By Alexander B. HulsWith the amount of TV I watch it would be pretty much impossible to produce a review for every episode of every show I feast my square eyes on in a given week. So this weekly column will be my forum for voicing comments, observations, complaints, and unabashed geeky gushing, about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past week’s elevision.
How I Met Your Mother: Season Three Premiere
Man, it’s good to have How I Met Your Mother back. It’s a lot like hanging out with friends after they’ve returned from traveling abroad all summer. At certain points it is slightly awkward and they may have changed a little bit (beards, marriage, new significant others, and getting into new experiences — like biker chicks), but once you’ve spent a little time together things fall right back into rhythm and you share a bunch of laughs (butterflies, massages, wingmen, and Marshall’s longing eyes). You may even meet new people (seeing Ted’s wife for the first time… kinda). Finally: “Cirque de so laid?” Oh, Barney, I’ve missed you terribly. Welcome back, How I Met Your Mother.
Bionic Woman: Pilot
After listening to the ever-growing mound of buzz being piled on it throughout the summer, now that I’ve finally seen the Bionic Woman pilot, I couldn’t help but sit there after and think, “Eh.” It’s not that the show was necessarily bad, but it’s also just not that good. Some of the acting was so wooden they could have built a bookshelf with it, and the pilot overemphasizes the development of its mythology at the expense of emotional resonance. It feels like the action-packed Hollywood blockbuster film I’d hope it wouldn’t become. In other words, follow the proven formula: come up with high concept and intense action, and then throw in some underdeveloped/superficial characters and drama at the end, because, well, I guess you kinda need that stuff. The end result is that I was incredibly intrigued by the mythology and action in the show, but didn’t care even a little bit for the characters. What made Alias — the show Bionic Woman is being repeatedly compared to — work so well was its ability to have fun with its action and mythology driven plots, while never forgetting that we also need some good character and interpersonal drama. If the most interesting character on the show is not your central character, but one of the villains, then there’s something wrong.
On that note, the constant comparing of Michelle Ryan to Jennifer Garner is simultaneously a justified comment and one that makes her failings stand out in comparison. Ryan certainly has the looks and the talent to be a breakout star, but at the moment she lacks the confidence and assurance that made Garner such a delight to watch on Alias. Had Garner on Alias uttered Ryan’s final line in the Bionic Woman pilot (“If we do this, whatever this is, we do it on my terms. If that’s not okay with you, I know what I’m capable of now. So you send whoever you send, and I’ll bury one guy after the next”), you would have believed her (and her character) and shivered in your boots a little. In the case of Ryan, you just don’t buy it. She comes off like a scared girl trying to be threatening instead of a scared girl channeling her fear into genuine malice. It also doesn’t help that in the episode Katee Sackhoff pretty much blows everyone else away, and demonstrates how to really portray a threatening character.
Inevitably a large portion of my disappointment comes from knowing that the show is produced by many of the people involved with Battlestar Galactica — in my opinion one of the best shows on TV — and features three cast alumni in the pilot alone. I know that they can do better than this. Which is why, despite my initial write-off of the pilot, I will have faith in David Eick and company, and will continue to watch. After all, it is only a pilot, so there is still room to work out the kinks. Rest assured I will keep you posted as and if that happens.
The Office: Season Three Premiere
As a TV-aficionado, and specifically a big fan of a particular show, there is no greater comfort than to have that show return after a summer’s hiatus exactly the way you remember it. Ugly Betty and The Office both came out with guns a-blazing, reminding me why I missed them in the first place.
In the case of The Office, I can’t even begin to express how amazing I thought the episode was. I had forgotten what it was like to hear myself laugh loud and boisterously, and needless to say, I had to hear that a lot on Thursday night. I also had to listen to myself giggle like a little school girl whenever I saw Jim and Pam together, most notably during their leisurely “stroll” with some coupley purchases and hand holding.
Jim and Pam of course did not hog the spotlight. Almost everybody had great moments, and it felt like the script took advantage of the summer gestation period to give every character at least one awesome line/scene/moment, and give us exactly what we have come to expect from The Office.
Part of me wonders whether the episode was as good as I am hyping it up to be, or whether my utter desperation to see The Office return is clouding my judgment a little bit. It’s kinda like make-up sex after a break-up. It may not actually be that great, but you think it is because it’s been so long and you’ve kinda missed it. Maybe another roll in the hay will change my perspective, but till then I’m going to sit here, leaning my head against the headboard, and contently smoke my cigarette.