Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Good Guys, “Pilot”: Let’s bust some punks.

Fans of The Shield will know that Shawn Ryan has another cop show coming down the pipeline. Fans of Bradley Whitford and big, gross, 70s-style mustaches will wish that his new cop show, The Good Guys, had instead been titled Free Mustache Rides.

The Good Guys stars Whitford (who’s aged terribly) as grizzled veteran Dan Stark and Colin Hanks as his partner, Jack Bailey, the young idealist who likes to play things by the book. The show also stars just about every cop cliché you’ve seen in movies and television over the past thirty-some-odd years, and very obviously enjoys wadding them up and throwing them in your face.

Take all of these things, put them together and what do you get? Well, at least until the show figures out exactly what it wants to be, you get a pretty uneven hour of television. It’s obviously a comedy, but what sort of comedy? There were times when I felt that the show was trying to go over the top, venturing into that realm where only comedies like Arrested Development and 30 Rock dare tread. I don’t think that’s the sort of show The Good Guys is trying to set itself up as, so it’s going to have to bring those beats down a bit, especially when you take into consideration the healthy dose of good, old-fashioned drama it’s hinted at.

Uneven though it may have been, I enjoyed it. Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks have good chemistry between them and are obviously having fun in their new roles. Some might find the dynamic between the by-the-book rookie and the has-been old-timer a little played out, but that’s exactly what the show has going for it. The Good Guys never forgets that it’s a walking, talking stereotype, and more importantly, it doesn’t care. In the end neither do you.

Much like Justified, The Good Guys pays a lot of attention to the criminals Dan and Jack are chasing. I’m not sure if this is something the show will keep up in the future, or if it will follow a strictly procedural format, but in the end I don’t think it matters. The show has so much fun with itself that I’m willing to just sit back and see where it takes us. And if that weren’t the case, I’d come back just for Bradley Whitford’s mustache.

Stuff I liked:

  • Mo Ryan had it right when she said that The Good Guys is just the music video for The Beastie Boys Sabotage turned into a TV show.
  • “Let’s bust some punks.”
  • PO-lice that MOO-stache!

The Office: Do We Even Care Anymore?

The answer is yes, we do. Or do we? Yes. At least a little bit, anyway. I think the one thing keeping me into this show is how good it used to be. Surely it can come back, right? Season seven will be so good that we’ll all look back on this past year and laugh at how silly it all seems.

I’ve been putting off my Office reviews for a few weeks now because, after reading some of the last few I’ve written, they were all starting to sound the same to me. Also I’m lazy. With the finale, I was hoping that the show would give us some gleam of hope, something that would make us say, “That’s the show I remember!” But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, we were given one of the most mediocre episodes of the entire season, a half hour of television that if you asked it probably wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what story it wanted to tell.

I’m assuming that “Whistleblower” was meant to be some sort of payoff to the entire Sabre arc we’ve seen this year, except because Kathy Bates only appeared in a few episodes and we only knew that Dunder Mifflin had been bought because every know and then the characters would make reference to selling printers, we never really had a reason to care about Sabre or any trouble they would run into once word got out that their printers catch on fire.

So in the show, several people cop to talking to the press and we never find out what happens to any of them, if anything. But we are treated to a scene of Michael and Jo talking to each other about life, the universe and everything, although while watching it I couldn’t figure out exactly how we had gotten there, or what the point of it was. Was Jo asking Michael to take the fall? Why? It seemed like once we read his apology the whole thing blew over pretty quick. And the payoff? Michael wants Holly transferred back to Scranton, and Jo’s going to see what she can do about it. That’s what we were waiting for? A half-hearted half-promise that maybe there’ll be something to look forward to next season? You know, Holly is great and Amy Ryan made a good addition to the show, but she wasn’t phenomenal. And the possibility of her returning for a few episodes next year isn’t really going to keep me waiting with baited breath.

Maybe I’m a spoiled little ass, but the show has delivered so consistently in the past, that to have to entire finale’s hook be so totally unconnected to the plot of the actual episode makes me wonder if the show will ever be able to reach that level again. I think it says something that when I go back over the episode, I find myself wanting to watch a show starring Gabe and the IT guy.

I think season six could charitably be described as lackluster. And with Steve Carell now saying that he’d like to leave the show after his contract is up a year from now, it may not be the worst idea in the world to wrap things up. Without their leading man, the show would retool is some crazy new way, with Jim or maybe Dwight (but probably Jim) as Regional Manager, and it will never be able to live up to what had come before it. And Lord forbid the show seriously shakes things up and turns into the next Scrubs. That would just be sad. Knowing NBC, who’s in serious need of hits these days — not sure The Office qualifies but it’s definitely the most high-profile of their Thursday night lineup — they’ll keep the show around for a long time yet. It’s completely possible that it’ll turn around, that next season will have us all on the floor grabbing our funny bones (how would you do that?), I just don’t think it’s very likely. And not even the return of Holly Flax could change that.

All Good Things…

Tonight we say goodbye to one of the best shows in the history of television. Goodbye, Lost. There will never be another show like you, although that won’t stop ABC from trying to find one.

Oh yeah. I’ve got more of this stuff coming, too, for those of you who still care.

Breaking Bad, “Kafkaesque”: Church.

There’s a part of me that expects the story of Walter White to end in some sort of Scarface-type shootout, with Walter as Al Pacino. “Kafkaesque” seemed to lay down a little more of that framework, with Walter extending his deal with Gus, who’s now the principle meth supplier for the entire Southwest.

As much as Walter tends to roll his eyes or spaz-out every time Jesse gets on his case, he isn’t too proud to recognize when he makes sense, although he may be too proud to let Jesse know it. And I think it was Jesse who convinced him to go see Gus, or at least to bring up their arrangement during their conversation. And rightly so. If it weren’t for Walt and his magic meth recipe, Gus wouldn’t be pulling down so much money on the street. But Gus, ruthless as he is, also seems to be generous when it comes to Walt and agrees to pay him more while at the same time extending his employment from three months to a year. So, Walt’s a millionaire now, and that’s just fine.

Back at the hospital, Hank seems to have come out of the red, although whether or not he’ll walk again is anyone’s guess. With his hospital bills piling up and Marie’s insistence that they get Hank the best care money can buy, their situation is becoming desperate. The quick fix to that problem is sitting right in front of them, although Walt is understandably reluctant to bring it up: he can pay for Hank’s treatment himself using his filthy, ill-gotten drug money. Here, Skyler turns out to be a little more imaginative, coming up with a story that provides an excuse to pay their bills while at the same time explaining her and Walt’s divorce. It turns out that Walt’s idea for providing for his family after he passed away was to win millions counting cards. And after a slight setback – he blew their entire life savings during his fugue state – he’s earned a tidy sum that’s sitting in seven figures. Smart, eh? Marie buys it. Problem solved.

Or is it? When Walt asks Skyler how she could possibly come up with such a story, she says that she learned from the best. It’s hard to dismiss the suspicion that she understands – at least in a small way – what Walt was going through all those months, and why he started cooking meth in the first place. The divorce papers may be signed, but you can’t put a period on their relationship just yet.

During all this we’ve got Jesse, who’s decided to get back into his own meth game with the usual suspects, Badger and Skinny Pete. Using the two of them to build up hype in the middle of his recovery group meeting was pretty cold-blooded, but at the same time shows his determination to make the whole thing work. Unfortunately, like so many other things Jesse’s involved himself in, I have a feeling this will not end well. Whether he screws it up himself or Walt and Gus become wise to his plan, the entire thing has to go south.

Stuff I liked:

  • Cold-blooded though it may have been, I do like it when Badger acts half-competent.
  • The commercial for Pollos de Hermanos.
  • How Gus transports his meth. Mmm. Delicious.

Modern Family, “Airport 2010” & “Hawaii”

Because these two are essentially the same episode, I decided to review them both together. It was a little surprising that Modern Family’s first two-parter, which took the family across the Pacific, wasn’t used as the season finale. While they may not have been the season’s funniest episodes (I thought “Hawaii” was right up there with the best), they were definitely among the most solid, and would have served as a great cap to the year.

The first half of the hour, “Airport 2010,” showed what it took just to get the family on its way, and it was sort of fitting that to take up its own episode. And while most of the family can roll with the punches and take everything as it comes, for Jay, the entire ordeal serves as a sign of things to come. While he expected to spend a nice, relaxing birthday with Gloria in Hawaii, she surprised him by inviting the entire family along. Between them and all the funtivities she’s got planned, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get the R&R he was looking forward to. For a while, at least, that ends up working in his favor.

While at the beach, Jay’s brother calls to wish him a happy 63rd birthday and reminds him that their dad was the same age when he died. Now Jay’s an overnight health guru, trying to whip himself back into shape, with Gloria wanting to relax and sit by the pool.

After a rocky start to the trip, Phil aims to use his time with Claire in Hawaii as a second Honeymoon. Claire isn’t really having it, saying that because she’s a fulltime mom, this isn’t really a vacation, it’s a business trip. I couldn’t help but feel this was partly a response to Phil leaving her at the airport when he drove Mitchell back home to get his wallet. But eventually, Phil is able to drag her away from her motherly duties, leaving the kids more or less to their own devices. Of course their alone time is short-lived. After Haley goes off with some kids she’s met and gets drunk, Claire’s again pulled away.

I understand that Phil and Claire are very easy-going parents. They kind of have to be, but I didn’t really buy the two of them going so easy on Haley after her little episode. Still, when Haley – who looked more coked-out than anything – asked her mom if this is what happened every time you got drunk, Claire telling her that yes, yes it was, more than made up for it.

During all of this, Cameron’s trying to tell that he may have overstated his love for adventure by implying that he had a love for adventure. I thought there was a lot of good stuff here, especially the two of them looking for Lilly, who got lost in the underbrush wearing her jungle-print outfit.

Of course, Manny considers himself a man of the world, so a trip to Hawaii is a perfect opportunity to get out there and spread his wings a little. He finds that he’s going to have a hard time picking up ladies with Luke as his wingman. I guess you could probably write a Perfect Strangers-type sitcom with the two of them as roommates. Luke is funny, but I feel Manny would still carry it, like he does so much of Modern Family.

Things I liked:

  • Dylan “breaking out” of the Dunphy’s.
  • “We can drink lavender tea and eat lavender scones.”
  • “I’m just a boy trying to bring style back to travel.”

NBC Cancels Heroes. Long, National Nightmare At An End.

Citing high production costs, low ratings and what a horrible, horrible train wreck the show had become, NBC has officially given the axe to Heroes. It was thought that the network might wrap up the series with a 4-6 episode order, or possibly a two-hour movie, but no dice. To make viewers feel better, NBC sent out a press release detailing several new series that are sure to last 5 or 6 episodes, at least. I mean, things can only get better, right?

30 Rock, “Emanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land”: I once saw a baby give another baby a tatoo!

I haven’t been incredibly happy with the way 30 Rock has handled the three men in Liz’s life this season. Jon Hamm, Dean Winters and Jason Sudeikis are all good actors and have been used very well on the show in the past, but with the exception of Floyd a few episodes back, I feel like their appearances have been largely wasted with the quick, throw-away scenes we’ve seen this year. In a way, their appearances in last night’s episode reminded me of the season overall. Peaks of greatness that too quickly descended into mediocrity, although “Emanuelle Goes to Dinosaurland” was probably one of the season’s stronger outings.

If the episode suffered from anything, it was that it was trying to do too much with too little time. Really, the entire night could have been spent with Liz visiting her former flames before going to Floyd’s wedding. But we still had Jack’s relationship with Nancy and Avery to contend with, as well as Tracy’s attempt to reconnect with his youth for an upcoming movie role.

Slightly overloading an episode can sometimes work in its favor, depending on how the various plot threads come together and their thematic relevance to one another. Now, there’s no unwritten rule that an episode’s A, B and C stories all need to relate to each other, although I think it can sometimes help things flow a little better. Although Tracy’s visit to his old neighborhood offered up a lot of laughs – even though the bulk of it boiled down to different riffs on the same joke – I thought it really took the focus off of what the episode was all about: love and relationships.

I was glad to see Wesley, back from England, and a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t take the show more seriously when he told Liz a few months back, “I’ll see you in May, for Sweeps. It’s what we call Spring Cleaning in England.” I also thought that his character was much funnier this time around. And for someone who spent all of last week coming to the realization that the expectations had been set too high and that she just needed to settle for someone, I was surprised at how quickly Liz threw that lesson out the window. Although Wesley asking her how he lined up with the other men in her life seemed to put things into perspective somewhat.

It seems like Jack’s relationship problems may be coming to an end. I always saw him as someone who would never be able to let go of the fast-paced corporate lifestyle, so a woman like Avery always seemed like a natural fit for him. But still, there’s a piece of Jack that just wants to settle down and take things slow. We’ve seen that far-away look in his eye while he contemplated moving to Pennsylvania with Edie Falco in “Episode 210,” and taking over Larry Braverman’s identity in “Reunion.” Normally, I’d expect him to choose Avery (although there’s always a chance…), but realistically, unless they pull an Angie, making references to her while only bringing her out once or twice a season, expect Jack to screw things up with both women.

Tracy reconnecting with his past definitely had some funny beats, although it seemed like the episode’s commercial break, periodically taking us away from Liz and Jack’s relationship problems. Him naming off all the horrible things he had seen growing up in the ghetto reminded me of all the cut footage from movies like Best in Show and Anchorman. And maybe the whole experience will help him to finally win that Oscar.

“Dinosaurland” was part 1 of 2, and from the teaser it looks like what overall has been a fairly mediocre season will at least be able to finish strongly. I mean, it’s got Matt Damon, so things are already looking up.

Things I liked:

  • Garfield 3: Feline Groovy
  • “You sound like me at the Olympic Village.”
  • If Chums were an actual show, I’d watch it.
  • Hard to Watch, based on the book, “Stone Cold Bummer” by Manipulate
  • Jon Hamm’s hook hands had a very Buster Bluth feel to them. “I’m a monster!”
  • You know that somewhere out there, there’s a group of Plushies.