Tuesday Night Round-Up

On Tuesdays, I watch three shows in a row. First up is NCIS, the extremely hearty, wink wink, nudge, nudge version of CSI. It is disturbingly chauvinistic (the character Tony would be sued for harassment by any self-respecting female employee), incredibly jokey, unbelievably unrealistic (would a goth really work for the navy?) and totally implausible. It's also light, nonsensical, you-can-do-your-homework-at-the-same-time fare. I can take about one of these shows per season (the reason I didn't even try to watch Eyes).

The producer is Bellisario, who also produced Quantum Leap. I quite like Quantum Leap, but the relationship between the characters on NCIS is pretty much the same as Sam and Al's on Quantum Leap, only more so. The most refreshing thing about this is that despite the sexual tension, it isn't leading up to anything. Kate is never going to get together with Tony or with anyone else. They will joke themselves into oblivion. Hi Ho.

After NCIS, I flip over to FOX and watch the last three minutes of American Idol and wonder at it bemusedly all over again. Then House comes on, which I love. I don't know who the writers are, but the increasingly complicated relationships reminds me a great deal of Joss Whedon's work; that is, rather than a big bad something happening (Wilson commits adultery! House is sued for malpractice!), the big bad slowly grows on you, like horror. However, I'm afraid that they ruined it; getting rid of Vogler and Cameron was a mistake. I'm hoping that they bring both back: Cameron because her sincerity (which could have been a front) undermined House's self-protection and Vogler, well, because Vogler was great, a good bad guy or a bad good guy, a relentless machine who represented the opposite of House in just about every particular but was just as fierce and remorseless in his own way. He was a great foil. And now he's gone. Huh. By the way, Robert Sean Leonard is truly excellent in his part. I forgive him for all the angsty teenage parts he ever played.

I finish up the evening with Blind Justice, which I have commented on earlier. I have ambivalent feelings about Blind Justice. The crimes aren't much to get excited about (you may notice that all three shows are mysteries; it's how I relax) and I don't much like cop shows where the answer is to beat up the bad guy; ho hum; it's not very imaginative. But I really like Jim Dunbar (Ron Eldard), the main character; he's a kind of a blind Archie Goodwin. He's not some super sensitive guy. He's the personification of tough, cocky cop whose blindness does not, in some automatic disability-in-TV-land way, do away with the toughness and cockiness. Last week, there was an excellent scene where the other alpha male at the precinct got fed up with Dunbar's cockiness and confronted him in the precinct's locker room. It was the sort of thing where, when Dunbar could see, they would have slammed each other into walls and stuff and then, wham bang, turned into best buds. But Dunbar's blindness changes the dynamics. When the second alpha male comes charging into the locker room, Dunbar tenses; he turns his head trying to gauge the other guy's closeness: what the threat is, how close it is. He can defend himself, but he's wary. And the other guy, who wants to beat the crap out of Dunbar, can't without looking like a total jerk. The result is this extremely tense argument that actually, in a way, resolves some of the issues. It was really very well down.

In general, I think TV, no matter how silly a great deal of it is, does attract good writers. There's stability, and money, in television. It's a good place to settle down. As television gets richer and richer, the fare actually goes up, which I realize isn't a popular view. One is suppose to think that television used to be so much better, just like one is suppose to think that everything used to be so much better. And granted, there's a lot of dreck on TV. But the overall quality is fairly high. You don't last unless you can at least produce a decent plot. Unless you're the WWF, which doesn't mean the WWF isn't very good at what it does (or that it doesn't produce plots, come to think of it).


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