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September 29, 2011 / mandalaymai

Persons (and Shows) of Interest

If you read my last post, you might think that while I was pretty happy to have all my old favorite shows back, I really didn’t care for the newbies that cropped up on my DVR.  And the truth is that aside from 2 Broke Girls, none of the new shows I saw really made me want to set the DVR for another go around.  But, I saw several shows this week that absolutely made me want to tune in again and in some cases … now get ready, ’cause this is shocking … reprioritize my DVR settings.

Person of Interest

OK, there were lots of commercials leading up to the main premiere week that sort of looked the same.  And it happens every year…I call them “procedurals with a twist.”  Invariably one will be about cops, one will be about doctors, one will be about lawyers…you all know what I mean.  So, the only way I could tell them apart was that one was about a lady cop who remembers everything and one was about a lady cop who flashed her gun at cab drivers (which seemed a little aggressive  to me, but whatever).  One was about a doctor who sees ghosts and becomes a better man and one had the creepy guy from Lost and the guy who was Jesus in that Mel Gibson movie.

Person of Interest is that last one.  I will admit up front that I didn’t watch Lost and that I didn’t see The Passion of the Christ.  I remembered Jim Caviezel from the movie Frequency with Dennis Quaid and (don’t judge me) Angel Eyes with Jennifer Lopez.  In the first three minutes of Person of Interest I was very scared that this was going fast in an Angel Eyes direction as it was quickly established that Jim Caviezel’s character had suffered a trauma involving a wife or girlfriend that had caused him to check out on his life, abandon all sense of hygeine and sobriety and basically be one step away from being a fully homeless guy.  I am very glad, however, that I stuck it out to minute four of this show.  It very quickly picked up the pace and the hour was up very quickly.  The premise – the ‘twist’ – on this show is that Caviezel’s character, Reese, does have a tragic past which is only alluded to in flashbacks and a past career as someone in Special Forces (though the show’s imdb.com write-up says he is ex-CIA) is approached by a mysterious, wealthy and curiously well-informed man called Finch.  Finch can identify someone who will be involved in a violent crime and wants Reese to help him stop it.  He can’t say how the Person is involved, or what will happen.  his information is confined to a Social Security Number only.  

What I liked about the show is that while it’s clear that the twist will eventually be an overarching mythology for the show, as will the backstories of the two main leads, the episode simply gave us the premise and then let everyone accept it and get on with the mystery of the week.  A lot of shows like this spend too much time ham-handedly hinting and foreshadowing and slow motioning and flashbacking around the Big Mystery.  Its an attempt to stretch a premise that won’t really hold up in the long run.  Flashbacks to last year’s FlashForward anyone?  But they gave just enough of the twist to be tantalizing and then spent the rest of the episode giving us a tighly paced and engaging story involving a woman that Reese is tasked with protecting without her knowledge while simultaneously figuring out why she is in danger and from whom.  Caviezel plays Reese as a lethal and efficient opponent who seems to make an advantage of having been out of society for a while, as it helps him think outside of the box.   In weird way (and I don’t mean this as an insult) it seemed a better fit for Fox than CBS.  It felt more like 24 than anything else.  Or like 24 did back in the day, when it was fresh. 

Prime Suspect

This is the cop procedural about the lady cop (played by Maria Bello) who flashes her gun to a cab driver to get him to put out a cigarette.  I wasn’t really looking forward to it, based on the previews.  That shot just seemed like it was trying way too hard to be “badass girl cop.”  While I did not like it near as much as I did Person of Interest, I was pleasantly surprised.  Maria Bello gives her character layers.  It’s clear from her current romantic life and her character’s backstory that she is flawed and vulnerable.  She is also very committed to her job but not immune from workplace politics and quite a few missteps.  The show has promise and it’s likely that I will watch this one again.

The New Girl

You either like Zooey Deschanel or you don’t.  I like her.  I like the weird quirks and socially incompetant dorkiness of her character.  Her desire to provide a soundtrack to her own life, her total lack of boundaries and her vulnerability make kind of adorable.  As one of her roomates said to the new guy, “You get used to it…”  And you do.  The show is written well and the supporting characters are being nicely fleshed out and I feel like this will trend to more of an ensemble, which will be good.  I laughed out loud at the scene in last week’s episode where she is working up the nerve to get her stuff back from her ex and even powered with her roommate’s pre-game jam mix of heavy and testosterone-filled music she can’t do it.  Instead, she keeps circling the block.  Until, unexplicably, Vanessa Williams ‘Save the Best For Last’ makes its appearance on the mix.  That’s what gives her the nerve to pull over, much to every else’s puzzlement.  It was bizarre, but funny.

Suburgatory

OK, this breakdown of Suburgatory says it way better than I could, but this show was a surprise.  I knew nohing about it beforehand.  Somehow I missed all the ads and the hype.  It was odd to see Jeremy Sisto as the dad (because in my head he will always be the guy who threw Cher out of his car right before she gets mugged and ruins her dress in Clueless), but his dynamic with his daughter was great.  Cheryl Hines and Alan Tudyk were icing on the cake.  The show gets so many bizarro things right.  I saw a LOT of people I knew in the suburbia montage of velour track suits, mani-pedis and the lily white lady jamming to the rap music in her car.  I agreed with reviews I read that put this show in the same vein as Awkward, which I love.  The assertion that Jane Levy as Tessa is reminiscent of Emma Stone in Easy A is spot on.  It’s a nice pairing with Modern Family and of all the shows, this one is the one I know I won’t miss next week.

So, there you go.  The best of the new.  According to me, anyway….

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