Friday, September 28, 2007

New TV shows, Part II

Here's where I talk about all the sci fi/fantasy/paranormal shows I've watched so far this fall.

Grade: A

I'm starting with this show because I liked it the best. You'd think a show about a boy whose parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born would be depressing, but Reaper is laugh-out-loud funny. It's the only new show I've watched this fall that made me forget all about the fact that I was watching the first episode of a new show and trying to decide if I liked it. Instead I got all caught up in the characters and what was going to happen to them. My favorite part of the show is Tyler Labine, who played Uncle Dave in Invasion a few years ago. He always plays jerks and always manages to make them completely lovable. I guess the rest of the cast is great, too, since I didn't notice their acting and instead just thought of them as being their characters. Here's hoping that future episodes are as funny as the first one was.

Grade: A-

This show was not quite as perfect as Reaper in my book, but it was still quite enjoyable. The premise is much the same as Jake 2.0, but it seemed a bit faster and flashier than that show. Chuck is a computer specialist at a big electronics store, and he has had government secrets downloaded into his brain in a thoroughly unbelievable manner. Now he has to deal with the fallout from that while still living his normal life. There were some exciting moments and some gentle humor, but this was a classic "first episode" that set up the premise and didn't do much else, so I'm not exactly sure what to expect from future episodes.

Grade: B

I really, really wanted to like this show, because everyone was calling it the new Quantum Leap, and I loved that show. Well, I'm going to call it the anti-Quantum Leap. It takes everything from that classic and turns it on its head, and not in a good way. While our main character (whose name I can't remember and won't be bothered to look up) does leap into the past to help people, he does it in a very uncaring, mechanical way that would have appalled Sam Beckett. He seemed to see the people he helped as pawns to further his goal of getting back home and nothing more. I'm going to watch this for a while just because I'm so loyal to the genre and the memory of Quantum Leap, but unless it improves a lot, I don't expect to enjoy it.

Bionic Woman
Grade: B

This show was slick and sophisticated and ultimately hollow. You'd think that we'd feel something for a girl who was almost killed in a car crash and instead was re-engineered against her will, but I didn't. They just tried to cram too much into this hour, and I don't know what to expect from future episodes, but I don't think they'll be much fun.

Grade: B+

This is another show that I didn't expect much from, but it was surprisingly good in a low-key way. It's the story of a vampire who solves murders, and it reminded me a lot of The Dresden Files. Too bad it's on at the same time as Friday Night Lights, which starts next week. Still, I'm intrigued enough that I'm seriously considering taping it. We'll see.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New TV shows, Part I

If anybody is actually reading this, you probably thought I died! Well, I didn't, but I have been very busy with the new school year. But I've decided to come out of retirement now to post my thoughts on the new TV shows. Not that you can't find the same thing on about 70 million other blogs out there, but only at Snowie's Place can you get my expert opinion. ;)

In this post I'm going to talk about the non-sci fi or fantasy shows, and then I'll make another post just for the sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal shows, since there are so many of them this year.

Back to You
Grade: B+

This is an old-school sitcom, so if you've liked those in the past, you'll probably like this one. It's set in a newsroom, bringing back memories of my favorite, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The first couple of episodes have been just fine but nothing really wowed me about them. Then again, it usually takes sitcoms a little longer to get off the ground, since there's only so much story you can tell in half an hour. I'd keep watching this one if it wasn't at the same time as Pushing Daisies, which I expect to adore and which starts next week.

Gossip Girl
Grade: B

This series is based on the book series which has been popular with teenagers recently. I haven't read the books, so I don't know what the similarities and differences might be. All I know is that this isn't like any high school I went to! In fact, the only way I can watch this show with a straight face is by convincing myself that these characters are really in college. Only then do the absent parents, drinking in public, and adult spending habits make any modicum of sense. That being said, I enjoyed the first episode in an escapist sort of way, but the second episode failed to build on the strengths of the first. I'll probably watch once more just to make sure that nothing interesting starts happening, but if not, I might be watching Bionic Woman in this timeslot instead.

Grade: B

I'm required by law to like this series because it's about Latin Americans, right? (It's about a family of Cuban sugar growers in Florida, the Duques.) And I do like the Hispanic aspects, but they haven't been enough to draw me in. As far as plot goes, there's the usual family angst and an unsolved murder mystery from the past. It's all been done before, so after viewing the first episode I'm not sure if this one is going to hold my interest or not.

Dirty Sexy Money
Grade: B+

This series is very similar to Cane in a lot of ways, except that the central family is white and Episcopalian. The pilot didn't bowl me over, but I can see there are elements here that might be fun in the future. The members of the Darling family just seem more memorable than the Duque family, and it seems like the show will have a more light-hearted tone, the way Brothers and Sisters (which I've come to adore) has turned out. Still, it's a hard decision for me whether or not to keep watching, because of....

Grade: B+

I didn't expect to like this, because it's gotten pretty bad reviews from the critics. I was planning to skip it entirely, but then I found out the pilot was available for viewing online. I watched it last Saturday morning and was surprisingly drawn in. It's about a police officer who has been wrongfully imprisoned for murder and now has been pardoned. He's back on the force and trying to solve murders using the unusual techniques he picked up in prison (where he avidly studied books on Zen buddhism.) I've always liked quirky detectives like Monk and Poirot, so I see potential here. On the other hand, it has a slightly darker tone than either of those shows, and I don't like dark murder mystery shows. I honestly don't know if I'll end up watching this or Dirty Sexy Money next week.

Big Shots
Grade: A-

I wasn't expecting to like this show either, because I heard it got very bad reviews. However, the New York Times gave it a good review, saying that it was a very rare thing: a satire on television. I watched it and thought it was pretty funny, although not perfect. I think that the bad reviews, which mostly said that the problems of the four main characters were too trivial to take seriously, missed the fact completely that the show is meant to be over-the-top and farcical. It seems like other people did as well, as the show got very bad ratings. I'm afraid it will probably be cancelled soon.

Grade: B-

I almost forgot that I'd watched this show last week, and I guess that tells you something. It's been billed as a dramatic look at life in New Orleans following Katrina, but it turned out to be a completely routine cop show. Great if you like that sort of thing, but I don't. Plus it's on at the same time as Heroes, so there's not really a contest.

Well, there you have it. My look at all the non-sci fi shows I've watched so far this fall. I'll be back later with the sci fi pilots, and then I guess in a few weeks I'll wrap it up with all the stragglers that are premiering late this year.