Happy Hump Day

Looking at this cascade of logos, I'm reminded of an Oreo. An Oreo of TV shows consumed by someone who can't take the creamy filling. The top and bottom of this show sandwich are surprisingly tasty, while the middle is just a bit too much. So, in proper eating order...

Dirty Sexy Money: Wow, this show sounded like a disaster. A revival of the Dallas/Dynasty style prime time soap, highlighted by Donald Sutherland wearing a silver version of Tom Hanks' hair from The DaVinci Code. But it's turned out to be a fantastically fun slice of cheese that's worth a watch. Peter Krause, freed from the doldrums of being Six Feet Under, serves as a terrifically wry guide thru a billion dollar family that's divorced from reality. Try it.

Pushing Daisies: Speaking of six feet under, that's where many of the costars of this show reside. The conceit is that a man who makes pies can bring people back to life with a touch... but only for a minute, as then he has to send them back to the grave. This is ostensibly to help a private eye solve mysteries, but in truth it exists to shove more whimsy down your throat than if you choked down a sandwich made of Willy Wonka, the Coen brothers oeuvre, and everything Wes Anderson's ever made... with some Edward Scissorhands sauce on top. Rather than being a little quirky and charming, it's QUIRKY!!! and CHARMING!!! So much so that I found myself wishing that the Piemaker would just touch himself and be done with it. It's cute and all, but altogether too cute. Back to the grave, Daises.

Gossip Girl: And, surprisingly, back from the grave is Gossip Girl. The pilot left me really flat, but the show's grown on me over time. It's not high art, but it fills The O.C. hole rather well (not as dirty as it sounds). Will Gossip Girl's narration still occasionally defies the laws of reality (such as when she "spots S & B" alone and undiscovered, but the everpresent shots of people checking their Sidekicks have gone the way of, well, The O.C. And the main characters seem to have re-established some tenuous grip on reality, despite being set in another Upper West Side world of privilege. Not essential viewing, but part of a nice dirty sexy combo for Hump Day. Enjoy.


Practice Makes Pointless

I don't know why this show exists. I mean, I know why – same reason Law & Order spawned Criminal Intent & SVU and why there are apparently CSIs in every county in the country. Spinoffs are nothing new, and not intrinsically bad, but there's a fine line between Frasier and Joey. That fine line representing the red one on your wrists after watching Joey.

But aside from the novel idea that two shows about hot doctors with cutesy names and sexy problems will make more money than one... there's no legit reason for Addison to pack up and move to LA. Her search for "change" and "something different" and "a baby" were shoehorned into an awkward backdoor pilot, and now that she's out on her own, things haven't improved.

Well, that's not quite true. Fortunately, they scrapped an element that was completely unwatchable – a David E. Kelley-style talking elevator, but otherwise the transition from Seattle Grace to Oceanside Wellness Center has been rough. Addison's heretofore unknown best friend was recast, downgrading Alias' Evil Francie to someone who looks sorta similar but seems much angrier. The hot surfer boy receptionist, oddly cast with the geeky guy formerly known as Piz from Veronica Mars, hasn't changed actors, but the character has been completely rewritten to be an apprentice midwife who's smitten with Angry Black Woman. This provides lots of comedic opportunities to reinforce the fact that the field of midwifery is pronounced mid-whiff-ery. As in the whiff made when one swings and misses. Kind of like this show.

Tim Daly plays an alternative medicine specialist named Peter whose nickname is billed as... "Pete." Taye Diggs plays Sexy Black Man who used to be married to Angry Black Woman. People who've portrayed great conflicted characters on other shows (Amy Brenneman way back on NYPD Blue, Paul Edelstein on Prison Break) are saddled with such jarring contradictions that they feel like caricatures instead – she's a psychiatrist who can't stop stalking a former lover, he's a pediatrician who is, apparently, a sexual deviant. Which is great for someone who works with, you know, kids.

The whole enterprise is so strained and uninspired, I feel like Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew or Scott Bakula should show up at any minute. It's a shame, too – Addison, formerly a sexy sassy foil for the winsome interns of Grey's, has been reduced to someone who dances naked around her beach house because "Whoo! California! Whoo! Freedom!" And producers like Shonda Rhimes and Marti Noxon, formerly of Grey's and Buffy the Vampire Slayer respectively, have been reduced to overseeing ripped-from-the-headlines type swill like babies switched at birth and a widow craving her dead husband's sperm.

The Chief at Seattle Grace said he'd leave Addison's job open as long as he could – here's hoping it's at least as long as it takes for the novelty ratings this show is getting to wane, because Private Practice... should've stayed that way.


Bion-eh-c Woman

I've used the "eh" joke before, but then again, they've made this show before, so I figure... whatever. Which is, in fact, sort of the vibe surrounding this remake - whatever.

Now, I'm no slave to the original show - from hazy childhood memories, the whole Bionic Whoever seemed like standard 70s sci-fi schlock. Battlestar Galactica paved the way for improving on the original, but Bionic is stuck in the mud. It's not that we're treading on hallowed ground, it's that we're following in well-trod footsteps, be they bionic or not. NBC threw a lot of money at this update, but not much in the way of innovation or inspiration.

I won't spent much time on the characters or plot, as clearly neither did the creators. Suffice to say that in the pilot, the Woman becomes Bionic. By the second ep, Dr. Burke has shown up and they battle some improbable virus. By the third ep, I've lost interest. Despite all the gee-whiz high tech-ery, theres not much to care about here.

You've seen the training sequences before, you've seen the fight scenes before, you've seen the cast before. The one new element is Michelle Ryan as Jaime Sommers, but she's a miscast at best. A natural Brit, Ryan comes across as halting and hesitant in the role. The overall feel is squirmishly awkward, which isn't what a show built around the ultimate cyberwarrior of the future needs. Alias, a clear model for this series, had its issues, but buying Jennifer Garner as a supersmooth operator/asskicker wasn't one of them.

Reminiscent of a young Ione Skye, this Bionic Woman is sort of like watching the "she gave me a pen" scene from Say Anything... just with guns and hacky wirework where people leap across huge chasms with their legs flailing and backs arched as if they were hanging from, you know, wires. While the harness may keep the characters from falling flat, the show still does. Pass.


Excuse the Pun, But...

...Moonlight sucks. I know – terrible, obvious joke, but it's no more terrible or obvious than anything in this show. In fact, the first line of the show is "being a vampire sucks." Hell yeah it does, particularly when the vampire's name is... Mick St. John. Seriously? Mick St. John? Sounds like a Morning Zoo DJ.

Anyway, this show both revels in stock characters and cliches (we need another reporter-who'll-do-anything-for-a-story like we need another hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold) and ignores some classics of the genres (these vampires can, in fact, go outside - it just makes their head hurt). Oh, and it's horribly written, cheaply shot, and poorly acted.

Mick St. John's bio says he likes "riding motorcycles, rock climbing, music and playing his guitar." Good to know, as he should be free to enjoy those pursuits soon.


Don't Fear the Reaper, Chuck

If you took recent hits Heroes and Alias, mashed them together and sprinkled some Supernatural sauce on top, you'd get the one-two punch of Reaper and Chuck. On The CW and NBC, respectively, they're both iterations on the "geeks save the world" theme. While it's not a surprise that different networks execute shows along a similar theme (see Singing Bee vs. Don't Forget the Lyrics), it's a shocker that they're both killer.

Reaper's about a slacker who works at a big box supply store who finds out that his parents sold his soul to the devil and is forced to work for him as a bounty hunter. Chuck's about a slacker who works at a big box supply store who finds out that his friend emailed him all the government's secrets and is forced to work for them as a spy. They share wacky best friends, hot potential love interests and terrifically smart scripts. They also benefited from big-time directors at the helm - Kevin Smith knocked out the Reaper pilot while McG made Chuck better than either of the Charlie's Angels.

Also, Chuck's a great companion piece to Heroes and Reaper matches well with... America's Next Top Model? Ok, well, the similarities had to end somewhere. Chuck drew bigger ratings, too, so if Reaper flounders, here's hoping it shifts to Thursday, where it'd slot in nicely with Smallville and Supernatural.

Regardless, they're both absolutely worth a watch - tune in and geek out.