April 11, 2012 Leave a comment
Isn’t it wonderful?
The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, beautiful children are being born, pollen is invading your grillz…doesn’t it just make you want to go eat a picnic in the park? With all of this frivolity, spring also means the rise (and sometimes gloriously catastrophic fall) of new tv shows! So just in case Harry’s Law isn’t quite giving you the thrills you so eagerly anticipated, I’m here to tell you about the best shows on television that you aren’t watching.
Up All Night
The Premise: Lorne Michaels adopts a baby sloth with Kristen Wiig and names it Don Pardo Jr., but what he doesn’t know is that the sloth has superpo…oh, wait. Sorry, that’s the unfinished spec script I’ve been writing in my spare time. This show is when a married couple decides to have the cutest baby that has ever graced the small screen. Reagan (Christina Applegate) is the producer of her best friend, and resident Oprah-substitute, Ava’s (Maya Rudolph) talk show, while Chris (Will Arnett) is a stay-at-home dad. Baby things happen. You know, like, first birthdays and trips to the beach and playtimes at the park with Molly Shannon. The main focus of the show, however, is Reagan’s producing duties which are only further enhanced/complicated by Ava’s unconventional antics in trying to keep up with the latest trends. Oh, those silly talk show hosts. Whaaaaat…folly (said with Handler-esque timing).
What Makes It Great: Maya Maya Maya. Seriously, she belongs on screen forever and always. And she absolutely doesn’t disappoint, packing all of her lines with as much punch as befits a former hip-hop-star-turned-Rachael-Ray-wannabe. Christina Applegate and Will Arnett are fantastic as well, giving hilariously realistic performances that make you laugh incredulously at how accurate their characters are to people you know (or ARE duh duh dunnhhh). The writing is spot on every time, and I honestly can’t think of a single time when the show has dropped the ball. I am consistently enjoying every week’s episode, if not rolling on the floor clutching my love handles with raucous laughter. Add in some pitch-perfect guest spots (Molly Shannon! Henry Winkler! Eve Best! Will Forte! SHARON OSBOURNE!), and you’ve got a recipe for the best new comedy of the season (yeah, yeah, I hear your protests, O worshippers of Zooey, patron saint of large bangs).
The Premise: This season’s attempt at filling the mythological Lost void, Awake is about Detective Lucius Malfoy Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) and the psychological clusterjunk he experiences after a car crash involving himself, his wife, Hannah (Laura Allen), and son, Rex (Dylan Minnette). When Britten recovers, he finds that in one of the realms of his consciousnesses, his wife has survived while his son died, and in the other, vice versa. Now he has to decide when he is awake and when he is asleep. Adding to the mix is that the criminal cases cluttering his workspace are starting to overlap in very calculated ways, making it all the more difficult for him to separate dream from reality. AND WHAT’S MORE, his boss, Tricia Harper (Laura Innes) seems to know something’s up and has special dealings with shady characters. MYTHOLOGY ALERT.
What Makes it Great: Well, the pilot was one of the best pilots of any show I’ve seen in a long time, so I’m still riding off the heat of that. However, the show is still coming along nicely, if not quite living up to the beauty that was its first hour. Awake does get to boast excellent acting from Isaacs and Minnette as his son (remember that cute kid who went “trick-or-treating for ears” in S4 of Grey’s?), as well as the always welcome presence of Fez/Wilmer Valderrama as Britten’s partner, and the marvelous Cherry Jones (24) as one of Britten’s psychologists. The murder cases are also very intriguing, especially when they overlap in the realms. If nothing else, this show is worth the watch just to see what happens when one realm becomes increasingly more real or what the writers will do to Britten in hopes of shedding light on the mythology of the series. Also, cool blue wash cam filters bro.
The Premise: Kerry Washington (Ray, The Last King of Scotland) plays Olivia Pope, a tough-as-nails crisis management expert who runs her own cover-up business. It’s a bit of a stretch for me to count this as a “show you’re not watching,” since most of you aren’t watching simply because it only premiered last Thursday. However, I was so enraptured by this show that I needed to throw in some gratuitous plugging. Washington’s Olivia is joined by her band of merry stereotypes misfits that are so underused that I won’t yet bother to learn their names, hence I will refer to them as follows: the Fiesty Redhead (Darby Stanchfield), the Black Smooth-Talker (Columbus Short), the Ethnic Computer Whiz (Guillermo Diaz), the Newbie (an intriguing Katie Lowes), and last but certainly not least, the Right-Hand Man (the triumphant return of Lost’s Henry Ian Cusick). Yay diversity! Ten points for Gryffindor! This team of graduates from the Aaron Sorkin School of Elocution and Patter-Speak traverse around our nation’s capital being “gladiators in suits,” to borrow one of their overworked catchphrases. Oh! What a mad world we live in! The president is having affairs! An esteemed army vet is accused of murder! Olivia has a top secret past flame! How Scandalous! All jokes aside, the show moves with a lightning fast pace and boasts line readings that would put Jesse Eisenberg/Mark Zuckerberg to shame.
What Makes It Great: Scandal is not without flaws (direct your attention to that cheeseball snippet I just quoted), but the story moves and keeps you interested every step of the way. Though some of the characters may seem contrived, I am thankful especially for the Newbie’s presence in the story, as she becomes the vessel through which the audience learns the way of this fascinating world. Sure, it’s nothing original, but it’s practical. Darn that pesky yet ever-so-trendy in medias res technique! The twists and turns are also very fun and exciting to discover, not necessarily because they can’t be cracked, but the show barely leaves you enough time to decipher them what with all the structured blazers and gothic elevators running amok. That said, the cast is undoubtedly Scandal’s strongest suit. Kerry Washington (she of the Majestic Jaw Lines) brings great humanity to a character that could be so one-note and boring no matter how fast the demands of the dialogue are. In her scenes with the excellent actor/director Tony Goldwyn (Tarzan, Dexter), Washington allows Olivia to connect with the audience by breaking her own cardinal rule: not letting emotions surface. This show also seems to bring in all of the under-the-radar actors that have arguably been some of the better parts of the other shows they are known for. We have the perpetually terrific Jeff Perry and Kate Burton (who were both two of the best guest stars Grey’s Anatomy has ever seen) as White House execs, the founding father of “see you in another life, brotha,” Henry Ian Cusick, and of course the Kerrsters herself. So join me, won’t you, for a season filled with sharp tongues, high-profile gossip, and enough jaw line maneuvering to make you develop lockjaw!
The Good Wife
The Premise: Finally, I have an outlet to talk about my favorite show on television right now. Yes, I realize this isn’t a new show this season, but NO ONE WATCHES IT AND I WANT TO CRY. Well into its third season, The Good Wife follows the life of Alicia Florrick, played by the stratospherically good Julianna Marguiles (ER), as she recovers from a Monica Lewinsky-like scandal involving her State’s Attorney husband, a smarmily likeable Chris Noth (Sex and the City). After her husband goes to prison from the prostitute debacle, Alicia goes back to work as a defense lawyer for Lockhart & Gardner, respectively and brilliantly played by Christine Baranski (Cybill, The Big Bang Theory) and Josh Charles (Sports Night, Dead Poets Society). Thus begins the episodic formula that every other law show on tv follows, but not like you’ve seen it before.
What Makes It Great: EVERYTHING. Ok. But really. The acting is flawless. The writing is flawless. The story arcs are flawless. There is very little, if anything at all, I can say that is wrong with this show. Where every other law television show follows the formulaic “big case, find the people, stuff goes down, solve case”, The Good Wife goes far beyond that in the way it relates the in-court happenings with the world around them. The law firm is simply the medium through which the story of a spurned wife trying to hold her family together is told. With every cross-examination, there comes an emotionally charged scene in Alicia’s bedroom. With every deposition, there comes a family confrontation to challenge George and Martha. The main story is Alicia’s story, not the typical whodunit. That’s what sets this show apart from all the rest. And it’s not like the law cases are boring in any way. They are extremely riveting, as Robert and Michelle King (the creators) fill their scripts with brilliant word play, making it any actor’s field day. The show loves to make art imitate life as the Kings infuse political events happening in the real world into their story, shedding new light on our society with each episode. Also, probably to indulge me and me alone, they cast SOOOOOOO MANY stage actors who I have been obsessing with for years and years, mostly because the show films in Brooklyn and STAGE ACTORS NEED CA$HMONIES. So if you are so inclined to get all riled up when you see Marin Ireland’s beautiful face pop up on the screen, or if you like watching Jonathan Groff and Bobby Steggert cry, then this is the place for you. Seriously though, The Good Wife needs more love. Just try it, I promise you’ll like it.
Well, wasn’t that fun? Now throw away that homework, grab some Nutella-To-Go and turn on that tv!