it’s ok to change your mind

We’re all allowed to change our minds every now and then, right?

It’s valid, right? So here are three shows I’ve either panned, been lukewarm on or outright hated in the past that I’ve come around on, because it’s a pretty slow news day out in the entertainment world:

Twice I tried to watch Caprica OnDemand before its preview, and twice I fell asleep. I made it through 15 minutes each time, and wasn’t impressed even moderately. But I had an hour to kill a couple weeks ago, and decided to give it one more try. Now that I’m finally caught up on Caprica (Syfy, 9 p.m. Friday), and I’m just about ready to recommend it. To an extent. For the most part, it’s an engaging sci-fi drama with actors I grew up with in adult roles and easing into them seamlessly. As long as the story sticks with what Eric Stoltz as the somewhat mad scientist Daniel Graystone and Esai Morales as the grieving father and husband Joseph Adama, it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. The mob stuff is fun, the science stuff is very interesting. As long as you stick to that stuff, the show has a very Terminator 2 feel to it, with Stoltz in the Miles Dyson role as the man who, in his effort to save humanity, actually caused its destruction. Then again, it’s so close you can almost feel the line of James Cameron lawyers forming at Syfy’s door. Even the monotheistic conspiracy theory is cool, if not beaten into our heads. On the bright side, you can’t tell in real life what side the show falls on, whether they’re ripping our society’s one-God belief or endorsing it. The problem is those aspects are only about three-quarters of the show. The other quarter is spent tolerating the constant whining of the deceased Zoe Graystone, now implanted back in a Cylon, and her unremarkable friend Lacy. I’ll also go ahead and renew my objection to the show’s creator’s claims that you didn’t need to watch Battlestar Galactica to get in to Caprica. Maybe you don’t, because I’m certainly following along — but it sure must help. Luckily I have at least an academic knowledge of BSG and know that the Cylons take over the world in the future, so I got the gravity of the moment when the first one was created. But I’m sure I’m missing roughly 137 references per show that make me say, “You know, maybe I should watch BSG on DVD to catch up.” And I’m sure there are thousands of other people saying the same thing, which makes Caprica nothing more than an advertisement for BSG DVDs, and that p!sses me off. I can look past it for now. But yes, you should fully take that into account if you’re watching. For BSG fans, this has to be like heroin or something. PREVIOUS GRADE: INCOMPLETE, I kept falling asleep when I tried to watch. NEW GRADE: B

Another recommendation I’m finally coming around on — Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m. Wednesday) I’ve been holding out for weeks, even months, because I just didn’t think it was as good as critics thought it was. That’s because it wasn’t. My line to people who went on and on and on (and on) about it was, “That’s great, I’m so glad it invented comedy for all of us!” when I thought it was just some kind of symbiotic ripoff of The Office and the quickly forgotten but very funny Sons and Daughters. But this week’s episode with Minnie Driver — and the repeat earlier Wednesday with Ed Norton and Elizabeth Banks — have convincingly changed my mind. I had been previously enjoyed Cam only slightly more than apathetically in the past, but he’s definitely coming into his own as the funniest character on the show. At the start of the season, the show was mired a little too much in clinging to Ed O’Neill’s moderate stardom and focusing on the obvious pratfalls of a his marriage to a gorgeous woman half his age. But now that the show is adding dimensions to its characters, there’s a new layer of funny being revealed every week. Even the hapless Phil, obviously conceived as Michael Scott as a dad, is starting to grow on me. PREVIOUS GRADE: B-. NEW GRADE: A-

I was totally out of Damages (FX, 10 p.m. Mondays) last year. I was perfectly comfortable dropping the show completely from my radar and moving on. Last season was a boring bore, brought down by William Hurt whispering his way to criminal Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and ridiculous subplots that shoehorned-in Arthur Frobisher for no other reason than he was a surprising audience favorite. But I had an hour to kill two Mondays ago for the season premiere and decided to catch it. My full intention was to rip it to shreds and say funny lines to myself like, “Hey Patty, you know who you should be suing? Your botox dealer!” or “Uh, oh, Ellen is acting helpless but strong again. Can’t her acting coach teach her anything else?” and crack myself up. That was my intention. And with the hacky and already outdated pilfering of the Bernie Madoff case being the basis for this season, I almost thought about writing out material and inviting people over so they could hear all my witty jibes at the show. Bernie Madoff? What, they couldn’t get the rights to the Sully plane landing? So I watched, ready to pounce. And I waited. And waited. Waited some more. And before I knew it, I was at the end of the episode without tearing off one line. An anomaly, it had to be. So I made a date to watch the second episode, because even last season’s premiere was OK. And I waited. And waited. This time, not only did I get to the end of the episode, but I found myself being sucked in to the Damages black hole from which there would be no escape until April — and I didn’t even mind. Campbell Scott is everything William Hurt should have been last year, but wasn’t even close. The idea of putting Martin Short in a dramatic role sounded as appealing as a Tooth Fairy-When in Rome double feature on a Sunday afternoon, but I haven’t wanted to do the Ed Grimley dance once when he’s come on screen, or make cracks about mail planes or talk about Dinosaur Land. That’s impressive. Keeping Ellen away from Patty so we don’t have to witness their weekly cat-and-mouse thing is the perfect idea, and stashing holier-than-thou Ellen in the DA’s office is where she belongs. So good times all around. PREVIOUS GRADE FOR SEASON 2: D, I think. NEW GRADE: B+

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