This week, the Popdose staff takes a look at the new television series on the four major networks. Here’s what we think of Monday’s shows.
The Event (NBC) – With the embers of Lost still smoldering, it had to be expected that one — if not more — of the networks would be jockeying for the cerebral thriller/drama crowd. The question is: is the television viewing public ready for another frustratingly complicated maze of hints and insinuation? The answer is likely as complicated as the web of questions that went unanswered at the close of that series. If this is a review of NBC’s The Event, then why all the island talk?
The parallels are undeniable: the plane, the skipping forward and back, the mysterious figures with hidden agendas, the hero apparent — and this is just the first fifteen minutes. Holding the weight of the series on his shoulders, Jason Ritter is the central figure. While it’s anyone’s guess why — Ritter admitted during a recent interview that he is not even sure what “The Event” is — he is given the task of serving as the unwitting catalyst for the events of the first episode.
Without going into too much detail, Sean Walker (Ritter) is a seemingly earnest young man who gets wrapped up in a series of circumstances that finds him searching for his missing girlfriend, Leila, played by Sarah Roemer. Elsewhere, we’re introduced to Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes), who leads an unseen group who are currently being detained by the U.S. Government. When President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) learns of this “camp,” he moves to shut it down, against the wishes of his advisers and staff. This all culminates back in the plane, coming full-circle from the opening of the show.
While intricate, the plot moved quickly and resolved details in a fascinatingly satisfying way. Rather than leave you hanging, the writers give you answers in real-time; or so it seems. The series will certainly be worth watching to see how the underutilized talents of Innes and Zeljko Ivanek will come into play, as it’s clear that they both hold keys to the truth surrounding “The Event.” The first episode certainly delivered on enough fronts to get me to watch the next episode, but at this point it is going to have to separate itself from the pack a bit and grow its own identity. Just remember: at the first sign of sentient black smoke, run. — Michael Parr
Mike & Molly (CBS) – Hi, I’m Dave. I’m 6’1” and weigh 300+ pounds, the most I’ve ever weighed in my life. I wear a 4x t-shirt — you know, the shirts that are $3.99 for x-tra big sizes — and I can’t walk into Walmart and buy any piece of clothing besides socks. I also really like comedy. So when Mike & Molly appeared on the new CBS schedule — a comedy about two portly (my favorite word for “fat”) people hooking up — it looked like a perfect match for me.
Mike & Molly comes from Chuck Lorre, the creator of both Two and a Half Men and the Big Bang Theory, both of which I love. Most people I’ve talked to seem to know Melissa McCarthy (Molly) from her stint on Gilmore Girls as Sookie St. James, but having never seen that show, I’m much more familiar with comedian Billy Gardell from his stand-up work and his brief stint on Yes, Dear.
The show certainly has some big shoes to fill, as it takes over for the sensational Big Bang Theory on Monday nights, but big is what this show is about. Mike is a lonely cop following in his dad’s footsteps, while Molly is the schoolteacher that takes charge in the classroom but can’t seem to control her love life.
The chemistry between McCarthy and Gardell is great from their first meeting at Overeaters Anonymous, and the self-deprecating fat humor between the two of them is good-natured and pretty hilarious. Molly drops hints during the entire episode that she kind of digs Mike, and by the end, Mike finally grows the cojones to ask her out (while he’s at her house taking a police report after a break-in).
Unfortunately, every other line from all of the characters is also a fat joke (and the other ones are jokes about Molly’s sister getting high). Granted, some are pretty funny, but unless that’s toned down a bit in future episodes it’s going to get very old, very quickly.
The show is called Mike & Molly for a reason, so if the focus is mainly on the two of them going forward, this could be a winner. But I need to pull out my list of fat jokes and start checking off the ones that have been used. If I run out by episode three, then we’re in trouble. Maybe I’ll just have to make the list a bit longer instead. —Dave Steed
Lone Star (Fox) – They say the love of a good woman is strong enough to make a man want to be a better person. If that’s the case, imagine what the love of two good women could do to a man — especially a con man. That’s the idea behind Lone Star, the new hour long series on Fox that had a strong debut last night. If the series can sustain the drama and heart that it displayed in its pilot episode, Lone Star will turn out to be one of the season’s best new shows.
James Wolk plays Bob Allen, a Texas con man leading two lives. In Midland, he lives with a Lindsay (Eloise Mumford) a small town girl he hopes to marry. They share a bright yellow house with a small patch of lawn in the front and a backyard big enough for a moon bounce and a barbecue for all of Midland. Bob is a hero to the people of this small town. He’s helped many folks (including Lindsay’s parents) invest in oil fields that will make them rich for the rest of the lives…except the oil fields don’t exist. The money invested was part of a long con run by Bob and his father, John (an oily David Keith). Bob came to Midland to make money, unfortunately, he fell in love, thus breaking the con man’s cardinal rule.
Meanwhile, in Houston, Bob has married into a rich oil family. His wife is the gorgeous and strong Kat (Adrienne Palicki of Friday Night Lights); her father is Clint Thatcher (Jon Voight), a hard-working man who built his empire on his own, one well at a time. Clint hires Bob to come help him run his company, much to the dismay of Cat’s brother, Tram (Mark Deklin), who doesn’t trust Bob for a second. Meanwhile, youngest brother Drew (Bryce Johnson) kind of likes Bob, especially when Bob compliments him on an innovative wind farm idea. Drew has lived in the shadow of Tram his entire life and lacks confidence. One wonders if Bob really believes in him, or if he’s just conning the young man by playing to his weaknesses.
Bob has a dilemma: he wants to go straight. He’s tired of leaving towns when things get tight under the collar; he’s tired of cheating people. This is especially evident during a scene in which he’s conning an old man out of $40,000. After spouting a line about how friendship is more important than money, you can see the guilt under his eyes. Unsure of what he’s doing and who he is anymore, Bob’s conscience is starting to get the better of him. After an entire lifetime of being manipulated and misguided by his father, Bob no longer wants to be a good con man. He just wants to be a good man.
Wolk is exceptional. He has a soulfulness about him that reminds me of a young Kyle Chandler. Moreover, with all-American good looks, honest eyes, and a down-to-earth personality, you want to like and trust Bob the instant you meet him. In other words, he’s the perfect con man. Keith is strapped with clichéd lines like “you have moves I’ve never seen before” and “it’s a house of cards, you don’t get to live in it,” but you get the sense that the writer did this on purpose. John doesn’t have any wisdom to bestow on his son, just catchphrases he’s learned over the years.
Last night’s episode was smartly written and really tugged at the heartstrings, in part through the use of acoustic AAA music that played during pivotal scenes. By the end of the episode, when Bob convinced his dad to let him take the job with Cat’s father and to try and go straight, I was rooting for him to succeed and that everything would work out. Ah, but we know it won’t. — Scott Malchus
Hawaii Five-O (CBS) – Hawaii Five-O is a big, dumb action movie crammed into the confines of a 50-minute TV series. If the pilot is any indication of how this show will be each week, it’ll leave plenty of Stallone and Nicolas Cage fans happy.
Alex O’Loughlin is the new Steve McGarrett, a Naval Intelligence officer who returns home to Hawaii to investigate his father’s murder at the hand of an Irish terrorist (played by a terribly underused James Marsten). As he stands on the docks of Pearl Harbor, where his grandfather died in December of ’41, McGarrett is approached by the governor of Hawaii (Jean Smart) and asked to head up a special task force. She offers him her backing with no red tape to make sure terrorists stay the “hell off of her island.” After he refuses, McGarrett just happens to run into Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim). “You were a hell of a quarterback,” McGarrett tells him. “I was,” Kelly replies, “until you broke all of my records.” Kelly acts as security for a gift shop. Turns out he was set up when he worked for the Honolulu police and had to resign in disgrace. Luckily, McGarrett’s father, a former cop, remained loyal to Kelly. “I only wish there was something I could do,” he says to McGarrett.
McGarrett returns to his father’s house and immediately uses innovative, low tech techniques to discover fingerprints and a secret tape recording by his father that has damaging evidence against the Honolulu PD. Before he can sort out his father’s cryptic recording, he’s confronted by Detective Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan). These two square off like Murtaugh and Riggs, or every other mismatched pair from every other buddy cop movie that was ever made in the history of mankind. They track down an arms dealer who also happens to be involved with human trafficking, prostitution and harboring terrorists. This show has everything, I tell you. Everything!
McGarrett decides to form that task force and he commandeers Danno into being his partner. He then recruits Kelly, because he’s a good cop after all. The last piece of the group is the token female. Grace Park plays Kono, Kelly’s cousin. She’s just about to graduate from the police academy and she’s hot, can surf, and kicks some serious ass! Woo hoo!
Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman pulled out their highlighted copy of the action movie handbook when they developed this pilot and left no cliché out. There are lots of crossed arms to show that the characters mean business, lots of voiceovers to carry us from scene to scene while we watch aerial shots of the island, and plenty of one-liners. Len Wiseman’s direction never lets up and the editing is so fast-paced, if you happen to sneeze you’ll miss something. It’s okay, though — if you’ve seen enough action movies you figure out what’s going to happen next.
Hawaii Five-O isn’t without its charms. There’s the island. It’s always nice to see Hawaii. And Caan is very funny and touching as the divorced father who moved from Jersey to be close to his daughter, living with her mother. Otherwise, this show is so ridiculously over the top, there’s little reason for me to watch it again. Of course, that means it’ll turn out to be a huge hit. — Scott Malchus
Chase (NBC) — A show as basic and boring as its title, Chase is the police procedural you weren’t asking for — a quick-edited yet still bone-crushingly dull look at the amazingly clichéd adventures of a group of U.S. Marshals (led by All My Children vet Kelli Giddish) in pursuit of the baddest criminals the Southwest has to offer.
It’s full of ADD jump cuts and 21st-century sound effects, but judging from the pilot, there isn’t a page in Chase‘s playbook that wasn’t stolen from old episodes of Hunter, or any other random series about crusading cops and cardboard villains. Everything about this show treats you like a ninny, from the repeated reminders that U.S. Marshals apprehended more than 90,000 of America’s most violent and dangerous fugitives last year to the paint-by-numbers plot and the awful, awful dialogue.
Chase is a Jerry Bruckheimer series, so you know pretty much what to expect — action in place of believable characters, interesting plots, and pretty much everything else, with some eye candy tossed in on top — and right from the beginning, it follows his formula, with Giddish and her partner (a sad-looking Cole Hauser) chasing a fugitive through a rodeo, complete with stampeding bulls. Giddish and Hauser split up. She nabs the bad guy. He gets the jump on her, seeing as how she’s about four feet tall and 85 pounds, and hisses “Didn’t your mother teach you girls shouldn’t play with guns?” She kicks his ass and hisses back, “My mother died when I was eight. So no.”
Oh, and a few seconds later, you find out Giddish’s character is nicknamed “Boots.” Because, you know, she wears boots.
The rest of the episode, which finds Boots and her team saddled with a rookie tagalong who gives the marshals an excuse to lay out plot points with pages of contrived dialogue, finds the cops in pursuit of the hilariously named Mason Boyle (Travis Fimmel, whose scary blue eyes will almost certainly pop up in another episode). This is the kind of show where the cops discover the perp has a mother/sister/daughter/whatever, just as the perp is visiting them. The kind of show where everyone sneers a lot to show how tough they are, and the cops sit around their gigantic office barking lines like “Fugitives are just like us — they need food, shelter, and companionship,” or “we caught 90,000 fugitives last year.” The kind of show that should no longer be on television, but will probably pull in decent enough ratings in the 10 PM slot to stick around for a good five or six seasons. It has the potential to become the According to Jim of cop dramas.
If this sounds like your kind of thing, jump right in. Me? I was bored ten minutes into the show, and wouldn’t have finished the episode if I hadn’t been reviewing it. At two different points during the pilot, you hear someone scream “U.S. Marshals! Get out of the way!” Excellent advice, especially where this series is concerned. –Jeff Giles