The Ray is weak this week, I’m afraid to say. Shows are dropping off the radar left and right as other favorites go to sleep for summer’s hibernation or are perhaps sadly laid to rest forever more (let it not be true, my sweet sweet Project Greenlight).
Therefore, I give you a short and hopefully sweet C Ray Fray this week.
Obey the Ray… just take some time to enjoy the sunshine every now and again, kids.
Overall take on the week:
Best show on television: Lost by a wide margin now that Project Greenlight has sailed off to the Bygone Sea of Television Greatness
Upper-tier shows: The Shield, The Contender
Insulting my pride: The Apprentice (see below for details)
On the air, off the radar: Alias (Wife was apparently too disgruntled to make report this week)
The Contender - NBC
We’re coming near the end of this pugilistic competition, and I feel like I’ve come to know the fighters pretty well and have some kind of emotional stake (good or bad) with each of the final four. That’s a credit to the producers, who have shown us enough about these fighters and their lives to make us care. Of course, the cheese factor is nudged up beyond my liking from time-to-time, but overall I love this show and dearly hope that NBC brings it back despite its disappointing ratings.
This episode managed to produce a rematch between Alfonso Gomez and Peter Manfredo. At stake: winner heads to Las Vegas and a chance to fight for $1 million, loser heads home.
I’ve come to admire and like each of the two fighters, which made it difficult to pick a guy to root for. However, as the seven-round match began (upping the ante from the five-round bouts from earlier fights) I had to admit to myself that Manfredo was my guy. He’s got an integrity to him and a New England charm (he and his family hail from Rhode Island) that lends him a quiet charisma.
That said, I thought going in that Gomez – a rugged bulldog of a fighter – had a slight edge over the less aggressive Manfredo.
It turned out to be a great fight, with wild swings in momentum that have become a staple of The Contender’s matches. Going into the seventh and final round, it was obvious that the match was tied up three rounds per fighter. Basically, it would come down to who wanted it more in the final three minutes. Manfredo “manned up,” as the saying goes, and proved a great deal to everyone watching, and to himself.
After being defeated by Gomez on the very first week of the show and then getting voted back in after an injury to another fighter, Manfredo completed his resurrection with a gritty, spirited victory. In the finals, he’ll face the winner of the Jesse Brinkley – Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora match.
The fight of the year will be on next Tuesday, a live telecast from Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
You know I’ll be watching.
Gomez sporting a tee-shirt that read “Cut Me Mickey” while training.
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
Things are cranking along on another tightly paced, super-charged episode this week. Vendrell’s finally back in the quasi-good graces of Mackey & Co. after his heartfelt confession and offers of repentance last week. Now the gang can go about taking down Antwon Mitchell before Mitchell blows about half of Los Angeles to pieces. Another antagonist, Aceveda, is now working closely with Rawlings and crew as well after two cops turned up dead, shot execution style.
There’s a nice theme of Police as Family at work, with everyone coming together to take out the big baddies. Meanwhile, Vendrell and Mackey are trying to play Mitchell to make him think they will work for him while the rest of the Strike Team races around town to collect the body of the girl murdered with Vendrell’s gun.
The pieces are in place to have a satisfying end to this more than enjoyable season.
Nice acting job:
The schizophrenic homeless ex-Cal Tech genius guy was a wonderful role compacted into a small part. His demand for a badge so that he could discuss the case “Peace Officer to Peace Officer” was great.
Lost - ABC
Lost is a show of journeys, discovery, mystery, and myth. All of those themes came together wonderfully in yet another taut and well written episode this week.
The pacing is quickening each week and I feel as though I’m coming to the end of a great novel or a spectacular film. The fact that it’s the first season of a television show only increases my enjoyment as I’m confident there will be more to see, more to be revealed over time.
But it also brings the paradox of great dramas and great serialized stories: there’s got to be much more conflict, much more hardship ahead to keep me and the rest of the viewing audience interested.
There was a wonderful coalescing of the back stories as we were shown intermingled accounts of different characters within the same episode for the first time. Characters like Kate, Jack, and Walt are becoming all the more real, which makes seeing their pre-crash personalities wind their way toward the airport and their subsequent fates all the more strange and fascinating.
Meanwhile, events are coming to some kind of major head back on the island. The French woman is back – a little more sane, none the less creepy – with the warning that The Others are coming. Man, aren’t the vague, ominous warnings the scariest by far? The drug smugglers with the machine guns and helicopters are coming is just way less scary (or interesting) than The Others are coming: your three options are run, hide, or die. Throw in some black smoke that looks like the People of the Damned are having an old fashioned cook out, and you’ve basically got me glued to the sofa, eyes on screen.
You had me at The Others.
So while the French lady leads a group to find explosives at the Black Rock, our heroes discover a wrecked ship… at the top of a hill. It looks like some kind of pirate ship, so who knows what them thar adventures lie behind its hull. Or something.
And the raft has finally set sale with the fearless crew of Michael, Walt, Sawyer, and Jin. Among the touching moments: the rapprochement between Jin and Sun, and little Walt leaving Vincent the dog with a for once non-evil Shannon.
What will happen with the raft? What’s the deal with the hatch? Will The Others’ offensive be repelled?
Two-hour season finale next week, kids.
Get the dog walked, break out the TV survival kit, dampen the Noises of Madness from within, kick back and enjoy.
The Apprentice - NBC
Kendra won. She’s the Apprentice.
Which is nice – I’m happy for her. She deserved it.
But the rest of the finale was simply awful and not a little bit insulting as well. The first part of the hour was yet another grueling recap of the entire season, something we’ve seen several times before to varying extents. We then entered the live set with the band and the crowd and all, which was fine. Trump then goaded the two finalists into attacking each other and defending themselves, which was also all well and good.
The ending of the show (and the season) was a travesty. Kendra was announced as the winner with the already classic cliché of “You’re hired.” Was she asked what she thought about winning this 16-week competition and going on to refurbish a mansion in Florida for Trump (a project that is strikingly below the caliber of the projects that past winners Bill and Kelley took on)? No. There is a cut to music while Kendra is literally shoved out the door so that she can get into her new Pontiac… in time for the Pontiac commercial.
Are you serious? I watched this show for months, wrote about it for months, talked about it on my podcast for months… so that I can watch a woman driving a car?
I’m insulted. I may not be on board for the next edition of The Apprentice.
I’ll be looking for my pride in the meantime. Maybe it’s in my car.
Check out The Apprentice uber-post here.