US TV

Fifth-episode verdict: Moonlight (US: CBS)

The Carusometer for Moonlight4-Major-Caruso

I thought, at first, that I’d spoken too soon. After a dismal first episode that mined every previous vampire story going for any clichés it could find, Moonlight started to show signs of promise. There was some originality in its second and third episodes. The story developed, with the season-long arc you might have expected suddenly coming to fruition straight away. If you’ve been raised on a diet of Angel and Forever Knight, you’d have thought you’d have known what was coming – and you’d have been wrong.

But things started to drop off in the fourth and fifth episodes. While the fourth episode was still no slouch, it had more than trace amounts of stupidity flowing through its veins, as well as a rock video director to mess things up. And the fifth episode was just ridiculous. Not truly abysmal, but certainly full of blatant absurdities that make no sense to anyone who hasn’t been up all night listening to Marilyn Manson records.

The cast are pretty good, although Jason Dohring lacks presence and Shannyn Sossamon is thankfully not present most of the time. It has some niceish moments from time to time, and Mick St John is thankfully not as whiney a git as Angel and Nick Knight were. But it’s still a bit dull, a bit stupid and taking a hell of a lot of time getting to the point.

The Medium is Not Enough hereby declares Moonlight is a 4 or “Major Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Major Caruso corresponds to “a show that David Caruso might exec produce or star in after reading an Anne Rice novel in an airport waiting lounge. After declaring it the ‘best story ever writen by a woman’, he goes on to cast himself as an immortal Irish vampire with a comb-over. After discovering that he can no longer move fast enough to convince people he has ‘human speed’, let alone ‘vampire speed’, he tries to get into character by biting his own thumb. Discovering it hurts too much, he decides that his character will feed on blood through chocolate straws instead, ‘a major new innovation in vampire mythology’.”

US TV

Fifth-episode verdict: Back To You

The Carusometer for Back To You5-Full-Caruso

In retrospect, it was must have been pure masochism that led me to hold out for a fifth episode verdict on Back To You. Maybe it was Kelsey Grammer’s presence. Maybe the third episode caught me in a good mood. Whatever it was, it was a mistake, and now I’ve wasted 50 minutes more of my life.

This is awful. It is unoriginal, unfunny, over-acted, unlikeable rubbish. Do not watch it unless you like the idea of being placed in the village stocks and having rotten tomatoes thrown in your face – because that’s how enjoyable it is. Even the retro “filmed in front of a live studio audience” voiceover at the beginning à la Cheers cannot redeem it. If there’s any justice in the world, it would be cancelled right now, all surviving copies placed in a bin and then incinerated.

So The Medium Is Not Enough has great pleasure in declaring Back To You has scored a five or ‘Full Caruso’ on The Carusometer quality scale. A Full Caruso corresponds to “a show in which David Caruso might be responsible for every aspect of production, including starring, directing, producing and writing it. After casting himself as a veteran newscaster who snarls every story and can’t read the prompter because he’s wearing sunglasses, he’s forced first to bribe the audience to laugh at his frequent blonde jokes then to threaten to have them put in jail for ‘all the crimes they’ve no doubt committed’ if they don’t so much as giggle. However, when the show is aired in Eastern Europe and its frequent jokes about Albanians are translated, the country declares war on Caruso, forcing him to to change his identity and pretend to be an Alpaca breeder in Patagonia. The show is cancelled in his absence, and peace and goodwill once again return to the Earth.”

US TV

Third-episode verdict: Carpoolers

The Carusometer for Carpoolers4-Major-Caruso

Oh, it’s just arse. I said just about everything that needed to be said back with episode one. There’s the germ of a good idea in there – four guys sharing a car and talking about life – and when the show does raise laughs, which it does infrequently, it’s always through the scenes set in the car.

It’s just when it steps out of the car and into the carpoolers’ home life, it becomes complete rubbish. With the slight exception of TJ Miller as the son of one of the carpoolers, there’s just no comedy in the ridiculous situations that the writers have created. There could be, but there isn’t.

Three episodes are enough. I’m out. I’m not watching it any more.

The Medium is Not Enough hereby declares Carpoolers is a 4 or “Major Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Major Caruso corresponds to “a show that David Caruso might exec produce or star in after sitting in his SUV for a few hours. After he insists one episode be entirely about the pine-scented air-freshner that hands from the rearview mirror, the cast will rebel, phoning for an ambulance claiming that he’s got carbon monoxide poisoning. They’ll be gone by the time he returns, leaving him to conduct a 25-minute long monologue instead about the need for capital punishment for anyone who forgets to indicate before changing lanes on the freeway.”

US TV

Review: Samantha Who? 1×1 (US: ABC)

Samantha Who?

In the US: Mondays, 9.30/8.30c, ABC
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Christina Applegate’s one of those actresses that people seem to love or hate. The haters generally remember her as the teenage daughter in Married With Children? The lovers are the ones who’ve seen her in something since – maybe as one of Rachel’s sisters in Friends or in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

With such a divided audience, it seems a little strange to create a vehicle for her talents/’talents’ (delete according to your attitude towards her). It seems stranger still when you consider the show’s obvious creative ancestor: The Bourne Identity.

While Applegate doesn’t exactly start kicking people in the head at a moment’s notice or start speaking numerous foreign languages, her character Samantha Newly (ooh, a pun, just like Bourne/Born) does wake up one day with no recollection of who she is. As she slowly struggles to piece together her life, she finds out her former self wasn’t exactly the nicest person in the world, and occasionally the old Sam’s special skills in catty put-downs emerge from the recesses of her mind.

Sam not only has to find out who she was, she has to decide if she wants to be it again or start afresh. And to take out the Treadstone project.

Whoops. Didn’t mean that last bit. Sorry.

Continue reading “Review: Samantha Who? 1×1 (US: ABC)”

US TV

Third-episode verdict: Aliens in America

The Carusometer for Aliens in America1-Caruso-Free

For me, Aliens in America has been the surprise show of this year’s Fall season. A programme about a Pakistani exchange student who comes to middle America and encounters prejudice and ignorance wherever he goes? Sounds… great, huh?

However, it’s actually been the funniest new comedy of the season so far, and surprisingly touching as well. Much of the comedy stems from Raja’s failure to understand the local townspeople’s War on Terror-induced fear of him. But it’s also his friendship with Justin, the host family’s son, and the meaner rules of American High School culture that provide the laughs. Raja can’t really get to grips with lying, holding back on declaring his love for his friend in case people think him gay and all the other lessons Justin’s already learnt the hard way at High School.

Although we haven’t quite re-attained the highs of the first episode, the second and third episodes have been almost as funny and often cut quite near the knuckle, with the third episode in particular raising a few eyebrows with its daring, post-9/11. While Raja is really a little too good to be true, achieving near-Angelic status in his attitudes and behaviour, he’s still sufficiently complex to avoid becoming a simple liberal counter-stereotype.

If you fancy a laugh and don’t mind watching a show that’s mostly about teenagers, I heartily recommend Aliens in America.

The Medium is Not Enough scored a 1 or “Caruso free” rating on The Carusometer. A “Caruso free” rating corresponds to a show that David Caruso might accidentally get sent a script for. After failing to persuade the producers that his acting talents are more than capable of convincing people that he’s a 16-year-old Pakistani student, he declares the show un-American and tries to have it banned. The notoriety only makes the show’s ratings increase, something that happens even more when he tries to randomly search the cast for ‘weapons-grade fertilizer’ as they go home each evening.