Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Now that Tuesday morning is over, I finished watching my Monday night shows (well, technically, I started watching my Monday shows on Tuesday too). Spoilers abound for The Mole, Weeds, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and The Middleman.
The Mole has been unsurprisingly chaotic this year: three episodes in, and everyone has displayed mole-like behavior at one point or another. Bobby going home didn't shock me simply because he was obviously trying to make people think he was the mole. Also, I'm glad not to have to deal with his whining any more. My main suspects now are Mark (who I've found suspicious since last week) and Alex (who I'm just now suspecting). Overall, I'm enjoying the show, but enough with the Spanish-language challenges. I want to see more along the lines of the waterfall raft-jump!
Weeds is continuing its transition into a show that people are less interested in, but I liked the premiere. Maybe I'm just glad to have Nancy back in my life. My favorite part of the episode (and presumably, season) is the returned focus on Nancy's relationship with Andy, a bond that diminished during the army fiasco and Andy's perpetual goofing off with Doug. Mary-Louise Parker and Justin Kirk are so genuine in their scenes together, thanks no doubt to their long friendship in real life, that I always enjoy seeing them bounce off of each other. Of course, I generally like to laugh while watching shows that enter awards races as comedies, but the funny was sequestered in Agrestic. I look forward to Celia and company reconnecting with the Botwins, but I'm disappointed that Conrad, Heylia, and Vaneeta are gone for good. Meanwhile, I have no sycophantic reverence for Albert Brooks, but I thought he was a fine addition to the show. I didn't die laughing, as I expected from his rapturous reputation, but I'm interested to see where his storyline heads. It's another rebuilding year--last year got us halfway to the new Weeds, and this year aims to finish--so we can expect growing pains, and for now at least, I'm happily along for the ride.
Rounding out Showtime's new power hour (Californication who? Oh, right. Sorry about that) is Secret Diary of a Call Girl, set in London, where it aired last Fall. Billie Piper plays Hannah, an educated London woman who struggles to maintain her relationships while keeping secret her life as Belle, a high-class prostitute. The series is fascinating from an occupational perspective ("Oh, so that's how they do that"), and Piper is engaging as our warm, witty narrator. But frustratingly, the show's deepest concerns--Hannah's privacy threatens to cut her off from her support system--are not explored very deeply, or they are resolved in that sitcommy way by the end of the episode, while much more interesting territory--Hannah's relationship with her parents, her leisure time, possible ethical complications--is glossed over. I certainly found the show enjoyable, and I'm sure there's a world of sexual niches yet to be explored by the show (the first season has an episode each for orgies, threesomes, foursomes, you get the idea), but I find myself lukewarm to the next two seasons. Secret Diary of a Call Girl goes down easy (so to speak) but fails to establish anything meaningful with its client, er, audience.
Just for you, I saved the best for last. I can't believe I had more fun watching ABC Family than Showtime, or that I found the pilot of a Lost writer hilarious and authentic, but Javier Grillo-Marxuach's The Middleman is my new Monday show. It's based on Marxuach's comic series, and from the opening shot of Wendy Watson playing secretary while a nuclear reaction goes awry in the room behind her, the show establishes its graphic novel design. Wendy is rescued by a square-jawed hero known only as the Middleman, and after noticing Wendy's cool in the face of danger, the Middleman offers to recruit her to help fight comic-type bad guys trying to take over the world.
The Middleman takes place in a world just outside of reality, like Pushing Daisies or Arrested Development, and the pilot admirably sets up the tone of the series, an old-fashioned superhero show with the slightest hint of self-reflexive commentary. The Middleman uses terms like "mosey," "ri-gosh darn-diculous," and "beat the crud out of that weasel--pardon my French," and at first I thought this was thanks to the Family in ABC Family. But it sets up a hilarious scene that puts my mind at ease: The Middleman is straight as an arrow not because of language guidelines but because that's how the heroes of old behaved.
While it has its ABC Family production values (and perhaps, in part, thanks to them), I was immediately charmed by The Middleman and cannot wait to see where Wendy and the Middleman find themselves next week. I highly recommend the pilot, and remember, kids: always drink your milk!