Monday, March 19, 2007

On Goldblum, Richter, and Manning...

An inch of snow this morning when I opened my door, an inch. It was 70 less than a week ago, it's the official first day of Spring tomorrow, and I had to brush an inch of snow off my windshield. Welcome to Central Michigan, enjoy your stay. Just a couple TV things today, a combined review of two new shows and a heads up on an atypically "Red State" SNL.

Both "Andy Barker P.I." and "Raines" debuted last week on NBC. I would review them separately except that NBC seems to be promoting them as a one-two Thursday night punch, and it's easy to see why. Both star quirky "A-" list stars (Andy Richter in Barker and Jeff Goldblum in Raines), both are titled with the main character's name, both feature an interesting plot device that propels the stories, and they air back to back. The main difference (other than run time) is that Andy Barker is straight comedy while Raines is being sold as a procedural drama (as if we don't have enough of those on already). But Raines is definitely more "Monk" than "CSI" and you will find yourself laughing at both of these shows quite a bit. I managed to DVR them and I have to tell you, I was quite impressed with both. Here are three reasons you might want to check out NBC on Thursday nights about 9:30 (or just set your fancy-shmancy DVR, you techno geek, you).

The Stars

Richter and Goldblum shine. These characters are perfectly crafted to their personalities and it's great to see these guys in their element. I've been a big fan of both of these guys for a while now (Richter since his early days on Conan, and Goldblum since at least ID4 and Jurassic Park) and it will be a pleasure to visit them in their new environments every week or so. This is Goldblum's first real shot at TV, so it will be interesting to see how he does, but Richter has had two previous post "Late Night" forays into the sitcom genre neither of which lasted long. "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" was a great show that nobody watched (well I and like 7 others watched), "Quintuplets" was an awful show that nobody watched, and of course he has guested on shows like "Arrested Development" and "Malcolm in the Middle", (Both of which are now off the air I might add, though it's probably not fair to blame him for those.) I get why "Quints" never took off, but "Universe" should have been a success. Hopefully people will give this one a shot, and see how truly funny and, dare I say it, sweet, Mr. Richter can truly be.

The Concept

Andy Barker, PI is based on an accountant who accidentally becomes a Private Investigator, due to the fact that his office was previously occupied by one. Which means, each week, we will get to see Andy stumble his way through a case based on only his new friends and fierce accounting skills, fun stuff. But Raines wins the high concept award between the two, with Goldblum's character having the victims of his cases appear to him, literally. The trick is, that it is only a device that his mind is using to help him solve the case, so they don't know any more than he does. As he finds out they have an accent, suddenly they speak with one. So you are always aware that this is him talking to himself, but through a very literal vision of the deceased. It sounds much more complicated than it is, but it plays out in an extremely engaging and entertaining way.

The Writing

The pilots for both of these shows were compelling and stocked full of quick wit and depth. I found myself consistently smiling at a turn of phrase or raising my eyebrows at a turn of the plot. When you look at the pedigree it's not that much of a surprise. Richter's show is fronted by old pal Conan O' Brien's production crew, and Raines rests much on the back of the genius of Graham Yost whose previous credits include "Band of Brothers" and "From the Earth to the Moon". Both shows benefit from some well honed writing talent that keeps you on your toes yet entertained at the same time.

At the end of the day, there are few things I love more than when a new show appears that feels different than anything else on TV and makes me laugh and think at the same time. Lucky us, there were two such shows this past week. Check 'em out, and if you like them, keep tuning in and let a friend know. I'm sick of quality shows biting the dust within a season (I'm still reeling from Studio 60 disappearing). If all of us chip in and do our part we can keep G.S.G.C. (Good Shows Getting Cancelled) disease at bay.


On a completely separate note, I wanted to let you know that SNL is going distinctly middle America this weekend. They have Colts QB Peyton Manning hosting and former Idol Carrie Underwood as the musical guest. With this in mind, I wonder if they will tone down the innuendo of the sketches knowing who these guests appeal to. The truth is I've been DVRing SNL for the first time in several years and have been somewhat impressed at both the writing and cleanliness of this year's production. Of course when I say "cleanliness" I mean relative to where they were when I quit watching, which was 2 out of 3 skits being vulgar. Now it's just 1 out of 4. So I guess maybe the right word is "lessdirtyliness" but that just didn't feel like a real word (not that that has ever stopped me before). This weekend should be interesting though. Athletes have never had much success on the show (anyone remember the Nancy Kerrigan episode?) but maybe Peyton will break the stereotype.

Workaholic Intervention coming later today:)

Comments? Questions? Do your shows suffer from G.S.G.C disease? All feedback welcome below :)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I'll watch the two shows mostly because I enjoyed watching them with you and just a little because you are going to DVR them for us and we can watch them. Anyway, wondered if anyone reading this has a plan to get Studio 60 back on the air - I am having withdrawls!