Tag Archives: TNT

Summer 2012 Review: Major Crimes

4 Sep

Do you like The Closer?  If so, you’ll like this.  If not, you won’t.

I really want to simply end this review with that line but it feels like a cheat, so I’ll explain Major Crimes, if by chance you, the reader, has had the good/bad fortune to never have seen The Closer, or can’t imagine a Closer without Kyra Sedgwick (after 7 long seasons as the most popular show on cable, it can be hard).

Mary McDonnell, best known to me, at least, as President Roslin in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, portrays the new main character in this The Closer spin-off.  At first, I thought moving from President to head of Major Crimes would be a pretty big demotion, but the LAPD may actually be bigger than the society over which Roslin was President.  McDonnell, as Captain Sharon Raydor, a character introduced late in The Closer, with the possible intent of a spin-off right from the beginning, takes over right where Kyra Sedgwick left off.  Quite literally, she replaces Sedwick’s Brenda Johnson as head of the LAPD’s Major Crimes unit.  Many in the unit, mostly the same characters from The Closer, are not fans of Captain Raydor, and and apparently have despised her rule-abiding policies for the past couple of seasons of The Closer, which I have not watched, when she was in a different position. Aside from the general emasculation that the old white police boys club clear feels because a woman has been assigned to lead them (again!), they don’t like Raydor in particular because of her new plea bargain friendly policies, designed to create cheap, fast and easy plea bargains for criminals even though they may involve slightly shorter sentences than if these cases went forward and to trial the old-fashioned American way.

In particular, this first episode involves a police shoot out.  Undercover cops are trailing a couple of suspected armed robbers, who have taken out a couple of grocery stores, but without violence.  Right at the beginning of the episode, the robbers are involved in a shootout with the police, leaving two of them dead, and one caught.  The caught criminal is about to agree to talk, when he’s fired upon.  It’s at this point that we learn that Raydor has become the new head of the unit and her subordinate, who headed the unit for about a week previously after Brenda left is not happy about it, let me tell you.  He gives her and Assistant Chief of Operations Taylor, who comes by to deliver the news, all the guff they can handle before reminding them that there will be more guff later, after he does his damn job and solves this case.

Blah, blah, blah, it turns out the shooters were a gang of military vets who were unable to fit in with regular society and played a first person shooter called “Win or Die” together (only the relatively young  woman working the case knew what the video game, or video games in general, were, unsurprisingly).  One is left alive, and turns out to be a cop’s son, and the police have the goods on him.  Raydor works hard to get the right facts confessed for the DA and makes a plea bargain happen which again further incenses the old white dude now her inferior.  Raydor struggles with her hold on the unit, which largely despises her, but stays firm and does her damn job, making it through her first day in charge alive and with a win on her record.

Oh, also, there’s a weird subplot about a disaffected teenage boy who is a material witness in a major case which may or may not have been discussed in The Closer and who needs a place to stay until his time as witness is up.  He complains and whines and complains and eventually it turns out he’ll live in an uncomfortable living arrangement with Raydor and be a main or at least recurring character for some reason.

This show is exactly what it appears to be on the surface.  I’d rate it as slightly better than The Closer because I prefer President Roslin’s no nonsense rule-following attitude to Kyra Sedgwick’s incredibly annoying I’m-just-a-girl southern accent as she talks to suspects when convincing them to confess, but the style, format, and cast is essentially the same (sadly without JK Simmons).  It’s well produced and the action is brisk, easy to watch, and paced smartly.  It’s nothing more than a police procedural though, and there’s no special element that makes it stand out, and anyone expecting anything additionally will be sadly disappointed.

Will I watch it again?  Honestly, no.  I would understand if someone else did though.  If you liked The Closer and it wasn’t entirely for Kyra Sedgwick, you’ll probably like it.  If you didn’t you probably won’t, and if you didn’t care at all about The Closer, you probably will not care at all about Major Crimes, which is more or less how I feel.

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Summer 2012 Review: Dallas

7 Aug

Dallas is part of a recent spate of TV soap revivials including the kind of successful 90210 and the unsuccessful Melrose Place, but this revival is of a slightly older show, and with more original characters and actors playing more important parts.

I can sum up what I know about the original Dallas in a couple of sentences.  I know J.R. is the bad one and Bobby is the good one, and that the events take place near and on the Southfork Ranch in Texas.  (Sidenote:  My parents took my brothers and I to the real Southfork Ranch when we visited Dallas as kids).  I knew the Ewings were the good guys and the Barnes’s were the bad guys, and who shot J.R.  I also know the theme song.  That’s about it.

The theme song is back (smart move; the theme is a total classic, and hearkens back to the best of themes from that era) along with J.R., Bobby, as well as Sue Ellen, J.R.’s wife in the original, and now ex-wife, all played by their original actors and actress.  Even as someone who never watched the original Dallas, I can appreciate there’s something to having the old actors back at their classic parts; it’s like watching an old pitcher you didn’t get to appreciate as a youngster back on the team later in his career.  The new major characters are Bobby’s son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe, who played John Tucker in John Tucker Must Die, and also appeared in Desperate Housewives), and J.R.’s son John Ross (Josh Henderson, also a recurring character in Desperate Housewvies), along with their respective belles, Rebecca (played by third season Veronica Mars actress Julie Gonzalo) and Elena (Fast and Furious veteran Jordana Brewster).  Bobby also has a new wife played by Brenda Strong (best known, you guessed it from Desperate Housewives).

Okay, let’s run through the pilot episode right quick.  Christopher went abroad for a while before the series, where he met Rebecca; they’re now engaged, and he comes back to Southfork for their wedding.  John Ross and Elena made a huge discovery of oil on Southfork, drilling without asking Bobby, owner of the ranch, for permission.  Bobby’s got stomach cancer but is reluctant to tell his family before the wedding.  He visits J.R., who is rotting away in a home, suffering from depression.  While John Ross has put his stock in oil, Christopher is all in on alternative energy, and he’s got a big plan with methane, but he needs money.  Bobby is ready to sell Southfork off to a conservatory to provide him with the cash.  Bobby finds out about the drilling on his land and is furious.  It turns out that Chris’s methane technology has major issues, which John Ross, after spying on Chris’s work to discover the information, threatens to tell Bobby about on the day of the wedding.  Fortunately for Chris, Bobby doesn’t care, and a petulant John Ross goes to see his father who rises up for the first time in ages, spurred by the desire to take back Southfork for himself.  It also turns out that Elena was once engaged to Bobby; they had each thought the other had broken the engagement, but the break up was due to an e-mail sent by a mysterious third party telling Elena that Bobby wasn’t interested anymore.  The episode ends with a handshake deal between Bobby and the woman from the conservatory, followed by consecutive scenes showing that either J.R., John Ross, or both, have the conservatory woman in their pocket.  Oh, also John Ross meets this woman on the center of the new Cowboys field for a reason I’m not aware of.

I’ll admit.  I haven’t really been huge into primetime soaps over the course of my teleiviosion watching days.  I don’t really have a great reason for it.  In fact, after watching all my favorite but often more serious shows, it might be just what I need.  I didn’t watch 90210 or Melrose Place as a kid and I never really got into The OC or Gossip Girl when they were big.  Revenge is a big moment in personal prime time soap history for me, following one regularly, and I quite like it, and while I’m probably not going to watch more Dallas, it really wasn’t bad.  Larry Hagman as J.R. already seemed more put together and cunning than his son in about three minutes of non-comatose time.  The show wasn’t incredibly compelling, but it was a little bit, and the warring family classic soap pattern still has some potential juice in it.  It was irony-free prime time soap, unlike the Gossip Girls of the world, but it seemed like it could have the right level of trash to keep things going.  I may be couching this in a surprising way, but that might be because whenever I watch a show that I don’t have a high expectations for, I have low expectations for it, and even just exceeding those is kind of impressive.  The old characters were actually more riveting than the new.

Will I watch it again?  You know, I probably won’t.  I have Revenge in my life as my current top soap, and it’s better than this, at least from the first episode of each.  Dallas isn’t close to must watch TV.  But I was interested enough to read the quick wikipedia summaries of each episode, and that’s perhaps worth something.  The show is a solid okay.

Show of the Day: Bull

19 Aug


To say that something is long forgotten assumes it was once remembered to begin with, which is why that phrase would not be applicable to Bull.  I’ve never met another person who remembers the existence of the show.  That said, even if you’ve never heard of the show it holds an important distinction in the annals of cable TV.  It was the first ever original series on TNT.  Now there are Leverage and Dark Blue and The Closer and Saving Grace and Rizzoli and Isles and all of them owe a little something to Bull, as the oldest child it may not have been the most successful, but it paved the way.

Bull was almost doomed from the start.  Named after the Bull market that seemed ready to last forever, the show aired as the dot-com bubble began its crash, making it look very out of place with circumstances.

Bull was a story of a group of young ambitious investment bankers who were about to break apart from the large, well established investment bank they were part of.  Making this transition even more controversial was the fact that the leader of the breakaways was the grandson of the founder of the investment they were all leaving.

I didn’t know a damn thing about investment banking when I watched the show (I don’t know all that much more now), but they managed to make it seem like a crazy, exciting, high-stakes world where the success of their young firm hinged on ten things going right every episode.  In the first episode, the rebellion from the old firm begins led by proud WASP scion Robin Roberts III, played by actor George Newborn, who might best be known for providing the voices for Superman in the Justice League series of cartoons, and Final Fantasy character Sephiroth in any English language incarnation of games that featured him.  His dad was portrayed by Ryan O’Neal, and his grandfather, known as the “Kaiser” who would become the primary antagonist of the show, was played by Donald Moffat, a British actor who might best be known for playing the evilUSpresident in Clear and Present Danger.  The show also featured Elizabeth Rohm who went on to a stint as Assistant District Attorney on Law & Order for a couple of years, and Stanley Tucci who played a more experienced negotiator who the team needs on their side to survive, but whose loyalty is in debate in nearly every episode.

Basically, in each episode they try valiantly to stay afloat, as the old firm tries to bring them down, attempting to sabotage their every deal.  There’s plenty of personal tension abreast as well.  We never got any resolution; Bull was cancelled halfway through its run, and I know of know way to get my hands on the second half of the season – though a youtube commenter on the preview above mentions that they showed the whole thing in Finland.

Did Bull make television history?  No, not really.  But I watched it, it deserves at least a rememberance that it once existed.  A marked grave, if not necessarily a yearly candle on its day of death.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.