Archive | 10:30 pm

Fall 2011 TV Review: Ringer

14 Sep

The first episode of Ringer was  a set up episode .  First we learn that Bridget Kelly is a small time criminal and drug addict who has agreed to testify against a big mob honcho in exchange for having the charges against her dropped.  She’s got a sponsor, and a cop, Nestor Carbonell who’s in charge of making sure she gets to court and protecting her from the mob.  Afraid of repercussions from the gangsters, she bails for New York where her identical twin sister Siobhan resides.  The twins haven’t seen each other in six years.

Siobhan appears glad to see her sister and the two bond and try to make up for lost time.  On a boat trip with just the two of them though (note: who else was enjoying watching how they kept fooling around with the camera angles to best shoot Gellar as both characters on the boat) Siobhan mysteriously disappears, and Bridget makes the split second decision to take Siobhan’s life for her own.  What’s the point of being twins if you can’t pass for the other for identity theft purposes anyway?

We the viewer and Bridget then go on to quickly learn that Siobhan’s life is not as perfect and simple as it seems.  Siobahn’s (but now Bridget) is married to Andrew, a businessmen, but sleeping with Henry, her best friend Gemma’s husband.  Gemma suspects someone is cheating, but hasn’t figured out that it’s Siobhan yet.  We also find out that Siobhan is pregnant, with either Andrew or Henry’s baby, but of course Bridget is not, a ticking time bomb of a secret bound to come out into the open eventually.

Oh, and at the end Bridget is attacked, pretending to be Siobhan, tries to convince the attacker that he has the wrong twin, shoots and kills the attacker after a brawl, and then finds out the attacker was going for Siobhan after all.  At the very end of the episode right after the fight we find out that Siobhan is alive and well in Paris and this is all part of some grand plan that we’re not privy to yet, but that something’s gone wrong on Siobhan’s end (maybe the attacker was supposed to kill Bridget as Siobhan?).

All and all, it was a decent start.  It’s hard to ask for too much out of these long convoluted mystery shows in just one episode, aside from a mood and some parameters, and I’m not sure we really have parameters at this point, but we definitely get some serious basic plot.  All we really know in the big picture is that both Bridget and Siobhan seem to have their share of problems.  It’s undoubtedly convoluted, but with no supernatural elements which I’m certainly thankful for.  Gellar is great, and I still think the premise is as intriguing as it was before I watched, which is a good thing.  I’m not yet sure what the percentage will be of soapy drama versus action/intrigue and I’m also not sure what percentage I’d prefer yet but I suppose it’ll take a couple episodes to figure out which direction it goes in and if that direction works.

Will I watch it again?  Yes – it’s sort of cheating to earn another episode on the strength of still not really knowing what’s going on, but it’s also unfair to ask everything to be explained in one episode.  It didn’t blow me away by any means, but I’m interested enough to at least continue a little further down the road.

Fall 2011 Preview and Prediction: NBC

14 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

NBC is the only other network (aside from the CW) debuting shows this week so we’ll take them on second.  Up All Night and Free Agents start tonight, everything else in coming weeks.

Up All Night – 9/14

Failed sitcom all-stars Will Arnett (Running Wilde) and Christina Applegate (Samantha Who, though I’m being harsh since it somehow ran two seasons, as did the late ‘90s Jesse) unite as a couple having possibly hilarious difficulties managing their work and professional lives.  Maya Rudolph and Nick Cannon co-star.  Going for it is a modicum of positive buzz and the claim that Will Arnett has managed to tone down his Will Arnett character which he perfected in Arrested Development and honed as a recurring guest star in 30 Rock.  Going against is it is the fact that I still don’t have a ton of confidence in Arnett as a leading man and the previews didn’t look particularly funny.

Verdict:  13+ – they’re backing it too hard for anything less – it honestly has a good shot at renewal, and if it’s actually hilarious I’ll instantly want to change my opinion, but I’m maybe unfairly having trouble seeing it succeed

Free Agents – 9/14

Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn star as public relations employees who end up in bed together and struggle to maintain professionalism at the work place.  It’s based on a British show of the same name, and carries over Anthony Head as the cocky boss character, who has apparently taken the “Stewart” out of his name since Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It also features Apatow-movie that guy and former The State member Joe Lo Truglio as a security guard.  Some people like it so far, but it’s going to need more than that to survive on what might be the wrong network for it.

Verdict:  12- – outside of The Office, I feel anecdotally at least that these British adaptations tend to struggle (Worst Week, Coupling, Life on Mars) and aside from me wanting to see Giles from Buffy back on TV, something’s got to go, and I don’t feel like the network has too much riding on this one

The Playboy Club – 9/19

One of two series set in the early ‘60s, inspired by the successful use of that time period in Mad Men, The Playboy Club seems the less interesting of the two (Pan Am on ABC being the other).  Starring Amber Heard as a new playboy bunny who enters the family, it promises as much sexploitation as you can get on network television.  That seems like about it, though.

Verdict: 12- – I’m probably being harsh, there’s enough network support to get it through midseason probably, but I just don’t have a lot of hope for it – if a series has to move on from the early ‘60s, I’m putting my money on Pan-Am

Whitney – 9/22

No series has gotten as much advertising push behind it for NBC, and no series has made a worse impression in my mind due to the constant terrible advertising.  From Whitney’s rant about how stupid we men are to wear jerseys even though we’re not on the field, we can relate to just how much Whitney doesn’t understand men, but in a comical and observational way.  Maybe I’m being harsh, but it looks bad and the buzz doesn’t sound a whole lot better.

Verdict:  13+ – Far too much press for it to fade away after only a couple of episodes, it looks to me like this year’s Outsourced – NBC will really, really try to make it work, but it just won’t – it’s a bad fit for the Thursday night block

Prime Suspect – 9/22

Mario Bello stars in this police procedural also at least loosely based on a British show of the same name which starred Helen Mirren.  I don’t really see the hook other than it’s a female cop in a bureau dominated by men and she’s full of attitude and vigor and whatnot.  Honestly, it looks pretty generic to me, but I’ve read a surprising amount of positive press and I really like Maria Bello, so I’m going to grant it some leeway, not every show need be innovative to be good.

Verdict:  Renewal – something on NBC has to get renewed before Smash comes around in February, and hey, police procedurals seem to be working out pretty well for CBS

Grimm – 10/21

As The Playboy Club is one of two new series set in the early ‘60s, Grimm is one of two new dramas dealing with fairly tales (Once Upon A Time on ABC the other).  The main character is an Oregon homicide detective who learns that he is descended from a long line of “Grimms” or hunters whose mission is to keep humanity safe from supernatural fairy tale baddies which came through stories to inhabit our world.  Wikipedia describes it as a “fantasy/mystery/crime drama.”

Verdict:  13+ – I really wanted to use the line that it’s chances for survival are Grimm, but this is probably the NBC show I have the least basis for taking a stab at, I have absolutely no idea what to expect, which leads me take the easy way out and guess in the middle

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Mark Sheppard

14 Sep

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Mark Sheppard has quickly and sometimes quietly carved out a career as a regular television antagonist, slowly appearing in more recurring roles as the years go on.  Sheppard’s first roles came in a couple of episodes of Silk Stalkings, an early ‘90s crime drama, in 1992 and 1993.  He then appeared in first season episode “Fire” of the X-Files as Cecil L’ively, a man with pyrokinetic abilities.  The episode is regarded as so-so, but his performance is generally praised.  He then showed up in an episode of M.A.N.T.I.S. in 1995.  His next television appearances didn’t come until he appeared in TV movie Soldier of Fortune, Inc., and then in the ensuing television series of the same name in which he reprised the same role, both in 1997.  He played Staff Segeant Christopher “C.J.” Yates, whose expertise were in demolitions and electronic surveillance.

In the last couple of years of the decade, he made single appearances in Sliders, Martial Law, and The Practice, and then in 2000, he showed up in a Star Trek: Voyager and a JAG.  He showed up in Charmed in 2002 and then in two episodes of Firefly as Badger, an unscrupulous black market businessman who commissions the crew for a mission.  He is not well liked, but is just trustworthy enough to do business with.  In 2004 and 2005, he appeared in episodes of Las Vegas, CSI: NY and Monk and then as a recurring villain in the fifth season of 24.  He played Ivan Erwich, a member of the Russian separatist movement at the heart of that season’s plot, attempting to use deadly Sentox gas first against Russians, but then against Americans.  He was eventually killed by the leader of the movement for wasting a canister of the gas and trusting some untrustworthy Americans intelligence men.  At about the same time he played Patricia Arquette’s nemesis, Dr. Charles Walker, a psychotic killer from the 19th century on Medium.

In 2007, he appeared in three episodes of the short-lived Bionic Woman remake, as well as episodes of Shark, In Plain Sight, and NCIS.  During the same period, he was on the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica as canny and self-righteous lawyer Romo Lampkin.  Lampkin critically defends Gaius Baltar and helps Starbuck out during the great mutiny of the fourth season.  He was in a Burn Notice and three episodes of Dollhouse as well as the first episode of White Collar, where he played the antagonist, a forger.  He was in four episodes of Warehouse 13 and two of Chuck as the head, or Director, of The Ring, an evil spy organization which is the key antagonist of season 3.

He currently appears in a recurring role on Leverage as Timothy Hutton’s character, Nathan Ford’s main rival, Jim Sterling, who replaced Ford at the insurance firm where Ford used to work, and used his work with Ford’s team to win a job with INTERPOL.  He also currently appears as recurring character Crowley in Supernatural, a, um, Crossroads demon (I don’t know it is either) who becomes at one point King of Hell.  In addition to these, he had the rare treat of playing the same character as his father in Dr. Who; he played the younger Captain Everett Delawre III, while his father, William Morgan Sheppard, played the older version.