Tuesday, October 23, 2007

D.O.A. Laughlin

While CBS' "Viva Laughlin" wasn't the first casualty of the new TV season - the CW had something called "Online Nation" yanked last week - it it certainly one of the most visible bombs in recent memory.

Sunday's second and final episode saw the casino have a disastrous opening and Ripley (Lloyd Owen) desperate to try to create some buzz for it. Talk about an ironic example of art imitating life. I watched about 10 minutes of it waiting for dinner, and during through a butchering of "Money (That's What I Want)" I pretty much knew this show was a goner.

Certainly, I'm all for originality in TV, and "Viva Blackpool" - the BBC series upon which "Laughlin" was based - had that in spades. I was at a party over the weekend and met someone who had been to the "Laughlin" set. He said he thought the show was too campy to last very long.

Actually, as I told him, I thought it wasn't campy enough. The show wasn't a serious musical, so producers could have had a lot of fun and gone really over the top with it, much like "Blackpool." But there was none of that in "Laughlin," and most of the key roles (Owen, Melanie Griffith) were horribly miscast. The only interesting character, the show's villain (Hugh Jackman), was a recurring role. Jackman was the one actor on the show who was a legitimate singer/dancer, not a good sign for a show based around singing and dancing.

The one bit of good news (besides the awful "Laughlin" getting yanked) is that "The Amazing Race," one of the few worthwhile so-called reality shows, will be returning to the air Nov. 4. (This Sunday's gap in the schedule will be a "CSI" rerun).

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Tonight marks the finale of "Damages" (FX, 10 p.m.) a decent show that is about 50-50 in terms of renewal. Usually, any time you get the likes of Glenn Close doing her thing on TV, I'm all for renewal (and her co-star, Ted Danson, has been terrific as a Ken Lay-type of businessman), but the pacing of "Damages" has been too slow for a lot of people. The producers have done a good job over the last two weeks of drawing all the plot threads together, but it might be too little, too late in terms of recapturing the audience. "Damages" wasn't the best series to debut this summer (not when you have series like "Mad Men" and "Burn Notice") but it was ambitious, something we don't get enough of on TV.

After a week of baseball, Fox's duo of "Bones" and "House" are back. "Bones" has been a bit all over the place this season, while "House" has never been better with the influx of job applicants to join House's (Hugh Laurie) team. I hope they keep the interview process going as long as possible.

What's the over/under of "Bee Movie" commercials with Jerry Seinfeld during tonight's "Singing Bee" (NBC, 8 p.m.)? Just curious.

While CBS had a bomb with "Viva Laughlin," "Cane" (CBS, 10 p.m.) has showed surprising legs so far. It certainly doesn't dominate the ratings, but the audience is holding pretty steady. It follows new episodes of "NCIS" and "The Unit."

I think tonight's lineup from ABC - "Cavemen," "Carpoolers," "Dancing With the Stars" and "Boston Legal" - is the TV equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard, but evidently somebody is watching these shows, so what do I know? (Is Wayne Newton still alive on "Dancing?")

The CW is all new with "Beauty and the Geek" and "Reaper."

Finally, a slightly less-enthusiastic pitch for the HBO/BBC miniseries, "Five Days" (HBO, 8 p.m.) After a strong start, the series has dragged on a bit with the main mystery, that of a mother who has disappeared. It's a five-part series that probably could have been done more effectively in three parts, but maybe the final two episodes will surprise.


Jonathan said...

It's funny you mentioned those "Bee Movie" commercials, because after having to suffer through three of those awful things during last night's NBC line-up, I was wondering the same thing. Although, showing us where "The Color Red" was kept at Dreamworks was pretty funny.

Even though I can't really get into "Cane," it's nice to see a more serious drama actually getting some decent ratings; maybe this will lead to better ones for next season.

I agree that "Bones" has been a little off kilter for the first few episodes, but I'm really curious to see how much attention will be paid to this season long story arc involving the cannibal cult serial killer. I found the idea to be cool in the first episode, but they haven't even mentioned it since then. I'm sure with November sweeps coming up, we'll get at least one more episode devoted to it before too long.

And how great was "Chuck" last night? This is quickly becoming my favorite new show of the season, and "Aliens in America," one of its competing shows might be my 2nd favorite. I'm still loving "Reaper" as well, but it is so much like "Chuck," that it's hard not to compare the two, and "Chuck" has definitely got the edge right now. But in the end, I just hope they both get to stay on for a long time.

Phillip Ramati said...

Chuck keeps getting better every week. I'm not sure if having two similarly themed shows like Chuck and Reaper helps or hurts both, but Chuck is the better show (though Reaper does have Ray Wise).

Also getting better each week is Journeyman. I like the way they are building a season-long story arc into it and not just making it about leap to leap. Also, the complexity of Dan trying to live a normal life when he suddenly keeps whisking off through time.

Jonathan said...

I agree with you 100% on "Journeyman." And I'm not sure if ratings wise both "Chuck" and "Reaper" help or hurt each other, but what I meant by what I said was that while I understand why people compare them, I'm just glad we have two shows of the same high caliber on. Whether or not they share some similar aspects.

Phillip Ramati said...

I've generally been pleased with the quality of new shows. I get what you are saying about Chuck and Reaper, though the shows have their fair share of similarities: slackers in dead end jobs at big box stores, with special abilities and quirky friends. But like you, I judge each one on its own merits.

Gina said...

Newton's out and Marie Osmond passed out last night. Drama all over the place...

zodin2008 said...

I have been at a business conference for a few days but Phillip, I will make sure and go back to comment on your Monday blog once I am done here - so check it out.

I have to say I am on the same page with both of you - I am LOVING "Chuck" - this is unquestionably my new favorite show of the year, even ahead of your beloved "Pushing Daisies" which is creative and innovative, but I am having so much happy fun watching "Chuck". Makes me even happier I gave up on the dark, stupi "Prison Break".

I especially adore the dymanic between Chuck, Sarah & Casey. I love when the producers were describing this dynamic prior to the show's launch, he said it was like if "Sydney Bristow and Jack Bauer were forced to protect Chuck". And it was that description that just adds to this show and makes it stand out.

As for "Reaper", well, it's OK but nothing special.

I don't see a long term future for me with this show because I just don't find the lead interesting enough. Part of the problem (and I have seen it talked about) is how laid back and low key the lead actor is about the whole thing. Too much so to make the audience really care what happens to him. The guy is annoyingly slacker and his best friend, Sock, is even more annoying.

As far as I am concerned, they should scrap the entire cast and just center the show around Ray Wise.

Phillip Ramati said...

Ouch, Gina, seriously no more Wayne? That sucks. But I hear Marie Osmand is doing better. You can be our official Dancing correspondent!

Zod, Chuck is one of TV's best new bright spots, but it also is in danger of becoming formulaic. (And no Capt. Awesome this week!) Reaper still has a lot of upside, and I'm guessing with the developments at the end of this week's episode, they are setting up some future plotlines for the Devil. But I've never liked the guy who plays Sock, either.