Caught another gasp of apparent downtime at work; this only happens on weekends, usually Sundays, slow news days, when the bosses are away and the campaigns are par for the course till Monday’s news cycle begins.
Let’s talk about TV!
I am all over this Lost-itis surge of genre-lite shows hitting mainstream network television. It’s positively a FEAST for those of us who hunger for genre television in the post-Star Trek world. I’m watching them all (except, oddly, Lost, which I lost control of somewhere mid last season when the flashbacks started to bore me. If they’re done with the backstory flashbacks I might tune in again; how’s this season?) except the one on the WB about the teen ghostbusters, but that’s more of a WB/teen-show bias than anything else, and I’d probably watch it if someone pointed me the way. Anyway, here’s the 2005 shows I’m watching this year. Add to it the old standards of Atlantis and Galactica (go SciFi!), Scrubs and House (go docs!), Survivor and The Amazing Race (go reality!) and this is my Fall ’05 lineup.
Bones: Apparently I’m the only one who’s liking this show. I think that’ll change. It turns out it’s PURE GENIUS, and that Emily Wossname is ADORABLE and she and David Boreanz promise to be the Mulder and Scully of the Oughts, except far more frank and shooting from the hip and FUNNY. I love the ensemble, love the marvelously clueless nerd (see also: every other show this year; viva los nerds!), and love the wry humor socially inept geniuses brought together for no other reason than they love a mystery. Sheer quality; this is the best new show this season. The writing crackles, the ensemble has genuine chemistry, the characters are new and different and the mysteries, so far, have been, you know, TV-solid.
Thumbnail: Bones is a brilliant yet completely socially inept forensic anthropologist who really really likes solving crimes; David Boreanz is a federal agent who could use the help of a good forensic doc, badda-bing, now they’re partners, and they have a crack team of nerds and hackers at their disposal.
Surface: Holy production values, Batman! If nothign else, this show watches like a Hollywood blockbuster, and with cliffhanger endings at the end of every episode, it’s a lot like watching a massive-length feature in the line of “Lake Placid” or “Deep Blue Sea” cut arbitrarily into forty-four minute chunks. So, you know, it’s exactly as enjoyable as “Deep Blue Sea” or “Anaconda” or anything else with scientists and seamonsters, and that Lake Bell is adorable (and about as believable a PhD as Denise Richards).
Thumbnail: There’s something big under the sea, some sort of super mammal that lays eggs, and one got beached, and the government found it, and meanwhile Lake Bell is a surfer-chick marine biologist single mom trying to solve the mystery of the undersea beast. Elsewhere, a kid in suburbia hatched one of the eggs and grew a teeny little amphibian that he named “Nimrod.” Elsewhere, a guy in an annoying marriage is obsessed with finding the sea monster that dragged his best friend away.
Threshold: I don’t care what you say, there is nothigng that will make me stop watching a show where Brent Spiner and a midget protect us from invading aliens. This is probably a dumb show, but I don’t care much, because, like Surface, it has its roots in adventure/pseudo-genre films like “Sphere” and apocalypse films like “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Independence Day,” thus makign it a classic textbook what-to-do-when-the-aliens-come series. Carla Guigino is a good tough lead, but the high points of this show are unquestionably Brent Spiner as the neo-60’s hippie doc, and the midget lingust mathematician. MIDGET LINGUIST! The possibilities are limitless!
Thumbnail: A la “Sphere,” Carla Guigino is a federal agent who dedicated her life to making plans for Worst Case Scenarios, and building teams to call to duty in said scenarios. When an alien signal designed to reprogram human DNA appears over a Navy ship at sea, Guigino is called to Washington to implement plan Threshold; the plan she wrote for the event of an alien invasion. She comes with her very own clueless nerd (this one’s a curly haired hacker conspiracy theorist, to offset “Bones”‘s curly haired hacker PhD student or “Numb3rs” Krumholtz’s curly haired math teacher), a tough-jawed marine, and the aforementioned Brent Spiner and a midget that make the show oh so worth watching. Seriously, the midget (Peter Dinklage) linguist is the best bitter brilliant not-a-team-player scientist to hit media since those guys who worked with Bruce Willis in “Armageddon.”
Invasion: SNK likes this show because it’s really secretly a show about the vicissitudes of blended families, masquerading as a pseudo-genre show about aliens. Really, the crazy Everglades stepfamiles that make up the ensemble are absolutely the reason to watch, from the scruffy conspiracy theorist brother-in-law (“It’s an EBE! It’s an EBE!”) to Kari-Matchett-of-Cube-2 as the wild-eyed blonde doctor who just might be under her husband’s weird alien spell. The kids act like kids, the stepparents act like stepparents, and the politics of Homestead, FL, are secondary to the politics of a family with stepdads and stepmoms and stepkids all struggling to feel safe after the scary (and all-too-real-looking) hurricane.
Thumbnail: There’s a hurricane in Florida, after which mysterious bolts of light fall from the sky, land in the Everglades and swim away. Two families, joined by divorce and including (usefully) a doctor, a newscaster, a park ranger and a sheriff, survived the hurricane and had their share of strange encounters with the alien lights, which they will likely spend most of this season coming to understand. Like Lost, and unlike most of the other new-genre shows, Invasion is careful not to tell too much; the story of the alien (?) is vague at best, and used only to add color to the more important story of the family and social dynamics in this sleepy Everglades town.
As for comedies, I’m watching “How I Met Your Mother” and “Kitchen Confidential” and so far they’re both very worthy heirs to excellent sitcoms lost and gone. “Kitchen” could be the next Sports Night, if it smarts up a little, and “How I Met” is already the best heir to “Friends,” but even better because it’s got Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan in. Neil Patrick Harris is the best thing to hit sitcoms since Zach Braff, I tell you whut.
I gotta go back to work now.