Somebody's Webpage on Twitter Somebody's Webpage on Facebook
jump to navigation

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).

107412_d0417b

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.

How Long Before NBC Kills The Event? April 16, 2011

Posted by Ted in : 24, CW, ER, Heroes, Lost, NBC, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, The Event, Tonight Show , add a comment

For a TV show to be truly great, I believe it has to have at least one of three things: aliens, ghosts, or conspiracies. The Event delivers two of these features (no ghosts so far) along with a fast-paced storyline that approximates the suspense of 24. The show also utilizes the Lost technique of keeping the viewer guessing by having strange plot developments in every show (SPOILER ALERT for you DVD watchers!) — there are disappearing planes, extraterrestrials held captive by the government, people who don’t age, kids who look like old people, and a villain who turns out to be a shape-shifter. And that’s just the first half season. This is an ambitious show that builds on the great shows that came before it.

Caught up in the middle of the dangerous interplanetary intrigue is an attractive young couple, Sean and Leila, who want nothing more than to get married and lead a normal life. While the two are on vacation, Sean returns to his hotel room to find that Leila is gone along with their belongings, and the room is now occupied by a different couple. The hotel desk informs him that they have no record of him or his girlfriend staying in the room. It turns out that Leila has been kidnapped, along with her father and sister. Sean eventually tracks her down and is able to free her, and they find themselves on the run from both her kidnappers and the government.

Leila and Sean connect the dots 

In the first few episodes, Jason Ritter and Sarah Roemer, the actors who portrayed Sean and Leila, had a humorous habit of stuttering and stammering in every scene, which I think was intended to convey the idea of average people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances — the sort of characterization that was pulled off flawlessly by Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, for instance. Once again the old saying, “Art has a life of its own,” has found a new example. The actors’ intention of realism plays on the receiving end as a comedy routine about people with speech impediments. Which, to me, translates into “the director is asleep at the wheel.”

Also, some of the dialogue in recent episodes seems painfully artificial. The extraterrestrials are all business, with no time for walks on the beach or picnics in the park, as evidenced by such matter-of-fact pronouncements as “The uranium will be used to create a portal…that will bring many more of our people to earth,” and “The future of our race hangs in the balance.”

Laura Innes, once famous as Dr. Weaver on ER, plays the leader of the other-worldly visitors. It’s ironic that her character on the show, Sophia, ages at a tiny fraction of the rate of a normal human, because the actress has aged considerably since her early days at County General hospital. It pains me to say this, as a long time Innes fan, but she could use some sprucing up in the hair and make-up department. I mean, come on NBC! She’s queen of the aliens. Let her have some sex appeal, for crying out loud.

In spite of the defects, I can say with confidence that The Event is a must-see for fans of science fiction television. The long-term fate of the show is precarious for a couple of reasons, the first obviously being that some people automatically turn off the TV when a storyline involves aliens. The second reason is almost as obvious: NBC is notorious for axing TV shows at the first sign of lower ratings. This is especially true for sci-fi shows — Heroes and Surface come to mind. The recent Tonight Show debacle effectively solidified NBC’s status as the network that makes really stupid decisions. I’m guessing Conan O’Brien’s butt still hurts from having the rug pulled out from under him after only seven months on the job at The Tonight Show.

Other, smarter networks, such as Fox and CW, give their shows a chance to develop, give the production staff a greater degree of creative freedom, and, most importantly, they respect the fans by letting shows end with dignity, allowing the writers to tie up all the loose ends and resolve any unfinished business. Supernatural is the perfect example. The show seemed pretty hopeless in its first season, and I gave up on it after one episode. The CW network, however, didn’t give up. They allowed the show to develop and improve over time. I caught an episode several seasons later, and I couldn’t believe how much better it was. The CW had done what NBC would find unthinkable: It had actually stood by one of its TV shows and made it a big success.

As I watched the once-compelling Heroes crash and burn over the course of its four season run, I developed the impression that it suffered from too-many-chefs-in-the-kitchenitis. I pictured NBC executives in Brooks Brothers suits hovering over the writers’ computers, leaning in to retype a word here and there, and micromanaging every conceivable detail of the storyline, creating the convoluted mess that left fans shaking their heads in dismay. There’s a reason why Claire-Bear leapt to her non-death in the final scene. She clearly hoped that her super-healing powers would fail her for just once, and the unbearable folly of Heroes would be over. The viewers were right there alongside her, ready for the death plunge.

The NBC bean counters probably spend long hours in their mahogany-paneled conference rooms arguing that science fiction and supernatural TV shows are too expensive to make and don’t attract enough viewers. I can hear them saying something to the effect of, “We need to watch these dirt-bag sci-fi producers carefully and make sure they’re delivering a product conducive to the longevity of our lavish lifestyles.”

A part of me wishes NBC would just agree to never attempt any more sci-fi, then I could wash my hands of them forever. I’m sure they would do just fine with their current line-up of game shows, crime dramas, and really bad sitcoms.

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