As promised, here’s some more reviews of the shows that are set to appear on US screens this Fall (I’m practically fluent in American, aren’t I?):
Bones: Desperately derivative. An anthropologist who specialises in excavating bones (hence her nickname) and who is also a best-selling crime novelist, finds herself loaned out by her museum to help the FBI with its forensic work. Supposed to be more realistic than CSI, but with the results of Bones’s work shown off in holographic movies rather than say, on a piece of paper, the one area it does have any realism is in the FBI’s dislike of forensic teams thinking they should be doing the interviewing, rather than the agents.
David Boreanaz from Angel shows that he’s only comfortable doing one role and in one type of show: here he is, surprise, surprise, a brooding, enigmatic, slightly hard, potentially evil FBI agent who’s guilty about his past and tries to make amends; he also has to play second fiddle to a kickboxing female lead. Find some new roles David. And while you’re at it, if you can find even one iota of originality for Bones, you might just save the show.
The Night Stalker: A remake of the classic 70s show Kolchak: The Night Stalker, this doesn’t quite capture its delightful insanity and character, but does show a little promise. Stuart Townsend, who’s slightly famous from movies such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Shooting Fish, is Kolchak, ace crime reporter obsessed with supernatural explanations for crimes. Where he differs from the original Kolchak is that his quest is motivated by the murder of his wife by something weird, several years ago, rather than simple journalistic desire to get a scoop. He’s also acquired a partner, when the original quite famously worked alone and had the personality for two people. It’s quite flat and matter of fact in comparison, illustrated by the big bads in the new show being some mangy, nocturnal dogs rather than the indestructible, immortal Jack the Ripper of the original series’ pilot episode. But there’s the hint of an arc for the show, rather than just random evils, and any show with a journalist as a hero has to be good, by definition, so I’ll be watching this one.
Everyone Hates Chris: Sitcom based on the childhood of comedian Chris Rock. I liked this. It wasn’t full of belly laughs, but in comparison to the 60s white middle-class nostalgia of The Wonder Years and Oliver Beene, it’s refreshing. Not sure I’ll stick with it for very long, but if they can find the laughs, it’ll be great.
Reunion: Why? Why, why, why? This is so much arse. Someone’s died, we’re at his or her funeral and it’s clear a childhood friend has done the dirty deed. The rest of the episode is one long flashback to the year 1986 (or was it 1987?) which practically has neon lights blinking “It’s the 80s! Look! Yet we filmed it this year!” at the bottom of the screen to make sure you notice how “clever” the producers are. Watch and crack up as one of the characters rants about how great Wham! is and how Andrew Ridgeley is an unappreciated musical genius who will wow the world with his prowess in years to come. “Ha!” we say. “If only he knew then what we know now.” Except we don’t; rather, we want to smack the producers on the backs of their heads in the hope that it will reactivate the subtlety lobes in their brains.
At the end of the episode, we get promised a flashback to 1987 (or maybe 1988) so it’s clear this is only going to run for 20 episodes. Or possibly until we get so bored, wondering how all this character development could possibly make the identity of the murderer interesting in any way to us, that we go and kill the writers and get out own flashback shows, each episode focusing on the 60 minutes of our lives each episode of Reunion wasted. Do not watch under any circumstances.
The Loop: Possibly the first explicitly Generation X-derived show on record, and surprisingly good. While others just have generic drifters in dead-end jobs they hate, The Loop practically has on-screen margin notes for that full Gen X feel. Fun plot, fun characters, fun dialogue and situations: this was good. I liked it. And if you’re wondering about the name, the show’s set in Chicago rather than New York, for once.
Still Life: This has been sitting in someone’s unaired pilots tray for over a year, and boy, I wished it had stayed there. Makes Picket Fences and Seventh Heaven look like an Extreme Sports channel, it’s that dull. It has a “concept”: the show is narrated by a dead cop a year after he has been shot in the line of duty and his brother has just returned home with his ashes. We see how everyone is still grieving and screwed up their lives as a result. And that’s probably all we’re going to see for 20 episodes. Please no.