Third episode verdict: Happy Hour

Not much’s changed since the first episode of this one, which didn’t overly impress me. It didn’t help that Fox showed episode two and episode three out of order, resulting in some very odd behaviours for the characters.

I do kind of like it. As mentioned, there’s an inner sadness to most of the characters that does make you feel sorry for them and if you forget the laughter track, it’s actually an interesting drama with occasional comedic moments. But as a sitcom, it’s really not very good.

Avoid if you’re looking for laughs; watch if you want to see the tears of supposed clowns.

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US TV

Review: The Wire 4.1-4.2

The Wire

In the US: Sundays, 10pm ET/PT, HBO

In the UK: Coming to FX later in the year.

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: 0 since last season’s cull

Major new characters: Dozens. Really.

Format change percentage: 75%

A new season of The Wire is always a disconcerting time for fans. What’s it going to be about this year? Who’s going to be in it from the regulars? The first season was a relatively simple affair: cops chasing drug dealers, although as always with The Wire, it’s never that simple. Season two flipped that round completely and turned it into a cops investigating the demise of working class life in once-industrial cities. Then season three started to look at the politics of policing as well as the politics of the police.

Now season four is dealing with the public education system and local politics. As with all seasons of The Wire, it’s is a slow-burn long-term plot with sub-plots that can only pay off episodes later. And it’s a cracker.

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Third episode verdict: ‘Til Death

I was waiting for the green shoots of comedy to emerge from the distinctly average pilot. Unfortunately, it looks as if someone has come along, planted some uranium pellets and some salt around the green shoots and killed all greenery in a 100 mile radius. There’s still a few laughs per episode and if you found Everybody Loves Raymond endlessly entertaining, you’ll probably love it, but I’d recommend everyone else to stay away unless they have a nice lead-lined suit to keep them going.

The Unit – it does get better

Turns out, as hoped, that the first episode of the new season of The Unit was a blip: the third episode, The Kill Zone, is an absolute cracker. Loads of adrenaline on The Unit side, coupled with some interesting political comments on the home front, with the US army’s policies towards next of kin, funeral payments, etc, put under the microscope.

And yes, it was written by Lynn Mamet. Should be airing October 3rd in the US, which is when season one begins airing on Bravo in the UK, coincidentally.

US TV

Review: Criminal Minds 2.1

Criminal Minds

In the US: Wednesdays, 9pm ET/PT, CBS

In the UK: Season one currently on Five. Will probably air on Living in 2007.

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: 0 (1 soon)

Major new characters: 0

Format change percentage: 0%

Cast members looking seriously older: 1

Criminal Minds was one of those shows I rejected as stupid over a year ago when I saw the screener. I’ve caught an episode here and there since, and while it’s not that bad, it combines massive over-seriousness with completely preposterous storylines.

The thing is, most serial killers, psychopaths and sociopaths are really dull. They’re not like the serial killers in books and movies. So when you make a TV series about them, you either have to come up with some completely unrealistic serial killers or produce a dull show.

So I tuned into the premiere episode of the second season, which picks up from last season’s finale, The Fisher King (Part One). My, they’ve gone for “interesting” killers in a big way, haven’t they?

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