Casual Viewing: Bones, Chloe, and Mr. Briggs

I highly recommend Netflix instant-streaming for sick days. Unfortunately Jenn was down with a sinus infection this weekend, but she used her recovery time to marathon Bones season one (see her thoughts here), and I watched a lot of it with her. I’ve never been all that drawn to the whole forensics/procedural subgenre of cop shows, but Bones is fun. Like most of the episodic cop shows I’m familiar with, for me the mysteries are of secondary interest to the quirky interplay of the characters — although Bones tends to do a better job of making the cases interesting than some of the other shows I’ve been casually following (Castle and White Collar, for example). Dr. Brennan (Emily Deschanel) makes for a unique, if perhaps too-good-to-be-true, hero, and David Boreanaz is much more polished and confident as FBI Special Agent Booth than he ever was as Angel. To me it’s still “background TV,” but I like it.

I also had occasion to watch the pilot of Happy Town this weekend. Add this to the list of generically cast, ensemble-genre mysteries that will struggle mightily in the ratings. Happy Town, which is about a sleepy Minnesota backwater where evil magical weirdness lurks beneath the surface, is a barely mitigated knock-off of Twin Peaks, but without the brilliant casting and fearless fucked-uppedness that made that show special. (You might stir a few tablespoons of Fargo into its derivative recipe as well.) In the pilot, only Sam Neill stood out, as the dashing-but-creepy shopkeeper Merritt Grieves. All this said, I liked it more than the pilots for other shows of this ilk that have come out lately (V, FlashFoward, etc.); I got the sense that it really wants to be a weirder show than its conventional cast and network will ever allow it to be. There are some good people onboard that, if deployed well, could elevate the show (Amy Acker, The Wire’s Robert Wisdom, and coming up, Six Feet Under’s Frances Conroy). I wouldn’t say I’m excited about this one, but I’ll probably watch a few more to see how things develop.

And finally, one more note: I get off work late and recently I’ve been winding down after my shift with old episodes of Mission: Impossible. If you’ve never seen the show, I highly recommend adding the first season to your Netflix queue, at least for the first disc. This is the pre-Peter Graves Mission you’ve never heard about (Law & Order’s Steven Hill originally led the team as cold, inscrutable mastermind Dan Briggs), and the first disc features three classics, including the brilliant “Operation Rogosh,” which is still just remarkable TV in my book, holding up really well even after forty-four years. Although you can hardly compare the material, in my book that one episode blows away all three Tom Cruise movies combined.

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