What We’re Watching – 9/28/2011
Fringe: This is my favorite show on right now. The first episode of this season was not the most exciting episode of all time, but it set things up neatly for the rest of the season. Because Peter no longer exists in either universe, both are slightly different than they were last season, although we have not yet really glimpsed into the parallel universe yet. Walter is more fragile because he has had nothing to tether him to reality. Olivia’s changes are not really shown yet, but her hair is just enough different to show that she too is different. (Old Olivia always had very straight, tightly controlled hair. New Olivia doesn’t seem to pay much attention to her hair. It seems a small detail, but on this show, it’s enough.) One very welcome change is the reintroduction of the prime universe’s Lincoln Lee. He and Olivia have never met in this timeline, and he brings just the right note to the cast. As a newcomer, when the rest of the cast is explaining things to him, they are also showing the changes in the timeline to us. Fringe is a hard show to explain, so if you haven’t seen it, you should go back to season one. It, like many first seasons, is not as strong as the rest, but it does a good job of introducing the Fringe world.
The Office: I am both creeped out and enchanted by James Spader’s addition to The Office‘s cast as Saber CEO Robert California. More importantly, I am utterly happy that Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) has been promoted to manager. I think his character is flawed enough to have room to grow, but nice enough to make me want to watch it. I don’t think this show is as good as it used to be, but it is good enough to still enjoy. Maybe the new changes will make it great again. We’ll see.
Parks and Recreation: Seasons two and three of this show are among the best things I have ever seen on television. Season one, not so much, but if you are one of those people who have to start from the very beginning, it is only six episodes. I’m not going to say anything else. Watch this show. Do it now. Also, I love Ron Swanson in a way that would unsettle my husband if Ron wasn’t a fictional character.
NCIS: I hate change. This show never changes. Therefore, I love it.
Secret Circle: I’ve watched the first two episodes of this new CW series and I’m on the fence. Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson) moves to Chance Harbor after her mother dies, and discovers that she is descended from one of the town’s six witchy families. Each of the families has a teenager about her age, and the six of them decide that they must bind their powers together to keep them under control. Will binding their powers actually do what they think it will? What was the event that killed many of their parents years ago? What are the bad guys plotting? Are Cassie and hunky witch Adam fated to be together? Will rebel witch Faye adjust to having her powers curtailed? Do I care? I’m not sure. Right now it is looking like another teen drama with a supernatural twist. I want less human drama and more action. (I think Supernatural gets the drama to action ratio right.) I’ll watch a couple of more episodes, but I’m not that interested in the lives of teenagers anymore. Not unless the portrayal of those lives gets a lot more interesting.
Ringer: Ringer, also on the CW, is another action drama, but one that I am slightly more hopeful about. And yes, a lot of that hope is generated from the fact that Sarah Michelle Gellar is the lead. Yup, I’m a Buffy fan. Former substance abuser Bridget Martin has made a lot of bad decisions in her life, and the worst of them may be deciding to run from the FBI rather than testify against a killer. She goes directly to her estranged twin sister Siobhan, also played by Gellar. Siobhan supposedly lives a perfect life, with a husband in finance and a high-profile lifestyle, but Bridget learns otherwise when Siobhan appears to take her own life. Instead of reporting the suicide, Bridget does what any sensible girl would and takes her sister’s place. Conveniently, Siobhan has never mentioned Bridget’s existence to anyone in her life, so while people do notice a change in Siobhan, it would never even occur to them to suspect the real reason. Now, in addition to Bridget’s own vast array of problems, she has Siobhan’s distant husband, rebellious stepdaughter, and jealous lover who just happens to be married to Siobhan’s best friend. Oh yeah, and someone may be trying to kill Siobhan. (Who isn’t really dead and might actually be trying to kill Bridget.)
I don’t know if this show is actually any good or if I just missed watching Sarah Michelle Gellar run around and not get killed. She is a lot less kick-ass in this than she was in Buffy, but there were a couple of good “what exactly is she going to do with that power saw” moments in the second episode when she is deciding what to do with the body of a man she killed in self-defense. It is also interesting how they deal with her substance abuse problems. (You get the feeling that she may have done more than just drink, although the focus is on that.) She is constantly faced with temptations and they don’t shy away from showing her struggle; she attends a fictional version of AA, and her sponsor is a regular character. But, mostly there is drama with some action thrown in. I’m not sure how long they can keep it interesting and not descend into a by-the-book who’s-sleeping-with-who drama for your mama show. I’ll give it a couple more episodes before I make a decision.
Person of Interest: This was boring, boring, boring. This is the reverse case of the last two shows in that it had plenty of action and not enough drama. Homeless drunk (James Caviezel) guy is really a believed-to-be-dead ex-CIA operative with no direction or hope. He is contacted by rich guy Michael Emerson who has built a machine that can spit out the social security number of a person who is about to be the center of an unknown event. Together they can prevent the event from happening. Only, they don’t exactly know what the events are and if the person belonging to the social security number is good or bad. In the pilot episode, the homeless guy was unforthcoming, the rich guy was inscrutable, and the mystery was boring. The last fifteen minutes were okay when Caviezel was shooting things, but pretty much this was not how you want to start a new show.