Fringe premieres this coming week, and the real promising premieres won’t come until March and April, so last weeks picks were a bit random, and for the most part, surprisingly well liked by my usually critical self. The premiere of BEING HUMAN, THE CAPE, and BOB’S BURGERS each brought something to the table, while STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS disappointed with its promise of awesomeness.
BEING HUMAN (Ep.1 “There Goes the Neighborhood Part 1”) When I first heard the Syfy channel would be co-producing a remake of a BBC Three horror/drama about a twenty-something vampire, werewolf, and ghost living together, I thought, “here we go again.” I’m not a fan of the Twilight phenomenon. Can’t say that I was a huge fan of this past season of True Blood either, for similar reasons. Look, teen drama is fine, but when angst-ridden teenage girls meet sparkly vampires and buff werewolf wild men, I have to draw the line. I loved Teen Wolf, that was a fun flick, but this emo, hot-topic nonsense is killing me. So, I figured Being Human was just going to be another OC meets Buffy with less edge and more whining. Last nights premiere surprisingly proved me wrong, and a little bit right at the same time. The beginning of the episode was a pretty dark and ballsy start, including a well-executed werewolf crossover, a violent and murderous bloodletting, and the setup for a pretty intriguing premise. The shot following the title credit sold me; the werewolf character Josh lying naked and dirty beside an eviscerated buck. Suddenly I thought, “hmm, this show might be edgier than I thought.” You know what? It was. It had its Twilight-esque elements, such as the vampire lead Aidan looking an awful lot like the ladies man vampire Edward, but honestly, I found them to be generally subtle. The show has a great sense of humor around its core characters, Josh and Aidan. Here are two guys filled with such self-hatred for their monster-selves that they decide to step back and try living more normal, human lives. This includes getting an apartment together, which they soon discover is inhabited by a young recently deceased ghost named Sally. Sally, Aidan, and Josh are all in their early twenties, so they are all a bit love-locked in their own ways, and I’m sure that some love connection drama will ensue as the season progresses. But what I didn’t expect was the violence and boldness the show thrust its characters into with such deep emotional repercussions. The style and acting is better than I had expected, and I actually look forward to seeing where this series takes its characters. I really didn’t expect to like this show, but here it is, and I have to say, it’s not too bad.
THE CAPE (Ep. 3 “Kozmo”) Last week’s premiere of The Cape had its cool moments, its decent moments, and its unbearable moments. This is no Dark Knight, thou it clearly wants to be. In fact, the look and feel of this show is more a cross between Tim Burton’s circus-centric Batman Returns (which I love) and The Phantom (which I don’t). But you know what, sometimes a mindless action show is all we need to unwind after a long day of work. Deep dramas and twisted mysteries like Twin Peaks, and Breaking Bad are my favorite kinds of shows, but some days I just want to come home, plop on my couch, and watch some fun and non-heady TV. I used to love 24 for that very reason. The Cape is just that, its not amazing television by any means, however its kind of a fun ride if you just let your mind relax, and go with it. Probably sounds like an underhanded characterization, but that’s honestly what I came away with. This past Sunday’s episode had its comic-book villain, Kozmo, a contortionist with the ability to kill people with playing cards. None of it really makes sense, but hey, its not too terribly executed. The scale-covered villain, err, Scales, and the shows super villain Chess, are both quality bad guys in the guise of early Marvel. Chess runs a corporation called Ark (Iron Man much?), which he uses to enforce a police state in Gotham City, I mean Metropolis, I mean Palm City, the faux setting of the series. The Cape is framed cop Vince Faraday, who is seeking vengeance for his smearing. He meets up with a band of circus performing bank robbers led by Max Malini (They Lives’ Keith David), who take him in and train him in their circus ways. Malini has a cape, which can perform impossible, physics-breaking feats that he gives to Faraday as the tool for him to fight crime with. The show can be fun and comic at times, but can also tread down horrifically preachy moments between Faraday as The Cape and his annoying son who believes he’s dead. The plot here is pretty dull and non-existent, but the action and comic-book-ness is pretty well executed. Summer Glau (Serenity) stars in the show, playing a computer hacker named Orwell, which should draw some fanboys. But ultimately, I doubt this show will last long. It may be a fun and mindless trip, but on a network like NBC, these trips tend to end quickly. I could care less either way, because all I know is that The Cape is what it is, a mindless escape, and its not apologizing for it.
BOB’S BURGERS (Ep.2 “Crawl Space”) I was skimming my television last Sunday when I stumbled upon a new cartoon on Fox Primetime called Bob’s Burgers. Having not been into the cartoon lineup of The Simpsons or Family Guy for quite a few years, I was ready to fly right past it without thought, quickly assuming it unworthy of my viewership. Then I heard that voice, that raspy voice I recognized from so many great Adult Swim cartoons, most notably that of Coach McGuirk from Home Movies. I stopped, I just couldn’t help it, that voice, that deep drawl just pulled me in. The voice was that of Henry Jon Benjamin who plays Bob Belcher, a burger shop owning father and husband on this hilarious new show on which I became instantaneously hooked. Loren Bouchard, co-creator of Home Movies brings a simple animation style to a family comedy unlike anything on TV. Its at once crude, lovely, and heartwarmingly crass. I guess I can see why Bob’s Burgers is not for everybody, but if you like your comedy glib and bluntly delivered, than you’ll love this. Where shows like Family Guy and South Park rely on constant line-crossing references to be what they deem amusing, Bob’s Burgers relies on simple family dynamics and inappropriately forward relationships. The Belcher family is a gross and brash little bunch, but each member is hilarious in their own very unique way. Take the older daughter Tina, whose awkward obsession with her budding sexuality leads her to fantasize her once Night Of the Living Dead nightmares into a three way make-out session with a couple of rotting zombies. The voice work, animation style, and writing all work seamlessly to bring surprise comedy gold I would have otherwise missed. Love this!
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (Ep. 57 “Monster”) This is the much hailed episode of the season, the heralded return of the evil Darth Maul bloodline with his brother Savage Opress. The episode was good, of the consistent animation and voice work of the series, but for what was to be considered an event episode, I found it a bit disappointing. Savage Opress is supposed to be this ruthless badass warrior, but when we first meet him, he’s kind of a pushover. Sure the name is cool, I mean, it’s no Reince Preibus, but Savage Opress is still pretty hardcore. But when Dooku recruits him, he’s little more than one of a clan of similar looking warrior trainees. His drive is led by his desire to save his younger brother, which he does, only to be later brainwashed into crushing the poor little guys throat. This would of played out a hell of a lot better if his motivation to join the Dark Side was led by a boiling desire to avenge his older brother, Darth Maul’s death at the hands of Obi Wan. Now that would have brought an interesting dynamic to the show. What we were left with was yet another clone in a show that has been lacking in the Machiavellian, Shakespearian undertones of revenge, and greedy totalitarianism. Thus far the series has brought a positive spin to the anything but positive prequel nightmares of the Star Wars Universe. Lets hope they get back on track, and stop wasting these kinds of big storytelling opportunities.
Next Tuesday, more TVEye, as I attempt to stick to an every Tuesday posting schedule. Stay Tuned!