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Posts Tagged ‘Television’

Adventures in TV Pilots: Heroes Reborn

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2015 Sep 26

I finally got around to watching Heroes Reborn tonight.

I’m a little wary of this series after the way the original Heroes went off the rails, but I’m still willing to give it a shot.

Heroes is actually the show that inspired my "7 episode" rule because that show felt like it was wandering without any hope of ever giving even the smallest bit of payoff to the audience.
If I hadn’t stayed for 7 episodes, I’d have missed out.
Sure, that final season was a major letdown and it suffered from the usual ‘too many episodes, not enough story’ problem that affects so many network shows.

Anyway, based on the first 2 episodes, this one looks like it’s both back on track and set to give a better entertainment experience than its predecessor… but time will tell.

My only real problem with it at this point is that surely they know part of their core audience plays videogames, so why is it that the videogame that plays a significant role 1) has a stupid name, and 2) is rendered like something you’d see in one of those cheesy insurance commercials for The General?
I mean, videogame technology as it exists right now is practically photorealistic.
What this says to me is that they either don’t have the budget or the time to do these scenes right and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d contracted that Taiwanese outfit that does those goofy animations for news stories because it looks just like that.

Seriously, I’m intrigued by this whole "going Tron" concept but if that’s what it’s gonna look like, they need to abandon the idea as quickly as possible because it’s hurting the production value of the show.


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Adventures in TV Pilots: Limitless

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2015 Sep 24

Today’s episode is the show Limitless.

It’s a sequel to the movie Limitless in the way that Stargate SG-1 was a sequel to the movie Stargate, only with all different characters and situations.
Basically it takes place after the events in the movie, they make a couple of tweaks to the lore to allow the story to continue, and tie it all together by having Bradley Cooper show up (the movie protagonist — not a spoiler, he’s in the promo) to keep the plot moving along.

The show was kinda fun as yet another outsider + cop show so I have no reservations about sticking around for 7 episodes to see how it develops.
I liked the premise of the movie and this is just more of the same, so it should be ok.

Now, that being said, I have these problems with it:
– The pilot was basically a condensed version of the movie storyline. Not unforgivable as an introduction so I’ll give this one a pass to wait and see how it evolves.

– It’s yet another "use 100% of your brain" story. However, it’s much better than Lucy was so it’s got that going for it. I sincerely hope that they sort of back off on the "imagine if you knew this" and "I can remember all of this" type stuff, tho. Sure, you need to do some of that to indoctrinate new viewers as you go along, just don’t beat us over the head with it the way Supergirl does with "my cousin." Again, maybe this was just because it’s the pilot.

– It’s kind of a 1-trick pony. Dude takes pill and becomes super detective while working with an FBI agent to solve crimes.
That’s gonna get old after a while.
Then again, wasn’t the show "House" essentially the same thing but with drama instead of wonder drugs and action?
It seemed to do ok.

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Adventures in TV Pilots: Minority Report

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2015 Sep 23

Today’s second pilot is the show Minority Report.

After getting 15 minutes into the pilot for Minority Report (which I only recently found out was a thing), two things are immediately pretty obvious:
1) This show is kinda bland. The future seen in the movie should be amazing but the TV budget has made it pretty lifeless.
2) Wilmer Valderrama can’t act.

The show’s premise is (not a spoiler because 1) this is all in the trailer and 2) it’s also in the first 3 minutes of the show) that one of the male “precogs” from the movie is seeing flashes of future crimes so he wants to try to stop them but isn’t having much luck because without the 3 precogs being linked together, his margin of error is pretty high.

Now, as an example of how completely self-unaware the show is, at one point the precog dude blurts out something about a future event as an insult to someone he and his cop "partner" are talking to.
Since no one but his partner knows what he is and the information is of no use other than for her to ask if he can see that far into the future (he can’t), it’s pretty obvious it was done purely to amuse the audience.
Sure, the man had just unknowingly insulted him by speaking poorly of the precogs, but because the guy doesn’t know he’s a precog, the "future-based insult" is completely meaningless, wasn’t said for his partner’s benefit, and he himself knows predicting it is beyond his abilities.
It was done for a cheap laugh and is a sure sign of weak writing.

I’ll give it the usual 7 episode benefit of the doubt, but I’ll be surprised if this one lasts that long.
Also, Fox tried the whole near-future sci-fi cop show a couple of years ago.
It was called Almost Human and it was infinitely better than this.
It lasted 13 episodes.

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Adventures in TV Pilots: Lucifer

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2015 Sep 23

Today’s hours spent lounging on the couch diligently researching video entertainment includes the show Lucifer.
It isn’t due out until 2016, but that doesn’t mean I can’t watch it anyway.

Strangely enough, I don’t have a lot to say about this one.
I suppose that’s because I kinda like it.

It’s yet another ‘cop teams up with outsider to solve crimes’ show.
This one has sort of a Constantine vibe to it because of the whole supernatural angle but maybe it’ll stay a little more grounded in “reality” than that show did by focusing mostly on solving mundane crimes rather than fighting demons every week.
Maybe that angle will help it stay around a little longer than Constantine did because it’s more relatable to audiences that have zero interest in occult things.

The premise is interesting… the devil decided he was tired of Hell so he left and owns a nightclub in LA.
There are clearly consequences to that decision and they’re using the same “visit from an angel” bit that Constantine used to allude to them so they aren’t abandoning the supernatural thing altogether.

The character is very charming and quite likable… sort of like you’d imagine the devil to be.
However, they’ve made a refreshing change to the old formula by not having him hide his identity.
I mean, he’s not broadcasting it to the world, but he doesn’t try to conceal it from anyone either.
Naturally they don’t believe him, and I think that’s the device they’ll use to let him remain low-key.

Unless they massively re-tool the show before it launches, I’m looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.

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Adventures in TV Pilots: The Muppets

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2015 Sep 22

A new TV season means a new batch of shows to check out.
I’ve decided to start with The Muppets because 1) I loved the original Muppet Show and 2) some upright, uptight citizens group opposes it.

For my money, any show that is opposed by some sort of Million Moms or Family Council organization is automatically worth watching and, once again, I was proven right.

For me, this was just like watching The Muppet Show as a kid except that it’s been written for me as an adult.
There’s all sorts of subversive humor thrown in that little kids won’t understand but their parents will.

The premise for this particular incarnation is that they’re doing a late night talk show on TV (thus justifying the celebrity human guest du jour) but they’re also being filmed by a documentary crew a la The Office so we get to see all the stuff that happens outside the talk show.

There was one particular exchange early in the show that sold me on it:
Kermit: (to Dr. Teeth) Well, we have meetings every morning. You’re in one right now.
Zoot: Huh? This is a meeting? Oh. (stands up) I’m Zoot and I’m…
Floyd: (whispers) Different meeting.
Zoot: Oh. (sits back down)

It was followed closely by a discussion about how the word "gesticulate" needed to be removed from the script because shaky hands is the "first step to making babies."

So if they can keep up the muppet craziness and sly humor without giving in and turning it into strictly a kids show, I expect to enjoy it.
However, I don’t expect it to succeed unless they move it to a more family friendly time slot.
I predict that *IF* it survives, it’ll end up on the weekend.

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Under the Dumb

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2015 Jun 22

The third season of Under the Dome starts on Thursday and I’ve got mixed feelings about it.
I’ve got sort of a love-hate relationship with this show in that I wanted to like it and thought it got off to a pretty good start but by the second season, I was really hoping it’d get cancelled so I wouldn’t feel obligated to keep watching it.

It’s not that the general premise is bad, it’s that the people in the town are just very, very stupid, and I’m bothered by that.

I mean, this is a small town so it’s not like some giant metropolis has been bottled in.
People know each other and the fact that they’ve been completely cut off from the outside world by some unknown technology (or magic) means that they’re gonna react in a certain way.
That way is not calm yet firm resolve.
The story is based on a book and I have no idea how it dealt with such a thing, but my point is that given the small, rural population of this area, hysteria should be the order of the day.

But, you say, after a time, people would start to pull together to help each other out.
Yes, this is true, and I could buy that answer up to a certain point.
However, what I thought was a story unfolding over a couple of months (which would have made sense), was apparently a story being told over a couple of days.
In season 2 (after everything that happened in season 1) only a couple of weeks have passed.

This leads into my next point… Given that time is only passing about 1 day per episode, how the hell do these people not remember (or care) what happened yesterday??!?
There’s some Snidely Whiplash level dastardly deeds being done and while most of the people are completely oblivious to it (which seems unlikely given the size of their universe), the ones who aren’t seem to not care about it anymore after the end of the episode.

Hero: That dude was planning to kill most of you because we don’t have enough food.
Townie: Not possible. That dude is a pillar of the community and we’ve only survived this long because of him.
Villain: No, it’s true. And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids. But I did what I did to save this town.
Townie: Well, ok. No harm, no foul.

And then the cycle repeats for the next episode.

Hero: We could have all safely escaped if that dude hadn’t been so greedy and ruined it for everyone by trying to save himself.
Townie: Not possible. That dude is a pillar of the community and we’ve only survived this long because of him.
Villain: No, it’s true.  I’m on a mission from god.
Townie: Well, ok. No harm, no foul.

This is a series where my 7-episode rule has let me down.
I bought into the premise and now I feel obligated to keep watching the show even though I keep hoping it’ll be cancelled so I can free myself from it.
In the meantime, my OCD demands that I keep watching all the episodes.

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Arresting Development

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 2013 Jun 26

I finally got around to watching the new season of Arrested Development (after re-watching seasons 1-3 for a refresher) and I’ve got mixed feelings.

On one hand it was cool to see the story continue but the way they chose to tell the story was a little overwhelming.
That’s not to say that I didn’t like it… In fact I thought it was quite interesting.

However, unlike the earlier seasons (and most other shows), it’s not told sequentially… All of the episodes are telling a single, parallel story.
This means that it had to rely much more heavily on narration than in previous seasons just to keep the story on track because it’s way to easy to forget what you’re seeing.

For instance, you may see a brief scene in episode 1 that’s relatively straightforward but in episode 4 you see the same scene from a different character’s point of view with more background leading up to it and something that was kind of out in left field in episode 1 (not unusual for the show) suddenly makes perfect sense in episode 4 because you’re finally seeing it in context.

It kind of reminded me of the old show Three’s Company and their “overheard innuendo” gags where Jack and Chrissy are in the kitchen doing something harmless like baking a cake. Then Janet comes home and stops just outside the kitchen door and overhears them and suspects they’re having sex (or the 70’s TV equivalent) in clear violation of the roommate rules.
Then the rest of the episode was spent focused on her reaction to what she thought she heard even though you the viewer knew the whole story.

Now imagine that same episode except that you don’t know any more about what was going on in the kitchen than Janet does and Jack and Chrissy keep doing and saying things that seem to confirm the conclusion that both Janet and the viewer have drawn.
It won’t be until a few episodes later that you get to see the exact same period in time but from Jack and Chrissy’s point of view that shows the whole thing was just one big misunderstanding.

So like I said… I thought it was an interesting way to tell the story but because it keeps constantly looping back on itself, the narrator had to play a much more aggressive role than he did in the original series just to keep you on course.

Bottom line: Did I like it?
I’m not sure.

It was a departure from the story of the first 3 seasons (which is only fair because several years have passed) and I thought the method of telling the story was interesting BUT that also means the narrative is very convoluted and you have to follow along very closely to keep up.

I think what made the first 3 seasons of the show so enjoyable was that it was light but clever comedy.
Season 4 is still just as clever but you’ve got to work so much harder to keep up with the story and I don’t know if it would have been possible to do this in the “traditional” weekly episodic format because it practically demands that you watch every episode as fast as you can before you forget what happened.

If you haven’t seen Arrested Development, it’s certainly worth watching but you have to start from season 1 because it’s one of those shows that assumes you’ve seen every episode and doesn’t make much of an effort to slow down and let you catch up.

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