Sunday, July 13, 2008

regarding Jeff's new fall show

I've seen the pilot, and I won't be uncouth or spoilery because I don't want to get fired, but I'd like to dispell some myths about Jeff's much-hyped show. Firstly, it's no more like that other big TV show with a plane in its pilot than Ugly Betty is similar to Seinfeld because they're both set in New York. The plane isn't really important, it just happens to be a major part of our lives.
Now, let's talk a bit about plot. So our main girl has a guy, and as soon as guy says those three little words, we know he's toast. Because he looks like toast and acts like toast and runs ahead of our main girl in a I want to become toast kind of way.
And we're pissed because we thought Jeffrey was better than that. Rest assured. He is. Toast isn't what you thought.
But... logic? How our main girl gets to her lead expert makes no sense. She types some words into a database and they're not uncommon six-syllable words either, and the only person to come up is mad professor guy who, suddenly, she tells her non-boss boss is the key to the mystery on the plane. Um, what? Since when is Googling detective work? But then she goes off and gets him and tada! She was right.
And then, as the main girl attempts to get what she needs from mad professor guy, she learns that pertinent mystery (which doesn't seem all that mysterious--it's basically a chemistry question) is something part of bigger, but later, when not-boss boss starts talking about "similar" events, um, the events are in no way similar (ravens and writing desks have more in common). They are not basic chemistry questions. They're like questions written in marbles.
So those are some logic leaps that don't really gel for me. Another is that our main girl at one point bluffs rather specifically and wildly to get someone to do something for her. It's absurd. It's like someone saying, "Look, if you don't do what I say, I'll call your grandmother and tell her what you did to her cat." OK, it's not quite that specific, but still, it's specific enough that later when she confesses it was all a bluff, you can't help but call B.S. because that's not logical behavior, even in extreme emotional circumstances, and particularly for a girl in the field she's in -- isn't all this coding nice and confusing?! :)
Anyhow, this thread sounds like it was written by someone who doesn't know anything about what a person in this main girl's field would say or do, but to be honest, all we know about our main girl is that she's willing to take any risk, no matter how stupid, but she couldn't tell her guy those three little words back. We know nothing else about her. The last pilot we got from Jeffrey with a major central female heroine did not have that problem.
Now the guy who our female bluff-threats, who is going to be the main guy for the show, is not the greatest actor (though neither is our main girl, who is pretty boring), and his character is a little too caricature (just because a person is a genius does not mean they know all languages on Earth), but at least we get a sense of his back story, and we're inclined to agree with him when he says, "This is insane." Because it is. It's like Wanted, but just in terms of silliness, not in terms of all the cool, sexy stuff.
Finally, last criticism (there are a lot of good things about this show, specifically the supporting cast, who do what they can) is of some of the dialogue. I'll take the most innocuous (in that it gives nothing away) bit here.
Our main guy: Now what do we do?
Lead expert guy: Now... we wait.

Are you kidding? That's not people talking. They talk like broad strokes of an idea of a two-dimensional drawing of people. Do I actually care about any of these people? Not particularly. The one person who won't be showing up in episode 2 will be kind of missed because that character had a lot of stuff going on.
But this is not going to be a show about character, I can tell you that right now.
It's going to be a procedural dressed up as a high-concept genre show from someone with a proven track record in TV.
I'm probably shooting my foot, but unless episode 2 is drastically different, I give it a season.

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In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen