Sunday’s explosion of new shows pretty much fizzled. I worked Sunday night, so I spent much of my day off Monday catching up with what I recorded. What resulted was a day full of boring TV.
Showtime was still offering a free On Demand preview, so I was able to catch the series premiere of “Episodes” and the Season 4 premiere of “Californication.” Gotta say, I laughed more during that 30-second Allstate commercial with Dean Winters riding around causing mayhem on his little lawn mower than I did during those two shows combined.
I thought “Episodes” was completely unfunny and suffered from really lazy writing. It lacked any sort of wit or charm, and with the abundant crop of other series that show the behind-the-scenes craziness in Hollywood — “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Entourage,” “30 Rock” — it really needed a clever angle to say something new. It didn’t. I would have liked to have seen how Matt LeBlanc is, because I’ve heard he’s the show’s bright spot, but he wasn’t even in the first episode. I won’t be watching this again.
I missed Season 3 of “Californication” (well, I wouldn’t say I missed it . . .), but since the only thing that ever happens on the show is that Hank sleeps around and further ruins his life and the lives of others around him, I was able to catch up pretty quickly. And I still hated it. Here’s the thing: In Season 1, when Hank’s philandering was only hurting himself, it was kinda funny. But starting in Season 2, when his actions started hurting his wife/ex-wife and daughter, it stopped being funny and just got skeezy and sad. If anything, Season 4 is even skeezier and sadder, as his little dalliance into statutory rape is coming back to haunt him. His lawyer, played by Carla Gugino, summed it up best when she said Hank just seems like a piece of — ah, since this isn’t Showtime — poop. And I don’t want to watch a show about a piece of, um, poop. I’m done.
I also checked out “Dowton Abbey” on PBS. I knew the drama set on an English estate in 1912 wasn’t in my wheelhouse, but I had heard raving reviews so I thought I’d expand my viewing a bit. I lasted about 40 minutes. It’s very well done, and if you like “Upstairs, Downstairs”/”Gosford Park”-type costume dramas, you’ll love it — the cast it great and the manor is beautiful. But I just wasn’t interested.
And then there was the new superhero action series “The Cape” on NBC. I really wanted to like it. But it didn’t do much for me. For one thing, you have to completely buy into its comic book-ish concept. You have to believe that putting on a mask and cape and learning special skills really is the best option to fighting citywide corruption. You have to believe that there’s nothing odd about a band of ragtag circus performers who also happen to be bank robbers. And you have to believe that Summer Glau has a Batcave set up in her garage, alongside her fleet of supercars. And even if you believe all that, the plot jumps around way too much — I thought the first episode delivered about four episodes’ worth of plot development in about a 20-minute span. It felt rushed, jumping from scene to scene with no transitions. The show feels too geeky for a mass audience, but not geeky enough to draw the comic-book crowd. I might check in again for an episode here and there, but honestly, I don’t think it’ll last long.
Monday night’s lineup improved a bit — much of the BCS Championship Game was a defensive struggle, but it was an exciting finish. Too bad the game had to hinge on a couple of instant replays, but Auburn earned the victory. I watched “The Bachelor” with my girlfriend, and that’s a show that should never be watched alone or sober (thanks, beers I drank while watching football!). “The Bachelor” seemed to offer a good opportunity to dig into a book, so I read about the rise of Serbian nationalism and the crumbling of the Austro-Hungarian empire (no seriously, I’m reading a book about World War I). But I was still able to make a few impressions: There’s no way Michelle is 30 (35 maybe?); the cougar girl who got booted flubbed her age (she said 31, then said 32 a minute later; I think she’s more like 40); Brad’s a dingdong; and Franz Ferdinand had an awesome moustache. And then I wrapped up the night with the season finale of “Men of a Certain Age,” which made a colonoscopy getaway more fun than it should have been. Andre Braugher’s always great, but it’s really refreshing to see Ray Romano play such a solid dramatic role. That’s a very good, under-watched show.
So that was my day o’ TV. And don’t worry, I did take time to go for a walk and get some fresh air. Today though, looks cold and rainy and the couch is calling. On the agenda: Another installment of “Wallander,” I have “Winter’s Bone” from Netflix, and there’s some entertaining TV tonight with the folks from Santa Rosa’s Sift on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and then the series premiere of “Lights Out” on FX, which I’m really looking forward to.
Did anyone else have any thoughts on those shows? Did “Episodes” make you laugh at any point? What did you think of “The Cape”? And will anyone else admit to watching “The Bachelor”?
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