Now Playing: LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
Well, I tried. While I was watching MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL with Chicken last night, I was rolling tape on both PRISON BREAK on Fox and the premiere of SURFACE on NBC. Too bad I didn't get to see either of them. A thunderstorm must have glitched my cable box, because it clicked over to the wrong channel, and I ended up taping LAS VEGAS instead.
I saw the majority of SURFACE, I suppose, but between weather warnings taking up about 30% of the screen and occasionally preempting the show and WAND-TV going off the air for most of the fourth act, I was pretty lost. I should watch another episode or two to give it a fair shake, although I wasn't that thrilled with it, and I don't expect it to stay on the air long anyway.
Formerly called FATHOM, SURFACE stars the improbably named Lake Bell, who not convincingly portrayed a callow young attorney on THE PRACTICE, as a marine biologist who sees what might be a bigass sea monster deep below the Pacific Ocean. A wimp teenager in North Carolina sees some weird shit in the Atlantic, including some kind of alien egg, which he brings home and hides in the family fish tank. That ranks high on the List of Stupid Decisions. There's also a beer-guzzling Louisiana redneck (Jay Ferguson from EVENING SHADE) who has something to do with the show, but since the dumbfucks at WAND were off the air, I don't know what. He must have seen a monster too, because he's packin' up and goin' east to find it.
SURFACE's pilot was written, directed and executive-produced by its creators, twins Josh and Jonas Pate. These guys created a wonderful series called G VS. E, which originally ran for eleven episodes on the USA cable network. G VS. E was a wonderfully imaginative, clever, funny, fast-paced genre series about immortal angels tracking down and destroying Satan's minions in Los Angeles. It fell apart after it moved to the Sci-Fi channel for its second season of 11 shows. It was still decent, but that initial 11 was damn good. The Pates eventually took over L.A. DRAGNET during its aborted second season, which was good, but I felt the Pate brothers were too interesting to waste running a cop show, solid though it may be.
So I'm optimistic about SURFACE, even though the promo for next week's episode looks like a random group of alien-conspiracy cliches, including the government blackout and two kids keeping a baby alien as a pet in the bathtub. Wonder what the odds are of that "cute" pet getting mean and ugly in a big hurry?
NBC premiered MY NAME IS EARL, a very funny new single-camera sitcom starring Jason Lee (MALLRATS) as a New Jersey redneck and ne'er-do-well who decides to change his life after hitting the lottery and sets out to right the wrongs he has committed. The opener found him trying to get a wimp he bullied in grade school laid, which is harder than Earl thought when he discovers the guy is a "Homosexual-American". It's hard not to like Lee in this role, although his bitchy ex-wife (Jamie Pressly) and idiot best pal could get old quick.
I caught THE OFFICE for the first time--the U.S. version with Steve Carell, not the U.K. show. Working in an office, I related to some of the painful bits, but I thought this episode was a little too uncomfortable. It was funny alright, but in an edgy, shift-in-your-seat kind of way that doesn't play very well with prime-time audiences. Carell is obviously talented, and if THE OFFICE is going to follow MY NAME IS EARL, I'll probably check it out again. I can't get away from co-star Rainn Wilson anyway; in the last month, I've seen him in SAHARA and an episode of ENTOURAGE.
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT opened with a strong show starring Robert Patrick, the T-1000 from TERMINATOR 2, as a just-released rapist who may or may not have attacked a woman he rode a bus with. The episode actually forgets about that rape to concentrate on the ethics of Detective Stabler (Chris Meloni) going undercover in Patrick's therapy sessions and getting close to the ex-con in case he rapes again. It's all very close to entrapment, and the point is made that Stabler's interaction with Patrick may have been the bell that set him off. Some surprising suspense and gunplay mark the climax, but it's the excellent performance by Patrick going head-to-head with the intense Meloni that made this a good show. It was great to see Robert Walden as a guest star too, even though his character disappears right after the opening titles. Walden was the bulldogish reporter Rossi on the old LOU GRANT show, and his retired detective on tonight's SVU was reminiscent of his earlier Emmy-nominated role.