Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The morning before the day after

Good "House" last night, though I had a couple of problems. One is specific to me, but I've never been able to look at Joel Grey as a normal human being ever since he played Chun in "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins," one of the quintessential "on HBO every other day" bad movies of the '80s. The other is that I don't feel like Cameron really did make her own decision, but rather made the decision House maneuvered her into. Best part of the hour may have been the preview for next week, with House protesting to the medical board about Thong Girl.

Two columns this morning. A review of "Jericho" is the first:

If the microscope jockeys of CBS' three dozen Jerry Bruckheimer police procedurals have taught us anything, it's that no matter how thoroughly you try to clean up a crime scene, you always leave trace evidence behind. And if we didn't understand that already, we'd know it after watching "Jericho," a new drama that CBS execs clearly lifted from Fox or ABC without completely wiping their own fingerprints off of it.

From the use of music by The Killers and Snow Patrol on the soundtrack to the serialized format, most of "Jericho" doesn't feel like anything CBS has aired since... um... ever. But every now and then, there's a moment to reassure you that, yes, you are watching the birthplace of "Simon & Simon" and "Nash Bridges."

To read the rest, click here.

The second starts off with my review of "Kidnapped":

The legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard used to say the best way to criticize a movie was to make another movie. The same theory applies to TV as well, and we have "Kidnapped" (10 p.m., Ch. 4) as a fine example.

Premiering a month after Fox's "Vanished" -- like "Kidnapped," a drama that will try to stretch one abduction story over the course of a season -- "Kidnapped" plays out like a point-by-point criticism of everything "Vanished" gets wrong.

After some more "Kidnapped" commentary, I write about the "My Name Is Earl" season premiere and how a special feature on the season one DVD set just reminded me how much I wish they would let Earl be less nice. To read the whole magillah, click here.

Lots more column writing to do today, so use this post as a catch-all section for comments on any non-"Smith" bit of primetime last night. Out of curiosity, does anybody here other than me watch "NCIS" or "The Unit"?


Anonymous said...

I agree that I'd like to see a little more shading to Earl's character, but be careful: Every comedy needs a straight man. Think of how awful "Seinfeld" would have been if Jerry was, to use your phrase, "just as strange, mean and crazy as the people around him."

Anonymous said...

I watch THE UNIT, but have never been able to get into NCIS (or any of the other multiple CSIs either). The military stuff of THE UNIT I enjoy, but the homelife stuff can be a bit too over-the-top cheesy for me (e.g. the wife talking to another's kid about how any base "is home" -- perhaps a better actor could have pulled off the line).

Anonymous said...

I do watch the Unit. Its not very good but a weekly dose of Mamet is worth some of the otherwise unwatchable aspects of the show. It doesn't come often enough but when the trademark Mamet writing comes through I feel like the payoff is there.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, I'm the other way around, love NCIS, especially Abby, I really like that character and now with Jethro hangin' out with DB Cooper in Mexico-how cool is that? But I can't for the life of me get into The Unit. He's always be President Palmer to me.

Anonymous said...

I do watch (and usually enjoy) The Unit, though I haven't had a chance to get to it (or Smith) yet... September and October always feel a bit like a TV marathon... and I'm already lagging.

Anonymous said...

"This isn't HBO. This is TV" is a fantastic line!

Anonymous said...

That's my problem with My Name Is Earl too. Jason Lee is just too likable for me to believe Earl did so many shitty things in his life.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fred, Jerry was the straight man, but he was also funny. Earl himself is almost never funny. In watching the three new episodes, Joy made me laugh, Randy made me laugh, Crab Man made me laugh. Earl was just kinda there, and I am someone who loves Jason Lee.

I'm not saying make him a rat bastard all the time, but it's like that awful Harrison Ford movie "Regarding Henry," where they pretended like Henry grew and matured, when what really happened was he got shot in the head and had his identity erased. Earl saw the Carson Daly interview one day, and the next Bad Earl ceased to exist. That's not very interesting, or funny, to me.

Anonymous said...

Like these other people, I watch The Unit even if I'm not loving it. But David Mamet and Shawn Ryan make a show together? I'm watching it.

I agree that the home-life stuff doesn't really work. And I guess I missed an episode or two last year, because I had no idea who Rebecca Pidgeon's character was - is she Robert Patrick's wife?

Anonymous said...

The home life stuff turned me off The Unit, so I dropped it. Never liked NCIS.

I think Earl is pretty funny on his own; when they show his past antics, he's usually doing something that makes me laugh.

Anonymous said...

"And I guess I missed an episode or two last year, because I had no idea who Rebecca Pidgeon's character was - is she Robert Patrick's wife?"

They airlifted her in about halfway through the last episode last season. No real indication who she is or why Patrick married her, other than to further the soap plot.

Anonymous said...

I was watching the most recent episode of the Unit. There was a scene where Haysbert threw a bomb at a truck full of suicide bio-bombers and said: "No deposits, no returns." It really seemed like a McBane line from The Simpsons.

I can't believe Mamet and Ryan teamed together to form this show. It's not that it's an awful show. It's solid, and above average, but considering The Shield, and I won't even bother to list all of Mamet's great movie writing, I expected more.

I never would have thought these guys would give us an action/plot-drive show instead of a more character-driven one.

Anonymous said...

Re "House": I tend to agree that Cameron probably did not make her own decision. She is the kind of person who is sometimes paralyzed by her intense sense of right and wrong and so will ultimately yield to some kind of pressure. In the world of twisted TV antiheroes, Greg House is to Princeton as Al Swearengen was to Deadwood.