season 1

Rizzoli & Isles: Season 1

Rizzoli & Isles

Rizzoli & Isles, season 1, DVD

I finished watching season one of Rizzoli & Isles.  Only ten episodes, it was a quick watch, and I think the season ended too soon. This season was shown in the summer of 2010 on TNT.  The show revolves around a Boston Homicide Detective (Rizzoli) and her friend the medical examiner (Isles).  Rizzoli also has a younger brother on the police force (Frankie).

First, let me mention the bad.  I hate the intro music – Irish bagpipes or something? I am not sure, but it’s really grating and I can’t start the episode soon enough.  Not sure what is up with that – Boston is known for it’s Irish families (and crime families), but Rizzoli is Italian. Anyway, zoom past the intros if you want to be happier.

Second, Rizzoli is pretty hard core and witty. But sometimes, she’s also dumb as a box of rocks. I mean, she is a detective in Boston.  However, there are times (even mundane story elements) wherein Rizzoli is devoid of basic logic, reasoning, or thought. I know there is a tendency for the viewer – as the outside judge – to look in upon the stage as the omniscient viewer and get frustrated with the players for not knowing all that the viewer knows.  That is not what I am doing here – really, based on simple things and not needing the omniscient stance of the viewer, Rizzoli sometimes is a real daft bird.

Third, I know the TV series is based (loosely or otherwise) on the series of novels written by Tess Gerritsen.  But I hope that the entire show does not forever constantly base itself on the relationship between “The Surgeon” and Rizzoli.  “The Surgeon” is Rizzoli’s nemesis, Charles Hoyt. Hoyt is played by Michael Massee.  Massee discharged the weapon that fired via malfunction and killed Brandon Lee in 1993 during filming of The Crow. The shooting was ruled an accident. Massee has also starred as a death row inmate on Criminal Minds.  Anyway, I think it’s good that such a show has a nemesis and a heroine. However, I hope this storyline does not obliterate any other creativity for the show.

Another guest star that appears in a couple of episodes is Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block “fame.”

One of the best things about the show is Maura Isles. She like Temperence “Bones” Brennan or Sheldon Cooper, but much more aristocratic and far more socialized.  She’s portrayed as a walking Google/Wikipedia, but she also displays sympathy, empathy, and intuitiveness. She’s played by actress Sasha Alexander – whom I had never heard of before. But apparently she has had roles in NCIS and Dawson’s Creek.  She is also Serbian and her “foreign” attitude/look/character is occasionally visible in her scenes.  It’s perfectly fine because it adds to the concept of the role of Maura Isles as the scientific oddball doctor. Hands down, Isles steals the show from Rizzoli.

Overall, I like that the gore-level is far below the Criminal Minds level. I also like that there is a simple police procedural paradigm followed here that makes the show very watchable. The comedic elements are nice and all of the characters/actors seem to interact well with each other. I would definitely see season two – especially after the “surprise” ending of season one!

3 stars

In Plain Sight: Season 1

In Plain Sight

In Plain Sight

I finished watching the first season of In Plain Sight; it originally aired in 2008.  I picked up the season for $5. It stars Mary McCormack as the main character with Fred Weller as her co-star. McCormack has played in a number of TV shows, particularly Murder One and The West Wing. I haven’t watched any of the other shows she’s been in.

McCormack plays a U.S. Marshall, Mary Shannon, stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As such, she participates in the Witness Protection Program (WitSec). The number of characters is relatively small (compared to most shows I’ve watched recently). Shannon’s partner in the Marshals is Marshall Mann, a fifth-generation U.S. Marshall. These two work under the supervision of their boss, Stan McQueen. Overall, the characters are not that appealing. Viewers are constantly being told that Shannon is a hard-core, rogue-ish Marshal. However, I find her to usually be just cranky and weak.

The actor who plays Marshall Mann is rather annoying. He’s really thin and tall and he speaks without moving his mouth much – talking through his teeth. Also, his voice is very nasal. (I don’t know how realistic any of this is for New Mexico). His character is a bit of a dork, though we are to believe he is stoic and patient.  Their boss is a short, balding fellow who generally lets the two marshals run rampant and do whatever they want. There sometimes appear to be more marshals in the city, but they are never in the office with the WitSec team. Overall, none of the characters seem like they are tough enough to be US Marshals, but maybe this is because I have some sort of Chuck Norris Texas Ranger thing in mind when I see this show.

I also have no interest in New Mexico. I pretty much hate the setting. I am not a fan of anything past the Mississippi River, for that matter. This show is somewhat similar to Saving Grace in that it involves a female lead character in a type of law enforcement. However, this show is nowhere near as gritty and transcendent as that one. (Saving Grace takes place in Oklahoma).

Most of this season was actually somewhat flat and boring. However, things get a lot better with the last disc. Finally, we have some storyline movement, action, and real drama. The characters do not necessarily become more interesting or likeable, but the storyline gets more interesting. For example, McQueen seems to become more dynamic in dealing with some of the WitSec situations and team.  I suspect this show gets better in season two, but I am not going to pay full price for it.

2 stars

Burn Notice: Season 1

Burn Notice 1

Burn Notice DVD season 1

If there is a cooler show on TV, I don’t know what it is. Really. Sure, there are funnier, bloodier, more intense shows out there, but none is cooler than Burn Notice.

The thing is, I was bored with all the TV options in the house – and so I headed out to the store to check out what could possibly be left to get me through until the new seasons arrived on DVD.  I stumbled across Burn Notice for a ridiculously low price. I think it was something like $15.  I watched the pilot, felt it was “okay” and consequently sold the season for trade-in money at the local used media shop.  Then, on Black Friday, I picked up Burn Notice seasons 1 and 2 for $10 each.  Don’t think that I watched them immediately, though.

Finally, at the end of June, I sat down and really watched Burn Notice. I gotta tell you – this is good stuff. I am so happy and so thrilled that I found this, that I finally watched it, and that its such a great show. Thank you writers and actors. Thank you Hollywood. I love the settings in Miami, I love the fashion, I love the characters, I love the humor, I love the action and suspense, I love the storylines, I love the coolness factor.

Fiona and Michael are super cool.  They are probably the coolest characters on TV in the last ten years. Really. Think Bones and Booth [Bones] – if Bones and Booth were cool and in Miami. And exploded stuff. And drove cool cars.

The pilot episode is probably the worst episode of the entire series. I feel that the producers and directors changed things after getting feedback from the audience regarding the pilot. There are subtle changes and additions that definitely improve the show. By episode two, everything’s fantastic. So, if you are like me and gave up after the pilot – go right on back and watch that second episode. Now. Really.

Incidentally, I can repeat the whole opening of the episodes by heart.  “…… you’re not going anywhere.”

I should warn you:   keep some yogurt in the fridge when you watch this series. Trust me.

5 stars

being human: Season 1

being human 1

being human DVD season 1

I watched the first season of being human.  This is the BBC British version of the show.  It only consisted of 6 episodes.  However, a lot of storyline is completed in those six episodes, so I guess the writers did a good job.

After the first episode, I was a little unsure what to expect.  It was a lot darker than I thought it would be.  And it has, at times, this amateurish camera-work that seems to me to be what would happen if it was filmed by an amateur soap opera cameraman.  Not that it is bad, it is just very different from what I am used to watching.

Needless to say, the show is in British.  Yes, British.  Its that language that I think is like English, but is inflected all oddly and is, therefore, British.  I hate British. I hate it because try as hard as I can, I cannot understand it, so I get frustrated.  All the inflections seem all wrong.  Watching this show took a little bit of work from me because I had to concentrate at times and learn each character’s speech patterns in order to grasp the content of the dialogue.

There are three main characters with about three other supporting characters.  The three main characters are a vampire (Mitchell), a werewolf (George), and a ghost (Annie).  The supporting characters are a nurse (Nina), a vampire posing as a cop (Herrick), and the ex-boyfriend (Owen) of the ghost.  Overall, the characters are not entirely likeable, though you don’t really hate them. By the sixth episode, you care slightly about them.  There is a good deal of blood and nakedness, so not a show for the weak stomached.

Sometimes the show is boring – nothing happening, dialogue boring – and then suddenly, there are some really great funny moments. For example, in episode five, George and Annie have a moment that is so funny, I had to pause the DVD player so that I could laugh.  (Its the scene where they beat up the guy in the funeral home and George has a line about “ninjas.”)  Also, in this same episode, Annie wants to scare Owen and is practicing being “scary.”  Annie tries to make herself seem scary as she says: “Confesssssssssss!” —- and I think my household will be permanently saying this word the way she says it in this episode.

Bad things:  Annie is stuck in the same clothing. And I hate her outfit and am so sick of seeing it!  Also, some of the language is a bit much – even if it is said in British.  (In fact, one time a noun is used in such a way as I have never heard it used before. Baffling.)

Overall, I have to give this three stars because even if it doesn’t seem great, in a mere six episodes the writers succeeded more than in, say, 40 episodes of Criminal Minds, if we’re comparing. Also, being human seems like it could get even better as it develops.

3 stars

Nurse Jackie: Season 1

Nurse Jackie 1

Nurse Jackie DVD season 1

So, Nurse Jackie is a nurse at All Saints hospital in NYC.  She is the head emergency room nurse (I think).  She’s also addicted to pain meds, having an affair, and she bends the rules with regard to hospital regulations – all the time.

The supporting cast of Zoey, O’Hara, Akalitus, and Mohammad do a lot of work making the storyline well-rounded and filled out. Without the supporting roles and subplots, the whole series would be a miserable catastrophe. After watching only the first season, Dr. O’Hara (played by Eve Best) is my favorite character, followed by Zoey and Akalitus. The main character? Yeah, I must admit that I am not really fond of her.

The point of season 1 is that Jackie makes every possible bad choice she can and then, at the end, she ends up having everyone she knows angry, disappointed, or frustrated with her. The antics of the patients at the hospital provide a decent background for telling us this story. We are also watching Zoey, a nursing student, develop.  What it all boils down to, though, is that Jackie makes bad choices and at the end of season 1, her choices make people suffer – not just herself. So, we are left up in the air with the last episode – will Jackie’s friends just slay her, or can she find a conniving way out?

I watched the season in two afternoons, its not gripping and its not incredibly entertaining, but its not wretched. I suppose I will give this season 3 out of 5 stars. Generally, I dislike the depravity found on Showtime and HBO.

3 stars

Criminal Minds: Season 1

Criminal Minds 1

Criminal Minds DVD season 1

People I know kept hounding me to watch Criminal Minds, and I had heard decent reviews of this series. So, I found season 1 “on sale” for less than a million dollars.  I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, although I knew the main premise was hunting for bad guys.

I was disappointed – overall – with season 1. And by the time I was on disc 5, I was absolutely marvelling that this show has run so many seasons. I was convinced that the other seasons must be really awesome to make up for this nonsense. I think there are 6 or 7 seasons.

Anyway, season one’s characters include Gideon (the real boss), Hotchner (the unit boss in name only), Morgan (the token black guy), Garcia (the techie), Elle (the headstrong chick), J.J. (the media relations girl), and Reid (the dorky, socially-inept kid).

Each episode does not deal with a serial killer, but it is the main thing that this FBI BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) looks for. They are profilers and they tend to view everything first as a possible serial killing, and then next as some other killing.  We are often supposed to be in awe of their deduction skills – as they examine people and then can tell us great accurate details about the person’s personality and lifestyle.  Frankly, this doesn’t seem any more tricky than the stuff of fortune tellers at carnivals.

Also, for any of this to work at all, there is a heavy-handed overarching determinist principle at work here. I suppose that’s SOME of the point of the show – to get us to consider nature/nurture and so forth. I have to say, though, that all of this comes out flat and ineffectively. After disc two I was asking myself: “gee, how much more odd and convoluted can they make serial killers.”  Because after you do the cannibalism, the rapes, and the patterns, what’s left? And, also, every (and I mean EVERY) crime is somehow because of the sex. So, watching this show is like watching a determinist Freud show.

The characters…. ahhh…. for 5 discs, they have ZERO personality. They are flatline, boring people. For example, Morgan does absolutely nothing on any of their cases. Really. Its amusing how little he does. He’s just there to be “the black guy” and say a few lines. The girl who plays Elle (Lola Glaudini) is the best looking of the bunch, but apparently she’s only in seasons 1 & 2. I have no idea what her role in the BAU really is.   Hotchner. Holy crap, Hotchner. I almost quit watching after disc 1 because I just simply couldn’t tolerate the boring monotone any further. I get that he’s supposed to be the rule-abiding suit-wearing boss. But NO ONE is that monotone. NO ONE.

Garcia is the only character that I really like. And, to be honest, I only like her because of her witty quotes. She’s a smart alec and it amuses me.

Some of the script is lame, they say obvious things or tautologies, but I assume this is for the dumb people who watch the show. It is a graphic show, its not the easiest show to eat in front of. Bodies everywhere type thing – much like Bones in that respect.

The last two episodes of the last disc are finally pretty good – and the season ends on a big cliffhanger to-be-continued sort of thing. So that means, I am really stuck watching season 2. Hopefully, though, with the last disc, the show has found its footing and things will improve. Up until that last disc I was glad to be done with this show and didn’t want to see any future seasons.

2 stars

Fringe: Season 1

Fringe 1

Fringe DVD season 1

Last night I finished up Fringe Season one.   I had gotten the season on sale on Black Friday for $10.  It stars Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham, an FBI agent who ends up drafted into the “Fringe Division” to investigate bizarre cases that are beyond the norm of known empirical science.  She is assisted by Peter Bishop (played by Joshua Jackson) and Walter Bishop (John Noble).

The Pilot episode was not very good. I’ve learned, though, that pilots are not usually good.  I hate flying and so the chaos on the plane crash to start the show left me uneasy.  But putting aside my fear of crashing, I have to say that the characters seemed dumb, confused, and a bit retarded. The story was only so-so average.

Thankfully, the storyline gets a lot better. Walter is a fascinating “mad scientist” and Peter plays a good antagonist to Olivia and Walter.  I like the concept of Walter getting his laboratory back and I love the crazy things that go on in his lab. I also like Walter’s randomness.  The supporting character of Astrid Farnsworth, an FBI agent who is on Olivia’s personal team and hangs out in Walter’s lab is one of my favorite characters. She’s fun and cute and interesting and rounds out the group in a nice way.  Olivia’s FBI partner, Charlie Francis, annoys me, but not too much. Its just that his voice grates on my nerves and his character is merely an enabler because he always lets Olivia do whatever she wants to do.

I have to say I was not impressed at all with Anna Torv’s acting skill. In the first few episodes, she barely hides her Aussie accent. Also, it seems the only facial expression she is really good at is looking confused.  In the latter half of the season, however, her character develops and she gets a better handle on not talking like an Aussie. One of the things that I do appreciate about her character is that Olivia is not another screamy-whiny-female character, prone to tears and flowers.  (A good example of this is in the episode “Bound.”)

Olivia’s boss, Phillip Broyles, isn’t really developed much. Its hard to ascertain what his rank in the FBI hierarchy is.  We know he has kids and is divorced, but that’s about it.  Also, the actor (Lance Reddick) who plays him has definitely got to eat some serious fat and protein. He’s way too thin!

One of my favorite quotes from Season 1 is, predictably, from Walter, who is speaking to a nurse at a hospital:

“Unless your IQ is higher than mine, I don’t care what you think.”

4 stars

Leverage: Season 1

Leverage season 1

Leverage DVD Season 1

So, I started watching Leverage Season One.  Its a TNT show, I believe. I have watched about five episodes, but its difficult to say which episode I am on.  The “order” of episodes as listed on and on is different than the actual order on the DVDs.  Its a bit of a mystery.  Anyway, the first episode is definitely “The Nigerian Job.”   It was a quick and dirty intro to the cast of characters.  Unlike some first episodes/pilot episodes, you jump right in on this storyline and we don’t dwell too much on character development.

The series has been compared to both the A-Team and Robin Hood. Its probably a good mix of the two.  Contrary to what we are used to watching on TV, the show is not “that intense.”  24 was an intense show. Leverage is not. And that’s okay, I think. After all, its supposed to be entertainment – not abuse! While I might call it a “light” show, I do not mean its stupid or silly. I just like the idea of complete stories in one episode… no season-long storylines. And there is definitely less drama and heaviness. Which is nice for a change.

It took me a few episodes to accept the actors as the characters.  We are told in the first episode that Parker is crazy.  And she is… although… maybe the actress doesn’t quite portray “crazy” as well as she should. Aloof and a bit odd, yes, but not quite “crazy.”  The actor who plays Eliot Spencer is Christian Kane – a Texan.  In the first episode I felt I was watching Billy Ray Cyrus. Eliot Spencer is supposed to be the “muscle” or the physical combatant of the group.  He’s doesn’t look all that much – and he’s got long hair – so it was difficult for me to accept that this character is the muscle. I am curious to see if he does his own fight scenes or its a double.

Nate Ford is the main character and group leader of the team. Ford is played by Tim Hutton – who looks very familiar to me, and so I looked him up online. He’s been in a number of movies, the most familiar to me being French Kiss. He’s a good actor, I suppose, but I am surprised that he can “carry” this show. He’s a bit too non-descript for me to remember after the DVD is turned off.  After watching the first disc or so, I think there has been more character development for Nate Ford than any of the other characters.

Finally, there are characters Sophia Devereaux and Alec Hardison.  When Tim Hutton says Alec Hardison, I never hear him pronounce the H in the surname. So for the first few episodes, I swore the character’s name was Alec ARRdison.  Hardison is the token black guy on the team. It amuses me because 25 years ago, Hardison would have been the muscle, but in this series, he’s the techie-geek guy.  In the episode “The Wedding Job,” he has a memorable funny quote:  “Have you ever been to Kiev? The cake-maker of Kiev could whoop all our asses. This is the Butcher!” Sophia Devereaux is supposed to be the old-love-interest of Nate Ford. She’s an actress who absolutely sucks on stage or in front of the camera – but she is excellent in con jobs. She is supposed to be this sexy, foreign babe who uses her looks to sway many of their marks. I dunno, she has a vague beauty, I suppose, but I am not too impressed with her looks. She also seems to lack a good range of facial expressions.

Overall, I am liking the show. Its not one of my tier one shows (The Big Bang Theory, House), but I hope I get to finish season one soon and move on to season two. This first season originally began running on TV at the end of 2008.

3 stars

House, M.D.: Season 1

House 1

House, MD DVD season 1

House M.D. is one of  my favorite shows on TV. (I do not actually have television service, I watch all things on DVD.) I own and have seen seasons 1-6, and as I usually do when there are no more TV shows available for me to watch, I just rewatch the stuff I already own. The first time I saw this season I watched the first two discs alone at home in the afternoon. I thought it was quite good.  I hadn’t known what to expect at all. Some medical show…. the main character is named House. That’s the sum of what I knew. I got hooked on the show, though.  I am just going to highlight two of the early episodes….

  • PILOT – 4 quotes

The pilot episode is pretty good, though not the best of the whole series.  It includes the first occurrence of the famous phrase of the series: “Everybody lies” — this comes at only 05:57 in the episode.  The patient’s name is Rebecca and she is ill because of a Tapeworm that she may have gotten from eating pork.  The diagnostics team figures this out because Dr. Chase saves the day by figuring out how to prove that Rebecca actually does have a tapeworm.  Dr. Allison Cameron?  Yeah, she doesn’t do a whole lot for the team in this episode.  However, House tells Cameron that he hired her because she’s good looking and “damaged.”

This is the episode where House tells Cuddy about the “philosopher” Jagger who says: “You can’t always get what you want.”   House also tells Dr. Cuddy (22:26):  “I don’t [think I’m always right], I just find it difficult to operate on the opposite assumption.”  Honestly, I think the actor should have said “from” not “on,” but its still amusing as heck.   One odd thing:  Dr. Wilson, House’s friend, spends time treating the patient, too.  So Rebecca actually has at least 5 doctors.  When the team cures Rebecca, her grade school class children give her a card that reads: “We’re happy you’re not dead, Miss Rebecca”  Overall, I give the pilot a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Occam’s Razor

The third episode of the season is one of my favorites. This one is a lot of fun because none of patient Brandon’s symptoms fit together. The episode starts off with Brandon and his girlfriend having sex.  He is taken to the hospital because of his cough, rash, and he passes out.  The girlfriend, at one point, mentions to Dr. Chase her fear that because she was “rough” with the sex act, that she might have caused Brandon’s illness.  House spends his time working on Brandon’s case and treating patients in the Clinic.  His efforts to spoil Dr. Cuddy’s orders for him to spend time in the clinic include his playing Gameboy Advance, and asking for consults from other doctors for basic diagnoses.  One of House’s clinic patients is a teenager who has an MP3 player up his anus.

The diagnosis that House maintains regarding Brandon, is that there are two different problems simultaneously causing Brandon’s illness – and House believes one of those is caused by a reaction/OD to another drug.

One of my favorite quotes is at 29:41 when House is talking to his team:  “The simplest explanation is almost always: someone screwed up.”    When it seems like House’s diagnosis might be wrong, he tells Wilson: “Reality is almost always wrong,” because House tenaciously believes he is correct.  As House’s diagnosis is proven correct, he tells Wilson:  “Make a note – I should never doubt myself.”  Wilson replies: “I think you’ll remember.”

Two other amusing quotes are when House sarcastically asks Cameron “Oh wait! Which way does time go?”  And when he scolds Wilson:  “No, there is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate,” because this is the first insinuation and hint that there is any inkling of love/relationship between Dr. Cuddy and House.

I like this episode for several reasons:  how it brings up the issue of pharmacological treatments causing/interfering with other symptoms – and the potential there is for getting the incorrect medicine. I also like the balance of the comedic episodes in the Clinic with the seriousness of Brandon’s fate.  Finally, the writers are demonstrating how the other doctors in the hospital deal with (or don’t deal with) House’s antics. Of the first three episodes, this third one and the first are both necessary, canonical House episodes.

5 stars