1. "Acceptable TV"
I had to check out this new show on VH1 just to see how they would execute the premise, airing a bunch of mini-pilots and then letting the audience vote on the website
to decide which shows would be back the next week. Initially I was a little disappointed to tune in and learn that the concept wasn't quite that wide-open -- all the shows are generated by the same cast of writers and actors (although there's a revolving spot of user-generated videos that people can submit on the website), and it's pretty much all comedy. Thankfully, though, the stuff they're making is, for the most part, pretty funny. It's basically a sketch comedy show where you get to vote on what you actualy want to see as a recurring character or concept. And even when the concept is pretty dumb, like, say, the game show parody called "Who Farted," the actual bit is pretty funny, mainly because of the little jokes they add, like the contestent finding out he's adopted in the middle of the show. Also the running jokes about "integrated advertising" were funny in a have-your-cake-and-make-fun-of-it-too way. I hope this show does well and stays on the air, because I definitely wanna see how this experiment turns out. I voted for "Joke Chasers" and "Homeless James Bond" this week, btw.
2. "The Riches"
I've never really had much interest in the FX channel's basic cable HBO wannabe approach to original programming, but I was intrigued enough to check out this just on the basis of Eddie Izzard in a dramatic lead role. And given that the other lead is Minnie Driver, I'd kind of assumed it took place in England, so I was a little surprised to tune in and see it taking place in Louisiana (their characters are supposed to be Irish Travellers
, but they're pretty much speaking with American accents). I missed the pilot but I got sucked in by the 2nd episode pretty quickly, so I'm looking forward to seeing where the plot goes. Also, the daughter is way cute. Even if Studio 60 does come back anytime soon I think I'm gonna spend that timeslot with this show.
3. "'Til Death Do Us Part"
When I was writing about Cry-Baby
recently and looking up John Waters on IMDb, I saw that he'd recently appeared on a few episodes of a show called "'Til Death Do Us Part" and assumed that for some reason he'd gotten a recurring role on that crappy Fox sitcom
. Turns out he's the host of a new show on Court TV that dramatizes spousal murder in a kind of trashy, light-hearted way, like "Tales From The Crypt" and he's the crypt keeper who introduces and narrates each sordid tale. They ran two episodes on its debut night, but honestly the first one was so bad I didn't even stay around for the 2nd. The plots are all based on real life cases, with the names and details change, but the whole thing kind of feels soapy and fake anyway. The hook seems to be that it's not clear until the end of each episode whether the wife or husband commits the murder, but I think that'll just end up leading them into a lot of samey storylines in which both has a clear motive and prolonging the conclusion until after the last commercial break. It's kinda cool to see John Waters in a TVseries, but he only seems to get like a minute or two of screentime, so I'm gonna have to file this next to the upcoming Hairspray
remake as something where I'm happy he's getting the paycheck but I'd prefer to avoid it myself.
Not long ago, I was thinking about how Jeff Goldblum had been kind of MIA for a while, and that I missd his oddball presence in movies and wondering when he'd start turning up again. And it seems pretty apt that at this phase in his career, he'd join the growing rush of mid-level film stars moving to TV. But when I found it when it would be yet another hourlong drama about someone who solves crimes by communicating with ghosts, my enthusiasm was dampened. But I gave it a chance, and it's a pretty charming show so far, mainly for being very self-aware of its own ridiculous premise. Raines's condition is a delusion, not a supernatural power, and he knows it, and jokes about it to the sassy ghosts, who change in personality and appearance as he learns more about who the victims were and figures out how they died. It's novel and a little refreshing, but in a way it's even more risky than going for the suspension of disbelief if a straight up ghost story, because of the wierd catch 22 of a guy who has no illusions about the illusory nature of his vivid hallucinations. I'm not sure how well they'll be able to keep up that tension beyond the first run of episodes, and it's the kind of thing that could end up crushed under the weight of its own premise, in the same way that "House" is starting to feel a few seasons in. So far so good, though.
5. "The Dresden Files"
Now, this is a full-on supernatural crime solving show, but it's on the Sci-Fi Network, so, duh. J.G.'s been watching it and I've been slowly getting into it myself. The main character is a wizard (played by a Brit with an American accent, much like Eddie Izzard and the "House" guy), and there's some cheesy Sliders-style low budget special effects, but the show has a certain charm. I also like that the Scully-style lady cop skeptic isn't his only possible love interest, and her skepticism is a lot more plausible because she's never around when all the crazy supernatural stuff goes down.
6. "American Idol"
It's kind of ridiculous how much people are overreacting about the whole Sanjaya thing. Howard Stern and Vote For The Worst aside, there's no way this kid is getting to the finals, and my faith that the Idol gods are just gods was affirmed when Sundance and Antonella didn't get to the top 12. And Sanjaya definitely earne his keep for another couple weeks with the entertainment value of his perm that one week, and his insane performance of "You Really Got Me." I just feel like this whole thing is gonna get ugly, with a lot of people saying vaguely racist shit (the theory a lot of people are repeating about Indian call centers keeping him on the show is pretty borderline already). I'm still really rooting for Jordin, and I like Gina although it doesn't look like she'll last very long. Like a lot of people, I cooled on Blake after that week where he revealed his terrible sketch comedy character, and said that 311 was his favorite band, and I'm still a little tentative with Chris Sligh. And I like Melinda and Lakisha but I'm not totally on board with the idea that they're crushing the competition. Every year there's at least one or two black women who can belt like noone's business, and seem really initially impressive, but once you get into all the different trials and genres, some much more interesting singers emerge.