it can sustain it so we can get a few seasons from this.

But then again, I am a sucker for shows like The Riches (Six Feet Under, Big Love...).

dez said...

Dez and anyone else: why on earth did they not show anything about President Logan on this episode? Considering how last week ended, I'm very disappointed to see it become nonexistent.

I have no idea. I don't understand how the info hadn't filtered to at least the Evil Veep within the hour.

I thought the same thing about Audrey, too, Jennifer. They lingered on the shot of her dear arm a bit long and I was wondering if it was the one that was injured last season by the baddie and if so, shouldn't there be a big scar on it? Hmmm...I'm probably overthinking it, especially considering we're talking about "24"!

dez said...

Er, that would be "dead" arm, not "dear" arm. I don't like Audrey *that much*!

Matter-Eater Lad said...

If Audrey doesn't turn up this season, I could see "Jack goes after Audrey's killers" as part of the plot of the 24 movie they keep talking about.

Kristin said...

Jennifer,

I am totally thinking Audrey is still alive. Oh, yeah, she's in some Chinese prison somewhere getting the same treatment. Maybe at the end of the season, Jack will figure it out and sacrifice himself to save Audrey. I just don't think she is gone quite yet...

Not as much drama can be wrung out of a dead person...but if she's alive? Imagine how friggin' nutso Jack will go to save her.

Plenty of time since the disappearance of "The Nine" for her to be brought back on board....

Alan Sepinwall said...

Audrey as a potential movie plot makes sense, as it's the kind of story -- the locale in particular -- that could only be done away from the usual format, plus I don't think there's a whole season in it.

Devin McCullen said...

I just got around to watching it tonight, and what bugged me was that once they found out where the pilot was (and let's not even get into the silliness of that), CTU sure took their sweet time getting over there, considering that there was a NUCLEAR BOMB and they HAD NO IDEA WHERE IT WAS. I know they have to pad it out until the climax, but at least look like you're in a hurry.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm a sucker for bad TV but I actually like the Black Donnelleys. Its far from a masterpiece but its mostly entertaining. And for those parts that drag, well that is why I have Tivo and the fast forward button.

And on that note I feel like I am watching most of 24 on fast forward these days. Its almost become unbearable to watch.