Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Network TV: Awkward Twins with Secrets Who Live With Douches

Ok I'm back to continue my look at a few of the new Fall Network shows, that the big 5 are hoping will be breakout hits. Last time I took a look at Terra Nova and Person of Interest, meh, and awesome respectively. Now I want to look at two female centric shows, the Zooey Deschanel girl moves in with boys sitcom, and Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to television with her soapy thriller about twins each with their own secrets.

Let's talk about The New Girl featuring Zooey Deschanel. Zooey(cause let's be honest the character should've just been called Zooey), walks in on her boyfriend cheating on her, moves out and eventually finds a room with three stock characters. I like Zooey Deschanel, I think she is a witty actress and does some good work. She does happen to do riffs on herself more often than not, but it works for her and usually it seems effortless. This show is built around the idea that the world just wants all Zooey all the time. Her quirkiness and style overwhelm everything and the writing is not subtle enough to play to her strengths. The whole episode felt forced to me in a "look at how cute and awkward I am" kind of way. Definitely an example of too much of a good thing.

The guys are the definition of cardboard cut outs. Th jock who can't speak to women, the douchey pretty boy, and the sensitive level headed one. Don't believe me? Well Damon Wayans Jr. Left the show before the pilot aired so they wrote him out and recast a new guy. Sad because he had the most laughs in my opinion. Everyone is playing too big here, the guys even have a douchebag jar, so the douchey guy puts a dollar in everytime he acts out. A clever idea that is called back too often.

The show is not without a certain amount of charm. I said before I like Zooey, they just have her playing an extreme version of herself here. I like the reverse mormon joke, and most everything with Wayons is pretty good. Sitcoms work best when you don't realize you are watching a sitcom. How I Met Your Mother managed to overcome a laugh track, but here the characters might as well take a look at the audience everytime something "funny" happens like an old Married with Children episode.

Ringer is a primetime soap opera in whiche Gellar plays twin sisters. One, "the bad one", is a witness in a high profile case and a recovering alcoholic. The other is a rich member of the upper class complete with a huge city apartment and rich husband. As the show progresses we find out her life was not as perfect as it would seem. So the two of them go out boating one day and Bridget(the bad one) passes out, only to wake up and find Siobhan missing, supposedly dead(but we all know she's not right?). In proper Ripley fashion Bridget takes it upon herself to pass herself off as Siobhan in order to escape her past and find a way out.

As Siobhan, Bridget discovers her sisters loveless marriage, her indiscretions, and at the climax that perhaps Siobhan had secrets just as dangerous as the life Bridget was leading. Some of the story beats are wildly predictable, when they are obviously trying to play for more surprise. Overall though, the story was intriguing enough that I'd be willing to check out another episode, but there's nothing here that seems all that new or groundbreaking.

My biggest problem comes from the characters. No one seems to have any personality. Neither of the twins seem altogether interesting as people, nor do the people working on the case, or Siobhans "jerk" husband. None of them give me a character I can identify with or even root for. Cool there's some secrets going around...great...but why do I care? The plot twists and turns but without the foundation of its players there really is nothing for me to invest in. Same thing happened last year on The Event. I thought the premise seemed ok, and the story was interesting enough, but there wasn't a single likable character on the show.

It's nice to see Gellar back on the small screen, maybe Whedon will swoop in take over and we'll find out that the "good twin" is actually a vampire. Until that happens, I doubt I'll be tuning in much more after the second or third episode.


One last thought -Second episode of Person of Interest keeps up the quality. Still my vote for best fall show.

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