Reaper Madness

"I never joke about quiche."
-Adam Baldwin, on last night's Chuck

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Reaper Madness

I don't know if it's a burgeoning super talent (pattern recognition) or just that I watch too much TV, but I find myself able to identify the what network a new show is on within a couple of minutes. My dad can do that with old cars; he can see a car in an old movie and instantly say "'56 Chevy" or "'60 Corvette."0 I can do this with music somewhat; listen to a song and within seconds peg it to a two or three-year window of time, and often even more specific than that. And now I find the same gift with TV.

The shows just have a "feel" to them. Think about CBS for a moment. Obviously the three CSI's are going to be similar, but you add in Cold Case, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Without a Trace and NUMB3RS; these are all procedurals, but they feel enormously different from any procedural on the other four networks. But it's more than that. Shark, Ghost Whisperer, The Unit, Survivor and even the comedies all have the same feel. It's like they are they are different people, but all identifiably from the same town. Maybe I'm not making sense.

I know this is true, however. Both Fox and CW make shows for younger people, but I can tell the two apart at a glance. As I can a Fox show from an ABC show a mile away. I suppose there is no value to this power; after all, it's not like shows get "lost" and need to find their way, but I'm still proud.

One other note before we roll out the night's fare: as you will see, I was very surprised that Reaper was the best new pilot of the season (so far). I write more about it down below, but I just realized I managed to omit any mention of Missy Peregrym, and I find her so amazing I want to highlight her now. I think she's my favorite new woman of the TV year. I panned her in STICK IT, but that was mostly because I loathed the movie. She was in Heroes (as Candice), and….I don't know. There is something about her. It's not the hotness (although she's hot), but something else I cannot quite put my finger on it. I'm glad she doesn't live near me, not because I wouldn't trust myself, but she is so adorable, I'd be worried about Kaida straying! (Just kidding, darling. I know you're not going to make out with Missy Peregrym. I also know that I know exactly what that would look like. Trust me.)

Uh, I better get moving before I have a contract put out on my life. New shows are in Bold.

Tuesday Night Fare

ABC – Cavemen; Carpoolers; Dancing With the Stars; Cashmere Mafia (November 27); Boston Legal
NCIS; The Unit; Cane
Bones; House
CW –
Beauty and the Geek; Reaper
The Singing Bee; The Biggest Loser; Law &Order: SVU

From worst to best…..

ABC – Cavemen; Carpoolers; Dancing With the Stars; Cashmere Mafia (November 27); Boston Legal

New Show – Cavemen (premieres tonight)
I have the pilot screener in my DVD player right now, and I just cannot bring myself to watch it. Could there be a worse idea? I would rather the Geico Gecko got his own show. I can think of at least 85 better commercials that should be a show before the obnoxious Cavemen. I bet you can too. In fact, that's what we're going to do. I want you to
email me your ideas for what commercials should and SHOULD NOT have their own TV show.

New Show – Carpoolers (premieres tonight)
I could not secure a preview ahead of press time, and I am totally dreading watching the premiere tonight. I guess I have no actual reason to think it will suck, other than...
A) Carpoolers is a terrible name for a TV show.1
B) It comes on after Cavemen
C) Because of this back-to-back laugh riot, I have been introduced to the word "ManDate," not as in, "We have a clear mandate to raise taxes in order to build a tower all the way to Heaven" but rather as in "two dudes get together to watch TV." And possibly braid each other's hair. Seriously: check out the "ManDate" commercial on youtube. I will now light myself on fire.

ABC Overview – Women are clearly taking over the world, or at least ABC. I do not consider this a good thing.

NBCThe Singing Bee; The Biggest Loser; Law &Order: SVU

NBC Overview – With L&O: CI now airing on USA and the Original not rolling into town until January (btw, did you know that Jack McCoy is taking over for Fred Thompson as the new DA? Whazzup with that?), this leaves SVU as the only arm of the franchise currently on NBC. Feels weird. I've never watched SVU more than casually, but I like to check in three or four times a year. That way the stories never feel recycled, I'm almost always impressed, and I can get my Mariska Hargitay fix.

CBSNCIS; The Unit; Cane

New Show – Cane
A Latin version of the old nighttime soaps. Think Dynatostido.2 The always classy and compelling
Jimmy Smits plays Alex Vega, adopted into the Cuban American Duque family, known for their rum and sugar. Papa Duque (the always-cheerful Hector Elizondo) finds out he's dying and names Alex head of the family business, which angers the blood heirs, etc. Typical rich family squabbling stuff, but with the added flair (at least CBS is hoping) of spicy salsa music and sweaty sultry Latinos sexing things up. (I'm going to write about this more in-depth another time, but mark my words: we are within three years of one of the networks airing a predominantly Spanish-language program in primetime.) The pilot was solid if not inspired, with the added twist that to protect his family Alex has a really bad guy killed at the end of the episode. You know my lust for morally ambigious characters, and along with Smits's presence that alone will keep me coming back. (At least until I catch up on Damages.) I'm hopeful this could be a winner, but honesty compels me to admit I deeply wonder if CBS is the right network to pull this off. NBC would be a 10x better fit.

CBS Overview – With NCIS and The Unit (and quite possibly, soon we can add Cane in that sentence), you know what you're going to get. The programs are high quality, and certainly deliver relative thrills (while still never getting too close to the edge.) Anyone who enjoys solid entertainment but prefers to not worry too often that thing will work out okay are probably well served to make Tuesdays a CBS night. As for me, I'll stick with Cane for the time being, but the others get a respectful pass.

CWBeauty and the Geek; Reaper

New Show – Reaper
To my absolute shock, I found Reaper to be the most entertaining original pilot of the year so far. Directed by Kevin Smith, Reaper tells of Sam (Bret Harrison), who turns 21 in his so-far disappointing life only to find that before he was even conceived, Sam's parents sold his soul to the Devil. (It's a long story.) Now the Devil (purrrrrrrfectly cast with Ray Wise) has come to collect. But fear not! Sam is not required to spend eternity in Hell; merely to act as an infernal bounty hunter, capturing souls that have escaped Hell and return them so they can receive their eternal punishment. Reaper is very witty and funny, and audaciously fun, in that way some shows have when they are on to something. In this version, Hell (and the Devil) are more part of the grand scheme of things, Heavens dimly reflected mirror, as it were, fulfilling their ordained function of punishment. (As to why souls are able to escape Hell, the Devil offers this gem: "I didn't plan construction effectively for the recent growth in our population: totally my fault.") Helping Sam out is his buddy "Sock," (Tyler Labine, who was the crazy brother in Invasion), that kind of slightly overweight completely irresponsible totally loyal irrepressible sidekick that we just love. (Think early Jack Black or Phillip Hoffman's character in TWISTER.) I absolutely loved this show, and it kills me that it airs at the same time as House, but I'm hoping with Sunday replays and I can keep up.

CW Overview – Half the programs on this network make me vomit in terror, but I at least love that this is the only place that would air such a risky show like Reaper. I wouldn't watch America's Next Top Model for less than $100, but Jerrica is hooked and swears by it.

FOXBones; House

FOX Overview – Other than possibly the original CSI, Bones is the best pure procedural on TV right now. It somehow ends up being both safely predictable (you can miss some episodes without losing the thread) while still new and inventive, and most importantly contains sharp writing and a terrifically likable cast. At the 9 O'clock hour, we have Hyperion's current favorite show on TV: House. Maybe it's because I'm so much like the misanthropic cripple, but I just cannot get enough of Hugh Laurie in this role. Having (at least temporarily) lost his three-person "team," Season 4 starts with House looking to hire replacements. If Week 1 is any indication, it should be several hours of awesome just there. House initially became a hit riding the coattails of the American Idol Juggernaut,3 but now rakes in the ratings on its own. If you've never felt inclined before, take a chance on what's arguably the best show on Network Television. (Just don't call me unless it's a commercial so we can both go, "OMFH!")

October 2, 2007

0 Of course, I know virtually nothing about cars, so I only have his word for it. For all I know he's making it up just to impress me. (And yes, the 0 is because I put this note in last and didn't want to renumber.)
1 I can't imagine the logic for ever wanting to be in a carpool, but if I ever was, and there was a tunnel we went through on the way to work, I would always make a "carpool tunnel syndrome" joke every single day.
2 It took me a long time to come up with Dynatostido. It was either that or Poncho Junction.
3 Totally random prediction: Juggernaut catches fire as one of those "it" words, and we start seeing it used ubiquitously around the country. Some politician tries to cash in on hip cache and uses the term to describe his/her campaign. With any luck, that politician is George Bush. That might me malapropism heaven.
4 I know there is no #4 in the text of the column, but I feel the need to reward ye who read endnotes. I have to say (not trying to be immodest), but these notes of mine are totally Kickassian. In fact, these last two columns have really been spectacular. Feel free to leave comments in amazed and awed agreement.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hyperion, its obvious that we don't have the same taste in women.