Rants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or what’s happening in the region. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly.
Thank goodness there is something fresh and new to watch on TV besides all the inventive ways my Eagles have found to win football games after falling behind by 10 points.
I’m talking about the fall TV season of course and so far my impression has been favorable beginning with Sunday’s Madam Secretary (8pm CBS). While I’m not going to say it is in the same league as The West Wing, it does offer the same Washington-insiders-handling-crises vibe that made TWW such must-see TV.
Téa Leoni made a terrific first impression as a former CIA analyst Elizabeth McCord who is asked to take over as Secretary of State by her friend, the president of the United States (played by Keith Carradine). Although she agrees to serve her country, she isn’t a career politician, which makes her a fresh voice in Washington. Naturally she has to earn her respect from the Washington power brokers in the White House, in particular the president’s chief of staff Russell Jackson (Zeljko Ivanek). Leoni is the centerpiece and she is compelling right from the first scene, which bodes well for the series down the road.
Another new show I enjoyed was Scorpion (CBS Monday, 9pm), featuring a band of super brainiacs led by Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel), who are recruited by the government (in the form of Robert Patrick) to solve serious problems. The pilot episode also introduces us to a waitress named Paige (Katharine McPhee) who is told by the super brains that her son is one of them, a super genius. While I found it hard to believe that Paige didn’t realize her son was gifted, I’ll let that slide since this super geek-fest had plenty of humor as well as an impressive action sequence designed to keep of bunch of jumbo jets from falling out of the sky. The Gabel-McPhee friendship hit the awkward but charming wheelhouse nicely, and the supporting geeks provided the laughs.
Gotham features an excellent central character in the young detective James Gordon (played by Southland’s Ben McKenzie) who investigates the death of young Bruce Wayne’s parents, several decades before Bruce becomes Batman. The series goes for a classic film noir ambience and pulls if off most of the time. However, the cartoon-ish elements, especially the young Oswald Copplepot (Robin Lord Taylor) who will evolve into the villain the Penguin, clash with the noir realism, at least in the opening episode. I also enjoyed the supporting turns by Donal Logue as Gordon’s partner and Jada Pinkett Smith as the flashy criminal/nightclub owner Fish Mooney.
After watching the failed NCIS pilot from 2013, NCIS: Red, the one with Kim Raver and John Corbett as members of a mobile team of agents, the New Orleans flavor of Scott Bakula and his new team seems like a much better fit. There isn’t anything new in NCIS: New Orleans except the setting, but that is big. I’m looking forward to seeing more from this topflight cast, including a personal longtime favorite CCH Pounder (as the sassy medical examiner) and Lucas Black, who burst into the acting scene as the child star in the cult movie hit Sling Blade. Also in the cast as the requisite tough but feminine agent is Zoe McLellan.
As for returning series, both The Good Wife and The Blacklist seem sharp as ever in their season debuts.