Talking Television and Values.

Archive for August, 2006

Fall Preview: 6º

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 31, 2006

I was hoping to write a positive review for a show from ABC. However, it looks like they have the worst line up this year of the three major networks. This is especially true when it comes to their new programs this fall. While I think they have some good concepts, their programs just miss the mark.

Specifically, 6º appears to be a great concept. However, from the previews, it just seems that there is something missing. I am interested in the how they tie the lives of six seemingly unconnected people together. And I think that the concept is interesting. However, is the concept alone interesting enough to hold my attention for a whole season?

Normally, I like to talk about some of the characters and plot of a show. However, as I have read the online description and watched the trailer. It appears that there is little character development and even less of a story line.

Perhaps as I watch this show I will come to know these people and enjoy watching them. But as for now, I have no interested in the characters, because there is no development. What interest I do have in this show is in the interconnection (or the six degrees) and how it all plays out. But as the show develops that interconnection will be lost because the six degrees will ultimately meld into one.

But what’s further is the story line. Why do we care how these people are interconnected? What is so important about these six people? Where is the drama? Where is the conflict? The trailer doesn’t show it; the online description doesn’t explain it. There appears to be no plot. And simple human interaction is not enough to entertain.

This show, , is a great concept. It stares in the face as being an interesting look at interpersonal, or maybe more correctly stated extra-personal relationships. However, it will lose viewers because it has little character development and even less of a plot.

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Fall Preview: Heros

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 30, 2006

It seems that after the great success of Lost, many of the major networks are trying there hand at putting together their own mysterious story. CBS has added Jericho, and NBC is trying it with Heroes.

And I think that these two new shows will both be a success.

Heroes is the story of ordinary people who discover that they have extraordinary powers. And these powers are also the interest of Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy). Suresh is the son of a professor who took on his father’s studies after his father mysteriously disappeared. Both the father and son were genetic scientists who are interested in the evolution of man.

As Suresh continues his father’s research he comes into contact with people who have extraordinary powers. He meets people like Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere). Claire is a 17-year-old, high-school cheerleader whose body cannot be destroyed. She has jumped from towers, walked in fire, and other terrible acts, but can’t seem to hurt herself.

Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) is a cube farm employee who doesn’t fit in with his Japanese coworkers. He spends what free time he has in the office trying to get the clock to move backward. Then one day it happens. Ultimately he learns to teleport himself.

Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) is an unsuccessful street cop, who wants to do more with his career but seems to be holding himself back. However, one day while on the beat he hears a voice, and it leads him to solving a case. But where are they coming from.

Suresh concludes that it is genetic mutation that has caused each of these and several others to happen. However, there seems to be something even deeper to their mysterious abilities, and Suresh is determined to find the root of these changes.

Because, many of us have wanted to fly, walk through walls, or stop the clock at some point in our lives. And this show will grasp at the heart of our desire to be more than who we are. We will all watch relating to one character more than to another and seeing ourselves in many of them. This show will be a great hit. We will wonder about the mystery and wonder about the people.

The acting, production, writing, and execution of this show will be right on. The show will draw the viewer in for an hour and leave her wanting more. I expect that this will be a great success.

On a values perspective, I must say that I am concerned about a couple of characters backgrounds and I wonder how they will play out in the end. Only as the show develops can I honestly say whether I will stay with this show or not.

Despite the fact that I think this show will be a success, I am afraid that with all the mystery of Lost, Jericho, and Heroes, something must go. Only time will tell which of these three proves to be the most entertaining. I think that Lost will keep it well established audience, and that the second place will fall to Heroes. While I like the Jericho story better, I think that more people will relate to Heroes and thus tune in.

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Fall Preview: Smith

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 25, 2006

Have you ever wanted to be a master criminal? You know the guy every one turns to when they need something stolen from someone, and they are going to pay you a lot of money to do it? A life of lies, deceit, murder?

Yeah, me neither.

Sure, I would love to have an exciting action packed life, and perhaps if I didn’t watch so much TV I might actually get that. However, I am not going to become some high-life criminal who pretends to be a family man, so that I can get that action. However, CBS wants us all to find entertainment in such deception.

CBS’s Smith is about the life and actions of a “family man” who lives a double life as a master criminal. He is trying to get out, but he always seems willing to just one more job. After all, he needs to make just a little more after that last million dollar job.

The executive producers claim (video link) that their drive to make this show was to look at the inner evil in all of us. They equate the average man’s driving over the speed limit and illegal parking to professional criminals who steal, murder, cheat, and who knows what else they plan on showing us.

I am nothing like Bobby Stevens (Ray Liotta), accept maybe in the looks category. And I don’t really want to be. My minor infractions of the law are nothing like Stevens and his cohorts violent detest of the law while they parade themselves as normal family men.

At first, I thought that maybe this was about a man who was sincerely trying to turn over a new leaf. But as I watch the previews (video link), I realized that this isn’t a show about changing for the better. Rather it is an exhibition of evil. The producers smirk as they discuss the next crime that these men are going to commit. They love the idea that we can all live vicariously as evil people through their creation. They openly admit these their main character is not supposed to be likeable.

This show is socially irresponsible. This paints the life of a criminal as action without consequences. It sends the message that you can do whatever you want and have the good life too. Many will watch this show and think that this as a way out of their drudgery and into excitement. If you doubt me, ask criminologist how many people started showing a greater interest in a criminology career after the popularity of CSI.

Production wise this will be a great show. Acting will be superb. For those who chose to watch it, they will probably mistaken think they are watching a movie and not a television show. Honestly, I expect that this show will last for a couple of seasons. It has the potential audience of 24.

However, I will not be watching and I hope that it doesn’t make it into next year. I don’t watch TV to see evil celebrated.

Posted in Drama, Fall Preview 2006, Previews, Smith, Television, TV | 1 Comment »

Fall Preview: ‘Til Death

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 23, 2006

I really struggle with comedies lately. It seems that the family comedy is almost completely extinct. When you turn on a proported family comedy it ends up being something that you wouldn’t watch with your children.

And I am afraid that Fox’s new comedy ‘Til Death, while not promoting itself as a family show, will ultimately prove to be a disappointment for me. The first clue is the name. With all the positive phrases to denote marriage, they had to pick a negative one.

While marriage is work and at times you aren’t sure if you can handle another minute with your spouse. There are wonderful times too. And while I wouldn’t want this show to sugar coat marriage, I just hope that it isn’t the bash on marriage show that it could digress to.

‘Til Death stars Brad Garrett as Eddie Stark who has been married to his wife Joy (Joely Fisher) for almost 24 years. And as with many marriages it has grown a little stale. The comedy is set when just next door a newly wed couple (Kat Foster and Eddie Kaye Thomas) moves in.

This juxtaposition of the new marriage and the old marriage is a great set up. The concept is fresh and unique. And the actors appear to be a great combination. I think this is a great next role for Brad Garrett. Ultimately, I predict that this will be a success.

However, it will end up being a disappointment in that too much humor will be made at the expense of marriage. This show could truly send the message that while marriage is hard, it can work and can be wonderful. However, I think it will send more of a message that marriage is just terrible and don’t bother; that the first few years of marriage are great, but after that it is just pure drudgery and not worth it.

I will probably watch a few episodes, and I will probably enjoy them. However, the negative messages will ultimately bring me to tuning out and finding a better way to spend my half hour.

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American Heritage in American Fun

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 21, 2006

If you like the reality TV show the Amazing Race, the Disney movie National Treasure, and the highly anticipate movie the DaVinci Code, then you were probably looking forward to this summers new reality show Treasure Hunters. I have to admit, I was at the least a bit curious.

Mostly I was curious because I wanted to see how it stacked up against the Amazing Race, my personal favorite show. I also enjoyed National Treasure. The DaVinci Code only briefly intrigued me but not enough to actually read the book or see the movie.

However, I wasn’t curious enough that I have watched every episode. I finally remember to watch around episode 4 when the Wild Hanlons were eliminated. My very first impression was that the clues were too easy, and that the show worked a lot like a PBS documentary. That is not to discount documentaries. But if you are watching a reality game show, you won’t be as interested in facts and figures.

I managed to remember to watch episode 5 and its to-be-continued episode, where the Browns were eliminated. And I still felt that it was a little too documentary like and the clues to be too easy. However, I realized that the reason the clues appeared to be easy is because they dropped too many hints (or outright told the viewing audience). So, as a viewer the challenges seemed a lot easier. That didn’t bother me as much. But, I think that they shouldn’t be so eager to give away the clues in future productions.

Then I missed a couple of episodes and have finally remembered to watch the last two. While it still feels like a documentary, I am more interested in the facts and figures because it shares with us our American Heritage. This is a lot of where National Treasure comes to play in this show. It really is about America, our roots, and how we became the great country that we are.

To be honest with you, although I would like the documentary feel to be taken away, I hope that they run this again next summer and be sure to include the history of our great country. If they could take away the documentary feel then they would have the best show of the summer. The American Heritage aspect is this shows number one redeeming value, but also the real American’s aspect is also very refreshing for a reality show.

The Wild Hanlons, the Browns, and the Geniuses are just real Americans having fun on American TV. Sure, they didn’t go far (accept the Geniuses), but they were real Americans, not like too many reality shows that have a disproportionate number of “pretty-faced” Americans.

I look forward to the Treasure Hunter Finale tonight, and I am personally cheering for the Geniuses, despite the fact that it appears I am in the minority. Otherwise, I hope it is Air Force that wins.

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Fall Preview: Jericho

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 18, 2006

Okay, I have to admit that I am a sucker for science fiction. And perhaps that’s why I feel Jericho has a lot of potential this fall. However, the previews also show that this could be the next LOST.

The big question of this show is what would you do if? Thus, it becomes a dialogue, if you will, about what people do when they are presented with a situation they have never dealt with before. Some will choose wrong, most will choose right, and ultimately right will prevail.

I predict that this show will be the best new show of the year. It will capture the heart of America. It will show that evil exists, but the good will overcome evil. It will show how people can and do work together to make the world a little better, no matter what fate has dealt them.

The characters for this show are very interestingly put together. Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) is the prodigal son, who happened to be in town for a short just time before the nuclear bombs hit. Now he decides to stay and help out. Thus, he becomes the unlikely hero of the story.

However, Jake’s relationship with his father, and Jericho’s Mayor, Johnston Green (Gerald McRaney) is troubled. This is where the main personal conflict develop. These two characters clash as they try to put this town back together again. This troubled relationship is often calmed by Jake’s mother, Gail Green (Pamela Reed).

There are also other great supporting characters that will add to this show. Perhaps the most intriguing character will be Bonnie Richmond (Shoshannah Stern). Bonnie is hearing impaired, and we will she how she copes with this very unique situation.

Robert Hawkins (Lennie James) is a mysterious stranger who seems to be able to handle many of the trials presented. He is the MacGyver of the show, but who is he really?

Jericho will have mystery, suspense, intrigue and so much more. This show will definitely be a success. Just how successful is yet to be determined.

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Fall Preview: Ugly Betty

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 16, 2006

It seems like a great plot line, and Ugly Betty has some slight potential. But despite its Thursday schedule, this one will be a flop.

Based on the popular Latino television Betty La Fea, Ugly Betty is about a “square peg” trying to fit herself into the fashion world. While Betty Suarez (America Ferrera) turns out to be quite successful at her job, she is mocked, belittled, and dumped on, by the elite of the high fashion industry. The whole industry seems to be against Betty, who happens to be the assistant to the director of a fashion magazine.

Betty’s boss, Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius), sees the true talent that Betty has, and realizes that she can succeed in the industry. Betty also develops a crush for Daniel, which will provide the every tedious denied love sub-plot so famous in television.

At first you might think that this is a show about the little guy taking on the big man. Perhaps that is the initial premise. However, based on the previews, this show will miss the mark. While at first some of the “nerd” humor will be funny, eventually, it will get tiring. There will also be so much emphasis on the elites and their denigrating world, that it will almost seem that Betty and Daniel are the sub-plot.

Sure Betty will always come out on top. Sure we will all see a little bit of ourselves in Betty. Sure many shows will have a “feel good” appeal to it. But after a while, this show will lose its image as a show about the small man rising, and it will become another attempt at media mockery of the average Jane.

The message that Betty is a strong woman will come across; she would have to be to put up with all the ridicule thrown at her. However, that is where this show will fail. No person is strong enough to withstand what she will have to. As people realize this disconnect and realize that it is just way too much punishment, and not enough rewards for anyone to keep up with the abuse, they will start turning off this show.

While this may have been popular on Latino TV, it will miss the mark in the U.S. It is unfortunate that ABC put as much stock in it as to actually place on Thursday night. I hope they have a good back up mid-season show.

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Fall Preview 2006, Previews, Television, TV, Ugly Betty | Leave a Comment »

Fall Preview: Friday Night Lights

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 15, 2006

There is one show that I am really looking forward to this season.

I can’t wait to see Friday Night Lights. Not because I am a football fan. Not because I think it will be a critically acclaimed show.

No, I want to watch this show because after his role as Gary Hobson on Early Edition, I have been a Kyle Chandler fan. And I want to see how he plays this role.

I honestly couldn’t see Chandler playing the role of a football coach. Other roles that I have seen him in just make it difficult for me to seeing him as a coach. Chandler doesn’t have the athletic appearance that Craig T. Neilson (Coach), or Denzel Washington (Remember the Titans) have. Can he pull off the part of a teen wrangling football coach?

However, as I viewed the previews that are available through NBC’s Website, I realized that Eric Taylor (Chandler’s new persona) is not your normal coach. He is a mentor, parent, guide, and so much more to a bunch of boys and their town.

In Friday Night Lights, Taylor is a recently hired high school football coach in Dillon, Texas. Dillon is a small town where football is the heart of the community. Thus, Taylor has a great burden on his shoulders. He is expected to win, but he has a larger goal in mind and that is to turn these young men in to men of character.

This character development aspect is where this show has great potential. It could be the American story of our day. This could be the show of the real American Dream, and I don’t mean getting rich playing football. This could be the story of the American dream of family, progress, freedom, and happiness. This show has the potential to be Middle America celebrated.

However, it could also be Middle America derided, Middle America mocked, or Middle America shamed. Based on the fact that this show is a follow-up to the movie by the same name and produced and directed by the same producer/director, Peter Berg. I am afraid that this show will end up being a grave disappointment for me. While I haven’t seen the movie, I am aware of many teen sexual situations from the movie that would have lead me to walking out of the theater. So, I am equally afraid, that this show will result in the demise of the remote control.

There is one simple thing that makes me think that I need not fear. The time slot (8/7 central) has been traditionally reserved for more family friendly fare. Television is changing, so this may not be the case, but I still have hope.

I am looking forward to watching Friday Night Lights. I am looking forward to seeing Chandler back as the lead character. I hope that this show portrays a positive message about America, small towns, and old-fashioned values. But knowing the direction of television and teen relationships, I fear that this will be a disappointment.

Posted in Drama, Fall Preview 2006, Friday Night Lights, Previews, Television, TV | 1 Comment »