Monday, March 12, 2012

Some Thoughts on Television

The New Season: My favorite new shows are Alcatraz and Grimm. Television may still largely be, as Newton Minnow called it, a “vast wasteland” (think Kardashians), but the quality of the acting, writing and producing on network scripted shows has improved dramatically over the past decade or so. Alcatraz has a great premise—all the prisoners disappeared from the island in 1963, and reappear fifty years later to continue their vicious deeds—and some of the creepiest villains on television. It also has Jorge Garcia from Lost. Garcia is a likeable actor, but every time I see him I can’t get past his weight. He’s morbidly obese, and if he doesn’t lose weight he’ll be endangering his life.

Grimm is a fun show in the tradition of Supernatural, moodily photographed and featuring great chemistry between handsome David Giuntoli as Detective Nick Burkhardt, a “Grimm” who can see creatures hiding in human form, and the wonderful Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, a Wieder Blutbad, a vicious form of wolf. Monroe has renounced his species’ violence and helps Nick catch other creatures. (The show is set in Portland, and it seems every other person in the city is a beast.)

Enduring Favorites: I love White Collar (starring the perfectly gorgeous Matt Bomer, who just came out as gay), Burn Notice, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles (I love Eric Christian Anderson in that one—what a killer smile!—and he makes a great team with the lovely Daniela Ruah), Supernatural (both stars are very attractive), Law & Order: SVU, Psych, True Blood (I love Ryan Kwanten!), Dexter, Family Guy, Hawaii Five-O, The Cleveland Show, Downton Abbey, and Foyle’s War (in repeats, but always riveting).

The sexiest male duo on TV has to be Alex O’Loughlin as Steve and Scott Caan as Danno in Hawaii Five-O. O’Loughlin is a real stud, and Caan has the same appealing mannerisms and speech patterns as his father, James Caan. (Speaking of which, the elder Caan last week guest starred on the show. I felt sure that he would play Danno’s father, but he played an unrelated character. So then I felt sure someone would say something like, “What are you two, father and son?” or “He’s Danno in thirty years.” But the resemblance went unremarked, and I think the producers missed an opportunity.

A Few Complaints: Why on earth was Chris Meloni never nominated for an Emmy? He’s every bit as good on Law & Order, SVU as Mariska Hargitay, who I love and who seems to get nominated every year. Very puzzling. The good news is that Chris will be joining the cast of True Blood next season as an "ancient, powerful vampire who holds the fates of Bill and Eric in his hands." I can’t wait—Meloni is a terrific, strong actor and should make a sexy vampire.            

And speaking of Emmys, why hasn’t James Roday, the star of Psych, been nominated? He’s very funny on the show, equally adept at physical comedy and the hilarious rapid-fire banter with his partner, played by Dulé Hill.  Maybe this year.            

I was going to complain that Family Guy hasn’t been very funny for the last two seasons, but the March 4 and March 11 episodes were much better. Still, The Cleveland Show has been much more consistently funny. I suspect that Seth McFarland has been spending most of his time with Cleveland, but perhaps that’s changing. I hope Family Guy keeps being funny, because I love it to death. A suggestion: give us more Stewie, and a Stewie more like he was the first few seasons—effete, matricidal, and rolickingly funny. In recent seasons he has seemed to be emasculated— in too many episodes he’s only had a few lines, and those episodes that do have more of him now show him as practically a cipher. He’s become bland and—dare I say it?—boring. Seth, if you read this, please give us back the Stewie we knew and loved!

Pet Peeve. It really angers me when a network airs a show with central mysteries and then cancels it in the middle of the story, leaving the viewers, who have invested time and emotion in the show and its characters, high and dry with unanswered questions. Lost at least gave us a wrap-up, as unsatisfying as it was. But The 4400, V, Flash Forward, Heroes, and most recently Terra Nova, were unceremoniously dropped by their networks in the middle of their stories. This shows a total disregard for fans who have become involved with the show. A suggestion to network execs: the next time you debut a multi-layered, myth-laden, mysterious story, have a plan to end the series, whenever that should happen, with a final episode that explains everything. You’ll be showing a modicum of respect for the people who keep you in your job.

Next week: 2012: The Year of Barbra Streisand

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