Monday, September 24, 2007

Let's not do the time warp again

The second of today's two columns opens with a review of "Journeyman":
"Journeyman" is the story of Dr. Sam Beckett, a prize-winning scientist who uses his own time travel invention and winds up trapped in the past, leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.

No, wait. "Journeyman" is the story of Marty McFly, a high school kid who drives a DeLorean 30 years into the past, where he bumps into his parents as teenagers and has to make sure they fall in love so he can be born.

No, wait. "Journeyman" is the story of Henry DeTamble, a Chicago librarian who suffers from a genetic disorder called Chrono-Displacement and spends his life shifting back and forth through time, always finding a way to return to his beloved wife, Clare.

No, I'm sorry. None of that's right.
There's also a review of "Big Bang Theory," which I wasn't a fan of. To read the full thing, click here.


Anonymous said...

I think there was an 8 simple rules episode where they did a Three's Company parody and John Ritter played himself and whatsername played Suzanne Somers.

P.S. In answer to the inevitable "What, you watch that show?", never by design, but I often leave the remote on the other side of the room while using this computer and it used to come on after simpsons reruns during the day when I was skipping uni classes.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Your explanation reminds me of an old Paul Reiser routine (from back when he was a funny stand-up comic instead of an annoying sitcom actor) about the convoluted excuses people will often give for why they were watching TV at all, let alone some terrible show. Went something like this:

"I didn't even buy the television. It was a gift. Yeah, a gift. And I didn't actually intend to watch it, but I was walking through the house, um, reading the dictionary, and I tripped and my chin hit the on/off button, and Wink Martindale came on for seven hours. What could I do?"

Alan Sepinwall said...

Which isn't to say there's anything to be ashamed of about watching TV, even bad TV.

Anonymous said...

Every time I see an ad for Journeyman, I think it's for The Dead Zone because I think the actor looks like Anthony Michael Hall's twin. It makes me crazy, I don't think I can watch it!

David J. Loehr said...

I still say, San Francisco journalist + time travel = Quantim Goodman.

And that would be a lot more fun to watch, actually.

Anonymous said...

His boss is crusty when he reminds him he's on a deadline, but benign when he reminds him about his wedding anniversary.

This good go far!

R.A. Porter said...

Hey! What's nerdy about downloading the BSG podcasts!?! :)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hey! What's nerdy about downloading the BSG podcasts!?! :)

Alls I'm saying is that if these guys are as nerdy as they're otherwise written, they would have been listening to those podcasts as soon as the episode ended, the next morning at the latest.

And, like the other post title says, I consider myself a nyerd. Ain't nothin' wrong with that.

Anonymous said...


Are you giving survival odds on any of the new pilots? I'm not looking for deadpool candidates -- my personal taste seems a good guide to goners -- but rather what mediocre show will managed to get picked up, though it shouldn't. I thought _Journeyman_'s confidently produced blandness could chug along quite nicely after _Heroes_. Similarly, I thought _Big Bang Theory_'s brand of non-comedy might survive by feeding off of the afterglow of _HIMYM_ and the anticipation for _Two and a Half_ on Monday nights. But that strategy failed for _The Class_, right?

I'm tired of trying to figure out why shows like _Freaks and Geeks_ failed. I need to understand the elixir that gives _Boston Legal_ life!


Alan Sepinwall said...

Nah, I'm terrible at predicting success or failure. As I've said in the past, there was one season where I thought "Lost" was doomed and that "Kevin Hill" would be the show that finally put UPN on the map.

I'm also terrible at predicting awards shows, betting against the spread in football, and any other kind of prognostication. Basically, all I'm good for is saying what I think is good and what ain't.

Matt said...

"Boston Legal" is successful for a few reasons:

1. It's the only "light" option in the timeslot. Especially in contrast to "SVU" and CBS's generally heavy fare, there's a counter-programming option.
2. The three principal cast members (Spader, Shatner, and Bergen) each still have fanbases of their own, with limited overlap. Add in David E. Kelley fans, and that gives you an audience.
3. The political preachiness plays well with a certain audience, who wants "Bush=bad, Huzzah!" as their entertainment.

It's still entertaining, but lacks the depth that the show had at the start, when Spader was written as this amoral, do anything to win, type. Now, he and Denny are political talking heads.

Anonymous said...


But it's a little more subtle than that. _Boston Legal_ doesn't have great ratings (Season high ranking of #27, according to Wikipedia), but it does apparently have one of the (if not the) richest viewing audiences on TV (also according to Wikipedia, with an indirect link to an ABC press release). Would you attribute this to the show's politics?

I do absolutely agree about the subtleties of time slot (which is also why _Grey_'s was a sleeper hit) but I remain dubious of your claim about a "fanbase" for Spader, Bergen, and Kelley, unless you are using the term in the _Flight of the Conchords_ sense. (Shatner, of course, is excepted, given his seminal work for Priceline.)


Unknown said...

So, Alan, does Reed Diamond make it worthwhile to give "Journeyman" at least one watch? While I have a love/hate thing with "Rome" and McKidd's character, I do always love Mr. Diamond in just about anything. (And speaking of ex-"Homicide" fellas, why can't Kyle Secor get a steady TV gig? His appearances were too few and far between on "Veronica Mars."

And I always think Terry Serpico from "Rescue Me" is Anthony Michael Hall.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Diamond doesn't get enough to do to make it worth watching just for him, Cat.

Anonymous said...

"Alls I'm saying is that if these guys are as nerdy as they're otherwise written, they would have been listening to those podcasts as soon as the episode ended, the next morning at the latest."

Uh... Tivo? Hello?

Alan Sepinwall said...

These are hardcore nerds, the kind who wouldn't wait that long to watch a new episode of Galactica.

Anonymous said...

"Journeyman" brings up one of the common TV-character mysteries: How could that guy afford a fantastic San Francisco house on a newspaper reporter's salary? Maybe he told his 1980 self to put everything into Apple at the IPO price.

Anonymous said...

I waited tillit aired to watch it. (Isaw a purloined version of Chuck, solast night I watched an ep of Side Order of Life I hadn't gottento, and two eps of HIMYM)

People on TV apparently don't live in our universe - ie: they don't watch TV (and rarely seen to have any). So the wife hasn't seen Quantum Leap (or she's be happy he was gone two days rather than 4 1/2 years)

The guy accepts it all far too easily (he didn't step in a time travel machine as most do - you'd think he might wonder more why this is happening) and the newspaper? would have been better if it had been from a date *after* the deck was built, no? (gee, you saved an old newspaper and buried it here while we were building the deck!)
Still I likedit when he went to his old apatrment to change :-)

I'm a Scott Bakula fan who hates Time Travel (really) and I'm usually averse (violently so) to this sort of show, and yet, I was interested to see how they would do it. And it was okay. I'm guessing it will hit the to be watched later pile if it makes it to November, but for now,...

then again, with Chuck (which i will watch) and Heroes (which I won't) NBC seems to making some commitment toa theme on Mondays (hopefully it does better than the Thrillogy) and since we don't have a goal (the next leap would be the leap home) cancellation should be as painless as Jake 2.0 or Tru Calling.

(better font and more white space here,I agree)

Anonymous said...

I think the idea with the 1997 newspaper was that it was buried in the same toolbox with his engagement ring, which couldn't have been in there unless he'd gone back in time and put it there. The newspaper was to establish the date it was buried, and the ring was to establish that he'd brought an object back in time that couldn't have existed then. I think?