HIGHLIGHTS

I keep waiting for ABC’s Last Resort to be as good as I’m sure it’s going to be.  It’s been four episodes.  I’m still waiting.

Hit the title/continue reading to read more. . .

The promising premise:  the captain (Andre Bruagher) and crew of the nuclear submarine Colorado receive orders to fire their missiles at Pakistan under suspicious circumstances.  They ask for confirmation.  They get it.  They ask for an explanation.  They don’t get it.  Instead, they get fired upon by another U.S. ship and have to turn tail and run.

They set up shop on a small island which is home to a NATO communications station.  Captain Chaplin warns the world not to approach or he’ll fire his nuclear missiles at anyone who does.

Sounds great, right?  But there are problems.  If the set up sounds a little far fetched, it only became more so in the execution.  These are supposed to be trained naval officers assigned to a nuclear submarine, and you get the sense they should be behaving very much better than they do.  A significant segment of the crew, including the chief of the boat (Robert Patrick), are openly disdainful of a female officer (Daisy Betts), even though she outranks them.  Captain Chaplin himself may have pure motivations, but his decisions (including firing a “warning shot” nuke that detonates off the coast of Maryland) seem pretty extreme.  Everyone on the show was just a little too ready to jump on board the conspiracy train for my taste.

Another problem is Last Resort’s attempts to carry forward multiple storylines.  The main thread, which focuses on the Captain, the XO (Scott Speedman) and other members of the crew is pretty solid, but a side story about an ambitious weapons designer (Autumn Reeser) and the Admiral (Bruce Davison) whose daughter is on board the Colorado is convoluted and incredible.  That’s too bad, because the development of that story is at the core of what would be Last Resort’s mythology and would provide the answers as to how the crew of the Colorado wound up in this mess in the first place.  Another side story about a potential romance between a special forces officer (Daniel Lissing) and a local bar maid (Dichen Lachman) is pointless and lacks chemistry.  A much more interesting story about Speedman’s wife left back home (Jessy Schram) has been underdeveloped.

Braugher is as good as you would expect, which is very good indeed.  Frankly, his gravity keeps the show from seeming outright ridiculous.  Daisy Betts turns in a decent performance despite playing a character on a straight drama that was apparently lifted from the Kelsey Grammer comedy Down Periscope.  Robert Patrick is perfectly cast, capturing a mean-spirited toughness that is somewhere between Robert DeNiro in Men of Honor and George Dzundza in Crimson Tide.  As I mentioned, Schram’s character has been given too little screen time to date, but she’s made the most of what they’ve given her.

All of which adds up to Last Resort being a show that despite its many, MANY flaws has still been pretty watchable.  That won’t last forever, so let’s hope the story can untangle itself from its own feet and start providing a context for a group of characters who would be interesting if they had one.

LAST SEASON, Revenge ended on a cliffhanger that really wasn’t that big of a cliff hanger.  We saw Victoria Grayson’s (Madeline Stowe) plane blow up, and the real question coming into Season 2 wasn’t whether Victoria somehow survived (no way would they kill off such a sublime villainess), it was HOW would the writers keep her alive to wreak more havoc.   In typical Revenge fashion, we got the answer in bits and pieces, but in a way that all eventually made sense in the end.

ABC’s twisty, turny, nighttime soap has come back with a vengeance (no pun intended), full of lies, misdirections and double crosses.  No sooner has Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp) found the man who murdered her father, than she is disposing of his dead body and on a new quest – to find her mother, who she had believed dead all these years.  Looking over the many subplots Revenge is developing in Season 2, there are more hits than misses, but who can keep track of them all?

Emily gets ready to bash Aiden in the head.  Yay!  Revenge is back!


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Emily’s search for her mom (who will be played by Jennifer Jason Leight) promises to be a juicy storyline, and God only knows what she’ll find out when she finds her (we already know that mom was having an affair with Gordon Murphy (James Morrison), the man who killed her father, so watch out.  Victoria’s ongoing sparring with Conrad (Henry Czerny) continues to provide many of the series’ best moments, as there seems to be no depths to the hatred these two feel for each other.  It’s become more clear, moreover, that neither of them views Daniel (Josh Bowman) or Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) as anything more than pawns to be used against each other.  Nolan (Gabriel Mann) has had a bit more subdued role in the story thus far, partly because Aiden (Barry Sloane) has been usurping his role as Emily’s unwanted helper.  That’s too bad, because the character is really a fun one.  His potential romance with underling Padma (Dilshad Vadsaria) isn’t all that interesting, but it would be nice to see Nolan get a little happiness for all his trouble.

Jack (Nick Wechsler) has been acting like kind of a douchebag this season after spending most of season 1 as the nice working class guy who was innocent of all the Grayson-esque plotting.  He’s certainly treating Amanda (Margarita Levieva) like shit, and after all, he doesn’t know she’s an imposter and not REALLY his long lost love and he doesn’t know that she thinks that the baby she’s carrying isn’t really his (even though it is, but Emily wanted some leverage over Amanda to manipulate her so she lied to her).  Bottom line:  Jack needs to step up.  Ditto little brother Declan (Connor Paolo) who, for no apparent reason, has become a total delinquent.  I thought that was Charlotte’s job!

Revenge continues to be a guilty pleasure favorite of the highest order, and the show has only gained confidence in its ability to make the outrageous and implausible seem like just another day in the Hamptons.  Anyone who was already a fan of Revenge has to be happy with where the story has gone so far in Season 2.

IF YOU WATCHED the premiere of Emily Owens, M.D., it’s probably because you wanted to see if Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer had any of her mother’s acting chops (that’s why I watched it, anyway).  She clearly does, and Gummer, who reminds me a little bit of her mom and a little bit of Laura Dern, is far and away the best thing about this show.

The somewhat romcom-y premise:  High School geek Emily Owens has grown up and graduated from medical school.  She’s just gotten a new job at Cliche Memorial Hospital in Denver and we join her, via voice-over, on her way to work on her first day.  She pauses at a school yard to reflect on how things have changed since High School, where she is promptly dissed by a High School mean girl and is left sputtering as she heads off to the hospital.  Turns out:  even after you grow up and become super-successful, you never outgrow your high school awkwardness.

That’s especially true when you’re surrounded by characters who reinforce that notion, including your med school crush (Justin Hartley) who doesn’t like you back, the high school bully (what are the odds?) who tormented you (Aja Naomi King) and a brilliant boss who’s so witheringly icy she makes Peter Benton look like Marcus Welby.   Of course, Emily has friends:  a resident who clearly has a secret crush on her (Michael Rady) and a militant gay friend (Kelly McCreary) who’s afraid to come out to her dad (Harry Lennix), both because he’s the hospital’s administrator and because he was Morpheus’ boss in The Matrix Reloaded.

Mamie Gummer

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Emily Owens, M.D. is not without it’s moments, and Gummer’s voice-overs are some of the show’s best.  She shows tremendous range and is at ease with and adept at drama and comedy and fluidly transitions between both.  In every sense of the word, Mamie Gummer carries this show, but putting Hollywood royalty in this flawed Grey’s Anatomy knock-off seems wrong – like sending Kate Middleton to TJ Maxx to shop for her wedding dress.

Emily Owens, M.D. is clearly aiming to occupy more of a comedy position than a dramatic one, and the tone is somewhat like Ally McBeal, but without the imaginary dancing baby and without the bizarre characterizations of supporting players like Greg Germann and Peter MacNichol that made Ally unique.  Instead, there is WAY too much high school-ish prank and angst humor, and it goes against the grain of a hospital setting.

Despite the problems, I think the show has potential once it finds it groove, and that belief was strongly reinforced at the end of the first episode, which I hadn’t found all that funny, right up until the closing moments when Emily purposefully walks back past that schoolyard, making sure she has her stethoscope around her neck so the High School mean girl will be impressed.  I laughed my ass off.  It was a great way to tie up the episode.

With the glut of hospital shows on TV, I can’t imagine this one will last, but I do hope we will be seeing Mamie Gummer again, and in something more original to showcase her considerable talent.  And on the chance that Emily Owens, M.D. survives the cut, maybe the show can grow into something more than its adolescent premise.

QUICK TAKES

I’m not naive.  I know that with Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, Dexter, Homeland, Walking Dead, Revenge and Sunday Night Football all competing for viewers or Sunday night, you’re probably not watching Copper on  BBC America.  But you should be, at least in the repeat broadcasts later in the week.  This smart and intense show has done a masterful job recreating Civil War New York, and placed a collection of irresistibly flawed characters in the middle of it.  Do yourself a favor and make room for this show in your weekly viewing.

Observations From Geek Heaven:  American Horror Story is back, so you can stop watching that crappy 666 Park Avenue now.


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Am I picking on Revolution?  Probably, but I don’t care.  So now a wood fired train engine works just fine?  And they’ve had 15 years and NO ONE thought to just hook up a generator to a wood fired steam engine?  Booooooooooo!

Educational TV.  Things we learned from watching TV this week: 1) There’s two kinds of strong.  There’s gym strong and there’s crazy old guy strong (Saturday Night Live); 2) Time will heal a broken heart…but not that bitch’s window (How I Met Your Mother); 3) This season of Community will be aired in one minute segments on Twitter (Joel McHale, on Jimmy Kimmel Live).

I try not to mention the same shows week after week, but once again, I can’t let this week’s Homeland go by without a mention.  I had goosebumps when Saul (Mandy Patinkin) showed Carrie (Claire Danes) the video of Brody (Damian Lewis) just before he was going on his ill-fated suicide mission to kill the Vice-President.  Even changing a flat tire is a tension filled suspense-fest on this show!

MORE Observations From Geek Heaven (it was a good week for geeks):  The Walking Dead is back (and by the way, the premiere had higher adult demographic ratings than any entertainment show this fall, including from the three major networks – AMAZING).  As the season premiere drew to a close, I’m sure everyone had the same reaction as the episode’s final line. . .”Holy Shit!”


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LOOKING AHEAD

Night of Too Many Stars airs on Comedy Central on October 21.

Last call!  The final Presidential debate airs on the major networks and various cable news outlets on October 22.

Switched At Birth airs its season finale on ABC Family on October 22.

Rupaul’s Drag Race returns to LOGO Channel on October 22.

The season finale of Alphas airs on Syfy on October 22.

The season premiere of Happy Endings airs on ABC on October 23.

Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 returns to ABC on October 23.

Guest Star Alert!  Stephen Colbert turns up on The Office on NBC on October 25.

Mockingbird Lane airs its series premiere on NBC on October 26.

TV’s a big place and I haven’t been to all of it yet.  Got a favorite show you’d like me to comment on?  Post a comment below, contact me on twitter @RobLazlo. or shoot me an email:  RobNJ564@yahoo.com.  I welcome your input!