Talking Television and Values.

Archive for September, 2006

Shark Is More Than a Lawyer Show

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 29, 2006

It hit me while I was finishing up Shark last night. I realized why I liked this show. As a general rule, I am not much of a fan of lawyer shows. I also don’t like cop shows that much, either.

So, when I found myself intrigued by last week’s Shark and more than willing to watch it again this week, it was a little baffling. Maybe it is the cutthroat nature of Sebastian Stark (James Wood)? That is probably not it, because of his willingness to stretch the rule of law. Maybe I like it because of the potential for change in Sebastian Stark? This explanation is more likely than the previous posibility.

However, I like this show because it isn’t really a lawyer show. Well, at least it isn’t completely a lawyer show. It is a family show. By that I don’t mean that it is suitable for the whole family. Rather, I mean that it is a show about family.

Generally, I don’t like the over-representation of divorced families on television. However, I think that in this case it is appropriate. This is a story about a man who is changing. A man who made many wrong decisions, and now is turning his life around to make right decisions. The divorce in this case is a symptom of the wrongs that he made in his life.

As you watch this show, you see great legal work (notice I avoided the word good because he isn’t always ethical in his practices). And the acting is very good. You find the characters believable, well developed, and you love and hate them as the characterization calls for. But the key is that each case Stark fights brings him closer to his daughter Julie (Danielle Panabaker). You see the connection of the case to the trial of the relationship.

My only fear is that as the show progresses it is only natural that these two grow together. Then what happens to the drama. Might I suggest that they bring Stark’s former wife back in season two and have their relationship rekindled.

Stark is a great show about family relationships with the law as the canvas on which the story is painted. This is a great piece of television.

Posted in Drama, Shark, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

Jericho Flawed But Entertaining

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 28, 2006

After watching the premier last week, I truly felt that Jericho was the best show that I had seen thus far this season. I seriously considered writing about how great it was, and why I loved it.

However, after watching the preview for this weeks show, I had some concerns. I didn’t want to write a positive review to find out that this week was going to take the show in a direction I wasn’t happy with.

While this week’s show wasn’t as good as last week, I was happy with it. First of all, in order to really enjoy this show, you have to throw out reality. I couldn’t help notice several inconsistencies. One inconsistency is the truck Jake was driving silently pulled up to the house just in time for him to shoot the prison escapee. Not only is this just too cliché of a storyline, it amazes me how well the muffler acted on cue.

However, despite the lousy directing, the story line is still interesting and it is intense. I am not sure that the level of intensity for this episode and the premier will be maintained. However, I think that will be replaced with the mystery.

We already see the mystery starting to develop. Why the hydrogen bombs? Who is Robert Hawkins? Can these people make it through?

Perhaps as the show catches on, the directors will realize that radios don’t work well in radiation storms (see The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, p. 479-489). I hope that some of the technical flaws are looked into, and not just blatantly ignored. Then they will remove the mountains from the skylines, after all this is supposed to be in Kansas.

For now, I really love the sense of community that is brought out in this show. People are working together to do the right thing. Men are giving up their spots in a secure bomb shelter and heading for mines to be protected from the radiation.

Sure there are less than stellar people in this community, but the good guys are winning and the community is coming together. This will definitely be a great show because it builds up the common man.

Posted in Drama, Jericho, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

Hiro is my Hero

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 26, 2006

One of the shows that I have been anticipating this season proved to be worth my interest. Heroes, while not the best writing or directing, will be a great way to spend an hour of entertainment.

One of the ways to make a television show a success is to have charactersthe viewer can relate to. Viewers want somebody that they can empathize with and feel like they are a part of that person.

Heroes does just that. Not only does the show draw us in by giving the characters abilities that most of us have dreamed of having. They give these abilities to people that we relate to.

Hoping not to reveal too much about myself, I personally relate to two of the characters portrayed in the premier. I love the nerdy aspect of Hiro. While the SciFi references that he makes with his friend are part of our everyday lexicon, you can see that these two people are SciFi fans and perhaps that is what has lead Hiro to his discovery.

I also relate well with Peter. Living in the shadows of a brother can be a hard thing. While I might have been more like Nathan, I can say that I know what it is like to admire and resent your sibling at the same time. I am sure many can relate to some of these characters, and if not yet, wait until next week, there will be more.

However, there is one person that I cannot relate too. Niki is a single mother who has borrowed money from a loan shark and she is deeply in dept. Her character is further blemished because she earns her keep as an Internet porn star. I don’t relate to this individual at all.

But what bothers me more is that this was just a cheap excuse for the NBC executives to place mild porn on the airwaves. Hopefully with her new found ability (I don’t know that I understand exactly what it is yet) she will give up her Internet career.

However, her special ability caused the death of two men. While arguably these men who were going to kill her, so it was self defense, I am concerned about this character. I won’t mind this character if she goes one of two directions. Either her ability leads her to changing her life around, or she becomes the arch enemy of the Heroes. Either of these scenarios and I will be happy. However, if she tries to play a double life and acts as a good guy while leading a bad life, then I will be disappointed in this character.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the premier was the unknowns that we learned from watching this episode. Since they are replaying it tonight, I won’t go into details for those of you who missed it. But this show will definitely be a show to watch this season. I might even give up on Lost. Nah, that won’t happen.

Posted in Drama, Heroes, Television, TV | 1 Comment »

Reality TV is Losing Weight

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 21, 2006

Many may think that this recommendation is absurd. To be honest with you when I first heard about The Biggest Loser, I thought that it would be really lame television. Survivor on Atkins, or even worse Big Brother starring Richard Simmons.

However, one boring day, I was flipping through stations and found The Biggest Loser as the only thing worth watching. And as I watched it I realized that not only is this show rather well produced, it is also doing a whole lot of good.

This season they pulled a publicity stunt to try and attract a larger audience. They claimed that they were beginning this season with 50 contestants, one from every state. Of course this is only a gimmick to encourage the viewer to watch and cheer for their state’s representative.

Well, of course they can’t run an effective reality show focusing on 50 people. So, right off the bat, 36 contestants were eliminated.

How heart breaking. Most contestants worked really hard to get that far in the process. Then they find out that the odds are against them. They are likely to be eliminated before even 1 hour of air time. With 50 people, that isn’t enough for even 15 minutes of fame.

Getting eliminated so easily could also send many back to the old school-yard-pick days and cause them to gain more weight. What good is that going to do for America?

But wait. This show has really taken a very socially responsible approach, and they are giving each of the 36 a chance at 2 spots to come back on the show. They have to earn it. The two contestants who lose the most weight on their own while not on the show will be given a chance to compete.

I am not sure how far into the show they are going to be when they come in, but it will be neat to see who pushes the most to get on the show. It will be great to watch.

This sense of social responsibility goes further than this season. They have always encouraged contestants who are voted off to keep up what they learn, and they have final segments featuring how well they are doing.

I think that this is one of the great examples of the good that television can do. Many who are watching this show are thinking to themselves that they too can lose the wait. They are learning tips and pointers about how to do it. They are learning the importance of eating right and exercising.

Too bad I was watching this show while shoveling a cinnamon roll in my face.

Posted in Reality TV, Television, TV, Unscripted Dramas | 1 Comment »

86 Studio 60

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 19, 2006

Studio 60 is supposed to be the greatest show of the season. Says who? The bought and paid for TV critics are acclaiming Studio 60 as the next great thing in television.

The show opened with a diatribe about conservative religious groups preventing television from producing art. Art was the most important factor on producer’s mind. If I can remember anything about the speech, little was said about what the audience wants. We the audience must want art, and yes we do. However, we also want our values respected.

They argue that this is simply a First Amendment issue. However, it goes further than that. It comes down to the fact that the audience doesn’t matter anymore. And that is why more and more people are turning off the television.

To try to add credibility to the show, Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson) is a religious Christian, but she doesn’t seem to represent the values of most Christians. She would have loved to be in the bit titled “Crazy Christians” that was expected to offend many from the Christian community. She wanted to be in the bit because it was the best writing she had seen in years.

Paulson’s character is just complete evidence that they don’t understand the Christian viewing audience. They think that to a real artist, the art comes first. However, if Harriet Hayes had truly “accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior,” (her words from the show) then I think that she would have stepped up for the right thing.

The effort has been extensive to put together a great cast (like Matt Perry and Bradley Whitford) with some excellent cameos (Ed Asner and Judd Hirsch). And that will definitely draw a lot of viewers. It will especially draw the attention of the bought and paid for critics which will in turn draw more viewers.

This is also a show starring egomaniacs about a show full of egomaniacs. Nobody needs to act, because they will just be playing themselves. To entertain me, show me someone who can be something other than himself, not a bunch of actors playing themselves.

This show doesn’t do it for me. Sure the acting is good, the directing is top notch, and the writing keeps up. However, the agenda is too obvious and the direction is too profane for my tastes.

Studio 60 will last for at least a couple of years on the air. It will have a big enough following to keep it going. However, it will be the biggest attack on American Values that we have seen in a long time. Because the media’s rights will be portrayed as more important than your rights.

Posted in Drama, Studio 60, Television, TV | 5 Comments »

The Race Eliminates Two

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 18, 2006

So, the big surprise during the season premier of The Amazing Race 10 is that they eliminated two teams. Sorry, but this is another yawner of a change.

If you look at past seasons, they have always started the race with 11 teams. They have always eliminated one team in the first show. Thus, by the end of the premiere they have 10 teams. So, if you start with 12 and eliminate two, you are still at 10.

I am not excited about a double elimination. Especially, when they supposedly had a non pit stop. The non pit stops in the past have been boring and leaves you hanging too much. At least this time, the hang time was only seconds.

Instead of eliminating two in the first premier, I would have loved if they had extended the season, by keeping the extra team in longer.

For reality shows, the most important factor is the contestants, and it looks like I was right on when in comes to Lyn and Karlyn. They are lovable. You wanted them to do well, but they will struggle to stay in the race.

I was also right about Rob and Kimberly. They are going to complain and yell at each other the whole game. However, I don’t think that they will be the most hatable couple anymore. It looks like my projected favorite team, David and Mary, is going to fight more than Rob and Kimberly. Their only saving characteristic is that they still love each other and you can genuinely see it.

Also, it looks like my predictions for final three might hold together. It is still early, but I am going to hold to my predictions for now.

I am still not sure that these contestants have the chemistry to make a great season. However, if the challenges continue to be as difficult as the premiere, than the challenges just might make up for the contestants.

Posted in TAR, Television, The Amazing Race, TV | 5 Comments »

Fall Preview: The Amazing Race 10

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 16, 2006

Perhaps the only reason that I even still turn on the TV anymore is because of The Amazing Race. Until LOST came around, The Race was the only show worth setting the VCR to record.

As far as I am concerned The Amazing Race is Survivor on adrenaline. If you have never seen the show, what have you been thinking? This is the reason the unscripted dramas were invented.

However, for an unscripted drama to be really successful, it really comes down to the contestants. The challenges are fun, but the real drama comes from watching the interaction between the contestants. So let’s take a look at a few.

Bilal and Sa’eed are best friends and Muslims. From what I have seen I don’t know that there is much to this team. Perhaps they bring some athleticism to the game, but I think that they are too overweight to compensate.

David and Mary are the parents of three children. If they can make it past the first leg of The Race, then I think that they have a chance. However, it all depends on how well they work together. I like this team because the have the average Joe feel about them. And I will definitely be cheering them on.

Dustin and Kandice are the buxom blonds that are standard issue with this show. Although they will say something about them being better players than they appear, I have to say that they will be like all other past beautiful girl teams; They just won’t be able to keep it together for very long.

Erwin and Godwin are brothers from California and the first Asian-American team on The Race. Although these are possible contenders, I just don’t hold out much hope for them.

Lyn and Karlyn are two mothers and best friends. Like David and Mary I think that they hold some average Joe appeal that my win them into the hearts of many viewers. I am also thinking that they may be the first to break the mom curse, and win.

Peter and Sara are both Iron Man competitors. That is a pretty awesome resume item when it comes to The Race. They cannot be ignored in this game. I see a future final three.

Tom and Terry are the over-represented gay population team. It still amazes me how many gay couples they have on this show. The gay representation sure out numbers the average homosexual population in the U.S. As a team, I don’t think that they are fit enough to make it through the first half of the show.

Vipul and Arti are billed as the first Indian-American team to compete in The Race. Why didn’t they bill Erwin and Godwin as the first Asian-American teams? Vipul and Arti might do well, but I don’t think that they will have what it takes to compete.

So, onto the predictions. I predict that the first out of The Race will be Dustin and Kandice. Bad for the ratings, but lends to the credibility of the show.

I predict that the final three will be Peter and Sarah, Tyler and James (you have to throw in the strong male team), and for the wild card position I say Lyn and Karlyn. Risky business predicting before The Race even start, but I will have final predictions later on.

My prediction for most lovable team is Lyn and Karlyn. My prediction for most hatable team is going to be Rob and Kimberly, the dating couple that this time will fight like cats and dogs.

I would love to see David and Mary win, but the average Joe couple seldom make it very far. So, as usual I will just be upset when they get knocked out, and I will continue watching the show anyway.

I am not sure about this season’s race. It just seems that people are typical, predictable, and nothing exciting. I hope that I am wrong, but if the contestants aren’t worth watching than the show isn’t worth watching.

Posted in Fall Preview 2006, Previews, Reality TV, TAR, Television, The Amazing Race, TV, Unscripted Dramas | 1 Comment »

Survivor Pulls Another Publicity Stunt

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 15, 2006

You have all heard it; It’s probably the latest in water cooler talk. Survivor divided up the teams according to race. Yawn!

They have divided according to gender. They have divided according to age. This is nothing new to survivor.

Even though they are promoting it as a social experiment, it probably will be more racially dividing than we need today. Despite that I don’t think that race will play much of a factor in who wins.

It simply comes down to this. It is a game. And if a million dollars is on the line, you will jump tribe lines if you think that it will get you closer to the finish line. And if you don’t jump lines it isn’t because of race it’s because you think it will get you close to the finish line.

After having watched the show it was interesting that the racial division seemed to be more on the minds of the Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans than on the Caucasians minds. I don’t know the reason for that. I just found it interesting.

I am only watching the show because I have come to enjoy the show in general. But frankly these publicity stunts are really turning me off. Can’t we get back to the original show where the main factors were working with all people on the island to try to be the last player standing?

I guess when the rating start going down they feel that it is because it is getting boring, and that they need to make a change. But they are partly wrong.

It has become boring. But that’s because you always have the same stereotypical players: the beautiful, the strong, the aged, the alternative lifestyle, and the lazy.

Why don’t they look at their most popular past players? Rupert Boneham and Rudy Boesch were a couple of the more memorable players because they were real. They came across as someone you would like to have living next door. They were someone that you felt good about cheering on to the end.

Okay, maybe having two tribe of nothing but Ruperts wouldn’t make great television. But you need to have at least one Rudy in every show. You need to have someone everybody loves, and someone everybody loves to hate. So far, I am not sure that this show will produce that.

I think that people will be too stooped in the racial theme to be able to focus on who is the “good guy” and who is the “bad guy.” Only time will tell. But so far I really haven’t come to see the likeable character and the detestable character yet in this show.

I think that CBS’s little stunt will end up biting them back, because they sold entertainment for the price of a cheap trick.

Posted in Reality TV, Television, TV, Unscripted Dramas | 1 Comment »

The Path is Politics Free

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 12, 2006

While I couldn’t stand the yellow filter and the overuse of the close up throughout The Path to 9|11, I found this to be a very interesting show. My biggest concern as I watched was that this show would be very politically motivated. I expected that this show would be far too easy on the left, and way too harsh on the right.

However, after having watched it, I really feel that this show was fair. No political leaning was obvious. While, I don’t know many of the facts surrounding the history leading to the attack on September 11, I cannot help but feel that the producers of this show made every effort to be as accurate as possible.

There were mistakes made by the Bush Administration; The Clinton Administration could have done more. That wasn’t the point of this show. The point was that we were under attack, and we hadn’t been doing anything for a long time.

This was a powerful look at the evil that fights against us. This show points out that this war started before September 11, 2001. This is especially true in the case of the other side, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. They have been at war with us for years.

It is very much my impression that The Path to 9|11, was portrayed accurately and with the best information available. The timing for broadcast is probably right too. We have had time to mourn, and many of us are starting to forget. We needed this show to remember the wounds we suffered. We needed the show to help with the healing process.

While some of the directing was bothersome, the last half hour was the most powerful television I have watch in a very long time. My hat is off to all involved in this production.

Posted in Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

Fall Preview: Kidnapped

Posted by Travis R Grant on September 8, 2006

From the first moment I saw a preview on TV for Kidnapped I was intrigued. I have recently given up on Without a Trace, for reasons that I might address later. But I really enjoyed the element of searching for a missing person, and Kidnapped, could fulfill that need.

However, as I learned more about this show, I had some concerns. The basic premise is that 15-year-old Leopold Cain (Will Denton) is kidnapped shortly after his father hires a bodyguard (Mykelti Williamson) and takes out a ransom insurance policy on his son.

So, Leopold’s parents, Ellie (Dana Delany) and Conrad Cain (Timothy Hutton), at the advice of a friend call in an expert, Knapp (Jeremy Sisto). They don’t call the police, perhaps from fear of the kidnapper. As the story develops it also seems that they have some family secrets that will be revealed.

Well, my major concern was the hiring in of Knapp. A former FBI agent who quit because he felt that obeying the law was too constricting. So, he became a high-profile missing persons private investigator. Knapp’s blatant disregard for the law concerns me.

However, this character adds much of the necessary suspense and action. He helps to add to the major plot of getting Leopold back and finding out who kidnapped him. Perhaps I am justifying here, but I sure feel that his lack of ethics will not be as important as I initially gave it credit.

So far NBC has done a good job at confusing everyone. Is it the father? mother? Perhaps it is a business enemy. Or is it someone we haven’t even heard about yet.

As for me, I am going to put myself out on a limb and say that Virgil, the bodyguard, is involved in the kidnapping. I think that there may even be a deeper organization that is truly at the heart of it. And that we will see that develop as this gets into more and more seasons.

This show mimics the idea of a season long plot made famous through 24 and it borrows from Without a Trace. I think that it will be a great show, and I hope to be able to catch it regularly. I think that if I miss a show, I will be lost.

Posted in Drama, Fall Preview 2006, Kidnapped, Previews, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »