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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Fall TV—Thoughts on Speechless, Designated Survivor, Bull, This Is Us, MacGyver, Kevin Can Wait, The Good Place, Timeless

My DVR is working overtime as I keep up with new shows I’m checking out this fall while watching my old favorites and plenty of sports. I know, I should read more. In the meantime, here’s a Rob’s Rants on the new shows I’m watching.

Speechless: Did you really think I was starting with any other show? The show has a character living with CP. I’ve heard black people talk about calling their friends in the ‘70s because there was actually a black character on TV. I think I now understand the feeling just a bit. And, of course, I’m over analyzing the show.

The family moved to a new school district because the mom (Minnie Driver) found a good situation for J.J. (Micah Fowler), her son who lives with CP. Yet, she discovers that the only ramp into the school is where they take out the garbage. She really investigated, eh? J.J. encounters a few over-the-top reactions to his presence—an aide who is giddy to meet him and a teacher who convinces students to suggest he run for class president. J.J.’s reactions capture the “what-the-f-bomb” moments well.

I loved the able-bodied brother, Ray (Mason Cook), getting stuck with the therapy session because J.J. wasn’t there. J.J. showing interest in girls and choosing his own aide (Cedrich Yardbough plays Kenneth) was good stuff. There was some great interaction between J.J. and Kenneth, and I like J.J. breaking the rules a bit—and getting crap for it. The mother-son relationship is developing well. The TV-date hit home for me. (Hey, at least mine started with The Mentalist—not The Bachelor!)

There are some forced moments in episode 3, and the house being a dump and the dad (John Ross Bowie) picking garbage . . . it’s just weird. I get it, the dad’s coping with J.J.’s limits. Fine. Clean the damn house.

Questions remain, especially why J.J. doesn’t have a speech synthesizer instead of someone reading what he says from a board—aside from it working on the show. I’m hoping they make fewer “statements” and “bring the funny” more, but I’m definitely going to keep watching.

The Designated Survivor: Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkland, who becomes president after the Capital is blown up during the State of the Union. The show is balancing the investigation into the terrorist attack and, for better or worse, the politics of rebuilding our government quite well. It has quickly become a must watch for me.

Bull: Michael Weatherly stars as Jason Bull, an expert in trial science—think “ultra jury consultant.” I was freaked out by the fact that the firm employs a mirror jury for each case. Seriously? They find people who are just like the jurors? They even look like them. Plus, it’s a service for rich people aside from pro-bono work. And is Bull going to take guilty clients and get them off? Or is every client going to be innocent? So far, the stories behind the cases are decent, but I just don’t see people relating to the show, even if it survives sandwiched between NCIS shows. I’m not sure I’ll keep watching.

This Is Us: They’re tackling a lot with this show. A couple goes to the hospital as the wife goes into labor, expecting to bring home three babies. And they do. Only one is a black baby who was abandoned at birth. The couple is white, and one of their biological triplets didn’t survive birth. Told from the perspective of the parents when the kids were young and the children when they are adults, the story has already touched on many issues, including obesity, alcoholism, race, career / mid-life crisis, and discovering one’s biological parents. It’s thankfully not pounding viewers over the head with emotion, and I’ll keep watching.

MacGyver: Angus MacGyver (Lucas Hill) works for a secret government agency, thwarting plots against America with his low tech knowledge of seemingly everything within his reach. I never really watched the original, and I have to admit I thought it would be pretty cheesy. (The freeze-frame explanations of what he’s doing may fall into that category.) Low expectations and watching on DVR on Saturday mornings may be contributing to my being mildly pleasantly surprised. The relationship between “Mac” and his partner, Jack Dalton (George Eads), adds some fun to the show, and I also like Wilt (Justin Hires from the short-lived Rush Hour, which I thought deserved more time), Mac’s roommate. For the moment, I’ll keep watching.

Kevin Can Wait: Kevin James stars as a cop who has just retired. It’s not must see TV. I’ve had a genuine laugh or two, but it’s mostly chuckles at pretty typical guy stuff. I’m not long for it.
The Good Place: A woman is accidentally admitted to heaven, and her presence is destroying paradise. The first episode put me off with the idea that only the best of the best get to heaven, and everyone else, it’s suggested, are doomed to eternal damnation. I persevered to watch all of the episodes on demand to include the show here. I’ve only laughed once, but the concept is compelling. I don’t think that works for a sitcom. I doubt I’ll watch much more.

Timeless: Someone steals a top secret time machine and is altering historical events with unknown consequences. The main character is Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer), a history professor recruited to help stop the thief. So far, the Hindenburg disaster and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln have been kept intact with seemingly minor details changed. Yet, Preston returns to present day to find her previously dying mother healthy, her sister having never existed, and herself engaged to a man she doesn’t know. The possibilities seem endless. Possibly too much so? And predictability may become a problem if events are, essentially, unaltered. Ethical dilemmas, such as saving Lincoln, could be interesting. I’ll be watching to find out as time travel stories almost always fascinate me.

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