Tag Archives: CW

Fall 2012 Review: Beauty and the Beast

28 Nov

Beauty and the Beast is the CW’s loose revival of the 1987 series of the same name starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman.  I know little beyond the basic premise of the original series, so we’ll ignore it from now on except to note how unlikely of a revival it is, and that Hamilton and Perlman actually went on to have really solid careers, so kudos to them.

Kristin Kreuk known for her performances as Lana Lang in CW’s Smallville (CW takes care of its own) and as Street Fighter icon Chun-Li (in, well, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li) plays Catherine Chandler.  In the opening scene, set in 2003, Chandler, outside the bar where she works, witnesses her mom’s murder at the hands of a couple of mysterious men who try to kill her too until she’s saved by a man-beast. Everyone else (police, relative, friends) thinks she’s made up the man-beast when she describes him after the fact.

In the current day, as the sounds of M83’s Midnight City blare, Chandler is a New York City homicide detective with a partner with a super thick Noo Yawk accent.  Being a detective is clearly her life.  We know this because, possibly due to her workaholic tendencies, her douchebag dude leaves her for another woman in the first scene (we know he’s a douche because he broke up with her by text, and because the Noo Yawk partner calls him a douche at least twice).  Chandler and her partner are investigating the death of a hip NYC fashion editor on the rise, and discover DNA on her body which comes from a dead former member of the military.  Their investigation into him takes them to a seemingly abandoned warehouse where a biochem professor who was an old roommate of the dead military man Vincent Keller resides.  They are suspicious but find nothing.

Later, Chandler finds further reason to check back at the warehouse, and runs into the dead man, realizing that he’s the very same beast-person who saved her when her mom was killed (I actually don’t remember when she realizes this – she has three or four heart to hearts with him.  Sometime before the end of the episode though).  She also finds out that he’s some sort of man-beast hybrid who was a product of some super duper secret government military experiments.  He pleads with her to keep his not being dead a secret, and she complies, convinced that he tried to save the girl rather than kill her.

She tries to investigate her mother’s death further and ends up meeting an FBI agent who worked on the case in a subway station to pick his brain for more info.  In an insane scene, he ends up attacking her and she defends herself against him and two other agents, because there’s apparently NO OTHER PEOPLE ON THE SUBWAY PLATFORM.  Also, meeting on the subway platform would be the worst place ever to meet because you’d have no cell service if you couldn’t find each other.  Anyway, she knocks down the one guy but another throws her on the tracks, where she’s saved by Keller, who does a bunch of shadowy manimal killing.

Nobody seems to take any more time to talk about how she was mysteriously attacked by an FBI agent and two others on the NYC Subway track  and almost run over by a train, even though this seems like it would be a huge deal, but her partner does remark that she didn’t know Chandler took the F train, even though the station was clearly the 1-2-3 Canal Street station – Continuity, people!

Anyway, blah, blah, blah, they solve the procedural murder, and while Keller originally tries to get her to stop looking into stuff because of secret conspiracy danger, eventually they realize they just may need each other’s help after all.

Going forward, presumably, it’s part cop procedural, with Chandler being assisted by her partner, fellow cops, and Keller to solve a murder of the week while also steadily investigating the shadowy government conspiracies that resulted in Keller’s transformation and the murder of Chandler’s mother.

I didn’t really enjoy the show.  For the concept to be successful, the show should have been a lot more fun to watch.  I have no problem with any particular actor, but the show just seemed relatively lifeless.  Arrow, the other new CW show, could have easily been similar in character to Beauty and the Beast; both shows heavily feature conspiracies, and both have types of masked superheros in Green Arrow and the Beast.  However, I enjoyed Arrow much more; Beauty and the Beast was overly serious and heavy and not very rewarding.  The characters didn’t seem particularly interesting and the Beast was a little bit too brooding initially for my taste.  I was much more interested in finding out what Green Arrow’s mom was up to after finishing that pilot than the conspiracy theory in Beauty and the Beast, and the murder of the week could have been taken out of any procedural on TV.

I could watch it again; it was far more mundane and generic than unbearable, but I have no particularly reason to.  The only aspect that seems potentially interesting (the characters and writing didn’t stand out) is a nice juicy complex conspiracy plot, but there’s probably a fairly low possibility of that anyway.

Will I watch it again?  Nope.  It wasn’t awful, but I think that’s enough for me to say.  It met the watchable standard, but not really anything else above that threshold.

Fall 2012 Review: Emily Owens, M.D.

19 Nov

Most shows, at least what you get from the pilot episode (Last Resort aside), can be summed up pretty quickly.  Emily Owens, M.D. can be summed up even quicker than that.

Being a young doctor right out of med school is just like being in high school.

I’ll say more, but there you have it.  You could read that line and have a pretty good idea what the show is about.

Here’s another way that I think is fairly good to sum it up.  It’s like Scrubs without the jokes.  It actually has a pretty similar sensibility to the with the camaraderie between doctors and the high school drama matched up with the seriousness of illness and death the doctors deal with every day.  There’s even a speech given to Emily by another character about which doctors represent which high school cliques, and I really felt like I was watching Scrubs.

The main character is unsurprisingly Emily Owens (played by Mamie Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep, and yes, you can totally see it), a high school nerd/loser/choose your adjective here who thought that her life would turn around and she’d become who she always thought she would be and bloom post-high school, only to find out, yes, that doctoring is just like high school.  This isn’t just me saying it by the way; multiple characters express this to her within the first few minutes of the show.

She’s spending her first year with a motley crew of colleagues including her med school crush, her old high school nemesis whose appearance unnerves her, and a friendly lesbian who turns out to be the big boss’s daughter.  Owens spazzes constantly (spellcheck does not pick up spazz, but screw that) making lots of little, and one or two big, mistakes along the way, pissing off the doctor she came to this hospital to work under, but also making a couple of friends and partly redeeming herself along the way.  All in her first day too, which the entire episode takes place during; I doubt that every day as a doctor can be quite this meaningful and frantic, but what do I know.

The boldest move, for both her and the show, in my opinion, which I appreciated the most, and will probably be the only thing I really remember from the show, is that she basically comes out and confesses her love for her crush (yes, we’re using crush; this is high school) right in the first episode, and gets rejected in the absolutely nicest way possible making it incredibly awkward for both her and the guy, which makes you feel terrible for both parties (worse for her, but still).  As an awkward person, I did appreciate her completely believable amount of awkwardness, which seemed true to life rather than person-who-clearly-doesn’t-live-in-society level.

Other than that, well, there was nothing memorable about it.  Nothing made my irritated or angry or offended or any of that bad stuff.  There just wasn’t really much good stuff.  It was a show, and well, if you liked Scrubs without the jokes, maybe you’ll like it (actually it was still less self-righteous and lesson teaching than those Scrubs monologues – boy did I hate those).  You’ll probably forget about it within a couple of days of watching it though, like I’m predicting I will.

Will I watch it again?  No, it wasn’t execrable by any measure, but it was forgettable, and for getting lost in a crowded fall schedule, that’s almost as bad.

Fall 2012 Review: Arrow

15 Nov

The titular Arrow is DC superhero Green Arrow, on whom the show is based, although I don’t know exactly how close.  My knowledge of Green Arrow is more or less limited to his name, Oliver Queen, his city, Star City, his sidekick, Speedy, and the fact that he and Green Lantern had a well-known comic in the ‘70s where he was liberal and Lantern was conservative.  I probably know a little more if I rack my brain, but I decided to leave it at that for this viewing and review, and save any further Green Arrow research for after.  So I’m not sure how accurate this show is, and can’t be angered/buoyed by changes made/not made for better or worse.

Oliver Queen has just been rescued, when we come in, from an island where he spent five years after a shipwreck in which he was the only survivor.  A super rich twenty-something playboy beforehand, Oliver changed profoundly on the island (seems plausible enough that five years on an island alone could do that), but he’s trying to convince many people he hasn’t, especially not telling them about his city-rescuing alter ego, a dude in a green hood with mad archery and not-getting-killed-by-guys-with-guns skills (which he gained on the island somehow?  I’m willing to suspend disbelief for a comic show).  He was apparently inspired by his dad (played by evil Homeland vice president Jamey Sheridan), who was on the boat too, and did everything he could to ensure that Oliver lived, pushing him to make up for all the bad that the family company had done after he was rescued, and somehow transmitting a very Revenge-like list of villains that have something come to them.

He reconnects with the people in his life, introducing them to us as they get reintroduced to him.  There’s his mom, who is now married to a former partner of his dad’s (if this was Castaway, she’d be Helen Hunt, and the new husband Benjamin Bratt).  There’s his sister, nicknamed Speedy (hint, hint?), who may have developed a drug problem in Oliver’s absence.  There’s his best friend, Tommy, who wants to rush Oliver right back to his playboying ways, throwing a big party to celebrate his return.  And finally, there’s his ex-griflriend, Laurel, now a do-gooder lawyer fighting for legal aid, whose sister died in the shipwreck, where Oliver was cheating with her, on Laurel.  Oh, and she’s now kind of seeing best friend Tommy.  Awkward.

We know he’s out to get all the people on his list, but no one else knows yet, and he shows his island-gained bow and arrow abilities in a couple of nice action scenes, taking out a shady corrupt businessman from the list and his legion of guards.  Oh, and his mom apparently was behind a kidnapping of him, which he escaped from towards the beginning of the episode.  So that’s about something.

I know more about comics that most people, but less than anyone who has ever seriously read comics, so as I said, I’m not judging this with the comic in mind.  I thought there was a chance that I would like it based on the little I knew and assumptions I made in my head, and I did enjoy it, which I think that’s more of an achievement than it seems.  I didn’t think it was great or a cinematic achievement or was blown away by it or plan on immediately telling everyone I know to watch.   I am going to watch the second episode though, and that’s pretty good; only a few series get that far every year  (the TV show equivalent of getting my Top Chef jacket and making the main competition – sorry, just watched first episode of new Top Chef season).

I enjoyed the set up and I think there’s promise in exploring the mysteries behind the shipwreck, his history, and what his mom is out to get, and I liked the characters and actions scenes enough to feel like I wanted to watch another episode after this first one finished.  There’s not much to the characters right yet, other than the broad strokes the episode generated – reformed playboy, debaucherous best friend, legal aid maturing ex, troublesome sister, but I think what kept me interested most was that it seemed to hit the right feel between serious and light and feeling comic book-y, where broad strokes, at least to begin with, are part of the natural order.

Random note:  The three things we see Tommy refreshing Oliver on which happened during his five years on the island –  Super Bowl winners, Black president, Lost ending (which, rightly, he doesn’t understand).

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, I think I will.  It’s not an instant must-watch by any means but it’s certainly at least on the level of Revolution which I gave a few more episodes, and I’ll at least give it two or three more and see if I stay intrigued or fall away.

Fall 2012 Preview and Predictions: The CW

24 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)

It’s easy to forget that the CW still exists.  It does, though, and it, like last year, has three new fall shows, and like last year I doubt more than one will survive.  Let’s see, though.

Emily Owens, M.D. – 10/16

Owens is a first-year intern at some hospital in Denver where she realizes that both her medical school crush and her rival from high school both work. It’s like high school all over again, but in a hospital, which sounds about perfect for the CW. They really, really play up the just-like-high-school angle on the CW about page, and Owens looks pretty frazzled in the promotional poster (note: wikipedia has been sadly lacking in information about CW’s new shows so I’ve been spending more time than usual on cw.com).  Also noteworthy, series star Mamie Gummer is the daughter of Meryl Streep.

Verdict:  Renewal – the most generic sounding of the three CW shows, but, first of all, it sounds right up CW’s alley, and second of all, it’s most analogous to the CW show that eventually made the cut last year, Hart of Dixie.  In a complicated and mostly unnecessary analogy, Emily Owens is equivalent to Hart of Dixie, a show about a doctor which is mostly good spirited and has personal drama, Arrow is Secret Circle (this is the worst comparison), a show about people with abilities and possible conspiracies involves those people’s parents, and Beauty and the Beast is Ringer, a more hard-boiled action thriller.  Anyway, the entire analogy only serves the minor point of explaining why I’m choosing Emily Owens to be renewed over the other two CW shows.

Arrow – 10/10

Having raked in cash from ten seasons of Smallville, the CW tries to duplicate that success with a show about a less popular member of the Justice League, Green Arrow. Green Arrow is a bow and arrow slinging hero who in this incarnation is far more analogous to Batman than  Superman. He’s a billionaire playboy (CW’s words) who disappeared at sea for five years, and after finally returning has developed his Green Arrow alias, a vigilante persona, while being chased by a policeman.  Also, there may be sinister motives behind is disappearance at sea.

Verdict:  14+  It’s a superhero show, and superheroes are still pretty in, so it has that going for it.  It doesn’t look all that good though, and Green Arrow, while I’m personally a fan, is definitely a couple of rungs below Superman and Batman as far as comic book heroes go.    CW, since the ratings are even lower than NBC, is mostly a crapshoot, but I’ll say they give it the season and then give it the boot.

Beauty and the Beast – 10/11

An extremely random quasi-remake of the CBS ’80s series of the same name, Beauty and the Beast starts erstwhile Lana Lang from CW series Smallville Kristen Kreuk as, uh, the beauty, Catherine Chandler, a homicide detective (CW’s show page describes her as “smart, no nonsense” and “strong and confident”). When she was a teen, her mom was killed in front of her, and she was only saved by a mysterious human creature, which you may correctly guess, is the titular beast. Chandler has a partner and a boss but becomes unmoored when she discovers that a murderer that they’re tracking is a dude who has been off the official radar for years, presumed dead, and turns out to be what saved her from being murdered. He also turns Hulk-like into a beast sometimes for some reason. By the way, these CW about pages are just a treasure trove of tropes (say that three times fast), for example, describing her boss as “tough but fair” and describing her relationship with the friendly M.E., as “a fun, flirtatious relationship that could easily turn into something deeper – if Cat would let that happen.”  Maybe she will!

Verdict:  14+  I have no fucking idea.  It sounds highly forgettable, which leads me to not pick renewal, but I’m guessing that CW will be slow, like last year to cut bait on its shows, preferring to wait until the end of the season, even when the result is nearly inevitable.  It’s just a guess.

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.

Fall 2011 Review: Hart of Dixie

13 Oct

Unforgettable was exactly what I thought it would be, and so is Hart of Dixie, but as a very different type of show.  I’ll talk about the premise in more detail below, but I can pretty much sum it up like this:  big-city-super-educated-doctor-girl moves into small-hick-southern town, learns that the people there aren’t so bad after all.

That’s basically all I need to get across the main gist of the show.  That said, here’s a little bit of a longer version.  Rachel Bilson portrays Dr. Zoe Hart (yes, let’s spend a second on the literalness of the pun in the title, Saving Grace and others like it have a successor), a high-powered doctor whose had her whole life planned out since she was a kid. She wanted to be like her dad and become a Cardio-thoracic surgeon, working with him in his practice.  She is shocked when she doesn’t get the fellowship she needs because, as she learns, she doesn’t have the people skills needed to be a top doctor.  The person who grants the fellowships tells her to get some practice as a general practitioner, and then come back and reapply.  Meanwhile, she has had a strange outstanding offer from a general practitioner in a small Alabama town, a Harvey Wilkes, to come down to his practice and help out.  She takes him up on the offer, only to find out when she gets there that he died recently, but left his half of his practice to her.  She then has a number of City Slickers moments, meeting the (main) characters of the town and not fitting in everywhere, and she feels alienated.  Her mother comes down begging her to leave, and she is planning on it, until she is forced to help deliver a pregnancy at a wedding, and also finds out that Harvey Wilkes was her true biological father.  She then decides to stay and learn about her biological father and about being a general practitioner and about growing as a person.

Okay, so the simple explanation was probably just as useful as the long one in determining what kind of show it is, but that doesn’t say whether or not it’s good.  Like Unforgettable, I think part of it is just whether the type of show appeals to you, in particular because I think the show was nothing notably good or notably bad.  I liked Rachel Bilson more than I thought I would, and I do think she has the charm and likeability to carry a show, and I enjoyed Scott Porter (Jason Street from Friday Night Lights) speaking with a southern accent.  If you like the actors, and you like a little fluffy drama with some probable light soapiness,  you’ll probably like the show.  It’s not close to can’t miss television though.

Will I watch it again?  No, I won’t.  There just isn’t enough going on.  There’s nothing wrong with it, per se; it’s not bad.  It’s just not that interesting either.  It’s cute and it’s light and I appreciate the draw of shows like that but I already watch a couple that satisfy that sector for me.

Fall 2011 Review: The Secret Circle

17 Sep

There will be some shows this fall season for which I won’t at all know what to expect; The Secret Circle is the exact opposite.  I came in with a very specific set of expectations and the show met them exactly.  The Secret Circle is based on a series of books by LJ Smith, who also wrote the Vampire Diaries series of books, and who moonlights as an NFL tight end.

The pilot episode begins with a teenage girl getting into a mysterious car accident while her mom is killed at her house by someone using what looks to be witch-like powers to set the house on fire.  Cassie, the teenage girl and our protagonist, moves to her grandmother’s house in the town where her mom grew up.  Things get weird right away as her room starts acting strange and the roof looks like stars.  At her first day of school, we meet our cast of kids, all of whom seem to be awaiting Cassie’s arrival eagerly.  We’ve got Diana, the leader, Faye, the trouble maker, Melissa, Faye’s sidekick who seems to only be allowed to speak after Faye, Adam, Diana’s broody boyfriend, and Nick who attempts to look through the window at Cassie undressing and says just about no other words in the first episode except for introducing himself.  There’s our team, ladies and gentlemen.

They’re particularly excited because they know, but Cassie doesn’t, that they’re all witches and six is some sort of magic number for witches, so when Cassie joins their circle, they’ll all get crazy more powerful.  Over the course of the first day, Cassie also meets the second round of characters, the parents, including Faye’s mom, Dawn who is the principal at the local high school, Adam’s dad, Ethan, whose a bit of a melancholic drunkard, and Diana’s father Charles, who if we really look at him and think for a second, turns out to be the man who we saw at the beginning of the episode who was responsible for killing Cassie’s mom!

Cassie meets everyone, and they finally confront her and tell her that she’s a witch and they need to join the circle; they’re all scions of powerful witch families who have been witching it up for generations.  She does the requisite denials (this is crazy! you’re all insane!) , while they try to convince her by telling her all about their family history and how earlier in the episode one of them set fire to her car with magic and with demonstrations of their power.  Adam shows her what she can do with a flying water droplet spell and almost kisses her.  (sidenote: I’ve often wondered exactly how many times I would deny it if someone told me that there were witches, or vampires, or whatever – it’s so frustrating watching characters in denial when we know it’s real, but the first episode would probably just me denying it for an hour).

Anyway, she kind of accepts it by the end, after she uses her power to stop a violent rain storm started by Faye, and we also see some of the evil machinations of the father Charles and the mother Dawn who are clearly covering up some series of events that led to Cassie’s father’s death a generation ago and are planning something likely equally villainous.

That was a little bit of a long description, but I have to say the show was not bad by any means.  The dialogue was clichéd and the characters were certainly archetypes.  This show isn’t breaking any molds by any stretch of the imagination.  The writing is certainly far from standout.  But for what it’s trying to be, it does well.  By the end I was genuinely interested in knowing what the cover up might be that the parents were hiding for all these years.  That might be one of the advantages about basing a show on a successful book series; you already have a blueprint that you know works.  There’ll be plenty of teenage angst undoubtedly and growing up and likely love triangle between Adam and Diana and Cassie, and they’ll look and sound like other shows but if the pilot is a basis, then in a very respectable way.  Also, I’d like to issue a quick shout out for the nice use of The Joy Formidable.

Will I watch the next episode?  Probably not, admittedly. It doesn’t quite stand out enough in any one facet.  But I’m kind of thinking about it, and just that fact means the show is not a total failure.