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Defying Gravity (DVD) television series January 24, 2010

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, TV.
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One of my favorite series from last year, DEFYING GRAVITY, finally came out on DVD this week — that means viewers can see the five episodes that ABC never aired. As a spaceship hurtles toward Venus and some type of mysterious project, they relive their relationships and friendships in flashback and onboard the spacecraft. Originally intended to run at least three seasons, the show was cancelled after one, primarily because of the way ABC screwed the producers out of funding.

Of the three shows I have loved most the last few years, all of them on ABC, and all of them cancelled, this was by far my favorite (the other two, Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone.)

ABC picked up this series literally three weeks before they aired the first episode, mis-sold it as a “Gray’s Anatomy in space” and never spent the money to develop an audience for the show as a mid-summer replacement. Developed as a multi-national series (including Fox, the BBC, and Space) this was not an ABC series, but one that they purchased and then botched selling. A websearch will lead you to the outline for the remaining episodes had the series continued beyond season 1. Sadly, the cast was dismissed, and the sets dismantled and destroyed in October.

This 4-DVD set contains all the episodes (including the 5 not aired on ABC), deleted scenes, and other extras. I watched all 5 unaired episodes in one sitting. This is the type of great television that was designed and written for Network, but shows why quality television is heading toward cable. The characters are interesting, the storylines gripping, and the episodes get better and better as they go along. The last 5 unaired episodes are by far the strongest episodes, and the show, sadly, leaves you dangling at the end. You can sort of infer how some of the pieces were going to play out, but this is just a darn shame that it was cancelled.

There is some fine acting here — from Ron Livingston’s mcdreamy sadsack astronaut to Eyal Poddel’s emotionally wounded psychologist. But every single supporting player here is good, and they are all likable.

The DVD quality is excellent (widescreen High Definition); the sets and costumes look great, the special effects are terrific. You will really enjoy this series, and like most viewers long for more. And unlike some other fare, this is bright sci-fi; colorful, with a heart. It focuses on the characters more than the science, but even that is fun.

Highly recommended.

2009 TV Scorecard – Best: “V”; “Glee” and “Modern Family” December 3, 2009

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Fall series premiers are getting ever less exciting, and with shows almost completely dependent on ratings and tv commercial dollars, its no wonder that little comes our way anymore on network tv. But there is the occasional breakthrough. Those of us who have had our hearts ripped out with cancellations of such well-done shows as “Eli Stone”; “Wonderfalls”; “Pushing Daisies” and the like, will understandably know why it is hard to commit to watching new series anymore.

The best of the fall bunch, “GLEE”, is a winner. An appealing cast, great scripts, and a strong teen following make this the standout of the fall season. And it’s a musical theatre lover’s dream show. I do hope they finally tie up the ridiculous pregnancy plot, and move on to bigger and better things…but the season has been filled with wonderful things: “Imagine” in sign language; a number in wheelchairs; great guest appearances (bring back John Lloyd Young!)…and a return visit later this season by Kristin Chenowith! Love the show. Keep it coming.

“V” was surprisingly better than expected — mostly because of the top-notch cast. In ABC programming bizareness, the show aired only 4 original episodes this fall, making us wait until spring for more. Bring it on, I’m hooked.

“Modern Family” is the sitcom standout of the season. An appealing and natural looking/acting casts bring some of the season’s most humerous moment to hilarious, embarrassing life. At the middle of it all is Ty Burrell as the yuppie dad-come-nerd, who basically plays his role as if he were a talking dog. Its one of the best, and funniest, sitcom acting turns in ages.

Surprising failures? “FlashForward”. It had the best premier episode of the season. By episode three it had faded into the distance with little interest in the characters. I do wonder why this cast is primarily British, acting with American accents. Joseph Fiennes has a throw-away roll, and not much is made of the other actors in the show. I’m losing interest fast.

In holdover’s – “Castle” is holding it’s own. I’ve really come to love this show, and look forward to my 10:00 Monday night hour of witticism and Nathan Fillion.

“Heroes” jumped the shark months ago, and basically lost my interest in October. I turn it on to catch some of the special effects — but they come few and far between in a show that just needs to be cancelled at this point. Similarly, “The Office” is no longer funny, and “30Rock” better find a way to get itself out of its NBC-studios insider jokes and back to the broad comedy that others could relate to pretty darn fast. “Community” is occasionally funny, and moreso if you work or attend that setting, but it is rather one-note.

Among the holdovers that still hold my interest are “How I Met Your Mother”, which is getting better, now that they are less concerned about Josh Radnor’s (lack of) love life, and focusing more on it’s more interesting characters — and “The Big Bang Theory” which episode per episode has the most laugh-out-loud moments on television, and a quote-worthy statement every single week. Take Raj’s observation that “If I could speak to rabbits, they would be amazed, and I would be their king” and Sheldon’s comment that “Cats refuse to wear sporting apparel…as my sister found out the hard way”. This is genius stuff.

Otherwise, I’ve found myself watching a lot of Netflix DVD’s instead.

And that’s the view from Ann Arbor today.

“Castle” on ABC — this is good stuff October 21, 2009

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Anyone else watching “Castle” on ABC? It’s snuck up on me, and turned into one of my favorite television shows.

castle

First, the chemistry between stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic is palpable. Both are terrific actors in their own right, but together, they sizzle.

Second, the show is so well written — it’s witty and funny; in part a throwback to shows like Hart to Hart and Remington Steele, and in part their smarter, wittier cousin. But the mysteries are fun, and the acting is first-rate across the board. This is a show that is directed with, well, heart.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the show tune in Monday’s at 10:00. ABC has ordered an entire season, so they appear to be well aware of the growing phenomenon that is “Castle”. Between Glee, Modern Family and Castle, there is a full fall of well-written and original works.

In the words of ┬áRichard Castle…”Best…case…Ev-er…”