Friday, April 15, 2005

Cathode Ray Fray: The Week in TV - 4-15-05

As always, I take on the shows I watched during the week, and provide you with blurbs and links of some of the other fine TV work going on at BlogCritics.

Some shows are going into repeat mode as May Sweeps approach and others are ending their runs. Who will step in to step up?

Overall take on the week:

Best show on television: Project Greenlight

Damn you technology! Damn you farmers!: Arrested Development

Damn you pre-May Sweeps hiatus!: Lost

Rising: The Shield, The Contender, The Office

Rocking It Steady:The Apprentice

Falling: Making the Band III

Season’s over, hoping for a new one soon: PoweR Girls

Cathode Ray Fray is now a regular segment on my podcast, Dumpster Bust Radio.

Check out the other regular television features going down at BC: Chris Beaumont’s The Week That Was and Matt Paprocki’s Sci-Fi Channel Originals.



Arrested Development - Fox
Once again, my DVR bedeviled me due to the recent switch to Daylight Savings Time, causing me to miss a precious episode of my beloved AD. I’m still confused about whether this thing aired at all, and if so, when? I’m ready for a Zapruder film on this one.

In any event, according to the official website, this week concerned Lucille going into rehab and George Sr. getting kidnapped. But isn’t knowing that information almost worse than not seeing the damned show?

Once again: Damn you technology! Damn you farmers!

The Contender - NBC
I snapped back into this pugilistic reality play after spending a week or so wondering if I should bother with it anymore. Sticking around paid off an emotional… tickle? Nah. Slap upside the cranium? Closer… Punch? Yes, that will do. Punch.

The episode kicked off with tensions flaring in the house after Anthony “The Bullet” Bonsante’s victory over Brent, otherwise referred to The Kids’ victory over God. In any event, Ishe was pissed off that Bonsante hadn’t picked the fighter the West team had agreed upon when it was time to “toe the line,” which is perhaps some kind of old school boxing terminology for “I fight you, cool?” But was Ishe pissed off with good reason, or because he lost his bible-study buddy?

After the typical physical challenge sequence, which was actually pretty cool this week (loading up pick up trucks with smashed up bits of concrete and hauling them up to the top of some kind of overpass), a nice build to a classic Experienced Dude Who Got A Second Chance vs. The New Kid fight was established.

By the way: has anyone noticed that the hip hop music factor has been amped up to the moon during the physical challenge sequences the last few weeks? My theory is that the producers, spooked by low ratings, are trying to give this weekly segment some juice. They also may want to drown out the bromides thrown out by the old trainer guy and Robinson. “Come on, you can do it!” They should change that up at times, throw out a “Yes, you are aware that you are able to perform it!”

Or something.

The five-round elimination bout continues to be the best part of the show, by far. In fact, I wish they’d show more, though the editing is actually quite brilliant: you get to see the absolute best seconds of the fight at the best angles. The move to slo mo is used far too often, but in all, it’s exciting stuff, aided by the fact that you’ve gotten to know the fighters through the course of the episode.

In the end, youngster Juan de La Rosa of Texas knocked off Tarick in a close, interesting matchup. I thought Tarick was going to knock the head off the smaller, quicker upstart (La Rosa had just turned 18) but I have to admit that the kid has chops, and a serious punch.

One more week to go and then we finally get to the second round. I’m looking forward to it.


24 - Fox
Temple Stark explains why things are getting weak during yet another real-time hour of hellish action for the Kiefer-led gang.

American Idol - Fox
There is a mega-ton of American Idol talk this week, as always. I don’t subscribe to the madness myself, but check out the uber-post here.


The Shield - FX
This show has been getting edgier by the week, and more interesting too. It’s not so much that we’re talking Originality Central here, but the consistently solid performances, gritty production, and perky dialogue keep things popping.

Captain Rawling’s (the eminently watchable Glenn Close) property seizures policy is yielding both good and bad results. More than anything it’s rocking the boat, causing those on high (Aceveda, when he’s not reenacting the trauma of his wife’s rape with a high-class call girl, is working on undermining Rawling) and on low (Antoine Mitchell, emerging very quickly as the season’s chief Big Bad) to scramble.

Meanwhile, Detective Vendrell (Walt Goggins) may have finally burned the candle too closely fine at both ends (and Goggins plays a great candle-at-both-ends guy, doesn’t he? He looks hopped up, coked up, and/or riled up at all times) as the super dark ending of the episode illustrated:

Mitchell shot a CI – a young black girl – with Vendrell’s gun after issuing out some dirty copper beat-downs, then issued the following proclamation:

From now on, when I say, “Suck my dick,” I want you to say, “Do you want me to lick your balls, daddy?

That’s about the size of it.

The Office - NBC
This episode pays off on the promise I talked about earlier in the season. The characters and chemistry at this little paper merchant in Scranton are gelling, and the result is big, big laughs this week. The “alliance” bit between Jim (John Krasinski) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson, who is slowly making me forget my attachment to the great Gareth from the BBC version) was outstanding, and the supporting players continue to make this show a fun ride. Their deadpan looks of utter abject horror at boss Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) antics are just about worth the price of admission right there.

Krasinski can hit the overacting button from time-to-time, but he’s genuinely funny and interesting to watch as the center of the B story line: scheming to piss off Dwight and his budding flirtation with the engaged receptionist Pam (Jenna Fischer), who always makes the most of every second on camera.


Lost - ABC
Another blasted repeat… damn you May Sweeps!

However, it was a damned good one, poignant even, as we learn how little Walt came into Michael’s life… and the strange powers that may be at work within the young lad. We get some nice Locke screen time as well (they’re making it seem awfully apparently that he gets shot during the promos for the next new episode, aren’t they? Stop messing with our very heads, ABC!) along with the just and dearly departed Boone.

Best line: Charlie to Sawyer after the latter smacks the former in the mouth over Claire’s diary:

You punch like a ponce.

I loves me some alliteration. And I loves me some Lost.

Come back, Lost!

Revelations - NBC
The Prynce bestows upon us a review about a new limited series that takes a look at the End of Days.


Project Greenlight - Bravo
Feast finally begins production, and we’re treated to the madness and doom that lurks behind every corner as a Hollywood film production on a flimsy budget and tight schedule gets off the ground. Add in first-time director John Gulager (winner of Project Greenlight’s directorial competition) and a mad scramble to land a lead actor (Eric Dane was slotted in a mere half-day before he was due to stand before the camera) and you’ve got what continues to be the very best show on television.

And, for the record: it would have been pretty cool had the maggot flying out of Beer Guy’s nose shot would have worked.

Key moment: seeing Jason Mewes in some kind of devil-mask prosthetic and Henry Rollins looking like Russell Crowe circa The Insider in full business-guy garb, standing in the sun during yet another no-one-knows-what-the-fuck’s-going-on meeting.

I hope Gulager gets it together. He’s a semi-tragic figure in that he’s bright, talented, and somewhat likeable but has very little ability to communicate his vision of filmmaking to others.

The Apprentice - NBC
We finally bid buh-bye to Chris on his seventh and fatal trip to the boardroom in a row (an Apprentice record that may stand for some time). The dead wood’s finally gone from the current group of applicants, and that’s a good thing because the wood was full of the corpse-looking logs this time around.

Interestingly, the tension and conflict on Magna, the winning team, was much higher than for Net Worth this week. Craig and Kendra and Tana look like they’re ready to rip each others throats out, and upcoming scenes look to get no nicer in that department.

Kendra was impressive this week, relying on her print publishing experience and ability to pull an all-nighter to make an impressive-looking brochure for Pontiac.

Key moment: Tana and Kendra looked like they were about to go cat-fight (meow!) during the presentation to the Pontiac execs over who was going to take the lead role.

Bottom line: Kendra and Tana and Bren now look to be the frontrunners to snag the Trump-y job.

Check out The Apprentice uber-post here.

Making the Band III
I managed to get the DVR operational enough to catch up on my two MTV delights.

A few overall thoughts on Making the Band III:

What happened to Diddy? He’s hardly making appearances this season. Maybe he senses the show’s a bit more dull than last year?

What’s up with the 25 weeks of the audition process? Last year, the audition was about one show, followed by the trials and tribulations of Da Band (you know, you remember: DA-BA-ND!!!). Say what you want, but that was one fascinating show: creating hip hop pieces in the studio, putting an album together, hitting the road, peeps hitting each other, and so on.

This season… not so much. Lots of girls dancing and getting yelled at, and that’s about it. At least the Jason drama’s finally over. Speaking of: I got the distinct impression that I may have been duped by the entire Jason “character arc.” He may well have been dropped into the show to act a part because not much else was going on.

This week: Michelle dropped out on the competition to go back to school. Word.

I hope Diddy’s training for a triathlon or something.

PoweR Girls - MTV
I always feel like I have to justify why I like this show… but I just like it, ‘nuff said, okay? And I’m a little bit sad that this week was the season finale after a fairly short run. I hope they pick the show back up, as it offers a surreal, edgy, yet somehow upbeat slice of reality television.

This week, we got a dose of the Valli Girls, some kind of teenage girl pop/rock act from… The Valley, we’re assuming. This The Gemz with a few more years on them. It was great fun to watch Lizzie Grubman’s crew try and train these youthful rockers for the red carpet.

Key moment: when “boy drama” is thrown out there when talking to a reporter, the “rebellious” Valli Girl feels the need to mention her “period drama.” Nice.


Scott said...

Did you catch tonight's episode of Arrested Development? Season finale (series maybe? Man I hope not) and it was hilarious. It's a brilliant show.

Eric Berlin said...

I actually missed it as my DVR continues to torment me. I'll have to get on this bittorrent stuff or whatever-the-hell I've been hearing about.

It would really be a tragedy if AD got cancelled. But you'd have to think that another network -- a smart network -- would have to be equally nuts to not want to swoop it up.

Even though I don't get HBO, it would look pretty damned good over there: smart show, smart audience.