Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Of Mars and Ned: Monday's "Heroes," "Chuck," "HIMYM" and more...
I've never watched a single full episode of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" even though FOX is on my Zap2it beat. Does that make me a bad person? That being said, I'm sorely tempted to watch this Thursday's celebrity "5th Grader" with former "American Idol" bubblehead Kellie Pickler [even though I know that Pickler's an evil genius and she would never unveil her vast tracts of... um... "knowledge" just for a FOX game show]. Does that make me a worse person? Yeah. Figured.
Anyway, Monday night features an insane amount of television, probably more than I plow through on any other night.
Follow through after the bump as I talk about Rachel Bilson on "Chuck," Kristen Bell on "Heroes," a shocking revelation about Moon Bloodgood on "Journeyman" and probably one or two things involving less attractive women.
So yeah. Let's take things show-by-show until I get bored. [I should mention that spoilers are coming...]
"Chuck" -- With "Heroes" stumbling (two good weeks don't equal a good season) and "How I Met Your Mother" proving increasingly erratic (more on that later), "Chuck" is probably the Monday show I'm finding most pleasurable. I've described it as souffle in the past, but that may be selling it short. It's not that you turn your brain off to watch "Chuck," just that you set it to "Chuck" Mode, a very different gear in which you become ultra-vigilant about attempting to catch each and every pop culture reference and you don't worry quite so much about the International Adversary of the Week. Tonight's episode was the second straight to deal heavily in exposition, relying on that ever-popular device of the Truth Serum That Causes People To Expose Their Inner Feelings. But with "Chuck," the "whys" don't matter so much as the "hows," as in "how" well Zachary Levi, Adam Baldwin and particularly Sarah Lancaster (her best episode of the season by far) handled their temporary truthiness. But really, give me Kevin Weisman as an ass-kicking rogue gymnast-turned-poisoner and I can be content. Throw in the introduction of Rachel Bilson -- capable of wringing maximum cuteness and tartness out of the simplest of dialogue -- and it was a good week for "Chuck."
"How I Met Your Mother" -- Finally figured out the problem. Last season, with Ted and Robin in a relationship, the show could just concentrate on the warm embrace of each of its core characters. The dynamic was simple: One long-term couple, one new couple and one Barney -- it was "Rules of Engagement" minus the suck! This season, though, they've had to keep introducing a cavalcade of not-even-vaguely-worthy foils for Ted and the show has suffered as a result, since parading out so many flawed and crazy women has verged on misogyny at times, since it's not like Ted is such a great catch that he should be able to cast aside Mandy Moore, Busy Philips, Lindsay Price, et al. Adding to the tip-toeing around the misogyny is the fact that while Ted has rejected one hottie after another for minor imperfections, Robin has mostly been responsible for sabotaging her own brief flings, all with a much more worthy assortment of men. This isn't optional: I don't care if the show's writers get Ted a wife/future-mother yet, but they NEED for that character to find a potential partner.
"Heroes" -- There's something quite marvelous about what Kristen Bell is doing here. I spent the first 30 minutes of the episode pondering if her spark-throwing Elle was mentally handicapped, if the show was doing some sort of "Of Mice and Men" thing where she was Lennie and Stephen Tobolowski was George and Milo Ventigmiglia was the bunny. I'd call it "Of Mars and Ned." Then they had to go and explain the character's psychological profile -- that she'd pretty much been locked up since she was 10 and therefore hadn't had the chance to go through any of the normal rites and rituals of puberty and young adulthood. That was less exciting than my theory, but it didn't make Bell's performance any less intriguing.
The episode had plenty of other good moments, including the origin story for the Ying Yang Twins, in which she laid waste to an entire Dominican wedding. We also didn't spend a single second in Feudal Japan. I was a little disappointed that they didn't give an origin story for Adrian Pasdar's beard (or, for that matter, for his bear). The biggest disappointment, though, was the absence of a tear-filled courtroom scene explaining how Parkman and Mohinder got custody of Molly. I imagine a judge saying, "Yes, I know you're a pair of confirmed bachelors who no clear source of income who only met a week or two ago under shady circumstances, but the court grants you full custody of this little girl with demonstrated emotional problems. Good day!"
"Journeyman" -- Last week, I'd intended to write about both "Heroes" and "Journeyman" with a concentration on "Journeyman." After all, last week's episode featured some Dan-on-Dan brawling. That was awesome. But I was too lazy for that blog post. Or else too busy. Opportunity missed. After three or four really decent episodes in a row, last night's "Journeyman" was a small step back, owing to some of the cheesiest cinematic depictions of hippies since either "American Dreams" or "The '60s."
This week had less time-bending "Back to the Future"-style fun, though we finally got a lot of information about Moon Bloodgood's Livia, including the knowledge that really lives in 1948 and then when she got stuck mysteriously in the '80s, she was able to just go to law school without impediments like the LSATs or undergrad transcripts. Then again, as paths to legal practice go, that's no more or less believable than Marshall interviewing for high powered firms after already graduating from law school and taken the bar (those interviews would have happened nearly a year earlier in the real world). And we've now added "quartz" to "tachyons" as magic words the writers are using to hint around the causes for Dan's time travel.
My biggest disappointment? That Dan has yet to vanish in the middle of sex. Last night would have offered the perfect opportunity and the writers didn't take it. Curses!
Oh and it may be time for a moratorium on usage of Three Dog Night's "Shambala."
"Big Bang Theory" -- 22 minutes of Indian (dot, not feather) jokes? Count me in. Not much has been written about the fact that, unlike "The Class" last year, "Big Bang Theory" has begun to consistently improve on its "HIMYM" lead-in and that its demos have basically been improving every week. Jim Parsons still makes me laugh and what else am I going to do with this time period? My DVR will feel rejected if it doesn't record something.