Wednesday, October 01, 2008

That's it for me?: Mentalist, 90210 and Worst Week

The second week of the official TV season is usually around the point where I start dropping shows that either aren't doing it for me or are in a brutal timeslot war. After the jump, some thoughts on whether I want to stick with, in order, "The Mentalist," "90210" and "Worst Week."

"The Mentalist" might get a few more weeks from me, but really only because I like Simon Baker. In that way, it's sort of like the early stages of "Life," where the show bored me but Damian Lewis was interesting enough that I kept watching until the show caught up with him. I don't necessarily see "The Mentalist" doing that -- there's a ceiling for how good and/or unconventional CBS procedurals can be, I think -- but unless last night's "Fringe" (which I won't get around to watching until later today) was dazzling, it won't be like there are other shows in the hour that I really care about.

This one felt very much like an episode of "House," with the team jotting down the potential crime theories on a white board (differential diagnosis), various potential suspects seeming obvious and then immediately being cleared (I thought for sure the Xander Berkeley cop character did it, under the Most Recognizable Guest Star theory), and the continued suggestion that Patrick stretches things out because he enjoys testing out his theories. "House" was, of course, an attempt to translate CBS into a medical show, so it makes sense that an actual crime procedural might seem like it, but the structure here was so familiar I kept waiting for Simon Baker to pull out a cane.

I think Brenda leaving "90210" for good and Kelly possibly joining her (Jennie Garth still isn't signed for additional episodes) that now is as good a time as any to bail. The characters are too thin to care about (even when I want to pretend that Dixon is really Michael from "The Wire," I have to squint a lot), the morality and storytelling too simplistic, and the humor (which I expected Sachs and Judah might make into a saving grace for everything else) not funny or prevalent enough. Maybe I'll check back in later in the season, but life's too short to watch this one every week.

It's also too short for any more of "Worst Week." There were a couple of gags in the pilot that made me laugh, but they were born of innocent mistakes and/or misunderstandings. Here, Sam just kept making things worse and worse by refusing to tell the truth, and I have no patience for that -- especially since every episode is likely to follow this template. I didn't think they could pull off the elaborate farce of the pilot every week and make it watchable; this one suggests I was right, and I don't care enough to come back in the future to confirm.

What did everybody else think?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wanted to like Worst Week, but as I was watching it felt painful at times. Its like the writers are simply saying, "What can we do to make this situation worse?". Its coming off of my DVR list.

Art Fleming said...

I think it was nice that the conclustion in the Mentalist episode was actually surprising and still plausible.

Matt said...

Let me put in a quick good word for "Privileged," which is becoming more solid with each and every episode. Megan's porn freakout this week was excellent. It needs to develop its ensemble more (right now, JoAnna Garcia and Lucy Hale are carrying the show by themselves), but is working out well.

And "Worst Week" may not be around much longer. Apparently, its retention numbers out of 2.5 Men are awful.

Bobman said...

I like the Mentalist - decent cast, decent writing, etc. I don't really watch any procedurals, and find they're fine as long as they're in small doses. Really Bones is the only one I can think of that I watch, and I watch that just because the characters are fun, not because of the stories.

As for Worst Week, I didn't see Monday's (haven't had time) but the pilot was a little too cringey for me and I doubt I can continue watching it. Cringe humor is a really tough pill to swallow for me; Larry David managed to pull it off in Curb, but for the most part I don't like feeling uncomfortable for 22 minutes and trying to pass it off as being entertained.

Anonymous said...

I thought this week's 90210 was an improvement over recent episodes...but mostly because the Kelly and Brenda storylines were interesting. Other than Naomi, the new kids' storylines really didn't go anywhere. And Naomi's storyline is too awful for words. I'll probably continue to DVR the show for a while, but I'll be less and less upset if I don't get to it.

Nicole said...

The creepy client trying to get Silver up in his room was a pretty amateurish storyline and reminiscent of an actual original storyline with how cheesy the actor was playing it. Also, it served to emphasize how grotesquely skinny the actress playing Silver is. I'm not sure if protruding chest bones is really a special look.

I've been flipping over to Privileged and am finding it a lot more interesting. Kelly and Brenda are really the only things worth watching on this show.

Toby said...

I missed the pilot of 'Worst Week' so I checked in on the second one. I was certain it had to be me and that I'd feel left out of the party here while the rest of you were having a party with it. Looks like that won't be the case. (I bailed after the parakeet died.)

I'm also not one for cringe humor. I can make it through CYE and The Office, but that's about it. (My big problem with The Office - and it's a hurdle - I can't stand Michael and fast forward through his scenes. "The Bat" episode is my fave - so long as I don't watch the subplot at Ryan's school.)

Because of DVR sked conflicts, I had to record "The Adventures of Tim" on Monday. Watched it right after the 'Worst Week' recording and figured I was just watching an animated version of that. Deleted that one after the first half (for which I clicked "picture go fast" through most of it.)

Because of DVR scheduling, I couldn't do 'The Mentalist' last week, and did record it this week, but have yet to watch it. Since Sunday, I'm now 8 hours deep in back-logged shows. Baseball playoffs are NOT going to help!

spiderpig said...

I think they need to give us some background on how Jane is so observant on The Mentalist. On psych, Shawn's dad used to quiz him on noticing things and Monk has his OCD and even House has to keep studying on diseases and pathology as a doctor, but how did Jane get the way he is? I think that will do a lot to bringing the audience on board with the show and help us identify with him.

Wordnerd said...

I said the same thing about The Mentalist - at least last night's ep - resembling House. Same gimmicks. I'll continue to watch, since nothing else has inspired me. But I started watching Mentalist because it WASN'T CSI, or Bones, or any of the others.

KLE said...

I'm out on 90210, Michael or no. Took it off the dvr schedule the same time I took off Fringe.

So far I like the Mentalist. As a former Bay area resident married to a NoCal native, I enjoyed hearing the names of towns with which I am familiar, including my husband's hometown. Anyway, I'm going to very quickly get sick of her completely disregarding every one of his hunches that turns out to be correct, so they need to move on very soon for me to her respecting his intuitions or whatever they are. If they don't I'm out. Any I love the "most recognizable supporting actor theory'" my husband hates me for this because he never recognizes anyone. Luckily we've mostly given up procedurals, although the House set up was spoiled for me this week because of Brekin Meyer, who suddenly and finally looks like an adult.

Haven't watched Worst Week, have for the most part sworn off sit-coms. Is the Office a sit com? hat's the only comedy we watch.

Rick said...

I'm not sure what the difference is, but "Worst Week" is absolutely unwatchable, while I found "Worst Week of My Life" (The original BBC version) very enjoyable.

Jennifer said...

I like that TV Tropes has two entries on this "most recognized actor done it" thing:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NotSoSmallRole
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NarrowedItDownToTheGuyIRecognize

I think I'm out on Mentalist. Just...nothing stands out enough for me to take the time to watch it. About the only thing I found interesting in the episode was the gangbanger boyfriend, don't ask me why.

Pamela Jaye said...

Jennifer, you evil person, you!
I had never heard of TVTropes

and now, of course, I have.
(now I may have even less time to actually *watch* TV, which may not be a bad thing, cause at the moment, my DVR cleaning is consisting of Don't Forget the Lyrics. (oh please someone give me something with a *plot* (that I don't have to watch twice)

I'm really ready for Private Practice at this point.

I may have just destroyed my own argument.

I can't bring myself to watch the next two eps of 90210 that i have by now - unless someone can give me a good reason

and I just spent 15 minutes reading plot summaries of Reunion after watching Bonnie Hunt's interview with Dave Annable. (while thinking of Chyler Leigh and wondering which one was the rich kid, which one took the fall for the rich kid, and where the rest of that cast is now (and remembering how many shows i just recorded but waited to watch due to Reunion Syndrome - Daybreak? The Nine? anyone?))

Karen said...

I am enamored enough with Simon Baker that "The Mentalist" would need to be pretty bad in order to shake me this early. He is just spectacularly charming. I don't watch very many procedurals, so I don't mind the formula.

Oh, and KLE? I had the EXACT same thought about Breckin Meyer.

Andy said...

While watching Worst Week all I could think of was that this is basically the same thing as Meet the Parents. Very similar ideas.

zodin2008 said...

I guesws my wife and I must be the only people that LIKE "Worst Week". A shame.

It reminds me of "Meet the Parents", which is one of my all time favorite comedies.

If "Week" sticks around (and I heard the ratings were up?) we'll watch.

We still have 90210 on the DVR and will likely watch it, but if Brenda and Kelly are done, we're done. That was the only reason we were tuning in.

And LAME to even mention Dylan's character if they're unable to bring him in.

I had no interest in "The Mentalist".

Toby said...

Jennifer,
THANKS for the TVTropes link! Looks like one I'll be visiting a lot!

Jackie said...

I began to feel bad about my critique of 90210 when I discovered that the herpes girl on the show was named Jaclyn . . . but then I realized that Jackie is the name of Kelly and Silver's mom so I guess 90210 has a thing against Jackie / Jaclyn. So I should stop being so vain anyway!

That having been said, I want to do penance for all the negative vibe I have directed toward the writing on the show. It's been a true test of head vs. heart for me since this has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for Tristan Wilds who has been able to translate his celebrity into political action. So like a high school cheerleader whose motivation for generating support for the team can best be understood as self-absorbed, I will root for 90210 with similar disregard for judging the quality of the play. The cheer being an end in itself. Rah Rah Rah!! From the 4th little pig (Episode 2) . . .