Saturday, April 23, 2011

SHONDALAND GOING STRONG – PART III


FIVE REASONS WHY OFF THE MAP SHOULD STAY

ABC would have lost a great show if they were to cancel OFF THE MAP. With the show’s first season having come to an end, TV TALK tells you why…
(This continues the SHONDALAND GROING STRONG series of posts. I’d like to say that I am not referring to ratings here; I’m simply applauding the good quality of the Shondaland shows)


I could say that OFF THE MAP is better than PRIVATE PRACTICE and has far more of the gripping quality that GREY’S ANATOMY has, but I think comparisons are not required when it comes to this show. It’s a show that can very well rely on whatever it is, instead of having to compare it with others; so what I will say is that it’s one of the few shows that has me hooked completely in the first season itself. I understand that OFF THE MAP has not been renewed by ABC yet, and that it’s in danger of being cancelled. However, I strongly believe that they would be making a mistake if they did cancel it. Here are a few strong reasons why:

1.       A UNIQUE SETTING
Set ‘somewhere in South America’, the show offers several opportunities to the writers for material that makes it interesting. Obvious issues like the lack of an organized system, infrastructure or facilities presents several challenges to the characters. On the other hand, the opportunities for the crew to excel with their cinematography and production design are plenty. And I can safely say that they have achieved all of that. I mentioned here, when the show began, that the stunning locales and the exotic backdrop of the show were showcased beautifully, and now, at the end of S1, I still hold onto that.

2.       THE MEDICINE
Let’s just say that Shondaland has nailed the medicine part of its shows, and the people who do the prosthetics and make-up for the medical procedures leave no stones unturned when it comes to delivering things as real as they can be shown. This holds true for OFF THE MAP as well, and the cases in this show are nail-bitingly good at another level. The man who was hanging by his flesh off a cable over a deep valley; the man who was being crushed by an anaconda; the man who had stingray in his ankle; the man whose chest had been slashed by the propeller of a capsized boat; the girl who was trapped under a car after an accident; the man who lost his toes in the jungle; the couple who were literally torn into each other—all of that, and more, make this show gripping as hell!

3.       A MULTI-FACETED TELEVISION EXPERIENCE
While sometimes, the show seems like tropical vacation (even doctors can have a life), there’s a lot that has been uncovered about the exotic land, where it is based. The writers have given us storylines that deal with issues like drug addiction and substance abuse, organ trafficking, issues with people adopting children from third-world countries, corruption in underdeveloped regions, the business of narcotics, health and sanitary conditions in prisons, and so much more. The show has it all, and that definitely makes for fantastic television!

4.       THE CHARACTERS AND STORYTELLING
Another area that the Shondaland writers have excelled at over the seven seasons of GREY’S ANATOMY and four of PRIVATE PRACTICE, is the storytelling. With this show, they have given us a set of really interesting characters, played by an impressive ensemble of actors, telling us their stories, built up in a way that makes them worth telling. From Keaton’s issues with his wife on life-support, and his complicated relationship with Clark, who needs another heart, to Cole’s history of drug abuse and Zee’s detachment issues, how can anyone not want to know more about these people? The show might not have had a groundbreaking premise—about characters wanting to start afresh with a clean slate, but the younger doctors also have my attention for sure. Brenner came after the loss of her fiancĂ©, and is giving love another shot, while Minard is literally taking her second chance as a doctor, after killing someone through negligence, and Fuller is just trying to be a better person. I definitely want to know more about them, and also about Charlie, the endearing boy who had to grow up too soon, after his schizophrenic mother abandoned him.

5.       THE SEASON FINALE CLIFFHANGERS
Last, but most certainly not the least, the S1 finale ended with so many cliffhangers, that it would just be brutal and mean to us viewers if anyone had to cancel this show. Cole has given up his American passport to give his relationship with Zee a real shot; Brenner is struggling to save the life of her cocaine farmer boyfriend; Fuller has just told Minard that he’s in love with her; and Clark has refused to seek another heart, while Keaton is resorting to illegal means to obtain one for her… If you have watched the first season, I’m sure you want some closure with these stories, just as much as I do. As much as I would love for the show go on for at least a couple of seasons, for now, I really just want a season two!


What do you think? I’d love to know, so please share your views here…

Monday, April 18, 2011

IDOL RESULTS AND PREDICTIONS


As we’re down to our top-seven on AMERICAN IDOL, here is what TV TALK thinks of the recent developments this season and what might possibly be in store for us as we get closer to the finale

(Courtesy: AmericanIdol.com)
Last week’s result show on AMERICAN IDOL was probably one of the most disappointing nights on the show yet. We lost a gem of a singer, Pia Toscano was voted out, and it was more than just another example of how America gets it wrong on so many occasions. This season, there had been no clear favorites for me, but Pia was certainly emerging as the one person I could surely and definitely see as the next American Idol, and that would have worked really well for the show, to have a female Idol after four seasons of guys winning. 

However, America ruined that perfect opportunity. And the judges could do nothing about the tragic result, because they had already wasted the ‘save of the season’ on Casey Abrams; yes, wasted! Now I wouldn’t say that Casey is not talented, he is, but I most certainly do not think he’s ‘crazy talented’ as I’ve read about. He’s completely different from any other contestant I’ve seen on the show and definitely one of the most memorable performers till date, but memorable for the wrong reasons. Different does not mean good, even unique does not mean good, and different and unique are no reasons to use up the save for someone like Casey. Casey growls and clears his throat while singing and I really don’t see how any of that is actually appealing to those who like it. Let’s just hope he doesn’t start coughing as part of his performances, under the pretext of taking his act to another level! And while I may go on about this, it’s not going to change the fact that Pia is gone!

THE WEEK GONE BY
So moving on... This week had quite a power-packed performance night, with almost all the contestants giving us some of their best work yet. Haley Reinhart was probably the only contestant who didn’t get as much positive feedback from the judges as the others got. Stefano Langone, the underrated performer was praised by Randy, who said that it was his best performance yet! And while Jacob Lusk’s impressive vocals and range gave ‘Bridge over troubled water’ another dimension, Jennifer was all impressed by James Durbin’s performance, saying that there could very well be a ‘heavy metal Idol’.

PAUL GOES, AND THEN THERE WERE SEVEN
While I’m surprised by how Casey’s still around, it was refreshing to see a guy go this week. That does not go to say that I did not like Paul McDonald, but he was not going to last too long anyway. I can’t say who will make our top-three, but we can more or less tell who won’t make it to that level. For now, we’ve got our top-seven; while Paul’s lazy charm has left the Idol stage and will be missed. From the remaining, here are my predictions:




Casey Abrams: He’s not going to be a finalist. If America voted him out once, it’s only a matter of time before he leaves us for good.






Lauren Alaina: She’s one contestant who I’ve liked since her audition. She’s had a few rough patches, but has gone from strength to strength. I wouldn’t be surprised if this quiet contender makes it to the top-three and even the finale.





James Durbin: He’s really good at what he does, even though he’s too much of an Adam Lambert wannabe, but will America choose a ‘heavy metal Idol’? I doubt it. AMERICAN IDOL has much more of a pop appeal, I think. But you never know!
Stefano Langone: He’s an underdog for sure, but he can do a lot with his singing when he wants to. If he stays consistent, he could make the top-five, but I don’t see him in the top-three.
Jacob Lusk: He’s very talented, and can do a lot with his voice, but I think he’s too unconventional to make it to the finale.
Scotty McCreery: TV.com says that he could safely be declared as our next American Idol, with Pia gone. He does show a lot of promise and has very defined and strong niche, so I could definitely see him as a finalist.
Haley Reinhart: I think her voice is meant for different things, and even though she’s somewhat talented, I don’t see her in the finale.


So that’s what I think! Who are your favorites this season and whom do you think will make it to the finale? Who is your AMERICAN IDOL? Share your views here!

In India, AMERICAN IDOL airs on Star World, Weekends at 11:00am and midnight

Saturday, April 09, 2011

BODY OF PROOF: THE LATEST IN CRIME

Here's TV TALK's take on the latest crime drama from ABC, BODY OF PROOF, starring former DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES star Dana Delany



When ABC announced their new show BODY OF PROOF, a procedural about the solving of murders based on evidence found on victims’ bodies, the concept sounded interesting, and I was looked forward to it. On the other hand, it was going to be another crime show in an already crowded genre of television. Additionally, the concept sounded similar to that of BONES, where the forensic anthropologists help solve murders based on the clues in victim’s remains. Hence, for the show to stand out as a crime drama with a premise that was less than original would be a task. After watching the first two episodes, I think BODY OF PROOF has only somewhat managed to stand out. What makes it different is that the focus is entirely on the protagonist, Dr Megan Hunt; and that maybe a good thing, if the writers can develop the character in a manner that makes the focus worthwhile.

THE PROTAGONIST
Dana Delany left DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES to star in her own show, and play the lead. Play the lead she does, and how! BODY OF PROOF seems to be all about the protagonist, with very little about the supporting characters. There are other shows like HOUSE MD that are character oriented, but even HOUSE is so much more than just about Dr House. The other characters are done justice to and developed to have independent storylines. It might be too soon to judge BODY OF PROOF, but one would imagine that the first two episodes would at least establish the role of the cast. Maybe Dr Megan Hunt’s story will be interesting enough for the show to be completely about that, but I feel that the quality of the other characters will be compromised in the process. As for Hunt, I think they’ve given her enough baggage and skeletons in her closet for them to weave an interesting tale out of her life. A character dealing with her angry ex-husband and an estranged teenage daughter, while also dealing with her unfortunate past that affected her professional life adversely sounds promising. Dana Delany shines out from the supporting cast that falls short of making an impression. However, knowing how well she can act, I strongly feel that she can be much better as Dr Hunt. A few lukewarm moments in the premiere could have been more impactful, with better delivery from Delany.


THE EXECUTION
Based in Philadelphia, a lesser explored city when it comes to television, the people and places seem distinctly different from New York, which is refreshing. Moving onto the cases, as mentioned earlier, squeezing into an already cramped space of crime shows, BODY OF PROOF will have to keep the cases interesting. The first two I have seen were not great, but were still quite interesting. I like the theorization on victim’s lifestyle, surroundings and so on, based on anomalies found on the body, which makes it different from BONES, in which almost anything derived from remains forms factual evidence. The team dynamics and the working together of the police and medical examiners seems regular, but has potential for some interesting character chemistry or friction. The visual flashback, of the murders being committed, during final arrests, adds another dimension to the cases, giving them a fitting conclusion.




THE TV TALK VERDICT
While the cases can definitely be better, to make the show more gripping, I still think BODY OF PROOF is promising. There’s a lot more that can be done with the premise. Especially with characterizations, the writers need to give us more to like in the show. They have made a start with the slight bonding between Dr Hunt and her partner, and by showing a little depth in her boss’ character. If I had to decide the fate of the show based on the first two episodes, I’d give it at least one season to prove itself. Besides that, I think this show could go on to do about four seasons, if it explores the potential it has.


What did you think of the series premiere? Share your views with TV TALK by commenting below.

In India, BODY OF PROOF airs on Zee Cafe, Friday nights at 10:00