Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Roundup: 'The Closer' Seems Different; 'Bar' Tries to Wow

By LillyKat
PTR Senior Staff Writer

I am going to continue with the combo roundup format that I started last week for The Closer and Raising the Bar.

'The Closer's' Fifth Season Airs Mondays on TNTWait, is this Harper's Island?

Look to the sky!

It's a kidnapping!

It's a murder!

It's a kidnapping and a murder!

Isn't it ...?

I confess last night's episode of The Closer felt ... different.

Almost as if they experimented with their storytelling format. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about how they raced against the clock (which they've done before, but not quite in this pay-the-ransom-or-victim-dies manner). Or maybe it was BJ not really being able to interrogate people as she normally would (given it seemed likely the kidnapped victim would be killed if the kidnapper knew the police were involved). Or perhaps it was this whole bringing in of a new detective (which has me a bit weary given we all know how successful THAT was over on Cold Case). And with the lack of the usual whiz bang pop interaction of the squad (aside from some longing glances at the new detective, and Lieutenant Provenza seeming to have taken a serious dose of Viagra), dare I say it all felt like ... a procedural.

Did I just say that? About my favorite show?

I want to believe this is only a one-time thing. The whole reason I watch BJ and Co. is because it's NOT the 4,898th incarnation of CSI.

Aside from BJ carting the kidneys-are-failing Kitty around, and Lieutenant Provenza's the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music goofball demeanor, I felt like something was missing. Worse, I didn't care all that much for the case. It was essentially a mini-Enron, with a swindling CEO stealing money from his own people, screwing them out of life and limb only to have an outraged employee seek revenge.

Arthur Frobisher, anyone?

Seriously, I can't really blame the employee. And I didn't care whether they found the kidnapped CEO or not.

Now, there were some highlights: the ending sequence, where the squad ambushed the employee in ... well, let's just call it an intentional car accident. W.O.W. And BJ is clearly NOT herself with Kitty being so sick. The fact she doesn't want to leave her (him) at the vet and chooses to cart her (him) around, administering her (his) two shot injection twice a day ... awww.

But on the whole, nada mucho entertained me in this ep. And that, I'm afraid, is an all too rare occurrence when it comes to The Closer

Better luck next week as Sergeant Gabriel gets in some serious trouble. And when things get heated between BJ and Gabriel, it.gets.good.

New episodes of The Closer air Mondays at 9 p.m. on TNT. For the scoop on the series, head on over to the show's official site.

What Episode is This?

TNT moved the cheese.

Which they are more than entitled to do.

But I confess it does mess me up a bit.

The good folks at TNT sent me screeners for what were originally the first two episodes of this season's Raising the Bar - "Hair Apparent" (premiere episode, aired last week); and, "The Curious Case of Kellerman's Button" (which was supposed to air LAST night, but suddenly went missing and looks to air NEXT week).

Seeing as I have taken to the task to DVR seasons 5-9 of Touched By An Angel (hello? Paramount? CBS? Can you release them officially on DVD, please?), whereby production numbers do NOT match up with air date numbers, this swapping of episodes really shouldn't surprise me.

'Raising the Bar' Airs Monday's on TNTMaybe it has something to do with the fact the premiere ep of RTB didn't do too well. Compared to last year's premiere, which drew 7.7 million viewers and was a record for basic cable, this year's second season opener delivered just 3.6 million - a 53% decline (source: Los Angeles Times Showtracker).


And just when I decided to bring it on over to PTR, too. Maybe I jinxed it?

My guess - and it IS just that, a guess - is last night's ep was bumped up to try and scoop up more of an audience. And yet, I'm puzzled where in the world the RTB audience went in the first place - especially with The Closer as the lead in this year. Then again, ratings are bizarre. And there is no rhyme or reason as to why perfectly good shows suddenly lose their audience.

In any event, given a good portion of last night's ep focused on a Rich Woolsley case, hey, it was good by me. The more Teddy Sears, the better. And was that not a Catskills Comics routine or what? The two old guys getting caught for cashing the check of their now deceased roommate. Seriously, can you blame them - at 80-something-years-old? Totally something Sophia would've thought to do on Golden Girls. Besides, all they needed was the rent check, and it's not as if the government is doing them any favors.

Now the whole case with Jerry and Michelle ... this, again, is why Michelle Ernhardt unnerves the daylights out of me - but also why it makes her so effective as a character. You love to hate her, y'know? She'll do whatever she can to get what she wants - including, as it would seem, bang a cop who is essentially trying to stick it to one of Jerry's clients (no pun intended).

In short LK Legalease: Cop is deliberately misidentifying Jerry's client, a guy who isn't responsible for the crime. However, if busted, it will send a message to the really bad group of people that said client hangs with and of whom the cop has it out for.

You'd think Michelle would notice she was ... uh, being used in this case BY the cop. Like, duh. The cop just happens to put the moves on Michelle conveniently before he's got to take the stand to try and nail the guy, using the "I've seen you around the courthouse" line. And you went to law school, Michelle?

I have to say, I'm liking more mature, crafty Jerry. He's not so soap boxy, but hasn't lost his persistence or dedication.

And is Judge Farnsworth not the best? John Michael Higgins is pitch-perfect as even more of a stickler than Judge Kessler, who suddenly looks a bit vanilla (though not entirely because, hey, it IS Jane Kaczmarek). If you think the Wild Bill Hickok routine was good, wait until he takes issue with Jerry's missing shirt button in next week's ep.

That is, of course, unless TNT moves the cheese, again.

New episodes of Raising the Bar air Mondays at 10 p.m. on TNT. For the scoop on the series, head on over to the show's official site


John said...

As for not blaming the employee, I have two problems. First, personal revenge and vendettas are a lousy way to run a legal system.

Second, how was the kidnapper any different than the crooked CEO? Both used illegal means to get what they wanted and to hell with anyone else. The kidnapper calculated what his hypothetical share of the possible $2,000,000 (net) judgment would be and kidnapped to get it. But there wasn’t $200 million (or really $300 million with legal fees) to pay the judgment even if they won. The CEO had lost and/or spent most of the money and all that was left was $5 million. So the murdering kidnapper tried to get what he wanted and screw the other victims.

I feel sorry for the cat, but not BJ. I know we are supposed to fell her pain, but she never (or at least very rarely) shows any concern for others so I have no concern for her. Last week when the family was murdered by mistake, she used the husband’s grief and lack of sophistication to put him through hell. She had to consider him a suspect and investigate, but she treated him horribly and never showed or expressed to him the slightest regret for doing so – and his whole family was murdered and it wasn’t just a sick cat.

In this week’s episode she treated the kidnap victim’s family like crap also and they weren’t part of the CEO’s scheme or the kidnapping and again never gave even a perfunctory apology or explanation to them.

She has treated the FBI, Fritz and other members of her own department very badly, very often and has never regretted it, unless it backfires on her.

I wish the cat well, but I can’t ever imagine having any sympathy for any pain BJ may experience, cat related or otherwise. Her character is fascinating to watch and Sedgwick does a great job portraying her, but she is not a pleasant person.

RichE said...

Or perhaps it was this whole bringing in of a new detective (which has me a bit weary given we all know how successful THAT was over on Cold Case).

I thought people liked Kat? :-)

Clearly you're concerned about cheese positioning. Just be thankful they moved it and didn't cut it :-@

Kathryn Morris UK

LillyKat said...

Rich: Re: new detective on 'Cold Case' ... I'm talking about the abrupt introduction of Josie Sutton at the beginning of the third season. Cheese reference is from the book Who Moved My Cheese? (in case you are not familiar).

John: I have to give you credit. You seem to dislike so much about the BJ character and yet you can still watch her. Usually, if I dislike a character that much or find I have so little sympathy/feelings for him/her, I tune out. So, props for sticking around even if she gets on your nerves.

John said...

I feel much the same about House.

They are interesting characters and the actors are great. It is just that I don't like the characters as persons - if they were real that is.