This time the context is new fall television. So far, I've seen Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Class, Six Degrees, and Heroes. (minor spoilers ahead)
This is a well-acted and nicely shot show. But it's dully written and as such, is likely to be my first Season Pass casualty. The characters are clichéd beyond belief:
- A straightlaced public defender who goes "nuts" over a quirky, fun-loving girl
- A gambling addict trying to live honestly, who gets sucked back into whatever by his criminal brother
- A mother grieving her dead husband
- A fast-track businesswoman ready for marriage who learns her fiancé is cheating on her
- A guy who had everything and destroyed it, who's trying to get it back
In contrast, there's...
I posted on the pilot before, and have watched one additional episode since. The performances are still stiff, the production very "sound stage classic sitcom." And I can't say the writing has NO clichés, especially as regards characterization, but they do follow my acceptability clause when it comes to clichés: If you're going to go there, twist it up.
So there's the slacker who lives with his mother and longs for the girl he let go--but is smarter than he sounds and apparently good at his job in construction. There's a gay man who's happy and in a committed relationship and even a TEACHER! And another gay man who apparently doesn't know he's gay (in a totally different way than Jonas of Arrested Development). The dialogue is funny without trying too hard (okay, sometimes it tries too hard, but it still gets me to laugh). My favorite character is Richie, a guy who's miserable enough to commit suicide but keeps getting interrupted. He meets Lina, thinks maybe he has a chance to be happy, but runs her over with his car and breaks all the bones in her feet. When she wakes up in the hospital, the first thing she says is "I met the nicest guy."
So this show has a chance. It doesn't make me run to the TiVo, but I'm happy to use it to fill in the gaps.
This show is a surprise. It's darker, moodier, than I expected it or wanted it to be. I think the indestructable cheerleader tried to commit suicide, and that's how she found out she can't be killed. Her certainty that this has ruined her life is very annoying. I mean, come on! You can't be harmed. That seems pretty damned cool to me. Then there's a desperate mom with maybe a powerful second personality...a desperate geek who can teleport...a sweet, selfless guy who can maybe fly and loves his asshole older brother (and if it turns out only the brother can fly, I'll hate the show)...a hot Indian who's father was researching these genetic anomalies...a desperate painter who's predicting disasters (why, I asked my husband, do people with predictive powers ONLY predict bad things?)...and more desperation to come, from what I can tell.
It sounds like I don't like the show, which is weird, because I did like it. It was interesting and well done all around, even if I'm having a hard time connecting with any of the characters. I'm willing to give it a lot more time to grab me than I'm willing to give Six Degrees.
And finally, the pièce de résistance:
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Funny, dramatic, unpredictable, suspenseful. This show has the best chemistry between actors of all the new ones I've seen so far. Relationships are complex. Humor is paramount but not at the expense of the drama. The filming is...geez, I'm gonna sound like a geek...compelling. Yes, the FILMING. There's one scene in the second show that follows Matt and Harriet through the set, and you feel the presence of it just like you do the spaceship Serenity when you watch Firefly. It feels more real than any of the other shows, which is ironic since it's set IN Hollywood, often considered the most UNreal place on the planet. :)
How about the new episodes of old shows?
Not as good as last year, but still decent. The yummy factor is still huge, and the speed with which the FBI agent has gotten on the trail is fascinating. It feels like it doesn't have much further to go, however, which is worrisome.
Since this show started in the summer, I'm not sure how long it's going to go before its season ends. It's my first Sci-Fi Original Series. :) The gimmick still works for me. I like the "what if" element, and the characters are interesting enough to keep me watching. They seem to have dropped their overriding conspiracy, however, and that jars me whenever I see Beverly-the-shrink-who's-much-much-more.
Season premiere in two parts, so far as comfortably good as it was last year. It's a quiet show, not as explosive and rock-music-driven as its bigger compatriots. It drops and picks up characters and their plot threads seemingly at whim. And I really doubt a single FBI team would cover soooo many different kinds of crimes (but I could easily be wrong). I like the people, I like the stories...a definite keeper, though again, I'm not driven to the TV to watch it.
I can't wait for Lost next week. I guarantee it will top my list again. Ugly Betty and 30 Rock are well reviewed, though I'm not too excited about either one. I just want something to make me laugh. The Nine starts next week after Lost, and tomorrow I get Smallville (yay!) and Supernatural (which I still have yet to watch on DVD, season 1). Twenty Good Years is my final test show, and I have a feeling I'll keep that one and drop 30 Rock and/or Ugly Betty. When Lost goes on early haitus after far too few episodes, I'll check out Daybreak, which, like Six Degrees, has a high concept that might not be borne out in the execution.
So, how do you all rate the new fall season so far?