Monday, September 28, 2015


Back when there was but one new TV season per year, that new season was more of an event. Young Tony would study the “Season Premiere” issue of TV Guide thoroughly and try to determine which of the three channels he would try to watch at any given time. Of course, these days, I have more than three channels available to me and new shows and/or season launch throughout the year.

There does remain a certain excitement for the new “fall season” of television. Because of my painful and painfully slow recovery from last week’s dental surgery, I have watched a lot of the new season. If I write about it, I can delude myself into believing I wasn’t just goofing off. I was working.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

WARNING! There will be some spoilers ahead, but only when necessary for the discussions of some shows.

The Late Show with Stephan Colbert has brought this viewer back to the traditional late night talk show. Colbert - the real Colbert, not the right-wing pundit he played on The Colbert Report - is an appealing and talented host. His bouncy dance entrances have grown on me. His opening monologues - one standing, one sitting behind a desk - are well done with at least a few killer lines every night. Bandleader Jon Baptiste and Stay Human are terrific. Every after a couple weeks, the show’s opening graphics are impressive.

Colbert fans who are disappointed in the talk show appear to have expected that this show would be the liberal version of The Colbert Report. Instead, though Colbert is a thoughtful progressive in most ways, he quickly proved himself to be the best interviewer in late night. He has presented an interesting range of guests, some of them very serious people, and shown a knack for letting them reveal themselves. In the cases of guests like Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, the revelations have not helped those individuals.

Colbert doesn’t score with every comedy bit, but he succeeds more often than not. His musical guests don’t do much for me, but they didn’t do much for me on his previous show either. However, just as with his previous show, The Late Show is must-record television and a great companion to my morning meals.

I had to watch Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. NPH is not just one of my favorite entertainers. He is someone I admire as an entertainer and a force for good in the world. His opening show was a bit too frantic and uneven, but it did make me smile most of the time. In a world where I had more leisure time than I have at the moment, I’d be a regular viewer.  But...

There is a lot of work on my desk of late. There are a lot of shows and some sporting events I watch with family members. There are a great many “B” movies I want to watch as I contemplate and prepare for getting involved in the making of such movies. Best Time Ever just didn’t make the cut.

On the other hand, Best Time Ever is available “on demand.” It is likely I’ll watch at least some future episodes.

Two quick cuts. I lasted around five minutes each on Moonbeam City (Comedy Central) and We’ve Got Issues (E!). Comedy Central needs to be airing reruns of The Critic and creating new episodes as well. As for E!, it should launch another weekly series like The Soup to mock its own programming. The network needs to do much more penance for putting the Kardashians on the air.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

The Big Bang Theory kicked off with the welcome wedding of Leonard and Penny and the honestly heartrending breakup of Sheldon and Amy. Unfortunately, it then took the former into sitcom and soap opera cliche, failed to elicit any actual comedy or drama from the latter and made the recurring character Stuart even more pervy unsettling than he already was. I expect more from this series.

Gotham’s second-season premiere had me shaking my head. It zoomed from dark to can’t-see-my-hand-in-front-of-my-face-pitch-blackness in the first few scenes. Despite some great acting, this was tough to watch. Are there any heroes in Gotham? Are those characters redeemable at this point? I suspect I’ll be recording this series once Supergirl makes her debut.

Scorpion’s premiere moved too fast as well. The series has always demanded a high suspension of disbelief, but watching Walter [Elyes Gabel] and Paige [Katharine McPhee] cling to a weather balloon with the lives of ten million people in their hands was too over the top for me. The Walter/Paige and the Toby/Happy romantic relationships also moved too fast to be convincing. This show has fun characters and situations, but it needs to bring it down several notches lest it become a Mission Impossible parody.

Blindspot stars the wonderful Jaimie Alexander as an amnesiac woman covered with tattoos that predict future crimes and possessing mad secret-agent skills. Alexander is great in the show. The supporting characters less so, but still adequate to their roles. I like this one a lot.

In this debut episode, we learn Alexander’s Jane Doe agreed to the procedure that left her without memories of her past. The viewers learn this via flashback. The show’s characters don’t learn this. But there’s the problem with that as I see it. With a huge reveal like that, I will need to have a satisfying ending to this series. By the end of the first season. You can’t put that forward in the first episode and not deliver a satisfying payoff by the end of the season. Unless the writers have a great new direction for a second season, Blindspot should be one and done.

One more for today.

The season premiere of Castle came off like a homework assignment thrown together at the last minute. When the previous season ended, the series hasn’t been renewed. Beckett - aka Mrs. Castle - had two choices before her. She could become a captain or she could run for political office. Early in this season premiere, we learn that she is now the captain of her former precinct.

Instead of exploring the new dynamic between the lead characters, the show immediately sends Beckett off into some secret conspiracy crap that has her on her own, hunted by assassins and wanted by the police. Just a shade less silly than sending her and Castle off in a weather balloon.

Meanwhile, Castle has decided to go back into the private eye biz in a big way. He’s renovated his office into such a garish man-cave that Donald Trump would look at it and say “too much.” Daughter Alexis has taken it upon herself to join the private eye operation and, while actress Molly C. Quinn is usually up for any plot twist, she seems confused about this one.

The rushed nature of the season premiere is even more pronounced in supporting player Javier Esposito [Jon Huertas] who is noticeably heavier than in the previous season. Far from Tubby Tony to dwell on an actor’s appearance, but it’s a jarring change from the buff detective viewers had gotten use to. appearance by the delightful Susan Sullivan as Castle’s mom. That just ain’t right.

Castle, usually so brilliant and entertaining, has disappointed me in the past. This time around, it feels like the series has begun a long, slow circling of the drain.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. I admit to giving up on GOTHAM about four episodes into the first season. To me the only interesting character was the future PENGUIN. For me, making a BATMAN series without BATMAN, just wasn't working.

    SCORPION was a surprise, since it was my wife, Donna, who turned me onto the show. She didn't expect to like it, since it was basically something she kept on after the earlier CBS comedies were done and she waited for me to get home from work. It's now one of our favorites. I do agree the first episode of this season was a bit far-fetched, even for this series.