Clicking Through Summer TV

Two reminders:

First, PopRox live chat tomorrow at noon. PopRox live chat tomorrow at noon. PopRox live chat tomorrow at noon. PopRox live chat tomorrow at noon. Oh, I can keep going. Maybe you should just check it out tomorrow and then you won’t have to hear me say “PopRox live chat tomorrow at noon” anymore. There will be tickets to see 311 and tickets to see the Independence Day revival up for grabs.

Second, this is the final day for voting in the KISS ticket contest. Head on over to the contest page, vote for who you think deserves the tickets most, then come back tomorrow to see if your choice won. And where will the winner be revealed? Why, during the PopRox live chat tomorrow at noon, of course!

This is the longer version of the column that will be appearing in Sunday’s PopRox column, the TV reviews I’ve been meaning to post for a little while:

hooray! the first show of the summer with the poprox seal of approval

hooray! the first show of the summer with the poprox seal of approval

WILFRED (10 p.m. Thursdays, FX): Normally, pilot episodes of any show suck. There’s just too much to do, too many characters to introduce, too much back story to sort through. It’s even worse in sitcoms. When you see a marathon of an older sitcom on your channel guide, you know enough not to jump on board until they get into the second season or so because the first couple episodes are usually unrecognizable from the second season on. Watch the pilot episode of Family Ties. I dare you. I triple dog dare you. Even hardcore fans can’t make it through 10 minutes. The TV game has changed, now you need to come out guns blazing from the start to grab as many eyeballs as you can. Most of the time, it fails miserably and you need three or four episodes to get in the flow. Every now and then, however, a show like Wilfred comes around. A show that doesn’t spend precious time screwing around, but hits the ground running with warped, brilliant comedy the likes we haven’t seen in a while. You know everything you need to know about the non-dog characters in the first five minutes. In the case of Elijah Wood’s Ryan character, it takes 30 seconds when you read, “Suicide note — Third Revised” as he hits the print button and proudly gushes, “Nailed it!” Really, what more do you need to know than that? He then waves to a woman next door during his suicide attempt. “Good-bye, girl next door.” Because that’s all she is, the Girl Next Door. It’s all she ever needs to be. Now that that’s out of the way, the show can make with the funny. Instead of doing it in conventional ways, it decides to put a guy in a dog costume. It’s a funny premise that has so far been executed flawlessly with twisted-but-hysterical writing and surprisingly good acting by Wood. It’s my new favorite show of the summer and is better than Workaholics, which had been my favorite comedy of the year up to this point. At least so far. GRADE: A

this is what i look like watching the show

this is what i look like watching the show

Louie (10:30 p.m. Thursdays, FX): I’ve been on the fence for a couple weeks on whether I would watch Louie again this year. I’ve always been a Louis C.K. fan, so I was excited and initially encouraged by the show last summer. But as it went on, it went further and further away from laughs and decided to diverge into a territory I like to call, “unfunny.” Defenders of the show will call it “real-life dramady,” but I’m sticking with unfunny. I decided to give it another try this year and for a couple minutes, I became engrossed in the season premiere. His pregnant sister comes to visit when Louis has his two daughters sleeping at his house. The sister goes into labor — or so we think — and Louie has a choice to make. Have his volunteering neighbors he’s never met sit at the apartment and watch the girls while he takes his sister to the hospital, or call an ambulance and risk harm to his sister and his unborn nephew/niece. My wife works nights, so I have our daughter at night, and I frighteningly saw my future. But when the sister gets to the hospital, she lets out a 10-second long fart and the show loses all credibility as it goes right into another stand-up clip. Is the show a realistic look into a 45-year-old single dad’s life? Is it Evening at the Improv? Is it a slapstick comedy? I’d be happy with any of those. But throwing them all into a blender and hitting puree just doesn’t work for me. I get what Louis C.K. is doing, he’s trying to make a show that challenges the viewer to cross all those boundaries and accept whatever he throws at them. Apparently I’m not smart or accepting enough, because I just can’t do it. GRADE: D

see this guy? apparently he's brilliant

see this guy? apparently he's brilliant

FALLING SKIES (10 p.m. Sundays, TNT): Let’s review Noah Wyle’s major career stops. He was a brilliant, over-privileged doctor (ER). He played the brilliant Steve Jobs (Pirates of Silicon Valley). He was a brilliant librarian (The Librarian TV movie series). Now he’s a brilliant former professor trying to rid world of aliens (Falling Skies). Apparently something about this guy screams “brilliant.” Does he complain about typecasting, like Megan Fox complains about being T&A? Did he fire his agent after he couldn’t get an audition for Ryan Reynolds’ role in Green Lantern? If he started getting passed over for jobs with “brilliant” in the character description, will he start wearing glasses like older actors get facelifts? I’m thinking about this way too much. The show itself certainly isn’t bad and it’s an interesting departure from the middle-of-the-road cop shows TNT has become known for (Men of a Certain Age being the other exception). But after three episodes, it just doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. There is a glimmer of hope and reason to stick with it for a couple weeks, though. GRADE: B-

these two make me want to like it. didn't work out that way.

these two make me want to like it. didn't work out that way.

NECESSARY ROUGHNESS (10 p.m. Wednesdays, USA): Hand it to USA — they’ve succeeded by putting the fourth and fifth tier of the Hollywood TV roster in starring roles and following a pretty standard, straightforward formula. Tony Shaloub was nothing more than a guy with a fake Italian accent on Wings before Monk made him a star, Jeffrey Donovan was the star of Blair Witch 2 — maybe the worst sequel ever — before Burn Notice. These people weren’t exactly tearing it up. So along comes Callie Thorne, a TV veteran but someone who’s never been front and center on a show. She’s been integral in three of my favorite shows — Homicide: Life on the Street, Rescue Me, Prison Break — and pairing her with former Pennsylvania high school basketball star (for reals) and Buffy boyfriend Mark Blucas should have been a slam dunk for me. But … it’s not. It’s your garden variety USA show, which works for some shows because you love the characters, but fails when you can’t connect with the people. I’m always rooting for Thorne and Blucas, but this one just isn’t doing it for me. GRADE: C

OK, I’m about to cheat here.

can't quit tom cruise

can't quit tom cruise

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL trailer: I trust my palms. I don’t necessarily like heights, and just thinking about that sentence made my palms get crazy sweaty. Every action movie trailer has some kind of heights-related shot where the star is hanging on a wire, jumping from one building to another, falling out of a plane, etc. etc. etc. Rarely do those shots make my palms sweat, even though in real life if I was in any of those spots, my hands would be dripping with sweat. When I was watching the trailer and Ethan Hunt climbs the building and jumps to the next one, my palms were sweating like crazy. CRAZY. Like, standing on top of the Empire State Building crazy. Maybe Tom Cruise is beating the snot out of a dead horse here, but what the heck. I’ll sign on for another Mission Impossible if it’s going to be as good as the trailer. The interesting thing about this movie is that Jeremy Renner is supposed to be the guy taking over the franchise after this one, but he’s been signed to play Jason Bourne. It’s pretty doubtful competing studios (Mission Impossible is Paramount, Universal does the Bourne movies) will let him play both characters. Tack on the role of Hawkeye in the Marvel/Disney franchise The Avengers, and Renner is going to have to make some choices in the near future. Anyway … TRAILER GRADE: A-

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