Once a teacher, always a teacher, I suppose. For twenty-something years, I spent my life as a teacher, not just an elementary teacher, but a teacher of young children, whose day in a learning environment begins at 6 AM, not with a 7:30 bell. My Body Clock still begins its day around 4 AM, no matter what my Social Security number now dictates. The 10 PM ET TV time slot has meant bedtime for years, with the TV on, but merely providing enough distraction for me to drift off. All of that has changed with the fall 2010 season, because now, I’m much too busy fighting crime with some new law enforcement buddies to succumb to Dreamland!
Hawaii Five-O 2.0 has become my week’s favorite. Contrary to his talk show banter, Alex O’Loughlin has not been bare-chested in most of the scenes, so the eye candy is not the draw. I have followed his career since before he starred in the before it’s timed vampire drama Moonlight and his rise to film roles. He already had earned acclaim for his Australian films before that, and seems to have found the ticket to paradise in Hawaii! Scott Caan was building quite a strong reputation as a filmmaker, writer and director before the new series, but the rapport and repartee between these partners is smart and irresistible, and both characters have back stories to care about. Caan as “Danno” trying to stay present in his daughter’s life despite an ever-encroaching stepdad, and O’Loughlin’s McGarrett trying to understand, grieve, yet avenge his father’s death all at once. Grace Park’s “Kona” is one of the strongest, smartest, and sexiest female heroines to be part of a cast in a long time, and her role has lots of room to grow. Daniel Dae Kim, too, has a lot more meat to bite into as Chin Ho Kelly than he got during his Lost stint, but it did make him stay on the island! The writing and the characters on this show already have such a flow, and I care about them, even on Monday night!
Detroit 1-8-7 comes along in the same timeslot Tuesday on ABC. I wanted to give this series a real shot, because of its look and cast ties to NYPD Blue. I love the camera angles of the show. I even love the pure gray grit of its feel. James McDaniel is marvelous as the 30-year detective who can’t quite bring himself to fulfill his retirement dream in Tuscany, and Michael Imperioli plays the committed but detached “Fitch”, whose new partnership is more than testy until the new partner got shot at the station in last week’s premiere. I want to like to show, I want to care about the characters, but so far, I don’t. As with meeting anyone new, I’m willing to keep watching and reaching out. I hope they can connect with their audience.
Wednesday’s have been reserved for Law and Order: Special Victims Unit on my calendar for a long time now, and the interplay and beyond the dialogue exchanges between Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay as partners Eliot Stabler and Olivia Benson explain the reason. The relationships in this series draw reaction more captivating than the “ripped from the headlines” storyline mantra. The stories and guest stars thus far have made for a memorable 12th season already!
I was expecting that Law and Order: Los Angeles, immediately following, would be good, and it was. It has almost a movie feel, and a very strong cast, including Skeet Ulrich, Terrence Howard, and Wanda de Jesus. All are actors I love and know, but the premiere episode just did not have the right feel to it, despite a great story with great actors. That being said, I’m still here, hoping for more! Maybe I just can’t be sympathetic enough for the rich and famous!
Another treat ends my week so far this season, with Blue Bloods at 10 PM ET on CBS. The characters, all part of a huge cop family except for a sister assistant DA, each with his or her own baggage and hurdles, are genuine and appealing. Each is trying to define his own role in the family’s heritage in law enforcement, embracing the good without surrendering to the not so good. It was terrific to see NYPD Blue alumnus Nick Turturro in the premiere episode, too. There is a conflict, though, that only the recorder can mend, because I am torn between the precinct and the courtroom. The Outlaw, the NBC courtroom drama, not only brought Jimmy Smits back to television, but sharp writing, quick wit, and a wonderful dialogue cadence of its own! I love both shows so much, I try to sneak looks in during commercials, but advertisers always time it so that never works!
The bottom line is there is great television back during the last Prime Time hour. I applaud the networks for investing in tremendous dramas, strong writing, and proven actors in the era where reality TV has overtaken the airwaves and the ratings, and costs two-thirds less in production costs. I think there are others out there like me, who long for stories and actors, instead of acting out. I think I have one open hour in the week now, so I need to catch all the catnaps I can! At least CSI ends at 10 PM ET that night.
Personal television viewing.