Tele-Tuesday: Why Common Law Deserves a Renewal

Everyone is familiar with the term opposites attract.  Heck, many of us even remember Paula Abdul’s hit song from the late ‘80s, early ‘90s.  Usually, people think of romantic couples when hearing the phrase… but television has taken it to an entirely different level, especially when creating cohesive and lovable partnerships—detective pairings to be specific.

These duos usually have different backgrounds: familiar, economic, social, racial, educational, etcetera.  But more often than not, these partners make for some of the best in the field.  One of the first pairs that comes to mind is Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs (Miami Vice).  Another is Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey (Cagney & Lacey).  And a more recent example would have to be Peter Burns and Neal Caffrey (White Collar).

There is nothing ground-breaking about these types of pairings on television, which is why when a new police procedural airs, the characters need another sort of twist to make it stand out among all the others.

Common Law does just that.  The USA series follows two Los Angeles robbery/homicide detectives with an immense love for the job—a job they’re good at—great at, actually—they just don’t like each other very much.  And when one partner draws his gun on the other, the police captain insists the two attend relationship counseling, or couples therapy to use a term we’re familiar with today.

Let’s start with Travis (Michael Ealy).  Travis was raised in the foster care system and has many mothers and brothers around the L.A. area.  He is a bit of a womanizer—he loves women and they love him—but he shies away from dating any one woman for more than, well, a night.  Perhaps this has something to do with his unstable childhood, but for whatever reason, it works for him… for now.

Next, we have Wes (Warren Kole).  The series hasn’t shared much about his childhood, but one can assume he hails from a wealthy enough family.  Before joining the LAPD, Wes worked as a lawyer and was married to another lawyer.  But when he quit to become a policeman, he lost more than his job—his wife left him too.  He hasn’t really dipped his toes back into the dating waters, but he’s taking baby steps toward the pool.

Travis and Wes bring these differences to their partnership, but only one thing matters—they are the best at what they do.  They bicker; they fight; and then they bicker and fight some more.  But when on a case, they rock it.

This scenario isn’t very fresh, is it?  No—but this is where the couples therapy comes in.  Travis and Wes do NOT want to attend therapy, but they don’t have a choice.  They’re joined by three heterosexual married couples and led by Dr. Ryan (Sonya Walger).  The therapy sessions really are great, and each episode’s opening quote always ties into the detectives’ lessons for the week.

For example, “Responsibility is the price of greatness.” ~Winston Churchill

Of course, Travis and Wes feel the group’s conversations don’t apply to them because they aren’t in a romantic relationship with one another; yet every single session relates directly to what the duo is experiencing, including: discussions about respecting each other’s personal property, or more specifically, Wes’ stapler and Travis’ inability to return it; co-parenting, or more specifically, working out a shared-custody arrangement of another policeman’s dog; and dealing with the in-laws, or more specifically, managing time between former, divisional bosses joining the current investigation.

“This session just took a detour to crazy town.” ~ Wes

The freshman series was very enjoyable for the most part, but the series finale sealed the deal for me.  After watching the last episode of the first season, I immediately hopped online to see if it had been picked up.  I was saddened to see it had not… not yet anyway.

In the finale, viewers watched Travis and Wes share with Dr. Ryan the story as to how they met and how their partnership began.  But more importantly, we learned why the two were assigned to couples therapy in the first place—why Wes drew his gun on Travis.  And let me just say, FANTASTIC.  I loved the finale so very much.  Not just because it gave the entire season purpose, but because we saw honest-to-goodness character growth from both Travis and Wes.

And I applaud the writers.  I noticed the tiny attention to detail inside the evidence warehouse; I saw the baby masks that the thieves wore in an earlier episode.  Everything came full-circle, including what I now consider to be Travis’ and Wes’ signature take-down.

“I can see a storm front coming through… a cloudy, cloudy storm front.” ~Travis

Watch the video attached to this article for a better understanding of Storm Front.

This partnership has a future, but does Common law?  I sure hope so…

C’mon USA!  Just renew it already.  Friday night is a tough spot, and even I’m guilty of not watching it live.  But I do watch it.  And I love it.  Please bring it back.

Oh, and did I mention the eye candy?

Travis and his baby blues…

Not a great shot, but just imagine baby blue eyes… because they are!

Wes and his killer dimples…

Again, not a great shot, but it gives you an idea of how cute his dimples are…

And one more thing that makes me swoon…  Warren Kole’s voice—it’s very sexy, ladies!

What do you think?  Did you watch Common Law?  Have you ever been so-so on a series until one particular episode drew you in for-keeps?  I’d love to hear from you!

Tele-Tuesday: USA – Unique Summer (Television) Amusement

Last week we discussed all of the terrific summer nighttime television specific to TNT, but TNT is not alone.  The USA Network also has some of the best summer programming of any other channel today.

Last Wednesday kicked off the new USA season with the premieres of their Wednesday night hits, Necessary Roughness, an interesting look at the mind of professional athletes through the eyes of their therapist, and Royal Pains, where a medical doctor makes house calls for his rich and prestigious Hamptons’ clientele.  USA’s Friday nights have also already been filled with episodes of the returning favorite, Fairly Legal, a show centered on a mediator who can fix everyone’s problems but her own, and the new hit, Common Law, where two L.A. detectives love their job but not each other.

But the summer fun doesn’t end there!  Four returning favorites and a new limited series event also premiere over the course of the summer, keeping our TV schedules full of unique summer amusement.

*****

First up, what we already have the pleasure of watching:

Fairly Legal

Fairly Legal follows former attorney turned mediator Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi) as she tries to change San Francisco for the better.  On the exterior, Kate appears tough and callous, but anyone who actually knows her knows that she has a bleeding heart for those less fortunate—and by less fortunate, we only mean those that the rich can afford to beat down in a court of law.

Kate lets both sides tell their stories, and she typically sides with the underdog.  Actually, even though she works for a large and prestigious law firm, Kate doesn’t like much about Corporate America.  But Kate is good at what she does, and most of her cases are assigned to her by the courts and usually by a judge that keeps a stern fist with her.   Trust me; Kate needs someone to keep her in line…

One of Kate’s only confidants is her assistant, Leo (Baron Vaughn), because for the most part, Kate alienates everyone around her: her step-mother/partner/roommate/boss, Lauren Reed (Virginia Williams); her ex-husband/ADA, Justin Patrick (Michael Trucco); and the firm’s most recent addition, her partner Ben Grogan (Ryan Johnson).

Fairly Legal is unique; instead of the traditional TV police procedural or courtroom drama, we see a glimpse into the life of another legal aspect: mediation.  Plus there’s a love triangle.  What TV show is complete without the love triangle?  And why do I find myself pulling for the new guy, Ben, when most others hope Kate and Justin rekindle their romance?

The season two finale airs Friday, but Fairly Legal is still worthy of a nod here…

Common Law

Common Law follows two Los Angeles detectives with an immense love for the job—a job  they’re good at; they just don’t like each other very much.  When a new police captain moves in, he sends the seven-year partners to relationship counseling or couples therapy to use the term we’re familiar with today.

This brand-new series stars Michael Ealy as Travis Marks and Warren Kole as Wes Mitchell, two partners stuck in a “marriage with bullets.”

Viewers can also expect to see a few other familiar faces: Sonya Walger plays Dr. Elyse Ryan, the detectives’ therapist; Alicia Coppola plays a forensic pathologist; and Nora Zehetner is a new detective on the force, specializing in the digital world.

The USA Network is known for their fantastic original programs: the older and never forgotten Monk and The Dead Zone; the current and favorites Psych and Burn Notice; and the sophomore hits Suits, Necessary Roughness, and Fairly Legal.  After just a few episodes, Common Law falls right into line with the rest of the network’s hits.

The first season of Common Law airs Fridays nights.

Necessary Roughness

Necessary Roughness follows Dani Santino (Callie Thorne), a New York woman attempting to balance her family and her career following a recent divorce.  She accepts a position as a therapist for a professional football team, and is assigned to assist the team’s star receiver (Mehcad Brooks) in actually catching the ball.  She sees other clients, sometimes a new client per episode, but primarily Dr. D focuses her time and energy on the New York Hawks and T.K. (Terrance King, or King Terrance as he wants to be known in season two).

The series also stars Scott Cohen as Nico, the team’s head of security, and Marc Blucas as Matt, the team’s athletic trainer and Dani’s love interest.

As an added bonus, the show is inspired by a true story.

Season two started last week and currently airs on Wednesday nights.

Royal Pains

Royal Pains stars Mark Feuerstein as Dr. Hank Lawson, a former New York Emergency Room doctor dismissed after an alleged wrongful death case who moves to the Hamptons and begins making house calls to the rich and famous as a “concierge doctor,” and sometimes even to the less fortunate.  Hank’s company, HankMed, also consists of his brother/CFO (Evan played by Paulo Costanzo) and his invaluable assistant (Divya played by Reshma Shetty).

The series also stars: Henry Winkler as Hank and Evan’s father, Eddie Lawson; Campbell Scott as Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz (isn’t that a great name?!?!), Hank’s first client and landlord of sorts; and Jill Flint as Jill Casey, Hank’s on again/off again love interest.

For a more in-depth look, visit Amber West’s Royal Pains review

Season four also premiered last week and airs on Wednesday nights.

*****

And in the upcoming weeks, we have more to look forward to on USA:

Burn Notice

Why is Burn Notice white hot? Sexy stars, massive explosions, and intricate plots combined with explorations of relationships between family members, best friends, and lovers make for some of the best programming on television today.

Burned by the U.S. government, former spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) wakes up bruised and sore in a run-down Miami motel with no memory of how he got there.   A burned spy has nothing—no job and no money.  It’s as if the last few years of Michael’s life didn’t even happen.  He takes on odd jobs as a private investigator to make some cash, and builds a team of former acquaintances, ex-girlfriends, and family to help him unravel the truth behind why the CIA black-listed him, and discover who was the mastermind behind his burn notice.

Michael’s team consists of Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), a former Navy SEAL and friend who was forced to inform on Michael to the FBI; Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), Michael’s ex-lover and current girlfriend, and a former IRA agent who doubles as an arms dealer and bounty hunter; Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless), Michael’s chain-smoking mother; and, the most recent addition, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), a former counterintelligence agent that Michael accidentally burned while uncovering truths behind his own burn notice.

Every season answers a few more questions pertaining to Michael’s burn notice, but similarly adds even more fuel to the fire.  Last year ended with a big bang—Fiona being handcuffed and thrown into jail for murder.  Michael is smooth when it comes to his missions, but how will he handle this one?

Season six premieres this Thursday, June 14th.

Suits

Suits follows Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), a recently appointed senior partner at a Manhattan law firm instructed to find another brilliant Harvard Law graduate to work as an associate.  Enter Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a brilliant man with an eidetic memory (perfect recall) whose recitation of Bar review materials lands him a position at Harvey’s law firm despite the fact he never graduated college.

These two unconventional minds work together balancing the law and lying to everyone—now that’s conflict, right?  How long before the shunned junior associate (Louis Litt, played by Rick Hoffman), or the boss recently frustrated with Harvey’s refusal to follow her instructions (Jessica Pearson, played by Gina Torres) discover the truth?

Suits also stars: Meghan Markle as Rachel, a paralegal at Harvey and Mike’s law firm, also one of very few that actually know the two’s secret; Tom Lipinski as Trevor, Mike’s drug dealing best friend whose escapades landed Mike in front of Harvey in the first place; Vanessa Ray as Jenny, Trevor’s ex-girlfriend and Mike’s current flame, when he isn’t pining away for Rachel; and Sarah Rafferty as Donna, Harvey’s spit-fire assistant.

Last year when I reviewed Suits as a part of my Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday series, I ranked the then freshman series with a Mac TV rating (equivalent to three stars).  If asked to review again, I believe Harvey and Mike would find themselves upgraded into five-star status.  Here’s to hoping the new season doesn’t disappoint.

Season two premieres this Thursday, June 14th.

White Collar

White Collar follows Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), a suave and sexy professional con-artist captured by the FBI, and the FBI agent responsible for Neal’s arrest, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay).  What’s interesting about this relationship is that Peter is also responsible for Neal’s release from prison, a special circumstance allowing Neal his freedom under the strict supervision of an ankle monitor and one condition:  Neal must use his criminal expertise to assist the White Collar division of the FBI in capturing bad guys.

Neal enlists the help of his fellow con-man, Mozzie (Willie Garson), who despite his distrust of the government, stands by his friend’s side and builds his own relationship with Peter and Peter’s wife, Elizabeth (Tiffani Theissen).  Each season focuses on a unique and on-going storyline in addition to solving a new FBI case each week.  But remember, Neal is a con despite how clean he attempts to live his life today.  Once a con, always a con—right?

White Collar builds fun and heartfelt character relationships: Peter/Neal, Peter/Elizabeth, Elizabeth/Neal, Elizabeth/Mozzie, Neal/Alex (another of Neal’s con-buddies played by Gloria Votsis), and Neal/Sara (insurance investigator/Neal’s current love interest played by Hilarie Burton), keeping with USA’s motto of character driven television.

The series also stars Marsha Thomason as Peter’s FBI right-hand, Diana, and Sharif Atkins as Special Agent Clinton Jones.  Both Diana and Jones trust Neal, as far as they can throw him; but they want to trust him one-hundred percent… as do the viewers.

Season four premieres July 10th.

Covert Affairs

Abandoned on a deserted island by her love, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) joins the CIA and is immediately thrust into the world of undercover assignments.  With the help of her blind CIA tech expert, Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham), and the former CIA director’s son, Jai Wilcox (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Annie jumps into the toughest cases.  Her boss, Joan Campbell (Kari Matchett), and her boss’s husband, current CIA director Arthur Campbell (Peter Gallagher), constantly throw Annie into veteran situations, testing her abilities, and reviewing her loyalties to the CIA.

Annie also battles familial woes, living in her sister Danielle’s (Anne Dudek) guest house and playing perfect aunt to her two nieces, while keeping her cover story as a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution intact (until she chooses to tell her sister the truth, which doesn’t go over so well as one can imagine).  Living her double life, Annie showcases her kick-ass CIA training, and battles her insecurities one day at a time, making Covert Affairs a fun summer pick.

Despite her training and attributes, Annie isn’t superhuman.  Sometimes I think she makes the worst spy ever, sometimes even one of the most annoying characters on TV today.  But I still keep coming back for more.  Regardless of how I feel about Annie, I always find myself fighting alongside with her in her corner, and it has nothing to do with how adorable Auggie is.  Okay, so maybe it does…

Season three premieres July 10th.

*****

Now that we’ve been through USA’s returning favorites, how about a new miniseries?

Political Animals

Who does everyone think of when we say former First Lady and current Secretary of State?  Did everyone answer Sigourney Weaver?

In the new USA miniseries, Political Animals, Sigourney Weaver plays Elaine Barrish, a recently divorced former First Lady and current Secretary of State fighting to keep her family and her insane position in the U.S. government intact.  The special six episode program also stars: Carla Gugino, a reporter who hasn’t been kind to the Secretary over the years; Ciaran Hinds, the former President and the Secretary’s ex-husband; Adrian Pasdar, the current President; Dylan Baker, the current Vice President; and Ellen Burstyn, the Secretary’s mother.  Now that’s a cast!

Political Animals premieres July 5th.

*****

Whew!  That was a long post, but that’s what happens when one channel shines as USA does.

Do you enjoy any of the above USA original programs?  If so, who is your favorite or least favorite character, keeping in mind that USA thrives on being character driven?  Do you plan to watch Political Animals?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Tele-Tuesday: May Flowers, aka TV in Bloom

Just as most television programs wrap up the 2011-2012 season, a few networks plan to launch new series this month.  It’s like a never-ending game of “What’s on TV?”

May is no different.  Our revolving door of television is back.

We haven’t introduced any new programs since March because many have accused us of adding too much to their already full TV schedules.  For that, we apologize.  But that’s not going to stop us from talking about even more!  Sorry – but we feel it’s our duty here at Tele-Tuesday.

So sit back and try to relax…

What will you watch?

*****

The L.A. Complex

We’re actually late to this party — The L.A. Complex premiered April 24th on the CW.  The show follows a group of twenty-somethings living in the same apartment complex who are trying to make it in Hollywood.  Sound familiar?  Melrose Place comes to mind…

The series stars Cassie Steele (Degrassi: The Next Generation) as Abby Vargas, a Canadian who dreams of becoming an actress.  Abby meets other struggling artists at The Lux Motel, one of the few places they can all afford to live: Nick (Joe Dinicol), a comedian; Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson), a musician; Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore), an Aussie actor; Alicia (Chelan Simmons), a dancer; and Raquel (Jewel Staite from Firefly), a television actress.  Will they survive Los Angeles?

Most of the cast are relatively unknown, but viewers will see many familiar faces throughout the season in recurring and guest roles, like Krista Allen (Days of our Lives), Alan Thicke (Growing Pains), and Mary Lynn Rajskub (24).

The L.A. Complex airs Tuesdays on the CW.

*****

White Heat

Normally we wouldn’t look to BBC America when searching for new television series, but because of the success of many British television programs here in the United States (Doctor Who, Being Human, and Sherlock to just name a few), we thought we’d change it up a bit.

White Heat follows seven friends (Lilly, Jack, Victor, Orla, Charlotte, Alan, and Jay) who first meet in London in 1965.  The six episodes will flash-forward and feature these same seven friends in the years 1967, 1973, 1979, 1982, and 1990 as they maneuver through personal and political times.

Because we don’t frequent British television, most of the actors and actresses are not recognizable by name, however many have a favorable resume: young Lilly, played by MyAnna Buring (The Descent); current-day Lilly, played by Lindsay Duncan (Rome); young Jack, played by Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides); young Edward, played by Jeremy Northam (The Tudors); young Jay, played by Reece Ritchie (The Lovely Bones); and many others.

One aspect of White Heat that really captured our attention was the music associated with each episode, featuring artists Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Queen, The Clash, and Culture Club.  The tunes alone make the series worthy, right?

White Heat premieres Wednesday, May 9th on BBC America.

*****

Common Law

Common Law follows two Los Angeles detectives with an immense love for the job – and they’re good at it; they just don’t like each other very much.  When a new police captain (Captain Phil Sutton, played by Jack McGee from Rescue Me) moves in, he sends the seven-year partners to relationship counseling or couples therapy as we’re familiar with today.

Common Law stars Michael Ealy (Flashforward) as Travis Marks and Warren Kole (The Chicago Code) as Wes Mitchell – two partners stuck in a “marriage with bullets.”

Viewers can expect to see a few other familiar faces: Sonya Walger (Lost) plays Dr. Elyse Ryan, the detectives’ therapist; Alicia Coppola (Jericho) plays a forensic pathologist; and Nora Zehetner (Grey’s Anatomy) is a new detective on the force, specializing in the digital world.

The USA Network is known for their fantastic original programs: the older and never forgotten Monk and The Dead Zone; the current and favorites Psych and Burn Notice; and the sophomore hits Suits, Necessary Roughness, and Fairly Legal.  Because of the network’s track record, Common Law is probably the series we’re most looking forward to here at Tele-Tuesday,

Common Law premieres Friday, May 11th on USA.

*****

Men at Work

Another channel we don’t usually watch for, TBS is launching a new sitcom this month created by the great Breckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash).  Men at Work follows four friends who all work together at the same magazine as they help a buddy get back on the dating horse after a disastrous breakup.

The series stars: Danny Masterson (That ‘70s Show) as Milo, the recently dumped friend; James Lesure (Las Vegas – we are big fans of Mike Cannon here at Tele-Tuesday) as Gibbs; Adam Busch (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Neal; and Michael Cassidy (The O.C.) as Tyler.

Rarely do we see a comedy centering around all men, and funny character actors we’ve missed for years at that.  Add the funny-man creator to this, and we can’t help but feel Men at Work could potentially be summer dynamite.

Men at Work premieres Thursday, May 24th on TBS.

*****

What do you think?  Do you plan to watch The L.A. Complex, White Heat, Common Law, or Men at Work?  Which show has the most promise and why?  The least?  I’d love to hear from you!