… Here’s a list of television shows I’ve been watching lately that are kind of awful.
The Great American Baking Competition. My mother and my daughter love this show about people baking stuff and then we don’t get to eat it.
Ransom. I watched what was clearly the first episode of this paint-by-numbers procedural last night because I think I’m suicidal or something, seriously, why didn’t I do anything else? And at the end, it was all like: “New episodes! Saturday evening, where TV shows go to die!” So clearly CBS thinks as highly of it as I did.
Some procedural on ABC that has Iceman or his twin brother in it, and I can’t even bother to remember the name of it. It’s some show about how they try to save people from execution, I think? And they were trying to get this girl who murdered her rapist out of prison? And then it turned out she wasn’t the real murderer? And I was like, “Um, it’s obviously the rape counselor?” And 20 minutes later, the characters were like, “Oh, it’s obviously the rape counselor?”
To Tell the Truth. This actually had a Soul Train dancer and a Solid Gold dancer show up, so, by default, it is the best thing I have watched on television lately.
I missed the entire first season of The Carmichael Show. This was not an accident. The promos made it look kind of stupid and annoying. Especially since they kept showing the part where the mother realizes she’s a bigot by saying the non-Christian kids at schools should have a “separate, but equally nice” place to go when there’s prayer.
But last night, my family wanted to watch Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots, which is a show about children. At first, I was led to believe it was a show about talented children, but it turns out only some of the children are talented, and the others are famous because they said cute things about doughnuts on Youtube, and the Internet is kind of ridiculous.
This led to a severe bout of inertia, so that when The Carmichael Show came on, I drooled a little and ended up watching the first episode of season two.
The episode opens with Carmichael himself announcing that he is the best boyfriend ever because he’s taking his girlfriend somewhere that is a surprise. After a bit of back and forth, it is revealed that the somewhere that is a surprise is a Bill Cosby performance. Girlfriend is like “Hells, no, guy, what are you thinking?” and then they go to his parents’ house and then the entire episode becomes a lecture on separating art from the artist.
The different characters all had different viewpoints (Carmichael is especially for separating art from the artist; the father is for innocent until proven guilty; the girlfriend is for the 55 VICTIMS OF RAPE; the mother waffles back and forth and finally decides rapists are bad; the brother hates Cosby for being a jerk to young black kids; and the brother’s ex or something didn’t even know about it until she checked out wikipedia), which was nice, but it wasn’t funny. It was like a bunch of standup comedians hanging out and reading from a script. Some excellent points were made, but they were made so unnaturally it was kind of painful to watch.
Later, Carmichael and his dad (the under-utilized David Alan Grier, by the way) decide to go to the Cosby performance, but the dad has a change of heart when he sees parking is $25. He then drops off Carmichael in what leads to the only exchange that made me chuckle.
“You’re leaving me here? This is a bad neighborhood,” says Carmichael.
“There’s no such thing as bad neighborhoods,” says Dad. “Just bad people … who hang out … in neighborhoods like this one.”
There’s some discussion of Michael Jackson (accusations of pedophilia), Woody Allen (grossly married his stepdaughter) and Marky Mark (beat up an Asian man while shouting out racial slurs), which is, again, all very interesting (except in the case of Marky Mark, because why bother separating the art from the artist when they both suck?), but not funny. It seriously felt like somebody sitting me down and telling me what I should be thinking, and it wasn’t funny.
Look, I need to admit something to you, and I know you’re going to be ashamed of me, and I want you to know that I’m ashamed too. Deeply. But the truth is this:
I’ve been watching Supergirl on CBS.
And here’s the thing about watching Supergirl on CBS: The dialogue is just terrible. Just terrible! So unnatural. The plot “twists” are so telegraphed my 12-year-old daughter can see most of them coming. Calista Flockhart has used so much Botox her entire face doesn’t move at all.
The characters act in ridiculous ways, just so they can propel the plot forward.
But. I. Just. Keep. Watching. It.
I can’t stop!
I mean, Supergirl is just so adorable! I want to take the actress home and braid her hair and feed her hand-baked cookies and play charades! She’s just so CUTE.
And the Martian Manhunter is in it, which is awesome, because where else are you going to see the Martian Manhunter?
And Supergirl’s sister is the chick from Taxi Brooklyn, so that’s something.
Anyway, I think I need help.
On Friday, I watched Constantine.
I have two nice things to say about it: 1) It was better than Gotham. 2) At least John Constantine was blonde, British and wearing a trench coat.
So you see? I can be nice.
But I don’t wanna anymore, so here’s all the things that were terrible about it.
Like, I know it’s sad that the girl who was supposed to play the female lead got fired, because it’s sad when people lose their jobs, but it’s kind of less sad when they’re not very good at their jobs and, well, she kind of wasn’t so good. I’m sorry that’s so wishy-washy. I do feel bad for her, but … maybe it was just the character?
Anyway, the special effects weren’t great, except for this bit with Harold Perrineau As An Angel and some raindrops, but what was really bad was the only story. Like, John Constantine has gotten himself put in a mental hospital, where they try to cure him of being an exorcist, except he really is an exorcist, so it’s kind of ridiculous. And I’ll admit right now that I only really followed Hellblazer when Brian Azzarello was writing it (I didn’t even enjoy the Garth Ennis run, and I love Garth Ennis), so if this was a real plotline from the comic book, well — maybe it played out better on the page?
So, right, John Constantine gets a message from a dead guy, who possesses some girl at the mental hospital, because she’s LEFT ALL ALONE IN A GIANT ROOM AT A MENTAL HOSPITAL THAT NEVER HAPPENS TV, GOD, and off he goes to have adventures. Kind of boring adventures. Oh, and we learn he’s tormented because he let a little girl get sentenced to hell, like, how bad was that little girl, right?
John Constantine’s boring adventures involve the actress who isn’t the female lead anymore because she got fired, and they’re barely worth mentioning, except if you’re possessed by a demon or an angel, you have to wear terrible contacts, and Chaz shows up, which is good news, and then there’s this bit thrown in at the end where they’re all like: Oh, right, so we fired that one chick, now we have to write a scene explaining why the character never shows up anymore, when everything else in this episode was leading up to her hanging round all the time, and then John Constantine is in an alleyway with a bunch of guys with guns and his hands are on fire…
…and then there’s some lady who was clearly working for Vertigo, because all she’s drawing is Hellblazer covers.
And then it’s over, and you’re all like, well, that wasn’t worth a whole hour of my Friday, but then you’re like, but what else was I going to do anyway, it’s not like I go anywhere anymore, and then you think maybe you should sign up on a dating web site like your brother wants you to.
So a TV show I’ve been wanting to avoid ever since I first started to see commercials for it is A to Z. It’s about a guy whose name starts with an A, and he falls in love with a girl whose name starts with a Z, and it’s destiny, because she was the girl in a silver dress at a concert he went to. That is exactly the romantic comedy I would not want to see if it was a movie, and that goes even moreso for a TV show, because those tend to keep going and going, long after they should be canceled.
I was happily looking forward to never watching it EVER, but then I got home late from work last night, then I exploded dinner, so then I had to start dinner over, and then by the time I got done cleaning up after dinner, my damn family had turned on the television and it was on and I was too damn tired from wiping hamburger meat off the microwave to do anything other than sit there and stare listlessly at the TV screen.
And there was A to Z, just sucking merrily along.
If you’ve seen any of the previews, it is exactly the show you thought it would be, and I’m not going to go into it right now, suffice to say if romcoms are your thing, you’ll like it, and if you feel the way I do about romcoms, then, for the love of all that’s good, tell your family next time they can clean up after dinner, you’re watching a Lon Chaney movie and that’s that.
But the thing I did want to bring up is this: Katey Sagal, if you owe somebody some money, I’m willing to help you out! I’ll give you some of my money! I’ll petition Sons of Anarchy for your better pay! Whatever it takes! Just, please, stop wasting your god-given voice artist talents on being the narrator for this show.
I’m so sorry, guys! I tried to watch Gotham, really I did, because I know you count on my opinions to help you make choices about your day-to-day entertainment needs.
But the truth is: I couldn’t even make it to the credits. It was just that terrible. It was so terrible. It was really, really terrible.
So I’ll review the few minutes I watched of Gotham, because it’s either that or, ugh, work. Also, because I forgot Gotham was happening, this is a review of the first few minutes of the second episode, not the series premiere.
Gotham opened up with some very fake-looking buildings scrolling past, like the result of either the cheapest CGI ever, or a kid with some scissors, markers and cardboard. If these are actual buildings somewhere, that architect should be shot, because they just look so phony.
Then we’re in an alley and Catgirl is there. She’s Catgirl because she’s not a woman yet, that’s why.
Anyway, she’s homeless and doing your standard TV homeless routine, when all of a sudden a bus pulls up with, I think, Lili Taylor and that guy who’s in everything hopping out to offer sandwiches to the homeless kids. So of course Lili Taylor and that one guy stab the kids with needles filled with, I don’t know, date-rape drugs or something, except Catgirl because she didn’t want a sandwich, and this old dude, who gets killed by that one guy. Then one of the kids escapes, so that one guy chases him and ends up throwing him through the fakest window ever. All of this happens in front of tons of witnesses, because they are the worst criminals ever, I don’t care how corrupt the Gotham police department is.
Speaking of corrupt police, the next scene is Detective Bland White Guy Who’s An Honest Cop and his partner Donal Logue Who Is So Corrupt He Could Only Be Playing Harvey Bullock. (Side note: I couldn’t remember Harvey Bullock’s name at all, and I was tempted to go through my issues of Gotham Central to find out, but then I got distracted wondering why they didn’t just make Gotham Central into a TV series, because that would be awesome, so then I had to google it).
They show up at the crime scene with the dead old guy, and then they meet up with yet another corrupt cop, and Detective Blandy McBoringPants drops this line:
“You’re not a bad person, but you’re a bad cop.”
Like, ugh, seriously, who is writing this dialogue? Are their parents ashamed of them? I bet their parents are ashamed of them.
Then we head off to the precinct, where the kid who got thrown through the window is waiting for Detective Boring Guy and Donal Logue, and after some threats of violence and the kid proclaiming Gotham doesn’t care about homeless kids, I said, “Oh my god, this just keeps getting more terrible, I am turning off the TV until Brooklyn Nine Nine comes back on,” and then I did.
First off, the cop lady who’s a bad driver has a murdered detective dad and a slutty mom, so she’s got ISSUES, but it’s okay, because she is just so adorable with her little pixie haircut. Then our taxi driver is Mr. Smooth Talker Guy from France with an adorable little boy and a prison record but THIS TIME HE’S INNOCENT (spoiler alert: this time he is totally innocent) and if our lady cop ever needs him, she should just call.
Anyway, they spend the whole first episode trying to prove the taxi driver innocent, except our hero the cop lady doesn’t think he is innocent, but then she thinks he is and then she tries to smooth-talk her ex-hubby into not deporting him, and also she’s getting mysterious texts about her murdered daddy. Sadly, despite her cute haircut, she’s kind of a boring character. Luckily, Mr. Handsome Taxi Driver Guy with a French Accent is totally fun and interesting, even if his taxi-driving buddy is a total gay stereotype instead of just a Taxi Driver Who is Gay, which would be, I think, more interesting. Also, there’s a Lady Coroner or Somebody, and then the lady cop’s Godfather Who is Also Her Boss, and I already mentioned The Cheating Ex-Husband Who is Probably FBI.
So, yeah, it’s not a bad show, but it would probably be better if it were. You know?
I hate summer because summer TV is where they burn off all the crap, so what the hell is a nature-fearing person like myself supposed to do for three months? I can only play solitaire so many times, y’all. So lately, I’ve been watching NBC’s Night Shift, which is the most cliched hospital drama ever, and I’ve made you a list of things that prove it.
1. Is the main character a renegade doctor who breaks all the rules to save his patients? I’ve only watched two episodes and, in one, he drugged a woman so he could give her blood to her dying sister, and, in the other, threatened/bribed/somethinged a paramedic into lying about a patient’s status so his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t get in trouble for treating him.
2. Speaking of the main character, is there sexual tension between him and the main female lead? Well, there’s supposed to be, but they’re kind of blocks of wood, acting-wise, so … Maybe? Seriously, though, the main lady doctor is his ex-girlfriend (and they’ve got a history) and the main lady psychiatrist (the only lady psychiatrist, I guess) is his current bedmate, so, yeah, they’ve got the sexual tension covered.
3. Are there newbie residents who screw up all the time? Yes, absolutely, and of course they play stupid pranks on each other, because why wouldn’t they?
4. Is there a preternaturally mature child guest star? In the first episode I watched, there was a little girl who took the train all the way to the hospital, pretending to have symptoms that her dad actually had, thus saving his life when he showed up at the hospital to retrieve her.
5. Are there wacky hijinks? The second episode had a bunch of Civil War (maybe? I forget which war) re-enactors who were all sick from rabbit stew. Also, the night shift manager accidentally took ecstasy.
6. Is there a closeted gay character? He’s also in the military, so he doesn’t want anyone to know. Shhh.
7. Is there a wholly unnecessary surgery scene? THIS IS A HOSPITAL SHOW PLEASE ENJOY THESE CLOSEUPS OF FAKE INTESTINES THANK YOU.
8. Is there a music montage? Actually, surprisingly, not yet.
9. But at least the dialogue is stilted, right? Oh, my, heavens, yes.
10. On the bright side, it’s got the best promo photo EVER, though, right? Absolutely.
So here’s how I imagine the pitch for Taxi Brooklyn went:
She is a cop who keeps crashing her car into things.
He is a taxi driver falsely accused of a crime.
Together, they will solve crimes and drive taxis.
It’s TAXI BROOKLYN!!!!
So, NBC is pulling Believe from its lineup, which is great news, because my wee one just loves it and insists we watch it, and omigod, it is just terrible.
It’s not, like, actively terrible, like, I don’t know, The Following?, but it’s got so much wasted potential, it’s somehow almost worse. Like, the actress playing the little girl is good. Really good.
And Delroy Lindo is good. And Kyle “Agent Cooper” MacLachlan is good. But, oh man, are their characters the absolutely most cliched stereotypes you’ve ever seen: Magical Girl, Former Bad Guy Who’s Grown A Conscience, Bad Guy Who’s Willing To Sacrifice Anyone For His Goals.
And it could have been a decent show, like the little girl has psychic powers and bad dudes are trying to get her (the pilot had, I thought, a neat little bit with this mercenary lady coming after her and being a stone-cold killer, except she’s really on a deadline because she’d like to get home in time for a special dinner with her mommy), and her dad’s been busted out of prison on his way to the electric chair (of course he was framed, because having him actually be a bad dude would be too interesting, and also living somewhere that death row inmates get executed, like, instantaneously and not, after years and years and YEARS of appeals), and there’s a badass lady traveling with them who is great in a fight, except for when it’s plot convenient that she’s not, and I SWEAR THERE WAS A GOOD SHOW IN HERE. But NBC boringed it all up, and thank GOD it’s finally going away.