Archive for the ‘ER’ Category

Rob’s Bullet Reviews #2a — The Search For Intelligent TV Progamming in the Universe (This Time For Sure)

October 18, 2006

Okay, okay, I’ve learned my lesson — so I’m typing this into Word (actually, WordPad) and then cutting and pasting so that I don’t go and lose the whole thing just as I’m posting it again. So here’s seven — count ’em, SEVEN — Bullet Reviews:

Grey’s Anatomy — “What I Am” (Original Air date: 10-12-06): The show demonstrates why Ellen Pompeo is its *real* secret weapon by giving her great comedic material with Meredith’s appendicitis storyline. The episode loses two steps of a grade (1 step = a +, straight-letter or – ) for having Meredith chose Derek for any reason. Derek’s 10 years older than Meredith — even if he weren’t one of the attending doctors, they’d still be creepy together. Grade: A-.

Heroes — “One Giant Leap” (OAD: 10-09-06 — told you I’m playing catch-up): The show’s main flaw is that so far, it’s slow-moving, with too much plot and not nearly as much characterization as it thinks it has. However, this episode is redeemed by its autopsy-slab twist ending. I bet Clare’s guidance counsellor told her she needed to be open to new experiences! Grade: A-.

Battlestar Galactica — “Exodus, Part 1” (OAD: 10-13-06): The episode starts out on a low-note by copping out on the shock cliffhanger ending of the previous episode and letting everybody significant survive. But the main prison-camp storyline, part Great Escape, part Stalag 17, while slow and somewhat baroque, ultimately redeems the episode. Grade: B.

ER — “Parenthood” (OAD: 10-12-06): Grey’s has definitely forced ER to find its sense of humor in all the right ways — Morris is now bonafide comic relief; they’re now starting to remember that, hey, that Maura Tierney chick was on NewsRadio — and aren’t they going full-on Meta by writing Sara Gilbert’s ability to pop in and out of the show between bad-sitcom gigs in as Jane’s mysterious and Radar-O’Reilly-like ability to appear a half-second before you want her? And speaking of MASH connections, doesn’t Gates remind one of Trapper John, M.D.’s “Gonzo” Gates? Grade: A-.

Law & Order — “Fear America” (OAD: 10-13-06): Terrorist murders informant, makes it look like white supremacist did it. Yawn. Reliable but unspectacular comfort food procedural storyline. The show’s going to have to do better than that if it wants to stick out among the 8600 other police procedurals on television right now. The new cast members, particular Milena Govich, are a good start, but geez, the somnambulant Sam Waterston’s still got to go. Grade: B-.

Smallville — “Wither” (OAD: 10-12-06): Is it just me or is the show trying to get even with the movie division’s restrictions on the use of the entire Batman mythos and certain parts of the Superman mythos by giving us such a lame and blatant rip-off of Poison Ivy? On the other hand, I’d like to see this Green Arrow spun off into his own show, preferrably not under the helm of the tone deaf Millar and Gough. Grade: B-.

Supernatural — “Bloodlust” (OAD: 10-12-06): Amber Benson is a real sweetheart in real life (she spends time with every person in her line at Comic-Con), so it was quite amusing to see “Tara” reincarnated as a good vampire in this episode. The moral dilemma that her clan of vampires puts the boys in upends the entire premise of the show in a very good way. Grade: A+. So if you’re not watching this show already, what’s your lame excuse?

Told you I had seven Bullet Reviews this time.

Coming up next: Studio 60 (possibly even a longer review), Doctor Who, HIMYM, Veronica Mars and why I’m giving up on The Nine after two episodes when I hardly ever give up on anything.

— Rob

Rob’s Bullet Reviews — Episode 2: The Search For Intelligent TV Programming in the Universe

October 18, 2006

. . . is forthcoming.  Crap.  The dog ate my homework.  I had SEVEN reviews all typed out and somehow, the software didn’t save it to publish, so it’s lost.  Will rewrite the whole darn thing in a text document and then cut-and-paste to here when my headache has gone away.

  — Rob

PS:  To torture tease you, the categories below list the shows I was reviewing.  Okay, from last week, not this week, but still . . . that’s why it’s known as playing catch-up.

ER 13.2 — “Graduation Day”

September 30, 2006

Vague-ish Recap:  In an episode that takes place over several months, Abby and Luke struggle to keep faith that their premature baby, Joe, can survive the critical last ten weeks that he couldn’t spend in the womb.  They’re helped by the timely (but initially thought untimely) arrival of Abby’s Type 1 Bipolar mom, Maggie (Sally Field, in great, fussy form) who rallies kinda like their own Dr. Bombay (because Endora was eeevil and none of Samantha’s other relatives were as heartfelt).  Neela starts to drink too much in the wake of Gallant’s death, but Pratt, Ray, and Tony Gates (new regular The Stamos), each help her in their own way.  Weaver falls on her sword for Luka when he’s about to be fired for the Clemente situation from last season happening on his watch and she does it because she takes responsibility for being the one who hired him.  Morris, who’s now bored stiff pushing experimental drug trials and realizing how much he misses the ER, begs practically everybody at the hospital to take him back.  Sam gets help from her connected lawyer friend to quickly deal with the situation in which she, like, shot and killed her ex-husband in what she doesn’t think was (but actually was) self-defense.

Comments:  I repeat:  ER is back.  I mean, I’m still decompressing the newest episode of Gilmore Girls in my head and not even my desire to write a review for Studio 60, my new #2 show, could shake my concentration on Gg.  And then ER went and did just about everything right.  Morris’s subplot in which he begs to get his job back was classic comic relief that worked in merry counterpoint to both Abby & Luka’s struggle to keep what will be their only biological baby alive and to Sam’s internal struggle to find out if she belongs in jail for killing her ex-husband.  Also bringing welcome bounce to the episode was — and I love calling her this — the Great Sally Field.  With her Maggie (Abby’s Bipolar Mom) in a much better place due to her meds working, she proves to be a warm, funny, strong woman who finally gets the chance to return the help she got from Abby that she was never able to give her before.  Plus, in a great psych-out, the show keeps us in the dark about the fate of Joseph for just about the last fifteen minutes, talking ambiguously about Abby and Luke dealing with the situation and needing time to themselves, even panning over an empty crib in a dark room, prepping us to think, “Oh, shit, it’s another Carter and Kem, the show is done, the show can’t bounce back no matter how good The Stamos is,” until they pan up and over to Abby and they still psych us out by her sitting in a chair with her back to the camera and thenthey pan around to show Abby cradling a healthy baby.  And I cheered.  Blatant manipulation like that is fun when you realize that the show-makers were deliberately tweaking you.  This touching final scene, which ends with Maggie saying bye-for-now and Abby standing to rock Joseph to sleep, works metatextually as an apology from the show specifically for the Carter-Kem storyline and more generally for the depressing, turgid nature of the series between the disintegration and death of Dr. Mark Greene and the departure of Carter from full-time status on the show two years ago.  The show’s been back in great form since the beginning of last year (season frickin’ 12), so be sure to tell your friends that if they haven’t seen ER in a while, they haven’t seen ER return to greatness.

One more thing:  I hope that Sally Field gets a Guest Actress nomination for this episode.  I’m so hopeful, in fact, that I feel kinda guilty wishing her new show Brothers and Sisters would fail just so that ER could bring her back more regularly as her now-stable fussbudget character.  On the other hand, the episode did make a great coda for Maggie’s time on the show, making her struggle with Bipolar Type 1 (the mood-swingy type) ultimately one of the few storylines from the show’s Great Depression worthwhile, even before the happy ending.

Episode Grade:  A+

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Maintenance:  No, I haven’t forgotten to post my full-review of this week’s Gg (and no, the commentary below doesn’t count).  The show almost always takes me longer to process than most other shows.

Review: ER 13.1 — “Bloodline”

September 22, 2006

Vague-ish Recap:  The aftermath of the shootout from last season’s finale.  Newly hip Carrie comes into Cook County to discover Ray, Duvenko and eventually Neela working frantically to save Jerry’s life.  Frank is freaked by the carnage.  Morris shows his human side by showing deep concern for Jerry’s fate.  Carrie then discovers the unconscious Abby and cuffed-up Luka.  Abby suffers an abrupted placenta and the baby has to be delivered early, but not without further cost to Abby than just a premature baby.  Sam and Alex are held hostage by her ex-husband and their accomplices, but Sam finds a way out at the end of the episode.

Comments:  For those of you that didn’t know because you didn’t watch the show last season, ER responded to the swift kick in the pants that the raging success of Grey’s Anatomy gave them by producing the best season of the series since Clooney’s last, kinda middling season.  ER took the best lesson it could from Grey’s, which was to inject humor and hope into the series.  Gone is the turgid, ponderous, relentless feeling of tragedy.  Now, the tragic moments are earned by being leavened with character-revealing humor and an overall brisker pace, helped not in the least by confining most of the storylines to the ER itself.  Morris is a great, lovable weasel, Pratt has come into his own as a heroic doctor, Ray’s being torn between careers becomes believable and even Neela’s career identity crisis came to a head.  Plus, when you go to Darfur for four episodes, grinding the rest of the show to a screeching halt and it doesn’t kill the momentum as Carter’s previous digression to Africa in season 11 did, you know that ER is definitely back.

With that preface, what is there left to say about this episode?  Scott Grimes presents a sweet example of comic relief in the way that he roots for Jerry to survive his wounds in the OR.  Abby and Luka have such a great, quiet, humorous rapport that the news of Abby’s emergency hysterectomy hurts all the more without being so overwhelmingly tragic, so overcooked and obvious, as the way Carter’s stillborn baby was handled two and a half years ago.  And I did NOT see the last moment of the episode coming.  Bravo for Sam!  It can all be chalked to self-defense, can’t it?

Episode Grade:  A+

******

Maintenance:  I’ve just discovered that I write pro-active reviews better and more often in the morning than I do in the late evening.  The problem is, I have insomnia.  See the Catch-22?  I’ll be experimenting with waking up in the morning no matter what so that I can get that one-review a day format up and running.  This also means that I’ll likely be responding to comments later in the day and at night.  Thanks for your continuing patience and support in helping me get this blog going just by reading it.