Scratch that TV Itch

I have managed to catch a bunch of new shows, and I wanted to review them for you. To make it easier, I broke down the categories to “things that rhyme with itch.” (I’m nothing if not helpful.)

Here’s the list:

the Pitch - (the Concept)
the Which - (the Actors involved, and if relevant, the writers and Creators)
the Sitch - (the Situation; what’s going on)
the Hitch - (how they “hook” you in, hitching you to their wagon (don’t hate on my forced rhyme))
the Glitch - (the potential problem)
the Niche - (who it might appeal to)
the Kitsch - (goofy offbeat story-lines or characters)
the Rich - (what they do best)
the Bitch - (my major complaint)
the Ditch - (when/if I might bail)
Scratch that Itch? - Does Hyperion Recommend?

Today I have the Monday Shows, which has become the hottest night on TV, and I will try to get the rest posted later this week. Hope you enjoy!

Being Human (Mondays @ 9 on SyFy; repeats during the week and On Demand)

the Pitch - A werewolf, a Vampire and a Ghost try to live in the same house and be normal...more or less.

the Which - A remake of a popular BBC show. A couple of the stars might seem vaguely familiar (from various small TV stints), but no one that you really recognize.

the Sitch - Vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer) and werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) both work in a hospital and try to hide the “monster” within them. They decide to get a house together, which turns out to be haunted by Sally (Meaghan Rath), a ghost who has some issues to work out.

the Hitch - I don’t know if you heard: monsters are kind of “in” right now

the Glitch - Monsters have been “in” for awhile. How long can it last? Also the production values are low, which most genre fans are used to and understand, but might turn some people off.

the Niche - the Buffyverse, and anyone who joined Team Edward or Team Jacob

the Kitsch - Monsters trying to “pass” as human - the jokes pretty much write themselves

the Rich - They do not shy away from darkness.  This might turn away some, but both Josh and Aidan have killed innocent people in their past, and just because they are trying to control it doesn’t mean they always do. I have a feeling that the Fantasy Community will be impressed that Being Human isn’t PG in its sensibilities. They also got rid of the sunlight=death thing (Vampires have evolved to just be photosensitive now), which I like.

the Bitch - a minor beef, but the ridiculous assertion that the show takes place in Boston when it so clearly feels like Canada. Why even name a city? Also, this is just personal, but the Josh character drives me friggin’ bananas. I don’t see how he’s a werewolf, ‘cause I gotta tell you, I’ve never seen a bigger pussy.

the Ditch - only if Aidan ever starts to sparkle

Scratch that Itch? - I’m in, dude. I’ve LOVED the three episodes I’ve seen and can’t wait for tonight.

The Cape (Mondays @ 9:00 on NBC)

the Pitch - A disgraced cop, believed dead, takes on the Corrupt Police Force as a Super Hero - with a Cape!

the Which - The only actor you really know is Summer Glau (River on Firefly).

the Sitch - Vince Farraday (David Lyons) comes from a long tine of cops (200 years in California if you can somehow believe that), framed for murder and now presumed dead after everyone - including his wife and son - saw him “sploded” in a fire. Determined to regain his boy’s trust (but for some reason unable to tell his wife and child he’s still alive), Farraday hooks up with a troupe of Circus Freak bank robbers, gets a near-magical cape, and now is taking on the new “privatized” police force that is more corrupt than the criminals they were brought in to stop. The mysterious Orwell (Summer Glau) helps him out and generally looks hot and pensive.

the Hitch - Summer Glau, Circus Midgets, and capes!

the Glitch - did we mention there’s a cape?

the Niche - Die-hard Fantasy fans and people who miss “The Shadow” on Radio

the Kitsch - Everything involving the Circus-folk.

the Rich - Can’t get enough Circus tricks. Occasionally the cape has a neat trick or two.

the Bitch - All the melodrama involving the family. The story-line is awful and the kid is awful too. Somewhere Jaden Pinkett-Smith is feeling the competition

the Ditch - I quit two and a half episodes in

Scratch that Itch? - If this is your thing I wish you the best.

Harry’s Law (Mondays @ 10:00 on NBC)

the Pitch - A tough-as-nails icon litigator opens a criminal practice in a “poor” neighborhood along with other castoff lawyers. Quirkiness ensues.

the Which - Created by David Kelley, the force behind The Practice, Boston Legal & Ally McBeal. Starring Kathy Bates

the Sitch - Kathy Bates is Harriet Korn, a legend, but who sometimes rubs people the wrong way. She has decided to start a legal practice in the Inner City, but can’t afford the rent so it’s also a women’s shoe store. Other young lawyers work with her as they help the oppressed.

the Hitch - Kathy Bates, every step of the way

the Glitch - We’ve seen these tricks from Kelley before. There’s potential for Ally McBates.

the Niche - People who like the zany legal dramedy of David Kelley; people who like the deadpan comic timing of Kathy Bates)

the Kitsch - Virtually everything, from the shoes to the clients to the endearingly wacky legal team.

the Rich - that Patina of West Wing-esque Liberal Fantasy Escapism. Think Michael Douglas’s defense of the ACLU at the end of THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT.

the Bitch - A little quirky goes a long way

the Ditch - I bailed after one episode, although this was partly because it co-stars Nate Corddry. It never stops bothering me that he (and brother Rob) have too many D’s in their last name.

Scratch that Itch? - You know what you’re getting. Bates is always great and if you like that sort of thing, you could do a lot worse.

Checking in with CBS

Last fall I reviewed Mike and Molly, while Skittles reviewed Hawaii Five-O.  I don’t watch the shows but figured I’d give each of them another shot.

Hawaii Five-O is too much like every other CBS Crime-Procedural for me to matter. I’m not saying I’d set my sack on fire if I had to watch an episode, but there’s too much good on to be bothered with such pedestrian fare for my tastes.

Mike and Molly is a different story. I initially panned the show, while acknowledging that it simply wasn’t made for me. It still isn’t my kind of show (either the format, tone, or even the way it’s shot), but I do readily admit that the cast has gelled (this often happens with a sitcom, since so much of humor is timing), and the writing, while still too bawdy for the Family Show they want, can be funny. If you don’t have my high standards (or perhaps “snobbish” is a better word), you’ll probably love it.

and this brings us to the last show of the night.....

Skins (Mondays @ 10 on MTV, repeated viewings during the week)

the Pitch - A no-holds barred look at the lives of teens

the Which - All unknowns, though the show is based on the immensely popular British show of the same name (more on that in a minute)

the Sitch - Chances are you’ve heard of Skins, if only because of the controversy. Advertisers have pulled out, there have been calls (by the execrable Parents Television Council) for Child Pornography investigations, and Fox News has beat the drum. Moreover, MTV certainly does not shy away from a fight, and seem to be courting the swirl. Anyway, the show - about the lives of 7 teenagers - is heavy on sex, drug use and other ill-advised behaviors (cutting! lesbianism! anorexia!), but definitely not in the "very special episode" way we're used to seeing on Teen shows. This is NOT your grandfather's sock hop.

the Hitch - Did I mention the sex and drugs and lesbian teens?

the Glitch -  I’ll reserve my comments until the “bitch” section

the Niche - Most people under 30. ANYONE under 20.

the Kitsch - The acting so far has been pretty strong for these newbies. The story-lines are generally serious but do carry their own offbeat humor.

the Rich - When they hit the note correctly, they nail what it feels like. Also, parents who think this stuff is over the top are waaaaaay deluded about what’s happening out there.

the Bitch - Okay, I can’t believe I made it this far without mentioning it, but did you know that I wrote a breathless 3,000 word review about Season 1 of the British series?  It’s the best Television review I’ve ever written, and if you have any feeling at all for me you will GO READ IT NOW!!!!  Are you back?  Okay, the biggest problem between the two series is that the American one is an imitation, and we all know that it’s really hard (nigh on impossible) to duplicate genius.  I don’t hate on the effort - Skins was too good not to try, but the first few episodes have kept the story lines almost identical, so I can’t help but make comparisons, of which the American one suffers.

Also, if you read my review of the British Skins, you’ll see that I was/am over the moon about the Tony character. It’s impossible to capture that same charisma, although the American Tony tries. A couple of other characters are more successful translations, but there are (so far) a few misfires that make it tough.

Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that the American version sometimes loses the point of view that makes the British show so revolutionary. When I watched the British show I felt like I was not only watching actual teenagers, but I was inside their heads. Often that meant ridiculous points of view, but, let’s be honest, teenagers are quite often total idiots. This contrasts with American shows that try to “get” teenagers, but feel like adults pretending to get them; either cliche or parody.  However, I will say that it seems like the American version is getting better. Through 3 episodes I have noticed more of the that point-of-view thing coming through, which is good.

Also, the British show has actual nudity. Sigh.  

the Ditch - Even a simulacrum of British Skins is better than most stuff.

Scratch that Itch? - I guess what I’m saying is, after you read my review, if you're interested, I would advise getting the original Skins from Netflix or Blockbuster or just buying it and watching it. But if you’re not up for that, I actually am liking this American version, and you probably will too, especially if you don’t have anything to compare it to.

Finally, let me just say: I’m a big believer in protecting kids from content, but this one time I’d make an exception.  The controversy about this show isn’t how racy it is (and it is VERY racy), but rather, it’s about how freaked out some people are that this might be happening. I said the same thing about KIDS in the ‘90s: if you don’t this stuff is going on, you’re dreaming. I think parents should not only let their 16 year-olds watch it, I think parents should watch it. Yes, they will be absolutely appalled. Yes, the bad behavior is concentrated for dramatic effect.  But it’s real, baby. More importantly, the way kids think about parents - that’s real. You need to know this stuff mom and dad, or else just give up.

Tonight there’s a new show I’m going to try to catch (Chicago Code: 9:00 on FOX), and in the coming days I hope to have reviews for Archer, Lights Out, Hot In Cleveland, Retired At 35, Perfect Couples, Traffic Lights, Mr. Sunshine.

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