Welcome to Fall 2010 TV Seasons/Series Premieres!

Yes, it’s been awhile since my last post and I still haven’t made my comments about “The Last Airbender.”

Suffice it to say that the more I think about it, the more disappointed I am with “The Last Airbender” for not having a better cast.  I’m not suggesting that M. Night Shyamalan had to cast Asians (okay, maybe I kind of am), but it felt awkward to have seen such very white looking characters living among a tribe of a very Asian looking populace – unless they were among more diverse people, the awkwardness didn’t go away (a light-skinned Aang the Airbender living among the diverse Airbenders was actually fine, in comparison; that didn’t feel so awkward).

I’d be curious to see how a sequel would work, if only in hopes that it’d somehow show improvement.  The stories are there; the cast needs some bulking up.

And, well, I guess Hollywood has ways to go to put Asians/Asian Americans on the screen (big or little).  Hence, I’ve gotten more into the Asian American Int’l Film Festival, as noted in my July posts.

I did get a kick out of “Inception” (pun intended; the “kicks” in the movie were entertaining).  Thought-provoking movie with such original plotting, even if it was a little short on deep emotion.  Plus, there was some diversity (Ken Watanabe as Saito!  Dileep Rao as The Chemist!  Asians on Big Screen!) and I still can’t get over how did Joseph Gordon-Levitt end up being so hot?

I shall have to have a separate post on the movies watched during the summer of 2010 and what I could look forward to for the rest of 2010.

And, then there’s “Hawaii Five-O” – Asian Americans (or, in Grace Park’s case, Asian Canadian) playing Asian Americans!

I mostly liked the cast – Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly and Scott Caan as Danno – cool!  Grace Park as the rookie cop (Kono was once a male role) – was also pretty cool (Park’s turning into the go-to person to play roles that used to be male, isn’t she?).

I agree with Danno: McGarrett is a pain in the ass.  I couldn’t tell if the writers basically gave McGarrett the worst lines or if Alex O’Loughlin’s acting left much to be desired.  Honestly, Alex O’Loughlin’s no Jack Lord.  O’Loughlin’s Steve McGarrett’s a little on the crazy side (apparently, being ex-Navy Seal/naval intelligence and having his dad killed by the ex-Spike (of “Angel”) James Marsters, made McGarrett wacko).

Plus, the new Hawaii Five-O team (in their first episode, anyway) seems to be about violating civil rights while being preachy about doing right – ex., while arresting the Chinese smuggler – i.e.,  a snakehead – McGarrett goes into a monologue about threatening to send said Chinese snakehead’s wife, a Rwandan, back to Rwanda with their son.  Seriously?  You have that kind of power?

And, boy, is Hawaii that diverse?  A Chinese man and a Rwandan woman?  Interesting!  Not actually shown on screen, but the reference is appealing.  Plus, even Hawaii-raised McGarrett gets teased for being white by the APA’s of the islands.  Oh well.

Jean Smart was kind of cool as Hawaii’s super powered governor – so super powered that she gives McGarrett a carte blanche to wipe out the Bad Guys.  Wow.  (ok, that’s a sort-of sarcastic “wow”)…

Back to my rant: The show enters such ridiculous old-school 1960’s/1970’s punch-’em bad guys level with the disregard of rights, which is… kind of fun, actually, if I really, really think about it (does it even make sense that I have to think about it?  Uh…).

Okay, so you don’t have to be all NYPD Blue to show the cops v. bad guys.  And, CBS had to recycle that same lot that they used for original Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. (not to mention that Tom Selleck’s about to be back on the air – we are so recycling the 1970’s and 1980’s!).

James Marsters – not enough of him on Hawaii Five-O!  He was sufficiently evil, by the way, but, he barely had lines.  And, will he ever act with his real American accent?  Hmm.

And, after all that preaching and lack of civil rights, where were the lawyers?  Surely the Attorney General of Hawaii wouldn’t like what McGarrett’s doing (that Danno’s by-the-book is pretty nifty; he misses his life in NJ – awww).

Not a perfect series premiere.  So, I do agree with tv critic Alan Sepinwall: “Hawaii Five-O” is not very deep, but it’ll do.  Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker recalled that original Hawaii Five-O wasn’t exactly deep either, but he appreciates that the new series can capture the spirit of fun.

Got to love that theme song though.  Classic.

The other new Monday show, “Lone Star,” on FOX, was a strong series premiere.  I couldn’t resist watching it, since the lead actor, James Wolk, is so good looking – drool-worthy, even – and his picture, with his character’s two wives, have been on all the city buses (yes, I’m superficial).  He acted pretty well as the con man Bob Allen, who’s a little angsty but playing his con game as best he can.

Who is Bob, really, when he is torn between the two loves of his life and thinking he can try out a semi-honest life for once, after learning the art of the con from his dad since his childhood?  Can Bob get away with it?  I doubt it, but he’s going to darn well try.

I agree with tv critics Alan Sepinwall and James Poniewozik: I’m not sure how will “Lone Star” will last a season.  It feels like the kind of show that would be fine as a movie or a mini-series on PBS or cable.  It was like a throwback to the old 1970’s style of show (say, Robert Wagner’s “It Takes a Thief,” well before my time), or a cross between a WB show (considering the rather entertaining soundtrack and tense family relationships) with a FOX show (sex, scandal, sex, scandal…; but, Bob is supposed to be a nice guy – right?), and a touch of “Friday Night Lights” (not that I ever watched the show, but apparently, the Texas life was portrayed fairly well on “Lone Star” as it was on “Friday Night Lights” and they apparently share producers or something).

Bob oozed charm; but can he – will he – be redeemed?  We’ll see.

I did watch the series premiere of “Outlaw” on NBC.  Jimmy Smits plays US Supreme Court Justice Cyrus Garza, who was a conservative justice selected by the alternate universe George W. Bush.  Losing his father in a fatal car accident, Garza flips to the liberal camp and decides to be a practicing lawyer again, giving up the highest court of the land.  Seriously?

Garza’s switch wasn’t entirely convincing (not necessarily Smits’ fault; I think the writing was weak); apparently, he was already feeling his (more liberal) father’s disappointment in him and his life as a gambling addict was not doing him any good.  If anything, I thought Garza’s gambling problem was interesting; Lawyers Assistance Program could get on tv, maybe?

Garza’s law clerks are surprised to be practicing with him in the crusade to save people.  I’d sympathize, but the clerks seemed so bland.  Plus, the idea that one of Garza’s clerks would blurt out her love for him, while believing that he would die of a fatal illness (as opposed to, say, getting his legs broken by unsavory types due to his gambling) — that was a “That’s NOT good tv” moment.

Jimmy Smits – you deserve better than this.  “Outlaw” is not “West Wing” or “L.A. Law.”  I don’t need 9 out of 10 tv critics to know this.

Also, if you want to see Supreme Court justices on tv, consider the fact that  the last couple of shows that tried to be the fictitious versions of the Supreme Court didn’t do well (ex’s., “The Court” (with Sally Field as a justice) and “First Monday“(with James Garner as a justice)).

If you really want to watch a Supreme Court Justice, watch a real one who appeared on Charlie Rose’s show, with a great interview, aired last Friday, Sept. 17, 2010, with Justice Stephen Breyer.

I liked the season premiere of “How I Met Your Mother” – it finally felt like the show is moving forward.  I stopped watching a good chunk of last season because I hated that they backtracked on the Barney and Robin thing, and for a show that originally felt charming and innovative, it started to feel tiresome.

While not a perfect season premiere episode, there’s some hope that Ted will move forward, and that Barney and Robin might move forward too. Oh, and Marshall and Lily got a little touch of reality, in the wackiness of trying to conceive a baby.

I more or less agreed with James Poniewozik on the subject: I like HIMYM, and I want to believe in it again.

I am looking forward to seeing “The Whole Truth” on ABC, which seems to be sort of “Law and Order” but with Rob Morrow and Maura Tierney.  Alan Sepinwall in his review was not exactly impressed, but I do agree: Rob Morrow and Maura Tierney back on tv!  I’ll take a chance on it.

Plus, returning shows that I will look forward to seeing: “Community” (what will be the fallout of Jeff and Annie kissing each other?  Will Senor Chang stop being such an ass?  The latter seems unlikely…) and “Fringe” (how long will Olivia be stuck in the Other Universe?  how much havoc will Alternate Olivia cause in the main universe?).

I wish I had BBC America so that I could watch “Law and Order: UK” (coming soon to a BBC America cable package to people other than me).  Think about it: Freema Agyeman (ex-Martha of Doctor Who) as a prosecutor!

Also, considering how much I’ve watched British tv mysteries, it’d be interesting to see a British police procedural L&O style.

Of late, I’ve been watching Inspector Lewis on Masterpiece Mystery.  Lewis is hitting a groove (heck, he’s gotten a cat and his daughter’s getting him on the Internet; apparently older people really do need their grown kids to still help them).

PBS’ editing of the episodes made plot holes glaringly obvious, unfortunately.

Also, Lewis’ sergeant Hathaway has better be careful; he’s going to become Inspector Morse if he doesn’t get a little happier (N.B.: Morse was Lewis’ old partner; Inspector Morse kept making Sergeant Lewis drink orange juice, as the designated driver, while he himself drank beer and tried to solve cases with his brain).

Hathaway’s angst – it’s so Morse, even if Hathaway’s too young to succumb like that.  Lewis’ affection for the young man like a son is nice, but I do wonder why he keeps company with the depressed.  Lewis used to be such a happy guy (long before the series killed off his wife, off-screen).

I’m also looking forward to the upcoming new Sherlock Holmes on Masterpiece Mystery!  Taking place in modern day England, some things don’t change: John Watson, M.D., is still an army guy coming back to England from Afghanistan.  Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes?  Hmm.  Even curiouser – Martin Freeman (who played Arthur on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie) as Watson (who blogs!)?  And, Rupert Graves as a not stupid Inspector Lestrade?  This could be cool.

J.J. Abrams’ “Undercover” could be interesting for his return to spies on tv.  NY Times’ critic Ginia Bellafante seems to think the series is a little light-weight (blame it on USA Network’s influence, I guess).  I suppose we could all give it credit for having a black couple as the leads (diversity on tv – thumbs up!), but I’ve been exhausted by “Alias” from giving another go with spies on tv.  I might give it a try, just to see if there’s fun in it or not.  I like my shows to have the combination of characters and plots – let’s see if “Undercover” has that.

Of all things to be mildly entertained by, I’ve actually enjoyed watching “Melissa and Joey” on ABC Family, where Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence do a throwback to the 1980’s type sitcom – in front of a live audience and a la “Who’s the Boss” (sick as it sounds, I practically did watch all the episodes of the Tony-Angela saga of “Who’s the Boss” when I was a kid).

I feel old though – I grew up with Joey Lawrence (yes, way back on “Gimme a Break” and when he was “Joey” – pre-Joe Lawrence days; even through his “Blossom” days!).

Last but not least: Time’s Techland has a fun interview with Alex Trebek!

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