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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Louie Louie


    When trying to sum up the new FX comedy Louie in one sentence, I would say this: it's damn depressing to watch.  It's not that Louis C.K., star and creator of the series isn't funny.  He is that.  But he's also a huge pessimist, and doesn't seem to like his life very much.  I don't dislike the show. I don't think I laughed out loud once, but his worldview was unique and interesting, if nothing else. I'm not sure how that will hold up for a series. I don't think most viewers want to tune into something that puts them in such a blue mood week after week.

     The series is interspersed with bits of him doing stand up.    One bit in particular sticks out.  Louie says that when you go on a date, it's going to end badly.  He goes through a number of different scenarios for how it can end badly, and his last one is that the two of you fall in love and get married.  And then one of you dies, and the other just waits to die.  It's such a bleak outlook on life, I wasn't sure I was even being entertained any more.

     Several stories took place in the first two episodes, which aired last night.  Louie volunteered at his daughter's school, and had to get the kids home after the bus got a flat tire and the irresponsible driver took off.  Louis went on a date.  He played poker with some other comedians.  And his divorce was finalized, so he facebooked an old crush.  The best of the four was the poker tournament.  It felt so real, so unscripted.  It was a bunch of buddies sitting around talking about gay sex and anal cramming.  It toed the line with serious when Louie's friend explained to him what the word 'faggot' invoked in the mind of homosexuals, but the tension was diffused with a couple of jokes, and no one seemed offended.  Louie, the show and the man, despite the sometimes gritty subject material, is not offensive.

     The sole star of the show is Louis C.K., and so he will have to carry the series by himself.  I don't think that will be a problem.  And no, I don't want him to get a sunnier outlook on life.  I mean, I do, but if he did, it would reduce this show to something we've all seen before.  Instead, he should keep the series the way it is, hard to pin down exactly what it is, and like no other television show I can think of.

     13 episodes have been ordered.  Louie airs Tuesday nights at 11pm on FX.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

True Blood goes bump in the night

     Two weeks ago, HBO's True Blood returned for it's third season.  I didn't get around to posting a season premiere review right away, but since the show is taking next Sunday off (I guess even vampires celebrate Independence Day), it seemed like the perfect time.  This week's episode was called "It Hurts Me Too", and it only served to deepen this season's already forming plots.

     The vampires are the meat of the series thus far, and season three is no exception.  Bill (Stephen Moyer) was kidnapped at the end of season two by the King of Mississippi's (Denis O'Hare, Brothers & Sisters) V-fed werewolf minions.  The point, apparently, was to get Bill to turn against his own ruler, the Queen of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood, Thirteen, One and Again), as the King would like to marry her.  But the King already seems to have a companion, and a male one at that.  Who is really playing who here?  I have not read them yet, but in the book series Bill apparently has been working for Sophie-Anne the entire time, leading to the dissolution of his romance with Sookie (Anna Paquin).  Given the television show's made-for-each-other treatment of Bill and Sookie, it seems likely that the story has been rewritten, but the producers are mum.  Adding to the secrets, Sophie-Anne has had Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) illegally selling vampire blood on the black market.  And Bill's maker, Lorena (Mariana Klaveno) has also taken up residence with the King.

     Plenty of new comers have joined the cast this year, and their motivations are only slowly unfolding.  Of particular note, Franklin (James Frain, The Tudors) is looking for something on Bill, and I don't like the way he's using his glam manipulation on Tara (Rutina Wesley).  Many fans are most excited about Alcide (Joe Manganiello, One Tree Hill), as her apparently plays some big part in the books, though we were only introduced to him this week, and learned almost nothing about him.  Also, it is so good to have Pam (Kristen Bauer van Straten) as a full-time member of the cast.  This week's scene with her answering the phone while performing oral sex on some girl in the bar was alone worth her salary.

     Of course, True Blood works so well because it captures such a specific time and place.  Like Gilmore Girls, it has a town of neurotic people, each with an interesting personality.  Yes, I realize it's a strange comparison to make, but it's apt.  Blood even boasts a Gilmore alum in Todd Lowe, who plays Terry, a PTSD-suffering cook.  Others that have really grown on me include former alcoholic detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer), wide-eyed romantic Hoyt (Jim Parrack), and many-times-married waitress Arlene (Carrie Preston), who is now pregnant with a baby that doesn't appear to be Terry's, her current beau.  These well-developed characters, living mostly outside the world of the supernatural, are what sets True Blood apart from the many other vampire stories that have popped up during this most recent fad.

     Unfortunately the current season of True Blood is available only to HBO subscribers, though I definitely recommend it for anyone that can watch it.  Seasons 1 and 2 are also already on sale on DVD. 


Ellen, Team Coco head to TBS

     Sunday night TBS had a special lineup.  First was Ellen's Somewhat Special Special, followed by Team Coco Presents Conan's Writers Live Hosted By Andy Richter.  Each special was an hour.  Honestly, I watched Andy Richter's opening monologue, which was only very mildly amusing, and then I watched the first writer, who didn't once make me actually smile.  Then I immediately deleted the special.  Perhaps the other writers were better?  It makes one wonder, though.  Conan is hilarious.  He was hilarious even when his writer's were on strike.  Does that mean he's funnier than the writers he hires to support him?  Or maybe he just has better delivery.  He didn't appear himself, as he is still legally prohibited from being funny on television, as per his contract severance agreement with NBC, but he will return to the late night game on TBS this fall.

     Ellen, though, was superb.  In her fourth variety special for TBS, she knocked it out of the park.  The performers themselves were hit (the costume changers, the magician) and miss (the guy swirling on that pole), but Ellen herself was more than enough reason to watch.  She delivered a bit of stand up, and at the end took questions from the audience, some of them very emotionally moving, even if she tossed her trademark humor into the answers as well (example: she couldn't live without Portia, her wife and the car).  My favorite part was the video of her playing with the kids at the science center.  Although she pretended to be annoyed by the youngsters, and often drank 'martinis', as well as helped them rob a gift shop, it all came across as very good-natured, and it seemed like she and the kids were having a lot of fun.  Ellen proves you can be funny and nice at the same time.  America, here is your new sweetheart.  Not that she's new, but she is suddenly all over the place, and handling it quite well.

     Team Coco was a bunch of short stand up segments, much as Comedy Central does all the time.  Perhaps that's why it didn't seem as fresh.  Variety shows, once a television staple, and so rarely seen any more.  They occasionally pop up during the summer, and usually fail pretty spectacularly.  How does Ellen, herself so unlike the old stars who used to host them, pull it off so well?  I think it's combination personality, likability, and getting good acts.  She had Nick Cannon do the DJing, and both her and Nick looked genuinely amazed when the camera cut to them watching the performers.  She draws the audience in because she is so genuine, so relatable.  I look forward to her fifth, should TBS be smart enough to order it.  The 4th was more than somewhat special.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Steve Carell is leaving The Office

    For six seasons Steve Carell has starred as boss Michael Scott on the American version of The Office on NBC.  At the end of next season, his seventh, he will be departing from the series.  He insists that he will nto be changing his mind, and that this is no a negotiating tactic, saying, "I just want to spend more time with my family."  The former The Daily Show cast member is definitely one of the biggest reasons for the sitcom's success, and his departure is sure to shake things up in a big way.

    One option may be to just end the series.  Seven years is a good run, and audiences may not be able to accept the show without Michael Scott.  Other cast members may also choose to exit, so it may be more than Scott that is lost.  There is plenty of precedence for this.  Series that have tried to continue without one or more main characters, sometimes under a different name (After M*A*S*H, The Golden Palace, Joey) don't often do very well.

     Another option may be to try to get Carell to accept a part-time commitment, as Zach Braff did to try to help Scrubs continue last year.  On the British version of The Office, Scott's counterpart David Brent (Ricky Gervais) was fired midway through the series, but would show back up every week to hang out with his former co-workers.  I don't see Scott doing the same thing, as he is not as big of a loser as Brent was,  but perhaps Scott could appear in six or seven episodes.  The problem there is, who will be the new boss?  Dwight's (Rainn Wilson) counterpart did it in the British version, but again, because of character differences, it wouldn't work so well over here.  Presumably Jim (John Krasinski) would top the list, or producers could bring in a new actor or actress.

     Either way, The Office has at least one more season, and will return to NBC in the fall.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rookie Blue is cop clone of Grey's Anatomy

    I just finished the pilot of ABC's new cop drama Rookie Blue, "Fresh Paint", and I'm having flashbacks to spring a few years ago to another ABC pilot, Grey's Anatomy.  Both were held very until late in the television season before premiering.  Both featured five newly minted professionals, out of school and ready for on the job training.  One was a very attractive blond, one seemed more confident than she should.  The main girl harbored feelings for a superior, and had a parent that was well respected while working where she works now, but is no longer active.  The pilot had a couple of bar scenes, and the first day was more eventful than expected.  Who copies Grey's and thought we wouldn't notice?  Did they just assume that people who watch hospital shows don't also watch cop shows, and wouldn't notice the blatant mimic?  I, for one, noticed.

     That being said, it's not a bad recipe.  Grey's is plenty popular, and should Rookie Blue miraculously outlast the summer, it could be, too.  The main character, Andy McNally (the talented Missy Peregrym, who played a different Andi on Reaper) is charming.  The other four rookies didn't get that much development in the pilot, and honestly, I don't think I could even give you one difference between the two guys.  However, none of the actors were unpleasant or grating, so there's a plus.  Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon, Smallville) is her love interest, although I sense a triangle brewing with undercover detective Sam (Ben Bass).

     The show also focused more on the cops themselves than the cases they were working, which is a good thing.  Grey's managed to find a balance between patient stories and doctor stories, and that's why it's so much better than the procedural dreg out there.  It's truly serial, with developments in maturity and relationships among all the players.  Blue has a shot at doing that, too, if they stick to what they did in the pilot.

     Rookie Blue isn't particularly original, so it's hard to give a rating, or even a long, detailed review, without feeling like I'm not taking the show on it's own merits, or just repeating myself.  Bottom line, I'm setting a season pass for now.  It'll make good summer television, at least.  Time will tell if it'll ever be anything more, and I just can't bring myself to make a prediction.  I give it 3 and a half stars out of 5.

     Rookie Blue airs Thursdays at 9pm on ABC.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jane Lynch Parties Down once more


     The second season finale of Starz's Party Down brought back first season character Constance Carmell (the spectacular Jane Lynch, Glee).  The episode was called "Constance Carmell Wedding", as every episode is named after the event they Party Down crew caters.  Constance was becoming the tenth wife of a rich producer (Alex Rocco), a man much older than her, carting around an oxygen tank, but still with a youthful, even lecherous, spirit.  Constance hires her old buddies to cater the event to make sure they attend, but spends more time catching up with them than socializing with the wedding guests.

     This episode was full of great moments, from Patrick Duffy (as himself) breaking in and trying to stop the wedding, to Kyle's (Ryan Hansen) tribute song to Constance being an Aryan anthem, making her new husband and his other Jewish friends very uncomfortable, and the groom dying ten feet down the road after the car left the wedding.  Don't worry.  He wrote a fake name on the prenup his daughter made them sign, so Constance is now loaded!  My favorite moment was when Lydia (Megan Mullally) tells Constance that she's her replacement, and Constance replies that she doesn't think she's replaceable.  And she isn't.  As much as Lydia is finally starting to grow on me, no one can really replace Jane Lynch in anything because she is truly one of a kind.

     Other plots came to a head, too, giving each of the main characters important changes.  Casey's (Lizzy Caplan) scene is cut from her Judd Apatow film, taking away the chance at a big break that she longed for.  Henry (Adam Scott) decides to come out of acting retirement and go for a big role, although is it for his own sake, or to prove himself to Casey?  Roman (Martin Starr) gets incredibly high and writes an opus of a screenplay on toilet paper.  Ron (Ken Marino, who also directed this episode) declares his love for the engage daughter of his boss, Danielle (June Diane Raphael).  And Lydia makes the moves on Danielle's soon-to-be-divorced father, Bolus Lugozshe (Michael Hitchcock, United States of Tara).

     The brilliant comedy co-created by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) has not yet been picked up for a third season, and while I sincerely hope that it gets renewed, it will face some challenges if it does.  For one thing, Adam Scott will be a series regular on Parks and Recreation next year, so his character of Henry will appear in no more than three episodes and will become the second principal that has to be replaced.  However, even with a reduced Scott quotient, I would very much miss the show if it went away.

     Party Down airs on Starz, which is a premium subscription channel.  If you have Netflix and a TiVo, XBox, etc. with streaming connection, both seasons, including last night's finale, are available to watch instantly.  If you don't subscribe to Netflix or Starz, I highly recommend signing up for Netflix immediately and at least take the free month trial and watch Party Down.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Good news everyone! Futurama has returned!

    In 2003, after five seasons on the air (released in four DVD volumes; Wikipedia wrongly lists the four volumes as four seasons), Fox canceled Futurama.  Like so many bad decisions the network has made (canceling the amazingly awesome Firefly and Dollhouse and renewing the terrible Human Target spring to mind), this one was unacceptable.  However, luckily, the story doesn't end there.  In the last three years, four straight to DVD movies of the Futurama crew have been released.  And then Comedy Central asked for more episodes.  Last night, the culmination of that effort was gloriously realized when the first new Futurama episodes in nearly seven years premiered: "Rebirth" and "In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela".


     Producers and creators Matt Groenig (The Simpsons) and David X. Cohen are back at the helm.  The voice cast, including Billy West (The Ren and Stimpy Show), Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy, Married With Children), John DiMaggio (Kim Possible), Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons), Maurice LaMarche (Pinky and the Brain), Phil LaMarr (MADtv, Samurai Jack), David Herman (Office Space, MADtv), and Lauren Tom (King of the Hill, Man in Trees),  has returned.  There were disputes over salary, and talk of recasting, but it all was worked out in time.  If it hadn't been, it may have killed the new episodes before they even got started.  The setting, the animation, it's all like it never left.  Fans of the show should not notice anything different.


     Plot wise, the first episode picks up right where the final movie left off: with the ship and all the main characters being sucked into a wormhole.  This was intended as a series finale, just in case nothing else was ordered, but the writers were able to transition it seamlessly into the new plot.  Unfortunately, the ship crashes almost immediately and almost everyone dies.  Luckily, the Professor has murdered a few adults and harvested their stem cells, so he is able to bring everyone back.  Someone explain to me how stem cells regrew Bender, a robot?  Not only that, but due to a comedy of errors, a Robot Fry and Robot Leela are created.  And there were the obligatory puns, acknowledging their new network.

     Loyal viewers know that Fry's love for Leela was always an unresolved plot, winding through each episode, and taking center stage in a couple of the movies.  The fourth movie had them together, and the new episodes thankfully continue that thread, rather than setting them back.  My sincere hope is that the two remain a couple, and I think it likely.  Although only the first of last night's two new episodes developed their relationship, in the second one they kissed goodbye as she left for a dangerous mission.  Futurama is the rare cartoon that allows it's characters lasting growth, and it's part of what makes it so special.  That aspect should be nurtured.


     Twenty six new episodes have been ordered.  If it's rebirth is like Family Guy's, we can look forward to even longer run than the original series, although since it has been resurrected for cable, that may be wishful thinking.  However, I know of no other show that was off the air for as long as Futurama was and then brought back, so this whole situation sprang from wishful thinking.  It gives you real hope to see that anything is possible.

     Futurama will be airing Thursday nights at 10pm on Comedy Central.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hot in Cleveland just lukewarm

    TVLand is trying their hand at making a sitcom instead of just airing old ones from the other networks.  Their first project of the type, Hot in Cleveland, feels incredibly dated.  Which may not be a bad thing.  Considering who TVLand's target audience is, Hot in Cleveland should fit in nicely.  Perhaps it's the humor, or the bottled laugh track, or the "filmed in front of a life studio audience" line at the beginning.  There isn't just one element, but the show definitely feels like it aired in the 1980's, or maybe the early 1990's at the latest.

     The cast is charming.  Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli, One Day at a Time, Touched By an Angel) is the one who fits best in the old mold, even though each of the four main actresses has already had success in the sitcom medium.  She is also the catalyst for the series's main plot.  Recently divorced, she is with two friends on a trip to Paris when their plane is held over in Northern Ohio.  Stopping at a local bar, Melanie and her friends soon realize that they are quite attractive when compared with the local women, and much more valued than they are in their home city of Los Angeles.  It is a premise that teases at our country's divide.  Plenty of L.A. and New York City denizens see the entire country between them, to borrow a phrase from a well known comedian, as one giant red state.  Different culture exists outside of those two large cities, and it's fun to see it acknowledged the way it is.

     Melanie's friends decide to stay with her when she rents a house in Cleveland.  Joy (Jane Leeves, Frasier) is a mess, in the second episode dating a young man that she thinks might be her son.  Victoria (Wendie Malick, Just Shoot Me!) recently had her long-running soap opera canceled, so she has nothing better to do.  The first episode was all about the set up, but as the characters get more fleshed out, we find their true vulnerabilities.  Such as Victoria pretending to like the giant supermarket because fans fawn over her when she goes.  Why doesn't L.A. or NYC have big chain stores?  Why would these women not shop at them?  Again, cultural divide.

     Rounding out the cast is the 'caretaker' that came with the rented house, Elka (Betty White, The Golden Girls, Mary Tyler Moore, Boston Legal, etc.).  Despite the odd name, Elka has no accent.  She's just a grandmotherly type in a track seat with no obvious family around.  Elka gets all the good jokes, and let's be honest here.  Despite the talent and credentials the other three women bring to the show, most viewers will tune in for White, an American comedy legend.

     The chemistry is charming.  It's no Golden Girls, but it'll do for now.  It's television fast food: comfortable, tastes good, but without a lot of substance.  Yet, there is not necessarily anything wrong with that, and Hot in Cleveland does better than most at fulfilling the empty calorie content.

     Hot in Cleveland airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on TVLand.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gleeks to get less Glee, but it's all good


     Fox had such a huge hit on it's hands with Glee that it was picked up for a second season by January, and a reality show leading up to the premiere of season two was announced soon after.  The reality show would feature fans uploading videos of themselves singing onto YouTube, and the winners would get to appear on the television show.

     Yesterday Fox announced that there would be no reality television show.  The project has been scrapped.  Speaking as someone who has no respect for reality tv (other than an occasional Project Runway or American Idol article, it is the genre missing from my reviews), this is definitely good news.  Why water down such an interesting, unique hit by adding a crappy, bastardized reality competition to it?

     Fans who already uploaded their videos, fear not.  Creator Ryan Murphy will still be combing them to find some new guest stars.  Some Gleeks out there will soon be getting a very special call.  The creator asked Fox to cancel the project so that he could focus better on planning upcoming episodes, and the network didn't fight him on it.

     Plenty of Glee will be coming to airwaves, so don't despair.  Fox has asked for twenty-five episodes this season, a number almost unheard of anymore for hour long dramedies, and especially for a show that takes as much effort as Glee does to put together.  It has also already been given a third season, so the creative team have plenty of time to take us on a great arc.  Also, in conjunction with the first season, there are three full albums and two mini-albums, as well as a DVD release available as a complete season or in two parts, so there's plenty of ways to relive the memories.  Not only that, but it was recently revealed that the Glee cast members have a clause in their contracts calling for three feature length films, should the studio decide to move the McKinley High students to the big screen.

     In other Glee news, it was just announced that Filipino singing star Charice will be coming on board in a recurring role.  Oprah called her the most talented girl in the world, so she definitely has some chops.  Look out Rachel!

     Glee stars Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Mark Salling, Jayma Mays, and the legendary Jane Lynch, among others, and will be returning to Fox this fall.  Many of the stars will also be at Comic Con this summer.

Scoundrels is surprisingly good


     ABC has done plenty of promotion for their summer season this year, promising good television.  This past Sunday, two of those drama premiered.  Sadly, The Gates was terrible.  However, Scoundrels had quite a pilot with "And Jill Came Tumbling After".  It introduced us to the West family, a group who are involved in the same occupational field: crime.  Each character has a distinct personality, and thanks to some great casting, they all gel together in a way highly pleasing.

     The patriarch of the West family is Wolf (David James Elliott, JAG), now serving five years in prison.  This means the responsibility of taking care of the clan falls squarely on the shoulders of his wife, Cheryl (Virgina Madsen, Sideways, Monk).  Cheryl decides by the end of episode one that she can't bear to loose any more of her family to prison or worse, so they all must go straight.  Although this is late in the pilot, it seems to be the premise of the series.  Not that anyone wants to go along with this plan.  Her kids worry about her being serious, the cop constantly on their tale (Carlos Bernard, 24) scoffs, and the episode ends with Wolf laughing heartily.  Clearly, Cheryl has her work cut out for her if she wants to save her family.

     If that was the entire premise, the show would be weak.  However, the Wolfs have four children.  Son Logan (Patrick John Flueger, The 4400) has already gone straight, and has just been accepted to the bar as a lawyer.  Although he claims to have studied law so that he could get his family off the hook for their misbehavior.  Identical twin to Logan is Cal (also Flueger), the screw up whom Wolf wants to take over making money and supporting the family.  Obviously there will be some kind of swap between the two boys at some point.  It's too good a gag to pass up, and allows Flueger to likely have more fun than anyone.

     That doesn't mean that Logan and Cal overshadow the Wolf girls, though.  Young adult Heather (Leven Rambin, Grey's Anatomy, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) has beauty, but no academic brains.  The pilot finds her posing in next to nothing.  But when the photographer tried to withhold the best prints, she proves her scam skills by switching her roofied champagne for his clean glass and gains the upper hand.  In contrast, daughter Hope (Vanessa Marano, The Gilmore Girls, Dexter) has all the brains, but also the sneakiness.  She hasn't attended school for months, after blackmailing her vice principal (Jessica Collins, Tru Calling), who slept with 'good' brother Logan when the boy was only seventeen.  Instead, she's working on a screenplay.  The sisters totally have the Modern Family dynamic, but with an edge and little more affection.

     Add to the mix a senile Grandpa Wolf (John Lawlor, Phyllis) and you have a recipe that tastes delicious.  Scoundrels runs Sunday nights at 9pm on ABC.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Memphis Beat premieres tonight

     I am quite fond of Jason Lee.  I loved him in all of the Kevin Smith movies and I was happy for him when he got the title role in My Name Is Earl, though I'm still a bit bitter the show didn't get a proper finale after four seasons.  I celebrate his successes and feel bad when he doesn't do so well.  After watching the first episode of his new show for TNT, Memphis Beat, I am not sure whether to be happy or sad for him.  It's good that he's headlining another cast, and cop shows do pretty well on television.  As far as cop shows go, it's decent.  But it's mostly just a serial crime show, or so it appears from the first episode, and his talent goes beyond such drivel.  Sure, there's a Memphis charm, good music, and he gets to sing in the pilot, "That's Alright, Mama".  It was enough for my to set my TiVo to record the second episode next week, but far short of earning a season pass.

     Other things Memphis Beat have going for it include a couple of the supporting cast.  Alfre Woodard (Desperate Housewives, The Family That Preys, True Blood) is his new boss, Lt. Tanya Rice, who is bringing a motherly quality to the M.P.D., although a brief scene with her calling her daughter proves that she isn't as good a child rearer as she pretends to be.  I love Abraham Benrubi (ER, Men in Trees), but although his name was in the opening credits, he had scant seconds of screen time in the pilot.  The other actors in the show were not memorable, at least in the first episode.

     TNT already has a few crime-based dramas, and they do pretty well on the network.  Memphis Beat will certainly add to that portfolio.  I just wish it had dared to go a little further, like Justified.  Shows in this genre are better if they are about the characters, more than the crimes.  This series has a hint of character drama, mostly in the annoying, uninspired scenes between Dwight (Lee) and his mother, Paula Ann (Celia Weston).  On a side note, will television shows please quite tossing in the mother, as if that makes up for their serial nature?  Although it sometimes work, it's a tired premise, and often doesn't.  It certainly does not here.

     Memphis Blue premieres tonight at 10pm on TNT.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Season Finales Are Here!!!

FRIDAY, JANUARY 29 ~ Series Finale of Dollhouse (Fox)

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8 ~ Heroes (NBC)

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17 ~ Scrubs (ABC)

MONDAY, APRIL 12 ~ Life Unexpected (CW)

MONDAY, APRIL 19 ~ Damages (FX)

WENESDAY, MAY 12 ~ Mercy (NBC) and The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS)

THURSDAY, MAY 13 ~ Private Practice (ABC) and The Vampire Diaries (CW)

FRIDAY, MAY 14 ~ Smallville (CW)

SATURDAY, MAY 15 ~ Saturday Night Live (NBC)

SUNDAY, MAY 16 ~ American Dad (Fox), Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters (ABC), The Pacific (HBO)

MONDAY, MAY 17 ~ House (Fox), Castle (ABC), and Gossip Girl (CW)

TUESDAY, MAY 18 ~ V (ABC)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 19 ~ Modern Family and Cougar Town (ABC)

THURSDAY, MAY 20 ~ Parks and Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock (NBC), Bones and Fringe (Fox), and Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

FRIDAY, MAY 21 ~ The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO)

SUNDAY, MAY 23 ~ The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, and Family Guy (Fox), Series Finale of Lost (ABC)

MONDAY, MAY 24 ~ Series Finale of 24 (Fox), Chuck (NBC), How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

TUESDAY,  MAY 25 ~ Parenthood (NBC)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 26 ~ American Idol (Fox)

THURSDAY, MAY 27 ~ Series Finale of FlashForward (ABC)

MONDAY, JUNE 7 ~ Nurse Jackie and The United States of Tara (Showtime)

TUESDAY, JUNE 8 ~ Glee (Fox) and Justified (FX)

SUNDAY, JUNE 13 ~ Breaking Bad (AMC)

SUNDAY, JUNE 20 ~ Treme (HBO) and Series Finale of The Tudors (Showtime)

FRIDAY, JUNE 25 ~ Party Down (Starz)

Down in the Treme

     Ah, TremeHBO's series, set in New Orleans six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated it, is a breath of fresh air.  It's unique and original.  The characters are believable, and have so many layers.  Last night's hour and a half season finale, "I'll Fly Away", was moving.  It wasn't an extraordinary episode, measured against any other.  It was like real life, continuing in it's twists and turns.  The only really stand out part was the ten minute or so sequence where we got to see all of the characters just before the storm.  But the fact that no part of Treme does stand out as especially more dramatic as any other is why the series works so well.  Sure, there are ups and downs, but everything flows along like a Second Line parade.

     The most heart breaking plot involved the suicide of Creighton Bernette (John Goodman, an actual resident of the city).  It was so nice to see him in the before the storm segment, acting normally with his family.  Damn imdb.com teases us, listing him as full time for the upcoming second season, but surely that is not to be.  His writer / activist was certainly one of the most fascinating characters, and while it was obvious from the beginning of the penultimate episode that he intended to take his life, suddenly cheery after all his frustrations  Yet, it made no sense, in that he had plenty to live for.  His family certainly didn't see it coming, and while I did, I still don't know why he did it.  My heart goes out to his wife Toni (Melissa Leo) and daughter Sofia (India Ennenga).  That's a testament to how un-fictional the family seemed.

     Elswhere, it appears that Davis (Steve Zahn) failed to stop Janette (Kim Dickens) from leaving town.  If her character doesn't return for the second season, she will be sorely missed, but I suspect she may soon be back in the south.  She just doesn't seem like a New York City gal.  However, the hints of a love interest for Davis in Annie (Lucia Micarelli, a real musician) make much more sense, and I would like to see that blossom.  It was clear that Davis and Janette weren't meant for each other, even to the characters themselves, but Annie seems a perfect match.  And Davis for her, much more so than her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, Sonny (Michiel Huisman).  I was gratified that she left him, and hope she never does back.

     Antoine (Wendell Pierce) needs to clean up his act.  Gambling away most of the money he made at his latest gig won't support his family.  How many kids does he have, anyhow?  I kept thinking he could find someone more attractive than the woman he is currently with, but he certainly doesn't deserve better.  I kind of root for him to get back with ex Ladonna (Khandi Alexander) because he actually seems to care about her, but she certainly deserves a good man, and seems to have found one.  I hope that she doesn't let past chemistry screw up what she has any more than it already has.

     Finally, is Delmond (Rob Brown) ever going to listen to his father, Indian Chief Albert (Clarke Peters) and return to his home?  He should.  He's the character that seems most disposable to me, so much more than John Goodman was.  In contrast, his father is part of the heart of New Orleans.  Between his civil disobedience and gathering back his tribute, Albert is a pillar of the community.  I hope things start going better for him soon.

The curtain closes on The Tudors

     The show was called The Tudors, but really only concerned one of the five rulers from that dynasty.  Now that it's over, it seems a shame that the series didn't start with a season or two of Henry the VII's reign, as Henry VIII (Johnathan Rhys Meyers) came of age.  It its even more regretful that it did not continue into his childrens' time in power.  However, the show was about Henry and his six wives, despite the name, and it was a well-told story.  I am at a loss to think of another show centered around such a despicable main character that still held interest and ran for so long.  Sure, flawed heroes are the norm on television today, but Henry VIII was merely flawed, not a hero.

      All of Henry's six wives appeared in the final season, and four in the finale.  All six were in the finale if you count the final montage, showing scenes from all four seasons.  The scenes where the three mother of his children, Katherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer), and Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis, although Anita Briem played her in as many episodes as Wallis, was seen in the montage, and did a better job) came to him were spine tingling, in a good way.  They reminded him of his mistakes, and who he really was.  Henry did not die in the finale, but he was near death's door, alone.  It was hard to sympathize for him, but the finale was a fitting end.

     As mentioned above, Henry had three children, and each also played a part in the end.  Mary (played by Sarah Bolger since season two) was the most prominent.  Here was a daughter who loved her father, despite what he had done to her mother and her religion.  She deeply cared for her mother, her mother's faith, and her mother's people.  She would later become known as Bloody Mary, and it is no wonder, with such torn loyalties.  The other two were played by multiple performers, but the middle child, Elizabeth, ushered Britain into a Golden Age, and so it is unfortunate that the show did not continue for her.

     The Tudors, more than any other show, had a rotating cast of characters.  As mentioned before, the series focused on Henry and his wives, and so it was a bit disappointing that so many faces gracing the theme song appeared for only a season, or less, and were not given fitting endings.  There are two exceptions to this rule, however.  First appearing in episode three, Chapuys (Anthony Brophy), an ambassador from Spain, was never made a main character, but made quite an impression, and I was saddened by his death, which came shortly before the finale.  But the most integral, who the only person in every episode, aside from Henry, was Henry's best friend, Charles Brandon (Henry Cavill).  In real life, Henry died about a year and a half before Henry.  In the show, he died fifteen minutes before the end.  He was the heart behind the throne, and it was nice to see him get such moving screen time as the series came to a close.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Breaking Bad ends season three

     Tonight is Sunday.  I have become quite accustomed to watching AMC's Breaking Bad on Sundays, but unfortunately, season three ended last week with "Full Measure", so it won't be back tonight.  Two and a half months is not long enough.  The drama that started pretty good, and was something different, has become must-see.  The wait for season four will be a long one, especially because the cliffhanger was much more suspenseful than the show had done before.

     This season saw a couple of new regulars as Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse's (Aaron Paul) meth business expanded.  Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) helped them launder their money, provided wonderful comic relief, and actually seemed to come through in a pinch.  Giancarlo Esposito delivered a much more nuanced performance as chilling new boss Gus, and both became essential to the series.

     I feel really bad for Walt and Jesse.  They keep getting themselves into the mess deeper and deeper.  Now that they work for a man who eliminated his competition south of the border, and controls a huge chunk of land, including several states, how much deeper can they get?  For the series to continue to up the stakes, the writers are going to have to get even more creative than they have been, and they've already been outstanding.  At this point, it seems doubtful a happy ending can be had by the two main characters, but they have to try, and audiences will continue to root for them.

     The cliffhanger, where Walt was being held at gunpoint, waiting for Jesse to kill Walt's replacement, so that Gus could eliminate Walt, was nail biting.  We heard a gun shot as the screen faded to black, but did Jesse do the deed?  He had to have, didn't he?  Yet, something tells me perhaps he didn't.  Can the brilliant people behind Breaking Bad write themselves out of this narrow of a corner?

     Walt's family drama has also gotten deeper.  Skyler (Anna Gunn) now knows Walt's secret, and after a whole season of knowing, is finally showing signs of not hating him.  While they still have a long road ahead before any type of reconciliation may be possible, it's added a new level of intrigue and pathos.  Also, if Dean Norris doesn't at least get nominated, if not win, an Emmy for portrayed brother-in-law Hank this year, justice will not be served.  What started as a two dimensional a**hole has become probably my favorite character, and after Hank barely escaping his own assassination, I look forward to every moment of screen time he gets.

     Breaking Bad will surely return to AMC next year.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Out of Town

Dear Readers,

    Sorry my out of town-ness turned into almost ten days!  There were family events, and then some unexpcted work travel.  However, I will be back on June 20th with more articles, and will continue writing for the forseeable future.  Thank you for reading.

~Jerome Wetzel

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The United States of Tara is held together by love

     Showtime's United States of Tara ended their second season with "From This Day Forward" this week.  If I can some up the change from season one to two it is this: the second season focused more on Tara (Toni Collette, Little Miss Sunshine)  than her personalities.  This was a good thing.  Season one was lots of fun, watching the crazy woman who could turn into Alice, Buck, T, or even Gimme at any time.  And sure, there was some delving into her past to discover how she got the way she is.  But now the focus is on Tara's growth and acceptance, and why certain personalities are.  Adding Chicken and Shoshanna, two new alters, into the mix, revealed more about the woman than the new characters.  And we got a lot more background on how Tara grew up.

     That wasn't the only thing that was different, though.  Tara's family got much more interesting.  Marshall (Keir Gilchrist) accepted who he was, and figured out just what kind of gay he was going to be.  Max (John Corbett, Sex and the City) cheated on his wife, and had to figure out all over again how he fit in with the alters.  Kate (Brie Larson) had her own awakening, and was once again unlucky in love, despite her sincere efforts and hopes.  And my favorite of the bunch, sister Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married) was left at the altar by her fiance, who just wasn't right for her, allowing her to stop trying to be normal and follow her heart back into the arms of true love and father of her unborn child, Neil (the incredibly talented and sweet Patton Oswalt).  Or so it appeared.

     The season ended with many more questions than it began with.  Who was Tara and Charmaine's half brother?  What exactly did he do to them?  Why is Tara the only one with split personality?  What effect did it have on Charmaine?  It may be too late to get all the answers, with their mother still being defiant, and their father slipping into Alzheimer's.  Will Tara begin getting better as more is revealed, or will she keep splitting into more people?

      One thing was not left up in the air though.  The series is about a devoted family who love each other very much.  Whatever issues they go through, they will support each other, and come through them.  Not in a soap-opera cheesy way, but in an authentic, caring way.  The show is realistic, despite being about an unusual topic, and sheds light on well defined characters, played by an amazing cast.  I look forward to season three next late winter / early spring.

Nurse Jackie falls apart

     Showtime's Nurse Jackie completed it's second season Monday night with "Years of Service", and it certainly shook things up.  Jackie's (the brilliant Edie Falco, The Sopranos) carefully constructed world has come crashing down, and her personal and professional life, kept so stringently separate, are starting to merge.

     The biggest event in the finale was Jackie's husband, Kevin (Dominic Fumusa, As the World Turns), and her best friend, Dr. O'Hara (Eve Best, doing an amazing job), finding out about Jackie's addiction to pain pills.  It started when Kevin discovered that Jackie had taken money from O'Hara, even though she promised him she wouldn't, and through a few simple queries, he found a bill listing many pharmacies.  Kevin then called O'Hara in, though they don't get along.  O'Hara had already discovered Jackie's deception about her back injury, and was suspicious.  Honestly, Kevin is disposable.  Jackie can have Eddie (Paul Schulze) back at any time, and he's a much better fit for her.  The only problem would be their daughters.  However, Jackie cannot loose O'Hara.  Sure, she has other friends, but she and O'Hara just go together so perfectly, it will be devastating if they have a falling out.

      Speaking of Jackie's friends, she has a new one.  She saved Sam's (Arjun Gupta) butt, and he has really grown on me.  Similarly, with Thor's (Stephen Wallem) expanded role this season, he has proved he can hang with the rest of the extremely talented cast.  Zoey (Merritt Wever, Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip) has come into her own, and I very much like her and Lenny (Lenny Jacobson) together, as well as Zoey and O'Hara's budding friendship.  I also have to mention that Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli, the Twilight saga), while still and idiot, has grown on me, and I think that Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith, The West Wing) may be my favorite person on the show.

     Each member of the cast pulls their own, and that's the best part about this show.  It's a medical show that doesn't concern itself with the case of the week.  And there was plenty more left up in the air, such as what will happen to Jackie because she stole drugs from that creepy guy?  Andill she be heading for rehab?  Divorce?  I can't wait for season three, which, according to imdb.com, will be arriving next February.

Pictured Below: Eddie, Zoey, Jackie, O'Hara, Akalitus, Cooper

Justified goes to Bulletville to end season

   Thirteen episodes was not nearly enough for FX's Justified this season.  It just went off the air Tuesday night with the finale episode "Bulletville", an apt name, and I miss it already.  Set in Harlan and Lexington, Kentucky, local for most of you readers if you came across me on the Lexington page.  It's based on the short story "Fire in the Hole" by writer Elmore Leonard (Be Cool, Jackie Brown), who also worked on the series.  It has already been picked up for a second thirteen episode season, but sadly, it will be some time before the next new episodes start airing.

     The show stars the smooth, quietly threatening Timothy Olyphant (Damages, Deadwood) as Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens.  A native of Harlan, Raylan was forced to return there after he killed a drug kingpin in Miami who wouldn't leave town.  It isn't clear on the show, but Harlan is about three hours south of Kentucky.  It doesn't seem that way because characters go back and forth so often.  But that aside, the show is almost flawless.

     The best plots of the season involved three men that were unfortunately not main characters: Raylan's father, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), a deadbeat that Raylan has little to do with, but who is mixed up with Bo Crowder; Raylan's best friend of a sort, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, The Shield) who found God after almost being killed by Raylan; and Boyd's father Bo (M.C. Gainey, Lost, Happy Town), the local kingpin who killed Boyd's flock and may have been dead at the end of this season.  If the producers are smart, Bo will survive, and all three will be upgraded next year, because the father / son / friend dynamics are superb.  I wasn't sure if Boyd's transformation was legit until the season finale, but it was played beautifully.

     Of course, there are love interests, too.  Natalie Zea (Dirty Sexy Money, Hung) plays Winona, Raylan's ex, who has now left her husband and hopes to get back with Raylan.  That is complicated by the fact that Raylan has been sleeping with Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), the widow of Boyd's brother, and a witness in the cast against Boyd.  Their involvement is why Body was released from prison midway through the season, and it's impacted Raylan's personal and professional life.  At this point, I like Raylan with both women, and don't have a preference for who he ends up with.  Both bring different things to the table, and both actresses are as exceptional as the rest of the cast.

     If you missed to first season, be sure to catch the inevitable re-runs before season two.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Glee doesn't win, but still finishes first







     Last night was the first season finale of the Fox hit Glee, "Journey".  With a reality competition to add cast members, and an expanded order of twenty-five episodes for next season, it is likely we will not go so many weeks without Glee next year as we did this year.  It's a risk of overexposure, but I feel that the risk is currently outweighed by the benefits.  The little show that could about the little glee club that could finished strong, despite loosing their Regionals competition to arch-nemesis Vocal Adrenaline.

     The breakout star of the show is a long-time character actress that I have long admired, Jane Lynch.  Her portrayal or villain Sue Sylvester is neither static nor two-dimensional.  She has been given depth, and does cartwheels around it.  Her plot involving her sister and recruiting less than perfect Cheerios set her up for a big redemption last night as she single-handedly saved the group from going under, though she couldn't save them from a big defeat by a biased, stuck up panel.

      I have missed Jayma Mays's Emma Pillsbury this spring, as she took time off to film the new Smurfs movie. However, her screaming match last night in the school office was one of her best moments, and with John Stamos (Full House, ER) set to appear as a recurring character next season as her new dentist boyfriend, she should more than make up for it in the fall.

      Delivering another great guest turn was the legendary Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked) as Coach Corcoran.  Her heartbreak over the way she handled her daughter, Rachel (Lea Michele) has been notable to watch, and the twist of her adoption last night should set up another return in the future, although the show's producers have promised less stunt guest casting next year, now that the series has been established.

      Each member of the club has had their great moments this season, and I worry that the expanded cast next year will push aside some of my favorites.  Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana (Naya Rivera) have wormed their evil, psuedo-lesbian ways into our hearts and a full-time contract for next year.  Rachel and Finn (Corey Monteith) seem to have gotten back together.  Kurt (Chris Colfer) has one of the best father-son relationships on television, and will soon be getting a love interest.  As will the fantastic belter, Mercedes (Amber Riley).  Last, but not least, the kids who have changed the most over this year have been Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Puck (Mark Salling).  What started as a standard love triangle has left them as two of the most valuable members of this very talented cast.

      Not to mention the amount of music covered this year, released on three full albums and two half-albums, has been awesome.  Last night's Journey medley was particularly memorable, as was the juxtaposition of Bohemian Rhapsody with Quinn's delivery.

     Glee is off for the summer, but will return to Fox next fall.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Good Guys is bad a**

    Fox has a new buddy-cop show this summer, called The Good Guys.  Two episodes have already run; the first ran many times over a two week period.  It's odd for a summer series to get so much attention and air time, but this is no ordinary summer series.  In fact, if they just cleaned up the writing a little bit, it could be a good contender at any time of year.  In fact, with twenty episodes now ordered, it will be running in the fall on Friday nights, which could spell doom.  However, it seems it's being given a fair shake, on Monday nights this summer.

     The show is from creator Matt Nix (Burn Notice) and stars two cops.  The new-ish partners are washed up legend Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford, The West Wing), and abrasive, going-nowhere Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks, Roswell).  Though, Dan seems to be anything but ineffective and Jack can solve cases with the best of them.  So how they became the no-go duo is kind of anyone's guess.  In the first two episodes they turned routine cases into big take downs.  For reality's sake, the cases are either going to have to get more minor, or they are going to need to get promoted.  Hopefully it'll be the latter, because what's happening on screen is great fun, the primary component being the wonderful chemistry between the two leads.

     The series also stars the lovely and talented Jenny Wade (Reaper) as Jack's ex, Liz, and the tough and feisty Diana-Maria Riva (Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip) as their boss, Lt. Ruiz.  It's a shame they weren't given a larger group to work with, because I wish Julius (RonReaco Lee, In the Motherhood), their snitch, was sticking around.  He brought much levity to the first two episodes.  But from the cast, to the colorful setting of Dallas, the show has plenty going for it.

     An annoyingly too-often used device in recent television is showing the ending of the episode first.  The Good Guys often does this, but many of the other scenes also air non-chronologically.  It's always done for good reason, and actually adds another fun element, rather than falling into the cliche trap.  I hope they keep it up.

     If you want to watch The Good Guys, and I certainly hope you do, please tune into Fox Monday nights at 9pm.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Neighbors From Hell is hell to watch

     I hate to bash two new TBS show's within one week, especially because with Neighbors From Hell they really seem to be trying something news.  The problem is, it sucks.  I had a hard time getting through the first episode, which premieres tonight at 10pm.  I don't plan on giving it a second try.  None of the jokes landed, the animation was unpleasant, the voices were annoying, and some of the sight gags were pretty sick.

     This disappoints me because this was a show I was looking forward to.  It's got talent behind it, including producers from South Park, one of the best animated shows on television.  The voice cast includes such greats as Kurtwood Smith (That 70's Show), Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live), and Patton Oswalt (The United States of Tara), although the last is unrecognizable.  Unfortunately, these ingredients do not gel into something watchable.

     The premise is simple enough:  Balthazar (Will Sasso) is sent to earth with his family to stop a drill from boring into hell.  Balthazar was chosen because he watches a lot of television, so it is assumed he will be able to blend in.  Unfortunately for Satan, Balthazar likes humans too much to really hurt them.  One wonders what the charm is, though, when the humans in the show act at least as rude and hate-filled as the demons, often more so.  Are we supposed to be amused that we're stupid and mean?

     If you want to check it out, tune in tonight at 10pm on TBS.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Burn Notice wimpers through season premiere

     USA's Burn Notice is a great show... sometimes.  Last night was the season four premiere, "Friends and Enemies".  When last we saw Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan), he had been hauled into a tastefully decorated room, where he had been brought against his will.  Turns out, that room belongs to Vaughn (Robert Wisdom, The Wire, Prison Break), who wants Michael's help to take down some bad guys.  Michael is torn between helping people he hates and fighting the good fight, or staying out of it.  Michael and Vaughn are soon in a jungle being shot at by a predator drone.  All of that was awesome!

     And then Burn Notice went back to it's case of the week format.  I know that there are still plenty of people out there who like formula shows, where they can tune in any episode at random and find a complete story to enjoy.  I dare say most television viewers fall into that category.  Unfortunately, that's today's version of pulp fiction, and it holds back a great show, limiting it to just a good show.

     Sure, the case of the week was interesting enough.  Michael and friends had to call off a biker gang's hit order on a lawyer.  Plenty of fist fights, shoot outs, and explosions made it exciting.  But aside from Michael's brief reunion with Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), the story failed to highlight the wonderful storytelling that sometimes goes into the show.
     That's not to say that episode was without great moments.  Michael's teary conversation with his mother (Sharon Gless, who has finally become an indispensable part of the cast) at the end has proved that Donovan has grown as an actor, and Michael has grown as a character.  Three years ago, when he was just a burned spy dumped in Miami, he had few personal connections, and cared about no one all that deeply.  Now he balances deep affection for his mother, romance towards Fiona, and a best friend, Sam (Bruce Campbell).

     This season will feature a new character who was only briefly glimpsed last night, but whose name has joined the opening credits as one of the stars.  Jesse (Coby Bell, Third Watch, The Game) is a spy that Michael accidentally burned by stealing information.  Next week, he will attempt to clear Jesse's name.  Something tells me that won't work, since Jesse is slated to join their little crew and shake things up.  It has potential for an exciting, new arc.  However, it will likely only get a few minutes an episode, in between whatever victim Michael helps that week.

     Please Burn Notice stop catering to the mindless viewers just watching for entertainment at the end of a long day and give us some intricate, fascinating story telling.  Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that technique, but there are plenty of other shows that do it, and so few that really stretch their boundaries and show great story telling.  I know you're capable of being one of the latter.  Burn Notice airs Thursday nights at 9pm on USA.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

FlashForward fizzles out

     ABC tried a bold experiment this year with FlashForward, a show we were told would be wrapped up in one season, should it be canceled, though I am having trouble locating the interview where that was promised now, and I've wasted too much time already on the show to keep looking.  The season, and series, finale, "Future Shock", did anything but tie it all together.  Part of that could be because it was not known at the time to filming if the show would be coming to an end, or getting another season.  However, since the ratings weren't strong, it should have been assumed.  It would have been easy enough, with a few different scenes at the end, to finish it nicely, but the producers chose not to.  And so anyone that invested twenty-two hours into the show has had their time wasted.

     The entire season was uneven, walking a fine line between cheesy and brilliant, but frequently teetering onto the former side.  The cast was packed with wonderful actors - John Cho, Sonya Walger, Jack Davenport, Dominic Monaghan, Courtney B. Vance, Christine Woods.  It was almost worth watching the whole series to see Battlestar Galactica's James Callis deliver his newest crazy-man, and prove that he has even more range than has been known.  But the writing was frequently weak, and did not do justice to the talent involved.

     The the last episode, for instance.  Much of this season has been about choices, and if fate is more powerful than free will.  So far, every time, free will has won out.  And then, each character, one by one, made it to the place they saw in their vision way back at the beginning of the season.  Sure, there were differences.  Lloyd (Davenport) and Olivia (Walger) didn't sleep together.  Janis (Woods) was pregnant with a boy instead of a girl.  But the basics were all there.  The only one who seemed to have twarted fate, for now anyway, was Demetri (Cho), because he was alive at all.  But in the episodes leading up to the finale, it seems fairly likely that he will soon be shot to death anyway, as fate has a way of catching up.  It's like Final Destination the series.

     The ending of it all was the most disappointing.  First, it was established that December 2016 would be the end of the world.  Did a show that had such a hard time catching on really think it would get more seasons than the far more intelligent Lost that it was trying to replace?  The bad guys who caused the flash forwards were never caught, and so remain at large to stir up more trouble.  In this case, they caused another flash forward to end the series on.  This time, though, it appeared that different people flashed to different times, all between 2010 and 2016.  I say this because I freeze framed through the various images and caught at least three different dates.  What does it all mean?  We'll never know.

     I don't have a problem taking a chance on something complicated and involved.  I loved Lost.  But when the show promises not to leave you hanging if they're canceled, it looks likely they are going to be canceled, and yet, they film a cliffhanger anyway, I am not please.  Sadly, it will make me much less likely to trust ABC on the future.