Talking Television and Values.

Archive for March, 2007

Imaginary Raines Entertains

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 31, 2007

When I first read about Raines, I was wondering how many more talking to the dead shows we need. Then I realized that Detective Michael Raines (Jeff Goldblum) doesn’t really talk to the dead. He just imagines them.

So, then I start wondering if we really need another Monk. However, after watching the past three episodes, I realize that this isn’t Monk, and frankly, I think it is a lot better.

Prior to any of the first episode, Raines’ partner, Detective Charlie Lincoln (Milka Yoba) was killed and Raines is taking it pretty hard. So hard, that he sees the victims that he is investigating as he works on their cases. He even talks to his old partner in his imagination.

He is not however seeing their ghosts. He only imagines them, and the victim’s character is slow developed as Raines learns more about them. Last week’s episode started with the victim all covered in seaweed and half eaten by fish, until Raines sees a photo. Then the victim becomes normal.

Last night’s episode we see the victim’s clothes changes as Raines learned more about her. She went from looking like a homeless woman, to a suburban mother like individual.

These imaginary individuals, however, don’t tell Raines more than he already knows. Sure sometimes they help him talk through problems to understand possible solutions. However, they don’t tell him anything more than he already knows.

It really creates a very interesting story line, and helps you to understand better how Raines puts the cases together. It really is an excellent literary tool.

It is a really interesting premise and is very enjoyable. The monologue at the beginning is a little too Dragnet, but it does work for this show, especially when you take into account that Raines talks to himself (or his imagination) throughout the show.

I will keep watching and enjoying Raines. It is perhaps the best new premier among this mid-seasons releases.

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

Ugly Betty Gets Uglier

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 30, 2007

If I had posted these comments about Ugly Betty last November when last nights rerun originally aired, I would have been a lot more complimentary about the show. That’s right I have been watching Ugly Betty.

At first I was watching the show to prove myself right that this show didn’t deserve to be on the air. I was convinced that it would be a complete and total mockery of everything good. And I was pleasantly surprised.

During the first half of this season this show actually proved to be a great show about how traditional family values will always prevail no matter what part of the world you lived in. Betty (America Ferrera) managed to always save her boss, her company, or her own family by relying on the values and morals her parent taught her while growing up. These values were either never taught or were easily forgotten by her coworkers in the fashion industry.

I was also further caught up in the mystery surrounding the death of Bradford Meade’s (Alan Dale) mistress. Who killed her? Who was this mystery woman that was going to take over Mode Magazine by revealing Bradford’s involvement in his mistress’s death? It was captivating.

It was really looking up to being a great show. However, after the winter break in new episodes, Betty got Uglier. Betty Suarez didn’t get uglier, just the show.

We find out that the mystery woman was supposedly Bradford Meade’s deceased son, Alex(is) Meade (Rebecca Romijn). He faked his own death in order to go into hiding so that he could have a sex change.

What little I know about sex changes, I know that there is no way you can take the offspring of Bradford Meade and Claire Meade (Judith Light), have a boy, and then convert it into something as beautiful as Romijn. It’s just not possible with today’s technology.

The revelation of Alexis Meade is where I realized the hidden agenda of this show. It is an advocacy program for the sexually confused. Two of the supporting characters are gay. Two of the supporting characters are sex addicts. And one of them is transgendered. That adds up to five of a regular cast of eleven.  Seems like a high percentage to me.

This is all couched in the message of fighting for the underdog. We cheer for the success of Betty in her poncho while saving a fashion magazine. We hope for her father Ignacio (Tony Plana) and his plight for legal status in the United States. We have heart for the differences in personality of Betty’s nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato). We pine for Christina’s (Ashely Jensen) success as a fashion designer.

However, you really lose my interest when I have to accept the transformation of a man into a woman. This is agendized television and I just am not going to accept it.

It is a blatant attempt at trying to change the hearts and minds of American’s to greater acceptance or at least tolerance towards the sexually confused, I was willing to bear it for a while, but I think I have had enough.

Posted in Drama, Television, TV, Ugly Betty | 2 Comments »

Preview: The Great American Dream Vote

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 27, 2007

Is Donny Osmond ready from prime time again? While he has done television, broadway, and other media productions. This is the first time in 20 plus years that Osmond will be starring in a prime time television show.

I was actually quite impressed at how well Osmond did on Pyramid. He was very well spoken, funny (though someone cliché), and rather enjoyable to watch.

As the Great American Dream Vote is more like a game show than a talk show, I would guess that Osmond will do well in this role. I am sure that he will bring is very natural charm to the screen and help the contestants and audience (both studio and broadcast audiences) feel at home.

However, I am not sure that this show will work. We often hear about the great American dream. As I was growing up I was always taught that this dream was home ownership. And I still think that it is.

However, we are dreaming bigger now. And this show is hoping to capitalize from our dreams.

Contestants in this show will tell America what their dream is. This can be anything from building a dance studio in your basement to starting up your own private business. The key is to convince America that your dream is better than the other contestants.

First, the studio audience will reduce the vote down to the two best contestants. Then America will decide who should have their dream fulfilled.

I often speak of celebrating the stories of ordinary people. This show starts with that premise and so there is a part of me that thinks it could be a great success. However, past experiments (like Three Wishes) with helping people fulfill their dreams have proven to be unsuccessful television shows.

While they often provide people with a great feeling about society and caring for others, these shows just aren’t as entertaining as one would hope they would be.

Also, I feel that the competition part of the show will have its problems. How am I going to choose between one person’s dreams and another’s? Sure some choices would be obvious, like voting for someone who wants fame and fortune versus someone who needs a home with wheelchair access for their disable child. But how do you choose between the wheelchair and the infertile couple? Or how do you choose between a pasture who wants to improve his church and a homeless shelter that needs more room?

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if this show does well. It could be like chicken soup for the television soul. But I don’t hold out much hope.

Posted in Previews, Reality TV, Television, The Great American Vote, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »

The Man from Tallahasee is the Confidence Man

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 23, 2007

As a general rule, I like to avoid posts that are directly related to theories about a show. However, I found this one a little interesting and I thought that I would share it with you all.

During the last episode of lost we learned how John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) lost the use of his legs and was in a wheelchair. For some this was a huge mystery revealed. For me, it was boring.

I like Locke; He is in my top three of favorite characters in Lost. And I was looking forward to this episode mostly because it was focused on him. However, I wasn’t genuinely peak interested in learning about how he lost the use of his legs.

That is until I rewatched Episode 8 of Season 1. My wife missed most of season 1 and I know that there are a few that I have missed too. So, we decided to rent the season and watch it to keep us up on things.

Last night we watched the Episode where Sawyers is confronted by Kate about the Letter that he handles so gingerly and reads with heart. At first, Sawyer claims that it is a letter he received. After being tortured by Sayid and prostituting a kiss from Kate, Sawyer confessed to Kate that it is a letter he wrote to a Confidence Man who stole money from his father, which lead to the murder-suicide of his parents.

I just realized that the Man from Tallahassee is the Confidence Man. It fits perfectly. It is almost too obvious. If it hadn’t been for the two plus year delay in the connection, I would think that it is too obvious to be the case. However, I can’t wait now to see the episode where Sawyer meets up with Anthony Cooper (Kevin Tighe). I further think that it will start tying up some interesting loose ends.

Am I out in left field on this one? Has this been obvious for a long time and I am just catching up with the rest of you? Should I just not even bother worrying about the mysteries because I am so naive? What are your thoughts about some of the mysteries of Lost?

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

Jack Bauer is MacGyver on Adrenaline

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 20, 2007

I missed out on the first season of Fox’s 24. I wasn’t even aware that the show was being aired. My sister-in-law mentioned it to me, and I thought the concept was interesting. However, I didn’t bother watching it until the second season.

Actually, that is somewhat of an over statement. I watch about the first half hour of the first episode of the second season. I thought it was boring drivel, turned off the TV, and never bothered watching again.

That is until this season. A co-worker said it is the only show that he watches. Considering this gentleman is rather finicky about his television viewing I thought that maybe I had misjudged the show. This is especially true when you consider that the second season is considered by most to be its worst iteration.

So, I have given Jack Bauer (Keifer Southerland) another try. And honestly, it is still the same old drivel.

Jack Bauer is just the MacGyver of the new millennium. He is MacGyver with enough adrenaline to just make it stupid.

You can expect the same thing every episode. Jack Bauer saves the day, just barely. Yesterday’s episode was no different. Even though he is injured enough to be in an infirmary, Bauer manages to kill three men (single handedly, with two guy as unnecessary back up), then fly an UAV out of the air space of millions of people.

Yeah!!!! He did it again. And guess what next episode, he will be our hero. Why can’t someone else save the day? Morris O’Brian (Carlo Rota) could have put a bug in a code to save the day. Tom Lennox (Peter MacNicol) could have prevented the assassination of the President. But the writers can only write a script in which Jack Bauer saves the day.

Boring… It is so predictable, that I am not even feeling like I am giving away any spoilers. Just watch, next week. If Jack Bauer is there, then the world will be saved, but if he is too far away trust me doom will happen.

If this were the real world, we would put Jack Bauer as the President’s personal body guard, and then he would be immortal, because after all Jack Bauer is.

It is quite humorous. It’s like watching a MacGyver episode all over again. When you put it all together Jack Bauer is just like MacGyver accept for one thing. Bauer does use a fire arm, and many more weapons of torture. Something that MacGyver would die before he would ever use.

Bauer can create anything (especially if it saves his life) out of anything. He can use a belt to stop a bullet from speeding to his head. He can fly a UAV. And MacGyver was famous for all the inventions he made out of everyday ordinary things.

Also, both MacGyver and Bauer are fighting terrorists. Sure MacGyver was more against the Russians, but hey they were our biggest enemy in his day. If MacGyver were still saving the world today, I am sure it would be from the Afghanis.

I should really be making the comparison, because at least MacGyver was entertaining. But I was kid then, so it might not be as entertaining for me now.

Posted in 24, Drama, Television, TV | Leave a Comment »

The Haves and the Have-nots

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 19, 2007

It really isn’t too surprising that two Mark Burnett productions are following the same theme this season. Both the Apprentice and Survivor are splitting their teams up into the haves and the have-nots, if you will.

The interesting thing is that it seems that this format isn’t creating an insurmountable feat for the contestants on the Apprentice, while the Survivor have-nots (Ravu) can’t overcome their deprivation. This week’s episode of the Apprentice was a turn around for Arrow Corp. Both Arrow and Kinetic have spent their time in the tents (the have not situation).

However, on Survivor, the unfortunate Ravu team hasn’t won one challenge. They can’t seem to get beyond their problems.

This seems like a strange difference. At first glance one might think that this is an anomaly. That it is just pure fluke that Arrow Corp. was ever able to make it past the first hurdle.

So you have to take into consideration the level or extremity of the deprivation. When you get a better night sleep and have just a little more food, you are going to do better in challenges. When the only difference between competitors is comfort of your sleeping arrangements it could be easier for the deprived team to defeat the other team. You know that your situation is surmountable, so you go forward and overtake the situation.

However, I think it goes deeper than just the level of deprivation. Ravu is still not the worst team to have played the game. Based on number of losses in a row, I believe that Stephenie and Bobby Jon‘s team in Survivor Palau had the worst record in the game.

When you look at the four teams (okay, two of them are technically tribes), you realize that there are two things that makes the Ravu tribe different from the rest. These characteristics were the same for the losing team of Palau.

The first problem that Ravu has is no cohesion. The team doesn’t seem to work together. I get the strong feeling that they don’t like each other very much, and that they are just putting up with one another. The strongest connections on the team are probably Anthony and Earl. And even at that suggestion, I am wondering if that is true.

I believe that James (“Rocky”) is the person to blame for discontent on this team and I personally think he should be the one to go. But that just isn’t going to happen, he is too strong in many ways.

When you look at the other teams, there is cohesion. The Moto tribe has an alliance of five between Alex, Boo, Lisi, Stacy, and Edgardo. Arrow Corp. has a strong relationship between Tim, James, Frank and Nicole. And Kinetic Corp. has a strong bond between the women, but especially between Angela, Kristine, and Heidi.

The other reason that Ravu Tribe has suffered is because there is no leadership. None of the players are willing to put their necks on the line and take their tribe to the top. Perhaps this is because Sylvia spoiled the leader role in that she wasn’t a very good director of the tribe, nor was she a loved one.

People can overcome any situation. The have-nots in real life can over come. They need the strength to do so, but they also need good friends and good leadership. It’s a simple fact of life.

Posted in Reality TV, Survivor, Television, The Apprentice, TV, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »

Don’t Delay My Drama

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 15, 2007

Why all the delays?!

Heroes, Lost and Jericho are perhaps my three favorite shows on TV. Most Americans would probably agree with me on that list too. And yet we find ourselves having to wait for at least several weeks before they air the next episode.

Jericho’s delay is probably directly related to March Madness and I can forgive the CBS decision makers for that. However, I don’t understand the NBC or ABC decision makers.

For the time being ABC is keeping Lost on the air until this season is over. That’s great. But I don’t understand the huge delay in the middle of the season. They finally bring the show back just in time for February’s sweeps.

We got pretty much the same treatment from CBS and NBC too. We had to go on hiatus from these serialized shows for at least two months after the November sweeps.

Are the viewers only worth their votes on the ratings months? Sure we have value then. But when we are treated as though that is our only value to the producer, we aren’t happy.

It’s acceptable to have a break in a sitcom or a regular drama, but when the show is serialized, people hang on from week to week. I have even found that it is better to just wait and either rent the video, or watch the replay on the Internet.

I have to give NBC a little credit in that they did at least allow Peter to “save the cheerleader” before they took a break. We at least got some closure. Lost, however, didn’t give us the same courtesy. If I recall correctly the best that they gave us was revealing that Jack, Kate and Sawyer were on a different island. However, Jack was also told by Juliet to kill Ben. We were left hanging even more.

Well-done serial stories are great, they keep us wanting to return. This is especially true when the story lines are as captivating as Jericho, Lost and Heroes. But the producers and broadcasters need more respect for their audience.

This is a call out the decision makers at the television networks. Have more respect for your viewers. If you string us along too much, we will get fed up and leave.

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

Good-bye Rob and Amber

Posted by Travis R Grant on March 12, 2007

This is perhaps the best the Amazing Race All-stars episode so far. I liked this episode simply for one reason; Rob and Amber were eliminated.

I have to be completely honest and say that Rob and Amber are perhaps one of the five teams to play in the game. They perhaps deserved a win. However, I am glad that they didn’t

I never liked them as a team because of Rob. His comments during the race were very ego-centric and self-absorbed. He knew that many of the teams were focused on eliminating them. Knowing that is one thing, but Rob reveled in it. He loved that he was the center of attention.

For the first couple of episode Rob played a good game. But people can put on a good face when the cards are in their favor. However, when they get dealt a bad hand, that’s when their true colors come out.

As a brief related aside, let’s look at David and Mary for a second. When the cards were down for them, they still took the time to help out another team. While this is perhaps not the smartest move during a race, it is a testament to their character.

On the other hand, to openly try and hinder another team during the race is rude. Amber was so afraid that Charla and Mirna could beat them to the finish line that they lied to them for an advantage. They could have opted to keep their mouth shut, but instead they went for the deception in hopes of a win.

Under pressure, Rob and Amber’s real personality is revealed. There personalities vindicate my dislike for them. They aren’t nice people. Sure, they will always argue that’s it was only a game. But games are meant to be played with a little integrity. In this episode, Rob and Amber showed that have little integrity.

Rob and Amber are aces when life is in their favor, but when the cards are down they can’t handle the pressure. They aren’t beneath any action to win.

That is why I am so glad to say “Good-bye!” to them. I can’t foresee Rob manipulating himself onto another Reality TV show that I watch. I hope that the Television producers realize that the world has had enough of Rob.

I wish them the best of luck in their life ahead. I don’t wish them any harm. I am simply glad they won’t ever have to enter my home again.

Posted in All-star, Reality TV, TAR, Television, The Amazing Race, TV, Unscripted Dramas | Leave a Comment »