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Capsule Reviews of Monday Night TV

Submitted by on September 21, 2010 – 5:16 am 10 Comments

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.

House

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

Chuck

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

Hawaii Five-0

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

The Event

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?

10 Comments »

  • Eddy says:

    I only watched two new shows last night, How I Met Your Mother and Hawaii Five-0. How I Met Your Mother was fine. Just another episode, nothing special.

    I have mixed feelings about Hawaii Five-0. Since I’m older than you, I have fond memories of the original Jack Lord series. When I first heard that they were bringing back the series, my thought was that it would be a lame attempt to appeal to baby boomers. The more I read about the “reimagining” of the series, the higher my hopes got. I realized that I was setting my expectations up so high that I was destined to be disappointed. I only heard one pre-premier review and that was just a mention on an NPR piece on new shows saying that it wasn’t great, but if you like cop shows, you’ll probably like Hawaii Five-0.

    So, I reevaluated and went into the show with moderate expectations. Overall I liked it enough to give it a chance past the pilot. It had a “let’s get the band together and put on a show” feel to it, but you gotta shoehorn that exposition in there somewhere.

    Since Grace Park was the last member added last night, they weren’t able to do much with her yet. But, I was able to get past thinking about her as Sharon/Cylon 8 pretty quickly. Not so much with Daniel Dae Kim. Seeing him on a tropical island all too recently in Lost, it was a little disconcerting to hear him speak perfect English. But, I think he has great potential to bring his character up to the front. (Mantra: “He is not Jin, he is Chin. He is not Jin, he is Chin.”)

    PCN, I agree with you that, of the two “haoles”, Scott Caan will be the most interesting in character development since he’s the fish out of water with the family conflicts. I think that plot-wise, they should have explained why McGarrett wanted him on the team other than being a good detective. He should have had some super special skill that McGarrett had to have.

    As for Alex O’Loughlin…. well, Jack Lord was bland, but he was bland with STYLE. I’m hoping that the character of McGarrett will develop a good point/counter-point with Danno like buddy cops are supposed to be rather than both trying to one up each other with witty one-liners.

    I also share your disappointment in the squandering of a guest star. In my case I was disappointed that they killed off William Sadler as McGarrett’s dad right off the bat. Maybe he’ll have some flashback episodes.

    So, I give it a little higher verdict than you. A moderately interesting pilot with the potential to go either way.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Would you like to be a guest blogger sometime, Eddy? This is quite an analysis.

      For some reason, as soon as I saw Sadler, I knew his character was a goner. Don’t his characters often die? Perhaps he’ll return in flashbacks, as you say. Why else would they cast him for such a brief appearance?

  • le0pard13 says:

    Only watched Hawaii Five-O… yep, your capsule of this is dead-on. And the cast coming up with their own version of some of the iconic phrases from the past show was indeed lame. At least the theme song wasn’t trashed. Thanks, Elyse.

  • EIREGO says:

    HOUSE:

    I was not good with House and Cuddy getting together and it wasn’t just the blood and dirt that bothered me during the sex scenes. I like their flirtations just fine. I don’t want him to be mean to her all the time, but I like the way they banter. The rest of the team were fine, but for the first time, I actually cared about 13 going away. Olivia Wilde was showcased well last night.

    CHUCK: I usually love the show, but it felt a bit forced last night. Everyone was rushing too much to get the plot out there. Yes, I will continue to watch, but I was kind of disappointed. I don’t think they needed to bring back the Buy More. I feel like Chuck has outgrown the place and should not be going back, no matter how they justify the situation. Zach Levi just looks like he’s ready for bigger and better things. I won’t be missing those two loner, nerd buddies. Not Chuck and Morgan, those other two guys who were too evil and dumb at the same time to be believable.

    HAWAII FIVE-O:
    Thanks for nailing down O’Loughlin’s voice for me! Yes, he sounds exactly like Nick Cage! Hilarious! I haven’t figured out the attraction to Grace Park yet. I saw her on Human Target and she was laughably bad. Don’t get it. The blonde highlights didn’t bother me so much because I just figured the salt water and the sun did that. But, I’ll take your word on saying it’s impossible. Wil Yun Lee was a pretty bad guest star. I swear he was trying to do Bruce Lee’s accent. Daniel Dae Kim was okay for me and Scott Caan didn’t bother me. I thought Caan was actually funny and a good Yin for O’Loughlin’s Yang. The story wasn’t all that compelling and I suppose the rest of the season will be about finding the mole in the police force. It just okay for me. I did giggle like a little kid when the theme song came on. Me and my brothers used to get up off the couch and pretend to surf whenever that music came on. We would try to knock each other off balance while we were hanging ten in the living room. It was fun.

    THE EVENT: I have to admit, I was sooooo annoyed with those commercials for it. I started imitating the voice over in my office. Some got it, some didn’t, their loss. It made me chuckle.
    The story was a bit better than I thought, but so manipulative in that they kept spoon feeding us a little bit of story at a time and never really telling us what was going on. Was I the only one who thought the earth shaking/G-force wind effects when the plane was heading to the resort just a bit silly? Liked the last minute of it though. I’ll tune in again.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Would you like to be a guest blogger, too?

      Couch-surfing sounds like fun. I did some floor-surfing in front of the TV but that doesn’t seem as cool now.

      Re: The Event, the producers claim they’ll reveal answers in every episode so that viewers won’t get frustrated. I guess we’ll see.

  • Reader#9 says:

    I was so overjoyed at finally having something to watch last night that I honestly loved everything. I set my dvr, went out for a couple of burger and fry combos and even grabbed some ice-cream. I took my time and watched it all last night while chomping away. Yes, I was a couch potato last night and I’m not sorry.

  • Thank you for the spoiler alert ~ I haven’t read anything, but tonight’s the return of Glee and House for us. Yay!!

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