Friday, April 08, 2005

Cathode Ray Fray: The Week in TV – 4-8-05

Several shows trended to the dark side this week (The Shield, Lost), but what was really dark was the news that Peter Jennings has lung cancer. Check out Eric Olsen’s piece here.

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

Overall take on the week:

Best show on television: Arrested Development, Project Greenlight

Close but no cigar this week: Lost

Rising: The Shield

Rocking It Steady: The Office, The Apprentice

Falling: The Contender

Will never watch again (probably): Alias

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



Arrested Development - Fox
This show just keeps on bringing it. Another consistently funny episode, though it took about five minutes to get up to full cruising speed. The catalyst needed to fuel the boat this week? Franklin the African-American puppet/mannequin. As soon as George Bluth Sr. (played brilliantly by Jeffrey Tambor… yes, he’s got more in the arsenal than “Hey now!”) speaks in Franklin-voice from the attic, with Franklin off-camera, then proceeds to yell at the puppet/mannequin (the most surprising laugh I’ve had in weeks) I knew we were in for the goods.

Second funniest moment: “Take me to your secular world.” Enough said. If you were there, you know.

The guest star roster for Arrested Development continues to be stellar. This week, among others, brought the great Alan Tudyk to the party. You may not have heard of Tudyk, but he’s been in a bunch of things over the years. He’s close to my heart, of course, because of his involvement with Joss Whedon’s Firefly project… which will soon be released as the full-length feature Serenity.

Oh, in ye Browncoats we do trust!

The Contender - NBC
This week’s episode and climactic bout boiled down to this: God vs. The Kids.

Hell, I should turn promoter.

You see, Brent Cooper, the Tennessee lad fighting out of the East Team, is a man of God. Literally. He talks God, he breathes God, and he may, on occasion, eat God along with his lunch. “God has a plan” is basically stenciled into the guy’s wallet in the place where, for Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, “Bad Motherfucker” is inscribed.

Then we have Anthony “the Bullet” Bonsante, who, we were told again and again, lives and breathes and eats so that his kids can live and breath and eat. He cries, he gets intense, he pisses off everyone around him with his Kid Talk and I’m Going to Fight Who I Want to Fight So That My Kids Can Eat et al, and so on.

So, finally, interminably, we get to the fight where we learn that yes, sometimes The Kids can take out God.

Sorry God. Good show. You’ll get ‘em next time.


American Idol - Fox
Lots of American Idol talk this week, as always. I don’t subscribe to the madness myself, but check out the uber-post here, brought to you by our sistah station,


The Shield - FX
Things down at The Farm trended steadily darker this week, with no one getting what they wanted and everyone getting at least a little bit dirty in the process. We've got Dutch (Jay Karnes, who really turns in a great, natural performance every week as the slightly anal, slightly brainy white bread detective) playing games with the DA to protect Wyms (CCH Pounder), who by the anyhoo is busy scoring some medical-type weed for afflicted fam. Meanwhile, Det. Shane Vendrell (Walt Goggins) is playing at shield-wielding crime boss and dealing with Antoine Mitchell to boot. Capt. Rawling (played by the great Glenn Close, who turning in fine work) is losing cred with the community with property seizures, and Aceveda, now a City Councilman, is trolling for high-class hookers and embarking on some kind of a dark sexual journey to deal with the fact that his wife got raped.

Compared to all of that, Mackey’s (Michael Chiklis – always fun to watch in every scene) tough guy vices seem pretty small in comparison. The plot is coalescing well around the bald bull dog, and the writing is blending episodic caseload plotlines with an umbrella story arc. And that's what I look for in a weekly drama.

Vendrell and Mackey and Rawling and Mitchell are going to be a lot of fun to watch down the stretch.

The Office - NBC
A good sitcom with solid laughs. Not great, but just being able to make that statement is a fairly big achievement in today’s comedy landscape. There was some nice character development this episode, such as the budding flirtation between Pam Beesley (Jenna Fischer) and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski).

For brief moments, there’s still too much of a lean upon on the brilliantly awkward BBC version, but hopefully that will abide over time. Indeed, it has to as the Britcom only totaled twelve total episodes during its entire run.


Lost - ABC
Another show that drifted into darker territory: this week brought the slow, painful death of Boone (Ian Somerhalder). Almost every character on this tremendous new show has been compelling and interesting, but losing Boone cut deep.

That said, it tied into Jack’s (Matthew Fox, who wears the nominal leading man mantel exceptionally well) character development beautifully: Atlas, who must bear the weight of all on his very soul. I realized this week too that Jack’s last name, Shepard, suits him perfectly. All turn to him when the chips are down, even the slowly mellowing Sawyer.

Boone will certainly be missed. But on Lost, it’s hard to tell what is real and what is possible, so perhaps it’s possible that we'll see more of Boone in time.

The West Wing - NBC
Temple Stark waxes Temple-rific on the nomination of Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) as Democratic nominee for President.

I haven’t watched this fine show regularly in a while (though I get a goodly dose of it via repeats on Bravo), and I’m happy they’re moving forward with a new administration (if it doesn’t get cancelled, of course), but a non-House of Bartlett is going to be really weird.

Eyes - ABC
Saw the promo, didn’t see much worth watching, myself.


Project Greenlight - Bravo
Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob and oh ye comedy God Kevin Smith fame) and Henry Rollins are going to be in Feast? Wow, that’s pretty fucking cool. Okay, now back to the weekly report.

This week, yet more insight revealed into the knife in the front with a smile and a kiss culture that Hollywood lives and breathes on. The casting director screwed over not just first-time director John Gulager, but the producers as well in squeezing young hottie Navi Rawat (of The OC fame) in the role of Heroine. The best moment of the show was when Miss Casting Director got haughty about Gulager’s restrained remarks in her direction.

“I thought we were all adults here,” she said.

Yes, that’s right, if you mean the ice-hearted manipulative self-serving kind.

It was nice to see something of a compromise, however, in that Clu Gulager, John’s father, and Diane Goldner, John Gulager’s longtime girlfriend, were cast in smaller roles in the film.

Promo scenes for next week’s episode are looking rather dire as shooting begins. This could end up being a textbook study on how to make a piece of crap B horror flick.

Now, you see kids: take a dozen rewrites, a low budget, seven decision-makers, add flour, and then soak in the straight-to-video section of Blockbuster for seven-to-nine lifetimes…

The Apprentice - NBC
Angie gets the boot and wins The Biggest Loser competition as she and Chris wound up in the boardroom for what must be a record sixth week in a row.

Conversation between wife and I:

I: If Chris goes to the boardroom again, he’s gone.
Wife: Oh yeah, definitely.

It’s surprising that either made it this far… but not so much considering the relatively weak crop in this third season of Apprentice action.

It’s starting to get down to crunch time as there are now only six remaining applicants. There are three remaining candidates who have a shot at winning, in my ‘umble opinion:

#1 - Tana
I think Trump wants to avoid hiring another white guy, and Tana’s just about the best overall candidate anyway right now.

#2 - Bren
Bren is smooth as silk and gets along with everyone. He’s bright, he’s an attorney, and he’s savvy. He also hasn’t spent much time in the boardroom, so it might all come down to boning up on late-season Trump-speak.

#3 - Alex
Trump accused Alex of being a winner who ended up hanging out with losers (Angie and Chris) and therefore transforming into a sudden-loser himself. Trump was harsh… but right. Alex needs to step it up pronto if he wants to get back in Big Daddy T’s good graces.

Personally, I like Craig but I think he’s too much of a loner/independent-type to suit Trump’s high-gloss corporate culture. He might be better off running a creative, dynamic, smaller company on his own.

Check out The Apprentice uber-post here.

Making the Band III and PoweR Girls - MTV
My DVR screwed up somehow due to Daylight Savings Time so I missed these shows this week.

Damn you technology! Damn you farmers!

That said, it allowed me to get five hours of sleep instead of four. Such is life in the C-Ray Fray.

I’ll try and catch up and double up for next week.


T. Stark said...


Oh man. You are an obsessed TV goblin. and I mean that in a good way.

When's the next podcast?

Eric Berlin said...

Hey Temple, thanks for checking in with DB.

Yeah, obsessed in a good way. It's scary that on Thursday night I stayed up until 2:30 or so, knowing I had to get up at 7 so I could finish watching Project Greenlight and The Apprentice.

Just finished DB Radio #3! I'm not exactly sure when it will be published, but likely sometime between tomorrow morning and Monday morning. I have a trip down to San Diego coming up so I have to figure out some logistical stuff.

But in general, I hope to pump a new show out every Monday or so.