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SATURDAY ROUNDUP! (July 2010, wk 3)

Every other week this summer, The Signal will be offering up a Friday Roundup: a collection of mini-reviews, TV news, interesting links and varying television-related thoughts that weren’t big enough to merit a full post on their own. This week we were a day late getting it up. Enjoy!

Reviews, Thoughts and Other Ruminations

Castle: I’ve blitz-watched the first season’s 10 episodes, and this show is everything I expected going into it: lightweight, yes, but charming and breezy and anchored by two great leads in Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. The show is essentially an hour-long comedy in the vein of Ugly Betty – it milks its situations for comedic power, but treats its characters as funny people rather than joke machines. The chemistry between Fillion and Katic is electic, and the minor cast supporting them are also quite good. A show that, unlike some of my favourites, its just an easy watch. We all need those.

Huge: With its second episode, “Letters Home”, Huge solidified its status for me as Best New Show this summer. Of course, it’s the only new show I’ve watched this summer, but its still fantastic. Funny how the light teen drama on ABC Family is more emotionally intense than the cop dramedy on ABC (the above Castle), which I like very much. Dr. Rand, a character I was unsure of after the pilot, finally begins to make sense: instead of the regular steel-willed disciplinarian one expects, it becomes clear that she spends a lot of time acting like one, but often (especially in times of weakness, such as her current predicament with her father) bends to pressure to make the easy call. That explains one of the more puzzling moments of the pilot, where Will was offered a place back at camp in one of those ‘heartwarming moments’ that actually make no sense, considering she was running an underground candy smuggling ring. It now becomes obvious that Will asking to come back was all it really took, as Rand’s not exactly in a strong place.

The rest of the cast continues to be strong, anchored by Nikki Blonsky and Haley Hasselhoff. Will is just as polarising here, with the show neither demonising her rebellion nor ignoring where it came from: a family full of quiet, possibly unintentional emotional abuse about her weight that instigated a lot of Will’s anger. Amber’s tiptoe dance with George continues to, somehow, be completely adorable despite my being allergic to ‘crush’ plots; possibly because its becoming very clear George feels the same way. And the support cast are getting good moments: Ian (Ari Stedham) accidentally falling for the new girl while gawking over Amber, only to lose her just as he begins to realise the potential (as well as, it turns out, getting along so well with Will because he assumed she’s a lesbian); the reveal that quiet-but-lovable Alistair (Harvey Guillen) and Amber’s tetchy friend Chloe (Ashley Holliday) are secret siblings, apparently at Chloe’s request. And though I don’t think she had a specific plot on her own this week, Raven Goodwin continues to be a shining star as the quiet Becca, Will’s main confidante. Very interested in one thematic thread: twice in this episode, Will finds herself encouraged by parents that are not her own, to great effect, even as she tries and fails to reconnect with her own. And one last thing… I’ve never met a Canadian who called it a ‘queue’ instead of a line.

News

A Rookie Sticks Around: Canadian cop drama Rookie Blue has gotten a second season pickup in both Canada and the US (DHD, 12/07/2010), thanks to very good performance on both sides of the border.

New Name Not Better: ABC‘s comedy Better Together has been renamed to Better With You (08/07/2010).  My predictions for the show’s survival are inexplicably unchanged.

Promotions Time: Two pilot guest stars have been upped to regulars (DHD 11/07/2010) on coming fall shows: Peter Serafinowicz on Fox’s Running Wilde, and Erin Cummings on ABC’s Detroit 187.

Leaving New York: Leading lady Melina Kanakaredes, who has headlined CSI: New York with Gary Sinise since it premiered, is exiting the series (The Live Feed, 12/07/2010) just as it heads to the 9pm Friday death slot. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. And in related news…

Now Entering New York: Following Kanakaredes‘ exit, stepping up to lead beside Sinise will be multiple Emmy winner Sela Ward (DHD 13/07/2010). I’m a fan of Ward‘s from her recurring stint on FOX’s House, even though (as happens every season) I was only a sometime-watcher.

The Man with the Van: Comedy Central has picked up a new semi-scripted comedy from H. Jon Benjamin (who voices the titular lead of Archer) called Jon Benjamin Has a Van for a 10-episode order (DHD 12/07/2010). Sounds like fun.

It’s All in the Game: Funny; on The Wire, Aidan Gillan was the promising leader led astray by an advisor, while his new position as series regular Littlefinger (THR 12/07/2010) on HBO’s new fantasy Game of Thrones has him now as a malicious advisor. Both on HBO, too. Huh.

Good Luck, David Milch: After his bizarre John From Cincinnati not making the jump to season two a few years back, David Milch has been preparing something new: Luck, an HBO series about horse racing culture. It’s been picked up (DHD 14/07/2010). I’m quite excited, as though I haven’t yet watched Deadwood, but Cincinnati was very intriguing over the course of its short run.

inSecurity Hires a Cast: Canadian spy comedy inSecurity, which has already secured a 13-episode order, has brought on its cast (THR 14/07/2010): Natalie Lisinska, William Devry, Matthew MacFadzean, Grace Lynn Kung, Richard Yearwood and Remy Girard. Interested to see where this one goes.

Interesting Links

Disability on Angel: Winifred Burkle and the Hot Mess (this ain’t livin’): Winifred Burkle is a subject of much love and scorn in the Whedon fan community, and here, s.e. smith takes a look at her, both as a disabled character (considering her mental illness) and as a female character. Smith notes both some very clear issues with the character, as well as reasons why she’s admirable, demonstrating the awkward way Angel often dealt with its female cast. Again, note, if smith reports any abuse whatsoever coming from this blog, I will stop linking to this ain’t livin’ out of consideration for its author. Thanks!

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