*This is the 2nd in a series of posts examining the Fall 2011 TV premieres.
There's a LOT of cop shows on TV. In fact, this season each major network not only premiered a new season of a crime procedural (i.e. Law and Order, NCIS, Castle and Bones) but -- with the exception of teeny-bop FOX -- also had a new program debut that deals with crime and punishment in one way or another (Person of Interest, Charlie's Angels and Prime Suspect). In order to survive in that crowded landscape you have to have some sort of gimmick. For example, Castle features a crime fighting duo of a rich writer and a gorgeous woman, Charlie's Angels features 3 gorgeous women and a speaker phone and Prime Suspect features a gorgeous woman in a fedora.
Jokes Aside, Prime Suspect is a cut above. The style is gritty and cinematic and Maria Belo is a complete ball-busting B.A. who the showrunners aren't afraid of throwing through a window and kicking repeatedly. She's the one woman amidst a precinct of disgruntled territorial males -- including HIMYM's Carl the Bartender -- who would love to see her fail. When the show takes its obligatory home-life segments I didn't even find myself groaning for the pistol shooting to come back. The best moment of the pilot, in my opinion, is when Belo comes home from a particularly bad day, covered in the literal scars of her employment, and asks her post-argument boyfriend to just listen to her even if he's still mad. I know real life cops have demons, and shows try their darndest to show that blend of weak and strong, but few do it as believable as Suspect.
Unfortunately, the show is on NBC, which means me and about 17 other people are the only ones that even know its on the air.
I chose this picture because I felt it embodied the feel of the show as a whole: meaning it's somewhat overblown and completely ridiculous. I'll try and include everything but this show takes place in the future AND the past, includes a Dr. AND a cop, has action, romance, teen drama, conspiracy, time travel AND DINOSAURS! It's the most expensive TV project EVER and has 12 executive producers doing to it being continuously delayed and re-worked.
The basic plot is that a group of settlers have traveled from the toxic polluted past to the pre-history to colonize a new opportunistic paradise. All the while they have to fight of a rebellious faction with unclear motives and the wildlife which include both nice and naughty dinos rendered in laughably awful cg.
The 2-hour premiere jumped headfirst into the story, offering something for everyone and trying to do way to much in too little time. If you had told me on day one of Lost that the series was going to end in a battle between good and evil, time travel and a thesis on life, death and the afterlife I probably would've signed off. They took it slow. Instead, Terra Nova made sure we know upfront that there's big things a brewin.
It's not a complete dud. If they can keep the dinos off screen and settle things down, it just might turn in to something worth the hype.
Class: Keep an Eye On
Let me start off with a few confessions. 1) I think the Pan Am jet age is the perfect backdrop for a serial period piece. 2) Besides football, there's not much competition on Sunday TV right now. 3) I've had a crush on Christina Ricci ever since Casper. As you would guess, Pan Am follows the high-flying shenanigans of a crew of stewardesses (stewardessi? stewards?) and the two men that fly the plane. They're all beautiful people, but that makes sense because it was back in the days when you could admit that your company doesn't hire ugly people. One of the gals is a runaway bride, one is a spy for the U.S. government, one is a black-turtleneck wearing beatnik and one is French, obviously.
So far the show is light on the carbs but high on the sugar. For those of us who feel nostalgia for the days of yore the glitzy glowing digital transformation of downtown Manhattan and the idea of smoking a cigar and lounging on a plane while beautiful uniformed women offer you caviar hits the sweet spot. Eventually, the magic will wear off and they'll have to come up with a plot but for now, it's enough.
Class: Keep an Eye On
Remember back when The O.C. first started? You knew, even while watching it, that it was cheap soap opera nonsense but you didn't care because Adam Brody was so charming, the soundtrack was fantastic and, let's face it, we LOVE cheap soap opera nonsense.
Revenge follows a young woman who moves to the Hamptons to completely destroy the lives of those people who destroyed her's and her father's. It's like Count of Monte Cristo only instead of gentlemen's duels to the death, it's a hot blonde 20-something exposing her neighbors dirty laundry and wreaking havoc on their financial empires. The pilot opens with a death at a wedding and jumps back 5 months to when Emily Van Camp first begins her tale of vengeance.
Van Camp is likeable, but she's not what makes the show compelling. Rather it's the good feeling of watching the wicked rich getting their comeuppance and the satisfying taste of some good old fashioned melodrama.