Sat, 19 Jun 2010
Spring 2010 TV: Friday
Fridays are evidence that the TV pickings get slimmer as the week goes on. Traditionally a dumping ground for series that were on their last legs or otherwise out of favor, its ever-changing lineups are always frustrating for me. At the moment, there are three shows I watch that come on Friday:
Stargate Universe is sort of Stargate meets Star Trek: Voyager. You gotta admit, the whole stargate concept has been drained of its juice by the past series. I loved the original movie, goofy though it was, and SG-1 was a worthy followup to it. I watched it regularly until Richard Dean Anderson left, then sorta fell away. And Atlantis was a fun ride for a while, though I didn't manage to stick with it til its end; not even until the Farscape cast showed up.
But the wonder of the stargate concept, that you can flip a switch and step onto another world light years away, is pretty well gone. Been there, done that. So Universe adds a cranky and mysterious ship, a Gilligan's Island marooning of the crew, and a young soap-opera cast performing their overheated escapades at the periphery while the old dogs fight it out center stage. And Begbie, er, I mean Robert Carlyle, is a fantastic old dog, and along with Canadian veteran Justin Louis and scheming Asian hottie Ming-Na they manage to bring a lot of sidelong looks and fraught drama to the show without losing the SF focus. I never understand half of what's going on, even as a lifelong SF fan, and I think the cast and the writers don't either, but it doesn't matter because we're in this haunted mansion of a ship and things happen every week and ain't it fun! An A rated show that could slip to C in an instant, but hasn't so far.
Miami Medical was intended to be the new M*A*S*H, and really missed that mark by a country mile, but I still enjoy watching it. Cancelled now, regrettably, but I'm still watching what remains of it until it goes away entirely. I haven't even gotten to the point where I recognize all the characters yet, but it doesn't matter. It's a solid trauma drama, Cuba's little brother Omar is great as the knows-all nurse, British face-man Jeremy Northam is nicely hard-bitten as the Good Guy With a Past, and I'm totally smitten with the lovely young Elisabeth Harnois, who looks about twelve but, um, a very sexy twelve. (She's really 31, and I'm still in love.) It's a shame that it won't get a chance to develop into something that's even remotely close to M*A*S*H, but oh well. An A show while it lasted.
Flashpoint was gone for a long time, but is back now, and I'm so glad. It's a very unusual case: an actual Canadian show being shown on a major American network like it was one of their own. And what a show it is—gripping, action-packed, with believable characters and tense dramatic situations. If all Canadian shows were this good, Hollywood could just pack up and go home. Flashpoint portrays its SWAT team in a way that other shows have tried to do but failed; I mean, showbiz people know in their bones that SWAT is perfect for dramatic stories, but until this show have failed to translate that to the screen. Flashpoint nails it. And the cast is great: Enrico Colantoni has been a favorite of mine since I first saw him on Just Shoot Me, shone like a quasar in Galaxy Quest, and thoroughly enriches any role he plays, including Flashpoint's troubled but principled SWAT cop Sgt. Greg Parker. And I'd never seen Hugh Dillon before this show started appearing on CBS, but I instantly became a fan and have liked him ever since. The rest of the mostly-Canadian cast are great too, and the show's plots and action keep me glued to my seat througout. A+ quality, for sure.
I should at least mention Joss Whedon's latest effort, Dollhouse, which used to show up on Fridays. Having loved Firefly so much, and having enjoyed the early seasons of Buffy, I gave Dollhouse every chance; I tried to like it, I really did. And yet ... I really never could. The premise didn't grab me, the actors weren't very compelling (except for the very drool-worthy Dichen Lachman), and the storylines were each week more disappointing than the last. Some weeks after I'd stopped watching it, I saw a lot of talk on the net about how, if you just gave it, oh, 14 or 20 episodes or whatever, you'd finally see what Whedon was driving at, and you'd fall in love with the show and never want to miss it. I guess I just didn't make it to that threshold, because overall the show seemed pretty flat to me. And now it's cancelled, in typical Fox fashion, and my sympathies go out to its fans. I'm just glad I didn't fall in love with it myself only to have it yanked out from under me like that.
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