Fall TV 2012: Week Two – New Shows

As I said, this past week has been so jam packed with shows premiering that it’s taken me a while to put down all my thoughts about them, and I’ve had to split up my posts into three sections. This post is going to focus on the new series that debuted this past week. Unfortunately, my early instincts are proving accurate and I hadn’t really fallen in love with any of the new shows yet. Some have received great reviews, but I must be missing something because I’m just not excited about them.

Last Resort

As I mentioned last week, I had watched on iTunes the pilot episode for this series about a nuclear submarine whose captain (played by Andre Braugher) goes rogue, taking all hands and the sub itself to a small Pacific island where they proceed to set up their own little nation. There was so much hype around this as the breakout series, featuring great performances from Braugher (I agree with that one) and the triumphant return to television for fellow Canadian Scott Speedman (I am decidedly meh about that). I know the pilot episode was preoccupied with setting up all the plot threads, but it was all over the place. Not only was there all the military stuff on the sub about nuclear missiles, verifying orders, chain of command, etc.; but there is also a bunch of marines on board hitching a ride (apparently there’s some mystery about their mission);  there is added tension around the female third in command getting flack from chauvinist fellows, including a surly Robert Patrick. When they get to the island, things are already going to get worse as they appear to have stepped on the toes of a local drug warlord. Oh, and that doesn’t include the government conspiracy brewing in Washington, or the tearful goodbye between Speedman’s character and his young wife. I feel like they should have spent a lot more time building up the characters and less time seeding the story arcs. Considering I have no idea how this concept is going to play out as a series, I would guess that they have plenty of time to tease those out.

666 Park Avenue

This is definitely the year of horror television. After the success of American Horror Story, that seems to be the flavour of the season. Terry O’Quinn (from Lost) plays the owner of a posh, exclusive apartment complex. The difference is that he’s basically the devil and the residents have sold him their souls. It’s obvious that producers were going for the kind of bizarre creepiness that AHS had, but this series is very cliché. First, O’Quinn proved that he’s great at the subtle, “Is he good or bad?” tease in his past roles, but here there is virtually no subtlety and as the audience we don’t have a lot of curiosity about him. We know he’s powerful and evil. Vanessa Williams (most recently of Desperate Housewives) is even more typical as a super-rich, glamorous wife to O’Quinn’s character. They both seem interested in making playthings of the new resident-managers of the apartment – a couple of naïve, young kids who will likely learn the hard way about the malevolence in that building (and the world by extension). I fear that there’s also going to be an A-story each week focusing on a poor sap whose blood payment comes due (in the pilot, some poor musician got his soul sucked into a wooden door). If I were the show-runners, I’d sell my soul to get some better writers to check in before long.

Elementary

This “other” Sherlock Holmes show sure doesn’t live up to its British cousin. It’s not terrible, but it’s not memorable (in fact, I can’t remember much from the pilot except that Lucy Liu as Ms. Watson acts as a “sober companion” – is that really a thing? – to Holmes (played by Jonny Lee Miller). I don’t know when it got decided that Holmes’s intelligence always means that he’s obnoxious and unable to socialize, but this series picks up on that theme as well. I do enjoy Liu’s performance, and the chemistry between the two leads isn’t bad: quirky but genuine. I think they need to find a way for Holmes to let us, the audience, in on the mystery solving part a bit more, though. Otherwise this is just another one of those procedurals that revolve around some kind of “cocky genius”.

The Neighbors

As I said in my twitter/get glue post, this show is stupid, but it keeps me laughing. A sitcom with the odd premise of a family that moves into a gated community that is “secretly” populated by aliens in disguise, is relatively unique, but for the most part it’s meant for poking at normal human behaviour through the lens of a made-up alien race. The husband (played by Lenny Venito) is a cliché Fred Flinstone type, and Jami Gertz plays the slightly uptight, slightly neurotic wife who has nightmares of having her kids abducted by her neighbours. The aliens themselves are harmless, but they are quirky and clueless to the max. Nevertheless, it’s pretty delightful to see them interacting with the Weaver family, getting advice and making connections with their human counterparts. The humour is mostly broad, but (like I said), it gets me laughing at its off the cuff humour and even the silly, predictable stuff.

Partners

This is a based-on-real-life sitcom from the creators of Will & Grace about a gay man and a straight man who are best friends and business partners. Michael Urie plays the flamboyant and fabulous half of the duo, while David Krumholtz plays the straight-laced half. There’s not much to say about this show (as I’ve already stopped watching it) but it’s a pretty by-the-books comedy with some mild, somewhat bland writing. Humour not so humourous.

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