John Walker's Electronic House

TV Time

by on Feb.08, 2007, under The Rest

Seems like it’s time for a television update, what with nearly all the shows back up and running, and how much these entries annoy Nick. I’m not going to go through everything – just the things I have new thoughts on. (OMGSPOILZERRZZZ all the way through – really, don’t read about anything you might want to watch, apart from My Boys).

Studio 60 – NBC

What has happened? From the best show on television before Christmas, to something I’m not sure I’d be bothered if I missed. Please, let this be a three show blip. Let it be the evil of sweeps week combined with network pressure. But don’t let this turgid, cliched tripe be the direction Sorkin’s choosing to head in.

First of all, I could not care less about whether Matt and Harriet get together. I have no reason to care! They’ve been broken up since the start, and all we’ve seen is them snipe at each other. How am I invested in this? How am I supposed to have an emotional investment in whether they break up or get back? Dear God, all I want is for them both to shut up about it.

Then Danny and Jordan. Once more, huh? Four weeks ago Danny announces entirely out of the blue that he’s in love with her, despite their almost having never had a conversation beyond sarcastic remarks, and now I’m supposed to believe they’re crazy about each other? No! This is what happens in shitty romcoms – not dramas by the best writer in television. And getting trapped on a roof together? Pointing out that it’s a trite cliche doesn’t stop it from being a trite cliche, Sorkin. It’s a statement saying, “I know this is terrible writing, and I’m leaving it in anyway.”

I loved Studio 60 for the passion Matt and Danny had for their television programme. Now the show lies all but forgotten, a lame background for miserably unfunny stories about wild animals stuck under the stage (American Humane are just, like, so annoying, man! Trying to protect animals, the bastards. They’re not PETA, Sorkin, you great twat), or Saved By The Bell level sitcom idiocy like Tom’s date confusion. There wasn’t a single thread running through the recent two-parter that wasn’t ghastly. Of course the banter was fun, often funny, because Sorkin does good dialogue. But that’s not going to paper over the ravines in the leftovers of the plot. AND THE FORIEGN MAN SPEAKS ENGLISH ALL ALONG!!! Good God.

My Boys – TBS

There were no reasons for having high hopes for this one. With the hateful 10 Items or Less (it’s “fewer”, cretins) on right after it, and the channel not exactly renowned for its original programming, there was little reason to think it would be any good. And the pilot episode wasn’t exactly stunning. But there was enough to keep me, and I mean me, intrigued. Set in Chicago, it’s about a female sports writer for the Chicago Sun Times, covering the Cubs. So yes, wrong team, but at least the right sport. The show’s gimmick is central character PJ’s baseball metaphor based narration, and unsurprisingly, this is the weakest part. Each episode is somewhat laboriously likened to some aspect of team management, the team being her group of male friends. Seeming to play poker about nine nights a week, they sit around PJ’s apartment, or hang out at the local bar, and banter at one another. And here it shines. The cast is superb, and while they take a few episodes to click, once in place they are an extremely believable group. Jordana Spiro (who has apparently been in CSI) plays PJ, and while she’s a teeny bit to girly to fit the character perfectly, mostly does a fine job. The guys are comprised of relative unknowns, mostly from comedy acting backgrounds, and Jim Gaffigan who is perhaps relatively unknown as well, but is one of the funniest stand ups currently working, and has starred in a bunch of short-lived sitcoms and whorish ad campaigns.

There’s nothing outstandingly original about the stories, mostly focused on relationship making and breaking, but it’s the fine chatter, and excellent timing from the cast that make it well worth seeing the full thirteen. There’s more coming in the summer, and for those who can trick their internets into believing it’s in America, or those who really are, the whole lot can be seen here.

Heroes – NBC

Just keeps on being fabulous. I’m still feeling smug about being the one who predicted this one, while everyone poo-pooed it around me.

House – Fox

The predictions made by all was that this would run out of steam as it ran out of medical mysteries. It seemed a fair prediction. It was hard to guess that the medical nonsense would take a back seat to the far more compelling nature of House’s continued descent into narcisism and misery. This week’s, for instance, with some rubbish about a Romany teenager with the usual chain of exploding internal organs was a complete throwaway in its eventual solution. Because far more interesting was how House would win back his disabled parking spot from the new wheelchair-bound member of staff. And you knew he would. The mid-season arc came to the most amazing conclusion, taking House further down in your estimations, and yet, at the same time, much further up. He’s one of the very few genuine anti-heroes television has to offer, with seemingly no redeeming features, and yet how could you be anywhere but on his side?

Scrubs – NBC

…had a musical! And like Buffy before it, rather than using it as an easy gimmick, it’s a proper plot-advancing episode, and one of the funniest in all six years.

6 Comments for this entry

  • The_B

    Yeah, I loved the musical episode too. And having Avenue Q’s songwriters and Abrizzo(sp?) on board pretty much sealed the deal before broadcast. It was just even better.

    Also quite good is the following episode (Spoilers again) which I was quite suprised at managing to tackle a political issue rather well. I mean, I can’t have been the only person who thought “Bah. Politics.” as soon as the words Eye Rack were mentioned. (I’m sorry, I can never type it the correct way when I hear Americans pronounce it.)

    However. I now also hate the internet, as the next rather major thing to happen the series may have been spoilt. Although kudos to the show if it has the balls to go through with it.

  • Steve W

    I wish I knew what was going on with Studio 60. Its recent decline makes me a bit sad. The A, B, C & D plots of The Harriet Dinner each relied upon the most hackneyed sitcom contrivances even the writers of My Family would struggle to top. And I think every TV blogger in the world has by now said something along the same lines: that making a passing reference in the script to the clichéd rom-com nature of the rooftop situation does not make it OK. Are you listening, Sorkin?

    Next week: Tom accidentally gets two dates to the prom!

    Oh, and throughout the series, the whole Zhang Tao plotline has skirted dangerously close to becoming the You Get A Promotion/You’re Fired sketch from Mr Show. Ending on he speaks English all along merely changes the nature of the cliché.

  • mathew

    Isabella Rossellini was just in 30 Rock, John. Clearly therefore 30 Rock is better than Studio 60, even if I feel very little for either of them.

  • John

    If I wanted to watch Tina Fey’s gurning, I’d… well, I’d stove my face in with a brick.

  • The_B

    Holy heck. I just saw the last episode (with the road trip) and… well: yikes. And again Scrubs is awesome.

  • Tom

    Agreed about Studio 60. I’m now so sick of the Matt Harriett relationship that I /hate/ both Matt and Harriett. It’s been relentless, even throughout the good episodes, and even in the worst ones it’s the least interesting plot.

    The latest Scrubs was great (and Kelso stole it), but for some reason I found the musical one inordinately irritating, to the point that I couldn’t watch more than five minutes of it.