Tuesday Night Television Review: January 6th, 2009

Hello! I’m Kyle. I watch television. Do you watch television? Because if you do, then we have something in common and you may or may not have some interest in the things I’ll be posting. My job here is to discuss how I feel about the television shows that I watch and occasionally share any news that I find interesting regarding the great glowing box of happiness.

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To start things off, I feel I might as well get into “reviews”. Being new to this whole “internet” thing, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to be organizing these, but for now I’ll just be doing a nightly roundup post. I will try to be consistent in the sense that if I start reviewing a show, I will try to review all remaining episodes of the season. As a rule of thumb, I will do my best to avoid spoilers, but in order to discuss plot points of the show, this is not going to be completely possible. So without further ado… TUESDAY NIGHT JANUARY 6th, 2009!

There were three shows that I caught this Tuesday night: The 2-episode premiere of “Scrubs”, “The Mentalist”, and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”.

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Scrubs: Season 8 Episode 1: “My Jerks”

Scrubs finally makes its return to television and this time, it’s on a new network! The first point I feel I have to make about the new season of Scrubs, is that they’re FINALLY filming the show in high definition! Whether this was just an eventual evolution of the show or ABC interfered and required them to do it, I couldn’t be happier to finally see my favorite hospital in crystal clear quality. Now, onto the episode itself…

This premiere tried to cover a bit of ground. We were introduced to Dr. Kelso’s replacement, introduced to a brand new crew of interns, we caught up with the main characters, and we even squeezed in the same old “thread/moral-of-the-week”. That might not seem like too much, but it feels quite rushed when squeezed into 22 minutes of television. Being that it was a 2-episode premiere, it would have been kind of nice to spread this material out a little more.

Seeing J.D. return with facial hair was unexpected and entertaining; but the plot he was given to work with was a little too cliché for my liking. To summarize, J.D. was teaching a new batch of interns and they were unprofessional and goofy (sound familiar?). This plot followed the expected path of J.D. getting frustrated, wanting to give up, but then changing his mind after being given some sort of inspirational speech; which by the way, more or less amounted to “You used to suck to.”

Speaking of the new interns, they do stand out as mildly more interesting than the other random interns Scrubs has filtered through the show; which is not surprising due to the possibility of the show continuing without it’s main cast and starring these new characters. I’ll reserve my judgements on any of these people for now, but I am extremely excited about the potential one of the interns who is extremely lacking in any form of bedside manner.

As for the new chief of medicine, Courtney Cox shows up to look a little more attractive than Ken Jenkins. Due to the amount going on in this episode, very little was actually given to us about her character to really make any kind of judgement. To keep their original and not cliché streak going, this story followed the path of “she seems nice, uh-oh, she’s not”.

I’ve been tearing into the story of this episode quite a bit, but credit does need to be given when it comes to delivery. With Scrubs, you can always rely on the show delivering quick, witty banter and amusing imaginary sequences. Despite my disapproval with the story formula and pacing of this episode, it was impossible to deny the enjoyment I experienced just seeing these characters again.

All in all, I’m not entirely convinced this final season (starring J.D. at least) will be a true return to form sendoff for the show, but the show definately hasn’t lost it’s spark yet. I look forward to at least being mildly amused for the remainder of Scrubs.

Rating: 6.5 (out of 10)

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Scrubs: Season 8 Episode 2: “My Last Words”

The second episode of the season was MUCH more focused than the premiere we were treated to. In this episode we find alot less characters and multiple storylines crammed into the episode, which as a result gives us a much more credible episode. Series creator Bill Lawrence shows up to direct this episode too.

The only characters who really get much screen time in “My Last Words” is J.D. and his completely heterosexual partner Turk. They start the episode excitedly preparing for their yearly night out, which they seem to appropriately call “Steak Night”. The jokes around this setup are pretty typical (when describing the night, it is at one point referred to as romantic) and J.D. and Turk even wrote a song and dance about their beloved night, which IS incredibly goofy. However, the  night is postponed when the boys meet a patient who is dying and they discover he has no family to be with him.

For starters, what I don’t like about this episode can be coupled with one of my complaints with the previous episode in that it just feels reused. I really feel like I’ve seen this episode of Scrubs before. Seeing J.D. and Turk sing a gay song and do a gay dance isn’t new and falls kind of flat. However, delivery is what counts here. “My Last Words” is filled with heart and emotion. Sometimes Scrubs forgets that it can be a serious show, but when ridiculous characters like J.D. and Turk actually calm down for a moment and talk seriously about life and death, it completely brings them back down to earth as relatable characters and not goofy clowns doing absurd things for the sake of being absurd. I still couldn’t help but smile at the “Steak Night” dance, regardless of my complaints with it. My brand new favorite intern (I WILL learn her name!) makes another glorious appearance with more completely rediculous attempts of talking to patients. Her scenes alone are reasons to watch this episode.

All in all, I feel this episode is VASTLY superior to the one that aired before it. The only points this episode is losing is due to the fact the show just feels like it’s out of ideas.

Rating: 8.0 (out 10)

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The Mentalist: Season 1 Episode 12: “Red John’s Friends”

I’m a sucker for cop dramas; expect to see more of these to pop up in my reviews. One of the main reasons for me choosing to write about this show, is because the creater of Mediametric completely loathes and despises the show on principle… that’s right, he hasn’t seen it nor does he even know what it’s about, he just hates it.

For starters, I feel I must address this principle as briefly as I can. Is this a ripoff of USA’s “Psych”? To that end, I must vehemetly declare “NOT REALLY!”. Saying The Mentalist is a serious Psych, would be like saying Scrubs is a funny E.R. or saying Heroes is a shittier 4400. It doesn’t do either shows justice to compare them, they both have completely different styles/purpose/characters/background. The main characters of the two shows share the same quality in that they both at one point in their lives pretend to be psychic, that’s where the similarities end. I have a laundry list of shows that The Mentalist plagerizes when it comes to formula, characters, setup, etc; but Psych isn’t anywhere near the top. So for the future, if we’re gonna shit on The Mentalist, let’s do it without comparing it to a buddy cop comedy detective show on USA (with extremely tiny traces of drama).

OK… that’s out of the way. Surprisingly enough, The Mentalist chooses not to phone it in this week and delivers an episode that’s almost not a completely standard Murder-Of-The-Week. This week our protagonist Patrick Jane is lured into trying to prove the innocence of a man convicted of a homicide over a year ago with the hopes of the convictee giving him much needed information about the elusive serial killer Red John.

Red John is pretty much the only kind of “over-arching” thread The Mentalist is working with (every episode has red in the title, EXCITING), but this actually marks the first episode since the pilot in which focus is put back on Red John. I really dig over-arching plot threads that slowly build as a season progress and I think shows that are in dire need of them are the cop dramas; so needless to say the beginning of the episode actually had me excited.

Unfortunately, this episode wound up playing out more or less by the numbers in a standard murder-of-the-week format and *SPOILER ALERT* SHOCKINGLY no new information was ever really learned about Red John. However the episode did try to have some cute character moments involving banding together and determining whether or not to follow the rules or help their friends. I say try because I still don’t give a flying fuck about any of the characters in this show with the exception of the two main ones. Every other character still comes off as the stereotypical *other* people in cop dramas. I really like the fact they are trying to get me interested in their characters, but until they actually get them to do something interesting in a case besides saying something smart and/or sassy, this will not work.

The viewer was given a few EXTREMELY vague tidbits of information about Red John. It seems that he’s a man of technology and has his connections. Oh, and as for the message at the end of the episode which was meant to be really cool and cryptic… LAME. I mean come on, this isn’t Lost. Perhaps if The Mentalist were a show involving the supernatural, the message would be more intriguing, but as far as information about serial killers go, that doesn’t seem very useful. Unless they prove themselves and tie this information into something interesting, it looks like this Red John story is going to be milked for all it’s worth for the next few years until the show is cancelled and we still don’t even know a damn thing about him.

Rating: 6.0 (out of 10)

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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 10 Episode 11: “Stranger”

Speaking of cop dramas, I watch an absurdly unnatural amount of Law & Order and its running spinoffs. Special Victims Unit (us cool kids say “SVU”) made it’s return from the holidays. For not even being a full week from the New Year, NBC sure seems anxious to get back to the show about rape, child crimes, and abductions. Now what better way to say “Happy Holidays!” than to return with an episode that rolls all three into one episode!!! Hooray! That’s right folks, a child was abducted and raped. Don’t worry, she wasn’t murdered; this was a friendly and happy episode.

What I love about Law & Order shows, is that every episode hinges on the case and performance of the guest stars who portray the victims and predators. So each episode lives and dies by how interested you are in the case, the new cop dramas of today would most definately die if that’s all they relied on. To summarize the plot of a Law & Order episode would be to defeat the purpose of watching it, so I won’t say much as to the nature of the case (besides what I already did). What I will say is that this was definately an intriguing case which took a couple of unexpected turns. The acting in the episode was excellent, with random no-name people portraying living victims with true sincerity and credibility.

Another thing I would like to praise this episode for is it managed to include its entire cast at some point throughout the episode. From now on, I will dock every episode of SVU one point if Detective Munch doesn’t at least make an appearance; which in this episode he did along with other scarce faces like Dr. Huang. Benson and Stabler once again delivered a fantastic team-up interrogation technique which I’ve seen a million times and can never get sick of. (It’s the one involving Stabler being an arrogant, dominating sexist pig to Benson in order to get in good graces with the rapist).

As far as SVU episodes go, this one isn’t the most memorable, but it is extremely well done. I love this show, I need to seek professional help.

Rating: 7.5 (out of 10)

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*Phew* Wow, did you read this far? Congratulations if you just skipped to the end. Please feel free to comment on any opinions you might have on the episodes just reviewed. Do I not watch your favorite Tuesday night show? Throw it in your comments and let me know what you thought of it. Thanks for checking this out. I shall return… you can always watch TV while you wait for me.

Until next time…

— Kyle

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~ by axknel on January 8, 2009.

One Response to “Tuesday Night Television Review: January 6th, 2009”

  1. Courtney Cox will probably give Scrubs a big PR boost, and she’s pretty funny as well

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