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I miss my telly

I shouldn't be doing this, because I'm drowning in work, but I just have to take a mental break from the work and the people being wrong on the Internet. And I miss talking about TV.

So, new series I have checked out, let me tell you about them.

I went into this with the understanding that it was La Femme Nikita lite, which is to say, Alias, but I wasn't expecting it to actually be Alias lite. Since the guy who developed the Bourne trilogy was behind it, I expected a lot, and my expectations were unmet. It has the same cute geek guy + plucky beautiful heroine (blonde variety) + seasoned older man in charge who may or may not be evil + ball-busting immediate supervisor/partner (female variety) thing going on from LFN/Alias (at least Alias went with an African-American male on that one so it seemed less of a complete ripoff... sort of). They mixed it up a little, sure. But it still -- well, for a guy who loves spies, Lyman seems unable to tell reasonably true tales about what they do/can do. And it frustrates me. I think that if this were a show done for a really different audience (not the middlebrow audience USA shoots for these days, where everything's fairly sanitized) on some network that actually lets them swear and be in adult situations/show the effects of the job (violence, alchoholism, etc.), it might perk things up with a little more verisimilitude, but as it is, it's just a rehash of a rehash. And really, is there any female spy ever on film who couldn't "pass for a call-girl" as if that's some sort of actual qualification? Gah.

One of the things I loved about early season Burn Notice was how it showed the really awful effects of what Michael's chosen profession does to people. They still pick up on that from time to time (the season ender from last year, and Michael crying in front of his mom this year), and I think that's kind of important if you want audiences to care for these characters. I don't know if there's any way I can care for this character... crikey, I couldn't even remember her name until just now... Annie, and the cliches of the other characters are just irritating, but some of the actors are worth keeping an eye out for. I'm not sure I would ever recommend this to anyone, but as a summer mindless entertainment show, it could work.

I'll state up front that I hate Angie Harmon. Just haaaaate. So I went into this with a lot of trepidation. And I wanted this to pass the Bechdel test, but it failed with flying colors, so if you're wondering about that, I'll just state up front: there's an FBI guy in the pilot ep who is the subject of much flirtation and discussion, and the show also fails in a different, kind of weird way, in that the serial killer stalking Rizzoli is of course a guy they spend much time discussing, so nearly every conversation they have is related to these two men.

Still, there are at least a few conversations that don't center around guys, and some of them even involve pets, and I liked Isles a lot -- her fashion obsessions, the pets she keeps, the fact that even as a kid she wanted to dissect dead people. Rizzoli I'm a little more iffy on -- some of her crankiness doesn't seem the least bit motivated, and she's Angie Harmon with her Texas accent trying to sound not Texas but Boston, which... no. But she did, at least, get out of a deadly situation completely on her own, with no rescue from anyone else, and even though it was a cheesy setup, at least she did it on her own. I also like that she's aware of people's expectations of her as a slob and enjoys flouting them (the apartment thing was funny).

It suffers from a lot of tropes I really can't stand at this point -- the superhuman serial killer who can escape anything (seriously, it was tired within picoseconds of Silence of the Lambs, can't we retire this now?), the apprentice killer, the bad science, the quirky-person-who-hates-animals (really, WHY is this charming? They did it to Maddy this year on Burn Notice, making her hate cats, and I just... sorry, but it's not charming), the faux-feminism of having female cops and MEs as leads but whose world still revolves around men. If you're hoping for a modern-day Cagney & Lacey, you'll be vastly disappointed; it suffers from all the usual TV-network lack of understanding of how to make interesting female characters who actually reflect real-life women.

But I've never read the books, and I will probably keep watching at least for a few more episodes to see if they tone these problems down and focus more on character development that doesn't come as plot contrivances. I think it has more potential than Covert Affairs to be a good all around show, and not the least of which is that they can swear and do some more adult things that real grownups actually do. It's nowhere near what a good pay-cable show can do in terms of developing characters, but it's more of a start than some shows.

Now, here's a female-lead show that has some potential, although again, Syfy's sanitation division has robbed it of any actual real-world connective devices. And I'm very, very weary of the weird-happenings in small town with federal agent in the center of it (at least on Eureka it was a regular cop). And it's got my most hated Syfy problem -- everything filmed in Canada, so each scene, each location looks exactly like the one you saw on the other show you watched the other night -- how do you ever suspend disbelief when you're remembering each location? But it has a firm presence in Stephen King's story, and there's the mystery background, so there's at least some potential for development of a deeper emotional tale than the other two shows.

Of course we're immediately given a potential will-they or won't-they romance, which is tiresome in the extreme. One of the things I like about Warehouse 13 is that they've developed the friendship between Pete and Myka, and I hope this show might take a cue from them and spend some more time on developing relationships with everyone instead of trying to force us to care about potential attractions. I'm always nervous when I see Eric Balfour these days, since he seems to harbinge series death, but we'll see if the show lasts. Syfy isn't known for its female-centrism, and I think they often do a pretty damn bad job with female characters in general on their series, but every once in a while they surprise us with a great one, so there could be hope they've learned from sister channel USA and are putting some good people on the show staff.

It's a very grey, washed out color palette, which I don't like, and there's nothing visually distinctive about it (that filmed in Canada issue -- why are so many actual Canadian shows so gorgeous but the US-based filmed in Vancouver series look like crap?), but it could be that rare whimsical fantasy show with some depth of character and a strong female lead. Who knows?

I haven't seen Glades yet, but I'm going to try to catch up on at least the first few eps at some point... if I ever have TV time again.

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Jul. 16th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Have you seen White Collar yet?
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
I CAN'T TELL IF YOU'RE FUNNIN' ME! Or if you're serious. Or if you mean the newest episode.

Jul. 17th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
The premiere! Did you see the premiere!!!
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
Yes! Yes I did!! Sorry, I was having communication panic. I was very happy with... almost everything, except the weird blue screen behind El and Peter and it looked like they were using some kind of anamorphic lens on her. I hope that the pregnancy stuff doesn't screw this up. And also, I am distressed at the ending scene.

If you have spoilers I will not complain if you tell them to me!
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)

You want spoilers?

... lemme email you. :D
Jul. 16th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
I like Isles.

Covert Affairs meh but I do love me some Chris Gorham.

I'm intrigued by Haven, although I don't really care for the lead.
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
I feel like I should know who Chris Gorham is, and I definitely recognize him from somewhere... help me out? I think they're going out of their way to make him "fun" disabled, which... arg. That just comes across as so pained and strained and just... bleh. But with any luck they will tone it the heck down once they realize how lame that seems, and he can become something more well-rounded.
Jul. 17th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
Chris Gorham was Henry in Ugly Betty; he was also in Popular & Jake 2.0.
Jul. 16th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
The only one I watch is Burn Notice. I'm beginning to think my vidding is affecting my tv watching. I'm spending more time editing than actually watching anymore.

I need to catch up on some of the new shows...
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
Sticking with the tried and true is never a bad thing!
Jul. 16th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
I liked Haven overall but kept getting distracted by the fact that not a single person there had a Maine accent. Most likely they decided it was better to have no such accents than to have the actors mangle it, but still. It bothered me. The lead grew on me during the course of the episode. I'll certainly give it more eps.

What is Glades?
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
Glades is from the guy who created Miracles. I think it's yet another "weird shit happens" case of the week thing, and takes place in Flor-EYE-dah. ANd if I'm keeping all this crap straight, it's not the show about a spooky gated community called The Gates.
Jul. 17th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
Random drive-by comment...
Actually, flip those. The spooky gated community called The Gates is indeed Richard Hatem's (from Miracles) new show, and The Glades is from Clifton Campbell, who worked on S1 of White Collar

Haven is filmed in Nova Scotia instead of BC, so at least it's a different part of Canada? Not that that makes it any less dull, so far...
Jul. 19th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC)
Re: Random drive-by comment...
Aha! Well, then, I feel much better about really disliking the pilot of Glades. I hate it when they do this on TV -- these shows that sound indistinguishable starting around the same time.

Nova Scotia, eh? Well, I'm glad they finally stepped away from Vancouver or Toronto, but it still looks like it was filmed through a grey filter... I don't know why they can't pump some of the money they save by filming in Canada into the look of the shows. And my memory, though very old, of NS is very good, so I'm going to look forward to seeing some different sites on screen.

Thanks for the info!
Jul. 17th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
As much as I like Sasha Alexander, I did not like Rizzoli & Isles. The whole thing with them staking out the serial killer and the partner innocently goes out to take a leak, lalala, like there's nothing to be worried about, then he takes for-f'kng ever, and no one thinks there's a problem? WTF? We finally have tons of TV with competent heros (Michael Westin is #1), and they do shit like this? I'm giving it one or 2 more tries, then I'm gone. The only reason I'm lasting this long was for the turtle.
Jul. 17th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Whenever the action is predicated on people doing Stupid Things, they lose so many points, they have to work extra hard to gain any points back. This is not a show for people with a competence kink.
Jul. 17th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Summer fluff
I'm giving Cagney..., sorry, Rizzoli and Isles a chance. As Gwyn says, there are darn few shows with female leads that are interesting. This show has potential, but has a long way to go to meet it. One episode isn't enough to judge.

I'm glad Warehouse 13 is back. Saul Rubinek makes any show watchable.

Jul. 17th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Summer fluff
Yeah, I figure a few more eps won't hurt. I want to have a good new show with two female leads. *strong* female leads. Not that crappy chick-lit female stuff like Grey's Anatomy or whatever.

I never liked Saul Rubinek before. It's funny to like him now. But he's just really perfect as Artie. It's like all the things about him I couldn't stand work so well for the character and the situation that it all comes together. And I love his relationship with ... um... Claudia? Is that her name?
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