Living Specific Structure Redefined: Returning Spring 2011 Television Shows – Review – Part III

Those drama/thrillers that survive their first season jumps require either a sense of foreboding or story structure that interrelates their true nature. Whether based in a heightened universe (as most are) or in dealing with the moral ineptitude of life, the following shows examine the life in-between.

Fringe As the idea of the collapsing of two universes continues to gain credence, the conception of the Olivia/Peter relationship falls into almost the pairing that can undo the universe. In creating this structure with the alternate Olivia (with a very soapy but plausible functional plot twist), the idea of what is the greater evil becomes much more defined. Why and how certain things will happen obviously works in congruence with the show’s mythology which is now so deep that it will be hard for first time viewers to actually impede into the world. For example, the supposed ghost episode is highly interactive in terms of the battle between two worlds and works exceptionally because of it but reflects into the reality that the show provides. The densely structured character work especially with John Noble and now, to a high regard, Anna Torv works exceptionally well without losing sight of what the series actually is: a journey.

Stargate Universe Playing with the idea of self interplays with how the true nature of man unfolds. While the beginning of this on “Universe” begins predictably enough, the evolution of what the show begins to explore extends its esoteric potential. The only hesitation with someone like Dr. Rush is that Robert Carlyle plays his genius with disdain for everything else that it almost overcomes what the young character of Eli Wallace wants to perceive. The idea of a life within the cyberstructure of the ship, which is explored in one episode, truly draws the characters out but the race to the finish line to at least structure some closure leads to a parallel story structure which, while interesting, tries to cram too much information into a short progression of time.

Batman: Brave & The Bold The key in creating a more interesting and core Batman is to go dark which might stagger the actual possibility of good ratings. “Brave & The Bold” understands the necessity to go the other way placing the animated ode at an odd angle between something like “Batman Beyond” and “Superfriends”. While undeniably tongue-in-cheek for its own good, moving in different style directions, both artistically and narratively, has served it well. While the form has provided screen-time from everyone from Hawkman to Superman to new introductions like BatMite, the most egregious at times are the ones that border on silly like Bat Boy which, like the full musical episode last season, may be a little over the line. Batman is an institution and being able to poke fun is definitive to its structure while maintaining a decor of ethos. That said, having other superheroes try to play Batman while the Caped Crusader is injured on an orbiting space station ,did have its great moments.

The Event Accelerating the possibilities of the show revolves around the fact of trying to create new narrative elements that are seen in a different way and create an awe factor. Despite a distilled production structure, this series seems to play the ideas by the numbers. Disappearing on buses after taking down the Washington Monument almost plays too B-movie. The character structures resound flimsy as well with the Vice President almost too cartoonish to exert any real threat especially against the head of intelligence and a bunch of co-opted CIA agents. While the inset of the season, especially with the presence of Hal Halbrook, seems to indicate a bigger mythology, the eventual crux of that story line fizzles especially in relation to Jason Ritter’s vendetta fueled lead who ultimately comes off as more weak than resolute.

Law & Order: LA When shake-ups brewed inevitable in terms of personnel shifting on the series, the question became how involved would an audience be in the changing of the overall structure. If this kind of action were taken at the end of the second season, it might have had more power. The reality is that TV shows are on a much more restricted timeline in terms of delivery progression. While the movement of Alfred Molina to the detective side after Skeet Ulrich’s character is assassinated creates a structure of rich drama, it is not used to utmost effect because the investment is not quite there despite best intentions. The character that represents the most possibility is Corey Stoll though his emotional turmoil hasn’t manifested to a boil. That is the story line to watch.

Exotic Missions & Slick Timelines: New Television Shows: Fall 2010 – Part I – Review

Bringing new ideas within certain conventions becomes the challenge of originality versus a notion of comfort. Whether new perceptions of law-based inventiveness, a conspiracy-fueled mythic series, a remake or a good old fashioned spy romp, the catch becomes exciting the audience with fresh enough characters to give the series stamina.

Outlaw Within the ideal of a show revolving in the law, the concept, in its dexterious evolution, needs to involve a hidden motive. While this new Jimmy Smits-led ensemble places that in context, it does not give enough motivation to make it undeniable. The strength here lies in Smits not letting his character take himself too seriously (like a “House” structure to the law profession). What keeps his brevity moving is the throttling between his younger and more visceral underlings (specifically in the tension between Jesse Bradford’s straight laced Eddie and Carly Pope’s saucy Lucinda). The key becomes how far one can bend the rules without losing the structure of loyalty and decency within the moral foreground.

The Event Creating a mystery-throttled mythology series and calling it by a name like this is pretty forward. Considering the similarly based “Flash Forward” couldn’t maintain the status quo that “Lost” had undeniably filled is based purely on character. The set up of this series and its multi-episode narrative placement requires attention to detail despite the fact that the characters, though defined, suffer from a lack of depth. Jason Ritter’s character Sean provides the catalyst while Blair Underwood’s President Martinez gives the conflict a global platform. The key character which the series seems to most likely rest on gives it hope in the form of Ian Anthony Dale’s Simon Lee who holds the morality and intelligence-based key to the entire infrastructure in is hands. The question becomes how interesting can the intensity get and will the audience care?

Hawaii Five-O In resurrecting a perception of new blood within a Hawaiian tropic, the idea is to make it specific without being too broad. The integration tends to work because of the characters involved with some doing more than others as the episodes progress. The idea of different smuggling and different barrier-based operations speaks well, especially with the island chain being the first line of defense in the Pacific against attacks. The idea of insiders and outsiders within the first couple episodes seems to speak to a darker underworld without damaging the tourism angle of the show which definitely speaks through. Alex O’Loughlin plays McGarrett with a little more coldness than some of his previous characters but this tends to create decent machismo in respect to Scott Caan’s Danny. Caan brings street cred in terms of indie edge to the series. His lines are written fast and furious giving a sense of improv to the proceedings. Rounding out the team is Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, both genre veterans with intensity and previous shows which allowed them to truly shine. Unfortunately so far, besides some texturing of past daliances, there hasn’t been a veracity of distinctive storylines to truly give the series edge while maintaining its stand-alone episode progression.

Undercovers Using the elements of “True Lies” within a structure of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” dynamics, “Undercovers” works because it is made with lush texture that dictates that its ideas are being portrayed seriously. In returning to this high octane personification (ala “My Own Worst Enemy”), the question becomes keeping the characters engaged enough that the mythology will work in tandem. While different backstories within the first four episodes reveal themselves, the balance relies on the fact of the two leads, who operate and live as a husband-and-wife catering team, have to be constantly jumping to conclusions to keep the audience on its feet. Saving the world and doing it as off-the-books black ops means restriction of identity and a need for progressive storytelling which seems unbalanced at best.