Capsule Reviews of Monday Night TV
Whoa, the fall TV season slammed into our living rooms so hard last night, my DVR almost exploded. Didn’t get to watch everything I recorded but managed to get through the season premieres of House and Chuck and the pilots of The Event and Hawaii Five-O (I reviewed Lone Star last week here). It’s now 3:30 and my contacts are plastered to my eyeballs so I’ll just jot down some quick impressions and hit the sack. There will be SPOILERS!
First, the returnees.
So they got the House-and-Cuddy sex out of the way right off the bat, picking up in the same scene that ended last season’s finale. I couldn’t help but think, “Oh, man, you guys are caked in blood and dirt and sweat. Shouldn’t you shower first? Y’all must smell!”
I’ve never been completely on board with this relationship but it was nice to see them happy before the doubts started settling in. When House gave Cuddy reasons for why their relationship wouldn’t work, I agreed with him. He is an asshole and he hasn’t changed (we don’t want him to!). I didn’t like how Cuddy told House she loves him and then freaked out when he didn’t say it back, right after saying she didn’t want to badger him into moving too fast by going public with their relationship. If you can’t say “I love you” just for the sake of saying it, without expectations, you shouldn’t say it at all. It shouldn’t be used to make the other person feel obligated. Talk about badgering.
Elsewhere, I knew Thirteen had planted the envelope for the team to find and that she wasn’t really going to Rome. She was too cool when the others told her they’d read her letter to House. I didn’t expect Chase to bluntly asked her for sex—when did he get such cojones?—and kinda like it that her whereabouts are now a mystery. Of course, in real life, Olivia Wilde is off making Cowboys & Aliens with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. Lucky girl.
Nerd verdict: Happy House, but this wasn’t a great House
I’ve always enjoyed this show but now that Linda Hamilton, one of my cinematic action heroes, has joined the cast as Chuck’s mom, I tuned in with even more fangirliness. And I wasn’t disappointed. During a scene reminiscent of one in T2 when she’s sitting at a table being interrogated by a bunch of guys, I thought, “Don’t they know who they’re dealing with? Their butts are gonna get kicked!” And sure enough, that’s what happened. Nobody puts Hamilton in the corner.
Dolph Lundgren makes an appearance as the main baddie and has some fun telling Casey (Adam Baldwin) “I must break you,” a line he made famous as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Another ’80s movie reference was made when Harry Dean Stanton shows up to repo the car Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Morgan (Joshua Gomez) use on their non-CIA missions. It’s a nice touch to have Stanton in the role because he, of course, was the original Repo Man.
Other changes: The Buy More has been rebuilt but this time it’s a spy center completely staffed by spies, with General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) as the manager. Ellie is pregnant, but I don’t really care because I’ve never gelled to Sarah Lancaster as Chuck’s sister. I’d be fine if her character as eliminated, which I was hoping for when Ellie was shipped to the Congo last season. Alas, she came back.
The big change is that Chuck and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) are a full-on, lovey-dovey couple, sexting during missions. Unlike Cuddy and House’s, this relationship has a chance at succeeding because Chuck and Sarah are not as dysfunctional and neither one is the other’s boss.
Nerd verdict: Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch Chuck
I used to watch the original series but don’t have strong enough memories to make this a comparison. Regardless, I thought the pilot fell flat, though it’s not an outright disaster. Alex O’Loughlin, as Steve McGarrett, sounds so much like Nicolas Cage both in voice and line delivery, I couldn’t help chuckling even during intense scenes. Seriously, close your eyes next time you watch—you’d swear you were watching a Cage movie. I don’t know why CBS keeps throwing shows at this guy.
Scott Caan made the strongest impression as Danno because his character was the most fleshed out. Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly hasn’t been given much to do yet, and Grace Park is unconvincing as a tough cop-in-training. She looks like she weighs a buck minus a dime so when she punches a guy, I feared more for her hand than his face. It was also ridiculous how she went undercover as a poor illegal Chinese girl who works two jobs, one being a hotel maid. C’mon—she has blond highlights in her hair and they don’t come cheap! If you’re thinking maybe her hair was sun-bleached, no, it is not possible for an Asian to go blond naturally.
Speaking of Asians, what the hell kind of accent was guest star Will Yun Lee doing? He sounds like a villain from a ’70s chopsocky movie, the kind that’s badly dubbed and is hammier than the main course on Easter Sunday. Yes, his character is supposed to have a Chinese accent but Lee’s was so cartoonish, I thought at first he was doing a parody a la Kentucky Fried Movie.
You know a show is not living up to its potential when it squanders a guest-starring turn by James Marsters aka Spike from my beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Marsters is a dynamic actor but even he couldn’t liven up the proceedings here.
Nerd verdict: Hawaii Zer-0
After so many title cards designating when things were happening, I lost track of where the baseline was. I wasn’t sure if something was occurring 23 minutes earlier or now or thirteen months earlier. But I was intrigued.
From what I can understand of the plot, Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer) was abducted and probably being used as leverage by bad guys who want her father (Scott Patterson) to crash an airplane into a compound where the president of the United States (Blair Underwood) is about to make a speech, accompanied by a mysterious prisoner, Sophia (Laura Innes), from a Gitmo-like facility. When the plane disappears into some kind of vortex, Sophia implies she knows what happened. I wasn’t happy to see a twist that’s so Lost-like but I’ll give it a chance to surprise me.
Nerd verdict: Event not momentous but has potential to improve
What did you watch last night? See anything you liked? Excited the fall TV season has officially begun?