TV Roundup: Sept. 26, 2005

Overloaded, overwhelmed… this past week has been fraught with new and returning shows… can’t eat, can’t sleep… must watch TV!

NEW SHOWS

How I Met Your Mother was funny, and Neil Patrick Harris (forever known as Doogie Howser) was a definite standout, but the pilot episode did not have the “I love this show already” feeling like the first episode of Friends did.

Kitchen Confidential was only mildly humourous, and Nicholas Brendon (the funniest part of Buffy) was totally underused. Everyone says this is a hilarious show in the same vein as Arrested Development, but I don’t think that show is funny either, so I’m only giving Kitchen one more shot.

Just Legal – After I got over Don Johnson’s impression of a drunk has-been, I really enjoyed this show about an 18-year-old freshman lawyer (Canadian actor Jay Baruchel) learning the ropes with Johnson’s aforementioned old salt. Baruchel is very believable and I like that he’s not a hotshot. He’s smart, but still very much unsure of himself. (With Baruchel’s former co-host Elisha Cuthbert now making movies, Popular Mechanics for Kids is becoming an unexpected breeding ground for Hollywood bait.)

Surface is the show I get for wishing that fellow alien-invasion show Threshold had presented more aliens than characters in its pilot. We get it, Surface, there are mysterious creatures in the water, but I kind of don’t care anymore.

Invasion was OK. It followed a really Spielbergian formula: blended families coping in the face external dangers. That’s why I was having serious War of the Worlds flashbacks when, in the middle of a hurricane and with his sister missing, the teenage son told his mother to go away and leave them (i.e. his father’s family) alone. Nevertheless, there’s some creepiness going on in town that I wouldn’t mind learning more about.

Ghost Whisperer was as lame as I expected it to be. I know it was supposed to be played seriously, but I had to chuckle every time one of the spirits looked at Jennifer Love Hewitt and asked, “Can you see me?” You’d think someone who sees dead people would want to stay away from cemeteries—just a thought.

Inconceivable – I try to keep The Princess Bride’s Vizzini’s, “Inconthievable!” out of my head when watching this show which is basically Nip/Tuck-lite set in a fertility clinic. I’ve liked Ming-Na ever since she had “good quality heart” in Joy Luck Club, so I think this might deserve a few more episodes (but I am getting tired of all the shows ending their pilot episodes with a last-minute twist/cliffhanger—I guess no one has enough faith to save those for the season finale).

RETURNING SHOWS

Almost all of my favourite new shows from last year (plus Joey) returned this week.

Joey – Let’s get this one out of the way: retread story lines (he likes her, then she likes him, but not at the same time); cardboard characters (nephew still has trouble with women; sister’s not only slutty but also incompetent; and the less seen of neighbour Howard the better); over-the-top performances (I’m talking to you Jennifer Coolidge as Joey’s insane agent!) The only ray of hope is Joey’s new friend and fellow struggling-actor Zach (who steals a dog to get a meeting with real-life director Kevin Smith). After wasting this hour of my life, sadly I will probably waste another half-hour watching next week’s “Joey and the Spanking” [My name is Alvin, and I’m a Friends-aholic…]

Medium is back in pretty good form. It’s my antidote for Ghost Whisperer. They finished the serial killer storyline from last season’s cliff-hanger and though there was a twist at the end, it wasn’t of the whiplash-inducing variety. Now that Patricia Arquette has won an Emmy, I’ll bet the writers are going to make her earn it by putting her marriage in even more trouble than it has been.

Lost has finally revealed what’s at the bottom of the hatch. But as expected, more questions are raised than answered. I’m hooked, and in no small part to find out how they can possibly explain all the crazy things that they’re pulling on this show.

Charmed had a lot of work to do as the season finale saw the Charmed Ones faking their own deaths and magically disguising themselves in order to start normal lives. Not only did the writers have to come up with a plausible way to bring them back, but also appear as themselves (magic can cover a multitude of sins). Plot-wise the premiere was limping a bit. They had too much to account for, and the whole normal life vs. super-witch life debate is getting a bit tired. They introduced a mysterious new super-witch to the show, but so far not much has happened there. With a clean slate, there’s an opportunity to re-invent the show, not just restart the show with younger characters.

Desperate Housewives – After last season’s revelation of why Mary Alice committed suicide, it seems odd to still hear her voiceovers. Shouldn’t her spirit be at rest yet? All the ladies got the motor running on their storylines: Bree was as nitpicky as ever in facing off against Rex’s mom over funeral arrangements; Susan found out more about Mike’s violent (recent) past, so their on-again off-again romance is off again; Lynette started pounding the pavement, but could not escape her little tykes; and Gabrielle and Carlos might actually be coming to terms with how selfish and unscrupulous they both are… plus new mystery neighbour Alfre Woodard has someone in the basement (how’d they fit him in the moving crates is what I wonder about!).

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