26 January 2012

First Thoughts: TOUCH with Keifer Sutherland

Six billion, nine-hundred and nineteen million, three-hundred and seventy-seven thousand of us live on this tiny planet, and only a few of us can see the connections. The patterns, like a magical design, are hidden in plain sight…you just have to know where to look. After my life of 10 years, 5 months, 17 days and 14 hours…in all that time…I’ve never said a single word.   

Having read the name Tim Kring attached to the project Kiefer Sutherland was doing for his big TV return after 24 left me unimpressed the first time I found out about it.

See, I haven't really forgiven the guy for botching up Heroes. That show's premise became too big, even for the one who created it. I think I read that one time when he was trying to say where he had gone wrong with it.

But watching Touch's pilot today, I think I'm ready to give Tim Kring a chance and reconsider putting him back to my list of best-loved TV writers and creators. Or would that be too quick?

The pilot starts off with different people who obviously aren't connected. But by the end of it, something fascinating and interesting happens. I was completely impressed by the unraveling and said this on Twitter:

The heart of this show is Kiefer Sutherland's character Martin and his 11-year old son Jake, who has a behavorial disorder and who is extremely fascinated by numbers.

I don't doubt Keifer's brilliance as an actor. I followed eight seasons of 24 with most of its storylines almost unbelievably tortuos, because as Jack Bauer, he convinced me he can truly save the world. He was the ultimate TV hero.

In Touch, he plays a more sensitive character, as the father of a child who has not spoken since birth and who has no social skills whatsover. And Keifer does this thing with his eyes...if you've noticed. He squints and blinks and uses this to convey what his character is feeling.

I also don't have any misgivings about the lead female actresss, Gugu Mbtha-Raw, who plays Jake's social worker. This is what I had to say about her:

Immediately, I connected with her Clea.

Danny Glover is also part of this series and although his scene in the pilot was short, his character is clearly vital to the secrets Jake holds.

It goes without saying that this show picked the right people for their parts. They are not the weak links, as far as I can tell.

And the story isn't weak either, because like I said, the pilot was impressive and delivered almost seamlessly. So, if Tim Kring will be able to sustain this kind of writing --- and it is pretty tight and orderly --- he may slide back into my list real soon.

Touch ran a special preview tonight on Fox but the show won't actually start running until March, for 13 episodes. The series is also going to be carried over on many cable.tv channels worldwide.

Here's the teaser:

20 January 2012

Belated Thoughts: The Firm

The Firm takes place 10 years after the events of the movie that starred Tom Cruise.

I was initially eager for this series, but then I read lackluster reviews before watching and thought I'd be disappointed as well. But, fortunately for my viewing pleasure, I liked the first three episodes of The Firm, so far.

Josh Lucas is one fine actor. Why haven't I been on Team Josh before? On TV,  he charms the viewers in the same way only Simon Baker (as Patrick Jane in The Mentalist) can. Josh Lucas as Mitch McDeere is a better Mitch McDeere than Tom Cruise was, when he did the movie in the 90's.

I love the chemistry between Josh and Molly Parker, who plays his wife, Abby. I like how these actors convince me that they are a team.

I've liked Molly from watching her on Deadwood and I think she brings sensibility to the character she plays on this show. Something about Molly says "class and breeding" to me. It also helps that each time I look at her, I'm reminded of a childhood friend who exudes breeding quite so effortlessly.  Her take on Abby, however, is different than the movie version. Abby, in the film, was smarter and had more balls than her husband, if I remember correctly.

Though only a supporting cast member, Juliette Lewis is also a good addition as the small firm's assistant, as is Callum Keith Rennie, who plays Mitch's brother and investigator. And just like the McDeer couple, these two had chemistry that's hard to miss.

Tricia Helfer, the Cylon that so creeped me out on Battlestar Galactica,  still managed to bring a creepy vibe to this show. I've watched Helfer in several other shows she has appeared in as guest and you know what? She will always be a Cylon to me. Therefore, anytime I see her on TV, I almost expect her to do something inhuman.

Needless to say, the important characters of The Firm all gel together. I believe the casting department has done their job in choosing the right people to play the parts.  So why is this show getting only a little love from TV viewers?

  • Maybe because John Grisham and The Firm are so over. They were hot 20 years ago. Not so much today.
  • Maybe because there's already a host of law series and crime procedurals on the boob tube. The Firm is actually structured to be one (a procedural) with a different case every week, but with a big mystery tying everything together. 
  • Maybe because, while this series has potential, it's airing on network TV (NBC), which is subjected to a lot of constraints and limitations. A lot can breakdown when it comes to what the writers want to put into the show versus what the network executive wants. And most of the time, its the suits who win and then they muck the story up. Shades of it were evident in the last three episodes, I did notice that. 

I wish I'd known the real reason why this show is struggling to get an audience. Because honestly, I'd like to see where it goes after one season. If only because --- Josh Lucas is such a fine actor.

And he's got the bluest eyes I've seen on my TV screen.

18 January 2012

Jumping Ship from Glee to SMASH

Of all the new shows starting this mid-season, Smash is the one I've been looking forward to watching most. Upon learning another TV musical was in the works over a year ago, and after seeing all those Smash promo clips released months before, I've been anticipating this show with a lot of...well, glee.

Part of the reason is because I love musicals.

Another reason would have to be Jack Davenport, who is cast as the stage director. Since Coupling UK, I've been following what he does on American TV.

But a bigger reason for my excitement would have to be because I've been wanting someone to show viewers that a musical can be done on TV...and done really well.

Glee has been credited for opening the door for Smash to enter. Glee's creators have been credited for their 'groundbreaking production'.

But I beg to disagree.

Long before Glee, there was this show, which the TV audience, unfortunately, didn't fully embrace:

And in the last decade, there began a trend among television programs where special one-time musical episodes just have to take place in the show. Some of these one-time episodes have been pure entertainment spectacles,  in fact, that I've wished they were done more often. (My personal favorite is the one Eli Stone did!)

And then came Glee a couple of years ago. While amusing during the first season, the show quickly became a waste of time to watch. It lost its novelty when it was pretty clear it had no structure and direction.

But Glee was able to achieve what Cop Rock didn't, and that is --- massive popularity. And because of this, comparisons of Smash to Glee will no doubt be unavoidable.

Here's what Debra Messing, one of the actresses on Smash, had to say about this in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, that sums up everything about her show:
“I think Smash is similar (to Glee) in that there is singing, but I think that’s where the similarities end. Glee is a comedy and ours is a drama. And Glee is in a fantastic sort of elevated world and Smash is completely naturalistic, a very real look at life in New York as an actor, producer, composer, lyricist, what have you.”
The first episode of Smash has been made available online via iTunes, weeks ahead of its scheduled NBC premiere (which will be on the 6th of February).

After watching the pilot, it was very easy for me to dismiss any comparisons I was ready to make. It's very obvious Smash has the better storyline. A lot went on in the pilot that, if anything, made me feel more eager to watch the following episodes (and that's a month away!!!). It was clear it had more experienced stars, who actually know what they want from the show they're part of.

As far as expections go,  Smash delivered most of what I've hoped for.  It's not great TV, however. Not in the vein of Friday Night Lights or Homeland. But if Glee has become a huge disappointment for you, as far as entertainment, realism and story is concerned, Smash will more than fill that void.

Well, alright...this is the one comparison I can come up with: Smash is the confident theater professional that Glee only wishes it was. 

Here's the 5-minute trailer from Smash:

03 January 2012

Which TV Show did Jeremy Renner star in?

Jeremy Renner is coming to the Philippines this January and will be filming his latest movie,  "Bourne Legacy", in the streets of Metro Manila.

Before the actor became a Hollywood A-lister and before he earned an Oscar actor nomination twice over, he did a TV show that, sadly, didn't not make it after 10 episodes.

In 2009, Jeremy Renner did "The Unusuals" for ABC. The series ran around mid-season. The series, however, underperfomed with ratings and the show was not renewed.

All I can remember about this show was that this was a well-written crime series (funny, smart and sometimes serious) that didn't find its audience quickly. At that time "The Unusuals" was on, it had a unique and interesting premise (Now? It's sort of what "Pretty Little Liars" is about, huh?). So different was the show's story that maybe, it's partly the reason why it never clicked with the viewers.

Each of the characters in "The Unusuals" had their dirty little secret and someone was using all these secrets to get to them or use it against them. I'm not quite sure, but I seem to remember that one of the characters believed he had superpowers.  Or I may be confusing this with some other show!

Anyway, here are some photos and clips from "The Unusuals":

Were you able to catch this show when it was on?