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Heaven, Hell, and Reboots March 30, 2017

Posted by Ted in : CW, FOX, General, Midseason, NBC, Reviews, Supergirl, The Exorcist, The Good Place , add a comment

The 2016 television season came and went without getting much attention, overshadowed by the presidential election circus which sent all our friends and neighbors into painful body contortions and endless Facebook tirades. So I guess it was the appropriate time for FOX to launch a TV series based on the classic movie The Exorcist. This spooky rehash was one of the only shows I watched from start to finish last season. I mean, what could be better than a demon-possessed Geena Davis? Or her dirty-faced daughter floating around and talking in a man’s voice for an entire episode? The series started out as a genuinely scary psychological chiller, then slowly descended into near self-parody before the 10 episode series wrapped up in December with the whole beleaguered Rance family back to normal again. Our two superstar priests, I’m guessing, will become a demon-wrangling team if there is a season two, putting the baddies on notice in a possession-of-the-week scenario. Get some popcorn.

THE EXORCIST: The ultimate good versus evil smackdown.
Cr: Jean Whiteside/FOX

My other favorite last season was The Good Place, a quirky sitcom about the afterworld. The plot centers around Kristen Bell’s character, Eleanor, arriving in heaven (which is like some kind of psychedelic amusement park) and trying to hide the fact that she doesn’t deserve to be there, a funny premise with a deeper meaning that most people can probably relate to. Ted Danson plays the likable but scatterbrained angel in charge. There is also Janet, a database in human form who has access to all knowledge of the universe, or something like that. This is possibly the best sitcom since Arrested Development. There have been so many DUMB sitcoms in TV-land that it’s a real joy when one comes along that doesn’t insult your intelligence and make you feel like don’t belong in this world. NBC has once again postponed their much-deserved eternal damnation with this one.

Supergirl, which I thought was pretty good in its first season on CBS, has taken to the skies and flown over to the CW. I still haven’t summoned the courage to watch a season 2 episode. Maybe I’m thinking it will not be as good on the new network because superhero shows on CW tend to be very dry and humorless. (Not including the classic Smallville, or course.) These super-boring programs lull me into a deep sleep because the characters usually have the personality of a frying pan. Just take any daytime soap opera, put the cast in tights, and that’s the basic recipe for a superhero show on CW.

Yes, there are plenty of superheroes on TV these days. In general, rebooting seems to be the modus operandi of TV networks for the last 10 years or so. Last season was no exception. In addition to The Exorcist, there was Emerald City, a gothy retelling of The Wizard of Oz; MacGyver, an updated version of the brainy secret agent guy; Riverdale, based on the Archie comic book series, and a Bauer-less 24 spinoff called 24: Legacy. Any old TV show, movie, book, comic, or fairy tale you can think of, it seems, will be rebooted as a television show at some point. Why is the happening, you ask? Are writers and producers running out of ideas? I used to think this, but now I’m starting to see the big picture. Reboots are big business. You only have to look at the movie box office returns to see that people love old familiar stories. The same way the ancient Greeks told stories that were passed down to younger generations as myths, people today love to revisit their stories from the past. They find comfort in the familiarity of these tales which help them to put there lives into some kind of context with history. In other words, TV and movie reboots are modern day myths. You read it here first.

 

Supergirl to the Rescue February 10, 2016

Posted by Ted in : CBS, Inspirational, Midseason, Saturday Night Live, Stephen Colbert, Supergirl, superheros, Tonight Show , add a comment

Hello out there and a big thank you to anybody who is still reading this blog. As usual, it has been a really long time since my last post, and I would apologize for that but, really, who cares at this point? You could say I’ve been recovering from a year-long case of the blahs, brought on by a combination of television apathy and writer’s block. Of course, I realize that I disclosed way too much about my personal life in the last post, which probably played a role in my ex-sometimes-girlfriend Sierra’s decision to relegate me to the romantic clearance bin. That’s right, we’re pretty much history now. After I tracked her down at a ritzy party last year, she made it clear that I was one step away from a restraining order. She loves me but she’s not “in love” with me. It’s not me, it’s her. You know the routine. She needs space, so I’m going to give her several galaxies of it. I never could figure out what she was up to and why she was so secretive all the time, and I don’t really care anymore whether she’s a CIA agent or just a crazy woman with honesty issues. I still love her but it’s probably best for my own sanity that we’re not together. C’est la vie.

The upside to all of that drama is that I once again have unlimited me-time when I’m not working at the convenience store or doing chores for Mom around the house. In the last year I’ve been watching a lot of old shows on DVD (mostly Ghost Hunters and The Mentalist) and reading a few books, but I haven’t felt like blogging again until recently, not just because of Sierra, but also due to the fact that there hasn’t been much new to watch that’s worth a damn, as far as broadcast TV goes. In my opinion, we’ve been in sort of a TV nether-zone for a while now, consisting mostly of crime dramas, superhero shows, and a few stubborn old reality TV shows that will probably be around forever like the cockroaches. Oh yes, and we mustn’t forget those charming flesh-eating zombie shows and the zombies that watch them (apparently half of the US population).

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Get Supergirl season 1 on Amazon

I was finally rescued from my state of TV apathy by a caped red and blue female known as Supergirl, who flew into my basement dwelling in the fall of last year and lifted my spirits with a light-hearted superhero drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Lead actress Melissa Benoist is super-adorable as Kara Zor-El (aka Kara Danvers), cousin of Superman, who battles an assortment of cheesy super-villains and mean aliens, and still finds time to fetch coffee and bagels for her bitchy boss Cat Grant (played with impressive cold-heartedness by Calista Flockhart of Ally McBeal fame). Rounding out the cast is Winslow “Winn” Schott, her nerdy co-worker seeking an upgrade from friend status (Why does that seem familiar?), a tall, dark version of Jimmy Olsen, a secret agent sister, and Hank, the shape-shifting Martian. It all adds up to moderate levels of viewing enjoyment. Of course, superhero reboots have been the big trend in television and movies for the last several years, maybe the only trend. Why? Who Knows. People in general, I suppose, are feeling helpless with all the talk about terror and climate concerns and mystery diseases and a jittery economy, and would love to have some super-powered people in tights around who can make everything right. I’m no exception to this sentiment and so I don’t mind being rescued by Supergirl every week. Maybe not the greatest show of all time, but an improvement over most of the other superhero dramas that have infested TV screens in recent years. Score one more for CBS. They are slow, but they do occasionally get it right.

Another recent win for CBS was their choice of Stephen Colbert to take over The Late Show after the departure of iconic funnyman David Letterman. When I was promoted to assistant manager at Majik Market a couple of years ago I started working regular day shifts instead of the overnight shift, and as a result I am now able to watch shows at night like a normal person instead of trying to remember to tape them on my VCR and watching them in the afternoon. I was a fan of Jay Leno, but rarely got to watch The Tonight Show on NBC before Leno was unceremoniously booted in favor of Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy is a talented enough guy, and I respect the fact that he has achieved so much in his career since leaving Saturday Night Live all those years ago, but his version of The Tonight Show just doesn’t do much for me. Stephen Colbert’s edgy, politically tinged humor on The Late Show is like a breath of fresh air, and a bold move for an old broadcast network like CBS. As with other late shows, I usually just watch the funny stuff in the first half and skip the celebrity interviews. To Colbert’s credit, his guests seem to include more people who aren’t movie stars  — politicians, writers, musicians, and so forth. The show has been doing OK in the ratings, hovering around second place behind Fallon. I’m sincerely hoping the network keeps Colbert around for a while. As far as I can remember, the last late night talk show with this much brainpower was The Dennis Miller Show back in the early 90s, which lasted all of seven months.

A Long Overdue Update June 23, 2014

Posted by Ted in : Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crime Dramas, Dollhouse, General, Marvel's Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., Midseason, Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Reviews, The Mentalist, Whedonverse , add a comment

As our Earth continues to whirl around the sun, the only thing you can really count on is that things will change. Day turns to night, clothes go out of style, friends turn into strangers, old buildings are replaced with new ones, and phones become obsolete before you figure out how to use them. It’s a harsh state of affairs, and if you went to ask the old wise man on the mountaintop the reason for it, he would probably answer with some mysterious riddle, and you would say thanks and go back home, and then decide what he meant was that change is for your own good, because life would get boring if everything stayed the same. So, I suppose the thing for a person to do would be to somehow learn to enjoy change. Go with the flow. Roll with the punches. All of this is just a roundabout way of saying there have been some new developments in my life which have taken a toll on my blogging output recently.

Yes, I know it’s been a while. Not sure how many of you are keeping track of the frequency of my blog posts, but it brings me no pleasure to admit that it’s been nine months since new words graced the Crawlspace. “Why, that’s shocking,” you say. “No self-respecting blogger would post less than once a week.” Trust me, I’ve heard it all before. To keep your audience interested and growing, they say, you have to keep shoveling the new content. To be honest I’m not sure if I was ever a blogger in the first place. Most bloggers don’t think much about what they’re writing. Their words tend to go straight from their heads to their blog sites, with very little editing in between. I find it impossible to write that way. It takes me a long time to gather my thoughts and assemble them into a form that’s entertaining for other people to read.

On top of that, I’ve had a lot of things to distract from my writing in recent months. For example, after 15 years as a cashier at the Majik Market, I was finally promoted to assistant manager. Last year Nick, the other assistant manager, had to go out of town for one of his chess tournaments, and Rajnish decided to promote me so I could cover Nick’s shifts. I was reluctant to accept the position at first, because I knew it would bring longer hours and more responsibility, but I figured what the hell, I’m not getting any younger, and my sometimes-girlfriend Sierra seemed impressed when I told her about it.

My actual job duties have changed very little since my promotion. I’m still mostly just a cashier, but I have to come in a couple of extra days a week to order merchandise and help with the paperwork. My slight upgrade in pay and social status has got me feeling a little more optimistic about my future, and I’ve been wondering if it might be time to move out of Mom’s basement and get my own place. Then again, the rent here is cheap and Mom doesn’t seem to mind having me around to help with the yard work and whatnot.

I guess the deciding factor in staying or leaving would be Sierra, who remains the mystery woman in my life. We met at the convenience store a couple of years ago, and have been dating off and on since then, but our relationship status is still anyone’s guess. We have had a lot of fun going on dates and watching TV here in the basement. She always seems interested in my life, but I still don’t know much about hers. It’s always her idea to call or come over. She never answers her phone when I call, and sometimes I don’t hear from her for weeks. I don’t know where she lives, and when I ask her she just laughs and jokingly says she doesn’t know me well enough to tell me that, for all she knows I could be serial killer or something. I went by the restaurant one time where she said she works as hostess and they said they didn’t know any Sierra. Then she told me she doesn’t work there anymore, because she got a job at a law office somewhere. As you would expect, some of my friends have been saying that she’s just using me and that I should stay away from her because she could have five other boyfriends or be a drug addict or a criminal or who knows what. They might have good reason to be thinking those things, but I don’t want to believe any of it because she’s beautiful and I fall in love with her a little more whenever we’re together.

We’ve had another frequent guest here at Mom’s house for the last few months. It turns out that Sierra has an 8-year-old son named Garrett and he’s been spending a lot of time here with me when she goes out of town to visit her sister in Pittsburgh or has to work late at the office. Now, as you might have guessed, I’ve never thought of myself as being good with kids, and might have been freaked out about the situation, but I get along well with Garrett and we’ve been having lots of fun. Actually, I feel kind of honored that Sierra has trusted me to spend time with her son. Mom likes him too, and has given me lots of moral support. She said that this is a good chance for me to develop my parenting skills.

Normally, when I’m not working, I like to chill out on the couch and watch TV, but that doesn’t happen much when Garrett is around. He’s always full of energy, and constantly wants to go places and do new and interesting things. We’ve been to the movies, the amusement park, the racetrack, the planetarium, and a couple of baseball games. We have also logged a lot of time on the video game console. Sierra says she doesn’t want him playing anything too violent, but the games in my old Super Nintendo collection are pretty tame compared to today’s offerings. I’m guessing he would rather play the latest action-packed Playstation or Xbox games like his friends play, with titles like Morbid Enemy 7: The Reckoning, and War Patriot 2014: Operation Valiant Cougar, but so far he hasn’t complained.

Aside from the video games, Garrett doesn’t have much interest in TV, except for some of those Toonzai cartoons that come on Saturday morning. When I get engrossed in one of my TV shows, he goes upstairs and hangs out with Mom. He helps her with the dishes and she has taught him several card games. He also plays with our old dog Randy who lives in the backyard. Garrett tries to get him to chase sticks or a frisbee and usually Randy just lays there on the porch and looks at him like he’s crazy.

You might have thought I would find out more about Sierra by spending time with her son, but you would be wrong. Whenever I ask him anything about her, he says, “I’m not supposed to tell you that.” I have considered the possibility that she’s involved with the CIA or black ops or something crazy like that, and that she could even be gathering information about me for some secret mission. I asked Garrett one time, “You know you and your mother are making me paranoid, right?”  He just replied, “Don’t worry, she likes you a lot.” Mom says I should let Sierra have her space and not worry too much about her. So, hearing that from them, I feel better about things. I’ve got an attractive girlfriend, and it’s not the perfect situation, but fairy tales are the only places where problem-free relationships exist.

Well, that’s what’s been going on with me lately. Here are some thoughts on a couple of TV shows from the 2013-2014 season which is drawing to a close as summer approaches:

The Mentalist – The sixth season brought the long-awaited end to Patrick Jane’s search for Red John, the demented serial killer who claimed the lives of Jane’s wife and kids several years ago. Our teacup-wielding hero, without disheveling his hair or rumpling his sport coat, calmly strangled the villain, and then set off for two years of R&R on a Caribbean Island. The end of the Red John saga brought some ambitious changes to the show. After the disbanding of the California Bureau of Investigation and a two-year fast forward, three of the characters, including Jane, Lisbon, and Cho, are working together again as FBI agents, with Rigsby and Van Pelt leaving the show after getting married and starting their own high-tech security service. Yet another big shake-up toward the end of this mother-of-all Mentalist seasons: looks like Patrick and Teresa are finally going to take their long-standing platonic relationship to the next level and give the love thing a try. That should be interesting.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland – This Once Upon a Time spinoff was the only new show of the season that I got really attached to. It had a totally likable cast and some great romantic sub-plots. In my opinion, it was a lot more engaging than its parent show, due in no small part to the smaller number of characters. Instead of trying to include every fairytale character of all time like its forbearer, OUATIW focused instead on just a handful from the Lewis Carroll books, along with the unlikely inclusion of Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin movies. The evil sorcerer, as played by Naveen Andrews of Lost fame, ranks as one of the all-time great TV villains in my opinion. I didn’t understand the need to cram the whole name of the parent show into the title. “Wonderland” would have been a lot catchier and easier to say to your friend there at the water cooler or in the coal mine. Sadly, we won’t be getting another season of this show. Ted’s curse has struck again. It was cancelled by ABC the day after I liked it on Facebook.

Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. – What to say about producer Joss Whedon’s latest incursion into television? It seems a lot more focused than Dollhouse, his previous effort, and having the watchful eyes of Marvel Comics looking over his shoulder has probably also contributed to the quality of the show. This was one of my girlfriend’s favorites of the last season. Sierra, like me, is a big Buffy/Angel fan from way back. I watched a couple of episodes of the new show with her, but I have mixed feelings about it. It’s hard for me to warm up to this bunch of government secret agents who keep tabs on various super-powered individuals. I can’t figure out who the good characters are supposed to be, if there are any. Coulson, the main agent guy, seems hopelessly smug and aloof. You can’t just slap a protagonist up there and expect me to like him. You’ve got to give me reasons to like that person, so that I care about their story. I realize that some of the ambiguity of the SHEILD characters may be intentional, given the questionable nature of their employment. Overall, this is not a bad show at all. In fact, I’m contemplating the first-season DVD as I type this.

 

Midseason 2009 TV Explosion! January 6, 2009

Posted by Ted in : 24, 30 Rock, Amazing Race, American Idol, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Fringe, General, Hell's Kitchen, Heroes, Holiday Posts, Kath & Kim, Lost, Midseason, My Name is Earl, Reality TV, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Smallville, Terminator: tSCC, The Office , 8comments

 January is here. The festivities and laziness of the holiday season are behind us. It’s time for everyone to once again get serious about things, get back to work, and face up to the hard cold reality of life. Right?

Wrong! January is the time of year we TV watchers plunge head first into some serious escapist entertainment, and here at TV Crawlspace the only reality we’ll be facing is reality television. In just a few days, a massive wave of midseason premieres will hit like a tsunami, carrying us helplessly out into the television ocean, hopefully never to return again.

For TV Guide’s complete schedule of midseason premieres, click here.

Here’s a rundown of shows I’m looking forward to (and a couple I’m not looking forward to) in chronological order:

13 Fear is Real – (starts Wed., Jan. 7 on CW 8/7c)
This is a spooky themed reality show that might be amusing, something along the lines of Survivor meets Blair Witch Project. I hope there’s something more going on here than guys in masks jumping out and scaring contestants.

NBC comedy night done (halfway) right – (all four shows resume on Thur., Jan. 8 on NBC 8/7c)
My Name is Earl – This has been a little bit better this season, with a half hearted attempt to return to the theme of redemption (Earl’s list) that made the show so appealing in the first season.
Kath & Kim – I watched this show just to see how bad it was, and to my surprise I liked it. Slightly demented but well written, it’s sort of a kinder, gentler version of John Waters. Everybody on this show apparently works in a mall. How cool is that?
The Office – This has been brilliant as usual. I especially liked the episode where Jim and Pam had their first disagreement. I hope this is a foreshadowing of things to come. I think I like them better as enemies than lovers. Is it just me, or are all the female characters on this show mean and vindictive?
30 Rock – As a fan of Tina Fey during her SNL days, I wanted to like this overhyped show, but the cutesy self-satisfied tone of it left me cold. The jokes aren’t funny, and the endless parade of guest stars can’t make up for the show’s lack of direction. The emperor has no clothes!

Howie Do It – (starts Fri. Jan. 9 on ABC 8/7c)
This appears to be a hidden camera prank type show with Howie Mandel. I may watch the one episode that is aired before the show is cancelled.

24 – (starts Sun. Jan. 11 on FOX 8/7c)
What I always liked about 24 was its sci-fi elements, like the spacey soundtrack, and the high tech gadgetry. This season Janeane Garofalo plays the new computer guru, Janis Gold. According to TV Guide, “Mid-season run-ins with Chloe should make for hot geek-on-geek action.”

American Idol – (starts Tue. Jan. 13 on FOX 8/7c)
It is what it is.

Smallville – (returns Thur. Jan. 15 on CW 8/7c)
I’ve gotten hooked on this show again after sitting out for a couple of seasons. It seems unfair that Smallville’s best season ever may be its last, although I don’t know if that’s been made official yet.

Supernatural – (returns Thur. Jan. 15 on CW 9/8c)
Another CW show that I’ve rediscovered. It seems to have improved a lot since its first season. CW deserves credit for giving shows like this and Smallville a chance, and not axing them at the drop of a hat.

Fringe – (returns Tue. Jan. 20 on FOX 9/8c)
This sci-fi drama from the co-creator of Lost is my favorite new show of the year. Run and tell your friends.

Lost – (starts Wed. Jan. 21 on ABC 9/8c)
There are few television pleasures that compare with getting lost in Lost. It’s pretty amazing that a show this weird could stay on the air for five years, but it’s been reported that season 6 in 2010 will be the last.

Hell’s Kitchen – (starts Thur. Jan. 29 on FOX 9/8c)
Not a great time slot for Chef Ramsey this time around. He’s going up against The Office and the ratings powerhouse Supernatural.

Heroes – (returns Mon. Feb. 2 on NBC 9/8c)
This quality of this show has fallen faster than Nathan Petrelli during an eclipse. The storylines seem to be wandering aimlessly. Too many characters to keep up with is part of the problem. Some have suggested it could be the show’s last season if the ratings don’t improve.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – (returns Fri. Feb. 13 on FOX 8/7c)
FOX is moving this to Fridays, where it will be paired up with Dollhouse.

Dollhouse – (starts Fri. Feb. 13 on FOX 9/8c)
This is the one that everyone’s waiting for, the new show from Buffy/Angel mastermind Joss Whedon, but there have reportedly been problems in production and FOX has now relegated the show to the dreaded Friday night time slot (set to debut on Friday the 13th, no less). Of course, the X-files thrived on Fridays, so there’s still hope.

The Amazing Race – (starts Sun. Feb. 15 on CBS 8/7c)
My favorite reality show will feature less airports this season, according to TV Guide.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...