Thursday, September 30, 2010

TV Dinner

With Fall, comes pumpkin, apple, and spice flavors, raking leaves, Friday night lights, and new TV. I love this season, for all of those the little things that feel like home (the shallower notions of these homey feelings included). Lots of new additions to the network (big and cable) schedules this fall. Who will make the cut?

Boardwalk Empire (HBO): The period setting and gangster theme both provide for captivating entertainment. Steve Buschemi is also very good in his role as A.C. Treasurer/Town Goon Nucky Thompson. I enjoyed the first episode a lot more than the second, which frankly, got unnecessarily weird. We’ll see which direction episode three takes.

The Event (NBC): C endorsed this pick to fill the void he’s been feeling with Lost gone.  Neither the plot nor the characters of The Event are nearly as engrossing as its predecessor, however. Just in case it gets more interesting, we’ve decided to give the show a fair shake with a six episode trial run before giving it the ax.

Hawaii Five-O (CBS): This pick was actually mine. As long as you accept the formulaic CBS procedural drama context (the CSI and NCIS franchises) and early 80s cheesiness (a la The A Team, Dukes of Hazzard, Magnum, P.I.), this cop serial may just turn out to be a winner. For me, it fills a couple of Lost voids (beautiful Hawaii scenery and at least half of the immortal Jin and Sun in Daniel Dae Kim). Scott Caan, well he’s not winning any Emmys, but his characters always get me – I’m not precisely sure why.

Lonestar (FOX): Well, I gave it one episode (maybe half) before pulling the plug, FOX gave it two. I only set the DVR to record the one, so I guess I wasn’t too surprised when the show was canceled – unlikeable leads (notice how Meredith Gray is much less annoying than she used to be; and as nasty as he is, you always ended up rooting for Tony Soprano) don’t lead to well-rated television.

Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC): [SPOILER] Michael Imperioli is quite impressive as surly detective
Louis Fitch, who in the first episode calms a murderous father who has taken his mother and children hostage and reveals his unrequited love for a colleague. If the rest of the cast keeps up, this will probably turn out to be rookie of the year. Playing on multiple-plot-lines-turn-out-to-be-related and shocker ending (brand-new detective shot suddenly as his wife goes into labor) themes worked well in the pilot, but I hope that the docu-drama style is not overly dependent on plot devices. Oh, and it’s set in Michigan! :)

No Ordinary Family (ABC): I have not seen it yet (it premiered a week later than other new series), but the incessant commercials finally got me, and I DVR’d one episode. I’m not hopeful for any lasting relationship, but I’ll give it a shot. I doubt C will join me.

Blue Bloods (CBS): [SPOILER] Can I tell you a secret? I think Donnie Wahlberg, in addition to his obvious NKOTB cred, has more acting chops than his brother but has never found the right opportunity. Time will tell if this is that opportunity. Surrounded by a cast including Tom Selleck, Will Estes (whom I adored as JJ on American Dreams), and Bridget Moynahan (yup, Tom Brady’s baby mama), the first episode created the appropriate amount of intrigue (was a secret society involved in the murder of a dead brother?) and cop family warm and fuzzies. I have high hopes, but Fridays at 10, not a positive endorsement from the network.

The Whole Truth (ABC): I want to root for Maura Tierney in her cancer comeback role, so I DVRd one episode, but I have not yet felt compelled to watch it, so not a good sign of success for this legal drama.

Running Wilde (FOX): C loves him some Will Arnett, so I can observe him actively trying to adore this show. I’m going to give it a supportive try. But my first reaction – this is no Arrested Development. C counters that AD is not a fair comparison, but I say why not? – entertainment is entertainment; humor is humor. The beauty of Arnett’s Gob Bluthe was that he was surrounded by an equally ridiculous and hilarious cast of Bluthes, including the sane brother in Jason Bateman. That supporting cast is lacking so far in Running Wilde. This may be a C watches on his own.

Not a chance: Outlaw (NBC): Jimmy Smits and a supposed resignation from the Supreme Court for the greater good  – child, please; Undercovers (NBC): The marketing gurus behind the promos seemed to think that noting that this series is from JJ Abrams is enough to make the hard sell; you’re going to have to show me more than a pair of Black Aliases to make me watch.

Not exactly new, but worthy of mention: The Good Wife (CBS): Okay, I’ve yet to actually view this season premiere, but the Good Wife (solely On Demand viewing as background noise on my part-time days thus far) has potential to make it to the DVR queue this season, mostly due to the fact that the issues have some basis in law (not a particularly high bar - no pun intended) - actual legal ethics questions, what do you know?; The Good Guys (FOX): Not to be confused with The Good Wife, this show officially premiered this summer, but it coming back for the fall…Colin Hanks’ straight man proves to be the perfect foil to  Bradley Whitford at his comic best, quite possibly better than (gasp) his Billy Madison appearance as Eric Gordon (just watch the recent Baba O’Riley montage for evidence); Friday Night Lights (NBC): With real football and the Direct TV (we’re cable folks) seasons in progress, I yearn for a little Eric and Tammy Taylor coaching/most supportive fan action.

Imminent break-ups: Desperate Housewives (ABC): I did love Wilhelmina Slater on the departed Ugly Betty, but I don’t think I can take the same Vanessa Williams character – nor the same washed-up storyline – yet again; Monday Night Football (ESPN): Da Bears were on this week, but even an interesting game fails to make amends for the travesty that is the Gruden/Jaws combo (if they mentioned Clay Matthews and that nasty mane again, whilst the aforementioned linebacker continued to do nothing defensively, I was going to throw the television out the window); Chuck (NBC): The title character is no longer as awkward and lovable as he used to be, and it detracts from the show’s charm; Amazing Race (CBS): It’s been a long run - it’s likely our last season - it’s just time.

Fall, the season for weeding the new shows and figuring out which will make the cut - we only have so much time for the more shallow pursuits and need to make time for others, like the dinner quotient of this title…

For some of those fall flavors I mentioned earlier, try roasting this squash combo.  Other yummy tastes for television pairing: Arugula Files’ Heirloom Tomato Grilled Pizza, IEatDC’s Braided Challah, iflipforfood’s Warm Fingerling Potato Salad, or The Carnivore and the Vegetarian’s Gnocchi with Arugula Pesto. For more on the seasonal noshing quotient, maybe some Apple Wine or Eat Make Read’s Savory Cheddar Biscotti. I’m also seeking pumpkin recipes – who’s got em? 

With thoughts on new TV, I'll leave you with my reflections on this summer's v.v. special television spectacle.


Manimal said...

I am still enjoying Chuck, because it usually wraps up the week's mystery/spy mission within the first 3 segments (45 min) of the show, leaving 1 segment for character/relationship development. Other procedurals use the entire time for the central plot, sometimes eschewing character development for the easier plot device.

iEatDC said...

I agree about Boardwalk Empire--I'm not wedded to it. It's not like when we watched all of Mad Men season one On Demand over a long weekend. Steve Buscemi is great though. Gratuitous boobage, "more than Entourage," noted J.

Thx for shoutout--dough can rise while you watch tv!