Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Catching up

First of all, today's All TV column about "Freddie." Didn't turn out as vicious as I had wanted, but I think I used up too much bile on "Hot Properties" last week.

I called Fox about the non-mention of "Arrested" and "Kitchen Confidential" at the start of Monday's playoff game, and was reassured that it was a "Prison Break"-specific promo, that "Arrested" would be returning with back-to-back episodes on Nov. 7, and that "Kitchen" would be on the week after that. And, to head out any other nervous media queries, Fox put out a press release about their return this morning.

I'm still running behind in my TV-watching (two hours got taken up last night by my wife's desire to watch "Hitch," the highlight of which was me winning a bet over whether there would be running in the climax), but here's what I've gotten to:

"Grey's Anatomy": Yup, Cristina miscarried, just as I figured she would from the minute she got pregnant. You can count the number of TV characters who've had abortions on one hand (Maude, Joanna Cassidy on "Buffalo Bill" and Claire Fisher are the ones that come immediately to mind), not because Hollywood writers are anti-abortion, but anti-controversy, and this is the hottest button we have. So when they make a character pregnant and then decide they don't want to deal with a baby, the writers induce a miscarriage to avoid the inevitable advertiser boycotts.

Predictability aside, this was a very strong episode, with two major personal/medical developments unfolding simultaneously (Cristina's miscarriage and the staff's discovery that Meredith's mom has Alzheimer's). My only worry is that this show, like other soaps of recent vintage ("The O.C.," "Desperate Housewives") is burning through so much plot in such a short period of time that there won't be enough material for the long haul. This is one of those leftover first season episodes, and already Meredith's secret is out and Izzy and Alex are on the verge of sleeping together. I respect shows that don't drag their feet on this stuff, but they all pay for it down the road.

One last "Grey's" thought: did Meredith's mom have an affair with the chief of surgery when they were younger? I couldn't tell if his concern was just friendship or something deeper.

"How I Met Your Mother": That left turn at the end of the pilot, where we find out that we won't be meeting the mother for a very long time, has left this as a kind of formless show. It's the best "Friends" knock-off ever made, but it's still a "Friends" knock-off. Willow and Doogie will always make me laugh, and I liked the subplot about Robin's discovery that no one watches her channel, but the main plot dragged. Plus, someone needs to sit the writers down for a "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared" marathon so they'll give Jason Segel more to do.

"The Amazing Race": Not enjoying this family tour of America, at all. This episode featured some of the least interesting challenges the show has ever done, and though we finally stopped at an airport, it was only for a 500 mile flight. When "House" comes back after baseball, this could fall off the viewing list until the next edition.

"The Office": Not as good as last week's office Olympiad, or, especially, the episode with the Dundies, but still some good stuff with Jim trying to keep everyone entertained during the fire alarm. For the record, my desert island books would be "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," "Empire Falls," "Lonesome Dove," "The Princess Bride" and "The Right Stuff" (or one of my other books on the space program, like "A Man on the Moon"). Also, the more hints we get about Michael's personal life, the more I'm convinced that Andy Stitzer wasn't the first virgin Steve Carell has ever played.

"My Name Is Earl": I know Earl's redemption is the whole premise of the show, but I enjoy the flashbacks to Bad Earl much more than the present tense scenes. Jason Lee is one of my favorite actors, and part of that is his ability to be likable while playing absolute pricks like Brodie and Banky and Jeff Bebe. The nicer he plays, the less interesting he is.

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