April 3, 2006

A Television Viewer's Diary: 3/26-4/1: Lost

Welcome, one and all. This week featured a wildly varied mix of the good and the bad. I seriously need to cut back. I have trimmed a few shows, but there is still too much crowding my plate. I should start using these lists to whittle it down to the cream of the crop.

Best show I watched this week: Lost
Worst show I watched this week: SS Doomtrooper

Sunday 3/26.
  • Malcolm in the Middle (Fox 7pm). The final season slogs onward. Bryan Cranston remains the only reason to watch the show. This week has Cranston's Hal breaks a tooth during a poker match, this event erupts into a war. One of the poker mates was a dentist who said he would take care of it, then hits him with a bill. Cranston's over the top reactions and goofy demeanor carry the whole thing off. Meanwhile, Lois is learning how to ride a bike from Reese, and Dewey and Malcolm find a new mattress, and fall in love with it. To that I say, who cares. The series has really taken a slide from the early days. **
  • King of the Hill (Fox 7:30). I am not a fan of this series, although there are elements that I like about it. This episode did not focus on those elements. It was a Kahn-centric story of a get rich quick scheme that sees him take control of a carwash while his ego grows out of control. He partners with Strickland propane which transfers Hank to his facility. Not very funny, I should probably save 30 minutes and skip this show. *.5
  • The Simpsons (Fox 8pm). Ricky Gervais wrote and is an animated guest star in this episode which has Homer desiring a plasma televison of his own, after seeing one at his friend's homes. In order to get the money, Homer signs them up for a wife swap reality show which has Marge swap with a straight laced woman who conflicts, of course, with Homer's mannerisms. Again, not very funny. This series has been on a slide for years, and to think it has been signed for 2 more years. **
  • Family Guy (Fox 9pm). This series is hilarious, pushing the limits a little further all the time, not always succeeding. This episode puts a scare into Peter as Lois may be pregnant. When that proves to be a non-fear, the talk of a vasectomy comes up, with a barbershop quartet there to sing about the process. Before he can do it, he pays a visit to a sperm bank to make a deposit, of course this leads to problems. The result of his deposit is the emergence of Bertram, an anti-Stewie, if you will. Who made his first appearance in season one when Stewie was miniaturized and inside Peter. Then there is the problem of Peter not wanting to sleep with Lois, and her turning to food. Funny, crude, and totally random. I love this series. ***.5
  • Free Ride (9:30). I cannot see this lasting very long. It is over the top, dumb, stupid, annoying, and whatever else you want to call it. The main kid is living at home after graduating college, but apparently has not learned any common sense at all, there isn't even any hint as to what he went to college for. I don't know why I bother. *

Monday 3/27.

  • WWE: Monday Night Raw (USA 9pm). The last Raw hype show before Wrestlemania next Sunday. Pretty good show. It opens with the final confrontation between Edge and Mick Foley, who will meet in a hardcore match. Foley shows just how crazy he has been getting, and Edge may not be ready for it. Carlito and Chris Masters set up Kane and lock him in a room, of course they did not realize the room they used had a backdoor. Flair and Shelton Benjamin argue about their part of the Money in the Bank match, which RVD interrupts. Trish teams with Torrie Wilson to take on Victoria and Candace Michelle, fun women's match, which also features the worst blown spot of the night. The show capper has John Cena taking on Vince McMahon, with Triple H and HBK handcuffed to the ropes, the whole thing is a setup as Triple H gets out and makes use of his trusty sledgehammer. Match of the night honors go to HBK and Triple H who put on a good match around midshow. ***
  • Prison Break (Fox 8pm). It is nice to have this back on TV after such a long absence. The time has come, Linc is in the chair, strapped in, just moments before the switch is thrown. Fate steps in as they get the call to stop the execution, new evidence has been revealed. This is good news for Michael, more time to plan the escape. Or course, the other guys are a bit antsy. The series is full of close calls and unrealistic situations, but does a great job of building tension and building a believable internal continuity. The kicker this week, while scoping out a route, he gets burned, this effectively erases a good chunk of his tattoo map. Can't wait to see how this plays out. ***.5
  • 24 (Fox 9pm). The non-stop series keeps on rolling. Jack begins his interrogation of Audrey, who was fingered as an accomplice, then a link is revealed between him and the traitor, Cummings. This winds up being a red herring to throw him off the scent. Bierko, meanwhile is at a natural gas plant, trying to release the gas. Back at CTU, Jack discovers the deception and sets out to find the gas. A new analyst is brought up to replace Edgar, and she just may be the greatest gesture reader of all-time. The episode closes when Jack and his team get to the plant, only to have Jack blow the plant up and get caught while pursuing Bierko. This show just keeps getting better. Kiefer has created one the greatest television characters ever. ****

Tuesday 3/28.

  • The Unit (CBS 9pm). I have to admit, I really like this David Mamet creation. It is populated with interesting characters, good dialog, and doesn't feel like other military themed sereis on the air. I like how the story is split between the unit and their loved ones. Two sides of the battle, equally interesting. This episode has the unit deployed to guard a Mexican official, while one of their number is sent off on his own. The problem is twofold, their is an attempt on the official and his family kidnapped, and one of the wives is upset at her husband and seeks to further an affair with an officer. I have not been able to figure out all the names, but I am intrigued nonetheless, and Dennis Haysbert has such a great presence. ***.5
  • House (Fox 9pm). A sex game goes awry and a guy stops breathing. House and crew to the rescue. The guy is suffering heart and liver problems and a swelling tongue. House tries all sorts of potential cures, but nothing is working. Turns out she was poisoning him, fortunately House had spent time in Egypt to know what it is. We also have a bit of the odd couple going on with Wilson staying with House during his separation. House is just a flat out entertaining series. ***.5
  • Scrubs (NBC 9pm). Have I ever told you how much I love this series? It is one of the bright spots on the sitcom landscape. This episode furthers JD's feud with the janitor, bringing a makeshift GPS into the equation, plus Turk and Carla's attempts to get pregnant come to fruition. The show has a perfect balance of emotion, slapstick, verbal comedy, and a good shot of fun. ****
  • Teachers (NBC 9:30). The latest sitcom to enter the arena is mediocre at best. It is about a group of teachers, of varying demeanor, at a high school. I was entertained enough to give it another chance. It stars Jason Bartha (Failure to Launch) as one of the titular teachers. The series will look at their interactions and problems. I don't know, I'm willing to try again, I think it has potential. **.5
  • Law & Order: SVU (NBC 10pm). Finn's son is found digging in an empty lot in the middle of the night, and soon finds himself implicated in a rape/murder. Finn goes on the immediate defensive, almost coming to blows with Stabler. The episode was interesting, I like seeing Ice T get some time, I like him as this character. We also get a guest spot from Ludacris, who is a surprisingly effective actor. This is thonly L&O series I still watch, but it does seem a bit repetitive after awhile. **.5

Wednesday 3/29.

  • Bedford Diaries (WB 9pm). The series premiere of the WB's latest conglomeration of pretty people is moderately entertaining. It features Matthew Modine as a professor who is teaching a controversial class in sexual politics. The cast is made of a diverse bunch, including a class officer who had an affair with the teacher, her kid brother, a generic rich kid, a commuter scholarship kid, and a suicide survivor. I may give it another episode, but I fear this will fall into too much melodrama. **.5
  • Bones (Fox 8pm). Angela's boyfriend goes missing in the deserts of Arizona. She and Brennan go out to see what happened, they find a skull, and some uncooperative locals, so they give a call to Booth who flies out to help. They end mixed up in a mix of drugs and murder, wouldn't have it any other way. Still, I do not care so much for the story, so much as I do for the characters. ***
  • Lost (ABC 9pm). Just when you think that nothing is going to happen, they whip off an episode that keeps you entranced for the entire runtime. This episode is actually quite good, except for the flashbacks, which I could have done without. Sayid, Charlie, and Ana are trying to prove, or disprove, Henry Gale's story. More importantly, something happens in the hatch, blast doors come down trapping John and Henry inside. While Henry tries to get through the vents to punch in the code, the lights go out and a blacklight comes on, revealing writing on the walls that John, who is trapped under a blast door can see. Then it is revealed that Henry Gale is not the real Henry Gale, plus there is a parachute drop of Dharma food. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the card game that Jack and Sawyer have, where Jack wins back the medicine. This was one of the better episodes of recent memory. ****
  • The Evidence (ABC 10pm). Two weeks in and I find myself bored with this show. Yeah, they tell us the evidence at the start of the episode, big deal, it does not make the show any more interesting. This time a boxer is found dead in an alley after a fight, and an altercation with a hooker. This is just another in a long line of wannabe crime shows. **
  • The Heist (NBC 10pm). This new show is actually pretty good. A group of master thieves is brought together to rob all the jewelry stores on Rodeo Drive. Last week the team sought to get the needed capital, they ended up robbing the robbers to get their money. This week's focus is on the cops continued investigation and how our master thief is getting close to the lead investigator, perhaps too close. Also this week, the get away driver tests the local pursuit, putting on one of the best car chases I've seen on television in awhile. The characters are interesting, the plot unfolding nicely, overall a nice addition to the TV landscape. ***

Thursday 3/30.

  • The Loop (Fox 8:30). Sometimes I don't know why I bother. This is such a lousy show. It is trying so hard to be clever, but never rises among the sophmoric. This episode has the guys trying out a zip line to get a falafel and the main kid haiving to give a presentation while dressed like a cowboy. It really isn't worth explaining the rest of the setup. *
  • My Name is Earl (NBC 9pm). This episode has a bit of a touching edge to it as Earl returns to help a kid who he inflicted with a deep seated fear of the dark. While helping him, he awakened the need of a father figure in the boy, so he runs away to be with Earl. This leads everyone to think that Earl and Randy kidnapped him. Needless to say, much comedy ensues as a standoff with the police escalates. Very funny stuff. ***.5
  • The Office (NBC 9:30). Yeah, it's Michael's birthday, and he wants everyone to know it. He goes around the office egging people on to get his birthday wishes. Meanwhile, Kevin is waiting to hear if he has skin cancer. There are the usual antics from Dwight, and Jim escapes to get some gifts for Kevin. This a hard show to summarize, but it is very funny stuff. ***.5
  • ER (NBC 10pm). I like the show, but I find my attention waning, it isn't nearly as interesting as it used to be. This week splits time with Neela meeting Gallant's parents, Kovac thinking of joining Carter in Africa, among a few other lesser stories. It was good, but hardly the must see TV that it used to be. **.5

Friday 3/31.

  • WWE: Smackdown (UPN 8pm). The final pre-Wrestlemania show. The last chance to build up those matches sucked up a lot of time from any actual wrestling. It was still a decent show, with a main event pitting Rey Mysterio against Kurt Angle. ***
  • Las Vegas (NBC 9pm). The guilty pleasure may have moved from Monday's to Friday's, but the fun remains. This week has the resdential suites getting robbed, Ed getting dragged to marriage counseling, and Danny and Mike posing for a gay calendar. Sounds like fun to me, and it was. ***
  • Doctor Who (Sci-Fi 9pm). This new incarnation of the doctor is excellent. I admit to now knowing much about the legacy, but I do know I like this. Who and Rose return to London, only 12 months too late. Rose finds that she has been labeled missing, and her boyfriend a murder suspect. While they try to clear that up, an alien ship crashes, taking out Big Ben in the process. Who goes about trying to find out what he can about the alien ship and discovered body. Right at the end it is revealed to be a hoax, a genetically altered pig, sent by the aliens to trap the government, which is already being infiltrated. Good stuff. ***

Saturday 4/1.

  • SS Doomtrooper (Sci-Fi 9pm). I didn't make it. I tried, but I couldn't make it. It is the end of WWII, the latest Nazi plot involves an experimental project that creates a gigantic supersoldier. A small team of Allied forces has to find it and kill it. It stars Corin Nemec, who is flanked at all times by a character named Parker Lewis. Got a real winner here. *
  • TNA: Impact (Spike 11pm). Pretty good show, if a little story heavy. It featured a match between AMW and The James Gang, a brawl between Team Canada and Team 3D, an escalation of hostility between Abyss and Christian, and the return of Sting. The main event was Alex Shelley vs Chris Sabin vs Sonjay Dutt vs Samoa Joe to determine the number one contender for the X Division title, the winner was Samoa Joe. ***

That is all for this week.

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