Dark Space & Mistaken Identity: Returning Television Shows: Fall 2010 – Part I – Review

The standard progression of every action and/or thriller series is to make the audience care for the people being put into harms way. As a series progresses into its second or third season, the maintenance of this kind of tension becomes harder and harder to elevate. If the character builds created initially don’t hold up or offer differentiating perspectives, the series won’t last. The importance with series as diverse from “SGU” and “Fringe” is the idea of using what you know while surprising the audience with what they don’t.

Stargate Universe The punctuation last season rested as those usually do on the plight of life and death. Using a structure not undue to “Battlestar Galactica”, the call becomes one based in faith. The balance here is based in the idea of science versus fiction and which way the idea strains the limits of believability. The changing of roles within the teams especially between Rush and the General creates a paradox from the first season but also keeps one going in terms of which side to adhere to. The additional of the unseen alien element, which is more foreboding than in past endeavors, adds to the sense of dread in a series that is more prevalently darker than the ones before it.

Chuck With Chuck vowing not to bring himself back into the spy game and still trying to date Sarah, one knows his will power will disappear mighty quickly. What is interesting in an overall sense much like “Fringe” following it is that the dynamic of the romantic relationship especially in the modern age is evolving into something that is quite different than the ones before creating a conflict in the basic human emotional software. Some people turn it off. Some turn it on. The aspect of the Buy More being turned into a CIA substation is just window dressing. The question is how do you create the progress of new viewers without alienating the old ones. Bringing back some of the old crew makes the idea work but supplants and pushes the boundaries of believability. Adding the structure of a relationship that needs to run its crash course in TV time sometimes pushes the buttons too hard which is what it feels like here. Good guest stars including the mythos building Linda Hamilton as well as action stalwarts like Dolph Lundgren and Lou Ferrigno shows the fan structure but Chuck’s time might be waning despite its inherent likability.

Fringe The paradox of this series is maintaining the mythology and the intent without relieving any of the tension. When the cross-over elements first came into play, the question was how do you personify two sides of the Id. While seemingly problematic in terms of placing the ideas, the writing team has found a very interesting way to deaden the senses and move the story with an ability that is quite riveting. They space the worlds with different cases which reflects different parts of Olivia Dunham’s personality whether in the alternate world or ours. Granted the implementation of memories is slightly far fetched but in an alternate universe certain liberties can be taken. Truly what this creation does is take the focus off Peter in terms of importance and make Olivia a surrogate for change in a mythic sort of way. “Fringe” always displayed a tinge of “Lost” in its possibilities and is the closest thing on TV to it right now. By creating ghosts per se and the perception of a world lost, the bigger themes are starting to come into play organically which makes for especially mind-bending television. Following the structure can be difficult for those not interwoven in its ideas but the functionality of the ideas starting this third season continue to show the progression of a series on the edge.

NCIS: Los Angeles The ideas of trust maintained figure specifically into the idealization of this series. With the compromise of Erik Christian Olsen’s character Deeks, the needs and composition of the team needed to change while creating new tension. While O’Donnell and LL Cool J need to operate their character constructions on an overall track to provide consistency, the other supporting characters can seem to move with a lot more freedom now in terms of comedic intentions and love stories. The burgeoning push-and-pull between Deeks and Daniela Ruah’s Kensi provide effective comic relief while understanding the stakes being created. Consecutively Barrett Foa’s Eric Beale, always relegated the office, volleys with Renee Smith’s Nell who gives compliments and off-handed flirts as quick as she can hack a mainframe. These crisscrossing textures are what keeps the series moving at a clip with Linda Hunt as “Hetty”, the leader behind the operation, racheting everyone to their toes at every single point. It is this character-based vaulting within the stand-alone narratives that provides the series with bite.

First Look: TANGLED – Disney

Walt Disney Films just provided IR with this new still from TANGLED (aka RAPUNZEL), a new animated 2D film due to be released in Late November 2010, starring the voices of Mandy Moore (“License To Wed”) and Zachary Levi (“Chuck”).

Assimilating Tactics: Returning Television Shows – Spring 2010 – Review – Part I

The returning aspect of genre shows a couple series trying to find that strain to be able to keep their impact pertinent while still having enough stories to tell. “Burn Notice” still has that edge to it but with Michael being in Miami almost three years and running out of excuses, the idea looms. With Chuck, it is similar but has the small miracle of reinvention with a new challenge. “Fringe” has the most still moving because it allowed the most mysteries yet to be solved. While not “Lost”-sized, it does give enough, although Walter is starting to be normal. Still good writing across the board on all three show a wonderful quality.

Burn Notice The aspect within Michael Weston is his ability to create change. The split season adheres to this with Fiona almost losing her battle with both the affections of her spy as well as her life. The interim of more spy mercenaries keeps the barbs coming but the essentials of what keeps Michael in place ultimately will come down to Fi. The aspect of her almost being killed should have affected him more but something truly needs to come to a head. Sharon Gless’ mother character is becoming more aware giving the piece a boost from another area (especially when Tyne Daly, her Cagney & Lacey co-star) shows up in an episode. With the importance of his burn starting to wane, despite the show still moving with pace, the question becomes one of an end date unfortunately, because like LOST, “Burn” needs a goal to reach for which will allow for an intention of purpose since, because its characters are not ones to wait, seems a forgone conclusion.

Chuck With the limitations of our intrepid bungling hero getting his training wheels taken off, one would figure that the possibilities were endless. However two things need to give cadence to prudence. And this lies in the budget because taking Chuck further requires more creativity. While he doesn’t turn out to be the spy in motion everybody hoped he would be because his emotions got in the way, the dynamic has changed somewhat because he is now gaining a little bit of respect while still saying all the wrong things. The best thing to keep moving is the Sarah/Chuck romance which always needs that “will they/won’t they” possibility to keep it going. While the Rachel Bilson romance had possibilities, the show runners decided to keep it Sarah centric. However in flashback mode, we learn that it was Chuck that placed a kink in letting work get in the way of his dream girl. Ultimately a new play both for Chuck and Sarah comes into play that creates an interesting dichotomy even though it might be one to alienate some of the viewers. However, the casting of Superman Returns’ Brandon Routh is a smart movie but for him and the show because it gives a rival suitor that can supplement overt genre fans. The question of course is where to go. “Chuck” still does have a story to tell but is it enough to keep NBC from cancelling it. After all “My Name Is Earl” was just starting to hit its stride when the plug was pulled so nothing can be taken for granted.

Fringe With the aspect of the other side being relegated away from the forefront and Agent Dunham’s limp moving more and more away, the connection of mythology has been playing lighter with subtle hints unlike last season where we saw a tinge of her powers on top of the building. The one realization that is not even subtle anymore is the fact that Walter actually seems to have brought Peter back from the other world since he seemed to have died there. This is not spoken outright but the conclusions seem clear. Walter, as played brilliantly by John Noble (who deserves an Emmy nomination) seems to becomiing more congnificent which drives down the elements of comedy but make him more resilient character since he is now starting to realize what he has wrought over the years. The aspects of the past and essences of time travel are now being examined but not truly brought to light although the interim images are now having pertinence with the seahorse mentioned directly in passing.