Monday, 17 January 2011

New TV 2010 – The Mega Review Part 5

Better With You –ABC

To be totally honest, I had very little hope for this. It is a romcom, based upon two sisters. One of them is in a long term relationship, but not married, and the other has just got engaged with a guy she’s only known for seven weeks. Oh, and there’s their parents, who’re cynical, just like all old people are. There is no introduction to a wacky neighbour, no mention of kooky friend, the pilot episode is just these three couples. And it is filmed like a standard sitcom, with three wall sets and a laugh track. It seemed like a run of the mill, totally forgettable, potentially annoyingly melodramatic, romcom. I was not intrigued. And yet it was funny.

I laughed several times. At actually funny jokes! They were pretty well set up, and they were timed just right. This sets it up to possibly be the funniest of the traditional-comedies this season. (The depressing thing is that how that is damning with faint praise.) Of course, I’m not convinced it’s really my thing. Most of the plot looks like it was draw from jokes about their relationships, and all the characters seem a bit too fond of bearing their souls to each other. And while the actors all put in solid performances, the conversations all do stick with ‘deliver exposition, pause for affect, sarcastic punchline!’ But if you are looking for a tv romcom, then this looks like it could turn out to be a pretty decent example of it. And hell, it is so very many miles better than Mike & Molly or $#*! My Dad Says.

Undercovers – NBC

Undercovers was a spy show, based upon a two married spies getting back into the business they thought they’d quit. I say it ‘was’ a show, because in the months it has taken me to get around to writing this up, poor ratings have meant it has already been cancelled. It was a light-hearted spy show, with an adventure-of-the-week style, and truth be told it seemed like a poor version of much better shows. It was not as funny as Chuck. It didn’t have the heart of Chuck. It was just not as good as Chuck. And it couldn’t complete with the more engrossing season-plotline of Nikita.

The twist was that these are two newly married spies, who slowly find out they might not know each other as well as they thought. They have a civilian life of trying to run a restaurant, which truthfully just felt like needless baggage on their spy-work. They had a handler who gives them missions and gadgets, and he was the most annoying prat imaginable. Their chemistry wasn’t that great, and I didn’t really care about them. And most of the episode took place at night, which honestly got annoying with everything happening in the dark all the time.

But this was not a bad show. It was a decently made, enjoyable spy show. It just wasn’t good enough to watch or recommend. I suppose it is a shame it has been cancelled, but honestly it comes as a bit of a relief not to have to think about watching any more of this. As I said, not because it is bad, but because I would much rather watch new episodes of Chuck or Nikita.

Chase – NBC

This is a show about US Marshalls, who track down the most dangerous, on the run, criminals. They don’t play by the rule, don’t wait for warrants, and they run about getting results, goddamnit. Annie Frost leads the team of Marshalls, which often seems to involve chasing people on foot. The pilot gives about a third of its airtime to establishing the man who is on the run, showing just how dangerous he is, and just how insane he is, but also that he has a good heart as he wants to run away with his young daughter to Mexico. I suppose some people will like it.

I hated it. It was boring, it was predictable, and it was patronisingly simplistic. I don’t begrudge anyone any enjoyment they may get from it, but I don’t see why they would. It looks set to be villain-of-the-week, and truth be told this could be a much more interesting show with genuine characters instead of placeholders, and a longer campaign of tracking a fugitive, instead of a one-a-week approach the pilot provides. Oh, and there is a far superior show about US Marshalls which started a few months ago, Justified, which means there is almost no need to care about this.

The Defenders – CBS

In all honesty, I pre-judged this show. I thought it looked like a boring law procedural about two middle-aged white lawyers in Los Angeles. Very little about that sentence summoned up any interest. And yet, this was one of the most interesting pilots of all those I have seen so far.

Pete Kaczmarek and Nick Morelli are two Las Vegas defense attorneys, but the twist the pilot takes is not over what happened, we are told fairly early on exactly who did what and why, but focuses much more on how our lawyers approach the trial and who they organise their defence. As opposed to The Whole Truth, were new evidence drives the plot, here the actual characters drive the plot. This is so much better than the way it is normally handled – when our protagonists simply follow the plot. It is actually their approach to the situation which creates the drama. As a plus, Nick & Pete are both well developed, and I would definitely be interested to see more of them as the story progresses.

However, I have still not given up my misgivings. I hope it doesn’t become too formulaic, with a case-of-the week formula that becomes too repetitive. As a legal drama, it is definitely the best of the new season, and as so it’s very much worth a look.

Mega Review - Finished!

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