Tag Archives: A Gifted Man

Fall 2011 New TV Show Predictions Reviewed, Part 2

26 Dec

A couple of months ago, I made predictions about how long new shows on CBS, NBC and The CW would last.  As all the shows have aired for a few weeks, it’s time for an evaluation of my predictions, although for some shows, the final word is not in yet.  Such an evaluation follows:

CBS

2 Broke Girls

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up with high likelihood of renewal.  I knew it was likely to get renewed, but I still tried to vote with my heart by hoping it at least wouldn’t last multiple seasons.  Now, we could be looking at the next Two and a Half Men (shivers).

How To Be A Gentleman

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled.  Fourth on my top five easiest cancellation decisions.  Sad, because there’s a few people I like in the show, but not really sad.

Person of Interest

Predicted:  Renewal

What happened:  Picked up for a full season, likely to be renewed.  I was worried when the show didn’t start as strong as expected, but it would be a surprise, albeit not a huge one, at this point if the show wasn’t brought back.

A Gifted Man

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up for three more episodes, totally 16, leaning towards cancelled, but undecided.  Probably my best 13+ pick of the year, it meets all the middle of the road commercially and critically criteria to need an extended look but ultimately be cancelled.

Unforgettable

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up for a full season.  Along with Terra Nova, the most borderline of the borderline.  No idea which way it will go, may come down to the last minute.

NBC

Up All Night

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up for a full season, still up in the air for next year.  Neither a huge success nor a bust, on ratings-strapped NBC, executives are looking to grab on to anything with a chance of success (though not Community, unfortunately).  It’s moving to Thursday, and how it fairs there will determine its fate.  I’d lean towards renewal though.

Free Agents

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled.  Number five in my most obvious cancellations of the year.  There wasn’t much press, and though this was likely the best of the comedies cancelled quickly this year, that’s not saying a whole lot.

The Playboy Club

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled.  I’m out of my five obvious cancellation choices, but this would be number six if I had one.  It never really had a chance and it shouldn’t have.

Whitney

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up for a full season, awaiting ratings on a new night.  It will switch time periods with Up All Night, making much more sense for both shows.  It never belonged on Thursday night, and hopefully will be put to bed by the end of the year, but it could go either way.

Prime Suspect

Predicted:  Renewal

What happened:  Probably cancelled, but not officially yet.  I was just straight out wrong about this one.  It got generally well reviewed and with NBC as ailing as it is, I thought even with middling ratings, they’d keep it around.

Grimm

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up for a full season and leaning toward a renewal.  I went back and forth on this show as more news and previews emerged and I’m still not sure how I feel.  I think it will probably get renewed, but it’s not over yet.

CW

 

Ringer

Predicted:  Renewal

What Happened:  Picked up for full season, likely to be renewed, but not assured yet by any means.  It doesn’t take too much for the WB to renew, so I think Ringer will be in.

The Secret Circle

Predicted:  Renewal

What Happened:  Picked up for a full season and seems most likely of all the WB shows to merit a renewal.  I felt good about this choice partnered up with successful The Vampire Diaries and this just confirms it.

Hart of Dixie

Predicted:  13+

What Happened:  Picked up for a full season.  It’s likely to be renwed, though less likely right now than Ringer and definitely less likely than The Secret Circle.  Still, I feel good about my prediction even if it comes out wrong.

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The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Julie Benz

30 Nov

(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)

Not yet 40, Benz has already compiled an impressive career on television.  Her first role was in brief two season show Hi Honey, I’m Home! in 1991, whose first season aired during ABC’s TGIF block, and which had a concept far more interesting than most failed sitcoms.  The sitcom was about a family composed of fifties TV archetypal sitcom characters rescued from cancelled shows, who are now living in the real world.  Benz played popular daughter character Babs Nielsen and was the only actor from the show to experience any significant later success.  Next, Benz guest starred in a Married with Children episode as a girl who strangely wanted to lose her virginity to Bud.  In the mid-90s she participated in a number of television movies, including Hearts Adrift, Crosstown Traffic, Empire, The Barefoot Executive (as “Sexy Woman”), Veronica’s Video, and A Walton Easter.  She appeared in episodes of Hang Time, High Tide, Step by Step, Boy Meets World, Diagnosis Murder, The Single Guy, Sliders, The Big Easy, and Fame L.A.

She had a recurring role in the short-lived Ask Harriet, about a male sports journalist who pretends to be a woman in order to write an advice column (previously mentioned in the Willie Garson column). Around this time, in 1997, she also got one of her biggest roles as Darla, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Vampire Darla was intended to be a single episode character, but her role was expanded greatly.  Darla was one of the primary antagonists of the first season, as the main henchman to The Master, and died in the seventh episode, when it was revealed that she had a long-term relationship as partner in crime and lover as well as maker of Angel.  She rose from the dead in the last episode of the first season of Angel Season 1 as a human as part of evil law firm Wolfram and Hart’s plan to turn Angel evil again.  The plan didn’t work, but they turn Darla back into a vampire, and she and Angel fight before she eventually becomes pregnant with Angel’s baby, and kills herself, leaving the baby alive.  Over the course of her role as Darla, she appeared in TV movies Good Guys/Bad Guys, Satan’s School for Girls (another sign TV movies have the best names), and The Long Shot and in episodes of The King of Queens, Conrad Bloom, Glory Days and She Spies and in TV miniseries Taken.

Benz was a recurring character in the first season of Roswell as FBI agent Kathleen Topolski and she was a main cast member in one season CBS show Payne, starring John Larroquette and based on Fawlty Towers, moved to California.  She continued her TV work in the mid-00s, with TV movies Lackawanna Blues, Locusts: The 8th Plague, Circle of Friends, Held Hostage, and Uncorked.  She was in episodes of NCIS, Oliver Beene, Supernatural, CSI:Miami, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Law & Order:  In 2006, she got her biggest role to date as Rita Bennett in Dexter.

DEXTER SPOILERS BEGIN

Rita is serial killer killer Dexter Morgan’s boyfriend at the beginning of Dexter.  He feels damaged and thinks she is a good match for his psychological baggage because she suffered serious emotional trauma from sexual and physical abuse from her ex-husband Paul.  Paul returns and attempts to reassert his place in her life but Dexter frames him and has him sent back to prison.  Eventually the relationship between Dexter and Rita becomes more serious as she is able to get over some of her issues, and they get married and have a child, Harrison.  Shockingly, in the fourth season finale, Rita is murdered by the trinity killer.

DEXTER SPOILERS END

In 2010, Benz had a recurring role in five episodes of Desperate Housewives.  She plays Robin Gallagher, a former stripper, who wants to be a teacher.  She initially stays with Susan and Mike but moves in with Dana Delany’s Katherine Mayfair.  Later, it is revealed that she is a lesbian, and she and Mayfair begin an affair, eventually leaving Wisteria Lane together.  In 2010, she starred in ABC’s No Ordinary Family, about a family who gains super powers after being involved in a plane crash.  Benz, married to Michael Chiklis, is the mother of the family and gains the power of super speed.  Though heavily promoted, the series was cancelled after one season.  She was in an episode of Royal Pains in 2011 and can now be seen as a main cast member in CBS’s A Gifted Man, starring Patrick Wilson. Wilson is a talented but selfish surgeon who now interacts with the ghost of his ex-wife.  Benz plays his sister, a single mother who has trouble taking care of her unruly teenage son.  She’ll also be appearing in TNT TV movie Ricochet this fall based on a novel by Sandra Brown.

Fall 2011 Review: A Gifted Man

1 Oct

Patrick Wilson is a renowned neurosurgeon in New York, operating on the richest and most exclusive clients (billionaires, world class tennis players) and basically being the best damn doctor he can be.  Unfortunately, he’s kind of a jerk, focusing only on his work, forgetting his assistant’s birthday (played by Margo Martindale who was wonderful as Dixie mafia leader Ma Bennett in Justified; she’s slightly less evil here), or being rude to his sister.  All of a sudden, during one day of his cold, nearly emotionless life, he appears to run into his ex-wife, who he hasn’t seen in years.  They get dinner and chat at his apartment, and he mentions to his sister that he saw her.  Later, he finds out she died three weeks ago in a car crash.  She visits him several times during the episode, in ghost form, and convinces him to help out the free medical clinic she left behind, by putting her password into the computer there, and to help out of the clients at the clinic in need, even though it takes time away from the VIP clients he normally services.

Wilson plays a privileged middle aged dick-ish guy as well as anyone (see:  Little Children) and I actually find myself liking him more than I’m supposed to.  Sure, he was kind of a jerk, but he was really more of an insanely career driven guy than anything else.  I’m actually not sure whether I’m supposed to like him more or less, but it’s probably better to like him more if I’m going to watch again.  The main hook of the show is that his dead wife’s ghost will try to make him a better man, which sounds utterly cheesy but didn’t play out as sappy as it could have.

This series faces the same issue I talked about in my review of the Secret Circle, or in many supernatural shows set in the real world – the how-long-should-it-take-before-I-believe-something-that-seems-insane syndrome as Wilson struggles with the existence of the ghost of his wife.  He has himself checked for a tumor with his MRI machine but by the end of the first episode it seems he’ll more or less have to get used to the existence of ghosts.  He visits some sort of spirit healer played by Pablo Schreiber, best known as The Wire’s Nick Sobotka, to attempt to remove the spirit, but bails out at the last minute when the ghost convinces him not to.

I watched this on back to back nights with Person of Interest, both on CBS, so it’s hard not to attempt to make a comparison.  Both shows were in a way the opposite of what I thought they’d be.  Person of Interest I thought would be a sort of sci-fi serial, and it seems to be more of a week by week procedural.  A Gifted Man, I thought, and I’m not sure I have a great reason for this, would be at least mostly procedural, and after one episode, it’s not really clear that that’s the case.  I still think there’s likely to be episode to episode plots, but the most important aspect of the show with Wilson and his wife’s ghost and him growing as a person and so forth has to be serial.

If I bashed the fake New York-ness of 2 Broke Girls, I should compliment shows set in New York that are clearly filmed in New York.  A Gifted Man doesn’t let you forget it, showing at least twice Wilson jogging by the East River.  Good for A Gifted Man.  It may be occasionally gratuitous but I’m happy to reward shows actually filming in New York by tolerating their showing it off.

Will I watch it again?  Probably not, but it was better than I thought it would be.  It’s a very respectable show, and I think has the potential to be more interesting than it sounds like it would be from its description.  That said, it’s not particularly up my alley just from the description alone, and it wasn’t quite good enough in any one way to make me really feel any need to see another episode.  I’m vaguely curious to check out what the show looks like if it’s still around for my midseason review.

Fall 2011 Preview and Predictions: CBS

15 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)

We’ll tackle CBS next, the ratings leaders behind their procedural powerhouses CSI and NCIS and unfortunate comedy stars Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.  All their new shows start next week except for How to Be A Gentleman, which starts the week after.

2 Broke Girls – 9/19

No single preview has offended me more personally than that for 2 Broke Girls, in which Kat Dennings’s character makes a reference to Coldplay as a hipster band, amongst other things.  What Big Bang Theory does for nerds, it looks like 2 Broke Girls will do for hipsters.  Basically, it’s a show written to make fun of hipsters by people who don’t know what hipsters are, or it so it appears from the preview.  On top of that, I’ve disliked Kat Dennings since I saw Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, one of the worst movies I’ve seen in the last five years.

Verdict.  13+ – For some reason people claim to be liking this, and because it’s on CBS, every show might be renewed because people over the age of 50 just leave the TV on CBS and throw away their remotes, but boy I just can’t pick a show that looks this terrible to succeed in good conscience

How to Be a Gentlemen – 9/29

Ah!  Finally, a show that just looks really and truly terrible and has absolutely no reason to support it.  Wait – it actually has cast members who I kind of like?  David Hornsby, better known to me as Rickety Cricket from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia as the uptight Felix Unger roommate, and Kevin Dillon, or Johnny Drama from Entourage, as the crazy, slobbish, Oscar Madison roommate, along with Dave Foley, Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe from 24) and Rhys Darby (Murray from Flight of the Conchords).  Cricket and Johnny Drama are roommates who are perfectly mismatched, have love-hate relationship, teach a little bit to each other, blah blah blah.

Verdict:  12- Boy, I like that cast, but boy that show sounds and looks terrible.

Person of Interest – 9/22

One of the more interesting sounding series of the new season, Person of Interest is something like Batman meets Minority Report.  Michael Emerson, otherwise known as the uber-creepy Ben Linus from Lost, is a reclusive billionaire who has developed a program which can predict information about violent crimes in the future, but with limited detail.  Linus hires an ex-CIA agent thought to be dead to do the legwork on stopping these crimes that his program picks up on.  Add all this to the fact it’s created by Jonathan Nolan, Chris’s younger brother, who co-wrote the screenplays to The Prestige and The Dark Knight and it sounds pretty promising.

Verdict:  Renewal – CBS is moving ratings giant CSI to get Person of Interest some viewers – if that’s not a sign of big-time network backing, then I don’t know what is.  On top of that, it apparently got legendary approval ratings for its pilot.

A Gifted Man – 9/23

Patrick Wilson is quite literally a man constantly bringing gifts to small children.  No, if only.  This is actually far more insane. Wilsonis a materialistic, selfish, scrooge-ish but extraordinarily talented surgeon working and dabbling amongst the upper crust exclusively.  That is, until his dead wife comes back in ghost form and starts trying to make him a better person, having him run the free clinic that she apparently ran before they died (how did they get along when they were both alive with such disparate interests?).  Oh, and Julie Benz (Rita from Dexter) plays his sister.

Verdict:  13+ – Jonathan Demme directed the pilot, which is probably good news, but this seems like it could get awful predictable awful fast.

Unforgettable – 9/20

Gimmicky procedurals are right in CBS’s wheelhouse, and Unforgettable fits right in with The Mentalist.  Unforgettable stars Poppy Montgomery as a woman with a rare medical condition, which means that she quite literally can not forget anything.  A former detective before the show begins, her former boyfriend and ex-partner (the same person) ask her to come back to help solve cases using her rare ability.  On top of that, we’ve got a long-term plot based on the only thing Miss Unforgettable can not remember:  The mysterious circumstances behind the murder of her sister!  Bum bum bum!

Verdict:  13+ – I’m sure it won’t be bad, but I have a hard time believing it will be that good either.  It just sounds so unbelievably generic.  On CBS, it’ll get viewers, but CBS expects more too, and one of these dramas has to not deliver