Friday, September 5, 2008


I went to the FOX premiere party for Paley Centre members last night in midtown. The line-up was:

The 2nd season premiere of 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles'

'Do Not Disturb'


FOX was smart to show them in this order. I think almost everybody there was interested in seeing 'Fringe'. (Although most of the "blue-hairs", as we call the Wednesday matinee-attending old ladies who infest our lobby each mid-week, were probably just there for the wine and cheese. I saw one old lady stuffing her pockets with snacks! Reminded me of that 'Sopranos' scene when Paulie went out to lunch with his Mom....)

'Terminator' picked up right where the first season finale left off. And it introduced a new terminator to the present day storyline. She's played by Shirley Manson of the band Garbage, which is all I know about her. (I'm always more interested in the characters, but I would hazard a guess that she's Irish..... Addendum: And I'm wrong! Thanks to a commenter, I found out my ear for dialects has been too long in disuse. [Sorry, Mrs. Schor.] Manson is Scottish.)

It can't all be non-stop action for the full hour, I suppose, which was why the episode was padded out with moments of soul-searching (The church setting helped.) and a bit of soap opera. There were suggestions last season that John was romantically interested in his cyborg protector, but it was full-bore out in the open now and not handled very subtly.

I like Summer Glau very much as Cameron the cyborg, but I'm not sure if she can pull of that aspect convincingly. A scene where she had to bare actual (or faked) emotions didn't really work for me.

At any rate, it promises more of the same from last season, and those who made it the most highly rated mid-season new show will be back for more, no doubt. (That ratings claim is from the FOX spokeswoman who was there.)
I was tempted to just write "Do not watch" and leave it at that, inspired by my favorite movie critique by the late Stewart Klein. ("Won Ton Ton is a dog. This is Stewart Klein.")

But because of my own connection to the subject matter, I should say more......

'Do Not Disturb' is basically an over the top, over-acted sex farce with caricatures, not characters. This would be fine, I guess, if you're the audience for that. But I think such characters should be anchored in reality. If the world in which they interact doesn't feel real, neither will they.

Okay, so I work in the industry myself, and while our hotel is not trendy and hip like this place, at least it's appeared as itself in about four different series at least. (Off the top of my head: 'The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show', 'Becker', 'Seinfeld', and 'The Incredible Hulk'.) And there was nothing about the jobs these people were doing that felt real. I know that actual TV news rooms are nothing like that shown in 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and 'Murphy Brown', magazine publishing was probably ill-served by 'Just Shoot Me', and the drivers spent more time in the garage than driving on 'Taxi'. But because many of their plot lines grew out of their work environments, I could suspend my disbelief.

In 'Do Not Disturb', these people all seem to be lumped into the basement of their building for no identifiable reason if you didn't already know they worked for a hotel. Two of them you couldn't even tell what their job was. I saw clips from the show, a different episode, via Rob's "The Medium Is Not Enough" site (link to the left) and courtesy of YouTube, and I still don't can't figure out what Jesse Tyler Ferguson's position is. (The official site says he's head of housekeeping, but he never once interacted with maids - shouldn't he be situated near the laundry room?)

Speaking of which, I think the bellman character has either been recast or his character and look modified, but even then, we only see one bellman?

There are just too many characters, with not enough for them all to do, and most of them are trying to hard to sell the funny. Even though my interests lie in the trivial when it comes to TV, I was spending way too much time reading Rhonda's diplomas on the wall. (She went to Howard University, by the way; but also got a degree from the online school Walden University. At first my Toobworld-lovin' heart skipped a beat thinking this could have been a manifestation of the "Doonesbury" comic in the live action TV world, but noooooo. (The Trudeau comic does exist in the Tooniverse, however.)

Anyway, I've wasted too many keystrokes on this show as it is. Don't check in.
By this point in the posting, I'm a bit pooped, so I'll make this quick. Besides, I think this is the most highly-anticipated new show of the coming season, so it doesn't need me to sell it. So I'm just going to post what I wrote at Joe Bua's "I Am A TV Junkie" website last night. (Again, links to the left.)

I said:

It really worked well on the "big screen" at the Paley Centre....

Loved the visual joke re: the "inscreen" location caption for Baghdad as the jet flew overhead.

John Noble is going to be one of the most fascinating characters on TV this coming season. And Jean has excellent comic timing!

Excellent twist at the end which I did not see coming. I was following along, thinking that the basic set-up was one we had seen so many times, only to have it veer so wildly off-course (in more ways than one!)

Mark Valley should still be on our TV screens as Eddie Arlette in 'Keen Eddie'. (He was wasted on 'Boston Legal'!) I had quite a nostalgic kick watching him in this pilot because it reminded me of the good old days when you brought in a special guest star to help sell the pilot to series, with no intention of having that character continue with the show.

I'll have to check the other networks, but I can't think of any rivalry for that 9 pm slot on Tuesday save for the remainder of the 'Eureka' season. (And I thought of 'Eureka' as Dr. Bishop moved back into his old lab.)

Good thing for DVR to get rid of head-to-head competition!

Being a FOX show, I hope it lasts long enough that they can finagle a cameo from Gillian Anderson or David Duchovny; Mitch Pileggi even, as their characters from 'The X-Files'!

Thank God I saw it on a Thursday - no butterscotch pudding to contend with!

You'll understand that pudding line later....

Now, I suppose you could argue that I got hyped up for it because I saw it on the big screen and might have been overwhelmed by the stuff being so magnified. But Joe watched the episode from the comfort of his bedroom thanks to a screener - lucky bastid! - and he's even more hyped for 'Fringe' than I am!

Let me add this about John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop - it's not just that he's an incredible actor, but he looks like a man who spent the last 17 years in a mental institution. He shows signs of serious Life damage, and I'm impressed that the network didn't try to get his role recast with either someone more famous or photogenic. John Noble is real!

And getting back to one of the lesser characters, Jean. I don't think she'd qualify for an Emmy, but it's a shame she wasn't included in the cast picture.

Anyhoo, that's my report.

Toby O'B


Billy said...

Re: Sarah Connor Chronicles, why would you guess Catherine Weaver is Irish, when she has a very distinctive Edinburgh accent. I can distinguish between various North American and Canadian Accents, and I had imagined the same would apply in reverse.

Anonymous said...

Would like to comment about "Fringe". Even though didn't see it yet! Looking forward to watching it. And Mark Valley too. Do trust J.J. Abrams (Lost)
Take care Toby,
Colette and Dave

Toby said...

Like I said in the post, I know nothing else about her. And I wouldn't know an Edinburgh accent on its own without outside help from previous knowledge of the actor/character or of the location for the character. My years of study in oral interp have been long in disuse.

But thanks for checking in!