Men of a Certain Age: 1.1 - 1.7
Now through seven episodes, I can safely say that this show rarely rises above decent. The producers are smart enough to not frame the trials and tribulations of the middle-class man as too self-pitying, moreover I can certainly relate to the central theme that life is one humiliation after another. When it obviously reaches too far for existential meaning (“you’re always late because you don’t want the spare time to think about where your life is going, man”), it definitely falls flat but the cast chemistry smoothes some of that over. Surprisingly it’s not Andre Braugher that I keep coming back for, oddly Ray Romano feels like the stand out to me. Weird, eh?
I totally get the Rockford Files comparisons, but Donal Logue is most definitely no James Garner. The pilot was fine but the mystery of the week was pretty perfunctory. Based on all the acclaim I assume it gets better.
I’m not saying there’s a literal fantasy element to this or anything, but with all the daddy issues and confidence games the tone of this felt like one long season 1 or 2 Lost flashback. I kept expecting to cut back to the island. More importantly, Tyra Collette remains exquisite.
The Shield: 1.1
Took me by surprise how much this looks and feels like NYPD Blue or something. Its post-Sopranos, so the anti-hero lead is a murderer rather than just a drunk, but the structure of the episode just felt very old-fashioned in a way. The surprise ending and Chiklis and Pounder’s performances are more than enough to bring me back, though I’m not really in any hurry for some reason.
Friends: Season 3 - Season 7
The wardrobe designer must have absolutely hated Courtney Cox. Rachel is dressed as sophisticated and for Phoebe they go quirky, but for some reason Monica is in dowdy prints and sexless pants. I guess maybe the wardrobe people were picking up on the competitive, “one of the guys” aspects of her character and translated that into late 70s lesbian. Very confusing. The other main takeaway here is that in numerous episodes Joey eats sandwiches, and it’s funnier than you expect it to be. My sister should get better DVDs.
Taxi: not sure
Gritty, 70s New Hollywood bleeds into television; essential to the show is an inescapable sense of failure. Cheers did a similar, though less bleak tribute to the underdog in its early days, something I think was eventually lost. Anyway, the Taxi epis I saw weren’t particularly funny. I need to find out which are considered the classics and try those. Marilu Henner in 1979 was a force of sexiness to reckon with.