Tag Archives: Rubicon

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2012 edition: The Outcasts, Part 1

23 Jan

I’m currently out of the country, which is causing me to unfortunately to temporarily fall behind on current television.  What better time, then, to finally issue my slightly belated ranking of TV shows that I watched in 2012.  I last put together a ranking in the summer of 2011, and it will be interesting to see what went up, went down, and stayed the same.  Here are the rules:  to be ranked, the show has to have aired episodes in the 2012 calendar year.  Secondly, I’m not ranking any shows that debuted in Fall 2012 and haven’t finished full seasons, because those shows haven’t put in enough time yet to judge.  Third, I’m trimming the fat from my 2011 rankings; I’m only ranking shows that I’ve seen several of this past year; for most shows that I rank, I’ve seen all of, and for just a couple I’ve seen most of.  So for the most part, I at least like every show on the list, and it’s something of an accomplishment just to make it on.  Fourth, while I’m considering body of work as far as the whole year goes, if a show was much better in fall 2012 than the end of a previous season in the spring, I’ll tend to lean towards accounting for the uptick in performance.  Lastly, primetime shows only; which mainly means no Daily Show or Colbert Report.

With that in mind, we’re almost ready to start, but first we’ll spend a couple posts going over shows that made the last list but didn’t make this one, and why that was the case.  Also, quick apologies to British shows Peep Show and The Thick of It, both of which aired episodes in 2012, but which I’m one season behind on and thus won’t rank; I look forward to catching up with both of them.

Glee

Fuck Glee

2011 ranking:  34

I had already stopped watching this show by the fall of 2011; it’s simply, well, bad.  I know a number of people who watched it regularly at some point and most have at one point or another just decided to quit. It’s closer to Heroes than to even a show like Lost in the ratio of how long it was good before it turned bad. There was a half season in which the show had a coherent plot arc,while  the remainder of the show has been spent trying to reach that again. Flaws include characters which have extremely inconsistent personalities, an extreme reversion to status quo sometimes (like a comic book villain, Jane Lynch can’t win enough to stop the club, but also sticks around to keep almost doing it), plot arcs that just go way over the top, and plenty of the characters that are just well, bad.  Goodbye Glee, I’m glad to see the public has largely stopped caring about you as well.

Modern Family

Three Modern Families

2011 ranking:  33

I gave myself more leeway last rankings in terms of how much I needed to watch a show before ranking it, and though I’ve seen most of Modern Family’s first season, I haven’t watched much after it.  It isn’t so much because I don’t think it’s a good show (though I certainly don’t think it’s a great show) as much as it’s not a show for me; it just isn’t really up my alley.  It does feature an all-time personal pet peeve with little narrations at the end of each half hour summing up the episode and giving it some totally unnecessary and unsubtle overarching theme, but mostly I think it’s still just a small bit old-sitcom-y for me.  I will say I think, from my previous watching, that Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen and their family are far and away the funniest of the three families on the show and I do think there are some genuinely good laughs.  Anyway, I can’t really begrudge anyone for watching it, though I’ve heard it’s gotten worse of late, but I stopped because I realized I just didn’t care enough it to watch, and that’s still how I feel.

Fairly Legal

Fairly Legal

2011 ranking:  32

We’re really in the dregs here.  Honestly, there was absolutely no reason for me to be watching Fairly Legal at any time, except that I had a bit of a possibly ironic, and possibly not ironic obsession with USA programs.  That obsession has subsided and Fairly Legal, the worst of the USA programs that I watched, was pretty quickly dropped.  It’s not awful but it’s pretty generic; charismatic lawyer-turned-mediator uses her natural charm, ability, and determination to solve problems others can’t.  You’ve seen it before.  Just in case I hadn’t stopped watching it by now, USA’s stopped it for me; cancelling it after it’s second season finished airing last summer.  I doubt many will be crying over the loss.

Rubicon

Somebody's Watching You

2011 ranking: 31

Last year’s list reached back into 2010, so it hit upon AMC’s one true failure (we can debate The Killing, but at least it went two seasons),  Rubicon.  It’s a little bit of a shame because Rubicon, unlike say Fairly Legal, had a chance to be a really interesting, good, show.  And then, well, like so many other dramas that start off with promise, it wasn’t.  It tackled a 70s neo-noir feeling in a way I don’t think recent shows have, but while the mood was right, the plots slowly fell apart and the conspiracy may have unraveled a little too far even for a conspiracy show.  I probably would have watched if there was a second season, but part of me was certainly comforted by the fact that it was cancelled and I wouldn’t have to.  I wish it was better, because I think there was something there, but it wasn’t, and it’s rightfully gone.

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The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Michael Gaston

11 Jan

(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)

We love character actors who play rich white guys here at the Zejlko Ivanek Hall of Fame and this week we’ll be celebrating on of the less well known entrants, Michael Gaston, who has experience playing rich white men and police officers, and who has gotten more and more work as the years have gone on.

He began his career in the mid-90s, with his first role in an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete.  In the 90s, he appeared in single episodes of New York News, New York Undercover, One Live To Live, Homicide: Life on the Street, andSpin City.  He was in three episodes of The Profiler and played the title character in TV movie Nathan Dixon.  He appeared in the pilot episode of The Sopranos as CPA Alex Mahaffey.  He works for Blue Cross/Blue Shield and participates in a scheme to defraud Medicare with Tony and Hesh to get himself out of debt he acquired through gambling.  To convince him to participate in the scheme, Hesh and Big Pussy threaten to throw him over a waterfall, after Tony hits him with his car and Christopher and Tony beat him.

In the early 2000s, he was in episodes of Third Watch, The $treet,100 Centre Street and two of Now and Again.  He was in TV movie Cora Unashamed and appeared in Oz as death row prisoner Shirley Bellinger’s (played by Kathryn Erbe) ex-husband.  He was a recurring character on one season Oliver Platt drama Deadlien and appeared in two episodes each of Ally McBeal, Ed, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  He appeared in five Law & Order episodes over the course of the series run as five different characters, with the first appearance in 1994 and the last in 2009.  In 2009’s Bailout, he played a Wall Street CEO for a sinking investment bank who is at first accused of murdering his girlfriend.  In 2001’s White Lie, he played the military husband of a woman accused of helping smuggle cocaine into the US.

He was in individual episodes of The Practice, John Doe, Hack, The Guardian, NCIS, Malcolm in the Middle, The West Wing, Without a Trace, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and two of JAG.  In The West Wing, he played a friend of Josh who has been waiting a year to be confirmed in his appointment to a federal appeals court judgeship by the Republican congress.  In 2005, he was a main cast member as a cop in one season literally titled Steven Bochco show Blind Justice.  In two episodes of Prison Break, he played Quinn, and agent from “The Company” who ends up at the bottom of a well.  He was in four episodes of three season Brotherhood.

In two seasons of post-apocalyptic cult classic CBS show Jericho, Gaston portrayed Gray Anderson. Anderson is a businessman who controls the Jericho Salt Mines.  He defeats mayor Johnston Green to become mayor himself and helps lead the construction of a new power source, a wind turbine.  He participates in an Allied States of America conference (I have no clue what this is but the show sounds vaguely intriguing) but disagrees with their ideas and eventually turns the town back over to former mayor Green.

He was in episodes of ER, Numb3rs, and Saving Grace.  He was in an episode of Mad Men as Head of Accounts Burt Peterson who is fired by Lane Price so that Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove can take over.  He makes a scene while leaving, knocking items off desks and yelling.  He was in two episodes of Raising the Bar and in TV movie U.S. Attorney.  He had a quick appearance in the pilot episode of White Collar as a director for the US Marshals working at the prison Neal Caffrey escapes from.  He plays recurring character Roger Kastle in six episodes of Damages.  In two episodes of season eight of 24, he was General David Brucker.  Brucker disagrees with President Allison Taylor and believes she should turn over Omar Hassan to potentially save Ameircan lives.  Brucker concocts a plan to abduct Hassan without the President’s knowledge, but his plan is foiled by Jack Bauer and he is later arrested.

Gaston appeared in four episodes of short-lived AMC show Rubicon as Donald Bloom.  Bloom is an independent contractor who formerly worked for the CIA.  He is hired by Truxton Spangler to kill main character Will Travers, and to make it look like an accident.  However, the plan is botched and Will manages to shoot and kill Bloom before Bloom can inject him with an overdose of heroin.  Later in the same year, Gaston was rich white guy Ben Zeitlin in four episodes of one season Terriers.  Zeitlin is a corrupt attorney who is part of a conspiracy at the heart of the season, and is attempting to purchase some land through shady means.

In 2011, Gaston began a recurring role on The Mentalist as California Bureau of Investigation head Gale Bertram.  Mostly concerned with the political and media aspects of being director, Bertram has noticed the impressive record of Agent Teresa Lisbon and Patrick Jane, and has been hinted to possibly have connections to serial killer Redjohn.  Gaston is currently a regular cast member of CBS detective show Unforgettable.  Unforgettable focuses on Carrie Wells, a police officer with a rare condition that gives her amazing memory.  Gaston plays Detective Mike Costello, a detective in Wells’ unit.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 31: Rubicon

16 Aug

By the skin of its teeth, Rubicon makes it onto the list, as it aired last summer, and well, won’t ever be airing again, but I did watch each and every episode, and I imagine I was one of the few.

I was actually extremely into the show when it started.  The main character, Will, is portrayed by the guy who played CTU agent and Elisha Cuthbert lover Chase Edmonds in the third season of 24 (James Badge Dale), though I would never have recognized him as he looks ten years older.  Will was a  socially awkward but brilliant intelligence agent for a mysterious top secret US intelligence agency in New York.  His family had died in 9/11, an unnecessary detail put in because every serious book, movie or television series set in New York has to show its connections to 9/11 to add drama and depth.  He worked under his father-and-law who dies in an insane train crash in the first episode, and we’re led to believe that this was indeed no accident.  The show set itself up as a long serial mystery show, like Lost, in that there would be a little bit of material given to the viewers in every episode, and if it was done well, its audience would be on the internet checking out what everybody else thought, and coming up with their own conspiracy theories about the conspiracy theories on the show.

The feel was of a classic, Three Days of the Condor-style ‘70s conspiracy thriller.  It got this part exactly right.  The mood was ominous, there were code names aplenty, and paranoia was everywhere.  Within a couple of episodes main character Will became paranoid, and then realized he wasn’t nearly being paranoid enough – his room was bugged, he didn’t know which high level employees were out for him (but at least a couple were), and eventually he had an assassin after him.

There are a lot of reasons why it ended up not working.  One might be that it played too far into clichés.  The plot really was that the events of the world being more or less controlled by a group of old white men (a very white show for a very white genre, I suppose).  Another reason was that the second most important plotline , which involved Miranda Richardson, as the young second wife of an old white man who died mysteriously/was murdered because he violated the terms of his cabal (we didn’t know this exactly at the time), was a lot less interesting than Will’s.

Throughout the show, away from the cabal, we saw the project Will and his team were working on at the top-secret-more-powerful-than-CIA intelligence agency, and the show ended up spending much more time on this plot, which seemed kind of irrelevant, until it was revealed that it was connected to the kind of cabal in a sort of ridiculous and pointless way.  The show had off-the-screen trouble with its showrunner and stuff turnover as it was being filmed, and it was easy to see watching the show.  The show just didn’t seem plotted or paced well, and the payoff at the end was a little bit disappointing and didn’t feel right.  Even though the last episode ended with a cliffhanger and I would have liked to see how it turned out, I didn’t feel all that disappointed that it was cancelled; I couldn’t say it didn’t earn it.

Why it’s this high:  It did a great job of setting mood, and brought back a great underused genre.

What it’s not higher:  It didn’t come together – the plot had no real direction and the pacing was poor and strange to say the least.

Best Episode of the most recent season:  I had to dig back in the archives here, but I think I’m going to say the first episode, because this is the type of show where that was really the high point– experiencing the potential before the execution kind of bungled it.