Wednesday, October 10, 2012
TV notes: some of what I've seen of the "new season"
Dexter Two episodes into this season, it's mostly interesting to see Jennifer Carpenter and Michael Hall playing off one another to such a great degree, given their actual life status as a divorced couple (thanks to Patti Abbott for the fact-checking), as the series details the stepsiblings' treating with her discovery of Dexter's murderous activities.
The Good Wife The scripts and even the guest casting remain solid (in the second episode, at least two of supporting roles are filled by people at "two degrees of separation" from me, which means I've been working on the periphery of television too long, perhaps).
Copper The (chronologically) second series on this list to owe its existence essentially to Deadwood, as well as having an interesting commissioning station (as the first US dramatic series ordered up by BBC America) and co-creator (Tom Fontana, he of St. Elsewhere and Homicide along with some subsequent work which is solid if not scaling the same heights, such as prison-drama Oz). Gangs of New York might've made the pitch a bit easier, in this anti-glamorous account of Civil War Irish-American NYC cops, and such friends and acquaintances they have as an African-American doctor and a variety of prostitutes and aristocrats and tradespeople; I'm amused by the literary references these knockabout, but not ignorant, folks are given to make (such as to Cheshire cats and "Ours is not to reason why..."), which I suspect the scripters take great care in vetting for date-probability.
Hell on Wheels AMC's stepchild of Deadwood, a season older than Copper, is an anti-glamorous account of transcontinental railway construction, in the years just after the Civil War, with all the ethnic and class tensions (and ex-Rebels v. Yanks) you could reasonably ask for (but not far enough west to involve Chinese immigrant workers, so far). You just don't get enough sinister Swedes (who are actually Norwegian, iirc) in US drama...or Scandinavians at all.
XIII, along with being a stepchild of the Bourne films, is the kind of slam-bang "action" drama with a mildly sfnal premise that used to populate the originally syndicated hour slots in the early 1990s on US tv (Xena, Relic Hunter, etc.), and as such it's not bad, if a bit dragged out, as the Bourne analog tries to recover his memory and plumb the conspiracy which "created" him, and Aisha Tyler as an eventually rogue FBI agent (hello, among other things, 24) attempts to help him. A Canadian series imported south by the Reelz Channel.
Bomb Girls is another Reelz Canadian import, a well-cast, slightly soapy account of the US women doing World War 2 factory work, and the tensions and potential liberation (of various sorts) that this brings them. I've seen only the second episode so far.
Call the Midwife is interesting in part as the first "standalone" drama series (as opposed to being tucked into the Masterpiece anthology, the sole survivor in this regard outside of sporadic half-hour one-time-only presentations and the rare Great Performances episode) PBS has offered since American Family a decade back (the one about an extended Mexican-American family starring Edward James Olmos, Constance Marie and Raquel Welch, not An American Family the television verite series from the early '70s), and also in its attempt at a clear-eyed look at the post-WW2 London slums and the young nurse-midwives, and their nun mentors, who attempt to aid at least the pregnant women they work with there, under often-shockingly bad conditions. I've seen only the pilot of this one, so far, which has an intentional disruption of tone, to get across the quality of the lives portrayed, but feels just a bit pat, if game, so far.
Sons of Anarchy I've managed actually not to catch a whole new episode so far (FX loads the On-Demand episodes as heavily with ads as they do the cablecast episodes), to see how thoroughly the too-cod-Shakespearean references would continue...but a series I enjoy nonetheless, even if the supposed alternative nature of what the motorcycle club the SOA was meant to be, as opposed to a small-time crime syndicate that it is, remains elusive. One of the best series on the FX channel, which has an impressive slate, with one or two exceptions...one could wish that Fox/FBC, its broadcast cousin, had nearly as much to boast about.
More to come:
Comedy Bang Bang
MeTV and RetroTV finally cleared by Verizon in the Philadelphia area