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Monday, October 17, 2005
TV Round-Up
Alias: The Shed
OK, so maybe I didn't pay as much attention last year as I should have (honestly, why should I--it's not like Alias really rewards you for paying close attention anymore!), but did I miss Syd and Vaughn moving in together? I mean, as touching and moving as the scene was where Vaughn's hockey magazine shows up, it doesn't make a lick of sense that he'd have it sent to her place and not hit. But again, I could have missed that our two heroes moved in together last year, though last time I looked last season, Syd was sharing a place with Nadia. So, I may not be wrong here. I guess what I'm trying to say here is--I hate it when a show assumes we, the audience, are idiots and won't remember things like this.

Of course, season five has really been built around the principle that we, the audience, are idiots and will accept any revelation and twist that comes along, no matter how absurd or not grounded in the reality of the show we make it. I can see that Alias is trying to reinvent itself a bit, but honestly it's not reinventing so much as retreading. Wow, we've got a super-secret spy organization that claims to be the CIA but isn't and they've recruited an intelligent, attractive woman to be part of that organization. Seriously--only thing missing from the pilot episode would be having Rachel's dad be part of the whole organization. Though I am sure now that I've mentioned that on-line, someone over at the Alias staff will pick it up and run with it.

Looking at this episode in which Syd is reduced to little more than a supporting role, I have to wonder if it might not have been best to punt on starting the season until after Jennifer Garner had delivered her baby. Becuase seeing characters we hardly know, much less care two cents about, go through the motions of a plot is not that entertaining. I mean, I get that we're trying to establish some new blood here, because heaven knows this show needs it in the worst possible way. But when you're establishing the new blood by covering the same ground you've already done back in season one, it gets old. Here's a note: If I wanted to watch season one again, TNT is showing repeats in the afternoon and I can catch it there. That or pick it up on DVD. I want to actually see new, interesting stuff happen on-screen and, quite frankly, that just ain't happening.

That said, it was good to see Amy "I Used to Work with a Real TV Genius And His Name Is Joss Whedon" Acker get some work here. But, again, I think her vast talent is being underutilized in what was a one-note character and role.

Smallville: Hidden
It'd be easy to sit here and compare and contrast the new seasons of Smallville and Alias. The shows air opposite each other, both are coming off lackluster years and both are in their fifth season. But whereas Alias is continuing to devolve from a once enjoyable show, Smallville is taking advantage of coming off a lackluster year and coming out of the gate with a vengeance. And here's the scary part--James Marsters has barely shown up yet. I can only imagine how good it's gonna get when he gets there.

Part of that is that Smallville never pretends to be more than it is. It never tries to be high art or high drama. Instead it's fun and, for the most part, entertaining to watch. It's a new exploration of what make Clark Kent into the Man of Steel later and a possible exploration of why Superman and Lex Luthor became such bitter enemies. A part of the enjoyment may be that we all know where the story ends, so we can just sit back and enjoy the ride of how we got there without worrying if the producers have some great masterplan or if they really have any concept of what they're doing.

Not to say this week's episode was perfect, mind you. I liked the concept of Clark having to race against a clock to save Smallville. But, along the way, some hugely improbable things happen. Clark is shot, taken to the hospital, attempted to be revived and then declared dead all in the space of five to seven minutes. Now, I am not saying these events would take hours, but based on the countdown to missile launch we saw, I can't help but wonder if this set of events unfolded a bit too quickly. I will give Smallville credit--they are following up on the meteor shower well with events here (though the Kent's farm being restored happened too fast). To see a character who realizes that the meteor rocks are creating freaks and that if more rained down on the town, this can't be a good thing works as a motivation. Also, to see Clark slowly putting together all of his superpowers and how and when to use them is nice. Though after seeing him take out the missile and return home, his clothes beaten and scarred and ripped, I gotta wonder how many copies of that red jacket and blue shirt he's got. I would love to see a scene where Martha makes him the Superman costume just to cut down the cost of replacing that red denim jacket every three days at the Gap.

Veronica Mars: Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang

Back when Buffy and Angel were on the air I learned to pay close attention to the third episode of the season. Because, for the most part, it was the third episode of the season when the season-long story arc would kick off and Joss would lace the entire story with hints of things to come--including putting some clues so obviously in plain sight that you'd miss then until mid-January when you'd go, "Oh yeah!", smack yourself on the forehead and then realize, (yet again) what a genius Joss is.

Same thing happening here for Veronica Mars.

No disresepct to Lost, but this was the best show I saw last week. Fascintating, complex and full of hints and clues at things to come. I will say it again--I am loving this season. Man, this show is on a roll. Consider that the last nine or so new episodes have all swung for the fences and cleared them and you can understand why I get so geekoid for this show. I have a feeling some stories have been set in motion that we aren't even aware of how they'll play out just yet.

And yet, I can't wait to see how it all unfolds.

If there's one thing I've learned--Veronica Mars doesn't put a storyline in play unless it intends to pay off on it. And it will twist in ways we don't expect. From the question of what will happen to Kendall to did Aarron Echols hire someone to kill Veronica to who is the guy following Wallace's mother, there are so many great unanswered questions out there right now. I do have to feel for Keith...cause he seemed pretty happy in the relationship, which on a show like this can only mean one thing--bad things are coming.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/17/2005 09:46:00 AM | |
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