PTR Senior Staff Writer
Move over Sarah Connor.
You've just been swashbuckled by Robinson Crusoe.
We remember how much fun I had watching the series premiere of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles last January - the action, the pace, the amazement at turning the T2: Judgment Day film into a television series. Well, I had the same kind of fun watching the premiere of Crusoe last Friday evening on NBC, and I'm stoked to tune in again this Friday.
And on a side note, can I get a tree house like that sometime soon?
Actually, I'd just settle for Disneyland revamping the Swiss Family Robinson tree house ride to be Crusoe-esque (like they did with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which took on a Captain Jack Sparrow-esque makeover with the success of the Pirates film series ... and yes, I grew up near Disneyland, so I know the rides a bit too well).
Seriously, though, Crusoe was just fun. We got a little bit of everything - adventure, fantasy, history, humor.
And the humor totally surprised me. There were some truly funny bits of tongue-in-cheek, snarky dialogue. Who knew Crusoe himself would be so funny? Or the pirate invaders?
And how about his buddy Friday ... do we love him or do we love him? I don't think a cannibal has been this charming since Hannibal Lecter. Tongayi Chirisa has a tangible, charismatic, sweet energy that I just so enjoyed watching. And his devotion to Crusoe (who saved his life) ... awww! Makes you kinda wish Tom Hanks had more than just the Wilson volleyball in Castaway, eh?
When the LA Times calls this series a "grandness rarely seen on television," they weren't kidding. It's like you're watching a movie, not a television show. Production value is top drawer, and I loved how a majority of the premiere was shot on location. You got the cliffs, the rivers, the ocean, the majestic conundrum of being so isolated on an island of such beauty shot in true living color, not in CGI. That stuff can't always be done after the fact, and sometimes, we want to see the real thing, not the bluescreen version.
What I also enjoyed was the fact this was no stiff-ended period piece with everyone wandering around talking in 17th century verbiage. Nor was it just a word-for-word adaptation of the ol' book we all did a book report on back in the day.
Wherefore art thou?
Not so much.
It has some spice, some pep.
Think more like the Pirates of the Caribbean films, where they've opted for a more modern day dialogue, intermixing the occasional formality speech and behavior.
And can we just say Philip Winchester owns this role. It doesn't hurt that he's awfully impressive wandering around shirtless (okay, that's from a female point of view, so whatever). But he's not just some hunk in trunks. The flashback sequences where he longs to return to his love, Susannah, are beautifully tempered. The expression on his face when he awakens from the momentary dream sequence ... perfection. You know what he feels; it's in his eyes; he doesn't have to say anything.
And the chemistry he shares with Chirisa is as good as it gets.
Well done, NBC. You've got this viewer permanently in the tree house.
New episodes of Crusoe air Fridays at 9 p.m. on NBC. Visit NBC's Official Crusoe Web site for the inside scoop on the series. The site is awfully cool - and that's not just the Pirates fangirl in me talking.