Tribeca Film Festival powered up in the notion of a post 9/11 world to create a resurgence in the Downtown area. In its diversity, it has expanded through the East Village and Chelsea. Even in a busy week populated by cigars and an interesting cocktail called Cleopatra’s Needle, the strength of the films as shown on the final two days of the festival highlights strength even as the galas and would be headliners aren’t as prevalent.
The first film “Mobius” highlights “The Artist” star Jean Dujardin as a Russian operative (French born and raised of course) who is on the trail of a quick numbers girl in Monaco who understands the market. She has insider information that brings her into the crosshairs of a multi-national businessman/criminal (played with detached aplomb by Tim Roth). Initially using its Rivera textured noirishness to great aplomb, it retreats into more darkened corridors. What initially might have hindered in the film with the lead French actress completely changes immediately after she and Dujardin spot each other in a club. Her aggressiveness and intelligence, not to mention beauty perfectly interweave with his care and gentleness (though as the lead operative he has screwed up royally). While slick, the film does lack at times a sense of danger which tends to come and go. Some actors are exceptional while others fail to convey a certain fruition though Roth’s right hand hitman is sufficiently vicious and deliberate without being dumb. The resolution is resoundingly European but tenacious still.
“The Machine”, an entry in the midnight category, mixes elements of “I Robot”, “Species” and “The Terminator” with a bit of flair on what is certainly a limited budget. With its odes to “Blade Runner”, darkened labs and cold lighting. Toby Stephens, who played the altered North Korean villain in the Bond film “Die Another Day” shows his excellence at subtlety. Unlike “I Robot” which simply tried to introduce ideas and then cover them up with large scale action scenes, there is a bit of time spent on watching the new robots’ reactions to their existence. While it can get overly techie (like with the altered soldiers who when they lose the power of voice after given new implants create their own sub-vocal language), the film does retain its sense of foreboding. Cary Lotz, who at first plays a young scientist who imprints herself on the new cybernetic organism and then the organism itself, plays the sense of the childlike and the murderous quite succinctly, much like the human Cylons in “Battlestar Galactica”. The eventual revolution is expected and the dull silver eye glow in the dark of the altered definitely creates a mood.
“The Kill Team”, which won the World Documentary Award at the fest, is a very frank and unflattering view of members of a battalion in Afghanistan which began killing civilians for sport and war trophies. The access and frankness of the participants creates an interesting barometer of senses because one wonders if their sentences at times either help or hinder or if a type of nihilistic point of view sets in. The main integration of the doc is with the soldier who, while having knowledge of what was going on, tried to warn his superiors and eventually his father but the whole thing blew up in the media before it could be taken care of internally. What is fascinating at times about the progression here is that it seemed on top of what was going on from the very beginning which makes the idea of it almost too convenient in many ways. The use of stark lighting and almost metaphoric textures wade well with the footage taken on consumer cams but the soldiers themselves. The legal process is at times a bit overdone but watching the psychology of it and the twisted logic that progresses, especially with a character, the catalyst (as one would say) in Gibbs, the commanding officer that engineered the killings and the cover ups (and is never seen), makes the resolution both mysterious but also incomplete.
“The Rocket” which won the Narrative as well as Audience Award at the fest, is an unusual progression of outsiders in a very alien landscape. Set inside Laos, which borders Thailand, the film offers a view into family life and almost tribal situations that have lasted hundred of years. When the threat of technology brings a new possibility of a dam into a valley, the local residents are relocated against their will. Their land, which had been theirs for countless years is raked from the land. The lead character, a boy obsessed with his boat and making trouble, reluctantly goes along. He is one of a pair of twins. The other was stillborn but the superstitions run high in this particular corner of the world. Despite very specific underpinings, the relationships are universal from the pig-headed father who eventually learns his lesson to the annoying but oddly correct mother-in-law (his mother) who always wants to save a buck. After a traumatic experience involving the death of the young boy’s mother, the family finds themselves in a temporary camp which pushes the idea that they will be moved permanently but they never do.
“The Rocket” refers to a rocket festival of all things where the locals launch projectiles into the heavens which creates a sense of wonder. What lifts up the film undeniably is the performance of a cool older uncle parading as the Asian James Brown. The humor he infuses creates a stark paradox to the rest of the movie and gives it the soul that allows the rest of the relationships around him to thrive.
“Northwest” uses the perspective of the unwinding element of the thug life in slow motion. The lead character here wants to increase his respect and bankroll in a less-than-well-to-do town. Moving up from simple bouncer to would-be pimp to a local boss’ prostitutes, he just wants to get what he believes he is owed. Scratching and playing two sides at one time always seems to come out bad. The reality here is that bleak suburban back streets are just as dangerous as the blowtorched remnants of old. Temptation and sex corrupt absolutely until someone wants to get paid and then it moves out the window. The interesting psychological progression here is the idea that the would-be alpha male, despite his viciousness, cannot bring himself to kill a man while someone else takes the rap for what he did. This unwinding morality tale culminates in the simple fact that no one will protect you but yourself.
“Trust Me”, directed by character actor Clark Gregg, tells the self–effacing story of a child-actor turned child-talent agent. While the tone moves darkly in the necessity of showing that the kids are as conniving as adults, the follow-through seems remarkably magical realism in the basest film school perspective. Having found what he considers to be his ticket back to the big time, the character progression of the lead shows that the open-hearted are always being played upon. While in this idea lies a cautionary tale, the humor inherent in the story moves with an uneven grace buoyed by an interesting love interest (played by Amanda Peet) who understands this man despite his obvious shortcomings. The visual style speaks more to a TV thought pattern though the staging at the end is undeniably theater. Ultimately it speaks that the lure of Hollywood consumes all regarding where the soul comes from.
“Adult World“, starring an ernest Emma Roberts, tries way to hard to be effervescent in its story about a college graduate who has to resort to working in a adult store to pay the bills. While it is dexterous to what many graduates are going through nowadays, this film tries to use the reflection of a girl with no experience in that of the world (or the word for the matter) trying to be a writer. While the visuals do play to a baseline comparison to her famous Aunt Julia’s “Pretty Woman”, the results are more awkward than funny. Roberts’ character tries to affect her way into the life of a famous poet played with disinterested aplomb by John Cusack. She does everything going from an academic stalker to an eventual groupie in trying to impress herself upon this man who is deplorable in every sense, especially in his eventual razing of her (by publishing her poems as the worst ever made). The resolution inevitably speaks to life experience and that existence works in mysterious ways, especially when Emma’s character eventually ends up rooming with a drag queen while trying to resolve her feelings for the local boy that works at the porn shop with her.
Despite a somewhat uneven progression of films, Tribeca Film Festival continues to show a intriguing sense of programming. While the international elements of “The Machine”, “The Rocket” and “Mobius” carried the most weight, the inclusion of faltering American independents shows an interesting divide in the global marketplace in 2013 which should be interesting to follow.
Watching the summer bloom at full boar, one gets the feeling that summer series are much more confident in their stride than most fall series making their premiere. The pressure is off…sure but the reality is that most of these entries know their formula tried and true without breaking a sweat. The one long holdover (“Futurama”) never skipped a beat in the near decade of its absence while “Royal Pains” and “Burn Notice” throttle along at pace. “Flashpoint” knows what it is and doesn’t rock the boat while “Lie To Me” seems to have found its stride with star Tim Roth as the clock ticks.
Futurama The long awaited return of Bender, Leela and the lot shows the essentials of their possible resurgence but keeping up to date is the key. Granted with Comedy Central they can go alot further than they could before, especially in regards to sex but, in the first two episodes, the ideal is more intellectual and less sight gag related which is what the audience needs to respond to. Bender needs to find his stride for sure but Leela with the voice of Katey Sagal is as up to date as ever. The animation shows a few improvements but that was never the status quo of the series. It was a balance of Fry’s optimism and Bender’s complete ignorance of good taste which made the old series work. The good angle is that this feels like a continuation and not a redo.
Burn Notice Mixing it up with Michael Weston while still keeping his plight engaging gets harder every season that goes by even with a jump in viewers. The last time we saw Weston he was being pursued by the cops and captured. It turns out that he is being worked by another position inside the government and yet not. This gives him another structure to work within but his first assignment causes him to burn another spy. The difference is that this one is a desk jockey. The new spy Jesse who looks like a UFC/The Rock export wants to find and kill the person who burned him which creates a new dynamic (since that person is Michael). It also provides someone for Weston to get jealous of in terms of Fiona. It is a good set up that will provide necessary tension throughout the season. The question becomes: what is the end game ultimately with Michael Weston? The series is still fun to watch but unlike forensic shows, Michael’s excuses are starting to feel a little hollow.
Royal Pains Resolving the loss of money in a single episode is what makes series television persistent and irresistible to cliffhangers. With Hank Med, the paradox is to add characters while still calling into question the different traits of both the good doctor and his easily distracted brother. While the inevitable and dexterious casting of Henry Winkler as the boys’ father who chiseled them out of money last year provides a thorn from which to pluck, a jaunt to Cuba in the 3rd and 4th episodes adds a needed cultural shift which gives the series a larger world view. Like “Burn Notice” in its early episodes this season, a change of scenery is necessary to show the shifting idelogy of the characters. If they do adjust in similar ways, there becomes a pointlessness to their actions but the catch is making it negligible. The interweaving love structures of all three characters in Hank Med show a transgression of emotional traits from Evan’s newfound compassion to Hank’s relaxation to Divya’s interpretation of her identity as an individual. The subtle pushing of the writing comes off effortless in every way showing a control of character which hopefully will continue to evolve.
Flashpoint The embrace of this series is braced around the CSI brand of not changing the rush of plot progression unless need be. By sticking to simple human stories and not delving into a brand of mythology that has overcome many starting series, a hour long such as this retains a section of viewers looking for simple escape. The SWAT set-up with rookies coming up, a captain at odds with his emotions and a lieutenant looking to make his bones all plays into the game from a cult-like raid on a compound to a shock jock radio host that gets a dose of reality. This procedural knows its audience and tries not to stray far from the grain but as a Canadian acquisition as a summer fill-in, it fits the ideal perfectly, surefire but safe in its texture.
Lie To Me In his continuing go-ound as a doctor/detective who can sniff out lies purely on the instinct of tells, Tim Roth seems to have grown into his character’s wit. Whereas it seemed, in the first season, he was playing the mentality of the man as slightly aloof but mostly serious, he has reversed that balance and found a texture more like “House” while still retaining an identity of his own. From a run-in with an old Irish crime boss to his on/off relationship with his ex-wife (played with delicious candor by Jennifer Beals), the pacing and pinpoints of humor really are starting to work. The interesting angle is that at one point in the premiere episode when Roth is trying to extract information from one of his employees with the Irish boss watching, you see him figuring it out and one harks back to the transformative eyes that utterly consumed his mesmerizing performance in Tim Burton’s “Planet Of The Apes”. The pattern in this series is keeping the audience on their toes while Roth lights the screen. He looks like he is enjoying the rub but the worry is that novelty in this type of character only lasts for a certain time.
The key of progression with Fox is engendered by the slickness of its shows. The balance of the light and the dark is always in the forefront. With a majority of the shows highlighted at the Summer 09 Press Tour, the key seems to build branding and enhancing a greater thought on existing properties.
The Cleveland Show The angle on this specific series is obviously based as the spin-0ff from the “Family Guy” world. Of course, the thought becomes how far out it will go. An instigation of what the show will be like was brought to life in a distinctly vivid way with a table read with a lot of the cast during a luncheon. Watching Mike Henry dip right into the voice of Cleveland in front of you shows the power and characterization that can be explored in animation. Seth McFarlane takes on the role of Tim, a bear who works at Cleveland’s new office. Even that sentence just gets a laugh straight off. This cast of characters, unlike “American Dad”, has just the right feeling. Cleveland Jr. voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, just has an inherent sweetness to him that is akin to Chris on FG. Cleveland’s new hangout buddy volleys between Terry, a redneck guy that Cleveland used to party with, and Tim, the Bear. There is just so many great possibilities here. Even though we only saw a blip of animation (very similar to FG), reading along with the script gives you the visuals a mile a minute. There are pop culture references galore but the show is arranged more in a three act structure than “Family Guy”. The music will be definitely be more Cleveland style. Mike Henry just recorded a Christmas single as Cleveland with Earth, Wind & Fire. Kanye West will be in an episode this season and possibly the next as well. In this season, he does a rap with Cleveland Jr. Richardson says it was a kick in the sound booth. Kanye plays the coolest kid in town, which by the way is called Stoolbend.
After the read, which really hit stride in one office scene, where Cleveland and Tim go back and forth, Seth talked about the gestation of the series. McFarlane was in high spirits and getting a big kick out of the critics laughing at certain places allowing himself a good chuckle as well. Seth says they always do a table read although everyone records their dialogue separate. On another note, Arianna Huffington plays Arianna (The Bear), wife of Tim. Just the bedroom discussions with the voice Seth uses for Tim make you laugh. It is kind of an undescript European accent which matches perfectly with Huffington’s Greek. McFarlane jokes that the voice is a silly one that his dad did when he was younger on the way to the dump. He also said that he wanted to continue to push the animation in terms of character. Mike Henry in one of their meetings said nonchallantly: “How about a family of bears”. And then went with it.
As far as crossover, Quagmire will show up in the first season. The Brown clan will make an appeartance on “Family Guy” but McFarlane doesn’t discount any other guest spots down the line. He highlights that Fergie and Hall & Oates will also be two of the guests this season on “The Cleveland Show” as well. And, in Episode 16, he says, we will finally see Loretta. The key in this series is that Cleveland came back to Stoolbend where he grew up and almost immediately married his high school sweetheart. In addition to his own son, he now also has a stepson and stepdaughter. Henry says that this show is “sweeter and funkier” than “Family Guy” but runs with an almost Brady Bunch scenario with a lot of cutaways and flashbacks. The show according to him and Seth has a completely different dynamic at times than “Family Guy”: Cleveland is more like the eye of the hurricane than the storm itself. It has a great feeling building and diversifying something new in what makes “Family Guy” so rich.
Glee This show premiered its pilot in May and discussed itself at the January TCAs this year. This time the whole cast showed up. The licensing question was always an interesting approach to this show since they are getting hot music. They announced that they just got a Beyonce song, much like the Rihanna score they spoke of in January. Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator, was in NY shooting a movie with Julia Roberts so he was unable to attend. The cast seemed exceptionally excited and are leaving on a 10 city stint to promote the show within days of the tour. The promos have just started airing for the fall. They just finished shooting Episode 13 but hardly anybody has seen the show. Dianna Agron, who plays Quinn, says that this series is a first for many of the actors. She was on the plane coming out from NY the day before watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and a promo came on for “Glee”. The guy sitting next to her did a double take.
The key with the series is that either it will hit or miss. After the pilot aired, “Dont Stop Believin” jumped to number one on Itunes so there is possibility. Time will tell.
Fringe This exceptional series which moves its shooting location from New York to Vancouver this year has been the most exceptional character piece on TV of late, specifically for its mythology which as Joshua Jackson relates reminds him of “The X-Files” which he was a big fan of. Jeff Pinkner, an exec producer who is exceptionally hands on, addressed the multiverse seen at the end of last season. It is all about what we see as here and what he calls “over there”. They are still learning about what it is but they are not shying away. The key for the creators is , in essence, not having the mythology take over the characters which is always a danger. Roberto Orci, a consulting producer along with his writing partner Alex Kurtzman [they both wrote “Star Trek” and “Transformers 2” this summer], says that it becomes how much you can serialize the series and s how much you can do as stand alone. The key is riffing on the world without losing sight of it.
John Noble, who plays Walter Bishop, father to Jackson’s Peter, talked to his characterization in saying that it is hard for Walter to talk at a mundane level when he is, in fact, a genius. The thought of that progression, for him, is the most natural part of the character and one of the most enjoyable because normality is something the character cannot relate to in his current existence. One of the conceits of the relationship between John and Joshua (playing father and son) is that it has to be shocking and relevant at the same time. When asked about the relativity of the science within the grounded element of the show, Noble is quite interested. So much so that he turns to Anna Torv (who plays Agent Olivia Dunham) and says that he had her eating worm puree in an episode that she did a couple days ago. She replies that she didnt think is possible, and yet it happened. Everything shown in the series has some basis in theory, according to Noble, whether it be quantum physics or biology. But he agrees that credibility is very important even if you exist in this kind of world because you still have to connect to the audience.
Noble also addresses the chemistry between Olivia and Peter on the show but says that the essence of what the series is doesn’t mean they have to sleep together. Just seeing that she cares for Peter is a big step. As far as the aspect of Leonard Nimoy returning as William Bell, they have shot one more episode with him with a couple more in the progression but it is all dependent on him. On the day they shot in the multiverse it was 106 in Vancouver and the studio they shoot in up there does not have air conditioning. But Nimoy, acccording to the actor’s wife, practices a form of meditation that allows him to keep his body temperature low. Pinkner comments that it is very Spock of him.
The Wanda Sykes Show This new late night entry takes the elements of Joan Rivers and Arsenio Hall and wraps them into one with Wanda’s specific humor shining through. While it seems this institution of the show seemed to come together after Wanda’s lauded speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner with Obama, Wanda says that the timing, especially with Obama in the White House was right. As far as her format, the structure still seems in their minds to be elusive as of the current moment. John Ridley, who wrote “U-Turn” for Oliver Stone as well as “Undercover Brother” decided to come back to writing after a self=imposed hiatus of a couple years to focus on his family. He heard about the Sykes show and wanted to get involved without necessarily a game plan of how to do it. They ironically actually came to him. Ridley’s writing is more dramatic so the dichotomy of what he will bring as head writer is somewhat paradoxical.
What might come about interestingly enough is something very highbrow along the lines of Charlie Rose but with Wanda’s “take-no-prisoners” attutude and viewpoint. This however might make it more difficult to market. Ridley said he wants the ability for Wanda to talk about issues without so much of the publicist-driven interaction in terms of promoting a product. The show will only be on once every seven days and will be a wrap-up style perspective on the week. This also would allow Wanda to keep her gig as a series regular on “The New Adventures Of Old Christine”.
In terms of musical guests, there is no immediate plans in terms of having any on. But as Wanda puts it, “if Dick Cheney puts out a hip hop album, we’re booking him.” Another nugget of joy from Wanda reveals her key to interacting with her guests: “The cream rises to the top as long as you dont stir it too much.” For a long while she didnt want to do a talk show. When she was on “The Chris Rock Show” they had the ability to hit the points that were unreachable but she hadn’t seen the possibility since then. She will take each situation for what it is and says the one thing she will be, despite anything, is fair. As far as the fact that she is both an African American and a woman, and that in taking on this show in late night, she is a first. she replies: “If it is a perception of being a woman or being black…I do have boobs but that is not the deciding factor.” Wanda is very democratic indeed.
Cookalong Live With Gordon Ramsay The intent of the head of “Hell’s Kitchen” is that he is just naturally brutish but in coming out and doing a hands-on cooking test with journalists at TCAs, you see another side of him. Smiling and laughing, it is almost disconcerting. He says when he is in “The Kitchen”, that is a different angle which is heightened of course by TV but also by the situation. He gets the joke of it escpecially using the F word. He can’t bring that aggression home to his family but it is right for that situation. With his new additional show “Cookalong Live”, there is an active pursuit to soften his image a little bit while still keeping the heat on “Hell’s Kitchen”
Gordon thinks this new companion show will be good because now, for most of the world. the new “going out”, in his words, is “staying in”. This show, in his mind, is raw and fun and also offers him a chance to cook which he never gets to do on “Hell’s Kitchen” but also to do it in an non-pressurized environment. He is hoping this show will tip the balance of showing him as a bad guy.
As far as his insights on “Hell’s Kitchen” in the seasons past, he says the biggest problem in being a chef is smoking and drinking since it kills the palette. By doing the show, it explores the weaknesses more than the advantages of the competing chef which helps define aspects to improve and build on.
On his new “Cooking Live” show, it won’t be utterly complicated. The dishes he prepares are likely to be more two course based than anything else. On one of the last episodes he shot, the menu was green curry as a starter, lasagna as the entree and baked alaska (which we made ourselves with Ramsay) for dessert. His allowance is that unfortunately you can cheat a lot with food. People sometimes can go into restaurants on Sunset Blvd. and get a gig without cooking anything in advance. He does say that he goes all over the world trying food.
Most recently in the past couple weeks, he has been in such diverse places as Burma and Tuscany. He also relates that he went to Afghanistan last year and cooked Christmas Dinner for 1000 of the troops, both British and American. That for him was a high point.
In terms of what makes him happy as far as food, it is the Southern California institution: In & Out. He loves the Double Double especially ordering it Animal Style. On a more refined note, he says he very much likes going to Maestro (in Washington D.C.) but for him and his family, that is an event.
As he instructs us how to make a Baked Alaska, the key he is keen to point out is the battering of the egg whites and sugar in order to create a whip texture. In his mind, it should take less than 10 minutes although many of us were working well past that. He was disappointed in this, as is the Ramsay way, but checked out everyone’s handiwork. Gordon can still scold you but in this instance we saw a gentler but still stern side of the man…and it was good.
Lie To Me The sophomore outing of this show continues on its essence while attempting to infuse more edge to the show. Shawn Ryan, who previously worked on “The Shield”, has taken over show running duties in attempt to infuse more style. His thought is pushing it more in a character-based direction. He was brought on at the end of last season as a consultant to do exactly this. As a result, he felt the last 4 episodes of last season were more focused and effective. Also, for him, the key is that there needs to be actors beyond the people on Tim Roth’s team that Roth can face off with since he can be such an imposing energy on screen.
One good example Ryan gives in terms of how he is rearranging the play, is a scene where Cal, played by Roth, goes into a singles mixer and lies himself while research and coaxing different information out of the women. The crux is that he is doing to advance a case. This action makes it very specific to the character while still moving the story along. One of the first episodes which Ryan thinks will push the envelope involves a mystery of girl with multiple personalities played by Erica Christensen.
Tim Roth reflects on the evolution of his experience on television from when we saw him at TCAs last January. Roth says that he started to read the books on the “tells” of lying and it became too addicting. It is good for the show but not for his house so he backed off. He wants to know more than the audience knows but only by a little bit. He is drawn to this guy because of the perspective and the relationship he has with Dr. Gillian, Kelli Williams’ character.
Overall for Roth, the paradox of an actor is “to lie and lie well”. He does admit doing the first 13 episodes in the first season were “devastating” to him since it is such a shock to the system after having been on film sets most of his career. He has never worked like this before. But he absolutely loves it and means it genuinely. It is a complete experiment, he says, as you are basically making a movie every eight days. While it is difficult, he recommends it for film actors since there is nothing else like it.
Mekhi Phifer, who got major props from show runner Ryan because of his role in “8 Mile” opposite Eminem, plays new agent Ben Reynolds. who came in at the end of last season but has now become a series regular. For Phifer, having worked on “ER”, the characters need to be paramount as the procedures become just a backdrop. Kelli Williams follows this up with the point that “trying to find your character within a procedural is a trick but you have make it sound like it is not” The key to definitely maintaining perception of a lie is to create as much truth as possible. And that is what this show does.
Human Target In adapting a DC comics superhero for the small screen, the key is that liberties need to be taken in terms of creative license to maintain story flow (at least according to the head writer). The aspect of the Human Target always was the ability for him to be a chameleon and take on any form he wanted which works great in comics but within a live action environment tends to be more difficult. The conceit of creator Johnathan Steinberg is not straining the credibility by making it too non-believable. The thing for him was, if you had a guy who did this job, how would he go about it in a grounded way?. Steinberg wanted a guy you could root for but not be bound to stick to a certain format in terms of story structure. Steinberg wanted this show to be a hark to “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard” with a bit of “Raiders”. The coup is that in the epilogue of the pilot, Danny Glover (aka Murtaugh from “Weapon’), shows up in a cameo.
For Steinberg, this story is about the action hero but also finding how faithfully, in balance, it can be represented. The eventual angle is that this character simply has to stand on his “own” two feet. Director McG, who is an exec producer on the series, loves that there is less room for bad scripts in TV nowadays as so many people are crossing over from film. This series for him is a lot of action but ultimately comes down to the three lead characters (played by Mark Valley, Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley).
For Haley, having just come off an iconic role as Rorschach in “Watchmen”, he wanted to be in something that his 10-year-old children could watch (which is not unlike something Gary Oldman told me ten years ago). What appealed to Haley beyond this point was the ability to create a character over time. The make up and look of his character Guerrero is something they came up with by chance. There is a physicality to this person in Haley’s mind, but in a very different way from Rorschach.
By comparison, Chi McBride, within his character Winston, says that he enjoys playing cynical characters who are funny but don’t think that way. With this character, unlike the one in the critically lauded but ultimately cancelled “Pushing Daisies”, there will be a lot more action. For him and in the bigger picture, this guy is crazy and has a lot of darkness. The great element about these characters from his perspective is that they are constantly in each other’s yang.
As with McG’s “Fast Lane” nearly 5 years ago on Fox as well, this series has the potential to be slick as evidenced by the completely action heavy promo from the pilot. The key, as with what made that earlier show a success, rests in the balance of humor and action and some of those little spots in between.
Fox All Star Party As the sun dimmed, the back greens, home to the previous night’s NBC soiree, came alive again with tented arenas and small bungalows allowing for secluded discussions and open thoughts. Dining on everything from mac and cheese to swordfish tacos to crab claws, the diversity of food was not unlike the characters present. Ron Perlman of “Sons Of Anarchy” was an imposing and interesting presence as CCH Pounder (of “Brothers”) and Harry Lennix (of “Dollhouse”) laughed into the night. One of the happiest and most approachable of all was Seth McFarlane, clearly enjoying the attention of many a lady admirer but also moving about with a great sense of humor in not taking it all too seriously.
Two different tents housed a special proscuitto dish that melted in the mouth as well as a make-your-own strawberry shortcake bar. As the DJ spun and the loud wailing of karaoke from a green screen corner lit up the night, the motley vision of Fox dazzled the evening.
Different stars imbue their series with different feelings and perceptions. The first new episodics viewed highlight this in the vision of Ian McShane (formerly of “Deadwood”), Nathan Fillion (of “Firefly”) and Tim Roth (“Reservoir Dogs”). The key is taking what made them interesting and intense in their signature roles but create a whole new dynamic. In all cases, the shift is possible enough as long as the stories support it.
Kings With a king like Ian McShane, everything seems in place. Creating a whole new country in the persisting vision of New York City can be interesting. For this series, a new country has been created in a bloody war but it shows what a modern day monarchy in the States might look like. Like “Dirty Sexy Money”, it runs on the perception that great lengths are taken to protect the high and mighty. However, unlike that previous series which was entertaining but with a soapy angle, “Kings” is more hard edged and there is more the essence of the cinematic. This is none the more true in the second episode as King Silas (McShane) stands on the top of his palace skyscraper in the rain. The basis here has a soldier who saved the King’s son being brought back from the front. With some elements you see a destiny form in the visage of the soldier. What is hoped is that this series can take on a mythical tragic quality which is what it seems to be moving towards. It is just a question of sustainability.
Castle The humor keying through this series has a great proponent in Nathan Fillion. This character has some qualities but is much more likable than his “Firefly” counterpart. The aspect of a novelist being allowed to shadow the cops is a bit far-fetched but the presence seems more loose than the slightly more eccentric “Life”. The chemistry is palpable between him and his co-star but the flirting needs to be upped a notch. The premise though, like another series I liked (“Journeyman”), lacks a basis of real world logic although this one is more based in the actual real world. The series, also like “Eli Stone” before it, has a strong lead character but the angles need to keep coming. The good aspect of it, unlike “Eli”, is that it has a procedural background to it which allows it to work easier as a stand alone and not over rely on any building mythology.
Lie To Me Produced by Brian Grazer and starring Tim Roth, this drama focuses on the tells and body language which show if a person is lying or not. This can be used to break down anything from a court martial case to a suicide to affairs of the heart. The science of it has a truth to it but the evidence as it relates to cases is all circumstantial at best which is where the drama continues on a weekly basis. This series wants to be “CSI” but it doesn’t quite live up to that mode because the science itself is a little more elusive. Roth has a good team around him and the aspect of his character having a daughter seems to round out the thoughts although it seems a little too cut and dry. The stories are alright and stand alone but they don’t light the scenes on fire. It comes off as well made but nothing exceptional.
And the beat goes on…