Did anyone else watch the first episode of Big Love? It gives new meaning to “boring.” Hell, it gives new meaning to “gnawing my own arm off suddenly seems appealing.” As Elkins, who repaid sins of her past lives by being in the room while I watched Big Love, said: It’s as if the writers thought that a controversial premise is all that’s required to carry a show.
The show did pass the Mo Movie Measure – there was a scene in which the main character’s daughter and a female co-worker discussed church activities. The scene took place over halfway through the show, however, so viewers may have dozed off before seeing it. And the main character’s cliche psychotic mother was played with scene-stealing energy by Grace Zabriskie (also terrific as Susan Ross’ mother on Seinfeld). And the script acknowledged of the creepy girl-exploiting side of polygamy, with a 14 year old girl (looked younger than that to me) married to Harry Dean Stanton.
But that’s just not enough. I think the overwhelming blandness may be an attempt to present polygamy “objectively,” rather than taking a stand, but when you stand nowhere you get nowhere. Bottom line: I can’t believe they put off broadcasting the new season of Deadwood in favor of this crap.
Other TV notes (spoilers ahead):
* The season premiere of The Sopranos was terrific. Most brutal hanging scene I’ve ever seen on TV, beating even the hanging in the first episode of Deadwood. Isn’t it sad that’s the first thing it occurs to me to mention? Loved the scene with the contractor – apparently even being a mafia boss’ wife doesn’t get you good contracting help.
* The season ender of Battlestar Gallactica was damned good, plus they shook the hell out of their premise, so I suppose I’ll have to forgive them for that hideous episode about the black market a few weeks back. Whatsisname – the guy who played Al on Quantum Leap – had the best scene. I’m really looking forward to next season, when I trust Doctor Baltar, Number Six, Number Six’s hallucination of Baltar, and Baltar’s hallucination of Number Six will all have a long scene together.
* New West Wing was okay. Boo, hiss for inter-office romance – I imagine the writers, seated around a table, saying “what is the most predictable subplot we could possibly inflict on the final episodes? Anyone? Anyone?” – but hooray for seeing more smart, capable female characters on this show than on any other four shows combined. On the down side, Janine Garafalo’s character seems to have been written out. And they still haven’t found a way to write a big song number into the script for Kristin Chenoweth, which is probably good from a “not turning the show into totally incomprehensible nonsense” perspective, but also bad because, you know, she’s Kristin fuckin’ Chenoweth.
* I thought the David Carridine casting was funny on Medium. This is one of the best-written shows on TV, but there’s a certain quality of… desperation to it, isn’t there? Sometimes it feels like they’re casting about for something new to do. When it works, it works great – I don’t think there’s another show on TV so willing to break formula – but after a while the newtwistoftheweek becomes a formula in its own right. Disadvantage of the show being so completely episodic, rather than having longer-running plot arcs.
* We’re just now watching season four of Oz. What I’m learning: The way to get to a beautiful, capable female doctor’s heart is to first murder her husband, and then murder her rapist because she’s your property, dammit, not the rapist’s. That’ll get her to fall in love with you, because if there’s anything capable, accomplished women of color everywhere dream of, it’s having a sociopath white man stalking you. I’m at a loss to imagine what the hell the writers were thinking.
* Speaking of shows which use female prison doctors as rape bait whenever the plot needs a crash cart, Prison Break returns next week.
* This isn’t recent, but did anyone catch the episode of Bones which was anti-plastic surgery, since it’s a bad idea for people to be obsessed with surface beauty rather than inner substance? And yet, if the producers were really interested in substance over beauty, would they have cast David Boreanaz in a lead? I doubt it. Nor do I think an actress in her 20s would have been the first choice to play a super-experienced forensic scientist, in a less surface-obsessed world.