Tag Archives: USA

Good Things

I just had a really great moment.

Yesterday sometime, USA Network tweeted a quote and challenged their followers to name the character who spoke it. I had no idea. I had a brief suspicion it sounded like it belonged to Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) of Suits, but no actual knowledge. Tonight, I’m catching up on some back episodes of Suits and right there in the middle of the episode was that quote. It took a moment for the realization to sink in, but once it did I found myself smiling hugely. There was absolutely no way I had been exposed to that quote before seeing it tonight. So, the fact that I could even think of attributing it to the correct character without anything but the text? I find that pretty incredible. And I think it speaks to the writing of the series. “Good writing” in television is something I struggle to define at times, but I think I’ve found one of the key elements: characters with strong, recognizable voice. My impression of Suits has just crossed the line from “enjoyable” to “excellent.”

You should be watching this show.

SHOWDOWN: Franklin & Bash v. Suits

That’s right – I have a new  post category (which I’m hoping I can make into a weekly thing). SHOWDOWN, a platform from which to nitpick at the usually excessive, often disturbing, and usually embarrassing amount of similarity between multiple series and all their various elements. The purpose of SHOWDOWNs is partly to point out the lack of creativity in the world of television, yes, but also to examine possible reasons for why, despite rampant sameness, some shows succeed so much better than others. Also I’m breaking down the SHOWDOWN into several Points of Comparison, awarding points to the victor in each of those, tallying up to find an overall winner, and pretending that this practice isn’t totally ridiculous. Go!

THIS WEEK’S SHOWDOWN: LEGAL BUDDY DRAMADIES ON SUMMER CABLE

SERIES:  FRANKLIN & BASH (TNT) and SUITS (USA)

POINTS OF COMPARISON: LEAD DUO, SUPPORTING CHARACTERS, STORY PROGRESSION, TASTE LEVEL

Leading Duo

The success of any buddy comedy lives or dies with the success of its buddies to garner the affection of an audience. Nobody wants to watch a buddy comedy starring Voldemort and Gollum. (OK, lie. I would totally watch that.) The two characters need unquestionable appeal, individually and especially as a pair.

Franklin & Bash: The leads of this show fit a classic pattern. Of the pair, one is more handsome than goofy and one is more goofy than handsome, one has family issues and one has romantic issues, both are charming, and both are totally loyal to each other. Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) are both absolutely perfect for their roles and for each other. My disappointment with this pairing is that they are sometimes too similar and that the interplay is minimal. At least in the episodes I’ve watched, they seem to work individually for the most part and come together only to recount and occasionally knock out a kneeslapper courtroom scene. In a scenario rather backward from the usual, Franklin and Bash seem different on a superficial level but grow less distinct the deeper you dig. I enjoy the cooperative comic elements, but I could do with a little more conflict. Any argument between the two is distinctly lacking in heat. There’s no question these guys are fantastic and fun to watch, but they don’t hold up well to critical analysis. Once you look past the hilarity of their banter-y, frat boy antics, they’re actually sort of…boring.

Suits: The leads of this series are more Odd Couple than bromance BFFs. The two are clearly polarized in several ways. Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is older, handsome, suave, well-educated, and prides himself on being the reason lawyer jokes exist. Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is the problem-child-with-a-heart-of-gold, supergenius, slightly dorky type. They are balanced beautifully and share equally in both the dramatic and the comedic. The rapport between the two is phenomenal, as is the growing development of their relationship, which leads in turn to development of the individual characters. Basically you couldn’t hope for a pair better complemented, performance- or character-wise. That being said, it could fairly be argued that their relationship leans more toward the mentor/pupil side and therefore they don’t exactly qualify as “buddies.”

Winner: I don’t think there’s a winner here. I definitely prefer the pair from Suits, but I can’t argue that they are the better buddy comedy leading pair.

Supporting Characters:

You can learn a lot about a show by how well-conceived, well-developed, and even well-cast the smaller roles are. Series do not survive solely on the power of great leads alone. (Y’know, unless the show is, say, Moonlighting.) Supporting characters also represent the possibility of sideplots, which in turn represent the possibility of long-term appeal.

Franklin & Bash: I have two names for you. Reed Diamond (of Dollhouse, at his snarky antagonist-but-not-a-bad-guy best). Malcolm McDowell (in what is possibly my favorite role of his ever). If these two were the only supporting characters in the series, Franklin & Bash would be the most hilariously enjoyable show ever. But no. Instead, we are also subjected to Dana Davis (one of the worst things to ever happen to Heroes) as an ex-con private investigator who does all of F&B’s legwork, Kumail Nanjiani as a prissy acrophobic computer research genius prone to vomiting, and Garcelle Beauvais as the sexy older woman who is supposed to be so impressive and intelligent but for some reason still sleeps with overgrownfratboy Franklin. Those latter three are all extremely one-dimensional and even more uninteresting. Pindar (Nanjiani) was the primary focus of the resolution of an episode, perhaps the pilot (I’ve forgotten…), and it almost ruined the entire thing. There are two other recurring characters who I suppose might qualify as “supporting,” Bash’s one-that-got-away Janie (Claire Coffee) and nonspecific-lawfirm-employee Debbie (Alexandra Holden), but neither of them have any personality whatsoever, so they are hardly worth mentioning.

Suits: Just one name for this series, but it is way more important than the two from Franklin & Bash. GINA TORRES. I will be honest, her presence is 100% of the reason I actually watched this show. I saw ads and had little-to-no interest (certainly not enough for me to remember it was happening at all). And then somehow I stumbled across the information that Gina Torres was in the show. And here we are. And of course she totally lives up to her own reputation – elegance, strength, and subtle humor are the words for her always. Another familiar face, although perhaps not a familiar name, is Rick Hoffman, who pulls out the stops on obnoxious assholery and plays that guy you want to hate so beautifully that you love him for it. Meghan Markle is Rachel, The Love Interest, who actually has quite a bit of character and background information already. She is both a useful instrument for story progress and just plain likeable. Finally, Donna the Secretary (Sarah Rafferty). Of all the regular characters, Donna has the least screen time and would be the easiest to marginalize and caricature-ize. And maybe she is a caricature, but I Don’t Care. The woman is hilarious. The one time so far I’ve laughed out loud (and started to tear up) for an extended period at this show, it was her.

Winner: Suits. By a landslide, not even just because of how bad Franklin & Bash‘s supporting characters are. As phenomenal as the lead duo is, I am at least equally entertained by and interested in the supporting characters of this series.

Story Progression

The issue with epis0de-based long-form series is keeping them interesting. It is fairly inevitable that individual procedural-type shows are going to be fairly cookie-cutter in terms of format: problem, conflict, solution, resolution. This is why CSI cases get weirder and more impossible every year – to make sure the audience doesn’t get bored. And so, series also have to make sure there is some measure of progress with the overall storyline, whatever that may be, in every (or at least every other) episode.

Franklin & Bash: I’m honestly not sure exactly what the long-term story arc of this show is supposed to be. I believe it has something to do with the fact that Franklin and Bash are trying to fit their unconventional selves into a distinguished law firm. Which is a great premise. But it would go over a lot better if one of the main schticks was not their super eccentric boss. As in, it would go better if there was any sort of conflict there at all. The other primary, extended plotlines are one emotional/personal conflict per lead character. For Jared Franklin, it is some sort of daddy issue that seemed pretty well established and without chance of resolution at the end of the episode where it was introduced, but this will probably go on for as long as it possibly can. For Peter Bash, it is not-exactly-unrequited love: his ex-girlfriend, whom he still loves, is marrying someone else, but he insists (in one of the most embarrassingly corny moments I’ve seen in awhile) there is still a chance. We the audience are not privy to any information on the history of these apparently doomed relationships and are not allowed any time to make a connection with the non-lead characters involved and so, basically, have no reason to care. As far as the episode-to-episode content of Franklin & Bash, it is well-written and well-acted if nothing else. There’s always a Reed Diamond snark scene, always a Malcolm McDowell wackiness moment, and always a phenomenally borderline ridiculous courtroom showdown. And, y’know, there are worse things.

Suits: The major flaw in Suits‘ plot-related long-term storyline is that it is based on a short-term arrangement. Mike is Harvey’s not-really-a-Harvard-grad intern/protege/underling, and the main conflict is keeping every other character from finding out that Mike is not actually allowed to be doing the job he is doing. So while the illusion maintained, the story works out well. Once the inevitable revelation happens, no matter how creative I get, I cannot conceive of a way for the plot to continue without becoming unbearably stupid. That said, the interpersonal plot arcs in the series are incredibly well-done. Obviously, Mike and Harvey’s relationship is the most prominent, and it is very well-crafted. But also compelling are Mike’s attempted romance with Rachel and Louis’ (Hoffman) relationships with everyone. Even the history of the relationship between Harvey Specter and Jessica Pearson (Torres) inspires a good amount of fascination.

Winner: I’m gonna have to give this one to Suits as well. Franklin & Bash might have more long-term potential with such an open-ended storyline, but I care a lot less about the story and so don’t really care about said long-term potential.

FINAL TALLY: Franklin & Bash – 2, Suits – 0

I guess it’s no surprise I’m giving Suits the win in this SHOWDOWN.

The two series are fairly well-matched in terms of comedy, writing, casting, and production value. The major difference for me is connectability. Franklin & Bash puts the majority of its energies into entertainment value. And yeah, the mere concept of a lawyer shotgunning a can of beer as part of his defense case is pretty damn entertaining, especially when that antic leads to a victory. But even beer and boobs and bravado get dull after awhile. Suits has its own faults, overbearing USA-typical product placement among them, but there is a certain amount of soul to it. There is a human quality, personified in the Mike Ross character, that Franklin & Bash has no chance of matching. If you’re just looking for a fun show to bide the time until that fall season premiere you’re waiting for happens, I recommend both series equally. But if you want to add to your permanent repertoire of shows to track, I suggest you check out Suits.

This Week 3/15 to 3/19

Wow. So. Monday just sort of got away from me there. Whoops.

Tonight:
8pm – Glee on FOX

Thankfully, Tuesday will give me time to catch up. Reminder: this week is Regionals on Glee and, supposedly, Rachel is debuting an original song. God help us.

WEDNESDAY:
10pm – Justified on FX

THURSDAY:
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Fairly Legal on USA

FRIDAY:
9pm – Fringe on FOX

SATURDAY:

Nothing new is airing.

 

Apparently FOX is the only network interested in airing anything new this week. Works for me. I’ve still got quarter-to-half finished drafts of posts about last week’s Bones and The Adjustment Bureau sitting around waiting to be finished. Also, the real world is sort of encroaching on my TV time. Funny how that happens.

This Week 3/7 to 3/12

So yeah. I guess I’m back.

I’ve spent the last…however long its been…mostly hacking away at my To-Watch list of old. Progress so far: Seasons 1 and 2 of Damages, Seasons 1-3 of Dexter, rewatching Season1 of Dollhouse, attempting to watch The 4400, and then also watching hours and hours of Whose Line Is It Anyway. Next up is Season 1 of The Closer, and I’m very excited.

BUT. Time goes on. New things air. And I try to keep up, or at least catch up.

MONDAY:
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
8pm – The Event on ABC (2-hour midseason return!)
9pm – The Chicago Code on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy

Of these four, I’m only current on The Event, and that’s only because there haven’t been any new episodes since my Great Catch Up of early January. Actually, I haven’t even started The Chicago Code yet. But people I trust tell me I should, so.

TUESDAY:
8pm – Glee on FOX
10pm – White Collar on USA

GWYNETH PALTROW IS BACK ON GLEE!!! (Which reminds me. I finally caught back up on Glee after my period of disenchantment. And I LOVE IT again. Good times.)

WEDNESDAY:
10pm – Justified on FX

Question for Wednesday: is Mr. Sunshine worth watching? I’ve been curious.

THURSDAY:
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Facing Kate on USA

This week on Bones: continuation of the “sniper arc” I keep hearing about. What makes that actually exciting: Arnold Vosloo!

FRIDAY:
9pm – CSI: NY on CBS
9pm – Fringe on FOX

I really need to catch up on Fringe. I miss it.

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Zach Galifianakis and Jessie J.) on NBC

In Big Screen Brain news, I just saw The Adjustment Bureau. Expect a review in the next couple of days.

This Week 1/31 to 2/5

My top priority for this week: first season of Dexter!! Everything else will have to wait.

MONDAY:
8pm – Chuck on NBC
8pm – Human Target on FOX
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
9pm – The Cape on NBC
9pm – Lie to Me on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy
10pm – Harry’s Law on NBC

Need to actually watch the first couple episodes of Harry’s Law.

TUESDAY:
8pm – NCIS on CBS
9pm – NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS
10pm – White Collar on USA

WEDNESDAY:
9pm – Human Target on FOX
10pm – Face Off on SyFy

Two new Human Target episodes in one week? Really?

THURSDAY:
8pm – The Vampire Diaries on the CW
9pm – Nikita on the CW
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Fairly Legal on USA

First Glance on Fairly Legal is in the works.

FRIDAY:
9pm – Fringe on FOX
10pm – CSI: NY on CBS

Man, I really ought to catch up on Fringe one of these days.

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Dana Carvey and Linkin Park) on NBC

This Week 1/24 to 1/29

Coming this week from Melted Brain: one Big Screen Brain, three (maybe four) First Glances, and one Oh THAT Guy. I just need to figure out when to write them all.

ANYWAY. SCHEDULE.

MONDAY:
8pm – Chuck on NBC
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
9pm – The Cape on NBC
9pm – Lie to Me on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy
10pm – Castle on ABC

New Castle! My week is horribly sad when it doesn’t start with a good hour of snarky crimesolving.

TUESDAY:
10pm – White Collar on USA

Dear Tuesday,
Suck less.
Love,
Melted Brain

WEDNESDAY:
10pm – Blue Bloods on CBS
10pm – Face Off on SyFy

Blue Bloods has been upgraded from Fridays. I guess that means it’s doing well. And, reminder, Face Off is a special effects makeup competition show.

THURSDAY:
8pm – The Vampire Diaries on the CW
9pm – Nikita on the CW
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Fairly Legal on USA

FRIDAY:
9pm – Fringe on FOX

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Jesse Eisenberg and Nicki Minaj) on NBC

Now THERE is an SNL lineup I am dying to miss. Also on NBC: US Championship Figure Skating, Ladies Free Skate. (Looks like I’ll be getting a call from my grandmother later this week…)

This Week 1/17 to 1/22

Well, the Golden Globes are tonight. I’ll see about doing a post on that. Maybe. For now, the schedule for the coming week. Woo.

MONDAY:
8pm – Chuck on NBC (midseason return!)
8pm – House on FOX
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
9pm – The Cape on NBC
9pm – Lie to Me on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy (series pilot!)
10pm – Hawaii Five-0 on CBS
10pm – Harry’s Law on NBC (series pilot!)

I should probably just take House off of my schedule. I’m not watching it and, from what I hear, that’s not a terrible loss.

TUESDAY:
8pm – NCIS on CBS
9pm – NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS
10pm – Southland on TNT
10pm – White Collar on USA

I have now removed V, Detroit 1-8-7, and No Ordinary Family from my schedule. Because, honestly, it just isn’t gonna happen. Ever.

WEDNESDAY:

Oh great. American Idol is starting again. (Bones marathon on TNT or NCIS marathon on USA? I think so.)

THURSDAY:
9pm – Bones on FOX (midseason return!)
10pm – Fairly Legal on USA (series pilot!)

Thank goodness for this Thursday!

FRIDAY:
9pm – Fringe on FOX (midseason return!)

…you’ve got to be shitting me. Fringe‘s Friday Death Slot premiere is titled “Firefly“? Can we spell “death sentence”? Jesus.

SATURDAY:

Nothing new is airing.

Tis the Midseason

It’s that time again. Midseason return/premiere schedule. Go!

Monday January 3
8:00pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family (midseason return!)
10:00pm – Castle on ABC (midseason return!)
10pm – Hawaii Five-0 on CBS (midseason return!)

Hey, I could actually catch up on time to watch PLL! But that really doesn’t matter because I’m mostly just SUPER jazzed about more Castle.

Tuesday January 4
8:00pm – No Ordinary Family on ABC (midseason return!)
9:00pm – V on ABC (season premiere!)
10:00pm – Detroit 1-8-7 on ABC (midseason return!)
10:00pm – Southland on TNT (season premiere!)

…I probably will not actually watch anyof these. But I thought I’d include them just for kicks. (Question: Should I be watching No Ordinary Family?)

Wednesday January 5
8:00pm – Human Target on FOX (midseason return!)

Happy half-birthday to me!

Friday January 7
9:00pm – CSI: NY on CBS (midseason return!)
10:00pm – Blue Bloods on CBS (midseason return!)

Sunday January 9
9:00pm – The Cape on NBC (2-hour series pilot!)
9:30pm – Episodes on Showtime (series pilot!)
10:00pm – Shameless on Showtime (series pilot!)

Not gonna lie, all three of these shows look semi-ridiculous. The Cape is about a cop who gets framed and goes all caped vigilante on his city and, honestly, it looks even stupider than it sounds. Episodes is about Matt LeBlanc (playing himself) ruining the marriage of a British couple. And Shameless is just the newest in a long line of excellent British shows being stolen for and ruined on American television.

Monday January 10
9:00pm – Lie to Me on FOX (midseason return!)

Tuesday January 11
8:00pm – NCIS on CBS (midseason return!)
9:00pm – NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS (midseason return!)
10:00pm – Lights Out on FX (series pilot!)

In Lights Out, a former heavy-weight boxing champ starts working as a debt collector to make ends meet. Doesn’t pique my interest, but FX’s original series track record is pretty good and so should this be.

Wednesday January 12
10:00pm – Off the Map on ABC (series pilot!)

Basically it’s Grey’s Anatomy, but without indoor plumbing.

Monday January 17
8:00pm – Chuck on NBC (midseason return!)
8:00pm – House on FOX (midseason return!)
9:00pm – Being Human on SyFy (series pilot!)
10:00pm – Harry’s Law on NBC (series pilot!)

Being Human is another of those ripped-off Brit shows. Harry’s Law is a legal drama with an incredible cast that will most likely be at least fairly decent…but, frankly, I’d just rather have The Whole Truth back. (Oh, wait, wrong network…) Also…I can totally catch up on Chuck by this day…right?

Tuesday January 18
10:00pm – White Collar on USA (midseason return!)

I’m getting the impression that this show has only gotten better. I should work on catching up at some point.

Thursday January 20
8:00pm – Bones on FOX (midseason return!)
8:30pm – Perfect Couples on NBC (series pilot!)
10:00pm – Fairly Legal on USA (series pilot!)

Perfect Couples comes from minds behind 30 Rock and Friends. Fairly Legal stars Sarah Shahi and Michael Trucco and I have been waiting for it for two years. So guess which of these two shows is the one I’m going to be watching.

Friday January 21
9:00pm – Fringe on FOX (midseason return!)

Oh shit guys, Fringe has been relegated to the Friday Death Slot.

Wednesday January 26
10:00pm – Face Off on SyFy (series pilot!)

Normally I avoid competition/reality shows like the plague. But a competition/reality show about special effects makeup? Hell yes!

Thursday January 27
8:00pm – The Vampire Diaries on the CW (midseason return!)
9:00pm – Nikita on the CW (midseason return!)

Monday February 7
9:00pm – The Chicago Code on FOX (series pilot!)

It’s just another cop show, but it’s shot on location in Chicago and really wants to be the next hardxcoreawesome thing.

Tuesday February 8
8:00pm – Glee on FOX (midseason return!)

Wednesday February 9
9:30pm – Mr. Sunshine on ABC
10:00pm – Justified on FX

Mr. Sunshine sounds like an awful everyman semi-comedy indie film come to television. But more glamourous because, well, that’s just how it works.

Monday February 28
10:00pm – The Event on NBC (midseason return!)

Tuesday March 29
9:00pm – Body of Proof on ABC (series pilot!)

Crime procedural slash personal drama centered around an M.E. It could easily be interesting and fun. It could just as easily be awful and boring.

Wednesday April 6
9:30pm – Breaking In on FOX (series pilot!)

Oh look, Christian Slater‘s back. Again. Trying to make it as a television leading man. Again.

Wednesday April 13
10:00 – Happy Endings on ABC (series pilot!)

It’s another of these melodramedies about attractive young people and their romantic shenanigans. But I will admit, it has a pretty good cast.

This Week 9/5 to 9/12

Guys, guys, FALL TV STARTS THIS WEEK. GET EXCITED.

Tonight:
9pm – Rubicon on AMC
9pm – Leverage on TNT (season finale!)

Please note, the exclamation point after the ‘season finale’ after Leverage actually indicates despair, not excitement.

MONDAY:
8:30pm – CBS Fall Preview on CBS (special)
9pm – Friday Night Lights on ABC Family (network premiere!/pilot!)
10pm – Rizzoli & Isles on TNT

I have never watched Friday Night Lights. I don’t know that I would like it. But ABC Family is airing the whole series starting anew, so here’s an opportunity.

TUESDAY:
9pm – White Collar on USA
10pm – Covert Affairs on USA

WEDNESDAY:
9pm – Dark Blue on TNT (2 hours!)
10pm – Terriers on FX

I neglected to mention Terriers in my Fall TV preview post (reason: I didn’t know slash forgot it existed). Terriers is, to the best of my opinion, a sort of unconventional cop show of the general FX variety – so, a wacky mix of hicks and major criminals. That part falls pretty well under the take-it-or-leave it umbrella. The reason you should watch Terriers is, it stars Donal Logue (lately of Life)! He’s a funny man. Still confused? Understandable. See a preview here.

THURSDAY:
8pm – The Vampire Diaries on the CW (season premiere!)
9pm – Nikita on the CW (pilot!)
9pm – Project Runway on Lifetime

I guess my foray into actually watching the CW is going to have to wait; I’ve signed away all my Thursday nights for September to Doing Real Things. But I will still make sure to watch these in a timely fashion! (And also finally get around to seeing The Vampire Diaries‘ S1 finale…)

FRIDAY:
9pm – Eureka on SyFy
10pm – Haven on SyFy

SATURDAY:

Nothing new is airing.

SUNDAY:
9pm – Rubicon on AMC
9pm – 2010 Video Music Awards on MTV/MTV2


What you can expect from me this week:

  • Review of Leverage season finale/season as a whole
  • Review of Nikita
  • Review of Terriers
  • special post of some variety

This Week 8/9 to 8/15

Tonight:
10pm – Rizzoli & Isles on TNT

Where did the rest of Monday night go? The Teen Choice Awards ate it. Way to be, FOX.

TUESDAY:
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
9pm – White Collar on USA
10pm – Covert Affairs on USA
10pm – Memphis Beat on TNT

I should really get around to actually seeing if I like Pretty Little Liars or Memphis Beat one of these days.

WEDNESDAY:
8pm – So You Think You Can Dance on FOX
9pm – Dark Blue on TNT

Okay, so I kinda screwed up on the whole Oh I’m Def Going To Review Dark Blue thing last week. But this week for sure!

THURSDAY:
8pm – So You Think You Can Dance (2-hour finale!) on FOX
9pm – Moonlight on the CW
9pm – Project Runway on Lifetime
9pm – Burn Notice on USA

FRIDAY:
9pm – Eureka on SyFy
10pm – Haven on SyFy

And you could also watch Night At the Museum on ABC at 8. Because it is awesome.

SATURDAY:

Nothing new is airing tonight. Watch Spike’s Star Wars marathon. Or USA’s House marathon (which includes the pilot at 8pm!). Or, you know, go out and do something. Whatever.

SUNDAY:
9pm – Leverage on TNT
9pm – Scoundrels on ABC
10pm – The Gates on ABC

Did I miss something? Whoops. This was done in kind of a hurry.

Enjoy your week!