Monday, October 01, 2007

Sunday! Sunday! Soap day!

Spoilers for "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers & Sisters" coming up just as soon as I get a neck massage...

So it's been a recurring theme on the blog this week that I'm not in a soap opera mode of late. I watched the season's first two episodes of "Ugly Betty," for instance, liked them, and yet made no effort to set my DVR to record it going forward (even though there's a hole in the lineup now that I've ditched "Survivor: China"). And I'm more interested in seeing episode two of "Bionic Woman" than "Dirty Sexy Money," even though the latter was clearly a much better pilot.

Which brings me to "Desperate Housewives." I was never one of the critics who was over the moon about the first season, nor someone who thought the shark fin had been leaped over in season two. And I remember quite liking the first episode or two of season three that they sent me on DVD -- and yet skipping almost the entirety of that season, save the supermarket hostage show (which I think I also got in advance). So this may be the last thing I blog about the show this year, even though I liked several things that happened in it.

Start with the arrival of Dana Delany, who, as most everybody knows, was the first choice to play Bree but turned it down because she'd just done a comic mystery soap hybrid with "Pasadena." Delany gives good bitch here, in a very different way than Marcia Cross plays Bree. I just hope it doesn't become one of those Al Swearengen vs. Cy Tolliver things where the creator brings in his original choice for the part in an only slightly modified role, then runs out of stuff to give him/her once the initial rush of loyalty fades out. Also, I'd rather see Nathan Fillion in an action role, but the guy can do comedy, and anything that keeps him employed in a relatively high profile is okay by me.

But as far as the returning characters go, I've reached the point where I dislike all the main women, with the exception of Bree (where Cross' comic flair compensates for what's often a very caricatured part). And that, as much as any soap fatigue, means I probably won't be around moving forward.

"Brothers & Sisters" is a more elusive creature to me. I mentioned in a comment to a "Dirty Sexy Money" post last week that, for reasons I still can't quite identify (even though it's one of the things I'm paid to do), Greg Berlanti makes TV shows that I admire, often like a lot -- I never regretted an hour spent watching "Everwood" -- and yet ones that I never feel compelled to see every week.

I had a season pass to "Brothers & Sisters" last year and was really enjoying what it had become under Berlanti's watch -- the road trip episode was a particular highlight -- yet there came a point in the season where the number of episodes that were backlogged on the DVR became so high that I knew I was never going to get around to them all anytime soon, and so I deleted them to make room for a Giants game or something. (Football in high-def roolz.) I dug the premiere episode, particularly Rob Lowe's presence as the one man capable of bringing the Walkers down from their various pity parties (he arrived almost exactly when I tuned out last year, though for no reflection on his work) and intend to be more dilligent about catching the show this year than last, even if it means sometimes watching episodes on ABC's kick-ass streaming site... But I still have this feeling that, within a month or two, I'm going to be cueing up old underdog sports movies on one of the movie channels when I should be watching Rachel Griffiths play drunk.

Somebody want to psychoanlayze me on this? And what did everybody else think?


Todd said...

I think the entire ABC lineup (possible exceptions of Lost and Pushing Daisies -- assuming it maintains the tone of the pilot) is essentially designed to fold socks to. You watch it and largely enjoy it and have fun, but it's inessential. It's designed for people who have busy lives and just want something blithe and pleasant to tune into. Honestly, I'd rather tune in to ABC on any random night than the CBS "WE'RE ALL GOING TO HELL!" hour, but all it is is the sort of TV you can do other things to. I washed dishes and prepared an entire meal during B&S last night and didn't really miss anything.

dark tyler said...

I just love the drunk gatherings of the Walkers, and this one here was no exception. Rob Lowe's comic timing feels right at home in this show, which at times is surprisingly funny. (Hello, sequence in the graveyard!)

And yet when it's time to do drama, it's almost always heart-breaking. When Sally Field was walking towards the door fearing she would hear bad news about Justin, it felt devastating. What an actress.

Desperate Housewives is as good as it's been for a year or so now, but Brothers & Sisters is in another class, in my opinion. Still, Nathan Fillion! Also, wild guess re: the mystery. I say, Fillion and Delaney kidnapped Lyndsey Fonseca when she was little after their real daughter (the one Julie used to play with) was murdered in the attic. Or something. :P

Anonymous said...

Maybe its cause you're a man

Rebecca said...

While I realize the characters' dictions are very different, I always forget that Rob Lowe does not play Sam Seaborn on Brothers and Sisters. I keep having to remind myself that I'm not watching West Wing fanfiction or something.

That said, I thought both premieres were good for what they are. My roommates and I were talking about how the ABC Sunday night line-up is amazing for college students because we can do homework right through it. Although we would like Grey's back on Sunday, maybe then we wouldn't notice how awful it's gotten.

Anonymous said...

I would say you could fold socks through Grey's but then I'd spend most of the hour throwing them at the screen. What a pile of suck that's become. I have a fantasy of someone coming along to rescue George and Bailey and put them in a better show. Maybe even Karev and Christina, just for the hell of it.

That deer plot -- I hate to say it but they really did jump the deer.

anyhoo, I do love the acting on B&S. Sally field rocks my world, that's the main reason I tune in, plus the other good stuff people mentioned. You could excise Balthazar Getty's entire plot and not miss a thing though.

Never did get the appeal of DH though, and I'm even less likely to tune in now, though I am a fan of Nathan F and hope he is collecting very large ABC checks.

Anonymous said...

With DH I am similarly tired of all the main characters who aren't Bree, something that became clear when Marcia Cross went on leave. For a soap, with most of these characters there's a sitcom-like consistency that guarantees they'll make the exact same mistakes over and over again like Jack Tripper mishearing a conversation. For a little bit in the third season, it looked like the show was turning into a schadenfreude comedy with these characters' faults getting them into funny trouble but that dynamic disappeared and I'm feeling like I'm supposed to go 'Awww' when Susan makes a panicked lie to cover up an embarrassment.

Overall, though, the show has become a mess of people making the same mistakes over and over again... with guests stars who usually turn out to have no long-term consequence.

Anonymous said...

I liked the DH premiere. I liked the reveal that Edie wasn't really dead (although I kind of wish she was) and how it will mess up the Carlos/Gabi reunion. I like bald Lynette. I love Nathan Fillion in anything (he even returned to his old stomping grounds, "One Life to Live," for its 10,000th episode and he was cracking me up there, too).

No soap fatigue for me. I loved the "Dirty Sexy Money" premiere (even recognized three soap actors from soaps I watch/ed), love DH and will probably love "Pushing Daisies," too, even if it's not soapy. I'm like ABC's ideal viewer or something.

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd give DH one last chance since Nathan Fillion would be on it. My heart remains true, forever and ever, to Captain Tightpants. Hell, I even loved him on Buffy. But man is that show dull. DULL. And the narration makes my teeth itch. As does Teri Hatcher's cringe-worthy attempts at comic acting (I almost weep when I think how much better it would be if Mary Louise Parker were in that role, but then we wouldn't have the sublime Weeds). Yes, Bree rocks it, but that's about it. Still, as someone said, yay for Nathan Fillion for snagging a part on this very popular show.

Anonymous said...

I find I enjoy Brothers & Sisters more than I expected. Besides playing the game of guessing the 'thirtysomething' alums, I end up wanting to see what happens to each character. Berlanti has a knack for triggering emotional investment in the characters and a slightly unusual take on his storylines.

I felt the same way about 'Everwood', always enjoyed it and found myself coming back to it to catch up on the Doc, Ephram and the not always tidy storylines. And I guess to catch the 'Everwood' alums, as well.

Hmmm, maybe I have a hard time letting go...