Tag: read before watching

Read Before Watching – Summer Special v4.0: Syfy Premieres

This is a big week for the cable network that began broadcasting on September 24, 1992, for on July 7th Sci Fi Channel becomes Syfy. Admittedly, I wasn’t too keen on the name change when it was first announced, but now understanding the reasoning behind it (giving the channel it’s own, unique brand) and having had time to let it sink in, I think it was the right move and I kinda like it. To go along with the name change, Syfy has two premieres this week. Hit show Eureka resumes it’s third season after a very long ten months on hiatus and new original series Warehouse 13 arrives with a two-hour debut.

Warehouse 13 – Tuesdays at 9:00PM
First up is Warehouse 13, premiering on July 7th and airing on Tuesdays. The series stars Eddie McClintock as Secret Service agent Pete Lattimer, Joanne Kelly as Pete’s fellow Secret Service agent Myka Bering, Saul Rubinek as Artie Nielsen, with CCH Pounder as Mrs. Fredric and Allison Scagliotti as Claudia Donovan on a recurring basis. Things kick off when off-the-cuff Pete and Myka, his by-the-book partner save the President’s life from a very unusual assassination attempt. As a reward for their unflappability in the face of something possibly mystical or supernatural the two are…recruited by the mysterious Mrs. Fredric who has them reassigned. The pair arrive at a location in the middle of nowhere where they find a nondescript warehouse. They also meet Artie Nielsen, the agent in charge of Warehouse 13. Artie shows Pete and Myka the real Warehouse 13, an underground bunker which houses all of the supernatural objects that the government has procured over the years. And that’s when the agents learn what their new assignment is, to find and take into custody like objects that are still in the wild. With no training, but some nifty equipment via Artie, the two agents set off on their first mission and thus begins the first episode.

Warehouse 13 is one of those shows that may vaguely remind you of other genre series, but it doesn’t pretend to be any of them. It certainly sounds a little X-Files-ish, but it far less creepy and more sure of its direction. It could be a successor to Middleman, but is much less self-deprecatingly campy and never knowingly winks at the audience. In the end, Warehouse 13 is its own show and starts off strongly enough that it doesn’t need t orest on the laurels of classics-gone-by. Besides, it stars Saul Rubinek, which is what sold me on the show sight unseen. The press screener the Syfy sent around did not have completed special effects, graphics or music, which is great as a reviewer as you can really see if the acting and characters can hold of the show without whiz-bang computer graphics. McClintock, Kelly and Rubinek are not rookie actors and they all show that they are more than capable of making their characters believable as well as not looking overly hokey when reacting to things that aren’t there. Rubinek is especially skilled at playing the eccentric Artie that may have spent just a little too much time in the Warehouse. McClintock and Kelly have some great, non-forced chemistry and it will be interesting to see how the their two characters develop together. That’s not to say this episode is without flaws as there are definitely some rough edges here and there. There is some stilted dialog, a convenience here or there in the plot and the main characters could use a little more development, but all those things would only be a deal breaking were this a middle of the season episode. Being the premiere, the roughness should be forgiven. It’s up to the cast and crew to follow this up by quickly cleaning things up and propelling us forward on an interesting ride. I think Warehouse 13 certainly will.

Eureka Season 3.5 – Fridays at 9:00PM
I can’t believe its been ten months, give or take a week or two, since the last new episode of Eureka season three, but Friday, July 10th finally sees the triumphant return of this sorely missed series. I really don’t understand why the channel put Eureka on such a long hiatus. It certainly can’t be good for its ratings or chances of coming back for another season. I sincerely hope these last ten episodes of the third are not the last of the entire series. But I digress (with apologies to Peter David). When last we left things, Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) had been fired as sheriff of the town and Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) revealed she was pregnant. The first new episode continues from there as Carter’s replacement shows up and Jack and his daughter Zoe face leaving Eureka behind. Of course, being Eureka, something goes scientifically awry and Jack Carter can’t resist getting involved. Those concerned about Carter being reinstated won’t get any confirmation from me, but bear in mind that the next episode, airing July 17th, is not only directed by Colin Ferguson, but the secondary plot heavily involves the former sheriff.

If Syfy had to give Eureka a rest, they at least mark the return with two incredibly strong episodes. Both weeks greatly showcase the things that make this show unique and interesting. Each has a central problem that is intriguing with a satisfying resolution. But what makes Eureka a unique show is that the central mystery is almost a MacGuffin that provides a template for the quirky humor and character interactions we’ve all come to love. The first eight episodes of this season went in a markedly soap opera-esque direction, but thankfully that as been set aside. Every character gets to show who they are and why they are important to the show and the scripts are as sharp, witty and clever as they ever have been. The July 10th mid-season premiere will quickly remind you why you love this show and is like a favorite friend stopping by for an extended visit. Eureka has hit its stride and I hope viewers haven’t forgotten it.

Read Before Watching: February 8th

First, let me apologize for the delay in this edition of my fledgling column. I’m still tweaking the format of it. I had thought to have it be every Wednesday to have something new for you in the middle of the week. However, in rethinking things, maybe having this be at the beginning of the week and looking ahead to what’s coming on will be a little better. I’m still uncertain. Read Before Watching gets a good amount of traffic, so I know you’re reading it. Please leave me some feedback with what you’d like to see as far as format and coverage. Now, then, let’s take a look at what I’m looking forward to this week on the small screen. Note, you will need a DVR this week in order to play along at home.

Monday
Chuck (8:00PM, NBC)
Is it just me or is the shine beginning to wear off of Chuck? It could just be me, but I’m just not as excited as I used to be about this show. It’s still funny, it still delivers, but I don’t think about this show until it’s time to watch it. It still beats, say, Survivor or doing laundry and I’m not dropping it by any means. I just hope they do something new sometime soon.

Heroes (9:00PM, NBC)
Heroes got a lot of flack for a convoluted Volume Three, but not from me. I’m not saying it was perfect, but it sure tried. I’m still digging this show quite a bit. I do think there are some things here and there that could be changed and, admittedly, it may be time for some characters to go, but this new storyline has me intrigued enough to give the show as a whole a spot on my must-see list. This week I think we finally get to meet the man who fathered Sylar.

Tuesday
The Mentalist (9:00PM, CBS)
This is probably my second favorite show right now. Everything is perfect, from the scripts to the characters to the acting. The chemistry between the main characters is just spectacular and the twists and turns each week never get old and always surprised. I can see Patrick Jane becoming one of my all-time favorite TV characters. The Mentalist has been on break for a couple of weeks, but it’s seemed too long and I will be happily tuning in on Monday.

Fringe (9:00PM, Fox)
Told you that a DVR would be required! Fringe had me at “created by J. J. Abrams,” but I’m no longer sure that will be enough to keep me watching through the rest of the season. As a whole, the episodes so far have been uneven in quality. Walter remembering an experiment he once did being similar to each week’s gory death and the sometimes half-baked resolutions are beginning to verge into annoying territory. The next two or three episodes will bring me down off the fence. I really do hope it’s on the side of “keep watching.”

Leverage (10:00PM, TNT)
Leverage is just a consistently fun show to watch. Without a doubt, you will be entertained and feel the hour go by all too quickly. After this week, we get the two-part season finale and then a long wait until season two. This is a great show and you should be watching it.

Wednesday
Lost (9:00PM, ABC)
Now in it’s fifth season, Lost has gone from one of the most frustratingly fun shows to the pinnacle of greatness. This, my friends, is what TV was invented for. This is the show that keeps me awake not just contemplating it’s mysteries, but the implications of the answers it gives to those mysteries. Drama, humor, great acting and time travel done right.

Lie To Me (9:00PM, Fox)
Another one to DVR. Three episodes in and I’m still on the fence about this one too. The things that could be annoying about this show, as I outlined in my review of the first episode, are still there. The twists of each week’s investigations are already deducible prior to the reveal as well. Still watching for now, we’ll see how I feel about this one next week.

Thursday
Wow, there isn’t a single thing on Thursdays I’m interested in watching. That’s very odd as Thursday nights use to be the night for viewing. If anyone has a favorite that airs Thursdays, please leave a comment or email me to enlighten me.

Friday
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (8:00PM, Fox)
I think I might be done with this one. It’s been on a long break, so I’ll watch this week, but unless there has been some huge, fundamental shift, I’m done. The main characters continue to make slasher-film-esque poor decisions and only seem to survive them through a badly written final act. Wile E. Coyote seems a more adept choice at saving the world on a weekly basis at this point.

Dollhouse (9:00PM, Fox)
Joss is boss, so, yeah, this one’s a no-brainer. I’m in for however many episodes it takes for Fox to cancel this one. Yes, I’m still bitter about Firefly. But, hey, there’s supposedly a new regime at Fox that appreciates that some shows take time to build an audience. I hope they mean longer than episode three. Anyway, this one debuts Friday, so please watch it live to show the network the audience is already there.

Honorable Mention: I feel compelled to mention Battlestar Galactica again as, after this week, there are only five episodes left. However, to follow up my last view of it, I officially don’t like any of the characters, except for the two that spent last week bleeding from the head. I am ready for the end.

That’s it for this week. If someone can recommend some shows I should be watching on Thursdays, Saturday and Sunday I will check them out. And Desperate Housewives should be excluded as I gave up on that one a while back.

Read Before Watching: January 28th

Here’s what Joe is looking forward to over the next seven days on the small screen [PLEASE NOTE: The next edition of Read Before Watching has been delayed until Saturday, February 7th]:

Lost has returned and how. Back for a fifth season, the creators have really turned things sideways just in the first two episodes. I like that the flashbacks are about the people on the island jumping around in time and the flash forwards are about the “Oceanic Six” (plus Ben) off the island and trying to get back. The two-part season premiere had a large amount of geeky moments, including the return of several characters, some dead and some…mysterious. Now that there are only a set number of episodes left in the run of the series it appears that the cast and crew are taking care to make every moment on screen count. According to the lucky sods that have been able to view episode 5.03 in advance, this one will increase the involuntary jaw-dropping. You have been warned. Lost airs Wednesdays at 9:00PM on ABC.

losts5cast

Heroes returns from the holiday break with the start of “Volume Four: Fugitives.” I know a lot of people greatly disliked “Volume Three: Villains”, but I will gladly go on record as saying that I really enjoyed it. They did some different things and shook up the characters a bit. We got to see where a lot of characters stand and what side of the whole good-bad thing they truly fall on, especially if they no longer had their powers. That’s not to say i thought it was perfect. I agree that the time travel element got overused. I also thought that everything was put back to where it was a little too tidily. I wish they would have kept Sylar on the redemptive path. But overall? I was entertained and looked forward to see each episode. The tease for “Volume Four” was pretty great. Michael Dorn is the President! I hope that wasn’t just a cameo and that he has a prominent role in the rest of the season. “Volume Four: Fugitives” starts with “Chapter One: A Clear and Present Danger” on Monday at 9:00PM on NBC.

heroes-season-3-promo-photo

Leading up to Heroes is one of the most consistently enjoyable shows on television, Chuck. There are easily half a dozen laugh-out-loud moments each episode and more geek references than you can shake a stick at (they have Comic Con posters in the background! And, Ben Lo Pan!). Adam Baldwin alone makes this must-see TV and the rest of the cast carries things along perfectly. I really can’t think of any missteps by this show and it will great to have it back after a long Winter break. The previous episode shook some things up and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. NBC is the station, Monday at 8:00PM is the time.

adam-baldwin-chuck-tv-series-season-2-promo-gq-02

Honorable Mention: I haven’t forgotten about Battlestar Galactica, but, to be honest, I’m only really sticking with this show because there are only a baker’s half-dozen episodes left. The increasingly soul-crushing and relentlessly grim and dirty tone of this show is overwhelming at this point. Hell of a show, but it is definitely time to put the characters (and us) out of their misery. My question is, will we actually like any of the characters by the time it’s done? Fridays at 10:00PM on SCI FI.