New Midseason TV Impressions!

The fall season is generally when a lot of new TV shows debut but some series are held back for further development or used to spruce up the line-up when midseason rolls around.  This midseason schedule brings us new shows like Alcatraz, Lost Girl, House of Lies, Napoleon Dynamite and one of my personal favorites returning for a second season, An Idiot Abroad.  There are a few shows that have yet to premiere, like Keifer Sutherland’s new show, Touch, and The River, brought to us from the filmmakers behind Paranormal Activity.  There are also a few more shows than what I have listed below like The Firm, The Finder and Unsupervised but I haven’t had the chance to check them out yet.  So here are some of the midseason offerings that I have seen and my thoughts on them.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz airs on FOX at 10pm EST.

From producer J.J. Abrams comes the new Lost!  Okay, I can’t really say that exactly as I’ve never seen Lost (let the gasps and mouth dropping commence!).  The only comparison I have is that Lost was formatted in a way in which it told the story through the present day and also through flashbacks to the characters’ pasts.  Alcatraz shares this same format, but between that and the fact that people who worked on Lost also work on this show, that’s the only connection I can make.  Regardless of this connection (or lack thereof) to Lost, I found Alcatraz to be very intriguing and entertaining.  It’s managed to suck me into the mystery of what happened to all the prisoners when they disappeared in 1963 and who is behind bringing them back for deadly purposes.  The cast is pretty likeable, though Sarah Jones, the lead actress of the show, feels a tad rough around the edges in terms of performance.  There are times where she works and other times where she feels like she’s still trying to figure out how to play her character.  I’m sure she will find her rhythm though and those rough edges will disappear.  Sam Neill is good and his character is a bit of a mystery at the moment but it’s nice having an actor of Neill’s stature on the show.  Jorge Garcia plays an Alcatraz history guru that has a doctorate and runs a comic book shop (which seems to feature only DC comics and things on Alcatraz).  His character seems a little cliche right now but definitely has the greatest chance of being the most likeable character of the show.    There are definitely some things I found weak in its first two episodes but that’s alright, I’m pretty forgiving with pilots as long as there is something that interests me about the show.  If Alcatraz focuses its development on its characters and the mythology of the show continues to be expanded upon,  I think the show will be a fun watch.  What I don’t want to see is the show turn into a simple procedural that doesn’t expand upon its sci-fi premise, though I doubt that will happen.  The other J.J. Abrams produced show on air right now, Person of Interest, seems to be stuck in procedural mode (yawn) and is close to losing my interest if it doesn’t break free of its redundant nature soon.  Overall, Alcatraz is definitely worth checking out and I will definitely be watching the rest of this first season.

An Idiot Abroad: The Bucket List

An Idiot Abroad: The Bucket List airs on the Science Channel on Saturdays at 10pm EST.

Yes, this isn’t a new midseason series since this is the second season of the show but I’m so happy to have it back that I couldn’t help but mention it here.  Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant put together a new season of (mis)adventures for the one and only, Karl Pilkington.  Instead of seeing the seven wonders of the world like last season, this time out Karl is choosing things to do from a list that Gervais and Merchant have made as the top 100 bucket list ideas that people have.  Karl, who is so hilariously uncomfortable trying new things, tries to pick the easiest things to do but that won’t prevent his friends from making his travels unique, unexpected and full of laughter, for us viewers anyhow.  The first episode has Karl choosing to stay on a remote island by himself for one day and unbeknownst to him, the trip will include things like bungee jumping, land diving, visiting with various tribal people and arse sledding down an active volcano, all of which, he’d rather not do.  This show is great for all the things that Karl says as he just spurts out whatever comes to mind even if it may seem slightly offensive or stupid to us, though always funny.  He’s a bit of a buffoon but in a very endearing way.  It’s not that he’s outright dumb but his brain just thinks differently than most and that is why the show works so well, Karl Pilkington’s mind.

Lost Girl

Lost Girl airs on SyFy on Mondays at 10pm EST.

Lost Girl is new to the U.S. but has actually been around since fall 2010.  It is a Canadian TV series that has just now been imported to the SyFy network for U.S. viewers.  It actually fits in perfectly with SyFy’s other shows and is currently paired with Being Human.  I’ve seen the first two episodes of Lost Girl and it’s something I have enjoyed but I could also see it being something I drop if the series doesn’t improve upon itself.  I like where it’s at right now but there is an aspect of the show that has me feeling like, as a viewer, we aren’t being told everything we need to know about the mythology of the show.  This is fine for now as I don’t expect a show to tell us everything in its first two episodes but I still don’t really know what the show is exactly.  I know its supernatural in nature as the lead character is a succubus and that she belongs to a superhuman race called the Fae.  There is not much explanation as to who they are exactly other than some generic definitions.  It seems that Fae can pretty much just have any random power a writer could come up with and perhaps that is where my issue with the show lies.  I like to have some rules set for a fantastical world like this and those are not well defined right now but I hope that with upcoming episodes they do more world building/defining.  The main character, Bo, is likeable enough and her human sidekick can be amusing at times.  The show definitely feels influenced by shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, though more the latter.  In the next episode it looks like Bo and her sidekick form Bo Investigations, or something of the sort, to solve problems involving Fae.  That definitely seems a bit of a rip off of Angel Investigations and its intended supernatural dealings.  Lost Girl is perhaps not the most unique show to arrive on TV but it shows signs of potential and I think we’ll start to see whether or not it really is worth watching for a whole season as the next couple of episodes air.  I hope it does find its footing, I’m with it thus far and it feels like a show that could have aired on the now extinct WB or UPN and I find that kind of appealing.

House of Lies

House of Lies airs on Showtime on Sundays at 10PM EST.

Showtime has quite a few good shows and a lot of their TV output is worth checking out.  So I was pretty excited to see a new show with Veronica Mars herself, Kristen Bell, returning to the format in which she shined for three awesome seasons (she’s done well in films as well of course).  I like Don Cheadle, but he’s not an instant draw for me, and the rest of the cast were inconsequential in its appeal.  After having seen a few episodes of its first season, House of Lies is intriguing and has increasingly held my interest but I am still not completely sold on it.  Don Cheadle’s character seems to be getting most of the focus and development and the rest of the characters seem to kind of just exist in his world.  That’s all fine and dandy I suppose but I would really like to know a lot more about his entourage.  I’m not the biggest fan of the fourth wall breaking on the show as sometimes it feels cheap and unwarranted.  It works some of the time but I think the writers should use it only when it really benefits the show and not just for style points.  The show is funny and often engaging, despite being set in a world in which I have zero interest.  I remain cautiously optimistic as to it’s lasting appeal for me but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite airs on FOX on Sundays at 8:30PM EST.

Was anyone asking for an animated Napoleon Dynamite series?  It sort of feels like it came out of left field but the original film definitely has its fans.  Whether or not those fans will be able to keep this series on air, only time will tell.  I’ve seen the original film multiple times and really do remember enjoying it but I haven’t revisited it in many years and my interest in doing so is very minimal.  All of the original cast return to voice the animated versions of the characters so fans of the film should be happy about that.  After watching the pilot, I knew I didn’t want to continue watching this series anymore.  It’s humor just doesn’t work for me.  The film works as a small indie comedy with its budget limitations being a benefit.  The animated world allows Napoleon to do whatever the writers dream up and that doesn’t work for me.  The animated series just feels like a bloated Napoleon Dynamite on steroids.  It comes off really over the top and kind of dull.  I just don’t think it translates to animation all that well.

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2 Comments on “New Midseason TV Impressions!”

  1. Ben McBride January 27, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    I agree his character definitely has potential, as does the series, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the series.

  2. NICK January 27, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I’m loving House of Lies! I actually find myself laughing out loud way more than I thought I would! I think they need to refine Cheadle’s character, and maybe make him a little more down to earth, but still – I think it has potential!

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