Archive | US TV 2011

Reviews of new US TV programmes from 2011

February 23, 2011

Third-episode verdict: The Chicago Code

Posted on February 23, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

CarusometerTheChicagoCode.jpgA Carusometer rating of

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, Fox
In the UK: Acquired by Sky 1/Sky 1 HD. Coming soon

The problem The Chicago Code faces is that it's a very good show, trapped inside a network TV format. At its heart, there are nuggets of brilliance, involving police and city corruption, the politics of policing, life in Chicago, inter-cop politics and what it means to be a police officer. It has a really good cast and when Shawn Ryan isn't writing it (cf the first episode), the dialogue is good and it all feels very real.

Where it falls apart is when it bows to mainstream pressures and tries to give us the standard cop show of the week treatment. Here we have absurdities piled on the ridiculous, ridiculous gun fights and car chases, and implausibilities that detract in quite substantial ways from the much subtler, cleverer intrigues of the ongoing corruption investigation. 

Hopefully, over time, these will go away as the writers assume they've got a hooked audience and can downplay the theatrics because if they can, The Chicago Code will be quite a show. At the moment, though, a decent show is being undermined and although it scores well on The Carusometer, I'm not convinced I'll stay with it in the long-term.

Carusometer rating: 3
The Carusometer's prediction: Will last a season, hopefully, but probably not much longer

February 22, 2011

Review: Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior 1x1

Posted on February 22, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, CBS

(Very) long-time readers of the blog will know that I'm not a big fan of Criminal Minds. In fact, I dismissed it pretty much after the first episode, the second season opener didn't make me recant and the replacement of Mandy Patinkin with Joe Mantegna lured me in for all of two episodes.

My basic problems with it are that it's very dull, doesn't really bother with characterisation beyond a couple of the leads, despite being an ensemble show, and although it pretends to be intelligent, largely that's a thin veneer that covers up an entirely preposterous plot with as much resemblance to real-life as The Magic Roundabout.

Millions of people disagree with me, however. They're wrong, obviously, but they do. To cater for "these kinds of people", CBS has developed an identikit version of it called Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, in which a rapid reaction team called a 'Red Cell' heads off in Without A Trace stylee to deal with nastiness as quickly as possible.

However, despite the presence of Forest Whitaker, Janeane Garofolo, the red-headed nerdy one from Criminal Minds and Richard Schiff from The West Wing, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior is just as tedious and stupid, yet without even the few hints of interest that the original had.

Here's a trailer for the show that for some unfathomable reason doesn't feature Amber Heard in a bikini (am I on SEO fire this week, or what?).

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February 15, 2011

Review: Mad Love 1x1

Posted on February 15, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Mad Love

In the US: Mondays, 8.30/7.30c, CBS

CBS is the most popular of all US networks, but it does have an odd tendency. Whenever it has a successful show, it likes to create a backup in case things go wrong with it. So CSI spawned CSI: Miami and CSI: New York; NCIS got NCIS: LA; Criminal Minds is about to get Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior; and so on.

Sometimes, rather than create a simple spin-off, though, CBS likes to create a show similar to the original. So it is with Mad Love, a sneaky backup in case How I Met Your Mother gets corrupted. The basic premise is pretty much the same: two guys, two girls, two interesting, two not, and there are romantic complications. Here, Jason Biggs (American Pie), a very ordinary lawyer, meets Sarah Chalke (Scrubs), a very ordinary… actually, I missed what she did, but whatever it is, it's probably very ordinary. Whatever - it's love at first sight, there's fireworks and everything.

Each has a much more interesting best friend: Tyler Labine (Reaper), an eccentric lawyer, and Judy Greer (Archer), a nanny who helps brain-dead trophy wives rear their kids. For them, it's hate at first sight, but you just know that's going to change.

And as is the trouble with carbon copies, it's just not as good as the originals. In fact, against a backdrop of the likes of Traffic Light, Perfect Couples and Better With You, it's a very pale copy that can barely raise a single laugh. Talking of Traffic Light, do you want to have a guess who was in the pilot but got recast again?

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