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Wednesday, June 21, 2006
TV Round-Up
Rescue Me: Sparks
There are times in this show that it's just painful to watch--and yet despite feeling really, really dirty, I just can't look away.

Like two weeks ago when Tommy figured out who the new guy was with his soon-to-be-ex, Janet. Namely his brother. Man, that fight was brutal, watching Tommy do a slow burn before he gets up and beats the crap out of his brother. It was one of those that you kept thinking--they're gonna cut, they're gonna cut and they never did. Instead, we got a raw, brutal scene that went on too long for comfort.

And now here with "Sparks."

And if you've seen it, you know which scene I'm talking about.

Tommy agrees to meet with Janet to disucss the terms of the divorce. And before the scene is over, Tommy has shoved her onto a couch and is forcing himself on her. Once again, we see Tommy going from slow burn to giving into his baser, animal insticts...and nothing Janet says or does deters him. As if the whole scene weren't bad enough, Janet seems to....dear heaven help me....enjoy it toward the end on some animal level. And once it's done, the two of them chat as if nothing happened and then Janet covers it up when Tommy's brother comes back home. She acts like nothing happened and that somehow what just occurred was normal...and while I'm sickened and horrified at the character of Tommy Gavin, I just can't not tune in next week. It also makes me wonder about the nature of Tommy and Janet's relationship when it seems almost as if both of them get off on this type of angry sex and that it is almost normal to them both....

That's the genius of this show. I love the characters, in that I love how raw, gritty and real they are, but I don't love them in the sense that I'd choose any of them to be friends with. Also, it walks such a fine line between laugh out loud funny (Probie arguing that he's less gay) and dark, distrubing drama such as the scene with Tommy and Janet or Lou's attempt to end his own life. I mean, wow...this is some of the best written and most disturbing TV I've seen in a long time (and I saw the ads for The Simple Life, Part 38).

It's certainly not for everyone...but damn, it's good.

Oh yeah--and Franco's mentioning to Alicia how he kidnapped his daughter back from her foster parents...so gonna come back to bite him.

The 4400: The New World, Parts 1 and 2 & Being Tom Baldwin
There were times last summer when I wondered if The 4400 had outlived its premise. The orignal run of six episodes was designed as a one-time, mini-series event but when ratings warranted bringing it back for a second sesaon, the producers complied--and it showed. Last year was about a lot of growing pains as the show tried to figure out what to do next, having resolved some of the central mysteries from season one.

But, the show got through it and seems to have some direction to the storylines now.

No where is that more apparent that the two-hour season premiere, "The New World." The storyline picks up a short time after "Mommy's Bosses" ended last year with mixed results. It's interesting that on both sides, there are leaders who believe that what they are doing is absolutley right and the best way to address the issue. And it's also interesting that as the series has gone along, the 4400 have gone from a group we felt sympathy for their plight to a sense of mistrust about them and their powers. I'm still not quite sure how this impending battle between those with abilities and those without plays into the masterplan of the 4400 somehow saving the planet....or has that goal been corrupted? It should be interesting to find out.

On the other hand you've got "Being Tom Baldwin" that is really nothing more than an episode built around the wacky fun of dopplegangers. Yeah, if it'd not been done better on Star Trek, The X-Files, Buffy or really any other genre show of the past 20 or so years, it might be interesting here. Interestingly enough, the final scene is two copies of Tom arguing with Elena as to who the real one--a page taken right out of classic Star Trek's "Whom Gods Destroy." Though this time, the storyline at least comes up with a way out of the dilemma without annoying one of your lead actors (Nimoy was terribly unhappy with a scene in which Spock had to choose between Kirk and someone impersonating Kirk).

The one common thread between these two episodes is the growth of Isabelle. Interesting choice to push her forward and have her become a, foil/romantic interest for Shawn. This may have some potential, esp. if she's there to somehow derail Shawn as the perceived leader of the 4400.

The Dead Zone: Forbidden Fruit
It's hard to see this as a season-premiere since the fourth season was originally comissioned and structured to run 22 episodes, but was then split into two chunks by USA of 11-episodes each. It may be why this one felt so...well, unmometous and slow moving. Or maybe it's that it's been close to year since I last journeyed into The Dead Zone (apart from the Christmas special) and I'd forgotten a lot of what happened leading up to this.

Thank heavens we had a long recap....

Also, I have to admit details of where we are in the backstory are fuzzy...such as, if Johnny is dating the fellow female pyschic, why would he be romantically pursuing Miranda. Or interested in that relationship? Maybe I'm blurring details in my head.....

Perhaps part of it is Johnny's slow descent into obsession with Stillson. Which is something we've seen before and Anthony Michael Hall does quite well at playing. Seeing just how Johnny is blinded by Stillson and trying to stop the on-coming armageddon is part of the fun of the show. But now since we've had this mythology episode, I bet we get some stand-alones for the next few weeks as Johnny has wacky fun with his powers.

That said, I found myself not as drawn into this episode as I was in previous seasons. At one point, I checked the clock and was dismayed to find I had half an hour left to go. It felt as if there were a lot of circles being run around in this one, building toward the inevitable end we all saw coming. I mean, we mention Miranda has a weak heart and three scenes later there is a deadly snake with venom that can cause death in those with weak hearts...gee, can I put two and two together?

I know that this was the last season Michael Piller produced and worked on before his untimely death. And it was bittersweet seeing the episode dedicated to him. But I still found myself wishing they'd had a stronger episode to honor the memory of how good Michael Piller was when he was at the top of his writing game.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/21/2006 01:55:00 PM | |
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