Tue, 08 Jun 2010
Spring 2010 TV: Wednesday
Hey, it's not summer yet!
Wednesday is reflective of the general "TV gets weaker the farther into the week you go" trend. Nevertheless, I still find a few good things on:
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is my least-favorite of the L&O spinoffs, even including Trial by Jury, but it still has enough to hold my attention. Even if it's only a chance to the The Belz and Ice T in action. I try to grab it when I'm thinking of it, but I don't mourn when I miss it, which I guess means it gets a B rating from me. Occasionally an episode rises above the pack and really shines, but I never count on that. If they ever give Richard Belzer and Ice T their own show, I'll watch it religiously. Ice may be famous as a rapper, but I love him as an actor. I was totally stricken when they cancelled Players; I really liked that show.
ABC has a couple of cute comedies on Wednesdays, including Modern Family. Its ensemble cast is great, especially Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet as a gay couple. They're always a delight, and while I dunno how accurate their portrayal is, it certainly fits my straight preconceptions. I can't decide which of the two does a better job; one minute I think it's Ferguson, and the next I'm favoring Stonestreet. Never seen either of them before that I remember, but I hope they have long and successful futures as actors. The rest of the cast is okay too, with Ed O'Neill doing a great but underused job as the grumpy but not totally rock-bound Average White Male, Sofia Vergara accurately chanelling Charo as his excitable Columbian trophy wife, and the very cute Julie Bowen as a young wife and mother who's not quite as smart and with-it as she thinks she is. The kids all do a serviceable job, especially Rico Rodriquez as the wise-beyond-his-years Manny. I don't much like Ty Burrell, never really have, can't say why, but I assume he's doing exactly what he sets out to do here, playing a doofy dude verging on middle age with almost zero grace. (I take it back, I liked Burrell in Back to You, but mostly because they kept sticking him out into hurricanes, throwing him under busses, and otherwise subjecting him to almost continual humiliation and abuse.) I'll give Family an A-.
ABC's other Wednesday night comedy is The Middle, which I like somewhat less than Family, but only a little less. Have loved Patricia Heaton since her days on Raymond, and she does a fine job here as the beleaguered yet plucky mom, trying to balance a job, family, and the remaining shreds of a personal life in blue-collar Indiana. I didn't know Neil Flynn because I don't watch Scrubs, but he's acceptably funny as Dad. In the early episodes Charlie McDermott rather overplayed the surly, angsty Axl, but more recently it seems they're giving him more room, allowing him to prove he really can act. And Atticus Shaffer's Brick is just as weird as he needs to be, and not one bit more. But for me, the real standout here is young Eden Sher playing the much-abused Sue. Yeah yeah, she's only 18, but I'm totally in lurve with her. And she absolutely nails the part, so get offa my back, okay? Overall the show is a bit too ... eh, herky-jerky to really approach greatness, but the actors do a fine job with the material they're given, and I do get laughs from it nearly every time I catch it. I'd say it's a B+, with brief forays into A territory.
(Okay, ABC has another comedy on Wednesdays, Cougar Town. And as much as I like Ian Gomez and Busy Phillips, and as huge a crush as I have on Courtney Cox, I just can't get past the premise. I tried the first few eps, and just couldn't take it. So sue me: I like Men of a Certain Age and dislike Cougar Town and Desperate Housewives. As my wife used to say, pbbbbbbbbbt!)
Criminal Minds, on the other hand, is a solid A-list show in my book. Back when Mandy Patinkin was on it, it was A+, but even with the cast changes, it still draws me in every time. I think I've finally stopped seeing Greg Montgomery every time Thomas Gibson is in a scene, which helps. It's total geek love whenever Kirsten Vangsness' Garcia has screen time, cuz she's cute as a biscuit and smarter than everybody else, except maybe Dr. Reid, who is pretty cool himself; Matthew Grey Gubler makes a fine neurotic super-brain. And it's fun watching Shemar Moore slowly outgrow the role of Derek Morgan: He's a very talented young actor with bigger things in his future, I think. The lovely A. J. Cook brings sufficient depth to her JJ character to avoid being just another bimbo, but Joe Mantegna seems to be just loafing along as Rossi; not quite phoning it in, but you can tell the part doesn't stretch his acting muscles very much. For me, though, the real attraction these days is Paget Brewster, who I find positively adoreable. I've caught her in a bunch of other things before Minds, and I loved her in every one of them. I should mention that the writers deserve some credit here too, as the typical Minds episode is nicely creepy, sometimes verging on horrifying.
CSI: New York is my favorite of the CSI spinoffs, the original included. I know I'm in the minority there, but that's how I see it. Gary Sinise, right winger though he may be, has long been one of my favorite actors, and I'll watch pretty much anything he's in. Melina Kanakaredes is solid and sexy as his sidekick, and I find Eddie Cahill's cop character Don Flack very appealing, though I can't say why. And I like several of the other supporting actors even better: Hill Harper is a legend in his 40s, not to mention a great actor and a very good-looking man. Robert Joy always brings a quirky skeeviness to any part, and I think he intends it that way. All I know is, I really enjoy seeing him on screen. Have had a big ol' crush on cutie Anna Belknap for years, even though for a very long time I didn't know her name; now I'll certainly never forget it. For me, though, the real standout among the supportings is Carmine Giovinazzo. He just screams New York to me (Or should that be Noo Yawk?), and he does it in the best possible way. He looks great, and brings a very authentic feel to his character. His Danny Messer is troubled, flawed, brave, honorable, and very human. I guess you can tell this is an A show for me!
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