Viva Laughlin Cancelled by CBS after 2 Episodes

October 24, 2007

With all of the bad buzz on this show I wasn’t going to waste my time even recording it but then I saw the New York Times article which had this great quote:

“Viva Laughlin” on CBS may well be the worst new show of the season, but is it the worst show in the history of television?

How could a true TV Lover like me pass up a show that might be the worst in the history of television? Well I’ve been a little too busy and haven’t yet got around to watching but now that it’s cancelled after only airing 2 episodes I’m not sure it’s even worth the bother.

I’m asking you my fellow TV viewers, is it even worth checking it out just to say I saw it?  Will there be any value in watching to use as a point of comparison the next time I want to give a show a scathing review so I can say… “At least it’s not Viva Laughlin”.

How I Met Your Mother – Season 3, Episode 4 – Little Boys

October 17, 2007

I didn’t love last week but this week the show was back in fine form.  More and more I see the comparisons in tone to Friends in its prime and am truly mystified why this show isn’t as huge a hit.

The show started great with a fun group scene discussing the “but” related to the blind fix-up and highlighted one of the real truisms in life – we all have a “but”, although in this case it focused on Robin’s issues.  I’m still amazed what this show gets away with at 8:00, on CBS of all networks, with one of the best uses of the “shotgun” call ever.  I’m still laughing.

For Robin the “but” with her fix-up was that her date has a son and as we fans know, Robin never wants to have kids.  In her own words she preferred to be the cougar chasing the son later in life than meet him as a little kid.  She also didn’t seem to realize that getting full custody is a win.  As much as it was entertaining watching Robin make friends with a kid, try to break up with a kid and ultimately get dumped by a kid, the best part was the flash forward conclusion.  There isn’t another show that so deftly balances the humour with the “warm and fuzzy” moments and this week’s look at Aunt Robin’s ultimate success with Ted’s kids did so successfully.

The parallel story had Ted and Barney competing for who has the best “game” with Marshall excluded because he won the woman’s league version of the dating game by getting married.  The competition to get the girl started feeling a little too familiar but definitely had some good twists.  Barney pretending that he had slept with her and using the image of him as Sir Edmund Hilary with Ted as the second guy up Everest was pure genius.  Ted was so freaked about going where Barney has been that he ultimately had to dump her leaving her wide open for Barney could move in.  Unfortunately for Barney she wanted to take it slow leaving him with her mean Reggae skills, a dancing Ted and a bet that neither of them won.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B+

Cane – Season 1, Episode 1 (Pilot) and Episode 2 (The Work of a Business Man)

October 5, 2007

Two weeks in and I’m really enjoying this show. A large part of the credit goes to Jimmy Smits who from LA Law to West Wing just does such a great job as the slightly imperfect but still moral centre of every show he’s in. Unfortunately on this show the imperfection is murder but he’s able to justify it to himself with his dedication to his family and business.  In addition to Jimmy Smits the cast includes great actors like Hector Elizondo, Rita Moreno, Ken Howard and even Beecher from Oz and Atia from Rome and the pedigree shows through.

Cane follows the story of a Cuban-American family in the rum and sugar business and their long time rivalry with a local family.  Elizondo is the patriarch who is dying and needs to hand his business down to his successor.  He has 3 children to choose from and one adopted son (Smits) who married Elizondo’s daughter.  Of course, the natural sons are passed over in favour of Smits creating a conflict in the family.

Many of the reviews criticized the show for packing too much story into the pilot – the internal family conflict, the rivalry with the other family, a hired killer and a vengeful Smits.  Personally, I didn’t find it hard to follow and found the show quite compelling.  Lots of good soap opera action, a good cast and dramatic cliffhangers.  It’s far better than most of the new shows I’ve seen this season and I’m looking forward to see what happens next.  I can’t ask for anything more.

Avi’s Episode Rating: B+

Moonlight – Season 1, Episode 1 – No Such Thing as Vampires

October 1, 2007

Take the premise of Angel and strip out the charisma, mythology and strong supporting characters then add in some hokey voiceover filled with cliches and you’re getting close to Moonlight. The lead actor Alex O’Loughlin demonstrates limited personality as he smells the air for blood and flirts with a reporter for an online magazine. Unlike on The Shield where he was surrounded by a Strike Team of amazing actors and given great dialogue, here he’s hung out to dry. Even Jason Dohring, so perfect on Veronica Mars as the bad boy with a heart, seems to merely be reciting words as he yells into phones and talks about hiding the existence of vampires.

The mystery of the week is almost completely forgettable – something to do with the death of a student, her professor teaching a class on vampires who sleeps with his students and a TA who unsurprisingly was the killer. The show tries to create mythology by making the reporter a girl he rescued years earlier from the vampire who turned him but all I’m thinking is “who cares”.

Maybe I shouldn’t expect anything from the network that brings us procedurals and bad sitcoms (except How I Met Your Mother), cancels shows like Smith and Jericho (at least initially) and pairs this with Ghost Whisperer but even with the bar set so low this show can’t get over it. I’m going to give it one more week just to see if it can move beyond a reshot and recast pilot and turn into anything semi-interesting. At this point I’m not hopeful.

Avi’s Episode Rating: D

How I Met Your Mother – Season 3, Episode 1 – Wait for it….

September 25, 2007

I love this show.  As my regular readers know I generally don’t watch traditional sitcoms but this one has something unique.  In addition to having one of the best ensemble casts on TV, it’s one of the few shows that is able to make me laugh out loud one minute and give me the “warm and fuzzies” little tear in my eye, the next.

Picking up right from last season we are treated to Barney’s attempts (“Cirque de so-laid”) to pull Ted out of his post-Robin funk while his beard grows.  Of course, it just takes Robin’s return from Argentina with new boyfriend Gael or Gail, played perfectly by Enrique Iglesias, discussing the joys of windsurfing to compel Ted to try and win the breakup war.

And don’t think just because Lily and Marshall are married that we aren’t going to like them anymore.  Between Lily’s quick recovery from her comment on how the girl “never marries the hot guy” to their double date with Robin and Gael where both end up falling for him, we find new ways to love this great couple.

Meanwhile, who is Ted’s rebound girl – Mandy Moore – who I have had new appreciation for since her work on Entourage a couple of seasons ago.  Here she’s a tattooed throwback (1994 Courtney Love) who calls Barney a nerd and verbally spars with him throughout the episode.  I really wonder how this show gets some of the jokes through the censors at 8PM.

The show concludes with one of the great apologies of all time from Barney and a reminder of why Robin is so cool as she makes Ted feel better about his comparison to Gael.

As I’ve said many times, this show is just like welcoming back old Friends (in the first few seasons).   Lastly as much as I like Ari Gold I have to say that Neil Patrick Harris was robbed.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A