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October 9, 2006 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | October 9, 2006 |

We’re well into the fall season now, and I thought we better take a look at some shit that’s working and some shit that’s stinking.

Frakkin’ A. As I hope you know, “Battlestar Galactica” gloriously returned to us last Friday night with a two-hour double-header. If you’re not watching this show yet, it’s not too late to jump on board. So frakking get on board and watch yourself some “BSG.” The first two seasons were spectacular, and this season looks to be just as good, albeit just a teensy bit darker. And speaking of this season, if you missed the premiere, ye best move on to the next topic right now as there be spoilers in these here waters.

… OK, now that those losers are gone, I just have to say — I was never much for Tigh. I liked the use of a gruff character, but he just wasn’t doing much for me. That’s all gone now though — one may not agree with all his tactics (I ain’t even touching the pros and cons of suicide bombings in this post), but there’s no arguing that the lighter-by-one-eye Tigh is in his element and is a damned bad ass. With his beard, the patch and the little seaman’s hat, he’s one peg leg away from being a full-blown pirate and I loves it. Arrrrrrrrgh, matey.

Seriously, this was a great start to the show. It was so dark and different than a lot of what we’ve seen before, but still so much the same. Gods bless it — I’m now more excited for Fridays to get here simply because it means new BSG than because it means the end of another work week.

Did you really have to go there? So far, I’m enjoying this season of “Nip/Tuck” significantly more than last season. Most of the guests have been great (especially Larry “my balls are no longer proportionate to my wang” Hagman) and the storylines are much better than the Carver bollocks from last season. In fact, I only have three real complaints. One, I feel like the sense of humor is missing. The show has always been dark and twisted, but it used to also include a nice mix of the black comedy, and I find that I’m not really laughing as much this season. So please give me my laughs back. Two, I hope they’re careful with this Matt/Scientology storyline. Not because I give a rat fuck about them pissing off the Church of Scientology, but because it feels too easy. Haven’t really gotten anything new out of the storyline yet — the Church is cult-like, folks who aren’t in it think it’s sham, folks who are in it claim it’s the best thing in the world, etc. This is a bit old hat, and I hope they’re planning to add something new or different to the mix.

And my third complaint is with last week’s episode. I don’t even want to ask the question because it puts the image back into my mind. … Deep breath … just barrel through … OK, here goes — seriously, was it really necessary to have a Rosie O’Donnell sex scene? I mean, I actually enjoyed her character on the show well enough (but not so much that I’d watch the rumored-to-be-contemplated spin-off), but the visual of her getting pounded on the rug is just wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. And the sight of her ass in nylons? I think it took two years off my life.

Shame on you, “Nip/Tuck!” Shame. On. You.

Just a quick acknowledgment. To those who have asked, you bet your ass I’m watching “The Wire.” I still think “Deadwood” is/was the better show, but that’s not meant as any slight on “The Wire” which, impressively, seems to get better and better with each new season. It’s really like watching an amazing book unfold chapter by chapter on your television, and I’m so friggin’ happy that HBO at least managed to learn something from the “Deadwood” debacle and has since agreed to give us a fifth season of “The Wire” (creator David Simon has said his intention is for this to be a five-season job, much like Milch originally intended “Deadwood” to be four-and-out). If you’re still not watching this fantastic show, you’d best go rent or buy these DVDs pronto — they’re better than just about everything currently airing on the tube.

Thinning out the herd, by choice. This season, I made a pact with myself. In years past, I’ve stuck with some generally pretty awful shows for far too long. Not so this year. If the show just isn’t working for me, I’m not wasting my time with it anymore. That being said, there are several shows I mentioned in my season preview column that I said I would be watching and which I’m now bailing on.

I already talked about the first show to have its TiVo season pass revoked, “Men in Trees.” Well, for those of you keeping track, you can now add “Six Degrees,” “Runaway” and “Help Me Help You” to the list of shows I tried and now ding. I really wanted to like “Six Degrees,” particularly because I’m a big fan of Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, and Michael K. Williams (Omar on the aforementioned “The Wire”). But goddamn if this show isn’t just boring, dull, dry, and bland. “Runaway,” meanwhile, also has some folks I like (Leslie Hope and, especially, Donnie Wahlberg), but it’s turning out to be just another run-of-the-mill “chase ‘em down” mystery while also managing to be rather bland and dull. Disappointments both. And “Help Me Help You” wasn’t something I was originally interested in, but I heard enough good things from other critics that I thought I’d give it a chance. Wasted time — Ted Danson is totally fine in it, but (a) the other actors all kinda blow and (b) for a comedy, it’s really not particularly, you know, funny. It’s not painful, like last season’s “Four Kings” debacle, but it just ain’t making me laugh. So buh-bye.

Thinning out the herd, by force. Two episodes in, I was still digging “Smith.” Sure, I’m a sucker for capers, but I thought the show had some real potential, as I said in my review of the pilot. CBS apparently disagrees and “Smith” has therefore become the first new show officially yanked from the air, after just three episodes. Welcome to the life of network television, Ray Liotta. Still better than Operation Dumbo Drop though, right?

Meanwhile, while “Smith” was the first show taken off the air, the award of being the first officially cancelled show belongs to another one that had lots of potential, NBC’s “Kidnapped.” But rather than just unceremoniously pulling it, NBC has agreed to let it have a 13-episode run (albeit, in the Saturday swamp lands), and they gave the producers enough notice so that the show can actually reach a resolution (unlike last year’s “Reunion” on Fox, which left all five fans highly perturbed). I’ll TiVo this one through the end if for no other reason that it’s featuring some great acting, and a story just compelling enough to keep me on board.

On thin ice. Meanwhile, two shows are still in the herd for now, but may find themselves left for dead real soon. The first is ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters.” Another show with a great cast (except for the younger brother who was previously on “Reunion” — he’s just awful), although the best cast member got fucking killed in the first damn episode! I’m just not finding any of the stories that compelling yet. However, since it’s on Sunday nights, it has the advantage of being on my TiVo when things are relatively uncluttered, and so there’s time to watch it. If it were on Thursdays, when things are backed up in my “Now Playing” list, it would already be dead. As it stands, it stays for now; but if things start getting cluttered in the early week, or it does something that pisses me off or just tweaks me the wrong way, off with its head.

And speaking of pissing me off, “Jericho” is real bloody close to the point of no return. Three episodes in, this thing is a real stinker. Skeet-skeet-skeet is more annoying than ever, and all the rest of the characters are either annoying, vacuous, of stereotypical caricatures (latest example — the popular chick who’s conflicted ‘cause she kinda digs the weird kid, but her friends, like, so totally don’t approve). The only reason I’m still watching is because I’m still a little intrigued about the big story — I don’t give a shit about any of the characters’ personal stories, but I would like to know what the deal is with all the nuclear kablooies and the tanks and whatnot. So I’m holding on just for that, which I suspect will, one day soon, end up not being reason enough. After all, I suppose I could just read spoilers/summaries online to learn that info (which would be much quicker than sitting through 45 minutes of pseudo-content and having to stare at more of Skeet-skeet-skeet’s preposterous facial contortions).

Speaking of ugly … During pilot season, there were a couple of things that most of the critics were agreeing on. Everyone was saying “The Nine” looked great (I agree as to the pilot, but let’s see how things move forward). Everyone was saying that “Friday Night Lights” was amazing (I totally agree, and I hope folks get past their “I’m not watching a show about football” prejudices). And everyone was saying that “Ugly Betty” was surprisingly charming and fun. I hadn’t seen an advance pilot, and I only just got around to watching the premiere (and the second episode) this past weekend. And I gotta say, I’m kind of in love with the show. It’s not necessarily a great show, or even the best of the new shows (I still think, at the end of the day, that award will belong to “Friday Night Lights”), but I’m finding it really entertaining. Sure, it’s cheesy as all git-out, but it knows this and is having fun with it. They keep the tone of the show very campy, and things are helped by the fact that America Ferrera is killer as the titular ugly one. Throughout both episodes, I often found myself giggling like a freshman girl getting invited to senior prom.

Actually, the show reminds me a lot of “Desperate Housewives” when it first started. Not in terms of the darkish satire, but in terms of the enveloping sense of “we get what we’re about and we’re gonna’ have fun with it all.” Of course, “Housewives” quickly lost that and began taking itself far too seriously. But I kinda feel like that won’t happen to “Betty,” though I suppose only time will tell.

And another testament to this show is that it’s pulled in pretty studly ratings despite the fact that it’s facing off against the “Earl”/”Office” tag team and “Survivor: Race Riots.” There’s no doubt that “The Office” still has to take top priority at this time slot, but if you’ve got the TiVo space, you could do a hell of a lot worse than adding “Ugly Betty” into the rotation.

And finally, speaking of “The Office.” So every month, Esquire magazine has this feature called “10 Things You Don’t Know About Women,” where they have some celebrity lady provide the content of the list. The most recent issue’s list was provided by Jenna Fischer (a.k.a., Pam). Well, a staff member of “The Office” had the fun idea to have the show’s cast and crew provide readings of Fischer’s list, and he filmed it all with his cell phone camera. While the video quality is therefore quite poor, it’s also quite entertaining. It’s been all over the internets, but if you haven’t seen it yet, have at it:


Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He recently got back from the glory that is Oktoberfest and is still trying to catch up on his backlog of recorded televised entertainment.

The Good, the Bad and the Frakking Ugly

The Clip Show / The TV Whore
October 9, 2006

TV | October 9, 2006 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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