Short Form Reviews: Plain Sight, Call Girl, Dance

Short Form Reviews

June 26th, 2008

Considering that a majority of my television watching has been spent finishing up one HBO show (Six Feet Under) and digging into another in earnest (The Wire), all in conjunction with regular TV viewing and some repeat viewings of some of the season’s best episodes (I’ll be getting to that maybe next week), some shows are either sitting on the DVR for longer and longer periods of time or, in some cases, just not grabbing my attention enough to warrant a blog post. So, we have short form reviews.

What’s there to say? Like my relationship with most USA Network shows, I enjoy my 42 minutes with these characters but never seem to really rush to watch them as soon as they air. I was the same way with both Monk and Psych before they got kicked from my rotation, and I might end up in the same position with this show. I enjoy Mary McCormack, and there’s some decent action/comedy hybrid stuff going on, but both of the most recent episodes (“Never the Bride” and “Trojan Horst”) have done little to make this must see TV.

I’d argue that both episodes had their issues – “Bride” was a bit too tacky in terms of the getup that Mary let her sister put her in, but otherwise featured a good mix of the series’ witness protection drama. “Horst,” which aired on Sunday, was stronger in action and tension, but literally stopped cold every time the storyline jumped to the mother/sister characters. There’s just literally nothing interesting about them, and I’d hate to think the show isn’t aware of it. I saw a comment over at Alan Sepinwall’s blog that the show had better be leading up to these two getting put in Witness Protection, and that’s right on: unless they’re part of Mary’s life, they serve no tangible purpose in the series’ narrative.

But if the show irons that out, it enters USA’s stable of watchable dramas – I’m more excited for Burn Notice’s return, let’s put it that way.

Having now been able to go through all eight episodes sent to critics, I’ll have to say that I have no interest whatsoever in continuing to discuss this Showtime series, even if I had interest in finishing the short season’s run. Yes, the show remains charming due to Billie Piper’s continued on-screen radiance, but each episode deals with such a small amount of plot or situation that it never amounts to anything. With only three “regular” characters (If we’re even willing to define her agent as a character), the show is such a small universe that its pacing does little to help me feel connected to anything beyond a very attractive female lead.

Later episodes spend a lot of time dancing with potential long term storylines, but the show isn’t willing to commit to them; it feels like a blog and not a memoir, if you will, short stories with some of the same characters, a few of the same settings, but no feeling that reading/watching every day/week is actually doing anything for the reader/viewer. While you could probably start watching this series at any point you choose and be able to pick up the threads (Which will make it good watching for the seedy teenagers trolling cable for female nudity), it doesn’t amount to a show with anything even close to a plot.

Still, though: Piper’s charm is enough that I’ll give the show another shot when it returns for its first set of episodes commissioned after being picked up by Showtime, to see if a larger audience might not been a larger scope.

I’ve stopped blogging about the series mainly because I realized it’s just no fun – as a group activity, watching the various routines and commenting on them is far more exciting than sharing my thoughts here at Cultural Learnings. To be honest, I feel a little bad about it, so don’t hold it against me for too long that I’ve shunned my readership in such a fashion.

I’m still enoying watching it, though – it’s my summer reality staple until Project Runway returns in three weeks time, and since I’ve been on an unofficial and silent Canadian Idol boycott. There’s just a charm to seeing people doing something they’re good at, and ever since our group discovered the “Soft Mute” button on the remote it’s been a far easier viewing experience when it comes to Mary Murphy’s screamfests.

My thoughts on the last two weeks are really quite obvious: it is clear which teams aren’t doing well and which are, and that has been fairly consistent across the various dances. This is a show that is all about momentum, and with three solid weeks (and a lot of screentime) under their belt certain teams (Joshua/Katee, Twitchington, Chelsea/Mark with his crazy crooked fingers that, once mentioned, I couldn’t stop staring at) have no chance of going home any time soon. They have proven the most adept at not only performing but owning the various styles provided to them: even as someone who has no idea whether they’re doing it “right,” it looks right.

For the other teams, anything goes – Will will be saved by the judges (with good reason) every single time, but I’d argue that every other competitor below the Top 3 teams needs to be wary. Still, though, the frustrating thing is that Thayne (And his creepy smile) and Chris (Who is just too awkward) probably both deserve to go before a girl does, but that’s the nature of the partnering stage.

So that’s where things stand – I’ll be back with more Emmys coverage heading into Friday (When, rumour has it, we might be getting full Top 10 Lists for all acting/series categories). And in case anyone was interested, I need to track down the second episode of The Middleman since it decided not to record. But I do want to get to it eventually.

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