Since I had already watched the CBS comedies last week in order to write yesterday's column, I spent last night's viewing hours either giving another shot to some shows I was on the verge of abandoning, or watching shows from last week that had been sitting on my DVR hard drive. Brief spoilers for, in order, "New Amsterdam," "Canterbury's Law," "Reaper" and "Survivor" coming up just as soon as I work on my glove-slapping technique...
"New Amsterdam" remains a show with a couple of strong elements (immortal Manhattanite, Coster-Waldau's performance) floating in a sea of mediocre ones (the police procedurals, the chemistry-free romance). Even the flashbacks to Amsterdam's past adventures can be problematic. I know there's not a lot of time to do the earlier eras justice, but the flashback rapist was a Rollie Fingers mustache away from being a complete cartoon of a bad guy. The idea of comparing how attitudes have changed -- or haven't -- about rape over the centuries was an interesting one, but the execution was iffy.
And yet, I'm finding that I really like Coster-Waldau and the easy manner he brings to Amsterdam. What seemed like world-weariness in the first couple of episodes now feels more like amused detachment. I don't know if that's supposed to be thematic (now that he's found his one true love -- even if she's the most boring person in Manhattan -- he's stopped moping) or if the producers just realized that the initial portrayal of Amsterdam could drag the show down, but this guy is someone I don't mind spending time with. Oddly, given my dislike of the police stories, the best scenes in the episode featured Amsterdam bonding with the fashion designer victim. Those moments of the two of them talking did a much better job of showing how relaxed and confident and wise this guy is -- as he probably would be after 300+ years on this island -- than any of the gags where he solves a crime because he learned to lip-read a few centuries back.
In hindsight, I'm surprised Fox didn't send out last night's "Canterbury's Law" for review -- the screener disc had the pilot and episode four -- as it was much stronger than the other two. A minimum of the ZZ Top "Legs" video material (other than the opening credits, which I saw for the first time here), there was some humor to leaven the grimness (and without the psychic material getting too goofy), and I actually felt something for the Julianna Margulies character. It's still a formulaic lawyer show, but this was a better-done version of that than the two episodes I saw in advance.
Thank God for DVR season passes, or else I would have never remembered that A)"Reaper" was coming back with new episodes, and B)"Reaper" was moving to Thursdays after "Smallville." But the DVR saves me from having to remember stuff. Thank you, DVR. I'll even forgive the way you start to spazz out when your hard drive gets too full.
Decent episode, and a fair bit better than I remember the show being towards the end of its pre-strike run. (Though I believe this episode was one of a few pre-strike leftovers.) Whenever they make the Devil more menacing, it in turn gives his lighter moments more snap, so I liked seeing him blow off some steam at Sam -- and also seeing his maybe, maybe-not daughter threaten to cut Andi good. That said, the comedy factor is still lacking from the pilot level, and it was the laugh-out-loud moments that made the rest of the show work.
Finally, I watched half of last week's "Survivor" the night it aired, just so I could buffer enough of "Lost" that I could watch without commercials. Once Jonathan was evacuated from the game, my interest faded, and I didn't get around to seeing the rest of the episode for days. Jonathan happens to be one of my favorite "Survivor" contestants ever. I love his bitchy give-and-take with Probst, his insistence on playing a rational game and his constant struggles to present his rational arguments in a way that the other players could understand. (Every hero's gotta have a weakness; for Penner, it was his tendency to argue things too forcefully.) And I admired the hell out of him killing himself on that last reward challenge, given what we would find out about the state of his leg. (You could tell Probst, who always develops man crushes on the uber-jocks, finally let go of whatever issues he had with Penner after seeing that performance.) With Jonathan gone, with Yau-Man gone, and with Cirie (my other favorite among the "favorites") acting really smug this time out, I'm out of people I really care about.
I thought it was a shame that Chet was so mentally checked out of the game (and no doubt freaked out about his foot, given what had happened to Jonathan) that he refused to participate in Tracy and Ami's scheme to blindside Ozzy. The thing is, if I've done the math right, Tracy didn't even need Chet's vote to get rid of Ozzy. All they had to do was lie to Chet about who to vote for, then cast three votes (Tracy/Ami/Erik) for Ozzy while three other votes (Cirie/Ozzy/Amanda) voted for Chet. In the event of a tie, there's a revote where the two people who are tied are ineligible to vote, which means Tracy's crew could have gotten rid of Ozzy by a 3-2 margin. (Or, at least, they could have flushed out the hidden idol, had he been cautious enough to bring it to Tribal Council.) Anyway, I guess I'm with this season for a while yet, but a lot of the fun went out of it with Jonathan.
What did everybody else think?