January 29, 2009

a couple new shows

Two new shows debuted in the past couple of weeks – The Beast on A&E and Trust Me on TNT. Two totally different shows on two very different cable networks. Here’s my take on both.

The Beast is ambitious – no surprise for A&E. It stars Patrick Swayze as a notorious badass undercover FBI agent with a new partner, who’s a young, troubled newbie. To be honest, I had a really hard time following the pilot. This ain’t no Law & Order. It reminds me more of The Wire, but with fewer characters. My favorite pilots are the ones that could stand alone as a mini-movie. I expect a lot from a pilot – it should hook you, really hook you. You should get character background, key plot points, and a sense of the tone of the rest of the series. It’s a tall order, but the ones that do it well almost always succeed. Lost is one good example – one of the best pilots in history. Alias also had an amazing one. Leverage, the new TNT series that I wrote about a couple weeks ago was also great.

Anyway, I digress. From what I did understand of the pilot, Swayze’s character bend the rules but always gets the job done. He seems to specialize in catching big time criminals by working within their world. The junior guy is brooding and troubled, and he’s obviously in awe of working with Swayze, who seems to be some sort of elusive legend. I honestly can’t tell you too much about their mission in this episode because I couldn’t really follow it. In the end, we find out that the FBI hand-picked the newbie to investigate Swayze because they suspect he’s gone rogue.

I’m going to have to watch this one a few more times to see if I can really get into it. One thing’s sure, Swayze is a pro. The writing for his character is a bit hyperbolish now, so let’s hope that evens out in the coming episodes. Newbie is also a little too intense, but I’m willing to give him a chance. New episodes are on Thursdays at 10pm – this week is the third episode.

Trust Me is a show after my own heart. It’s about an ad agency, which is a refreshing change from police stations and law offices. (with the obvious exception of Mad Men - although this is nothing like Mad Men and doesn't try to be) The show stars Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) as Mason the Art Director and Tom Kavanaugh (Ed) as Connor the Copy Writer. They are partners at a Chicago ad agency. The two have an excellent chemistry onscreen, and the writing is quick and dry. I loved the pilot because it had a great plot in itself, but also had stellar character sketches and set you up to be really excited for the season. If any of my dear friends who worked in an PR/Ad agency or still do, you will love this show. You work with versions of all of these people. And the commentary about working for clients and telling them what they need to know is perfection.

McCormack is the straight man, and Kavanaugh is the funny jackass slacker. There is bromance potential. The other supporting characters are Monica Potter who plays a new copy writer, who has won all kinds of awards, but she's new to the firm. Potter is one of those actors whose face you know, but you can't remember why. I think I know her from Patch Adams. Their boss is played by Griffin Dunne, who some of you will remember as hunky teacher Mr. Jake Bixler from My Girl. Love. I definitely recommend this one. Mondays at 10pm on TNT.


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