Monday, May 23, 2011

ROUND-UP OF TV SEASON 2010-11 (PART I)

It’s finale time, as the television season of 2010-11 closes with several surprises, and many reasons for us to look forward to September… TV TALK rounds up what’s gone, with a view of what the next season might have to offer

Catching up with the finales, I happened to watch those of WHITE COLLAR and PARENTHOOD first. This is what the two shows had to offer.

WHITE COLLAR
I have to say that WHITE COLLAR chose a perfect plot for the finale this season. With all the mystery that surrounded Neal Caffery and Kate, and the death of Kate in the airplane explosion that ended S1, I’m glad that they did not put off that storyline for another season. Of course, a lot took place leading up to the finale. There was the role-reversal of Neal and Peter in the second last episode, which was interesting and entertaining, and then there was the Sarah-Neal-Alex love triangle… That was refreshing, to say the least, especially since, over a major part of the last two seasons, Kate has seemed like the only woman in Neal’s life. I liked the drama that came about with that. However, I did think that the involvement of ‘Alexandra Hunter’ as the only living descendant of Michael Hunter (the person who made evident the whole treasure-in-the-submarine story) was a little too convenient. Even so, I liked that they did make Vince Adler a part of the drama that it was all about. Speaking of which, Vince Adler’s big mission to obtain that treasure did bring about a larger-than-life, hence gripping element to the storyline that was the focus of the season finale.

Of course, the fact that they tackled the impact of events that made our protagonist who he is, did make the season finale something to write home about. Back before the whole Vince Adler twist was introduced, I was wondering where the season was headed, but the end of the Kate-and-music-box mystery was more than welcome. Eventually, the finale had this major association with art, which seemed fitting, for obvious reasons. Even though the sheer gravity of the treasure in the submarine seemed a little too exaggerated and unreal, it definitely made for some exciting drama.

The end of the episode, of course, had Peter discovering a burnt scrap of Neal’s painting of the Chrysler Building, which made him accuse Neal of being responsible for the fire that supposedly destroyed the ‘treasure’ that had been discovered previously. Neal went on to receive the address and key to a warehouse that stored the entire treasure, which, one can safely say, was the biggest cliffhanger of the season. Neal’s excitement and glee on discovering ‘the treasure’ was natural, because that obviously hit his weakness, but the whole turn of events just left us with so many questions!

I did ask myself who it could possibly have been. It seems quite clear that Neal was not behind it, so it instantly made me think of Mozzy, but that seemed unlikely. It took me back to Vince right before being shot, when he said, “You won’t get away with this,” referring to Neal supposedly trying to take revenge. However, I doubt it’d be him, because he obviously wouldn't have taken a chance with the treasure that he'd spent almost his entire life procuring! Alex is another suspect, but her involvement doesn't really add up. And that just goes to say how effective the finale was. It opens a whole other door for Peter and Neal to open up and explore together, especially with Neal’s discovery of the treasure. Anything can happen in S3 of this show. And we all know that June will have answers for us…


The new season of WHITE COLLAR starts June 7, on the USA Network





PARENTHOOD

I previously wrote here that it was all in the name… PARENTHOOD has lived up to that and more. I see it as the family drama that comes closest to the recently canceled BROTHERS AND SISTERS, while staying true to its name. Based on the two seasons that I’ve watched, I can safely say that I find Adam and Kristina Braverman’s storylines the most interesting on the show. This season, with the developments in their daughter Haddie’s love life, and their son Max’s discovery of the fact that he has Asperger’s, their story did continue to be the most interesting. However, the surfacing of Sarah’s ex-husband Seth, and the conflict it causes between her kids, did become a major focal point of the season. While it was understandable that Amber was unwilling to forgive her father, it seemed a little too forced when she took her rebelliousness to another level. Accusing her mother of making her do things she didn’t want to do didn’t fit, leaving a loophole in the story. Moreover, after the car-crash, her sudden realization of the importance of family, on speaking to Zeek seemed a little convenient, bringing out very little from the entire storyline.

The other siblings had issues of their own. I found it quite natural for Crosby to act out against Jasmine, because, in all fairness, she was quite controlling, and given how spineless Crosby can get, his outburst fit it well. Beyond that, I think the writers wanted to bring out an immature side to him one more time before he settles into marriage. On the other hand, Julia’s character grew quite a bit this season. It was touching to see her heart breaking over not being able to conceive again. Bonding with Joel over that and their outside view of Crosby and Jasmine’s situation earned them brownie points from me. And while on couples, it was nice to see Zeek and Camille getting close again, but it could have been dealt with better, with more time on that storyline, to do justice to the downfall of their relationship last season.

Finally, the season ended with Adam having issues accepting that his daughter was having sex, and that brought out a sense of vulnerability in Kristina too. Of course, Adam losing his job in the midst of it all made it scary for him and exciting for us. To top it all, Kristina announces that she’s pregnant. While the questionable future of Crosby and Jasmine is a matter that will be tackled next season, I see Adam’s situation as a major highlight in the next season. Losing control over his life, will hit him hard, since he’s usually the glue that holds everything and everyone together. There’s going to be room for the development of what one could call the most evolved character on the show. Moreover, Kristina's pregnancy will definitely, in some way affect Julia, who cannot conceive. All of that makes me look forward to a lot more from one of my favorite family dramas.


What did you think of the finales of WHITE COLLAR and PARENTHOOD? Share your views here…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

R.I.P, ABC'S MANY


TV TALK discusses the recently announced cancelations of BROTHERS AND SISTERS, OFF THE MAP and MR SUNSHINE, among other announcements from ABC


A still from the BROTHERS AND SISTERS finale
Earlier this week, ABC made certain announcements that were disturbing for several television fans like me. Of course renewals and cancelations of shows are a part and parcel of the television business, but it was shocking nonetheless to find out that BROTHERS AND SISTERS had been canceled. I have to say that I was most disappointed by this cancelation, as I have been a fan for the last five years. And even though this show might not have been doing as well as it used to, I still thought that the network would keep it on simply for having been successful and even widely popular over its five seasons. Reports say that it was too expensive a show to keep on air, especially given the size of the cast. I am yet to watch the S5 finale, which I will now watch as the series finale, but all I can hope is that the show has ended well, and that the finale is a fitting end to a nice show.



OFF THE MAP was a groundbreaking show
Other shows that have been canceled are MR SUNSHINE and OFF THE MAP. Now I accept that the former was no groundbreaking series, but it was a fresh and interesting comedy, with a lot of potential, as I have previously mentioned here. OFF THE MAP was groundbreaking, it was interesting to the point of being really gripping in parts and it could have been a great show, if ABC had just given it a chance. The shows being axed prematurely is definitely sad.


BETTER WITH YOU was a nineties' style sitcom
On the other hand, even though BETTER WITH YOU is quite entertaining, I am not surprised it’s on this list. I like the nineties’ sitcom style that it has, but clearly, the appeal for comedy has changed since the nineties and such material is not welcomed by many today. NO ORDINARY FAMILY, DETROIT 187 and V are other casualties of the season. Again, I’m not surprised that those shows won’t make it any further.




Kerry Washington will play the lead in Shonda
Rhimes' 

new show SCANDAL
ABC has been on quite the canceling spree. Last month, they canceled the long-running daytime soaps ONE LIFE TO LIVE (1968- ) and ALL MY CHILDREN (1970- ). However, with these more recent cancelation announcements, they have also picked up several new shows. While the network is bringing CHARLIE’S ANGELS back to the small screen, even Tim Allen will be back with a show called LAST MAN STANDING. And while ABC did not pick up Marc Cherry’s (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) HALLELUJAH, they have picked up Shonda Rhimes’ (GREY'S ANATOMY, PRIVATE PRACTICE) new procedural SCANDAL, starring Kerry Washington in the lead. Among the other new shows coming to ABC next season are REVENGE, MAN UP, GOOD CHRISTIAN BELLES, SUBURGATORY and ONCE UPON A TIME.


What did you think of the cancelations announced by ABC? Do share your views here…

Monday, May 09, 2011

MR SUNSHINE, YAY...!


After watching the first nine episodes of MR SUNSHINE, I deconstruct the show here on TV TALK

The opening title of MR SUNSHINE says a lot about the show. As a fan of sarcasm and (at the risk of sounding like I’m comparing the show to FRIENDS, which I’m not) of the ‘Chandler’ brand of humor, I love the irony in the title—the smiley that turns into (let’s call it) a ‘blah’ expression. From the first few episodes of this new series, one can say that that represents the protagonist in perfection. I like the idea of the protagonist being an antithesis of the show’s title. Ben Donovan (Matthew Perry, FRIENDS) is liked by few, and has the reputation of being self-involved and insensitive, which he doesn’t really care about. And that is MR SUNSHINE for you!


ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
What describes humor in the workplace better than this line, borrowed from the regular anecdote feature in Reader’s Digest! Now, through the years, we’ve seen several professions on the tube. The most common professions have been crime-solving, medicine and law, but we’ve also seen the restaurant business, fashion, publishing, media, and so on. With MR SUNSHINE, the workplace setting is on another level. I don’t think we’ve ever seen the managing of a sports/entertainment center ever before, and that’s something that I have to applaud the creators for. Last year, when I heard of the show, I was skeptical about how a setting like that would work for the writers, but I have to say, so far so good. From tennis, to the circus, to bicycling, to lingerie football, the Sunshine Center has had a lot to show us and with each activity taking place, there’s something that comes out of it. I’d still like to wait and see how long they can keep it interesting, but I think, with interesting characters and their stories, there’s more than one avenue for humor and more than one set of opportunities for good writing.


SUNSHINE PEOPLE
I have observed that every comedy show needs to have at least one caricature of a character to give it a little bit of that eccentric humor that works well with most audiences of television comedies. Joey from FRIENDS and Barney from HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Jack and Karen from WILL & GRACE are just a few from a much longer list. Most of the time, the caricatures go a little overboard, making them a little too unreal for me, but I think with characters like Crystal, Roman and Heather in MR SUNSHINE, the writers have struck the right amount of quirkiness. Crystal Cohen’s callousness and mild apathy make for some really hilarious moments on the show, and the endearing dumbness of her son Roman has made me slap my thighs in peals of laughter. Heather’s weird demeanor and approach to matters in the workplace can also be rather entertaining. On the other hand, the more ‘sane’ bunch—Ben, Alice and Alonzo have some appealing moments too, especially with the love-triangle situation that is currently on between them. And speaking of relationships on the show, I love watching Crystal and Roman and their unconventional mother-son bond, and Ben and Crystal also have a rather funny employee-boss chemistry.


STARS ON SUNSHINE
I’ve been quite impressed with the writing on MR SUNSHINE so far. The quirk factor is very much alive, but the subtle approach and breezy delivery by the cast makes it real enough for me. While on the cast, I knew that Perry wouldn’t disappoint, knowing the things he’s capable of. Equally good in their roles are Allison Janney and Nate Torrence, who make quite the impact as Crystal and Roman, respectively. It’s interesting that Andrea Anders, who played a major role in the FRIENDS spinoff, JOEY, appears as Alice in MR SUNSHINE, also a show featuring a FRIENDS alumnus.


A SUNSHINY FUTURE?
From as much as I have watched, I think this show could go on for a while, and even continue to be interesting, if the writing remains consistent. However, based on the character development, I think the creators are less than confident about the future of the show. Too much seems to be happening too soon. Crystal and Roman’s relationship as mother and son is already evolving, as Alonzo is already showing signs of losing his calm composure that he is known for, while Ben is already becoming a little sensitive. Now all of the above developments could have been phased in much later, leaving more scope for exploring the good storyline potential with the characters and relationships as they were in the first few episodes. Nevertheless, I’d like to watch some more of this show. I see that ABC hasn’t renewed it for a second season yet, but something tells me that we will be seeing more of it.


What do you think of the show; what do you like and what don’t you like? TV TALK values your opinion and inputs. Please comment below.