The week of disappointment

More reviews of the latest US shows. Pretty much everything this week was rubbish though.

Alias: Absolute bollocks. My previous criticism of CSI: Miami was relatively undeserved, it turns out. While that show was blasting off for a galaxy of implausibility far, far away, it turns out Alias was using it as a booster rocket to take it into previously undreamt-of realms. People using stalks of corn as shields against bullets; fiancées still calling their husbands by their surnames (in the honourable tradition of Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold); people able to withstand a couple of seconds of automatic gunfire to their body; parachutes that can fit neatly under a suit without a bulge in sight. Oh dear. Worryingly for Lost fans, yet more teasing with no pay-off which suggests it’s going to be a long, long time before anyone finds out anything useful on the island of the plane crash. I’m not bothering with this one any more.

Joey: Still trying to work out an original formula. Marginally better than last season, but still lacking in depth, character or anything that would make it better than a night of eating cheese strings.

CSI: New York: The show’s finally finding its own identity, separate from the mothership, CSI. There’s almost some characterisation going on, in fact. Unfortunately, the attempt at doing Se7en for the small screen petered out after a few episodes of the first season, so it’s now pretty generic. Apparently, US audiences couldn’t cope with that level of darkness, which is odd since CSI has been that dark since day one. That’s now picking up after a less than promising premiere episode. I’ll stick with CSI: New York, if only because it shows some promise and it features familiar New York landmarks.

Threshold: Bored. Not bothering with that any more.

Everyone Hates Chris: Refreshingly different from other sitcoms. I especially love the “generic” products they feature, with completely white labels printed with “Cola” and “Deodorant” rather than the typical product placements. Not funny enough to make me want to watch any more episodes though.

Medium: After a promising start to the first season, with the kind of dialogue you’d expect from Moonlighting creator Glenn Gordon Caron, this lost impetus and is starting to feel a bit dull. I’ll continue watching, just as I support Numb3rs, because it features a mathematician as a hero (even that’s not enough to make me watch Threshold).

Commander in Chief: It’s West Wing-lite – all the taste of the original, but none of those nasty things like good dialogue, plotting or characters. Geena Davis stars as the first female president of the US, who, shock horror, faces misogyny and prejudice as the new Commander in Chief. I’m not sure who this is aimed at. If it’s intended to soften up the US public for Mrs H R Clinton’s in 2008, why would they have Davis’ first task in office be to send in American troops to save an adulteress from a stoning in Nigeria, thus proving that if a woman’s in power, she’ll risk people’s lives on “girls’ issues” rather than concentrate on manly things like the economy, WMDs, etc? And if it’s for the liberals, why take such a neo-colonial attitude with the portrayal of Nigerians as puffed up, backward and stupid? I’ll watch a couple more episodes, just to see if it gets any better.

Smallville: Anti-climatic after a cracking fourth season finale. Everything feels compressed, with Clark able to smack a couple of fellow Kryptonians straight into the Phantom Zone with remarkable ease, when it took him all of Superman 2 the last time. There were a few nice touches, most of them involving some rather loving recreations of the Fortress of Solitude and the Phantom Zone from the Christopher Reeve movies. A mention of “Zod” also went down a treat. The new titles are rubbish and a typical selection of teenage soft porn moments by TheWB, though. Still, despite the frequent questions about why no-one realises he has special powers and why everyone’s knocked unconscious before he does anything super, the biggest implausibility remains why, when the smart, funny, cute girl reporter Chloe Sullivan, who is also his best friend and knows his super secret, is eating out the palm of his hand, Clark “Stupourman” Kent is still pining after the dullest woman on Earth, Lana Lang. I’d twat him one on the back of the head if he weren’t a man of steel. And fictional.


  • 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.