Archive for Thursday, October 16, 2008

New television season offers a few good shows

October 16, 2008

I don’t watch much daytime television. My viewing consists of watching a few previously recorded shows in the evening before I go to bed, so I really look forward to the new crop of dramatic, mystery and comedies each fall.

I did feel really betrayed by the writers’ strike that prematurely slashed most of my favorites from the lineup last winter. I’ve met few a so-called “reality” shows that I like. I’m talking about those elaborately set up scenarios in which participants are encouraged to plot against and betray others in the group until one is “king of the hill.” I can’t critique them further because I’ve spent so little time watching them.

Other nonfiction shows, mostly to be found on non-network channels, intrigue me — such as the “Dog Whisperer.” I no longer have any dogs, just an untrainable, surly cat, but I enjoy seeing the dogs learn to co-exist with their owners. Both humans and animals are so happy when all goes well — usually after the owners are instructed in how to handle their miscreant pets.

I have torn myself away from the dogs this fall to check out a few of the new shows and have found a few that I find enjoyable. There are only two new sitcoms that I have enjoyed. The half-hour long takeoff on “Meet the Parents” called “Worst Week” is genuinely funny. The credit is due the chief actor Kyle Bornheimer who does an outstanding job in slapstick comedy. He plays a well-intentioned guy who has come home with soon-to-be bride to meet her parents and confess that he and she are expecting a child. He can’t deliver the news though, because he keeps on insulting and horrifying his future bride’s family with blunder after blunder. How long he can keep on failing is the question. This show does its thing Monday nights on CBS.

The second sitcom that seemed to have a few real laughs is the show “Kath and Kim,” about a mother and daughter who are alike in their drive to be hip and chic, but essentially clueless about what really matters in life. It’s based on a show from Australia and stars Molly Shannon as the mother and Selma Blair as the daughter. It shows on NBC on Thursday evening.

Two detective-type shows, “The Mentalist” and “Life on Mars,” seem to be promising. The first features a reformed con artist, played by Simon Baker, who once pretended to speak to his victim’s deceased relatives, but now uses his keen powers of observation and knowledge of human behavior to interview crime scene participants and deduce “who done it.” This show is on Tuesdays on CBS. I like it because it focuses away from the gore of the CSI shows, which I still like, onto deductive reasoning and keen observation of human motivations. And it is well-written — a prime necessity for a show as far as I am concerned.

“Life on Mars” is based on a British series and is bolstered by a good cast featuring Jason O’Meara as a New York detective who is knocked out by a car as he’s chasing a suspect, and wakes up in an earlier time. It’s 1973 and as he gazes about him at the altered landscape, the presence of the twin towers of the World Trade Center clues him in that he’s not in the 21st century any more. The show has a good cast including Harvey Keitel as a worst nightmare head detective and Michael Imperioli as another detective and is fairly well written. My chief reservation about the plot and show is that I was somewhat distracted by the darkness of the set and costumes for the setting of 1973. I was alive at that time and I don’t remember it quite that way. This show airs on Thursday evenings on ABC.

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