Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Starting With A Bang, Ending With A Whimper

As much as I've enjoyed "On The Lot" (Fox, 8 p.m.) this season, I'm curiously indifferent to tonight's finale. Maybe it has something to do with all of the season finales to Mark Burnett-produced shows.

When "Survivor" became a cultural phenomenon years ago, the finales would run three hours long and include live interviews with the people who got knocked off the first few weeks. As if anyone cared.

When "The Apprentice" had its three-hour live finale at the end of Season 2, it served as little more than long stretches of bashing a former schoolmate of mine, because for whatever reason she was less popular than the guy who won.

The point I'm making is that Burnett's finales are little more than lovefests for the cast and crew that seem to do nothing but kill time toward the final five minutes of the show when the winner is announced.

Is that the fate of "On The Lot" as well? I hope not, but I can't honestly imagine what they are going to do tonight for an hour. They had an opportunity last week to have these guys make one final film for the audiences to vote on; instead, they had the directors select two of their old films, which is what the audiences voted for. They could have easily filled this week's episode with the "Best of" bit, leading to the announcement of the final winner.

Anyway, the prediction for tonight is that even though Adam is the strongest filmmaker left, Jason is going to win, particularly after Fox.com fouled up the online voting last week. While it's a shame there won't be a Season 2 of "On The Lot," Season 1 won't be ending on the strongest footing.

CASTING NEWS: My disappointment with "On The Lot" is tempered by wild enthusiasm at the news that Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars") will be joining the cast of "Heroes" for a 13-episode arc. While there is virtually no word as to her role on the show, you can read a great interview with her from TVGuide.com's Michael Ausiello here: http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-Editors-Blog/Ausiello-Report/Exclusive-Kristen-Bell/800020731.

It makes up for the disappointment that Bell won't be joining the cast of "Lost." I think Bell's addition to "Heroes" means, however, that this show will now have the largest ensemble cast in the history of TV. They've added several actors, while it's looking as if the entire cast of Season 1 will be back for Season 2.

While "Lost" didn't get Kristen Bell, it did get Ken Leung, best known as Uncle Junior's poker buddy from the final season of "The Sopranos." Not much word on what Leung will be doing on the island, but I'm betting he has a mysterious past. Just a hunch.

Lest I forget, Mr. Ex-Britney Spears himself, Kevin Federline, will guest star this season on "One Tree Hill." As if I needed another reason NOT to watch this show...

Finally, as much as I bash "24" on here, I have to say I'm intrigued as the hiring of Janeane Garofalo as an FBI agent this season. I could definitely see her in a battle of acerbic wits against Chloe.

WARNER ROBINS LITTLE LEAGUE: With the entire Little League slate being rained out last night, Warner Robins will make up its game tonight against Walpole, Mass. (ESPN2, 6 p.m.) in a must-win contest. If the kids are sent home, however, maybe they can bring some of that rain back with them.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Should Jason end up winning "On The Lot," at least my disappointment will be tempered with what is arguably the best night of TV.

Not only do I get a new episode of "Damages" (FX, 10 p.m.), but the ever-enjoyable "The Bronx Is Burning" (ESPN, 10 p.m.) continues with the 1977 Yankees heading into the World Series. (Just a hunch, but I'm betting Reggie Jackson steps up big during the Series.)

There is also a new episode of "Eureka" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) Less exciting for me, but not for the rest of the country judging by the ratings, is the finale of "America's Got Talent" (NBC, 8 p.m.)

Finally, I won't get a chance to review it before it airs tonight, but William Shakespeare's "As You Like It" (HBO, 9 p.m.) gets a new telling, this time at the hands of masterful director Kenneth Branagh, who does the Bard better than anyone. Bryce Dallas Howard is already earning raves as Rosalind, with David Bianculli of the New York Daily News saying her performance in the role is comparable quality-wise to that of Helen Mirren's in the 1970s. Also among the stellar cast is Kevin Kline, Alfred Molina, David Oyelowo, Adrian Lester and Brian Blessed.


zodin2008 said...

You say TOMATO, I say TOMATO...I consider Tuesday a "quiet" night with the exception of watching "Bronx". My wife & I couldn't give up on "Damages" fast enough and of course I have not had any interest in "On the Lot" though with your background, I respect ypur love for the type of show it is. Again, it is my overall complete aversion to Reality Television. I just can't get sucked into that world. It does nothing for me.

Re: Kristen Bell

Well, I am both a "Heroes" and "Lost" fan so either would have been great to have Bell, since I was also a huge fan of "Veronica Mars".

That being said, I would have greatly preferred Bell on "Lost" for a few reasons.

First, "Lost" is the far superior show--better writing and acting and story direction.

Second, "Heroes" has been adding castmembers the way the Yankees add payroll. It's getting ridiculous. I guess if you don't have as clear a direction of storylines or writing, you just stuff as many actors as humanly possible to a cast so people will be talking about the show no matter what? Seeing the addition of about 20 new castmembers with no subtractions gives me more pause than hope.

And yes, Phillip, before you come back blaring your argument that they are producing 30 episodes (with the "origins" spinoff as well) it's still over the top how many characters this show is adding on. Still, I did enjoy "Heroes" (despite an incredibly weak finale and up & down writing) & love Bell so I am always happy to see her gorgeous face and acerbic wit anyway TV wants to put her.

re: Janene Garofelo

First, unlike the Bell news, I hadn't heard about this. Color me very surprised.

Considering Joel Surnow's well publicized arch conservative views, I am stunned that a hardcore left winger & political activist like Garofelo would be on "24". Never would have imagined it. I suppose "24" will be adding Michael Moore and Sean Penn next?

In all seriousness, I have mostly found Garofelo annoying so we'll see how long before she grates on mine and everyone else's nerves, but I imagine there will be a lot of scenery chewing between her & Chloe. As long as they don't mix say a John Laroquette or John Lithgow in--the two biggest scenery chewers of all time.

Still, as much as you bash "24", unlike "Heroes" which is apparently giving every actor in Hollywood a job, "24" has been far more judicious in its new hires. I believe there were less people at the Million Man March than have been added to the cast of "Heroes".

Jonathan said...

I'm one of those that doesn't get the appeal of "Damages" either Zod. Which is weird since intense legal dramas and mystery and suspense shows in general are right up my alley. I watched it through last week, and I think I'm done.

Bell would have been a fine addition to "Lost," but she would be a fine addition anywhere, and she did turn down "Lost" for this so maybe she has good reasons. I'm just glad to see her back on the tube and not in some terrible remake of a Japanese horror film.

zodin2008 said...

Generally, I agree with Phillip on his TV choices though we have some stark differences (24 vs. House, albeit he's watched 24 solidly through 6 years)but he's lost me on "Damages". I don't see the appeal.

Rose Byrne is stunning, but she is unable to "emote". Terrible actress.

Glenn Close maybe a fantastic actress worthy of an Emmy nod, but her character is chillingly hateable. She wasn't even a Vic Mackey mix of good & evil...she's downright nasty & manipulative, like the guy she's battling, Ted Danson's character.

The show overall...too many horrible people, no one or thing to root for. The darkest dramas need some light.

Phillip Ramati said...

Hey, if you guys don't like Damages, don't watch. I can see how the show isn't for everyone. Glenn Close isn't supposed to be a good person who is flawed, a' la Vic Mackey or Tommy Gavin; she's supposed to be ruthless and evil. I'm enjoying the show. Is it the best show of the summer? No; is it enjoyable to watch each week? Yes.