Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
Weird Birds
2007-08-22 07:54
by Jon Weisman

Sometimes, you see an actor or actress in a role that seems like a mismatch. What's even weirder is when an actor or actress seems ill-suited to be on a show at all.

Monday, Jeremy Sisto, known for playing dark, tormented characters like Billy Chenowith of Six Feet Under, guested as an ex-boyfriend of Jordana Spiro's P.J. on the innocuous TBS sitcom My Boys. From the moment he was on screen, Sisto seemed so out of place – a resident of the Pit of Despair who had accidentally stumbled into the cotton candy factory.

Sisto certainly tried to make the best of it, but his innate depth (not to mention the unconvincing plotting) just highlighted how relatively shallow and clumsy My Boys is. I've seen every episode of this show, now in its second season, and I keep wanting to like it, but it's sort of an ongoing disappointment. It's neither particularly funny nor particularly clever. It mostly trades on its goodnaturedness (and a lack of sitcom competition) to become comfort food - comfort food that leaves you with the slightest case of indigestion, especially when P.J. is indulging her god-awful baseball analogies in voiceover every episode.

My Boys has its moments, usually thanks to the efforts of Jim Gaffigan as P.J.'s brother Andy, but most of the time you can see the actors straining to make the show seem more than it is.

* * *

Another sort of weird bird is Damages. For all the talk of Glenn Close dominating the small screen, her Patty Hewes character has become less interesting with each episode. The pilot hinted that, alongside the mystery of the ongoing legal matters between involving Hewes and Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) and how they led to someone's murder, we would unravel the mystery behind Hewes' cold facade, but all we've really gotten since is a minor subplot involving her troubled son. Essentially, we are left to feel that Hewes just is who she is – something in her past made her become tough and manipulative, and so now she's tough and manipulative. She isn't any more complicated than that.

That said, Hewes is still more interesting than ingenue attorney Ellen Parsons, played by Rose Byrne. I liked Byrne in The Dead Girl, but I've given up on anything compelling emerging from Ellen. Her juggling of career and engagement hits the same notes every week. We know from the flash-forwards how she's going to end up, and while that's a dramatic twist, that doesn't make her present any more fascinating.

The star of Damages isn't Close or Byrne – it's the plot. The main pleasure of watching each week is to see the latest turns of the Frobisher case. Somewhat like My Boys, you can see the effort in this. The actions of Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan), who was given a showcase in Tuesday night's episode, really don't make any sense from a character standpoint – they're at the mercy of the plot.

The show has got me watching despite next-to-no character development, so they must be doing something right. Damages has sucked me in, probably more for worse than for better.

2007-08-22 10:27:23
1.   Penarol1916
I haven't watched Damages primarily because the hens in the cubicle clucking next to me have insisted that I watch it (these are the same people who are shocked that I do not watch CSI).

The news about Kristen Bell joining Heroes for a short arc is a little disconcerting. I loved Bell in Veronica Mars, but it just seems like Heroes is cramming so many new characters in this year, I'm really not sure how enjoyable it is going to be.

2007-08-22 10:29:57
2.   Bob Timmermann
Rose Byrne seems very flat in her role. She isn't being called on to show a lot of emotion.

At least they took Peter Riegert out of the bad hat.

The Bud Light cans were very prominently displayed. I can't picture a high-powered attorney drinking Bud Light out of a can in her office.

2007-08-22 10:40:49
3.   Jon Weisman
Bud Light. When you drink, you're family.
2007-08-22 10:42:30
4.   Jon Weisman
1 - Way more disconcerting will be if you watch Gossip Girl on the CW this fall, and hear Kristen Bell doing the voiceover of the title character (never seen onscreen). I mean, after three years of Veronica Mars narration, how are we not supposed to think it's Veronica's voice? Very jarring.
2007-08-22 11:10:41
5.   Penarol1916
4. Yup, if I do end up watching that show, it will definately feel a little strange to hear Kristen Bell and see someone elses face. Kind of like when Vin was doing the NBC games of the week and it wasn't the Dodgers playing.
2007-08-22 11:23:33
6.   Bob Timmermann
I have now seen all the episodes of "Knights of Prosperity."

I don't know if this necessarily has improved my life.

2007-08-22 11:32:20
7.   Jon Weisman
6 - Does making me mildly jealous improve your life?
2007-08-22 11:40:40
8.   Bob Timmermann
Yes, yes it does.
2007-08-22 12:39:06
9.   trainwreck
The first thing I think I saw Jeremy Sisto in was Clueless, so I guess I do not have the same expectations, even though he does a lot of dark roles.
2007-08-22 12:42:02
10.   Penarol1916
9. Aha! I was trying to figure out where I had seen him before when I was watching the first couple of episodes of Kidnapped. I think I had given up on Six Feet Under before he came along.
2007-08-22 14:33:25
11.   Jon Weisman
10 - You must've given up on SFU pretty quickly, then.
2007-08-23 07:46:28
12.   overkill94
Has anyone ever watched NCIS?

It's the only English-language show on right now in Japan so I'm giving it a shot, but man does this show seem terrible. CSI is more than a guilty pleasure to me, but while that show has cornball moments dispersed between intriguing scientific endeavors, this show seems to be chock-full of bad acting, corny dialogue, silly situations...

I tried to do a little research to see if this was even somewhat highly acclaimed, but all I could find were idiot user reviews (the same people that make these shows big hits). Why can't there be an to give an objective analysis of network tv shows?

2007-08-23 11:00:24
13.   Jon Weisman
12 - I know a guy who likes it, but I have never seen it. It has never gotten much critical acclaim.
2007-08-23 21:17:23
14.   trainwreck
Hard Knocks is a great show. It provides more interesting individual stories and personalities than most scripted television programs.

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