IR Television Review: Human Falacies & Supernatural Idiosyncracies – Returning Television Shows – Spring 2012
The intention of human fallacies in unwittingly non-normal situations whether it is tracking drug smugglers, taking down a government agency or trying to exist as a supernatural create in a world of human brings its own set of idiosyncrasies which allows the participants to react in a variety of ways but most necessarily in the normality of who they are.
Justified [FX] Adjusting to a life without a murdering matriarch consumes itself to the will of Yankees invading the plot in the smiling goodness of Neal McDonough, Now granted Raylan (the always cool Timothy Olyphant) is still pervading his sense of Southern law, but, at some point, the women in his life get sick of it. His former flame returned to darkness in the intent of her ex, Boyd Crowder, who has found his way to enlightenment through a more demonstrative criminal method. The realization of Raylan, especially when he gets into another shootout in a hotel, seems to prove that he doesn’t have what is needed to be “father” material. Enter Carla Gugino (always a welcome sight) as a Director in the Marshall service who gives Raylan a run for his money. In terms of her resurrection in terms of intermingling with Raylan’s heart, only time will tell. This bodes darkly, especially with a treacherous and involved runner of organized crime who seems the figure to beat, personified in the visage of Mykelti Williamson who brought tenderness as “Bubba” in “Forrest Gump” but hits the intended notes of intelligence and intimidation which has not quite yet come to fruition.
Nikita [CW] Involving the notion of psychology into the reasoning behind Nikita’s actions to take down Division, the source of all her strength and death, becomes more dastardly when the woman responsible for recovering her from her initial life as a junkie becomes one of the masterminds behind the company that caused her so much grief. Many of the plot developments begin to take on double negatives especially with a girl Nikita brought back from the brink now the focus of an internal hit squad. Percy, right now the most engaging of the villains (after getting out of his box), mingles a turn of loyalties with the wantonness of Nikita to try to balance both sides of the equation but situations, despite her best efforts, are likely to explode on cue.
Royal Pains [USA] HankMed has truly got into a normal functioning matter-of-course with Boris’ illness somewhat under control and the boys’ dad taking responsibility for his earlier sins. The more interesting structure of this season, by extension, is Evan’s relationship with his girlfriend-now-fiancee. The class structure progression of this ideal is something that some people might relate to if one has experienced The Hamptons because the possibility of all is right around the corner and it dexterously keeps you on your toes. Hank’s pressing perception also lies in the fact that Jill, his past and present girlfriend, is leaving to do her part in Uruguay and that his one true friend on the peninsula, a pro golfer named Jack [played with aplomb abandon by Tom Cavanagh], is suffering from a manageable but deadly progression of lupus and just wants to joke it away. Divya is dealing with class structure pressures from the opposite direction in that she has to pay back her part for bailing on her Hindu wedding. All within, the series is attacking more domestic issues which give it a sense of depth without the ideal that everything in these people’s lives will collapse at any given moment.
Being Human [SyFy] The predatory nature of the leads involved in this series dictates that everything in their lives cannot remain structured and unchanged as life (or death) always has a way of creeping up on you. Our lead vampire, despite being able to quench his thirst for blood while working at a hospital, only needs to watch the undoing of his maker from last season to propel him into a situation he cannot control. The most intriguing of all is the introduction of his lost love who supposedly went on a rampage when he was around in the 1920s. The flashbacks and the way they are captured are undeniably forthcoming because it shows the indelible sense of self-control that is required of this person. Our werewolf in question is both bringing and diminishing more from his pack and the dichotomy of his new girlfriend because of what she is, emboldens the idea of alpha versus benign into a very tense atmosphere. Our ghostly female roommate-in-question finds more of her own and finds out that it might be possible for her to sleep (and therefore dream) but it unlocks something inside her which, when compounded with certain forms of addiction (like possession of a human to experience sex), creates an interesting form of withdrawal which is unbalanced by the death of her mother. The series continues to explore utterly human experiences in otherworldly situations using a seemingly progression of morality.
The resolution behind creating the next franchise to storm the planet revolves with an intensity around a cross generational audience. An interesting blend of the new thinking involves Dreamworks’ new distribution deal with Disney. Putting the power of Disney’s marketing with Dreamworks’ inherent overall story prowess has wonderful possibilities if applied to the correct outlay.
The first project out of the gate is the adaptation of “I Am Number 4” produced by Michael Bay and directed by DJ Caruso (“Disturbia”). The notion of the outcast plays heavy here within the overall narrative structure following a young man set apart from his world. Alex Pettyfer, a star on the rise who last tried to breach the game with “Operation: Stormbreaker” for The Weinstein Company, has a good perception of what this kind of anti-hero might bring. Mixing elements of old school Ryan Phillippe with a dash of Pattinson, Pettyfer’s presence moves with cause but forces guard against his mission. In adhering to the book, the gestation of melodrama undeniably slips through into the plot, which for older viewers, might be too jarring in terms of its superficiality.
With its younger demographic and the sleek campaign behind it though, the story of a boy from another world with powers who is on the run has distinct upsides. This underdog motif works especially well because he can both defend his friends and win the girl without alienating either one. The inherent dynamic though that lifts the picture up but is not employed until the very end is the sense of the hidden allies. Granted the groundwork needs to be placed but inherently it seems that Timothy Olymphant (an exceptional actor of late in FX’s “Justified”) does the most he can with the little he has to work with. The opportunity missed with his backstory (and Pettyfer’s) speaks to a loss of dramatic texture for the death of their world. While more expensive, this is lessened for a more practical approach which tends to register less cinematic.
The resolution plays the game hard placing all of the fury into the last minutes with a massive fight and rampage in a high school which is more than pervasive in its ability to show what the overall world of these films could be. However, as is a problem with “Twilight”, the world seems slightly out of reach yet very close to the heart. What tends to create the connection here ironically is done almost through subterfuge. The chimera of all things is the tipping point. Giving away any more would ruin the plot which does point to effective structure. However the reasoning becomes: will a continuing story be one of interest, especially when the overall villains, despite their viciousness, exist with a comedic overbearing which diminishes the film’s backbone. Out of 5, I give “I Am Number Four” a 2.
While not surprising, the new TV approaches in the Spring season have a decidely genre bent with some hits and misses. Caprica leads the pack with a sense of history which makes it undeniably poignant while Modern Family takes a real bent approach to humor. “Justified” and “Human Target” have Elmore Leonard and DC Comics backgrounds respectively but still need to find their true voices while “Legend Of The Seeker” trails behind simply because the way it was conceived falls in a smaller and retreatable category, by no production fault of its own. Clear cut elements and effective programming possibilities.
Caprica The essence with a spin-off is creating a crux of tension that feels dexterious which is not easy after making something as layered as “Battlestar” no matter how convoluted the ending might have become. The reality here is just the opposite. The aspect of terrorism is brought to the home arena. The structure is ingenious at times though perhaps a bit overplayed. The entire progression balances the ideas of two fathers and two daughters. The paradox is existing one side in real life and the other in an artificial reality. Alessandra Torresani who plays a girl whose ghost is trapped in one of her father’s creation gives a very distinct vision of what happens later. It becomes a tale of revenge of one angry girl which will eventually bring down an entire civilization. The reality is that this simplistic vision weighed more complex by everything around it makes this an apt companion piece for “Battlestar” though it takes a bit more insight.
Human Target Christopher Chance is like the Indiana Jones for the 80s sect. While not as purely intellectual as someone like Henry Jones Jr., he does have his uses though the standards become a bit brutish. The good angle is that with exec producer McG behind the wheel, it has a good feeling of maintaining a certain throughline. This is based on the fact that if it was just Mark Valley, formerly of “Fringe”, the series would not have legs. it is the inclusion of Chi McBride (late of “Pushing Daisies”) and the irrepressable Jackie Early that gives this team a bit of the lopsided “A-Team” vibe though a bit more dysfunctional. Some of the interactions specifically between Valley and a female FBI agent that he keeps screwing over have a nice cadence to them while other stories (like that of a washed up wrestler) seem quickly pushed together. The great element is that CG makes it possible to show global hopping without actually doing it. McG understands production value and the necessity of the audience’s beliefs of where they are. So far the show has done a good job of maintaining the status quo.
Justified After the show (initially called “Lawman”) had to give up that title to a recently defunct show, the odds seemed a bit stacked against it in specific order. However, the pedigree of Elmore Leonard would seem to play to that end. While Timothy Olymphant’s Raylan is bad in most essences, the one thing that seems to be missing at times from this series is Leonard’s trademark ice wit. While traces of it remain, one hopes the ante is increased in specific order. Certain angles like a judge with a penchant for back alley fun behind the cowboy saloon show that this structuree is not completely lost. Graham Yost, who wrote “Speed”, keeps the show on track but the velocity though workable needs to settle in gear and speed up.
Legend Of The Seeker The texture of this series unlike its similar younger sister is more in the frameset of “Xena”. Using the same structure and the backdrop, it is effective for sword and scorcery but for the overall tangent of the love story and the quest, the problem becomes one of two much verbage and not enough substance. The constant element of the “Mother Confessor” and certain other slang simply does not bely the actual narrative. When the series gets into the simple dark drama, it does alright but like the ill-fated “Flash Gordon” series, the problem becomes emotional connectability which beyond certain moment with Kara, the would-be Xena clone, the drive of the series does not overconnect. Also with the open arena of pay cable moving into this genre with both HBO and Starz working the series, the saturation is encroaching. Spartacus: Blood & Sand” by Renaissance, the same production company and producer in Rob Tappert and Sam Raimi understand the marketplace which makes it all the more interesting since ABC Studios (the same one behind “Lost”) didn’t put it on an ABC affiliate but rather syndicated it.
Modern Family The key is making a mockumentary based reverse-comedy sitcom is the saturation of the market. The Office did it first understanding the necessity of slapstick and true drama but had at times a lack of connection. “Parks & Recreation” is set in a surreal world but has begun to find its connections but still within a singles ravaged environment. What “Modern Family” has, despite some pacing issues, is a different approach in regards to family. What is interesting to note is that when played against this different backdrop, the stakes are obviously higher and a little bit more almost somber despite their obvious jabs at humor. Whether it is the father being lured to adultery by a former girlfriend or a mother trying to show off her children to a former female competitor to a remarried older man trying to find a balance between his overweight Latino stepson and his gay life-partnered son, the drama that unfolds is real and persistent which gives it a basis. While not difficult to watch, the idea is that it plays so close to the bone that the approach might be too much for some viewers.