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Home » Culture and Criticism

TV Question Qorner: TV Midseason Report Card C-H

Submitted by on October 25, 2011 – 11:20 PM17 Comments

Fringe. Weird season so far. I went into last season thinking they'd have trouble making the two-universe storyline work, but they totally did. This season, I had no doubt that they'd make it work, and it's not that they haven't, exactly — the show is still good. It's just kind of treading water, waiting for Peter to come back. It's clear he's going to; it's just as clear that the stories need Joshua Jackson in order to operate at the top of their powers. I hope a fire gets lit under that soon.

A Gifted Man. Whatever you think of the premise — and I watch the show, but I don't think much of it either — the show doesn't take enough advantage of it. This is a show, like Journeyman, that I started watching solely because a member of the Bedrooms & Hallways cast is in it; Journeyman had Kevin McKidd, and a smarter attitude about its supernatural premise. A Gifted Man has Jennifer Ehle, and Patrick Wilson and Margo Martindale and a bunch of other talented folks, and if any cast can sell "hard-charging surgeon changes his attitude because the ghost of his community-minded ex-wife guilts him into it," it's this one.

The show seems embarrassed by its own log line, though, and that's a problem, because the rest of it, the un-supernatural part, we've seen a hundred times already. Asshole Doctor Becomes A Better Man Thanks To The Commoners He's Forced To Treat is a roomy acre, but it's tilled to dust at this point, and we watch television shows to get away from harangues about the fubared health-care system in the U.S., not to hear another pat lecture on it. But the writers' room wants to do a doctor show and forget the twist in "with a twist" that got the thing sold.

It's not a pointless hour of TV; Wilson takes his shirt off sometimes, Pablo Schreiber is cast correctly for once, and the rest of the players can sell whatever they're given to do. But for God's sake, give Martindale and Ehle more to do, then, and get more into the supernatural side of it — or at least have the main characters accept that it's happening, so we can get past the flat "comedy" bits where he's talking to himself. One more variation on "why didn't she just give him his asthma medication" / "because she works five jobs and still can't afford it, ivory-tower dickhead" and I quit.

The Good Wife. See my comments from a year ago. The trademark Margulies sniffy smugness has only gotten more intense since she finally paired off with Will — which, writing-wise, totally works for me, don't get me wrong, and I look forward to seeing how it goes off the rails. But now that the actual "good wife" part is sort of in the rearview…I don't know. Like, if she and Peter get divorced, I would not mind if Alicia got written off the show; every other female character on it is so much more relatable and interesting to me, not to mention is not wearing an even shittier and more blatant wig than last season's. That happens so often, though, that you stay with a show in spite of the lead and not because of him/her. Still a really smart, absorbing hour.

Hart of Dixie. I didn't realize Jason Street and D'Shaun Hardell were on it; I mean, I watched Closer to Home for Cress Williams, okay? "What-er to what now?" Exactly! So I had no excuse, and I added Hart of Dixie (hee, I just typed "Hard") to the DVR a few weeks ago on Jessica's recommendation. It's pretty dumb, but so far, the "pretty" is outweighing the "dumb," although speaking of that? We know Rachel Bilson is pretty, you guys. We will not stop knowing that if she dresses professionally at her doctor's office with a non-boobtastic neckline, a knee-length hem, and a ponytail. Maybe Vice President Hoynes would be nicer to her if she wore clogs like every other health-care professional on earth instead of five-inch Jessica Simpson pumps. Come on.

Hoarders. Still love the show, but now it's mainly because of the professionals — like Dorothy, who is my velvet-hammer favorite. (Matt Paxton is my regular-hammer favorite. Anyone read his book yet?) I really don't know if I can hack next week's installment, which is another cat hoard; I will flinch, and cry, and overcompensate for someone else's shitty pet-keeping by letting Little Joe lick salad dressing off my dinner plate, which isn't good for him but is still better than finding a 2D version of him under a stack of pizza boxes or something.

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17 Comments »

  • ferretrick says:

    Have you seen Fringe from two weeks ago? (I think-wasn't this past Friday a repeat?) Anyway, Peter is back. Thank God. Seth Gabel is cute and all, and I'm glad we've met Lincoln in both worlds now, but he is not a substitute for Joshua Jackson.

    I so agree with you on A Gifted Man. I gave the hokey Ghost Whisperer premise a chance for the same reason you did-I figured there had to be something more than what the show looked like on paper for that cast to have signed up. I still haven't figured out what that was. And now that Chuck's back in that time slot, I don't think I'll stick with AGM.

    It's not so much I wouldn't mind if Alicia was written off Good Wife, but the supporting cast IS getting to be more interesting than her story, which may be a problem long term. I wouldn't mind, though, if they did a spinoff called the Kalinda and Eli show.

  • Lynda says:

    I've read Matt Paxton's book, but I have to say I didn't really like it very much. It really seemed to skim over a lot of information about the hoarders.

    Or maybe it was because I read "Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things" by Gail Steketee and Randy Frost, and "Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding" by Jessie Sholl in months previous to the Paxton book. I can't say enough good things about these two books (my mother is a low-grade hoarder), but it could be that I'd gotten burned out on the subject by the time I found his.

  • attica says:

    I totally get your 'watch a show in spite of the lead' idea. That was my approach to Judging Amy. Haaaaaated what Brenneman did with the character, looooved all the supporting cast.

  • Kizz says:

    I just read something else speculating on A Good Man's prospects and it made me think that AGM will probably step into Medium's shoes in terms of its utility to CBS Friday nights. It's not great. Often it's not even good but it's exactly what one needs on a Friday night. A couple of decent actors doing some stuff that doesn't make your brain work. With mostly happy endings. If that's how the execs see it that thing could run for ages.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Man, I thought I watched a lot of TV, but I really don't. I haven't seen any of these.

    I might give Grimm a try, but only because some random commercial said it was from the creator of Buffy and Angel. But that can't be right, can it? Isn't Joss Whedon being held in a Marvel subdungeon somewhere, being forced to write snappy crackling dialogue for a bunch of grown men in Halloween costumes? (And don't hate on me, I like the movies, I do. I just love how we're supposed to pretend that everyone should be taken as seriously as Batman no matter what goofiness/drug addlery went into their orgin story.)

    But anyway, so does that creator tag mean someone like a writer, or some random money suit who got a grudging credit shrunk next to the ads for In Living Color reruns back in the day, or what?

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    Patrick Wilson takes his shirt off? Crap, now I'm going to have to check this out. I'm not a big doctor show fan, I always end up thinking "wait, I'm having those symptoms right now!"

  • Claire says:

    Hm, I'm so over the Peter/Olivia relationship that I was kind of annoyed when Peter showed up at the end of episode four. I love Joshua Jackson and I know my annoyance with the character has nothing to do with him, but I pretty much checked out on Peter after he did the assy "You're the one stopping this relationship!" line to Olivia. That said, I am so happy that Lincoln Lee and his Clark Kent glasses are regulars now.

  • Beadgirl says:

    Why on earth would they be putting Julianna Margulies in a wig? As for her status as the "good wife," while I enjoy the show quite a bit as it is, I really would have liked to see Alicia and Peter really work to save their marriage. That has lots of potential drama, and it is not something that is often seen in TV Shows, where the Big Marriage Crisis leads to divorce, or is hastily papered over. I guess Noth's schedule prevented this, but it would have been nice.

    I couldn't get into A Gifted Man, partly because I thought he'd be visited by a bunch of ghosts (like his dead friend, Mr. Noodle, whose death I predicted precisely because I thought he was meant to be a wise-cracking ghost friend) (not that that premise would have been more likely to watch). But I'm a little confused, and perhaps someone can explain. In the pilot whatshisname starts the ritual to send off his dead wife's spirit, but in a scene I found very creepy, she did not want to go (I totally expected some kind of sinister reveal after that). But in the most recent episode (the one I saw, at least), she has a big speech about how she'd like nothing better than to go off to her eternal reward, but she has to stick around to help him finish her work or whatever. Is that change ever addressed, or do I chock it up to pilot-series tweaks?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    They don't "put" Margulies in the wig; she requested it. http://weblogs.variety.com/on_the_air/2010/06/greetings-from-banff-tv-fest-david-zucker.html

    I don't remember that scene from the AGM pilot as her not wanting to go; I remember it as him seeing her during the ritual when Pablo asked, "She's here, isn't she?", but denying seeing her, either because he didn't want to think he was losing his mind or because HE didn't want her to go. I think she's neutral on whether she stays or moves on, and what annoys her is that she can't control it.

  • Jenn says:

    @Jen S 1.0 – Grimm is from David Greenwalt, who was a Buffy/Angel producer.

    Bonus trivia: The star of Grimm was on Road Rules.

  • Beadgirl says:

    Thanks, Sars. And she wants the wig to emphasize Alicia's difference from Carol? Ha, but at least that is a better reason than the tyranny of the straight-haired.

  • Carol Elaine says:

    Jen S 1.0, Grimm's executive producer is David Greenwalt, who was one of the executive producers on both Buffy and Angel and was a co-creator of Angel. So, no, not exactly a creator of either, but certainly a large part of both.

    Joss Whedon seems to have escaped his Marvel subdungeon long enough to shoot this. Squee!

  • Zoltania says:

    Apparently the wig saves time in the morning for Margulies: http://entertainment.salon.com/2010/03/15/de_felitta_5/ (see the end of the article).

  • Sandman says:

    I'm a big fan of Margulies, and of Josh Charles. Not so much a fan of The Wig. But the rest of the supporting cast is great. But the biggest draw for me, in all honesty, in the pilot? The prospect of seeing Mr. Big get a big smack upside the head. "Is Julianna going to pop him one in the kisser every week? I'm SO in!"

    Kalinda/Eli forever and ever.

  • Sandman says:

    Love me some Jennifer Ehle. But the promos for A Gifted Man made it look absolutely wretched.

  • Josh says:

    I've been enduring Hart of Dixie despite the lame premise, despite the generally poor writing, despite the incredibly predictable plots (Zoe tries to fit in around Bluebell, screws up, small town HI-larity ensues) because I like so many members of the cast and want better for them.

    Rachel Bilson is adorable, Scott Porter is charming, Jamie King is managing to rise above her characters unbelievably awful name (seriously? Lemon?!? Bad call, VP Hoynes), and Tim Matheson is getting to play a bit. Cress Williams is back on tv and remains unflaggingly likeable. They all deserve better, and I'm hoping the show will rise above the premise so I'm not just watching to see the Bilson be pretty and everyone get paychecks…

  • Ebeth says:

    Gifted Man has Jennifer Ehle, and Patrick Wilson and Margo Martindale

    I read Wink Martindale. That really might change up the whole show for you…

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