New Old Shows

I’ve added a handful of new TV sets to my casual viewing rotation, which should keep me busy for a while. Here are two new (to me, anyway) discoveries, plus one not-so-new one:

Jenn and I finally started season one of The Gilmore Girls, a show I’ve heard a lot of positive buzz about over the years. It’s a mother-daughter comedy-drama starring Lauren Graham as a neurotic, thirtysomething single mom and Alexis Bledel as her equally neurotic, intelligent daughter. This show couldn’t look any less like my kind of thing, but so far it’s winning me over with its witty scripts and charming cast. Graham and Bledel are both adorable, pre-dating what I thought was a Castle gimmick: reversed responsibility roles in a parent-child relationship. I could do without the show’s cheesy, la-la-la soundtrack – hey, you can’t have everything! – but otherwise I’m enjoying this one.

A more obvious pick for me is Homicide: Life on the StreetI impulse-purchased this during a Fry’s run over the holidays, probably in response to running out of NYPD Blues to watch (the majority of that show is still weirdly unavailable on DVD). Like Blue, Homicide is an urban cop show focusing on a detective squad, here set in the less glamorous city of Baltimore. Four episodes in, I’m discovering what I probably should have already known: Homicide is pretty awesome. It’s grittier, less flashy, and more realistic than the more famous Blue, and clearly a rawer precursor of The Wire, a show with which it shares a setting and a lot of creative personnel. Its focus on one major case for the length of the season is refreshing in a genre often beset by unrealistically tidy case-of-the-week repetitiveness. I’m looking forward to seeing this one through.

Finally, for after-work wind-down viewing – and because I’m a ridiculous completist – I picked up the first season of the recently released, late-1980s reboot of Mission: Impossible. This one brings back memories: it came out during my senior year of high school, and I remember being unreasonably excited about it, before the show’s sketchy quality and teenaged distraction caused me to lose interest. Alas, this remake (which lasted two abbreviated seasons) simply isn’t that good. Born of the 1988 writer’s strike, Mission 2.0 looks good; the cast is attractive, production values are high, and the location work (it was shot in Australia) gives the show a better sense of real-world place than the original. It’s also nice to see Peter Graves back in harness, slightly less credible but likable as ever. Unfortunately, it lacks the class, novelty, and artistry of the original series by a long shot, and its scripts are poor — the writers have, at best, a clumsy handle on the show’s unique story mechanics. I’ll soldier through it, of course, since I missed a good many of them the first time around, but for non-completists, this one is easily missed.

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