Monday, October 1, 2007

Reviews of New New TV

The first solid week of the new television season has passed and here's the reaction so far.

The Best

Lucy, Daughter of the Devil

Ok, this has been out a few weeks not but until The Venture Brothers finally makes it's way back on to Adult Swim, Lucy: DOTD is the best cartoon out there. Created by one half of the Home Movies team, Loren Bouchard (Brendon Small is one half of the intermittently hilarious "Metalocalypse"), who plays the titular Lucy, the show finds a new reason each week for Lucy, her had the Devil, and DJ Jesus, to become involved in some situation where hilarity ensues. These have more often then not involved the Devil trying to bring down humanity in seemingly mundane yet funny ways like getting more women masturbating by opening up a dildo factory, or taking the world down a notch by opening up another horrible tex-mex restaurant. The unmistakable H. Jon Benjamin provides the voice for the Devil and just as he did in Home Movies as Coach McGurk, he makes me laugh dearly until tears form.


The Surprisingly All Right

Chuck

Yeah, I wasn't expecting this to be any good at all but I found myself being drawn in by the lack of Zach Braffiness of lead Zachary Levi. Some of the computer nerd humor is a bit obvious but most of it is successfully tongue in cheek if not somewhat clever. While the whole NSA/CIA interpretation is indeed otherworldly, which my barber found to be too distracting, I thought it stuck to the tone well enough for me not to care even if it can tend to be a bit ridiculous. The pilot's seeming promise of Yvonne Strahovski in her underwear every episode is more distracting if anything -- but certainly not detracting.


Reaper

Again, not expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did. Who'd of thought Kevin Smith would make his most solid directorial effort on a CW show? Even though he has no credits for writing or creating the show it has his trademarks all over it: two 20 something "losers" with dead-end jobs; one dude is the nice guy trying to score an out of his league babe while his best friend is more of a no-care-in-the-world, always "on" chucklefest Charlie -- or Bert in this case. There's even hockey philosophy and a reference to the New Jersey Devils. But the real revelation here is that in getting Kevin Smith away from his regular team of friends, yes-men and non-actors, he's actually done some effective work here. It's odd that his most cinematic work would show up on the CW but there you have it. I hope it sparks some lights to go off on his head to hire professionals for his future movies and not just the last guys he hung out with at the comic shop. Or whatever man, your shit looked good here, the actors actually were caught on screen acting and I'm proud of you. Some say it's a bit Buffyesque but I'm not going to go that far with it. While it is the story of a "chosen one" type of character who enlists his two best buddies to help him take down monsters it lacks much of Buffy's scrappy low budget charm, potent homemade feminist based mythology and charming teenage to young adult metaphors. But hey, I've only seen one episode.


The Undecided

Gossip Girl

This is how far my mourning for Veronica Mars goes -- I've watched two episodes of something called Gossip Girl (VM's Kristen Bell narrates). I don't know, my threshold for soap opera material only goes so far. Usually it has to involve someone like David Lynch or Mike White to get me interested. And I don't think that rule has changed. The words "from the creator of the O.C." don't carry much weight with me. While he did good stuff with a co-creator on "Chuck", this show dives deep into teenage angst land but with none of the O.C.'s attempts at humor. While part of me thinks this show could topple into some good Bret Easton Ellis type territory, I have the feeling it's going to try and stick by it's chick-lit fan base and flounder in cat fights and back-stabbings. Oh well. Did I just decide? There's enough on Wednesday nights...


Bionic Woman

... like this attempt at substantial sci-fi. While it has some of that girl-power theme I tend to gravitate towards it's first episode didn't have quite the punch that say, the Alias pilot did. It also lacks even the dramatic lead that even a Jennifer Garner could provide. This Michele Ryan looks like she's got the shit kickin' part of the role down but she needs to get some fire behind those pretty vacant eyes. It's true that Katee Sackhoff (BSG's Starbuck) comes away from the pilot as the bionic woman worth talking about. But series worse than this one have survived for a while on the strength of it's peripheral characters and actors picking up the slack of the main protagonist. It could be that Katee, the always dependable Miguel Ferrer, and the rest of a seemingly competent cast can keep this one on the tracks until Ms. Ryan gets a hold of her character. I'll give this one a couple more episodes.


Dirty Sexy Money

So I missed the first half of this one. But speaking of dependable casts. You have Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland headlining and even Billy Baldwin seems to be well cast for a change. (Imagine that -- 3 Baldwins on tv this season... a good sign or a bad one? You be the judge. Me, as long as Stephen keeps his profile low, I'm fine.) This is the kind of soap I can get behind -- and it has a decent central mystery to unravel which I appreciate in these kinds of shows but know it can also lead to a quick demise if it keeps new viewers from finding the show later on. Anyway, I hope it sticks around a little while so that this cast can get comfortable and break in their roles because Sutherland looks to be having some fun in the maniacal patriarch role.


The Rotten

Kitchen Nightmares

Leave it Fox to take a good BBC reality show and strip it of all "reality".


This is the pilot episode for Lucy Daughter of the Devil:


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