Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Open Season

Since it’s the new television season and while ‘Lost’ doesn’t start for another 425 days (or so it seems) I wanted to run down what I’ve watched so far. Feel free to offer any insights, opinions or shows I should check out. Always looking for new material and DVR makes my life worth living.

Fringe: The new show by the JJ Abrams (‘Lost’ dude) had me gung ho from the beginning. That a lot of it is supposed to take place in Boston (which looks more like Vancouver or Toronto pretending to be Boston) gave me high hopes.

Sadly, this doesn’t look like a keeper. I enjoy the interplay between the characters and there is an underlying sense of menace with certain events (the disturbing opening plane scene still haunts me), but there is a tremendous amount of belief we need to suspend in order to buy into this show. Out of the gate, we’re expected to believe that certain operatives of whatever is going on would sacrifice a plane load of innocent passengers (one being his own twin brother), that somehow a secret society has developed a ‘Ghost Network’ that works because they can communicate telepathically with each other, that a combination of LCD and a lengthy stay in a water tank can get you into another person’s dream and that dead people can still be interrogated.

On top of all this is a sinister (at least that’s what we’re led to believe, so far) corporation called ‘Massive Dynamics’ (which, admittedly is a great name for a company) that is marketing ‘fringe’ science in the name of human progression and evolution.

But wait, there’s more. Turns out the great twist at the end of the premiere episode involved one FBI agent, who conveniently was also the lover of the main female character and who – also conveniently – was saved at the last minute by a recently released mental patient. This mental patient just happened to be the one to convince the female FBI agent to get naked, pop acid and sit in a water tank in order to talk to her comatose lover. Don’t worry, it makes even less sense when you watch it.

In a nutshell, this plays like ‘The X-Files’ with sexual role reversal. Only less credible.

I’m hoping that this turns around and starts paying more attention to the underlying ‘Pattern’ and foregoes all this nonsense about psychic networks. Allow me one spoiler to prove my point and describe my problem with the show.

In the second episode they decide that whatever a dead girl last saw would be retrievable if they hooked up her eyeball (dead eyeball) to some transmission device (which, of course, only Massive Dynamic owns). This way they could see the last thing she saw before she died. No really. So they manage to see what she saw last, which was a bridge, which just happened to be in the home town of the FBI agent sitting in the same room, who just happened to recognize it right away and who just happened to be a room which had some new fangled GPS system that let them configure the bridge point of view so they could figure out which direction the girl was looking. They then pinpointed the building she was killed in, raced to the scene (without calling for backup, of course) and saved another girl from the same grisly death.

Now, besides the entire ‘eyeball hooked up to machine’ stuff, my main problem was that the last thing the girl saw before she died wasn’t even the fucking bridge! It was the guy that killed her coming at her with a scalpel. If you really want to get technical, the last thing she probably saw was her own nose, as the guy had the tendency to slice open the women’s lip and pull their faces up over their heads so he can extract their pituitary gland. They never explained why he needed to do this while they were still alive, but we’ll just assume he had a good reason.

I’m giving it a few more episodes before I bail on this show, but if they’re already going to these extremes so early on, it can only get more ludicrous.

One other thought. I get the impression this show is taking place in the future, but there has been no overt mention of this. If it were happening 20 years into the future I might have a better time buying into the concepts. Just a suggestion.

The Office: I’m always concerned about my favorite shows biting off more than they can chew and ‘The Office’ seemed to be heading in that direction with the entire Jim and Pam engagement. Fear not. This is still the funniest show on television with the new HR woman thinking Kevin was ‘mentally challenged’, the office weight loss challenge that had the Indian girl passing out and looking like shit from her all liquid diet, Pam being passed around the office when she attempted to video conference in from NY on her laptop (‘Can you show the new girl where the stationary is kept?’) and the return of the previous HQ hot shot and coke addict returning as a reception temp. Looking forward to another stellar season.

Bones: Last season ended with many, many questions. Not the least of which was ‘What the flying fuck???!!!’ Reports are out that the writer’s strike messed up an entire story line about one of the most likable characters being the inside man for a cannibalistic serial killer. So instead it seemingly came out of nowhere and made little sense, especially considering that character was Zach – the most rational, intelligent, yet naïve person in the group.

I was letdown by the two hour season premiere that took place in London, but the last few shows seem to have their groove back. The interactions between the characters is funny, real and surprisingly emotional. Even Zach made an appearance that raised even more questions about last season’s twist. I won’t give too much away, but I will tell you that even wifey is hooked. Give it a shot if you haven’t already.

House: Leave it to House to yell ‘crybaby’ to his friend who, at the end of last season, watched his girlfriend die in front of him. ‘You sure are milking this bereavement leave’. Well, hell, it’s why we watch this show in the first place. House is an asshole and says whatever we are thinking but afraid to say. He’s our Id. Or is it Ego? I forget. What I love about this show is how it reflects real life. Relationships change, people leave for better jobs, people die for absurd reasons yet life goes on. House and Wilson’s friendship is on the brink and in his dysfunctional, fucked up way House is trying to find a way to get things back to normal. He even hires a private investigator (who I hope sticks around as he’s a perfect foil for House) to dig up some dirt on Wilson so he can blackmail him into coming back. In summation, ‘House’ is still one of the funniest, most intelligently written and thought provoking shows on television.

Generation Kill: This was more a mini series on HBO and I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t say enough about this program that follows the exploits of a Marine Recon unit that is one of the first to enter Iraq during the over throw of Saddam. We watch and at times experience first hand the initial gung ho camaraderie that slowly but surely sours into confusion and frustration when it becomes apparent the military had no firm plan, inadequate supplies and no common sense in the higher commands (at one point a team is ordered to search a mine field at night resulting in predictable maiming). Alternately depressing, hilarious, disturbing, hopeful, charming, horrific and rage inducing. It’s brilliance is reflected in it’s conclusion, which ends like most wars: with no clear resolution and even muddier and bloodier rationale as to why we were there in the first place.

Two other quick notes:

1: The White Sox host the Twins for the final playoff spot tonight at 7:30pm (think it’s on TBS). There is nothing more exciting than a one game playoff, except March Madness. I will be GLUED to the set tonight. Enjoy, baseball fans.

2: As far as Wall Street and the failed government bailout I have four simple words for everyone: CALM THE FUCK DOWN! This is what capitalism is all about. The market goes through fluctuations and corrections all the time. Everything is cyclical in our society except the over reaction of the media to any crisis. This isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened Wall Street. Yes, the DOW went down nearly 700 points and as a number that is largest. But as a percentage (keep in mind the mind boggling 12,000 average the DOW has been keeping the last few years) it’s only the third biggest drop.

Capitalism rewards the smart, efficient companies and punishes those that use poor judgment (and possible fraud). This happens all the time and it will happen again. Yes, things are looking rough and it’s probably going to get worse, but things will turn around. They always do and they will again.

Today’s distraction: Hey, look! Someone is actually talking some common sense about this financial ‘crisis’ for a change. Even Lou Dobbs is cheering this turn of events. What am I missing here? If most economic experts are against this bailout, why was it even considered?


A Tribute: deer a train and basketball said...

I agree with the fringe comments, but for some reason I still watch the show. I loved the x-files and was hoping this would kind of be along the same lines, but it definitely has gone a little overboard so far.
As for house it is probably one of the funniest shows in my opinion. I can't wait for episode 5 or 6, I can't remember but 13 (olivia wilde) makes out with a chick. A smart ass doc and chicks making out, sign me up.

Hammen said...

I've been in love with Olivia Wilde since she was making out with girls in the O.C. a few years ago.

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