It’s Monday, and I’m busy. But since a few of you have asked, I thought I’d let you know which new TV shows I’m watching so far this season (True Blood, Life On Mars, and Sanctuary), and see what you think of them. And while you’re at it, if there are any new shows you’re watching that you’re excited about, be sure to let me know!
So far, this new HBO series by Alan Ball about “outed” vampires has, for me, really lived up to the summer’s worth of hype. Anna Paquin is acting the hell out of it, pretty much as you’d expect. And confining the plot to a small town in New Orleans has succeeded in keeping the premise from being as trite as I originally feared it might be. Based on the buzz, I thought this series could end up being a trite “statement” show — using vampires as a metaphor for homophobia and racism in America. Which on some level it is, and that’s fine. As long as it doesn’t ever overplay that hand.
As it turns out, while we do get glimpses of the political and spiritual ramifications of “mainstream” vampires in the outside world now and then, for the most part, this series is less about “vampires as a metaphor” than it is “Northern Exposure Meets Anne Rice”. The mixture of odd, passionate, and oddly passionate characters — both living and undead — creates a spicy jambalaya (yes, I went there) that really keeps you on your toes. In many cases, the humans are freakier than the vampires, especially in the bedroom … and this I’m sure is part of the overall statement Alan Ball is trying to make.
I’d be curious to hear if anybody has read the books this series is based on, and if so, how it holds up to the printed version.
Life On Mars
I’ll confess right up front: I have not seen the original UK version of this show. But I’ve heard it’s awesome. And I do intend to watch it if/when it’s available on DVD and/or if/when I’m ever able to find out that BBC America is rerunning it in time for me to actually TiVo it. So far, no luck.
Having said that, all I have to judge from is the American version, which premiered this past week. And the fact is, I really enjoyed it. Everybody knows I have a fondness for time travel premises, and while I suspect that this series will be even more fuzzy about the logic of “how” than Journeyman was, I already like the way the show carries itself. Which is ultimately more important to me than whether or not the physics all jive anyway.
What’s curious to me that it looks as if, with the exception of the guy who plays Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara), they’ve completely recast this series since the original pilot. I remembered seeing commercials with Colm Meaney in them, and thought I was going crazy until I did some research and saw that they’d recast Harvey Keitel in that role, and added Gretchen Mol to the mix. And as far as I can tell, they completely changed the tone of the show as well. Don’t believe me? Check out the original trailer for yourself.
This is one I’m still on the fence about. As a Stargate fan, I can’t also help but be an Amanda Tapping fan, so I’m giving it a chance. Interestingly enough, this show actually started its life as a Web-only production, and become so popular that SciFi bought the rights and commissioned 13 episodes. The 2-hour pilot is actually the first 4 webisodes lumped together.
Also interesting is that the entire series is filmed using green screen technology and limited props — no location shots or background sets. And you really can’t tell. That’s pretty amazing in and of itself, and all the moreso when you consider that it’s actually cost-effective enough for a TV show to pull this off these days.
As for the show itself … it’s an interesting premise. Part X-Files, part Highlander, part Buffy, part … you get the idea. Which is why I’m still on the fence yet. The first few episodes have been enjoyable enough, but so far, I’m still not feeling the “heart” of the show. Its own internal mythology hasn’t been built up enough yet, and the characters seem a bit detached from each other. As if the series started to run before it could walk. Or as if — like Stargate — it was a well-made TV adaptation of a movie … but in this case, there never was a movie. However, I suspect this could resolve itself over time, so I’ll stick with it a while longer before I make my decision.