Bite size TV reviews: TiVo or Ti-NO -- Showtime's Weeds and ABC Family's The Middleman
If you've been reading The Feed's page inside Sunday Floridian, you know I've been putting up bite-size reviews of upcoming shows under the heading TiVo or Ti-No (the Ti-No's are the awful ones)
So, here's a blogified version of those reviews. Ironically, I can take bit more space here online, so you'll get more information (and snarky comments, of course) here than in print.
Weeds, 10 p.m. Monday, Showtime: As if a half-hour dramedy about a pot-dealing suburbanite weren't surreal enough, the show's fourth season finds Mary-Louise Parker's dope-peddling widow Nancy Botwin torching her home and heading for the California border town where her dead husband's mother lives. Turns out, her father-in-law is a resentful Albert Brooks, who only boosts the comedy mother lode that starts with eminently watchable Parker and extends to onscreen pal Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins) and dope-head suburban dad Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon). Because the best lines are filled with profanity, I can't quote any of the best jokes here. But Weeds' best quality is its whipcrack dialogue and the producers' ability to dance on the edge of reality and absurdity in a way that always threatens to degenerate into aimlessness, but never does.
Secret Diary of a Call Girl, 10:30 p.m. Monday, Showtime: This is supposed to be a comedy about a hip, high-class London call girl who pretends to be a legal secretary while shagging strange men for cash. Instead, the debut offers a curious character study of a working girl — played to saucy perfection by Dr. Who alum Billie Piper — who only pauses when she starts to bond with a new client. Originally, these episodes aired on British TV to great acclaim -- but tonight's episode doesn't feel particularly realistic, sexy or funny. Instead, Piper's layered portrayal lends the promise of greater achievement own the line - if you care to stick around that long.
The Middleman, 8 p.m. Monday, ABC Family:
When I met this show's creator, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, in Los Angles last year, I discovered a funny, down to Earth guy who was also a hot property in Hollywood, thanks to gigs writing for Lost, Medium and his own buzzed-about comic book line. So imagine my disappointment when I fired up the first episode of ABC Family's take on his comic, only to find a confused, ill-conceived series, about a straitlaced undercover hero chasing comic book-style bad guy creatures. The problem: The Middleman can't decide if it's a ironic comedy lampooning the classic adventure themes -- a'la the Mummy -- or a modern noir about the world's freakiest law enforcement team. Natalie Morales is a snarky, unflappable temp worker-turned-sidekick. But the rest unfolds like a warmed-over Men in Black script — heavy on cheesy effects and way too light on the actual, um, funny.