I haven’t had a lot of time this Fall for TV watching, but there has been some good TV to watch.It’s worth writing about Hawaii Five-O, Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp, Nikita, The Good Wife and Modern Family.
First up is Hawaii Five-O. It’s actually been somewhat of a disappointment. The plots have been weak and routine police procedural stuff. Grace Park is surprisingly wooden in the role of a rookie cop who somehow knows all the answers. And even though Scott Caan started off the show as a highlight with his wit, his talking like he has ants in his shorts act gets wearisome by about the third show you watch. And then there’s the high-end technology that always saves the day which would seem farfetched even for the CIA. So why is this show a highlight? First of all, you can’t beat seeing Hawaii visuals on TV – Hawaii is definitely a character in the show, as it should be. Second, the plots are getting better. The show where the surfer was shot was a low point but the shows since have gotten much better. I really liked the plot where we viewers didn’t have any more insight than the detectives in chasing down would-be bank robbers and then again when the detectives were chasing down a newlywed killer. In both shows, the viewer followed the detectives nearly exclusively which was a welcome change from seeing the bad guys do their thing and wondering when the police where going to figure it out. As for Scott Caan, I think he may be mellowing his act a little and I really like the ongoing subplot about his daughter and how he tries to be a good Dad even as work and his ex make it difficult. Now, if they could only get rid of the line when they approach a stranger and say “we’re five-oh” as though that means anything to anyone other than people who watch the TV show.
Next up, is Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp. I started watching because Kip Winger was part of the reality show cast (Winger rocks!) but I got hooked on the concept. It was a short run, maybe just seven episodes, of watching regular people with musical talent who always wanted to be rock stars. A slew of people show up at the “camp” and audition. The 3 counselors chose 5 people each so we watched those 15 people chosen as strangers turn into three bands by the end of a week. They performed a cover song, performed unplugged, wrote an original song, and recorded it in a recording studio. It was produced by Mark Burnett so you know there is going to be some clever editing to give the sense of conflict and you know you are going to need to deal with a certain amount of cheese. But some scenes were just priceless like a bassist orders a drink that ends up looking all frilly and as his luck goes, that’s the night Lemmy shows up and asks him what the f he’s drinking. Hard to call it good TV but I had a lot of fun watching it.
I’ve always been a fan of the Nikita world – woman’s life taken over by the government to become an assasin, but I haven’t enjoyed any follow-up as much as the original (French) movie. The new TV show has a good premise, though: what happens after the Nikita escapes that government world. And back when the movie came out, one probably considered what she needed to do as necessary. In our current times, however, the government agency is now a rogue agency which also suits the storyline. So now we have a government trained killer going after the organization that she used to be part of. And she’s got a mole working the inside with her and she’s got a complicated relationship with Michael who is alternately the right-hand man for the really bad guy in charge and is one of the few with a conscience. Nice depth to the story. The acting is a little weak and there’s a lot of people just trying to look cool. Also, the tech is sometimes a little questionable. But there’s definitely a sense that the story is going somewhere so I’ll stick around for the ride.
The Good Wife is not a new show but it is so good, I need to mention it here. And it is a highlight of the Fall TV season for me. The show is saddled with a terrible name that only addresses one small part of the show. The lead character is Alicia. Her husband was the Illinois attorney general and was caught with a hooker so he had to resign and Alicia didn’t leave her husband – that’s where the name comes from. But as I said, that’s only a small part of the show. Most of each episode actually follows Alicia in her job as a lawyer making the show primarily a legal drama. But the law firm does a lot of its own investigation with a pair of in-house investigators so it is a little bit of a whodunit. And Alicia’s husband is trying to get his political career back on track so there’s a healthy dose of politics. Also, there’s the political connections in the office like the competition of Alicia to stay on top of her game as the sole breadwinner. And the competition between the two in-house investigators. There’s also a bit of a family drama where Alicia’s two teenagers get caught in politicial crossfire or do typical stupid teeanage things. And on top of all these varying storylines and rich breadth, the characters really make the show – the investigator Kalinda who always seems to be a little mysterious even if we think we learn what she’s been hiding; or Alicia’s mother-in-law who is priceless when finding out that her grandson’s girlfriend is not a white WASP; and my new favorite is Eli, the political strategist who knows exactly how to work the system.
I’ll also throw in an honorable mention for Modern Family. Again, it’s not a new show, but it is still providing big laughs. The episode earlier in the season when Cam and Mitchell eventually kissed was just outstanding. It may have been a little predictable, but seeing the kids freak out about the dead grandma coming out on the printer was very clever. And I got the biggest laugh out of Gloria putting one over on Jay and Jay’s embattled resignation “beats slapping the chicken”.