D is for Drama:
Thursday Night on the Alphabet
With two of Thursday’s must-see comedies on hiatus, and due to CTV’s wonky scheduling, I figured it would be best if I watched three dramas this past evening in order to get a glimpse into a non-comedic side of things for a change. And, quite coincidentally, it appeared that this was actually turning into a review of ABC’s debuting Thursday lineup. The Alphabet debuted a new drama, and saw the long-awaited returns of both Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy, a combination likely to lead to ratings success against NBC’s premieres, CBS’ NCAA Basketball and FOX’s hit game show not deserving of being mentioned by name. But, just because it wins the ratings battle, should we give it a pass from the analysis of the Thursday Night TV Club? Absolutely not.
Ugly Betty – “Icing on the Cake”
Anyone who isn’t rooting for the pairing of Henry and Betty at this point are, perhaps, dead to me. It’s clear, considering that Christopher Gorham attended the Paley festival roundtable this week, that he’ll be sticking around for awhile; I can only hope that they pull the trigger on this relationship by the time the season ends. Charlie is cute and all, but it’s fairly clear that they have to end up together in some way. Part of me hopes that they could be one of those couples who can just be together without being all dramatic about it…if there’s any couple I’d support putting into a plastic bubble, it might be this one.
As for the rest of the episode, things went about as you’d expect they would, although to be honest some of it was a little bit like running in place. Ignacio’s storyline went nowhere, Claire Meade’s storyline seemed to lack resonance, and the entire situation between Daniel and Alexis just never got off the ground for me. Even Amanda as a designer’s muse (Saw the reveal coming miles away…and were we supposed to know that actress, or was she just that bad an actor?) seemed to just sit there, waiting for me to be entertained. As what was essentially an episode where so much of the show treaded water, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as the past set of episodes. As opposed to the icing on the cake, it really felt more like it had laid the icing next to the cake, and expected us to ice it ourselves…wow, no more cake late at night, it makes me metaphorical.
Grey’s Anatomy – “Scars and Souvenirs”
This was an episode all about the opening of old wounds, the discovery of wounds you didn’t know were there, and then the creation of new wounds over a bottle of liquor.
For Meredith, her wound was her mother’s death and the reality of her estranged father. Her stepmother suggests they have dinner, and it’s all quite healing for her to talk to him and come to terms with the fact that she still has family left. For Cristina, however, she has to deal with her three-year relationship with one of her professors (Who happens to be visiting chief candidate Marlowe), and the sense of resentment and frustration his story of heartbreak and a marriage-hating Cristina brings to Burke.
Callie provides the wound we didn’t know existed with her revelation that her family is rich, and she’s rich (Which, although I know it was to “get the best cases”, kind of makes living in a hospital even more pathetic), which drives a wedge between her and George (Especially after George puts his foot in his mouth about how Callie is ugly compared to Izzie). He then goes and gets drunk with Izzie to discuss it all, even after Callie tells him that Izzie is clearly into him.
And about those new wounds? Yeah, Izzie slept with George. Oh Izzie. And, for that matter, Oh George. Seriously, these two will never learn, especially you George. At least you have the drunk excuse this time…and I don’t think Izzie started crying partway through it.
On the whole, the episode did a good job of displaying a great deal of emotional turmoil, whether for individual characters or in the battle for Chief. Despite supporting patient performances which stood out in all of the cases of the week (Including Dina Araz, go Shoreh!), it was really all about the doctors this week, and I think the episode was better for it.
October Road – “Pilot”
Myself and some of my residence mates have decided that October Road shall become our guilty pleasure viewing every Thursday evening. It’s not terrible, if anything it’s actually got a few charming touches. It’s not great, though, as it never tries to be much more than its very basic concept: man writes book about childhood friends after being gone for 10 years, book is successful but many townspeople are affected, man returns to town and faces the demons of his past in best friend, former girlfriend, and possible child forms.
That being said, and this may be terrible, but I actually kind of find the concept interesting for the purpose of watching a show like this. Bryan Greenberg is adequate in the starring role, Laura Prepon makes you forget about Donna quite quickly, and the supporting players get enough to do that you find them charming. There’s something about this small community which makes you want to live there…perhaps it’s the large expensive homes, or the fact that it looks exactly like a large watercolour painting as he drives into it…well that’s more because it WAS a painting of some sort. It was weird.
That’s the thing, really. In a lot of ways, I think that the show’s biggest problem is how often it exits that world and takes us somewhere far less pleasant. Whether it is through its cheap production values CGI shots, or through the dialogue which often sounds like people are talking to far larger audiences than they actually are (Leaving a message never sounds like that in real life), there is a sense that the show just isn’t up to its own standards.
And yet, I think as a guilty pleasure I’ll keep watching. Considering that it’s replacing another guilty pleasure for many, Men in Trees, will either serve for or against it, but we’ll see in the morning how its ratings turn out. Will it follow in the footsteps of former occupants Six Degrees and the aforementioned Men in Trees? Well, we don’t really know right now, but I’m betting it will see similar returns. Much like Lost before it, it just seems that Grey’s can’t build a show’s fortunes the way they want it to.
The Verdict: Eh, not a bad way to spend three hours of my life. Ugly Betty was perhaps not up to par, but Grey’s pulled out a doozie of an episode that I personally found more interesting than the drowning/disaster arc. October Road was certainly not perfect, but it made for some good laughs (and a rather embarrassingly enthusiastic reaction to that small annoying guy from One Tree Hill joining his former co-star…and playing a person 8-10 years younger than his former TV classmate) and I’ll likely watch again just for that.