Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Adventures

FADE IN:

INT. MY SISTER’S APARTMENT – DAY

Just to catch you up on what I’ve been doing for the last year…

My friend, Bret Jolliffe and I wrote and directed a short film, Leonard and the Mail Lady. I spent the summer writing, hiking, and taking photographs, which culminated in a coffee table book called A Thousand Mile Summer. Finally, thanks to the help of my wonderful cousin and her husband; I’ll be moving into a small LA studio apartment to pursue my writing career.

I wanted to take the next few entries and review some of the new shows coming out this fall season. In no particular order…

CHASE: **1/2

Centers on Annie Frost a wholesome-yet-lethal Texan who leads a team of US marshals tasked with tracking down some of America's most wanted fugitives.

+3:

- A viscous villain more complex than the entire US Marshals team. Suave and murderous. Charming and deadly. He steals the show.

- Kelli Giddish as Annie Frost: Tough, sensitive with a dark past, all cliché. A modern day cowgirl with a sense of justice. We’ve seen before in male form. But her stage presence and wholesome, kick-ass nature adds depth not found in the writing.

- Setting: Texas... Where the John Wayne style law dawgs still thrive…

-3:

- Too much explaining. Audiences are perceptive, there’s no need to repeat facts we’ve already grasped.

- Forced character moments and Southern sayings are not a substitute for subtext and do not reveal character nor carry a scene.

- Forced action masking plot holes – Raymond Chandler once said “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” This show falls prey to that.

Chase has so much untapped potential. If this was baseball, the pilot was not a total swing and a miss, but it was a foul ball. However, television is a gamble and they’re still in the batters box. I’m willing to give them two more strikes. The cast feel a bit stiff. Once they get comfortable, this show could really take off.

HAWAII FIVE-0 ****

A fresh update of the popular 1970's show; centers around Steve McGarrett, former military and Danny Williams, Hawaii PD. Together they are the foundation for a governor appointed Special Ops crime-fighting unit tasked with hunting down criminals that plague the islands.

+3:

- Chemistry – Scott Cann and Alex O’Loughlin are Danno and McGarrett. From their rocky start to witty banter to eventual respect create an exciting partnership. Complicated and empathetic, make them our generations Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid.

- Dialogue: Rich subtext, tight storytelling and non-verbal communications enrich this already marvelous show. There are no forced character moments. Yes, there’s the typical beer-in-hand bonding moment, but like sitting down with old friends and you want to listen to their story.

- Set up – Complication – payoff. Simple concept and this show nails it. My favorites are the heart felt three-beat-sequence with a stuffed bunny and the tense undercover bust that goes wrong.

-3:

- Complicated call to action and refusal of the call.

- Viscously weak villains. They can snarl and waves an automatic rifle all they want but the main characters are so superior in intellect and technology that they need a Hans Gruber style villain to challenge them.

- Expectations. Can it continue to capture the lighting in a bottle…

From Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (Star Trek, MI 3, Transformers, Alias) Five-0 is a character driven action/drama with great pacing and complex story lines delivered in a simple, effective manner. This show is a must see.

RUNNING WILDE ***1/2

A comedy about a spoiled, selfish, millionaire reuniting with his eco friendly, high school crush who is determined to make him a better man.

+3:

- Great character introductions. Within the first five minutes, you have a strong sense of who the major players are and it’s hard not to love each and every one of them.

- Exaggeration = Comedy. Steven Wilde is all about excess and is surrounded by colorful comedic characters.

- A fine mixture of comedy and character moments. These are people you want to invite into your home… if only for a half an hour.

-3:

- Puddle. An intriguing living situation and manipulative nature make her interesting, but she feels like a miniature copy of her mother – and not in the cool, comedic way George Michael was to his father.

- The love affair – Emmy’s determined to make him a better man, and Steve’s determined to make her a worse woman. The comedy comes from the romantic tension and needs to be extended as long as possible ala: Jim and Pam’s Office romance.

- Fa’ad – the neighbor. Just not a fan.

After watching the pilot, Running Wilde felt fresh yet familiar. The narrative style, the comedic structure and the cameo by David Cross should have clued me in that Will Arnett, Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely recreated Arrested Development’s magic. Thank goodness, the world will now be a better place.

MIKE & MOLLY ***

A comedy about a working class Chicago couple who find love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

+3:

- Charm: the world is a sensitive place, so a comedy about larger Americans could have been a touchy subject. But Mike and Molly are presented in an empathetic way. You want them to succeed, but they’re not afraid to make fun of themselves, which alleviates any potentially insulting natured jokes.

- Melissa McCarthy – she brings energy, heart and ups Molly’s adorable factor by 100. Combine that with her comedic timing and this show has lasting power.

- Comedic Rule of Three: Set up, build up, punch line. Classic made fresh.

-3:

- The mother and sister. Flat and insulting… at times.

- Coincidence or fate? The two officers just happen to show up at Molly’s place just after the robbery. I call contrived coincidence.

- Set pieces. House, café and car. We’ve seen them before.

Chuck Lorre is 3 for 3 in the new millennium (Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory and now Mike and Molly). This is a funny; heart felt comedy that has the power to inspire.

Stay tuned… more to come.

FADE OUT.

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