ER – Season 14, Episode 1 – The War Comes Home

September 29, 2007

14 years is a looooong time for a show to run but for the 14th year my wife and I sat down to watch the premiere of ER. Sure all of the characters who started with the show are long gone but the producers have done a decent job in rotating interesting characters through from year to year.

This season, we’re treated to the latest heavy hitter addition to the cast, the almost always brilliant Stanley Tucci. After last season’s crappy 3 LBS (I watched 1 episode and thought my brain was going to die of boredom) and an episode or 2 at the end of last season, he’s now joined the cast full time as the new head of the ER, replacing Luka. I generally liked his balance of philosopher, mentor, a-hole and leader – very similar to Weaver when she joined the cast. That being said they seem to be trying to show so many dimensions of him at one time that I’m not sure we got any real meaningful insight into his character. I guess we’ll see which direction they take him from here.

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Capsule Reviews: ER and Survivor

October 23, 2006

I’ve fallen a bit behind in my TV viewing the last week and as much as I’d like to do long reviews and recaps I’m going to do some shorter ones over the next day or 2 to catch me up.

ER – Season 13, Episode 4

Another great episode. I don’t know what’s up with this show but 13 is shaping up to be a very lucky season number for this show. As recently confirmed, because of a ratings resurgence, the show which was originally supposed to air uninterrupted this year now will follow it’s normal on-off pattern over the season. I don’t care too much about ratings but I will say that the show has had a creative resurgence that merits the higher ratings. This week’s episode introduced the always excellent Forest Whitaker (robbed from a deserved Emmy nom and a win for his work on The Shield) for a 4 episode arc as a patient who is suing Dr. Kovac. The episode did a fantastic job flipping back and forth between the characters’ testimonies in court and flashbacks of what happened in the ER, alternating perspectives as it went. Whitaker and Visnjic are to be commended for portraying their characters as simultaneously sympathetic and culpable with the clear message that regardless of who the jury favours neither of them are coming out of this winners.

Avi’s Episode rating: A

Survivor – Cook Islands, Episode 6

It’s been 13 seasons and although I know a lot of people wrote this show off a long time ago I’ve stuck with it, until now. I can’t attribute this change to a single factor but a whole bunch of things. I’ve written in previous posts about the increasingly uneven balance in any given episode between challenges and the character dynamics that originally drew me to this show and this remains an issue. I thought this week’s episode where both teams are forced to kick off a team member is a cheat on the basic rules of the game – losing teams kick people off, not winning teams. This isn’t a twist, just a cheat. Also, I really don’t care that much who wins or loses. I watch the show and 20 minutes later I can’t remember who gets kicked off. This isn’t a good sign.

Here’s the most important reason I’m dropping Survivor. There are way better shows to occupy my time with. In addition to the shows I watch week to week, I have an entire queue of past shows that I’ve recorded but have yet to watch. All of these are better than Survivor.

Avi’s Episode Rating: Irrelevant

Capsule TV Reviews: ER, Gilmore Girls, Six Degrees

October 10, 2006

ER – Season 13, Episode 3

I surprised even myself with the positive review I gave ER for the first 2 episodes a few weeks ago. This is a show that without a doubt has been past its prime for many years already. Although I enjoyed those first episodes I was definitely reluctant to say that the show was having a resurgence. After the third episode, I am almost ready to go out on a limb and say that this show is once again Must See Viewing. John Mahoney should already be pulling out his tux for the Emmy nod he surely deserves for his role as a gay, female impersonator whose lover is dying.  Besides being a showcase for Mahoney’s considerable acting skills, it also gave us an introduction to John Stamos’s new medical intern character whose know-it-all and laissez faire attitude immediately brings him into conflict with Pratt and has disasterous consequences for his patient.  I ended the episode already looking forward to next week.  What more could you want from a show that is more than 13 years old.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A-

Gilmore Girls – Season 6, Episode 2

This was the episode.

To be frank, I was coming close to giving up on this show.  Last season there wasn’t much to like about any of the characters or the stories they were immersed in and the actors just looked bored.  After a first episode that started to clean up the mess that was left at the end of last season, I was still on the fence.  It was good but seemed like it was trying a bit too hard.  Last week, however, had everything that makes this show great.  The dialogue was dead on for the characters and for the first time in a long time the actors actually looked like they enjoyed saying it.  From the opening scene of Luke punching out Christopher to his continuing declarations about how “fine” he is to his heartwrenching scenes with Lorelai where he states out loud his realization that they were never right for each other, I actually cared about Luke for the first time since they got engaged.  The scene with Rory and Lorelai where Rory finds out why the wedding got called off was so well played by both actors that it made the reconciliation at the end of the episode appropriate and real at the same time.  It wasn’t all serious.  Kirk opening up a diner across from Luke’s and Lane’s honeymoon adventure gave the episode the tonal balance it needed.  I hope this season continues to build on this fantastic episode.

Avi’s episode rating: A

Six Degrees – Episodes 2 & 3

This show has 1 more week with me and then it’s being dropped.  I wrote in my review of the first episode about my belief that people do cross paths with each other in ways that don’t become significant until a much later date.  This show, however, is not really about that, despite its title.   Instead it’s a show that is trying too hard to create overlaps that are more like 2 degrees of separation than six degrees.  The result is storylines that are contrived and unsubtle in how they intersect.  I look forward to seeing these generally talented actors, Campbell Scott in particular is excellent, in far better material in the future.  As I read over what I just wrote, I’m not even sure it’s going to get even another viewing.  Keep an eye out on the sidebar.  This should be on my dropped show list by next Friday.

Avi’s episodes rating: C

ER – Season 13, Episodes 1 & 2

October 1, 2006

I know what you’re thinking:  “Is this show even still on?”  Well, the answer is not only yes but also that I think these 2 episodes are perhaps the strongest ones in the last few years of the show.  The Abby-Luka story was one that almost had me in tears, having recently had my second child and seeing my worst fears about potentially having my little one in the NICU play out.  Even more important from a TV perspective, I actually cared about the characters and thought their reactions felt real.  I have a soft spot for John Stamos so I’m glad he’s joining the cast.  Weaver, no longer chief of staff – also a great turn of events – and Morris begging for his job back so he doesn’t have to work for the man (big pharma) returning as a peer of Weaver.  I also felt Neela’s pain with the aftermath of her husband’s death last season. 

To sum up, for a show that should essentially be on its last legs it has started this season with strong episodes that some of these new shows could only dream about.

Avi’s Episode Ratings: A-