February 14, 2011

TV: a quick catching up

So, a variety of new shows last week, and I don't have a lot to say about any of them, so let's just do a quick zip through them:

Jennifer Beals is the new police commissioner in Chicago, and is determined to use her power to bring down the city's corrupt politicians, chief among them city councilman Delroy Lindo. Jason Clarke, who was Beals' partner during her days on the street, is appointed to head up her unofficial task force (because the council won't support an official one) to do just that. The principals are all very appealing, as is Matt Lauria as Clarke's eager young partner. (One does wonder who's naming these characters, though; the three principal men are named Jarek (Clake), Ronin (Lindo), and Caleb (Lauria), none of which are your run-of-the-mill first names for men their age.)

The ongoing battle against the evil councilman will, it seems, be balanced against police case-of-the-week stories, and that serialized element might be interesting enough to keep me watching even though I'm not a huge fan of cop shows.

TRAFFIC LIGHT (Fox, Tue 9:30)
Yet another sitcom about three guys and their relationships. One's a single horndog; one's just moved in with his girlfriend; one's been married for six years. (And yes, there is an awkward monologue at the end of the pilot comparing these statuses to green/yellow/red traffic lights.) None of the characters are particularly likable or loathsome, and the show never generates more than a mild chuckle. It is a show that will inspire, at most, mild enthusiasm or mild distaste; there's not enough substance to it to inspire a more vigorous response in either direction.

BAR KARMA (Current, Fri 10)
I believe this is the first attempt at scripted programming from Current, the Al Gore-owned channel that's better known for news and current affairs programming (and as the newly announced home for Keith Olbermann). The gimmick here is that the show's creators have outsourced the writing; you can go to a website and propose story lines and plot twists, or you can vote yes or no on other people's suggestions; the writing staff will create the episodes based on the winning ideas.

The show is set in a mysterious bar, a karmic way station where the bartender and waitress are responsible for helping people make the right choices at crucial turning points. The pilot was filled with too much new-age-y mumbo jumbo for my taste, but perhaps once the setup's out of the way, that will take a back seat to actual storytelling.

Best thing about the show is William Sanderson as the bartender; even if you don't recognize the name, you probably know the face (maybe from True Blood, Deadwood, or Newhart), and he's always a welcome presence. Can't say I'm wildly enthusiastic about the show, but The Roommate liked it a lot, so I'll probably watch another episode or two to see where it goes.

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