Primetime Confessions: Kyle XY

I have a friend who, when we were in our primary school days, confessed that once while staying home sick for got hooked on soaps. This is a statement I would never let that friend live down. While I have never been the most discriminate of television watchers there are two things I’ve always managed to avoid: reality television (post-Real World/Road Rules, all 90s teens are exempt from that) and soap operas. I have been forced as of late to reconsider that last. Sure, as a (mostly) recovered wrestling fan I have acknowledged that the “sports-entertainment” embodied by the WWE is a soap opera of sorts but that isn’t what I’m talking about. Sometimes there is a show you get hooked on, a show that intellectually you’re not sure you really should be enjoying but you, for one reason or another, you can’t stop watching. For me that show, once something of a prime-time soap, is a little program called Kyle XY.

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Shup up John Conner!

John Connor (Thomas Dekker) the poor bastard, is perhaps verging a bit into Wesley Crusher territory.  As the youngest character he is, at present, the show’s weakest link.  Having recently finished Just a Geek, Wil Wheaton’s second book, I kind of feel for young Dekker who seems to be (like Wheaton) is a victim of how his character is being written.  His pouty emo act in the first two episodes cheapens the character and reveals little of the future saviour of humankind we all know and love.  There are some redeeming moments…ok, I admit that the real redemption of the John Conner scenes in episodes 1 and 2 are a result of his interaction with the adorably disaffected Riley (Leven Rambin).  From their initial meeting at school in episode 1 and their magazine browsing trip in episode 2 (ok, again I admit i was seriously distracted by the dress scene in that same episode, shut up) these remain the only time John’s emo, I’m-a-sad-future-hero character was palatable.  Episode 3 was a little better, John seemed fairly confident in a search to find the missing Cameron (Summer Glau) while seeming to have dropped his angry-emo act.  The preview for next week looked like we might see some more John redemption as well.  I also feel compelled to point out the the last episode’s revelations regarding Cameron certainly tie into the (rumored?) plot of the upcoming fourth Terminator movie.

Ratings are suffering (this show is not alone) but I’m certainly enjoying my time with it for the moment.

TV Review: Californication

No, not the Red Hot Chilli Peppers album, the tv show of the same name on Showtime.  I was flipping through Comcast’s On Demand screen last night looking for something to watch when the annoying voice that I typically ignore mentioned that Showtime had free episodes of Californication available to watch.  Less than a minute later I was watching the first episode (hilariously edited for content).  What feels like minutes later I had watched the first five episodes and had to restrain myself lest I forgo sleep entirely.

The show focuses on the shambles of displaced writer Hank Moody.  Moody is a cantankerous, manipulative, self-destructive individual overflowing with self-loathing.  Yet he is endearing as well, he obviously loves his daughter and her mother (his ex-girlfriend) but is so full of himself, and hatred for himself, that his behavior constantly gets in his way.  The dialogue sparkles with a snappy attitude and is generous in laugh out loud moments whether they be an ironic turn of phrase or a bit of slapstick amusement.

The shows pacing is excellent with each half-hour (22-24 minute) episode flying by in what feels like no time at all.  The show both revels, and pokes fun, at the Hollywood lifestyle at once embracing and a shining a light on the absurdities Tinsel town cliches.  Moody despite constantly spewing vitriol at and about Hollywood types is a bit of a cliche himself: the self-destructive, disaffected writer railing against the banality of society at large.  It isn’t a bad thing, however that might sound, and Moody is able to strike some sort of balance between the reality of his own life and the life he thinks he should have; a balance that sets him apart from the typical cliche.

Special mention should go out to Madeline Zima, who plays the sociopathic daughter of Hank’s “nemesis” Bill.  Zima, who I last remember as the youngest daughter on The Nanny, manipulates and tortures Hank in frequently and amusing and always uncomfortable ways.  Madeleine Martin, who plays Hank’s daughter Becca, is also of worthy note.  Her acerbic wit and love for her mess of a father often cast her into an almost parental role.   Becca Moody, despite her mature attitude, is often a victim of the actions of the adults around her and I find it interesting that he role as her father’s caretaker and go-between between her parents, has forced her to sacrifice her childhood.  At the same time her ability to find enjoyment and fun in life despite her parent’s shitty situation, is a testament to her strength as a character.

I’ve always been a staunch believer in David Duchovny’s ability as a comedic actor (I admit to thinking he was pretty good in Zemekis‘ Ivan Reitman’s Evolution).  Few of his past projects took serious advantage of his dead pan delivery and pitch perfect timing but both are honed to perfection in Californication.  Season 1 is out on DVD and I highly recommend giving it a shot.

The Middleman

I admit it.  I scoffed when I first saw the promos. ” A silly sci-fi comedy on ABC Family? ” I said to myself, “Man, that is sooooooo gonna suck.”

Well, self, you sir are an idiot.

I was dead on with the silly though, or maybe quirky is better, regardless of either word, the show works.  I struggle to find the right combination of words to describe the show properly so, in lueiu of failling miserably I’ll provide with a snipper from the L.A. Times review:

Our heroine is Wendy Watson (Natalie Morales), alliteratively named in the tradition of Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Matt Murdock, Billy Batson, and Clark Kent. (Superheroic identities available on request.) A video-game-playing, comics-reading, deadpan millennial nerd girl — a type now in vogue if not yet in Vogue — she paints at night and gets by as a temp in the day, until she is recruited as a sidekick by the Middleman (Matt Keeslar) after he sees her attack a “hentai tentacle monster” with a letter opener. (The word “hentai” alone should raise goose flesh on certain viewers.) A square-jawed milk-drinker, exceedingly all-American in the way that spoof heroes often are, the Middleman is also a little dark, as if the clean-cuttedness were a kind of candy-coating on a potentially explosive soul. He has no trouble with violence.

I recommend you head over and take a gander at the full review since entertainment reviewer Robert Lloyd does a fantastic job of nailing what the show is all about.  I won’t mention everything he says there but only echo him with a hearty “Agreed!” and move on.

Monday night’s episode featured ghosts and had me laughing out loud a several points.  Try as might I couldn’t keep track of all the Ghostbuster’s references but was much impressed that they wen’t so far as to reference Tobin’s Spirit Guide, and even go outside the Ghostbuster’s universe proper with the inclusion of a Reitman Hall on the campus where the action takes place.   Few shows are as purely entertaining as The Middleman and if you’re suffering through the late summer television doldrums I highly recommend you give this little show a shot.

You also might try one of these, if you really like the show.  The season was shortened to 12 episodes and while the reviews have been good the ratings haven’t been too high (I think an earlier time slot might improve things), check out the Middleblog for updates on the show.

The Middleman airs at 10 PM EST on Mondays on ABC Family.

Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles, Pilot

I won’t lie. This post will, more than likely, turn out to be a fanboy love letter to Summer Glau. I admit it was a bit jarring seeing her in a non-crazy role, as both River Tam (Firefly) and her character from the 4400 were both bat-shit insane but she carries this transformation with skill Of all the characters in the show Summer’s Terminator seemed the most interesting. Which, given that the show should really be about the relationship between to John and Sarah (and John’s rise to Christian Bale-esque badassery), doesn’t speak much in the show’s favor. However, there is room for improvement, Thomas Dekker (“John Conner”), at least seems like he could make a decent John Conner; if he stops his whining. Lean Headwy is far too pretty to be Sarah Conner and lacks the edge that Linda Hamilton had in T2.

<Spoiler Warning>

Anyway the basic premise: It’s 1999 and Sarah is living in near domestic bliss when some nightmares make her get all antsy. She and John hit the road. Sarah’s fiancee goes to the cops. Oops, this alerts not only the FBI but a rather generic stone-jawed Terminator. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, John is starting in his new school where he meets an overly curious cutie (Summer Glau). On day two a substitute teacher shows and, in perhaps the most idiotic move ever, rips a gun out of his thigh and tries to shoot John. John makes his escape and things go pretty much as you expect from there. We get our trio on the run with the cute-as-a-button Terminator where they meet up with old friends the Dekker family. From there they head to bank vault where they assemble a lightning gun (**shrug**), fry the evil robot guy, and time jump to 2007.

</Spoiler warning>

The pilot was a solid sci-fi outing with only few “WTF were they thinking” moments (re: lightning gun) and, at the least, was something fresh amidst a stagnant sea of re-runs. Things could get better and the initial mystery of the show, who ends up creating SkyNet with Miles Dekker being all dead, should hold long-time Terminator fans interest enough. I found the following exchange interesting:

John: What model are you? You seem…different.

Summer: **eats a potato chip** I am different.

As I said earlier, I won’t lie and say that my mind didn’t immediately race down corridors only the finest of japanese animated films could conjure, but it was an interesting comment as the slighter build of Summer seems curiously inadequete for the whole Terminate function that their name implies. Regardless of how things turn out I’ll be happy to tune in for a weekly dose of Summer.

Edit:  Sorry about the formatting mistake earlier.  Every once and a while worpdress decides it wants extra long lines.  Grrrr….  All better now though.

Fox douchbaggery

Somewhere, in their hollowed out volcano lair, the RIAA rejoices at someone else ascending descending to their level of evil.

Fox Cancels All BUFFY Screenings

Can we get a response from Whedon? Why, yes we can, thanks to the kind folks over at Whedonesque:

Hi.

This is hugely depressing. I will do everything in my power to find out the exact reasoning for this and try to convince those responsible what a mistake it is. Of course, the words “my power” might confuse my gentle readers into believing I have any. I don’t know what I’ll be able to do, and I’ve no idea even where to start. Nor do I think this was done maliciously or capriciously. But it’s lousy news and it’s bad business. I’m hoping the latter element might prevail. I’ll keep you posted.

As ever, -j.