by Billie Doux
Bionic Woman was the show everyone was waiting for. And it was worth the wait. Much like the brilliant Battlestar Galactica (and brought to you by the same people), Bionic Woman isn't a sequel or a spin-off; it's an edgy, gritty, dark and complex re-imagining of a much simpler and more straightforward show from the past. The most interesting premise, for me, anyway, was that a bionically enhanced human being can be impossible to control. Fascinating, and with potential for exceptionally cool drama.
Michelle Ryan holds her own as the damaged and re-built Jamie Summers. But she has already been upstaged by the charismatic Katee Sackhoff as the disturbed and frightening original bionic woman, Sarah Corvus. Katee Sackhoff is just outstanding as Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica; she's so good that she steals practically every scene she's in, and Sarah is a great character for her. I can't help but wish she was playing the lead. Sorry about that, Michelle.
I expected Journeyman to be a lot like Quantum Leap, and by golly, it is. But like Bionic Woman, it's edgier, and I like it more than I thought I would. I liked how he kept getting unexpectedly yanked out of his current life into the past, and how he managed to re-enter his past life to get clothes, money, information. Why is it happening, and what does it have to do with his dead girlfriend from Day Break who isn't dead? (And is that connection to the late, unlamented Day Break an omen of early cancellation?) I'm ready to tune in next week. I just wish I liked the lead actor a little more.
Speaking of liking the lead actor, the new show I thought I'd hate is the one I like best. Did they make Moonlight just for me? You can never tell when an actor in a certain role is going to connect with you, but Alex O'Loughlin as ninety-year-old vampire Mick St. John is my exactly my cup of tea.
Yes, Moonlight is derivative; in fact, it's like a fantasy show smorgasbord. A little Angel, a little Forever Knight, a good dose of Highlander. They even got a touch of Veronica Mars in there with the wonderful Jason Dohring as Joseph, who is sort of what Logan Echolls would be if he were a four-hundred-year-old vampire.
But the core of Moonlight is star-crossed romance, and I am such a sucker for those. Mick saved the life of a little girl twenty-two years ago, and has watched over her ever since. Now she's a reckless, enthusiastic reporter who gets into trouble (so you can add Superman to that list of derivatives.) I can see the angst-filled Buffy/Angel-flavored love affair coming down the pike. I like this show so much already that I bet it's going to get canceled bright and early.
Because let's face it. Most of the hit genre shows on major networks are only marginally sci-fi or fantasy, like Lost and Medium. Bionic Woman fits into that criteria, and it smells like a hit. And that's good, because I like it a lot. But shows like Journeyman and Moonlight tend to speak to a certain type of viewer. I'm that type, but most of America isn't. But Heroes has given me hope. It's the exception, an extreme comic book fantasy that is also a monster hit. So maybe it's time for shows like Moonlight to make it big. Hope springs eternal.
Moving right along. Reaper made me laugh out loud over and over, mostly at Sam's Jack-Black-like best friend, so I'll probably keep watching it. But it's really just a rip-off of the unfortunately short-lived and much better done Dead Like Me. (I miss the Waffle House. I really do.) Maybe Reaper will develop depth and come into its own. And maybe silly is enough. You never can tell.
Chuck has potential, but it didn't resonate for me. Maybe because it's too much like The Forty-Year Old Virgin. Maybe I'm just sick and tired of the hopeless-nerd-lands-unbelievably-gorgeous-woman plot. Maybe because when I heard Adam Baldwin was in it, I was hoping he'd be the lead. Maybe because it's airing opposite Prison Break.
Let me tell you, Chuck is not going to pull me away from Wentworth Miller. Sorry about that.
by Jess Lynde
Usually, autumn is my favorite time of the year. The weather becomes cooler, the leaves start changing, and the neighborhood kids go back to school. Best of all, autumn brings the start of the fall TV season. I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Fall Preview guides from TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. I start marking the calendar with the premiere dates of all my returning favorites and new shows I want to check out. I become giddy dreaming of rescue from those crazy cliffs on which my returning favorites left me hanging in May! Yes, autumn is a glorious time for a TV addict like myself.
But this year, I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about autumn’s arrival. Oh, I’m more than excited for crisp, clear autumn skies and vibrant fall foliage. I’m eager for the return of some of my favorite shows. I’m even looking forward to some of the new network offerings. But with Labor Day now behind us, I’m beginning to realize I’m also sort of dreading the start of the fall TV season.
See, over the summer, I settled into a pretty comfortable routine. I spent most days taking care of my child, doing household chores, and using my few spare moments to eat and check my favorite entertainment web sites. I worked part time at night, from about 7:00 p.m. to midnight. Then I’d flop down on the couch and settle in for a couple hours of TV time. Just me, my cats, and a movie or a couple episodes of the new shows I decided to try on DVD (Supernatural and The Wire).
I didn’t get too involved in the summer TV offerings. The only new show I took on was Burn Notice on USA. (Very fun—kind of like MacGyver crossed with Magnum, P.I. A weekly treat!) I briefly gave Mad Men (AMC) a try, since it was getting such rave reviews, but I just couldn’t stomach the rampant sexism. I know, I know -- the sexism is a product of the time and place the show is set in. The occasional bit of clever dialogue just wasn’t enough for me to get past it.
So basically on any given night, I had very limited demands on my TV time. No huge list of backlogged shows waiting for me to get caught up. If I went away for the weekend, I didn’t have to worry about all the shows I’d be getting behind on. No, I could just enjoy the DVDs as they came, and sometimes I could even (gasp!) read a book. It was a very relaxing schedule, and I came to enjoy it quite a bit.
Now, as the fall season approaches, I’m staring down the barrel of a very full TV slate. I’ve got up to 16 shows on my calendar (6 new, 10 returning). I find my stomach starting to knot up as I wonder how I’m going to keep up with all these shows. Will my precious few hours after work be enough to keep current on everything? Can I squeeze a couple hours in during the day? How am I going to manage it all when I start off with five -- count em’, five -- shows I’d like to watch on Monday nights, and it doesn’t get much better from there?
Mondays: In addition to Prison Break on FOX (I’m hopeful S3 will be better than S2) and How I Met Your Mother on CBS (this show never fails to make me laugh, especially Neil Patrick Harris!), I’ve got three shows on NBC (Chuck, Heroes, and Journeyman). Those jerks at NBC went and designed a Monday schedule for sci-fi/fantasy geeks like me. How dare they! I’m mostly interested in Heroes, but I want to give the other genre shows a shot, too.
Tuesdays: I’ve got Bones and House on FOX and I plan to give Reaper (the CW) a try. I’m really looking forward to the return of Bones. It has great characters, great humor, strange cases, and they occasionally throw in some really moving drama. House wasn’t as strong last season, but the big shakeup with House’s underlings has piqued my interest for this season. Reaper just looks like it might be funny. Ray Wise (Leland Palmer, Twin Peaks) as Satan is inspired casting. Plus I’ve been hearing some good buzz for it, so I’m game.
Wednesdays: Wednesday is “new show” night for me this fall. I’m going to try Pushing Daisies on ABC based on really great buzz and fond memories of Lee Pace on Wonderfalls. Plus, I hear this show sort of captures the whimsy of Wonderfalls, so I’m hopeful. I’m also eagerly anticipating Bionic Woman on NBC. It’s probably the new show I’m most excited about. I never watched the original, but once I heard David Eick was at the helm (his credits include the new Battlestar Galactica), I was on board. Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck, Battlestar Galactica) in a supporting role is just icing on the cake.
Thursdays: Ugly Betty (ABC), Supernatural (CW), and Scrubs (NBC). I loved the first season of Ugly Betty, and despite the strangely depressing season finale (I prefer the lighthearted comedy), I’m fully on board for the new season. As noted, I picked Supernatural up over the summer. Several of my favorite reviewers (Billie included!) spoke so highly of it, that I just had to see what it was all about. S1 completely hooked me. Hopefully I have enough time to get caught up with S2 on DVD before S3 starts in October. And Scrubs I’ve been with since the beginning, so even though last season was a bit lackluster, I’ll be back for the final season.
Fridays: Friday is TV “date night” for my husband and I. It used to be our Sci Fi Friday night, but then the Sci Fi Channel went and changed up their scheduling. So now we’ll be doing a weird combo of Friday Night Lights (NBC) and Stargate: Atlantis (Sci Fi). Friday Night Lights is one of our absolute favorites. Great characters, great stories, great acting. (It isn’t just about football, people! Please, give it a try!) I’m also thinking about watching Moonlight on CBS, but I’m not terribly excited about it. It does have Jason Dohring in the cast (Logan, Veronica Mars), so it’s got at least one thing going for it. But this may be the first soldier to fall in the battle to stay on top of my fall TV schedule.
Saturdays and Sundays: Nothing for the fall. Thank goodness! (No, not even Nathan Fillion can entice me to watch Desperate Housewives.)
I’m not-so-secretly hoping that I don’t like some of the new fall shows or that they get canceled, so that I can lighten my load a bit (especially on Monday!). At least until January/February when 24, Medium, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica come back and the new Sarah Conner Chronicles kicks off!
Oh, how I'm longing for those lazy, hazy days of summer!