Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A few tv and radio notes...

CBS, having noted that Julianna Margulies is cute, has decided that's how to sell the series this season.
The new season: So, in my less than copious free time, I've managed to catch pieces of, rather than whole episodes of, the new series The Playboy Club, Pan Am, Unforgettable, Person of Interest, the remakes of Charlie's Angels and Prime Suspect. Of these, Prime Suspect was the least inept, but vied with most of the others in ridiculousness...the detectives that Maria Bello's character has to contend with are not just machismic cartoons, they're moreso in 2011 than, say, the early 1970s clowns in the US remake of Life on Mars, where the locker-room antics and inexperience with having to treat women as colleagues at least made a modicum of sense. Bello manages to be as good as possible, if not given much to work with on the home-front, either, dealing with her manfriend's exacting ex-wife. The two historical drama series are clumsy, if well-appointed, attempts (as everyone has noted) to steal Mad Men's low-rated thunder (while adding, say, at least a dash of Las Vegas's mindless cheesecake and "kicks"...and failing to be even as engaging as was that lightweight series of a few seasons back). As I've noted elsewhere, CBS's "midseason" experiment in 2008, Swingtown, which had at least as many roots in the film of The Ice Storm, will probably stand as the least embarrassing of the broadcast nets' MM ripoffs (even given that the All-American protagonists were played by a fine, Canadian Molly Parker and Briton Jack Davenport sporting an inconsistent "Yank" accent that sounded a lot like his fake Australian for an episode of Coupling).

At least The Good Wife seems to be holding up so far.

The only new sitcom I've caught so far is Whitney, the pilot of which was available online in pieces all summer, and which pilot holds together better as a whole, while being only reasonably good-grade mechanical relationship fodder, heightened in the contrived situations by some good acting.

Most notable cognitive dissonance in scheduling: FamilyNet, the more or less conservative evangelical Christian network managed by the younger Robert Schuller (inheritor of the Crystal Cathedral--as of this past summer, both Schullers have left that church, in the midst of hurt feelings and controversy), is trying to snag some of the audience that such new digital broadcast networks as Retro TV, This TV, Me TV, and Antenna TV have been racking up with somewhat engaging collections of repeats and films...FamilyNet has turned much of its primetime over to, of all series, Lou Grant, cancelled by CBS mostly to make the Reagan Administration happy all those years ago. The Xiancaster also is now willing to run such films as The French Connection...with the dialog they and their audience might find offensive the case of that film, about a third of the soundtrack was blanked out.

Tales well calculated to keep you in...anomie (or Anxiety, as Bob and Ray had it): The very late (1962) episode of Suspense on WAMU's The Big Broadcast on Sunday, #925 "Hide & Seek," from just before the end of its CBS Radio run, was remarkably bleak, even in its brevity (by then, the episodes ran 23 minutes to accommodate network news on the hour as well as commercials), about medium Manhunt won't live forever in the history of drama, but it's definitely worth a listen, in a good set that also includes John Wayne and Ward Bond in an adaptation of "Fort Apache" and Bogart with Greer Garson in a Lux Radio Theater version of "The African Queen"...and the usual Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Dragnet, and Gunsmoke episodes.

Commuter's grouse: Why might the local NPR and CBS radio stations' traffic reporters, and even NavTeq's relatively new digital broadcast television service devoted to traffic coverage, choose to refer to traffic moving at about a literal 2MPH (or less, for long stretches) as Slow? Slow on a highway is fifteen miles per hour below the speed limit. Standstills are standstills. Parked cars are not moving "slowly." Thus does Andy Rooney instruct you to remove yourself from his grasspatch.


michael said...

Don't forget you can download some of the network TV pilots from iTunes for free because sleep is overrated and you need something to do.

The "Prime Suspects" people are telling the media they plan to back off the boys club stuff and proudly announce this is not the old "Prime Suspects" but a different show. I plan to check out episode three or so and see what changes actual happen.

"Pan Am" is getting good press and the spy angle may have me give it a shot.

"Person of Interest" pilot was good, but I see this quickly becoming just anther CBS cop show with a gimmick.

Not a big fan of "The Good Wife", the stories remind me to much of countless other lawyer series I have seen in the past. A Jew doing PR for a Muslim group sounds like one of those black works for whites from the 70s.

Todd Mason said...

I find THE GOOD WIFE still the best-written serial drama on tv right now...PAN AM, not so much, but any of these could improve (pilots are often not the best measures of a series).

michael said...

Todd, I agree pilots are rarely the best measure of a series. It usually takes some episodes before the writers understand who the characters are and what works best with the cast and other talent involved.

I think that is what is happening at "Prime Suspect". They now realize the audience does not want a remake, so they are searching for what works. They know Maria Bello is all that is working for the audience. But will they have time to fix the show before it gets cancelled. It will be much more fun to watch than the actual episodes.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, btw, for reminding me of PERSONS OF INTEREST, another which I caught a part of, and didn't much care for, but had forgotten earlier (but I've yet to like any J. J. Abrams product I've seen).

George said...

The New Season pretty much sucks. I'm waiting to watch HOMELAND on Showtime and AMERICAN HORROR STORY on FX. I'm still enjoying LAW & ORDER: UK and DOCTOR WHO on BBC America.

michael said...

George, I am a "Who" fan myself and will miss it after its final this Saturday. Apparently the next season won't happen until spring 2012, but we will have the Christmas special to look forward to.

FX's "Archer" is teasing me now with a good three episode season before it disappears for awhile.

I am waiting for "Justified" as if I was a kid thinking about Christmas.

Thankfully, we have our DVDs and downloading so we are not forced to watch "Charlie's Angels".

Todd Mason said...

Well, we're Never forced to watch CHARLIE'S ANGELS, Michael...though I'm mildly amused that the first set are twenty years older than I and the current set are twenty years younger. (I think the film crew is about a decade younger on average.)

ARCHER is improving of late, and I've usually liked it...while I doubt I'll find too much to like in AMERICAN HORROR STORY, given the track record of the producers, but hope for the better.