Friday, October 13, 2006

What'd the mama tomato say to the baby tomato?

Catch-up time, so look for comments on, in order, "Gilmore Girls," "Jericho," "The Nine," "South Park" and "Grey's Anatomy," just as soon as I figure out whethere I left my $8 million check in the pocket of those jeans I just put in the wash...

Now that's more like it, "Gilmore Girls." Amazing how just bringing back Richard and Emily makes the show feel more like itself, isn't it? (And that's even with Emily's cleverness quotient only at 80 percent or so of normal.) I've always preferred the fluffier stories to the more overtly soapy material, so an episode dealing with Lorelai's fear of cotillions, Rory's fear of text-sex and Lane and Zach's fear of the life-changing creature growing in her belly was right up my alley. I'm even in an optimistic enough mood to say I'm looking forward to Lorelai and Christopher giving things one last shot. Independent of the idiocy with Luke and April, last season did an effective job of transforming Chris into the kind of guy Lorelai might actually want to be with long-term (and that's not just because of his money), so while there will no doubt be Internet rioting if she doesn't get back with Luke eventually, this isn't a terrible avenue to explore.

I'm really riding the knife edge with "Jericho." Like the idea, love Gerald McRaney, like certain moments (the outcast kid discovering the train, the scattered TV images), am more often bored than not with the execution. It feels like the show only occasionally wants to act like the country has been nuked -- in particular, the stuff with the teenagers bear no resemblance to how anyone, even teenagers, would behave in this situation -- the crisis of the week stuff is rarely compelling, and McRaney's been reduced to delivering a speech at the end of every other episode. If there was anything remotely more compelling in the timeslot, I'd be long gone.

Well, "The Nine" absolutely cratered in the ratings in week two. And unlike the pitiful Nielsens for "Friday Night Lights" (my other favorite pilot of the season), I'm okay with that. I'd said all along that I had no idea what the weekly show would be like, and if this is an example of that, I could take it or leave it. Some nice moments, mainly involving Egan acting out all those "Dead Poets Society" life lessons and Felicia realizing that her 911 call created all the problems, but overall it was meh. Because of the time-cut in the pilot, we had to imagine most of what happened during the robbery, and our actual glimpses of it aren't really living up to that.

"South Park" has come back with two duds in a row. The "World of Warcraft" episode was like an "SNL" sketch: funny idea that just kept going and going and going. (And there wasn't even a good payoff to all those images of the fat loser player; how did he react to getting killed?) The 9/11 episode, meanwhile, felt built on a strawman premise ("Ha ha! Look at all these idiots who don't think Al Qaeda caused 9/11!"), and the only parts that made me laugh at all were Mr. Mackey's quest to find the dookie-dropper, and the tumescent hijinks of the Hardly Boys.

And this was the first "Grey's Anatomy" all season where I didn't once feel the need to yell at the TV. I think the whole "Derek is The One" stuff is fairly lame, but at least the show finally acknowledged that he's an asshole who's probably going to cause her more pain, and at least Finn escaped with more dignity than, say, Aiden did on "Sex and the City." I like that McSteamy's even more of an overt jerk than Derek, and as soon as I saw the salesman patient's face light up real good, I turned to Marian and said, "Well, it's a good thing the hospital finally hired its first plastic surgeon so they'll have someone to deal with this," in the same way that any case remotely involving a woman's reproductive organs or children gets assigned to Addison, anything in the head is Derek's and everything else goes to Burke.

So Denny's father is Remo Williams? Huh. No idea where they're going with Izzy's newfound fortune, although realistically, the only way she could actually get back into the surgical program after, you know, killing a guy, would be through bribery. Callie and McSteamy are an interesting pairing as the two odd hotties out, and Korev and McSteamy are made for each other, professionally.

So what did everybody else think? Off to watch "Survivor" and "Ugly Betty."


Anonymous said...

If you'll indulge my curiosity, Alan, I'd like to ask you a general question. Given that your job (and your own tastes) requires you to stay on top of so many prime-time series, do you ever anymore just channel-surf and stumble upon something interesting and watch that? Or is that just not the way you interact with your machine?

Last night I stumbled across a Turner Classic Movies showing of an old "Dick Cavett Show." The guest: Groucho Marx. It was hilarious. It was wonderful. He was bawdy. He smoked a cigar. He sang "Lydia the Tattooed Lady." Pure accident that I found it.

What's the last thing you stumbled upon by accident on TV, and watched, and were glad you did?

Anonymous said...

"And there wasn't even a good payoff to all those images of the fat loser player; how did he react to getting killed?"

I thought him just staring at his screen in disbelief was funny.

"The 9/11 episode, meanwhile, felt built on a strawman premise ('Ha ha! Look at all these idiots who don't think Al Qaeda caused 9/11!')"

How is that a strawman? People like that do exist (Loose Change, anyone?), and they're ripe for mockery. I thought it was funny, except for the Hardly Boys stuff after the first time. Yes, they're gay, we get it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

UBM, I unfortunately don't have nearly as much time for idle channel-surfing as I wish I did. Too many good ongoing shows to keep track of -- often in direct competition, to foil the value of my new dual tuner DVR -- plus I'm often not getting in front of the TV until well into primetime, plus I'm working as the solo critic these days, so on those occasions when I'm not watching something live in primetime, I'm watching a work screener.

It's hard. When I started this job back in '96, original programming on cable (at least, good original programming) was scarce, WB and UPN scheduled fewer nights (and were generally so lousy that they were barely worth covering), there were plenty of in-season repeats, little summer fare, etc., etc., etc. So it was easier to just surf around and find stuff.

Nowadays, if I have a free minute to mess with the remote, I usually stumble onto a movie I've already seen. That's the other thing: with onscreen programming guides now ubiquitous, I don't so much channel surf anymore as skim the guide, which saves time but also no doubt prevents me from accidentally seeing something I didn't realize I would like.

Anonymous said...

oh, I thought the warcraft south park was pure absolute genius. But it may just be that I know way way too many people who have been sucked into that game. it was definitely aimed at a certain part of their audience, which I suspect is a fairly large part of their audience.


Anonymous said...

I thought the SP ep on Warcraft was hilarious, especially when the kids got all fat and pimply while becoming better players. Well, Cartman just got fatter. Plus, it had Kenny's character dying in Warcraft and Kyle's female character delivering the standard reaction, which had me laughing loudly. The only part of the new ep I saw was Cartman accusing Kyle of being behind the 9/11 attacks.

If you want to talk duds and overused jokes, check out the new season the last two eps (not counting the new one last night) of Drawn Together. Was it always that lame, or has my tolerance for lame humor lowered?

Jericho has become a "background noise" show where I only pay attention if I hear Skeet or Hearst-lite pipe up (kind of like I do with Josh Duhamel on Las Vegas). The Nine, OTOH, is something I actually sit down to watch. I guess I liked the new ep more than you did, especially the stuff with Nick and Jack Bauer's Latest Lost Love. I can hang with the slowly unraveling events of the hostage situation a while longer, especially since Kidnapped won't be on against it any more.

Hurry up with your Survivor stuff, dude! I want to know what you thought!

K J Gillenwater said...

Gotta agree with you on "The Nine." I think this show should be done like a backwards "Lost." Spend most of the episode showing us what happened in the bank, and make the current events the 'flashbacks.' I was very disappointed that they had a big banner on the bottom announcing it was "The First Hour," and then showed us maybe two minutes of that hour. It would be nice to see how the relationships developed over that hour...not just little tiny flashbacks.

That was very disappointing to me.

How the characters relate in the present is not nearly as interesting as it could be because we know hardly anything about how or why these relationships evolved. I hope they fix this soon, but I have a feeling they won't...

"Jericho" is hit or miss with me, but I still enjoy it. . Just wish there was some more realistic behaviors. As if the town would just allow two parentless teenagers to figure out on their own how to take care of themselves. They are both minors. If the town is so concerned about keeping law and order, wouldn't they have found temporary foster families to take them in? Or keep an eye on them?

The 'nerd' kid sort of adopted the store owner lady, but she hasn't formally said, "I'll be your mom now," or anything like that.

I also would like more believability in Skeet's character suddenly being in the center of things and the 'go to' guy. Why him? What makes him any better than anyone else? I would rather see him doing more behind the scenes and letting what's left of the police and the mayor to do the big decisions and actions. Or give us more background on where Jake has been all these years and why he has the background to take on this kind of role.

dark tyler said...

Best Grey's of the season. Loved that the show officially categorises Derek as an ass, loved Meredith being high, loved the odd pairings (McSteamy with Callie, McSteamy with Alex), loved Addison's moment with Meredith, and loved the closing narration by Denny instead of the annoying lead.

(So, when is Shonda's new show gonna be ready? I'm looking forward to seeing JDM in a show where he's not killed in, like, five episodes.)

Anyway, great episode. My man Allan Heinberg did it again. And my other man, Drew Goddard, co-wrote the best Lost episode in quite a while, so it's a good week for me and my favorite writers.

Anonymous said...

I'm almost annoyed that Grey's was so good this week -- every time I'm tempted to give it up I get sucked right back in!

For once, they gave Izzie a decent storyline, and I'm interested to see what she does with her money. Perhaps her return to the hospital will be as a donor/administrative person, and not as a doctor? I'd like that better than seeing her buy her way back into the surgical program. I'm a bit nervous about where they're taking the storyline with Burke's hand, though. Cristina can't always be there to cover up for his difficulties.

I think McSteamy is going to be a good addition to the cast. The emotional distress he causes Derek is enough to make me like him (even if he is an ass), and I hope his presence shifts the show's focus to other relationships besides the Derek-Meredith one. I couldn't care less about Derek and Meredith. Just get them together already, yeesh.