Posts Tagged ‘television’

It’s never a good sign when I forgot to set the DVR for a show – surely a strong indication that I can live without it because the story/characters aren’t compelling enough to register as a blip on my short-term memory. Yeah, yeah I know there is a nifty little thing called a Season Pass so I don’t have to remember to set the DVR every week but for new shows where I am only testing them out I don’t like to rush into the such a deep commitment. On Monday night I was sure there was something I was forgetting, and it was only when I turned on the TV for House to discover that some sporting event had delayed the scheduling so that Terra Nova had only just started.

Ah yes Terra Nova. Only on the third episode and already forgetting all about you. I rather liked the pilot despite there being way too much focus on the teenagers (I mean this is airing on Fox not the CW).  It starts in 2149 where the Earth is so inhospitable (think a blend of Blade Runner and Total Recall where apartments are furnished by Muji) that the powers that be have found a way to send people back to the prehistoric period – but hey won’t that screw up the timeline? No, they’ve thought of that and it’s a Jurassic parallel universe. Aren’t they clever!

The focus is on the Shannon family, and their adventures through the wormhole slash Stargate slash whatever. The wife is meant to be some shit-hot doctor which is why the family was recruited for the colony but herein lies one of my main issues. The wife (Dr. Elizabeth Shannon played by British actress Shelley Conn) looks like she is in her early 30s so how the frak is she the mother to two annoying teenagers (circa 16 years old and 14 years old) and managed to finish medical school and whatever residency programs where need to make her such a shit-hot property? (This is why I like The Good Wife; Julianna Margulies’ character Alicia looks and plays old enough to have two teenage children plus she had a career break to raise them.)

So it feels like the teenagers (and their subsequent dippy plot lines) have been shoe-horned in to make the show appeal to a younger demographic (yet they didn’t want to cast age appropriate parents), but there is hope that they will all get eaten by dinosaurs. The patriarch of the family is Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara) an ex-cop who was sent to prison because he and Elizabeth decided to have an illegal third child (this one a believable 5 year old). So before the family is even sent back in time Jim has to break out of prison, rescue the third child (who was being left behind because of the evil government forces) and then crash the transport. This part of the pilot was all very entertaining. Sadly, once they start their new life in oh so perfect Terra Nova it starts to get predictable (or maybe I am just bitter about them getting a high-tech house and a beige Muji wardrobe).

All the residents are happily working together under the military dictatorship of Commander Taylor. It’s like an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the away team beam down to discover colonist who are happy working in the fields in their stylish Muji clothing, and there is a bustling market.  It’s all too perfect apart from the dinosaur attacks, the group of colonist that have broken off to live separately and the mysterious messages at the waterfall.

As much as I like Shelley Conn and Jason O’Mara (and it’s nice to have a mixed race couple on TV) I don’t really care what happens to them or their brood. Too much focus on moody teenagers and the mythology of the show hasn’t been established quick enough. The second and third episodes were typical dinosaur of the week episodes, and it would have been better if they had been darker and introduced us into the world of the break away colonists and any conspiracy theories about the true mission of the colony.

So there you go. No season pass for Terra Nova.

Monday

Season Pass: House

Episode by Episode Probation:  Terra Nova

Guilty Secret: Castle

I really hope that this is the final season of House. Please let it end so that we can all be released from this endless cycle of abuse – Cuddy managed to escape why not us? The premise of Terra Nova looks interesting: dystopian future plus dinosaurs. So we’ll see how that goes. As much as I love my weekly hit of Nathan Fillion charm I don’t really want Castle clogging up my DVR so I watch it via On Demand.

Tuesday

Season Pass: NCIS

Guilty Secret: Body of Proof

NCIS is like a pair of really comfy furry Crocs that you know aren’t stylish and should throw out but you just can’t. I was going to watch Buffy in Ringer but I missed the first episode, and I think I can live without it as it sounds like a re-hash of an Agatha Christie story. Okay, Body of Proof isn’t a particularly innovative police procedural but it’s nice to see Seven of Nine boss Dana Delaney around.

Wednesday

Season Pass: Top Chef Texas

Got to wait till November for the next season of Top Chef with the shiny Tom Colicchio and glamorous Padma Lakshmi. I just hope that Anthony Bourdain will be guesting as a judge slash blogger as his acerbic wit is most needed (especially if foam rears it’s foamy head again).

Thursday

Season Pass: The Big Bang Theory & The Mentalist

Episode by Episode Probation: Person of Interest & Prime Suspect

Alex and I have fallen so far down TBBT rabbit hole that there is no return, and it’s one of the few shows worth watching live. I *loved* the season finale of The Mentalist and it will be interesting to see how they handle it. Even though I don’t think Prime Suspect needed to be re-booted I will give it a whirl since the cast is led by Maria Bello. I’m curious about Person of Interest – could be good (Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson and JJ Abrams) or could be a crap Minority Report style knock off.

Friday

Season Pass: Chuck, Fringe & Supernatural

Episode by Episode Probation: A Gifted Man & Grimm

Friday is genre programming night because only geeks and nerds (and the heavenly pregnant) don’t go out. Out of all the fall shows (new and returning) I am most exciting about picking things up in Fringe’s alternate time line. It’s the last few episodes of Chuck so that’s a must watch. Supernatural is on my personal bubble. I hated the ending of the last season, and what they’ve done to Castiel. They either need to shake things up or start winding things down. A Gifted Man sounds a little bit Joan of Ark-ish – not sure if this is a good or bad thing. Now Grimm I have a bone to pick with as I have a sneaking suspicious that this got picked up by NBC instead of Ronald D. Moore’s pilot 17th Precinct but I am curious about how they will blend the mythology of the Grimm fairy tales.

Saturday

Nothing! Netflix night.

Sunday

Season Pass: The Good Wife & Homeland

Episode by Episode Probation: Once Upon a Time

The new show I am most excited about is Homeland with the most excellent Damian Lewis. It sounds like it’s a combination of Band of Brothers and Life – w00t! The trailer makes it look really good. I’m not so sure about CBS moving The Good Wife to Sundays but hey what do I know about TV scheduling! Can’t wait to find out what happens between Alicia and Will, and Alicia and Eli. Alan Cumming is TV gold – he doesn’t need lines to steal scenes he just glares at the other actors. Once Upon a Time is another show blending fairy tale mythology and “real” life so curious as to how they approach it.

Since my monthly Netflix payment is going up, and I need a push to review the stuff I’ve seen I figure that a monthly review is a good way of making sure I am still getting value for money from Netflix.

DVDs:

Nights in Rodanthe – Awful, awful film. It’s all about “old” people finding love post-divorce and medical malpractice suits in the midst of storm. I honestly only rented it because James Franco was in it but he is barely present. It’s one of his homeopathic films where you just get essence of Franco, and frankly it is not enough.

Just Go With It – An Aniston-Sandler rom-com that isn’t actually as bad as it should be, and the kid actors are the least annoying I’ve seen in a long time (they are actually clever, manipulative and funny).

Macross: Vol. 3 – This was an Alex rental so I dozed through it.

Leverage: Season 3 (disc 2, 3 & 4) – More adventures from our con men with hearts of gold. Still not as good as the first season but helped me dodge the heat.

Battle: Los Angeles – LOVE IT! All those reviews trashing it were obviously expecting a sci-fi movie rather than a straight up war film. It is really good war film. The soldiers methodically figure out how to defeat the enemy (aliens).

Mamma Mia! – What can I say I needed a hit of Greece and ABBA. Blue skies and catchy lyrics made not being able to go on vacation this summer bearable.

Unknown – AWFUL! I thought this was going to be cool fightie film like Taken instead it’s dull. There is zero chemistry between Liam Neeson and January Jones before, during and after amnesia.  Avoid it like the plague as you will never get those hours back.

The Adjustment Bureau – Not bad. It is of course based on a Philip K. Dick short story than the powers that be decided to romanticize.

Source Code – Definitely one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Kudos to Duncan Jones for producing a solid follow-up to Moon. It’s so much more than “Jake on a train”. It is a much smarter and layered film than the trailers had presented. Like Moon I don’t want to give any thing away but by the end you will be craving coffee and donuts.

How Do You Know – Terrible film about a women (Reese Whitherspoon) with low self esteem who is still playing soft ball professionally into her 30s (or is it late 20s I forget when women are over-the-hill), and then gets cut from the national team or something. She dates a man who treats her badly, and Jack Nicholson keeps randomly appearing but doesn’t really aid the plot.

Instants:

TV: Hoarders (1 episodes), No Reservations (6 episodes), Firefly (2 episodes), Farscape (1 episode), Sherlock Holmes (3 episodes), Coupling: Season 4 (1 episode), and Sports Night: Seasons 1 & 2 (33 episodes)

Wow I watched a lot of Sports Night last month. I must have been on a serious Dan Rydell and Aaron Sorkin high after all of that. No Reservations is Alex and I’s go to Instant on the weekend when there is nothing to watch, and Bourdain’s adventures are always amusing. Everything else I watched must have been whilst I was overheating on the sofa is something of a blur.

Documentary: Art & Copy

In honor of Alex going to work for a branding agency we thought we should watch this documentary about movers and shakers of the industry and how it’s evolved. It’s pretty interesting and worth a watch.

Films: America’s Sweethearts, Blue Crush, & Blue Juice,

These were “vacation” substitute films. America’s Sweethearts is set in a lush hotel, Blue Crush is in Hawaii (again with a lush hotel), and Blue Juice is set in Cornwall (the Hawaii of the UK). Roll on next year when we can have an actual vacation – even if it is to my mum’s in Scotland.

Stats for July: DVDs (12) & Instant (51)

Looks like July was a really heavy Netflix month thanks to the soaring temps and limited mobility. Source Code and Battle: Los Angeles were definitely the best things.

Oh Syfy, you’ve managed to go and do it again haven’t you? Broken my heart but this time it’s for the last time (unless you team up with Ronald D. Moore again).

Caprica and Stargate: Universe were cancelled because there weren’t enough people watching them, and now Eureka got the chop because even though there were plenty of people watching it’s an expensive show to make. And from what I’ve read the team behind Eureka didn’t feel that they could keep the quality with the cuts. Kudos to the Eureka team for making that tough decision. Yes, I want more Eureka but I don’t want a poor imitation. Less funny, less quirky with wobbly sets.

Unlike the unceremonious cancellation of Caprica and SG:U at least Eureka is getting a long swan song. We still have 4-5 episodes of the fourth season, then a holiday special and the fifth and final season next year (currently being film). Syfy have even green lit an extra episode of the fifth season to allow the writers to tie things up. That is much better than the shoddy treatment of Caprica. Yes, I’m still bitter. I will always be bitter.

I was late to Eureka, and it was the delicious casting of James Callias that sucked me in. But as soon as I started to watch the back seasons I was sold. Loved the premise. Loved the cast. Loved the quirky humor and pro-science messaging. (It will be one of the few shows I’ll let the Cylons watch when they are old enough.)

I’m not sure if there is much that can be done to “save Eureka” but I’ll be making sure that I watch it live, and tweet/blog about it so the powers that be see that there is a huge fan base that are pissed. That there are Syfy fans that aren’t interested in ghosting and monster hunting “reality” shows, and most of all I will try not to get as invested in new Syfy as I don’t think I can take any more disappointment.

Between Alex starting a new job, and my inability to be on my feet for any length of time I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be having a pretty quiet summer. Netflix, TV and air conditioning will feature heavily (as will iced coffee, cake and swollen ankles) but given that once our little hybrid cylons arrive in October it’s probably good to cherish this time… of being able to watch TV uninterrupted.

Traditionally summer isn’t the greatest for new programming as the Networks shut-up shop but thanks to basic cable it doesn’t look too bad (even though there will be no Mad Men) and the shorter seasons makes for tighter plots (hurrah for no filler episodes) . A mix of returning favorites and some new shows, plus I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll end up working our way through some of our favorite box sets (e.g. From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, and The Pacific) will get us through till fall.

Covert Affairs (June 7th, USA) – A candy floss spy show with Piper Perabo as the naive rookie agent, and the criminally underused Anne Dudek as her homely sister. This is the second season and it’s not overly taxing though you can loose yourself trying to figure out how Perabo manages to run and fight in her super high heels (one for the Mythbuster team me thinks).

White Collar (June 7th, USA) – A Manhattan fairytale about an FBI agent and his ‘Catch Me If You Can’ “reformed” art thief side kick. Beautiful shots of NYC, charismatic leads but not enough con artist trade craft for me.

Outcasts (June 18th, BBC America) – I am somewhat on the fence about humans escaping Earth to resettle a new planet but it does have Jamie Bamber (BSG’s Apollo) so will have to give it a shot.

Falling Skies (June 19th, TNT) – Humans vs. aliens with Dr. Carter. Again will give it a shot but sadly Spielberg’s association does not guarantee that it will be entertaining especially after his awkward MTV Movie Awards appearance to push Super 8.

Burn Notice (June 23rd, USA) – Everybody’s favorite yogurt consuming burnt spy is back. The plots can get silly but it’s hard to tire of glamorous Miami, explosions and Bruce Campbell.

Leverage (June 26th, TNT) – The fourth season of the adventures of a band of merry con artists. This does have enough trade craft but I felt like the series has lost it’s way from the first season (I think Nate’s ex-wife needs to reappear and more Mark Sheppard).

Royal Pains (June 29th, USA) – This is probably as close as I’ll ever get to bespoke medical care and holidaying in the Hamptons. It’s patient of the week formula mixed with medical MacGyver high-jinx make it an enjoyable frappucino.

Torchwood (July 8th, Starz) – (Captain) Jack is back! Am so wary of the Americanization of Torchwood but given how hit and miss the BBC series was this could be the adrenaline injection needed but then again it could be a right mess.

Alphas (July 11th, Syfy) – Okay so I am still pissed at Syfy for canceling Caprica AND Stargate: Universe, and I ignored their version of Being Human on point of it being non-original programing but I’m curious about Alphas. Could it be a better version of Heroes? I’ll give it an episode or two.

Eureka (July 11th, Syfy) – I love Eureka so much that I am willing to re-locate there to sling coffee at Cafe Diem, and they’ve probably got the best public schools in the US. I know it’s formulaic with the geniuses causing a different world ending disaster every week and normal old Jack having to come to the rescue but it’s just so much good hearted fun.

Haven (July 15th, Syfy) – I haven’t read the Stephen King novella from which Haven is based so I don’t know how faithful it is or where the story is going but the twist at the end of last season was intriguing enough to have me tuning in this summer.

Zen (July 17th, PBS) – Sadly the BBC canceled this Italian detective series after one season but I still think it’s worth watching if only for the excessive consumption of espresso.

Good

  • Sunny but chilly – has spring finally been sprung?
  • Meyer lemons and crepes
  • Nurse Jackie. Hate her. Love her. Hate her for what she did to O’Hara
  • Planning some post-EXAMS! meet-ups with friends & family in London
  • Boiled eggs & soldiers for breakfast

Less good

  • EXAMS! SEMINARS! PANIC!
  • Too tired to stay up for The Good Wife
  • Tried to trim my hair myself: passable if a little wonky

The good

  • Downloaded two new books (Complaints by Ian Rankin and the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery) just need to catch-up with school work so I can read them
  • Baked a blood orange & olive oil cake
  • Castle is really growing on me, and new The Good Wife tonight (when is this March Madness over?)

The bad

  • Alex is helping someone move tonight so no tea and cake till he gets back. It’s almost 9pm – boo!
  • Nasal congestion reaching the point where I need to get some of those Breathe Right strips
  • Tomorrow night’s drinks with the girls just got rain checked and I am secretly pleased as I want to work on an essay plan instead
  • EXAM! panic