Like The Wire? Maybe you’ll like Brick City

I’ve not seen it, but for lovers of The Wire, there’s an attempt to do a real-life documentary series equivalent over on the US’s Sundance Channel. Called Brick City, it follows Newark, New Jersey’s mayor Cory A Booker, various citizens on the front lines, developers, gang members and youth mentors.

In case you don’t know Newark ain’t Baltimore, but it’s not Manhattan either. I’ve no idea if this is going to be a puff piece or not, but I thought I’d mention it out of interest.


Preview: White Collar 1×1

White Collar

In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, USA Network. Starts October 23rd

You may remember that while watching Chuck recently, you thought to yourself, “Why that dashing and handsome young Matt Bomer – who plays the possibly, possibly not evil secret agent Bryce Larkin – is so dashing and handsome, he deserves his own TV series.”

Someone at USA Network seems to have thought the same thing, because here comes White Collar, a show about just how dashing and handsome Matt Bomer is.

The ostensible plot of the series is that Bomer is one of the world’s smartest white collar criminals. Forgery, art theft, con tricks: you name it, he’s done it, although he’s only ever been caught once. When the man who caught him – FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) – finds himself stumped in his hunt for another art thief, he turns to the first thief to catch his second thief.

But, in actuality, the show is merely about Bomer going around being charming to various women while looking pained because of his lost love, who appears to have run away.

Guess the intended demographic. Go on. I dare you.

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Review: 30 Rock 4×1

Jenna sings about tennis

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, NBC
In the UK: Comedy Central at some point

Season three of 30 Rock felt a little off. It wasn’t quite the show it used to be, which is a shame, because by season two, it had become the funniest show on TV.

The problem was a reliance on plot. Yes, on plot. 30 Rock at its funniest is based on silliness and standalone episodes, rather than season-long plots. Watch the pilot episode and you’ll recall that the dullest bit was the middle third that tried to establish plot and drama. Problematically, season three of 30 Rock had way too many unfunny story arcs.

Going into season four, the question is have Tina Fey and co noticed this, dropped the plots and gone for the funny?


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The pick of the new US shows (week two)

Just to update the list of new US shows worth watching, now a few more results are in. I’ve added their current Live Feed status if there is one, in case you worried they might be cancelled once you start watching:

Community (NBC): Review (Carusometer rating: 1) [OK]
Modern Family (ABC/Sky 1 – October 15): Review (Carusometer rating: 2) [Safe]
Cougar Town
(ABC/Living – 2010): Review (Carusometer rating: 2) [Safe]
The Good Wife (CBS/More4-Channel 4 – 2010): Review (Carusometer rating: 2) [Safe]
Stargate Universe (SciFi/Sky 1 – already airing): Review (Carusometer rating: 2)
Trauma (NBC): Review (Carusometer rating: 2) [Endangered]
The Middle (ABC): Review (Carusometer rating: 2) [OK]

Don’t watch
Brothers (Fox): Review [Endangered]
The Vampire Diaries
(The CW/ITV2 – 2010): Review [Safe]
Bored to Death (HBO): Review (Carusometer rating: 3)
The Forgotten (ABC): Review [Endangered]
Accidentally on Purpose
(CBS/E4 – 2010): Review [OK]
Eastwick (ABC/SciFi – 2009/2010): Review [Endangered]
FlashForward (ABC/Five – already airing): Review (Carusometer rating: 3) [Safe]
Mercy (NBC): Review [Endangered]
Hank (ABC): Review [Endangered]

I’ll update the list again, once shows like Hard Target starting showing up on the map.

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 2

Third-episode verdict: The Middle

In the US: Wednesdays, 8.30c/7.30c, ABC

We’re in a comedy boom. Suddenly, there are decent comedies everywhere – as well as a few rubbish ones like Brothers and Accidentally on Purpose.

ABC has most of them: it’s got Cougar Town and Modern Family, although NBC has the best – Community. It’s also got The Middle.

Most years, The Middle would do well for itself – in fact, it’s already had a full season pick up – because it’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty good.

Okay, it’s not really what you’d call funny. It’s accurate. You sit there through every episode thinking, “Oh yes, I recognise what this pithy look at middle class, middle America life is getting at. These situations are very familiar to me, and no doubt everyone who’s ever had to deal with life in The Middle.”*

But it’s not something you really laugh at. The producers try to make you laugh. They’ve assembled a good cast. They try to come up with funny situations. And you can sit through every episode with a wry-ish smile on your face. But laugh? Not so much.

The jokes just never seem to hit home, because they’re just too silly. The characters are all pretty unappealing and despite their everyperson situations, they’re hard to identify with.

It’s so very near the edge of great, but it never quite gets there.

So, despite this actually being okay, I’m dropping it in favour of other shows. Bad luck The Middle.

Carusometer rating: 2
Rob’s prediction: Will last a season at most but not get renewed

* Okay, I’m not American, don’t have kids and I don’t live in Indiana, but some things are universal.