It seems like there are a lot of shows to watch this season. Update: Stopped watching 90210 and Knight Rider already; was watching Do Not Disturb (Jerry O’Connell’s hotel-based sitcom) but that’s been cancelled; Privileged and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles are on the bubble. But, True Blood is getting better, and so is Fringe.
Everyone loves all the action and story crammed into the first bunch of new episodes. I love it too, but there’s a bit too much. When they had this kind of pace in season one, the stories were easier to follow because each character was kind of discovering their power, etc. Now, each of the story-lines is pretty elaborate, with time-travel, The Company, secret formulas, etc. It’s tough to stay interested in them all. Matt is stuck in Africa getting spiritual guidance from a new future-painter. After being attacked Sylar again, Claire is struggling with her humanity (don’t ask me why they brought fiery birth mom back for some psycho mother-daughter bonding). Nikki is dead, but another Nikki (aka Tracy Strauss) is discovering her own powers (she freezes things) in an interesting season-one style story. It’s great to see Hiro and Ando back in the present (and briefly in the future) as the “Lucy and Ethel” of the series. When Daphne the speedster steals something from Hiro, they play a cat and mouse game to get it back. It reminded me of the Las Vegas adventures from season one. Nathan has gone religious (which I have no problem with, except it’s kind of hokey here, plus it’s unrealistic that he wouldn’t talk out his spiritual questions with a priest. Oh, I forgot, he’s got imaginary Linderman as his guide — cuckoo!). The “Peter/HRG/Sylar/Mrs. Petrelli/other villains/other future characters” story-line is convoluted. Not only do they go back and forth in time, and switch bodies, but Mrs. Petrelli has all kinds of issues (including some big Oedipal ones) and Sylar seems to be shifting character traits almost as often as he shifts powers. (I do love the scene about how Sylar does NOT eat brains, though. Funny AND informative.) Mohinder is apparently doing his rendition of that sci-fi/horror classic, The Fly, and Maya is as useless as ever. Despite the fact that this season is subtitled “Villains” and includes some powerful baddies, it’s disappointing that they seem to still be heading for a “save the world from catastrophe” kind of climax. They already did that — twice! Seriously, people with powers also like to stop the bad guys, save kittens from trees, etc. Let’s mix it up a bit, eh? Nevertheless, the new eps are still a solid 4 out of 5
I’m hoping that in the process of jumping forward five years, they have not also jumped a shark or two this season. I’m not loving the new situations the characters are in. After the long saga of how Susan and Mike got together, they should have been allowed a bit of marital bliss — I mean, it would have been nice to have Susan live up to the “housewife” title for once. (At least we find out quickly why they broke up.) Bree is becoming a Martha-Stewart-esque businesswoman, which is really not a good fit for her character. Plus, now it relegates Katherine to the shadows in their catering business. What a waste of last season’s breakout character! Linnett’s boys are now teens, so they are going through teen angst — that’s all we need, more teen angst on TV. Edie has returned to Wisteria Lane with a new husband (he’s this season’s secret psycho). Finally, Gabrielle is still her superficial self, even after having two kids and a husband who’s still blind. Let’s do something interesting with her character this year. (3.5 out of 5)
A (kinda) brand new series from some of the people who brought us Stargate. This one is more of a fantasy show. It features Amanda Tapping (Col. Carter from Stargate) as Dr. Helen Magnus, a 100+ year old scientist who runs a large, gothic sanctuary for the weird and bizarre beings and creatures who secretly coexist with us unsuspecting humans. Robin Dunne plays Dr. Zimmerman, a forensic psychologist recruited to join the small staff of the sanctuary (which includes a caveman butler). You might have heard of this show in its first incarnation as a web-only series of downloadable episodes. Now it’s come to the slightly-larger TV screen accompanied by TV-sized production values. The 2-hour pilot was very similar to the online show, but I’m excited about where this series might go for the rest of the season. (4 out of 5)
The pie-maker is back and the show seems even more brightly-coloured than ever. My interest in this show actually waned throughout the previous short season, but I enjoyed the season two premiere. I think they should really spend less time on the cases and more on the characters. Frankly, the cases seem entirely superfluous. Also, a lot of the stuff in the cases has to be told through narration rather than actual scenes, which makes an episode feel way too crowded. Maybe they should follow the X-Files formula of having some episodes that contribute to the larger story arc and others which are purely standalone. Right now, the B-story of the side characters (who are really the main characters) often overshadow the characters in the A-story (i.e. the case of who got killed by whom). I think once they resolve that tension, this critically-acclaimed show can find an even wider audience. (4 out of 5)
I think Chuck does a much better job of balancing the A and B stories compared to Pushing Daisies. Also, the storylines are usually less complex, so it’s simpler to enjoy the fun of watching this show. In the premiere, Chuck was about to be freed of the burden of being the Intersect (i.e. having a huge database of government secrets stored in his brain) but alas if that had happened, the show would have been over, so we knew something would go wrong (especially when Chuck was about to have his first actual date with Sarah, aka FBI-handler Barbie). The hot dog restaurant where Sarah used to work has become an Orange juice bar now, and there’s been some organizational shuffling at the Buy More, and the show is as fun as ever. (4 out of 5)