Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reviews 7/3/12 - 7/9/12

I'll be busy the next few weeks, so I will fall behind on shows. I still have to watch Newsroom (will problem review several episodes at  once), Longmire, and Continuum.

Perception is, like most shows, a procedural. It has a special twist to differentiate it from others, the main character has schizophrenia. But it’s not a debilitating problem—no, it helps him solve crimes! Okay, so this show isn’t supposed to be realistic or meaningful about the disease, and there are probably schizophrenia advocacy groups writing up a press release if they haven’t had already. Eric McCormack manages to be charming enough as to be likable when he’s being crazy, and the writers don’t go completely overboard with his quirks. What results is a passable summer drama, fitting in with TNT’s slate.

While The Closer will likely not be remember as a top show in an era already inundated with procedurals, its end closes what I think is an important part of TV history, big movie stars moving to television. Nowadays, stars mostly go to premium cable where special roles are more fertile, but Kyra Sedgwick pioneered it spectacularly. Brenda Lee Johnson is the kind of character you see a few times each decade. She is the complete package. Her disarming sweet Southern charm to lure in unsuspecting prey, her single-minded dedication to her job, her a willingness to get down and dirty with the worst criminals—these traits elevated The Closer above similar shows. And while Brenda often crossed the line, she also wasn't someone from The Shield; she never does anything for personal gain. The Closer begins its final sixth episode by returning to Phillip Stroh, the rapist attorney (both meanings), but he isn't caught, indicating he will return before the end. It's a solid episode with lots of bobbing and weaving from both sides, ending with the two rapists caught, but not Stroh, since he likely was not involved with this particular crime.

We’re getting a good ways in this season of True Blood, and it’s abundantly clear the show is continuing on the path it’s been on the past few years. Every character is given equal weight, each with their own story. Terry is off with the fire monster, Sam gets shot, Tara slowly realizes the fun she can have as a vampire, Lafayette going crazy, and Jason looking into his parent’s murder. The fire monster is more interesting than the others, because monsters are always cool, but the other stories take way too much space. Long ago, the writers should have consolidated the character, at least sticking them together, so we wouldn’t have these disjointed stories which aren’t particularly interesting to begin with. Even still, it’s not like the vampire plot is doing much better. Bill and Eric find Russell and learn that Nora helped dig him up, so at least the story moved along. But back at the Authority HQ, it was the same cooperate with humans speech we’ve already heard in previous episodes.

Discerning between bad writing and bad acting is difficult when there are no direct comparisons. A line may sound cheesy, but we can’t really know what it would sound like if, say, Jon Hamm spoke them, even if we imagine it would sound marginally less cheesy. This bothers me most when I have an issue with Falling Skies. The dialogue, when spoken by the younger actors, will usually sound terrible, and I can’t tell you bears the most responsibility. In the second season, Hal and Ben have gotten larger roles, and with that more dialogue. Most of Ben's scenes aren't working, and neither did Rick's. I know, I know... kid actors. But reinforcing the bad writing idea is the awkward writing for all the romantic relationships. On the plus side, we learn that the Skitters themselves were enslaved by the harness. Generic, yes, but the story is at least moving.

Weeds tries to change things up with Nancy being all happy and content with not being a drug dealer, but at this point, it’s hard to really care whether she’s changed or not. So much has happened that she can’t be forgiven, no matter how hard she tries. Some stuff actually happens this week, unlike the season premiere in which literally nothing happens. It doesn’t feel like an endgame, but it’s kind of too late for that anyways.

The rational part of my mind is telling me that Louie was raped in last week's episode, and it's also telling me not to make a big deal out of it. The setup to the ending was quite good with Melissa Leo killing it with her performance. They go from being antagonistic to blow job to smashed window to eating out. It's a weird chain of events, with Louie going with the flow despite a few roadblocks until the disturbing ending. Now, Louie is supposed to be a comedy, and while Louie's reactions were funny, it paints the idea of rape and sex as more gray than black or white, which could be controversial.

So... I went and watched the third episode of Anger Management. It's a fascinating show to watch, if you keep reminding yourself it's on FX and not CBS. It's also disappointing to think that Charlie Sheen, unconstrained by CBS and network television, can only recreate a CBS show. It's a typical multicamera comedy about a guy with a peculiar occupation, therapist in this case, and his slightly dysfunctional family and group of friends.

The main purpose of the exploration into Wilfred and Ryan's mind seems, on the outside, to be about a change of setting, not any deep message about the human psyche. The third episode of the season uses the new setting of the workplace to give Wilfred more people to interact with and more plots. This allows to see the same Wilfred we've come to love but also new situations which we wouldn't have seen had the show continued as the first season did.
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