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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP AND REVIEW: The Mysteries of Laura “Pilot” S1 E1

It’s hard to believe the new season has kicked off.   And I’m not going to lie, I don’t like when networks do these “special previews” and premiere shows outside of premiere week.    One, I’m not ready for it yet.   Two, I usually forget the show is premiering because my mind has not kicked into that gear yet.   And three, it loses some of the pomp and circumstance (at least in my household) of premiere week.   It’s like the start of the NFL season.   To me, the season starts the first Sunday of the season.   10-12 games are on the docket for the day (usually my Eagles are one of those teams.)   I make my traditional chili, I get the beer chilled, my house is decorated in Eagles green, I have my Eagles jersey on, the phone is shut off, and I watch football for 10-11 straight hours.   It’s awesome.   The season doesn’t start on Thursday.   I hate Thursday games.   It’s one thing during holidays when nothing else is on but not every Thursday.   So I can’t get excited about that Thursday game because that’s not the start of the season for me.   Sunday is.   The TV Fall Season is the same way.   This isn’t premiere week.   Next week is.    I have nothing to do at night next week.  I will have all my DVRs set up, I will have my schedule of what I’m watching live and what I’ll watch on the DVR later.   It’s amazing!!    So I don’t know if it hurts or helps shows like The Mysteries of Laura (TMOL) to premiere early.  In one regard, there is very little competition so you have a better chance of getting a solid audience.    But that can also hurt you if your pilot isn’t the greatest but you build into your momentum and get better as more episodes come around.   If the pilot is bad or iffy, you may have already lost people after one episode.    It’s also a good thing because it’s been 4-5 months (if you’re Sleepy Hollow 7 months) since we’ve seen our favorite shows so people are itching for something new to watch.   And don’t give me the summer season has new shows now because there’s a reason those shows air in the summer (network shows I mean.)  It’s because TV viewing goes down significantly in the summer time and therefore not as much pressure for ratings for advertisers.    Bottom line, if you’re going to break the premiere week mold, you better have something people will jump on or else you’ve shot yourself in the foot.   TMOL might have just shot themselves in the foot.   If they get 10 million people to watch again next week, I will quit my real job.

TMOL stars Debra Messing as Det. Laura Diamond.  She is one of the top detectives in her precinct struggling to juggle her job, her marriage, and her kids.   Certainly not a new premise but one you hope due to casting, will have a new twist or new life breathing into it.   And as much as I love Messing, this character is as cliché as they come.   Her desk is a mess, her car is a mess, she’s late, she’s disheveled, and she’s unconventional.    The problem is, none of this resonates with me.  I don’t buy her as a detective let alone the best detective.   Seriously, what detective goes to a home to investigate death threats and sits down with the guests and has cake and wine?   Even her captain when he is offered wine says “oh I really shouldn’t.”  YOU THINK?   You are on duty aren’t you?    Isn’t there a rule about drinking and being on the job?   And this all happens after she shoots a perp in the ear while he’s holding a man hostage in the middle of a busy park.   And she picks the ear that closest to the hostage instead of the outside ear.    That’s great police work.    Then there are her parenting skills.    For an interview for a Pre-K school (because her kids were kicked out of the other one) she feeds her kids enough cough syrup so they are calm and almost asleep.   She must have overdone it though considering her one son pukes it up.   Then when her children are urinating on each other in public, instead of punishing them or freaking out OVER THE FACT HER KIDS ARE PEEING ON EACH OTHER FOR FUN, she asks politely asks them to stop.  No wonder her kids are monsters.    It also doesn’t help that her husband (soon to be ex) Jake (Josh Lucas) is just a big kid himself…but not in a good way.    He’s not Jack Tripper in Three’s Company where he’s funny and goofy and slightly frustrating because he’s just a big kid but he’s so lovable you can’t be mad at him.   Plus when he needs to buck up, he does.  Jake isn’t close to that.   He seems to shirk his parenting duties and when he is around his kids, he’s bringing them pizza and wrestling with them on the couch and then leaves.   When his kids are peeing on each other in the park, he thinks it’s funny and it doesn’t seem to phase him at all.    You’re probably reading this thinking what’s wrong with a dad bringing his kids pizza and wrestling around with them?  Nothing at all….as long as he steps up and is their father when it counts, not just their buddy.    I don’t get the impression Jake has time for the serious stuff…only the fun stuff.   So from a home life perspective, there isn’t one likable person in the Diamond household.

There was a case that I really didn’t care about.   This phone mogul was receiving death threats and everyone (except Laura) thought it was the wife.   Turns out it was Laura’s Captain (Elias from Person of Interest) who was the person who killed him because he was having an affair with his wife.   Ok I’ll admit I didn’t see that twist coming but it fell flat because the rest of the case was so uninteresting.    Because Captain Elias was obviously removed of his duties as captain of the squad.   Guess who just so happens to be put in his place?     That’s right…Laura’s husband Jake.    Which again, isn’t there something against spouses working in the same precinct let alone one reporting to the other?

I really wanted to like this show but I just didn’t.   I like a lot of the cast, independent of this show, but they all deserve better than this.   The writing is bad, the premise is worse, and there isn’t a likable character on the show.   Not to mention this show doesn’t seem to know what they want to be.    Is this a comedy?   Is this a dramatic cop show with some comedic elements?   Is it a family show?   And shows don’t have to be channeled into one vain or another…they can cross multiple angles (which Castle does brilliantly.)  But this show doesn’t seem to have a direction.    On top of that, I just can’t buy that Laura is so good at her job yet so awful a parent.  Mostly because I don’t believe she’s as good a detective as we’re being told she is.    Kate Beckett, Olivia Benson, Brenda Leigh Johnson….those are good cops.   Laura?   I guess shooting a perp with precision in the middle of Battery Park is supposed to indicate she’s the best of the best.   Or really dumb and really lucky.   I’m not sure.   But she didn’t come across as a confident, seasoned vet who commands respect in her squad.      Add in the husband being forgettable and the kids being beyond disastrous, I have no interest in seeing where Laura goes from here and what her mysteries actually are.

DVRs: 1

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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW : The New Normal, “Pilot” & “Sofa’s Choice” S1, E1&2

And so it begins!!!!  The new TV is finally underway and some shows have already premiered this week.  Can you believe it?  I know I can’t.  This summer flew!!!  I’m sort of happy, though, that there are some early premieres because it will make it somewhat easier to discuss all the new shows and returning premieres, and give them their just due.  First on the 2012/2013 docket….The New Normal.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this show.  Some people love it, some people hate it.  Some people already assumed it would be awful because it’s a Ryan Murphy show.  I have to admit, I had my reservations after he completely destroyed Glee, how this show would fair.  But my initial assessment….I liked it.

WHAT’S WORKING

The premise for this show is simple.  A gay couple is looking for a surrogate to help them start a family.  Enter Goldie Clemmons who is looking to start over after finding her husband cheating on her.  Goldie would like to go to law school and set a good example for her daughter, Shania.  Andrew Rannalls and Justin Bartha are fantastic!  Georgia King is delightful and Bebe Woods is adorable.  Rannells and Bartha are terrific as Bryan and David.  David is the partner who loves sports and was the mathlete in high school.  Bryan, I believe is a writer, who is the more flamboyant of the two, who loves to have a good time and has a great quick wit.  The thing I like most about Bryan is that he has a huge heart.  He isn’t as plastic as he appeared at times in the pilot.  I didn’t think they were going to show him in the best light for becoming a dad.   But in Sofa’s Choice, he did a great job dealing with what he thought was Shania ruining his couch as well as being there for her when she was having a rough time at school.  Bryan has a HUGE heart and you can see how David would fall in love with him.

Goldie is so sweet I get a cavity every time I watch her on-screen.  She may be a little green to the ways of the world, but she’s strong in her own way.  She has opened her eyes to the potential that is her life and she is determined to give her daughter a successful role model while keeping her own dreams still very much alive.  I love it!!!  What a great message to send.  She will do whatever it takes and work as hard as she can, on her own, to make this new life for her and Shania.  That’s something I can watch and root for every week!

Shania is also a nice ray of sunshine.  I’m usually not a huge fan of kids on-screen because they annoy me, but she is really good.  She’s smart beyond her years and has this delightful quirkiness that would normal irk me but with her I find completely charming.  And I like that she has found a kindred spirit in Bryan.

This is a show I can see watching for a while because I am truly invested in each character (save for Nana Jane) and what happens during this whole process.  How do they all get along during the pregnancy?  What happens after the baby is born?  Would Goldie consider doing this again for them?  How will this all impact Shania?   How will having a baby really impact Bryan and David and their relationship?  Will I ever see the baby in that awesome sweater Bryan bought?  If the show can keep it focused on these four and really develop these characters, I can see tuning into the New Normal for many years!

WHAT’S NOT WORKING

Do I even need to say what I have an issue with?  Let me start with the small issue before I go on to the huge bigoted one.  NeNe Leakes is my small issue.  I’m not a big fan of reality TV personalities turning into “legit” on-screen actors.   Not because they can’t, but it’s usually because they aren’t very good.  Leakes isn’t bad but I don’t understand her point on the show.  She’s Bryan’s assistant (although I’m still not 100% sure what he does for a living) and other than her few lines to him in the beginning and a punch line for Ellen Barkin’s Nana, what else does she bring to the table?   Maybe that will change overtime but I don’t like how she’s being used so far.

As for Barkin’s Jane Forest character…there are no words.  I’m serious.  I’m not naive.  I know there are racist, bigoted, homo-phobic people out there.  But you know what, I don’t find them funny.   It’s one thing if you want to have a character that pushes the envelope in their thought processes and there are ways to incorporate that stereotypical element, into a show that can be humorous.    But how Barkin’s character is written, it’s not humorous…it’s cringe-worthy.  In the pilot, she goes on and on about not liking the lesbian couple walking down the street.  Then she talks about how selling Girl Scout Cookies, one of her competition “jewed down the price so she lost.”  She calls Bryan and David “salami smokers.”  Finally, when Rocky (Leakes) walks in, she panics thinking one of “her kind of eggs” is going in her granddaughter’s body.  The second episode is worse.  Like Jane making a comment like “I studied past presidents that used to own people like our current president.”   Ouch.  But the line that had me the most pissed off from an offensive standpoint and as a TV viewer was when Jane opened the door to Bryan and David’s bathroom to see Rocky there and she says “are you sure you’re even supposed to be using this one?”  I have no way to clearly articulate how much that bothered me.  Does she really think it’s 1950?   Does she really think blacks and whites have to use separate bathrooms?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?  Again, how is that funny?   Maybe I’m too uptight about this.   Maybe I’m too dumb to understand the humor.  But for me, this character is so over the top it appears more a marketing ploy than a plot driver.  And maybe that’s why I’m so annoyed with the character…because she’s so forced.  She can’t just make one comment, she has to make four or five (sometimes in the same insult.)  It’s lazy and it’s bad writing.  But it’s Ryan Murphy so of course there will be bad writing and of course he will put shock in area to create a buzz even if it doesn’t work from a storytelling perspective.  Because let’s be honest, can you name one good story he’s told on Glee the last three seasons?  Yep, me neither.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I like The New Normal.  Honestly, if they got rid of Nana Jane and found a purpose for Rocky, it would be an awesome show.  But the good parts, so far, really out weigh the bad ones so I am sticking with it.   That is until Murphy finds a way to screw this up as well.

DVR RATING:  3 1/2 DVRs

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in NBC, New Shows, Recaps and Reviews

 

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RECAP & REVIEW: The Nine Lives of Chloe King “Pilot” S1 E1

The Nine Lives of Chloe King (which I will reference as NLCK) premiered last night on ABC Family.   The show centers around Chloe King (played by Skyler Samuels), who was born in the Ukraine and adopted by an American family.  Chloe’s mom, Meredith (played by Amy Pietz) is a single mom (Chloe’s dad left them 10 years ago when Chloe was 6) and seems to have a solid relationship with her daughter.   Chloe’s closest friends are Amy and Paul (played by Grace Phipps and Ki Hong Lee respectively) and they have all been friends since they were little.  At the start of the show, we see Chloe running from a man with scars on his face.  At this point, we don’t know what’s going on but you know the man chasing Chloe isn’t looking to take her to Starbucks for a latte to get to know her better.  Chloe runs into a tower and runs to the top.  At this point have to stop the recap and ask the same question that is on everyone’s mind.   If you are running away from someone, why do you run to the top of a tower where there is no where else for you to go???????!!!!!!!!!   How many times have you seen this in a movie or TV show?  It drives me up a wall!!!!   Anyhoo, Chloe stares out of the tower to see two people in black running around as well. It’s safe to assume they are working with the man with the scars to find Chloe….or is it?    When Chloe turns around, there is scarface (no it’s not Al Pacino, he’s actually played by Kiko Ellsworth) and he pushes her out the window and she’s dead at the bottom of the stairs.   And that concludes the series.    Thanks for watching!!!!   Oh come on, you know that can’t be it!!!   Now comes the ubiquitous, “Two Days Earlier” on the screen.

It’s Chloe’s 16th birthday and she is wishing for something better….different…to happen in her life.  She has always been the good girl and for once she would like to take a ride on the wild side!    So she decides she wants to go to a club with her friends, meet a cute boy, maybe get kissed for the first time, and dance her little heart out.  She meets Xavier and the hit it off instantly.  The night ends with numbers being exchanged and as Chloe turns to leave, she rushes back and kisses him.  Ah, I remember those days!!

The next day, she is telling Amy about Xavier (Amy and Paul left early because they hooked up unbeknownst to Chloe) when a group of popular kids, led by Alek (played by Benjamin Stone), come over and start messing with Chloe and Amy.  Chloe grabs his basketball and hurls it all the way down the hallway and into a trash can.   We are starting to see little things like this that make Chloe stand out a bit.  Alek notices this too and starts to talk to Chloe, alone.  As he leans in to kiss her, Jasmine (played by Alyssa Diaz) shows up and yells at him not to kiss Chloe.   We assume this is his not so happy girlfriend but appearances are not always what they seem.

Little by little, Chloe is starting to notice more things about her that are different.   She’s running a little faster, she’s jumping really high, she is able to balance on the tiniest of areas, her hearing is very acute.  She’s not sure what all of this means but she is loving it because she feels she is starting to develop these “super powers.”  She also must have garnered some super man attracting powers because she meets ANOTHER guy who she connects with named Brian (played by Grey Damon).    Man this girl went from no dates to player in about 30 minutes!!  She really connects with Brian and decides to go on a date with him (especially since she hasn’t heard back from Xavier.)  Unfortunately in the middle of their date, a dog starts barking at her wildly and she takes off.   Later, Chloe is attacked by a homeless man and scratches his face pretty badly.  When she looks down at her hands, she sees claws coming out of the tips of her fingers.   Well that would certainly freak me out.   These changes aren’t so cool anymore are they?

At one point, when Chloe is running away, she runs into Alek and his girlfriend who wants to talk to her about her “transformation.”  She is wondering what the hell he is talking about (so am I quite frankly.)  He tells her that first Jasmine is not his girlfriend but a fellow Mai assigned to protect Chloe.  A fellow what?   Mai.   We learn that the Mai are an ancient race that are facing extinction at the hands of The Order.   Both Alek and Jasmine are also descendants of the Mai.  They are assigned to protect Chloe.  They start to tell Chloe about the Mai and what all this means and you can see this is starting to be a little too much information for Chloe to absorb.   It gets worse when they tell her she can’t kiss humans because a kiss from a Mai to a human can be fatal.  She remembers her birthday night and how she kissed Xavier and hasn’t heard from him.   They rush to his apartment to see the cops taking him away in a body bag.   Chloe is full of tears and completely devastated.  I would be too.  She tells Alek and Jasmine to stay away from her and to leave her alone and that she wants no part of this.   Oh Chloe, I don’t think you have a choice.

Flash back to the tower and Chloe gets pushed off.  She’s dead at the bottom but when scarface gets to the bottom, he sees she is gone.   We also learn that the two hooded figures Chloe saw at the bottom were not part of scarface’s team but were Alek and Jasmine, following Chloe to protect her.  When Chloe walks away from the fall, scarface, Alek, and Jasmine all realize something huge…..Chloe is the Uniter, savior of the Mai race because she has nine lives.  Chloe was brought about to save the Mai race so Alek and Jasmine do everything they can to keep her safe.   But scarface is on a mission.  He meets up with a man in a limo who tells scarface that he doesn’t care how many times she has to die…kill her until she is really dead!   Alrighty then mystery evil man.

Chloe doesn’t know what to do, that is until her friend Paul gets kidnapped by scarface.   Amy is with her so they go to rescue Paul.   Chloe tells her friend to wait in the car and when Amy asks if she will be ok, Chloe flashes her her claws and says she’ll be just fine.  For the record, Chloe had been telling Amy about her new-found “super powers” so the claw thing probably wasn’t as shocking to Amy as it could have been.  Chloe finds Paul and then scarface shows up then……FIGHT SCENE!!!!   Meanwhile Alek and Jasmine land on Amy’s car scaring the crap out of her and ask where Chloe is.   Amy tells them and follows them in.  A&J help Chloe with her fight while Amy starts talking to Chloe.   “Not now Amy” Chloe tells her while still kicking scarface’s ass.   Alek releases Paul and both he and Amy try to help Chloe, Alek, and Jasmine.  Eventually scarface flees the scene but not before trying to throw a ninja star at Chloe, to which Jasmine steps in front of her and takes the shot.  Alek carries her off to his house to heal and Chloe, Amy, and Paul head out.

At the end of the episode, Jasmine is recouping while Alek stands guard outside Chloe’s home, Brian goes to tell his father about the awesome new girl he’s met and we realize Brian’s father is the head of The Order who is trying to wipe out the Mai race and especially Chloe, Meredith is going through Chloe’s adoption papers, and Chloe receives a mysterious email from someone.   The email simply says “Trust no one, Dad.”    DAD?????   I thought he left 10 years ago?   You know what though, I knew since they were mentioning him so much, he had to be in the picture some how.   So is “Dad” also a Mai and knew about Chloe all along when he adopted her from the Ukraine?   Is Dad not a Mai but still knows who/what Chloe is?   Did Chloe have any contact with her father before this email?    Can’t wait to see where that is going!

So what did you think of the premiere?   I liked it.   The cast is good and so far the premise is interesting.  It’s a little predictable and unoriginal but I still like it.   I instantly liked the character of Chloe and the actress playing her.  Seriously though, who doesn’t like an ass-kicking teenager?   Buffy anyone?   The only thing I don’t like is the best friend, Amy.   Quirky is one thing.  She’s down right annoying.  Her voice, her mannerisms, everything quite frankly.  I hope they can tone her down because every time she was on-screen I wanted to scratch my eyes and ears out with Chloe claws.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in ABC, New Shows

 

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Chaos Premieres Friday April 1st on CBS at 8pm

There are a lot of shows premiering this week.  And by the way, Sunday night is going to be a brutal night because 3 shows are premiering at the same time (The Borgias, The Killing, and The Kennedys….all cable shows.)

This was one of those shows that I heard about last summer but completely forgot about until I saw a commercial for it the other day.  Chaos is about a group of rogue CIA agents that go on all these wacky missions.  It looks hilarious and interesting at the same time.  It stars Eric Close, Freddy Rodriguez, Tim Blake Nelson, and James Murray.  It premieres this Friday April 1st on CBS at 8pm.  Other than Supernatural there really isn’t anything else I watch on Fridays so I am going to check this out.

Preview clip is below so check it out and tune in Friday to see if Chaos is going to be added to your viewing lineup!

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in CBS, New Shows

 

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Body of Proof Premieres This Tuesday March 29th on ABC at 10pm

I have been anxiously awaiting this premiere because I think it looks awesome and I love the cast!!  Body of Proof stars Dana Delany as Dr. Megan Hunt, a former top-level neurosurgeon turned medical examiner who is estranged from her husband and daughter.  It premieres tomorrow night on ABC at 10pm.

I hope by premiering this late in the year, it hasn’t set this show up for failure.  I already have lots of 10pm Tuesday night shows I already watch, like The Good Wife and Parenthood.  And by this time of year, many people are already set with their viewing habits and aren’t looking to add new shows to the mix at this point.  So that already has me concerned for Body of Proof.  It also doesn’t seem like ABC has promoted this show very well.  I’ve seen a commercial here or there but nothing to the level that you would think.  Especially considering ABC has really bombed on the drama front this year with shows like No Ordinary Family, Detroit 1-8-7, The Whole Truth, My Generation, and Off the Map, you would think ABC would like to see at least ONE new drama make it to next fall.  Those other 5 shows are either already canceled or about to be.  Not good for ABC.  So Body of Proof is their last chance to have a new show for this TV season to succeed.

Check out the clip below and if it peaks your interest, tune in tomorrow night!

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in ABC, New Shows

 

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REVIEW: Fairly Legal “Pilot” S1 E1

I thoroughly enjoyed this show.   This is my first USA show (ducking while people are throwing things at me) and it did not disappoint.  I am a sucker for a good legal show and I like the twist on it with the lead being a mediator and former lawyer who works for her father’s firm which is now being run by Margaret Hamilton, I mean the woman who is the wife of her recently deceased father.

The show is pretty straight forward.  It centers around Kate Reed (played by Sarah Shahi) who is a former lawyer turned mediator and whose father has recently passed away.   She is working at his firm and her stepmother, Lauren (played by Virginia Williams) is now running the firm.   They don’t seem to like each other on the surface but it’s the pilot so I’m sure more will come out about their relationship and will slowly evolve over time.  Kate looks to be sleeping with Justin (played by Michael Trucco) who is an ADA (Assistant District Attorney) and also Kate’s ex-husband.  Since the show opens with them in bed and ends with some very nice words exchanged, they seem to be on good terms with each other.  Her brother Spencer (played by Ethan Embry) is also an attorney but seems to be a stay-at-home dad and doesn’t appear to work at their father’s firm.  Leo (played by Baron Vaughn) is Kate’s assistant and friend.  Finally there is the mysterious Andrew (played by Tim Fellingham) who is Kate’s neighbor (she lives on her dad’s boat in the marina) and potential suitor, maybe?   We’ll see.

Most of the episode is Kate running around like a chicken with her head cut off going from case to case.  One case is court appointed, one case is Lauren appointed, and one case she is just sticking her nose in.  But even as crazy as she comes off in the episode, I never feel like she is out of control.  She appears sporadic and bemused but she is smart, passionate, savvy and completely aware of her clients’ situations and how to handle them.   I would think as a mediator, it’s easy to come across as a know-it-all or condescending.  Kate is neither.  She exudes calmness and thoughtfulness and she truly wants to get to the heart of what is concerning her clients and what is causing them to be at odds.  She also has a great sense of humor.  In one of the opening scenes, she goes to get a cookie and some coffee and the store is being robbed at gun point.  She starts to talk to the gunman and store owner to see if they can come to a compromise.  Normally this would come across as preposterous but Sarah Shahi pulls it off very convincingly.  Turns out the gunman wants money for beer and beef jerky and wouldn’t you know it, the store he is robbing has both.  So Kate asks what his cost is on a case of beer and beef jerky and the owner says $17.50.  “$17.50?  Really?  Who’s robbing who here?” Kate asks.  But the owner agrees to give the guy $50 worth of beer and jerky and it will only cost the owner $17.50.  My real job is in alcohol beverage industry and I have to say, if that truly is his mark up, he is robbing people.  Wow!!!!   Kate instantly comes off as someone you can root for, which I prefer in a lead protagonist role for my enjoyment.

As for the rest of the cast, they were very likable as well.  I am most curious about Lauren at this point.  It’s easy to assume she would be the bitchy trophy wife but she appears to have a genuine interest in keeping afloat her late husband’s firm (it is losing clients left and right and she is working hard to retain them.)  You also see a solid side to her when she has a drinks with a client she is trying to retain.  When he does agree to give her his business and she promises to go the extra mile to keep him happy, he immediately slides his room key over to her side of the table.  “What is that” she asks and the dirt bag says “the extra mile.”  Oh Lord please tell me people don’t say things that cheesy or nasty!  She politely declines but thanks him once again for his business.  As she leaves, he shouts “what am I too young for you Lauren?  Should I call my father for you?”  What an asshole.  The look on her face made me want to jump through the TV set and give her a hug and him a swift kick in the groin.  I am also very interested to see how her relationship with Kate will possibly change over time as these two will need to work together to save the firm of the man they both love and respect.

Fairly Legal is on Thursdays at 10pm on USA.  I highly suggest you check this show out because it’s a keeper!

 
 

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RECAP & REVIEW: Off the Map “Saved by the Great White Hope” S1 E1

Well, I didn’t hate it.  I knew I was going to like Jason George, Rachelle Lefevre, and Mamie Gummer because I like them in everything they do.  Even some of the new faces, Martin Henderson and Caroline Dhavernas, showed some promise and I was curious about their back stories.  The setting was gorgeous, the acting was solid, and the pacing was good.   BUT….there was nothing unique or different about this.   And if I didn’t know this was a Shonda Rhimes show, I would have been able to guess it right away…medical show, good-looking cast, good acting, sexual tension, crazy cases, young doctors trying to figure out where they fit in and how good they really are.   What show does that sound like?   Basically put the original cast of Grey’s in the jungle instead of Seattle Grace and you have Off the Map.   But again, I didn’t hate it.  Right away the story with Squiggy and how he came to South America to say good-bye to his wife (she died before they had a chance to return back to the island) and Lily doing what she could to make sure he could spread her ashes in the “firefly” pond was really touching.  But I feel like we have been there done that.  Maybe because it’s her 3rd medical show, the tone of the show is very similar to Grey’s, and the romantic dynamic is nothing new.  I don’t know.

Basically a new crop of young doctors are coming to the South America’s jungle to assist in a “Doctors without Borders” type of program.  We are first introduced to the “locals” which would be Ben (Martin Henderson), Otis (Jason George), and Zita (Valerie Cruz) and then come the “newbies”, Lily, who specializes in emergency med (Caroline Dhaernas), Mina, infectious disease (Mamie Gummer), and Tommy, plastic surgery (Zach Gilford.)   The locals aren’t too thrilled about more young doctors coming in to pad their resumes (especially Zita) but Ben is hoping for at least one good one that can stay and be a real help.  When the newbies meet, some of the locals are attempting to remove a sting ray from a patient’s foot.  When holding him down isn’t working, Ben punches him to calm him down and the sting ray is removed.  The newbies realize they aren’t in Kansas anymore.

Ben explains that they were pick out of a hundred applicants and that they will learn more in a week with him than in a year of residency in the States.  They don’t have high-tech equipment or fancy labs.   They have their brains and a tropical rainforest with hundred of natural remedies out there.   The newbies seem excited but a little out of their element and overwhelmed.  Except for Tommy who’s more concerned about his tan than the medicine.  Oh what a shocker.  Here’s a character we are supposed to not like because he’s an ass (Alex Karev) but will eventually like and understand his assholeness because he has a sad back story.  Moving on, Tommy is sent on a solo mission to a family Otis has been treating and enlist a young boy, Charlie, who will help him with his Spanish and show him how to get there.  Meanwhile Mina and Lily are asked who wants to help Ben in the field, while the other stays behind to help out.  Both volunteer but Lily is picked due to the fact that she has her own triage kit ready to go (and because she is eventually going to be Ben’s love interest….can anyone say Meredith and McDreamy?)    Tommy visits a family that has TB and the mother has already passed away and the father is refusing treatment for himself and the rest of his family.  Otis gave the mother antibiotics but her husband thought they were making her worse so he stopped giving them to her and he doesn’t want his family to have them.  Tommy is really frustrated and says if that’s the case there isn’t anymore he can do.   Meanwhile Lily has to save Squiggy whose arm is caught in a zip line (ouch!)   Nothing like your first field appointment being 200m up in the air with a patient that starts to freak out!  She calms him down and tells him he is not going to die (in an overly dramatic Shonda Rhimes way.)   She gets him free and they send him back to the clinic.  When Ben congratulates her on her first case back, she asks what he means and we learn that Lily took some time off due to a tragedy…she apparently lost someone she loved.  Back at the clinic, an elderly woman comes in for some treatment and Mina tells her she just has a cold (earlier she over diagnosed a man with tennis elbow so she is trying to tone it down.)  She sends her home but later that night she still sees the woman sitting there.  Frustrated because they can’t communicate she tells her to just stay.   Just then Tommy comes back and tells Otis that his patient is dead because the husband pulled her off his treatment.  He got him to sign a liability waiver and Otis laughs at Tommy.  He tells him he’s a joke and is only in medicine for the easy route.   “You’re not stupid, you’re lazy” he tells him.  He then instructs him to go back tomorrow and treat them or don’t come back to the program.  Lily goes to check on Squiggy and she learns that he was there to spread his wife’s ashes in the lake she loved most in the world, where the algae light up at night and illuminate the entire lake.

The next day, Lily wakes up to Squggy’s alarms going off and notices lots of bruising around his stomach and chest area.  There are massive internal bleeds so she and Ben go into the jungle to get coconut juice which has the same enzymes as blood.  I wonder how much of this stuff is true or for TV.  Because that could be the one really neat part of this show.  They get back and are able to stabilize him with the coconuts.  Nice!  In the waiting room, guess who is back to see Mina and she can’t believe it.  When she is about to send her home again, she collapses and isn’t breathing.  She is able to get her some drugs to get her breathing again but you can tell how upset she is.  She goes to the “pharmacy” to look for steroids when Lily comes in to tell her about her coconut transfusion.   Lily can see she is upset and she said she was looking for complex diseases and almost lost a woman to asthma.  Lily tells her “you know when they say you hear hoofbeats to think horses not zebras.”   Thanks, like she really needed that bit of wisdom.  Mina then tells her why she is really there.  Her hospital was so competitive that she started picking up extra shifts at the county hospital and was working 20 hr shifts.  When she was up for 72 straight, a kid came in with a fever and she sent him home with the flu.  Turns out it was bacterial meningitis and he died.  She was then kicked out of her residency.  “So you see, sometimes it is zebras” she tells Lily and she leaves.  And now Lily feels like a douchebag.  Mina brings the old woman some of her own inhalers since there are none to be found.  She shows her how to use it and the woman instantly feels better.  The look on her face and she hugs Mina’s hands is wonderful.  While this is going on, Tommy has gone back to see the family and he still isn’t having any luck.  He finally tells the dad his story.  He said his parents told him to go to college and study hard and he just partied his way through.  They told him to go to med school to help people and he learned how to put boobs into strippers.   They have no relationship anymore and he hasn’t seen his family in a year because he is too proud to go back.  He asks the father not to make the same mistake with his family.    Somehow, the father understands and agrees to let Tommy help them.

When Ben is being medivaced out, Lily stops them because he needs to go and say good-bye to his wife and spread her ashes.  Otis and Ben say no but she eventually convinces them and they go to the “Firefly Lake.”   It’s a suspension of disbelief moment because his life is still in danger and these chopper don’t come by often and I’m sure aren’t cheap.  So I don’t buy that they would tell the chopper to wait while they go to this lake.   But it was a nice moment so I can forgive it.   Ben and Lily take him on the lake and it is beautiful and he is able to say good-bye and lay her to rest there.  Yeah Squiggy!!!!  And of course the google eyes between Lily and Ben start.  We also learn that the person Lily lost, was her fiance, which is explains why it was so important for her to get Squiggy to say good-bye.  Ben and her share a nice moment about the stars and the google eyes start again.  Back at the clinic, Tommy and Mina are talking about seemingly being the last 2 people on earth, would she sleep with him and she said no.  Just then the woman and her granddaughter show up to thank her and tell her that in 80 years on this earth, today she took her first real breath because of Mina.  This is where Shonda Rhimes is great…hiting your heart-strings.   As a thank you they give her….a chicken!!!  You can tell Mina is taken a back but she politely thanks them and takes the chicken.  I love when people who can’t speak a language think if they speak their language more slowly and use hand gestures, the other person will understand.  Back in Ben’s office, the red-head from the beginning of show who was getting in a cab to leave, is back.   There is obviously a back story here when she asks him if he is coming to bed.  He says no.  She then tells him “I know you miss her, but she isn’t coming back.”  I wonder who SHE is.   Wife? Daughter? Partner? Friend? Mother? Sex Buddy?   I guess more on that later.

In the end, the newbies find their beach and claim, if there was ever somewhere to start over, it’s right here.  They all jump over the cliffs and into the water and their adventure as doctors and friends has begun.

Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.  It reminds me of when Grey’s started.   I will watch this a couple more times but I can only watch the same type of show, so many times per week.  So we will see where it goes.  If you don’t already watch Grey’s or PP or both, you will probably like Off the Map.  But check it out and let me know what you think!

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in ABC, New Shows, Recaps and Reviews

 

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