Third episode verdict: Standoff

Well, I’ve stuck with it, through to the third episode of Standoff. I wasn’t impressed much by the pilot, but it wasn’t totally awful. Since then, it’s improved slightly and it’s revealed a good title sequence that’s more than a little bit inspired by Bullshit!‘s, but it’s still not enough to make me watch more.

The plots aren’t quite as offensively stupid as the pilot episode’s, but they’re still pretty unrealistic and silly; the relationship stuff is being toned down, but again, pretty unrealistic and silly. The characters aren’t really very involving, either. Oh well.

All in all, pretty average, despite Ron Livingston. One to avoid.


Murder One back – but as something else

Daniel Benzali in Murder OneMurder One was one of those great shows that are ahead of their time. Created by Steven Bochco, who also created Hill Street Blues, it followed a single court case for the length of an entire season. Trouble was, back in those pre-Lost, pre-24 days, no one could be arsed to keep up with a plot that lasted for 22-odd episodes; by the second season, the superb lead, Daniel Benzali, had been replaced, and the show chose to focus on cases for only a few episodes at a time.

Now it’s back, apparently. CBS has commissioned a pilot for a new series, as yet untitled, that will follow a single case for an entire season. It will be written by Six Feet Under writer-producer Kate Robin. Where it differs from Murder One, which dealt purely with the defence lawyers and the defendants, is that it will focus on the lead lawyers on both sides of the case, along with half the members of the jury and the judge.

Nevertheless, for those of us who loved the original Murder One, there’s a twinge of sadness as we think of what might have been and how the show might have done in this age of high-quality US TV.

PS It’s available on DVD, but still isn’t at discount prices yet. It will be though, so let’s be patient.


Review: The Unit 2.1

The Unit - Season 2

In the US: Tuesdays, 9pm (ET/PT), CBS

In the UK: Season one starts on Bravo, 3rd October. No word on season two yet.

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: 0

Major new characters: 0

Format change percentage: 0%

New hair styles: 2

After the yin of Men in Trees, it seems only appropriate to deal with the yang that is The Unit (even though that means skipping the return of CSI: Miami for now. Never fear, I’ll deal with Horatio Caine’s trip to Rio tomorrow).

Now I was really kind of partial to season one of The Unit, an everyday tale of secret super-soldiers roaming the world, killing people inventively and covertly so we can rest safely at night. With an extra intravenous drip of testosterone provided by exec producer David Mamet, The Unit managed to provide a (relatively) realistic look at all that special forces daring-do without descending into the lunacy that was Chuck Norris’s tour de force, Delta Force, in its attempt to deliver us that adrenaline fix we all crave.

Unfortunately, season two of The Unit is off to an inauspicious start, despite Mamet dishing out more stiff, professional dialogue in his allotted hour than you’d find in a weekend of Dragnet re-runs.

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Review: Men in Trees

Men In Trees

In the US: Fridays, ABC, 10/9c

In the UK:
Living TV from 2007

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m probably not the best person to review this show. By no means whatsoever am I the target demographic for a show about a relationship counsellor (played by Anne Heche) who gets cheated on by her fiancé and who decides to “find herself”.

It’s like there’s a protective oestrogen aura, just around the concept alone, that’s designed to fend off male viewers.

But if I can get through every episode of Sex and the City, I can get through Men in Trees, particularly since its creator, Jenny Bicks, was one of the headwriters and exec producers of that hallowed show.

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Third-episode verdict: Justice

I liked the first episode of Justice. Fresh TV from the House of Bruckheimer, it was a touch more CSI: Miami than CSI – the kind of show where no one just has a meeting, they have to stand up the whole time, shout and have handheld cameras swung between them – but it was new and different. Do I like it now, three episodes in?

Yes, I do. It’s toned down the CSI: Miami stupidity and still continues to offer some incisive views on law as practised in big media cases in the US. Victor Garber’s Ron Trott is a fantastic piece of haminess. And you’re never sure who you’re supposed to be rooting for.

There’s still little characterisation going on – although as is the case with many third episodes, characters started throwing out random bits of background history to give the illusion of characterisation:

“Like I tell my son, never get caught in a compromising position with an inebriated woman.”

“Your son’s five years old”

“It’s never too early to start telling them.”

But that’s no bad thing at this early stage, as long as the plots remain strong, which they do. The fact we’re dealing with defence attorneys rather than prosecutors remains a relatively novel twist, particularly since we’re never sure until the end if the defendant is guilty or innocent. The third episode had a particularly interesting development on that score, which I won’t spoil anyone by revealing. The fact they’re also quite a sleazy bunch is equally novel, although I’m sure Boston Legal fans would disagree.

All in all, I’d say keep watching (or start watching come October if you’re in the UK) Justice since slick and glossy it might be, it’s still smart in the areas that count.

Here’s a YouTube vid for you. It’s the first seven minutes from the pilot episode and gives you a fair idea of what the show’s like if you haven’t watched it yet.