US shows – what to watch, what to ignore completely: House, Prison Break, Lost, The Invasion, Surface, Supernatural, Threshold

The September season has started in America, so a few quick reviews of the new and the returning:

House: Not much has changed between last season and this, although House appears to have a slightly less gloomy wardrobe. They appear to be looking for a new formula to replace the medical detective story structure of last season; on the strength of Tuesday’s episode, I’d guess they’re aiming at the “gee whiz, isn’t modern medicine amazing?” angle. I actually preferred the original formula and knowing what the disease is halfway through the episode is as bad as guessing whodunit after 10 minutes of Miss Marple. But it might grow on me. I’m not sure the fact that they’re trying to make House less grumpy will though.
Prison Break: Definitely picking up after a shaky start. Most of the obvious plot-holes are being filled in and although it retains a constant 10 light year distance from reality, it at least highlights the fact that prison life isn’t plain sailing. I’m not quite sure why the hero has to have everything tattooed on his body, except purely as a cause of viewer intrigue (what does “English, Fitz and Percy” mean? Why is only one important? One thing’s for sure: I’ll know by the end of this episode). Still can’t see how it will last more than a season, but who knows what they have planned.
Lost: After the constant teasing of the first season, it’s nice to get something approaching some answers. But last night’s episode had a huge “WTF?” stencilled all over it. Yes, now we know what’s down the hatch, but it seriously doesn’t explain anything and only makes you wonder what the hell can possibly be going on. I’m starting to suspect they’re playing The Game (or since it’s television The One Game) all over again. Yes, it’s live action Dungeons and Dragons, they’ve been playing for years and now they’ve been drugged and dumped on as island for the pay off. Okay, that’s probably not it, but I suspect my explanation is going to make as much sense.
The Invasion: About as good as you’d suspect from the pen of Joe Hardy himself, Shaun Cassidy. All the clichés are there: the broken family, people acting strangely, the alien conspiracy theorist. It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers but a hell of lot duller. By the end of the first episode, you’re not even sure there are aliens and if there are, what they’re actually up to or why. I’m not going to hang around to find out.
Surface: More aliens, but this time they’re underwater. More families, but this time they’re happy. Cancelled in mere minutes, I suspect.
Supernatural: Already developing a good rhythm and not totally predictable. Far less hurried than the pilot with better dialogue. One to watch, if you like the idea of a different 40 minute horror film each week, and unlike certain shows, you haven’t seen the nasties in umpteen movies before.
Threshold: Not brilliant, but not awful, but it’s another aliens show: only one will survive, I promise you. Thankfully, we get to see the aliens in the first few minutes; by the end of the episode, we know why they’re here and we know they’re not up to anything good. It has a few original moments, although you’ll definitely have been there and seen that. Might be worth following for a couple of episodes, just to see where they take it.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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