Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Opinion Five-Spot, WE 1/23/11 - Life Unexpected, Lights Out, Skins, Retired at 35, Being Human

Unlike in many recent weeks, I actually looked at a ton of shows this week, so I think I'm going to just spread the new shows out over the next few weeks. I'm gonna start by knocking out mostly the stuff that's either ending or that I won't be watching in the future. So on that note, here's my more-negative-than-usual Opinion Five-Spot for the week ending January 23, 2011:

Life Unexpected - I liked how this show ended, jumping straight to the endgame and giving many characters amazingly happy endings in somewhat jarring fashion. But I think a lot of the reason I liked that was because it was better than the alternative: more years of ridiculous, over-the-top angst. I was gonna quit this show if it hadn't been cancelled, but I'm glad it was. The fact that the warm and fuzzy ending actually made me feel warm and fuzzy despite how bad this show got is a testament to the great performances.

Lights Out - I seem to be developing a tradition of not "getting" FX dramas (Justified the lone recent exception) and it looks like Lights Out is fitting right in. I've just found Lights Out pretty depressing. I'm not totally closed off to a show about a guy who just gets dumped on by life all the time, but I'd rather see him do something a little more interesting about it (like make crystal meth, for example). I think they made a really, really good choice for a lead actor, but I just want a little something more to be going on.

Skins - Boy, I haven't seen the British version, but if the American remake is as close to that as I've heard, I don't think I want to. (Of course, the British version is fairly well-received, so something is lost in "translation," I guess.) I try to give almost everything I sample a full episode, but I lasted less than 20 minutes. It was pretentious and filled with hugely unlikeable characters and ludicrous dialogue. Can't really see the Jersey Shore crowd eating this one up. (Yes, I complimented the Jersey Shore crowd.)

Retired at 35 - I know it's kinda become cool to be sick of Betty White lately, but don't underestimate how much her ability to deliver jokes can elevate something like Hot in Cleveland (which I don't always watch, but I don't really mind it). Take the HiC jokes without Betty White and the other sitcom vets and you're left with the fairly dreadful Retired at 35, featuring yet another grandmotherly role for Jessica Walter that just has me wishing she could get anywhere near the writing she had on Arrested Development.

Being Human - Looking back on some other shows described herein (latter-day Life Unexpected and Lights Out), I see a trend: I'm really not into the "pure angst" shows. I don't mind angst, but I want some levity or some big stakes or something. Being Human is not bad, but what I've seen is basically "woe is me, I'm a monster." Other shows (The Vampire Diaries) have that but also have bigger stuff going on. And the most appealing character (Sally the ghost) is stuck inside the house! What's up with that?!

More Five-Spots in the Index.

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