POV USA - 11/10/2006
As promised welcome to the first edition proper of POV USA (that's Point of View United States of America, by the way. God, don't you even know that? I do) bringing you the skinny (willfully misinformed opinions) on the latest offerings doled up by US television.
As it happens, BT are a useless pack of incompetent, careless, cunt-rags and so your reviewer is actually without the one tool you'd consider vital for such a column - the means in which to get hold of these shows. Never fear, though, thanks to James Hunt with his fat pipes and big heart POV USA will get through this period of me lacking ADSL, all be it in a slightly truncated form (i.e. Prison Break, Battlestar Galactica and quick reviews are sadly absent for the time being). An annoying side effect, is that I've managed to fall behind the 'pulse' somewhat, but never mind. Things will improve.
There's a very good reason I chose this week to begin my reviews, as it sees the season 3 premiere of my current favourite thing in the world ever Lost. In addition to this quite pant wetting event ABC and J.J. Abrams' new show Six Degrees has limped through two episodes, along with NBC's superhero drama Heroes. So, has my season got off to a good start? Yes, it has, actually.
Six Degrees: S01E01 - Pilot & S01E02 - What Are The Odds?
Meet Carlos. He's a defence attorney in New York and meets Mae when she is brought in for indecent (sadly off camera) exposure. Mae has some problems with various undesirable people tracking her and is apparently trying to lie low in New York. She ends up getting a job as a nanny for Laura, whose news reporter husband died in Iraq recently. Whilst in a salon, Laura meets, and becomes very close to, Whitney a successful businesswoman with a cheating finance. Whitney has recently discovered a post card photographed by down and out artist Steven and attempts to hire him for various adverts. Steven's career will soon be resurrected after taking a photo of Laura as she was crying in the street over the death of her husband. Meanwhile, Laura's aforementioned nanny Mae is the subject of a frantic search from Carlos who employs the help of limo driver Damien to get him into an exclusive club, where he believes Mae to work (as it happens, she left earlier that night). Now, Damien is in huge debts due to a gambling addition, but eventually finds his way out of his financial quagmire by 'putting some caps in a dude's ass' as a favour to his gangster brother. It is revealed that Carlos' brother is among the undesirables currently tracking down Mae. Lucky for Carlos he and Mae have a change meeting on the tube and he's now the proud owner of shiny new friendship with Damien. On top of all this, all our characters cross paths in a variety of other, less substantial, ways as the show goes on.
Did you catch all that? Well, if you did then I'm sure you've spotted the deliberate mistake, and that is that THIS IS NOT SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION. This is just a random set of circumstances involving a random mesh of six specific people. If the Six Degrees of Separation rule was followed then our characters would be connected, as part of a simple chain, from one character to another. Anyway, never mind. As it happens, mis-understanding it's own central concept is the least of this shows teething problems.
Alarm bells should've rung for me when it became obvious before the season began that it was basically going to be Lost without the island bits. And that assessment pretty much sums up just how *pointless* the whole thing feels. The central premise is flawed (I mean, I have no problem with a programme that shows the numerous connections between characters, but if you're going to name your show after a well known theory then at least obey it's fucking laws), and the characters are uninspired at best, and completely uninteresting, hollow, life-less, empty husks of uninterestingness at worst.
I'm not sure what part of this show was meant to have sucked me in, as the central premise is just the implausible connections of the characters and that's it. I couldn't give a flying stuff if the Coke snorting photographer gets his fucking wife and kid back or finally finds his photographic inspiration, because the writers have made no effort what-so-ever to make me interested
Mae's super hot, though.
4/10 - Poor start but if I was being generous, it has room to grow into something more interesting.
Episode 3 - 'A New Light' aired in the US on Monday 5th October and Episode 4 - 'The Puncher' will air on Thursday 12th and both will be covered in the next edition of POV USA.
Heroes: S01E01 - Genesis & S01E02 - Don't Look Back
As if to mock Six Degrees and it's hollow central concept, new fantasy series Heroes manages to pull off the 'central characters are all linked' with much more finesse and interesting side-plots. Of course, it's helped along by the fact that's it about the emerging super powers of a group of (mainly) unconnected individuals (they're the next step in human evolution apparently, which is disappointingly unoriginal considering the recent X-Men series of films, but never mind), and their emerging battle with the an obligatory, unseen evil, presumably wanting to control them. Or kill them. Or both.
As we see our characters slowly come to realise their powers, we learn that Mohinder Suresh is very close to completing his murdered father's research into this next level of evolution, which will allow him to locate these individuals. Obviously, we're led to believe Mohinder's father was killed by this opposing evil, and that group is given a face in the father of one of your supercharged humans. Namely, Mr. Bennet, the father of indestructible cheerleader Claire Bennet. He looks evil, he sounds evil and the worrying thing is that he just might know about his adopted daughter's special secret... *gulp*.
My current favourite character is Hiro, a Japanese office worker who has the ability to bend space and time. He has by far the coolest power and, so far, the coolest sub-plot. After accidentally transporting himself to New York (and, as it happens, 5 weeks into the future) he stumbles across a Comic Cook detailing the exact circumstances leading to his arrival in New York. The comic was written by the previously seen character Isaac Mendez (an artist who has the power of precognition, which manifests itself as paintings created whilst he's in the middle of massive heroin binge; he's predicted various disasters and, more recently, the flight of nurse Peter Petrelli and a big fucking a-bomb dropping on New York - one of which had come true by the end of episode 1...). When Hiro arrives, however, he finds Isaac with the top of his head sliced off. Predictably, the mutha fucking po-lice turn up and arrest his ass. And I'll come back to this scene in a moment.
Meanwhile, we meet a new character in episode 2. He's a cop, his name is Matt Parkman and he appears to have the power of telepathy. Whilst on the scene of the gruesome murder of a couple (the man was killed in exactly the same way as Peter Petrelli, only this time he's been frozen solid) his powers get him to serious bother as he uses them to find the murdered parent's little girl hidden in a cupboard. To compound things further, he reads the mind of a CIA agent and accidentally blurts out the name of the killer (Sylar) - something he's not supposed to know. Needless to say, his ass joins the arrested list.
Anyway, back to my other favourite scene of this episode, and Hiro looks pretty fucked. He thinks his transportation from Japan to New York was in an instant, but he finds out of the five week gap caused by his jump. After interrogated from New York's finest police officers the scene, and episode, ends with... New York being nuked to fuck by an atom bomb and Hiro transporting back to Japan. Well, then, how are they going to resolve *that* one? I have to say, I'm gripped. Hence the reason I've replaced any critical analysis with just a big synopsis of my favourite bits. Sorry about that.
7/10 - After only two episodes Heroes has set out it's stalls nicely, showing that it's not afraid to be bleak as fuck and it's all the more compelling for it.
Episode 3 - 'One Giant Leap' aired in the US on Monday 10th October and will be covered in the next edition of POV USA.
Lost: S03E01 - A Tale of Two Cities
At the end of season 2, we had a first in the world of Lost. The last scene we saw wasn't set on The Island, nor was it a character flashback. What we saw was off-island and not a flashback. Needless to say, this was an exciting development.
The opening scene of season 3 broke yet another Lost constant and showed us a 'flashback' to The Other's at the point when Flight 815 was crashing, which I believe is the first time we witness a flashback that didn't belong to that episode's 'character in focus'. I nearly wet myself with fanboy joy.
It seems to be the general Internet consensus that the episodes did trail off a bit after the opening, mind-blowing, scene and I do subscribe to that, but then it would've taken a lot to live up to that sort of moment. I suppose that's the whole point of having an explosive start - nothing will be able to live up to it because it's special.
Hurley, Sun, Jin and Sayid heading back to the camp was left totally alone, as was the issue of Desmond, Eko and Locke's uncertain fates and the action was entirely focused around The Other's and there three new captives; Jack, Kate and Sawyer. It was a good decision, as the opportunity to soak up The Other's surroundings (in this case, the newly discovered Hydra station). We didn't need any more characters fighting for screen time, as every minute was needed to sell The Others as recurring characters to the audience.
So, what do the Other's have in store for their captives? Why did they make Kate wear that quite fetching dress? Why are Kate and Sawyer locked in skinner boxes designed for bears? Why has Jack been separated and help in an empty Dolphin aquarium? And who is this Other named Juliet and does she have eyes for our shaven headed loon-pot of a doctor? Obviously, all that's to come, but we do know some important new things about The Others, such as the fact they have a big bloody file detailing every last scrap of information on Jack worth recording. Interesting.
The only thing I'd say against the episode is the over abundance of Jack. He's meant to be our 'hero' and he's meant to be the audience's favourite, but to me he's no more than a whining, selfish, control freak psychopath who needs to be put down in the most painful way possible. It's the curse of the character, really, as he's designed to ground the show and frustrate character like Locke, so we're bound to hate him. It just doesn't help that walzes around yelling at people and being a massive dick.
At first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking we didn't learn much from this opening episode, but I'd have to disagree. We got some nice, solid confirmations regarding their origin. We know they definitely connected to DHARMA (in some way at least, Juliet kept referring to 'them' - "they called it The Hydra" etc) and we know they must have contact with the outside world,a nd that appears to be their source of information on the Losties. Not as mystic as I might have hoped, but perfectly serviceable, non-the-less.
Anyway, the gound work has been laid. Ben (formerly known as Henry Gale, but I think I'll call him Benry from now on, as that amuses me) told Kate (now decked out in a lovely summary number with plunging low neck-line...) that the next two weeks aren't going to be pleasant... as it happens, two weeks Island time could well extend to this initial six week episode run we're getting before the massive Winter hiatus, so I think it's safe to say we'll see the capture plot well and truly tied up by episode 6, ready to launch off on a different tangent come February.
God, I love Lost.
8/10 - A gripping and fascinating season opener, but featuring far too much screen time of everyone's least favourite doctor for my liking.
Episode 2 - The Glass Ballerina will air in the US on Wednesday 11th October and will be covered in the next edition of POV USA.
And the winners are...
Welcome to the first weekly POV USA awards. Try guessing how long it will take for this to get boring whilst I have only 3 main shows being reviewed each week!
Show Of The Week: Lost - Not much of a surprise, really. Lost confidentially announced the start of a potentially difficult third season with a hugely impressive start and solid plotting throughout.
Character Of The Week: Juliet (Lost) - A new regular for the show, and one of the previously unseen characters, Juliet is sparky and interesting. Despite looking a lot like Desmond's Penny and Jack's ex-wife, she's nothing like as dull. Elizabeth Mitchell breaths life into a character that could so easily be boring, if played more conventionally.
The 'What A Load Of Old Arse' Of The Week: Six Degrees - I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STUPID PROBLEMS, YOU FUCKS.
The 'Actor Most Trapped In a Wet Paper Bag' Of The Week: Matthew Fox (as Jack in Lost) - "Shout! *cry* brood... Shout!, *cry*, brood... Shout!, *cry*, brood..." is undoubtedly Matthew Fox's early morning chant to the mirror before another challenging day on the set of Lost.
Honourable Mention: Heroes - It came out of no-where and, despite not completely blowing my socks off, it's certainly gone a long way towards loosening them in preparation for some more sustained sock blowing later on in the run. Now that it's been picked up for a full season, expect this to be one of the hits of the year.
Gosh, "next week" sounds so optimistic, doesn't it? Well, I'm already behind in the schedules due to my aforementioned problems, but in the next edition of POV USA I will aim to catch up with the current 'big three' as well as how the US version of The Office is fairing up in it's third season.