Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Bringing Back a Favorite

Today, Amber West and I take a look back at our most popular Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts.  We figured that everyone has a busy schedule with the holidays right around the corner, so we decided to take a tiny break.  

Reposting this particular post couldn’t have come at a better time.  Leverage is currently airing on Sunday night’s on TNT, and White Collar is set to premier in less than a month on USA!  We hope everyone enjoys today’s favorite, again! 

Can a con-man change to good? 

TNT and USA think so!  Both networks have hit summer programs featuring some of the most likable con-men on television.  While each con might have to resort to their old ways in order to bring down an even worse foe, they all fight the good cause and do what’s best for mankind and to uphold the law. 

 Leverage – Sunday nights on TNT

The Leverage team consists of a group of criminals turned do-gooders that utilize their specialized skills to avenge those harmed by the wealthy and/or powerful.  Each character has his or her own flaw which helps the viewers understand their passion behind the individual cases they accept. 

Nate Ford (Academy Award winner, Timothy Hutton), “The Mastermind” – Nate leads this team of otherwise misfits.  He battles alcoholism trying to recover from the death of his son, which in turn cost him his marriage and his job as an insurance investigator.  Nate selects the team’s clients, and he uses his skills to anticipate the movement of the con’s marks while the rest of his team is in play.

Sophie (Gina Bellman, Coupling), “The Grifter” – Sophie is Nate’s right hand.  She has secrets that even the audience is still trying to figure out: is she royalty? Is she married? Or is she just a great actress? Well, maybe she’s not as great on stage as she is at playing the marks of the con.  And, what is her real name for crying out loud?

Now to the “side-kicks”, without whom, the show would not be the same.

Eliot (Christian Kane, Angel), “The Hitter” – Eliot has a bit of an anger-management problem: he loves to punch and kick, but he refrains from using guns as much as possible.  Eliot’s number one job is to protect the team; but, sometimes he takes on a character role that showcases his intelligence, and not just his muscle, in order to complete the con.

Hardison (Aldis Hodge, Friday Night Lights), “The Hacker” – Like one might assume, Hardison loves his computers, technology, and “Lucille,” his thoroughly pimped out techie van.  He has designed the team’s headquarters twice now (they had to blow the first office up to hide their identities), and the specialized equipment the team uses on each case. 

Parker (Beth Reisgraf, multiple TV appearances in shows like How I Met Your Mother and My Name is Earl), “The Thief” – Moving from foster home to foster home, Parker lacks many social skills, but might just have the biggest heart of all the cons.  One might think that Parker lacks empathy, but when she’s emotionally involved in a case, she’ll stop at nothing to take down the bad guys.  Parker is one of the best thieves around, and her supreme safe cracking skills and her extreme acrobatics make her crucial to every case.

The Leverage team gets it done, and I grant my second GTV (Gourmet TV) rating of the season: Leverage gives us everything we want and more.

White Collar – Tuesday nights on USA

Meet Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer, from Chuck and Tru Calling), a suave and sexy professional con-artist captured by FBI agent, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). 

Season one opens with Peter releasing Neal from prison 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, aka Stanford Blatch from Sex and the City), 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 (played by Tiffani Theissen, Saved by the Bell and the real 90210). 

In addition to solving a new FBI case each week, Neal focuses on discovering the truth behind his girlfriend Kate’s disappearance.  Neal continues his search while everyone, including Peter and his FBI right-hand Diana (Marsha Thomason from Vegas), investigates Kate’s story on their own, each hoping to bring closure to Neal’s heartache.

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 former love interest played by Hilarie Burton). 

Season 2 ends with Neal’s previous mentor turned nemesis, Vincent Adler (Andrew McCarthy best known from his 80’s hits Pretty in Pink, and St. Elmo’s Fire) escaping once again after the U-Boat treasure that Neal and Peter helped reveal, goes up in flames. 

Or does it? Neal is a con, remember. 

Did Neal flee with Mozzie and claim their fortune? Or did he stay and continue his new life helping the FBI catch other cons?  He is a great asset for the Feds…and our television screens!

This has never been done before, but I grant White Collar another GTV (Gourmet TV) rating of the season: it has everything we want and more. 

That’s two in one post!

Did I mention that Neal is sexy?  Neal’s piercing baby blues and charming smile illuminate in combination with his dapper tailored suits and his Fedora hat. 

Do you agree with my double GTV ratings this week?  Are you a Leverage or White Collar fan?  Would Leverage be worthy of a GTV rating without Eliot, Hardison, and Parker?  Will Neal stay or will Peter have to arrest him yet again?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and find out which one of her Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts ranked number one. 

Amber and I fully anticipate that almost everyone will  be suffering from a post-holiday hangover next week, so we’re taking it easy once again.  Come back next Wednesday when we revisit another former post that will hopefully help everyone prepare for TV watching in the new year.  

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future. 

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Parallel Universe, Fact or Fringe?

This week, Amber West and I are flipping channels over to FOX and sharing our Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews of the new sci-fi hit, Terra Nova, and the returning favorite, Fringe

Fringe science is a type of scientific study whose hypotheses and conclusions differ significantly from mainstream theories.   Creators J.J. Abrams (creator and writer for Alias and Lost, as well as executive producer for the new CBS hit Person of Interest), Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci (both writers and producers of Alias and Hawaii Five-0) used this unorthodox technique to create Fringe, a science fiction television series on Fox.

After Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) witnesses extremely strange events involving her partner and boyfriend (played by Mark Valley, Human Target), she joins the Fringe Division of the FBI.    Olivia tracks down Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson, Dawson’s Creek) and asks for his assistance in releasing his father, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble, The Lord of the Rings trilogy), from his seventeen year incarceration at an insane asylum.   

Why?  Walter is known as a “mad scientist” and the FBI needs him to experiment and explain the unusual events taking place all around them.  Not long after his release, Walter introduces the parallel universe to the team, and only he, Peter, and Olivia can safely transport back and forth between worlds.

Why Walter and Peter? In the world as we know it, Walter’s son Peter died when he was a young boy.  Distraught, Walter used his portal creation to transport over to the parallel universe where he took Walternate’s (Walter in the parallel universe who also happens to be the Secretary of Defense in that world) son, Peter.  As expected, Peter didn’t take the news that he was from another world so well, and spent some time quite angry with Walter. 

Why Olivia?  As a small child, Olivia participated in a scientific research program and drug trial led by Walter in Florida .  Confused by bits and pieces of memory, Olivia returned to the facility where she spent her childhood and eventually remembered all of the events that took places years before.  She and the other children of the trial possess the ability to transport back and forth safely to the other universe.  Oh, and before we forget – Olivia’s identity in the parallel world is known as Feuxlivia in our world, while she is Olive over there.  That’s right – two Olivias: our world’s Agent Dunham and the parallel universe’s Feuxlivia/Olive. 

Let’s not forget about Massive Dynamic, the company created and founded by Walter’s former partner William “Billy” Bell (Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek).  Nina Sharp (Blair Brown, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd) runs Massive Dynamic and knows all of Walter and Billy’s secrets as they pertain to the parallel universe.  Nina diverts Olivia and Peter from the truth as long as she can, but she can’t hide it forever. 

Sound confusing?  It kind of is, but the show is amazing!  Fringe is sci-fi at its best.  We watch as our world and the parallel universe go to war, and as previously unexplained events involving shape shifting, teleporting, and the intricacies of neuroscience, to name a few, are investigated. 

The team is also assisted by recurring characters: Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick, The Wire), Fringe Division’s leader; Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole), a junior agent with the FBI who serves as Walter’s assistant and confidant; Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo, Band of Brothers), senior FBI agent and Olivia’s friend; and agent Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel, Nip/Tuck), the newest addition to the team. 

This may come as a shock to many who know me, but I must award Fringe with a GTV ratingFringe is literally the first science fiction television program of its kind that has me tuned in on a weekly basis to see what the writers and creators will throw at us next (well, the first not involving the usual supernatural creatures like witches, werewolves, and vampires). 

It certainly doesn’t hurt that I have a minor crush on Walter (why hasn’t John Noble won an Emmy for his performance?) and a bit of a larger crush on Peter (Joshua Jackson isn’t Pacey any longer – and did I mention his voice is fabulous?). 

What do you think? Have you watched Fringe?   Who is your favorite character? Do you think the government has a Fringe Division we don’t know about?  Do we have a parallel universe out there, somewhere?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of Terra Nova, the TV show with time travel and dinosaurs.  

Come back next week when Amber and I switch channels again – this time we’re moving over to ABC and reviewing Body of Proof and Desperate Housewives.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future. 

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Studying the Behaviors of the Criminally Inclined

The new television season has arrived!  Many of our favorite programs have returned, so Amber West and I decided to share a few more Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews to check out two additional CBS hit series – The Good Wife and Criminal Minds

First up – Criminal Minds

Criminal Minds follows a team of highly trained FBI agents who profile criminal behaviors for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU).   There are tons of police procedural programs on TV today, but none like this. 

The BAU team’s home base is at the famous Quantico, Virginia location; however, they travel around the United States once a city’s local authorities request their presence at the scene of a crime.  The unit studies the unsubs, or unidentified suspects, instead of the crime itself.    

The team is led by Unit Chief Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner (Thomas Gibson, Darma & Greg).   Hotch’s dedication to his job cost him his marriage.  After his ex-wife Haley (played by Meredith Monroe) was murdered by serial killer “The Reaper” (C. Thomas Howell), Hotch gained custody of his son, Jack. Hotch attempts to make amends by being the best father he possibly can; he even coaches the little guy’s soccer team. 

Due to the graphic nature of his job, Hotch rarely smiles and carries the weight of the world on his shoulders; but, despite the difficulty, he will do everything in his power to protect his team.      

Next in line is Senior Supervisory Special Agent Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore, The Young and the Restless).  Excelling at his job, Morgan has been named Acting Unit Chief when Hotch is out.  He was in line to be the next Unit Chief of the New York field office, but he declined the position.   He is strong and fast, and is by far the most physical on the BAU team (he’s pretty to look at too). 

Morgan had a difficult childhood: he witnessed his father’s murder and he was sexually abused by the local boys’ club caretaker.  As an adult, Morgan was framed for murdering a few of his hometown’s local boys, but was later proven innocent by his team.   

Also serving the BAU as a Senior Supervisory Special Agent is David Rossi, played by Joe Mantegna (Joan of Arcadia).  Rossi is credited as one of the founding members of the BAU, but he retired to write books and lecture on criminal analysis.  He returned to the team after Gideon’s untimely departure (see below), and seized the opportunity to solve a cold case that had haunted him for decades. 

Rossi has been married and divorced multiple times, and often jokes that divorce lawyers are the only people in his personal life that he can make happy.            

Special Agent Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster, Friends – remember Kathy?  She dated Joey and Chandler….) joined the team after Elle walked away (see below).  Early on, Prentiss felt she had something to prove being that Hotch and Gideon suspected her mother’s position as a U.S. Ambassador had something to do with her joining the BAU team. 

Prentiss served Interpol for years, where she worked undercover hunting international arms dealer, Ian Doyle.  This past year, Doyle killed her Interpol colleagues one-by-one, blaming them for the death of his only son.  Doyle finally found Emily, hunted her, and killed her.  Or did he? 

Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler, Alvin and the Chipmunks motion picture franchise) is probably my favorite member of the team.  Reid is a genius; he graduated high school before he was a teenager; he has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology; he has a Ph.D in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Engineering; and he has an insanely high IQ – all courtesy of his eidetic memory.  Reid reads faster than anyone on the planet (he scans the page with his finger and remembers it verbatim), he remembers everything he sees, but he struggles with certain things that he hears. 

Reid suffers from inexplicable headaches and fears that he has inherited his mother’s schizophrenia.  He is not as physically fit as the rest of his team, which probably led to his being held hostage twice (once by a character portrayal by Luke Perry and another time by James Van Der Beek).     

Special Agent Jenifer “JJ” Jareau, (AJ Cook, Tru Calling) also serves the team as the media liaison.  JJ joined the FBI after attending one of Rossi’s lectures, and she is the only non-profiler on the team.  Because she isn’t a profiler, JJ has a hard time understanding how people can commit such horrible crimes, but she remains professional and battles through each case. 

JJ recently returned to the team after she was forced to take a position at the Pentagon.  Besides Hotch, JJ is the only BAU team member with a child.   

Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia, played by Kirsten Vangsness, serves the team from Quantico.  Garcia joined the team after the FBI caught her hacking into their systems.  Rarely does she accompany the team to crime scenes; instead, she prefers to stay locked inside her computer lair wearing bright eye shadows and lipsticks while  frantically surfing the internet and databases for information to assist the team. 

Garcia is one of the only BAU team members to have an actual romantic relationship (fellow FBI analyst, Kevin Lynch, played by Nicholas Brendon from Buffy the Vampire Slayer).   

The BAU team has suffered its share of casualites over the years.  Previous team members include: Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin, Chicago Hope) silently walked away without telling anyone after his former girlfriend was murdered by a serial killer; Elle Greenaway (Lola Glaudini, The Sopranos) left the team after she was shot following an undercover assignment; and Ashley Seaver (Rachel Nichols, Alias) was transferred out to another department, explained by Strauss downsizing the BAU team. 

Recurring characters include: Reid’s schizophrenic mother, Diana Reid (Jane Lynch, Glee); former New Orleans police liaison and father of JJ’s son, William “Will” LaMontagne (Josh Stewart, No Ordinary Family); and  BAU Unit Direct Supervisor, Erin Strauss (Jayne Atkinson, 24).    

The Criminal Minds franchise took an unfavorable dip last year with the one-season-and-done spinoff, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior starring Forest Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo.  I have to admit that the story improved as the season moved forward, and unfortunately it ended with a cliff hanger.  Maybe the Criminal Minds team will do another cross over episode and close out that story line for us?

Regardless, the original remains strong airing new episodes every Wednesday night on CBS and in syndication on A&E and ION.  At almost any given time, one can find an episode of Criminal Minds to enjoy. 

As if my love for the characters isn’t evident by the length of my post, I must give Criminal Minds a GTV rating: it has everything we want and more, especially for this fiction writer.  Criminal Minds is an excellent source of research for understanding a potential protagonist’s actions in murder mysteries.  That’s my excuse for watching so much of it, anyway.  Yes, I’m going to keep telling myself that…     

What do you think? Have you watched Criminal Minds?  Who’s your favorite BAU team member? Were you disappointed with the cancellation of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of The Good Wife.  Amber was very adamant during the Tambery Awards production that Julianna Margulies win best actress – and she did!  Congrats, Julianna. 

Come back next week when Amber and I click over to NBC and review two of the channel’s hit programs – Harry’s Law and Law & Order: SVU.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our September schedule and would love to chat with you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Converting Bad Cons to Good

Welcome back to Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!  Today, Amber West and I continue reviewing the hit programs on TNT and USA.  Each network has a con and a medical story to tell, and we break them down in today’s special quadruple edition.   

Can a con-man change to good? 

TNT and USA think so!  Both networks have hit summer programs featuring some of the most likable con-men on television.  While each con might have to resort to their old ways in order to bring down an even worse foe, they all fight the good cause and do what’s best for mankind and to uphold the law. 

 Leverage – Sunday nights on TNT

The Leverage team consists of a group of criminals turned do-gooders that utilize their specialized skills to avenge those harmed by the wealthy and/or powerful.  Each character has his or her own flaw which helps the viewers understand their passion behind the individual cases they accept. 

Nate Ford (Academy Award winner, Timothy Hutton), “The Mastermind” – Nate leads this team of otherwise misfits.  He battles alcoholism trying to recover from the death of his son, which in turn cost him his marriage and his job as an insurance investigator.  Nate selects the team’s clients, and he uses his skills to anticipate the movement of the con’s marks while the rest of his team is in play.

Sophie (Gina Bellman, Coupling), “The Grifter” – Sophie is Nate’s right hand.  She has secrets that even the audience is still trying to figure out: is she royalty? Is she married? Or is she just a great actress? Well, maybe she’s not as great on stage as she is at playing the marks of the con.  And, what is her real name for crying out loud?

Now to the “side-kicks”, without whom, the show would not be the same.

Eliot (Christian Kane, Angel), “The Hitter” – Eliot has a bit of an anger-management problem: he loves to punch and kick, but he refrains from using guns as much as possible.  Eliot’s number one job is to protect the team; but, sometimes he takes on a character role that showcases his intelligence, and not just his muscle, in order to complete the con.

Hardison (Aldis Hodge, Friday Night Lights), “The Hacker” – Like one might assume, Hardison loves his computers, technology, and “Lucille,” his thoroughly pimped out techie van.  He has designed the team’s headquarters twice now (they had to blow the first office up to hide their identities), and the specialized equipment the team uses on each case. 

Parker (Beth Reisgraf, multiple TV appearances in shows like How I Met Your Mother and My Name is Earl), “The Thief” – Moving from foster home to foster home, Parker lacks many social skills, but might just have the biggest heart of all the cons.  One might think that Parker lacks empathy, but when she’s emotionally involved in a case, she’ll stop at nothing to take down the bad guys.  Parker is one of the best thieves around, and her supreme safe cracking skills and her extreme acrobatics make her crucial to every case.

The Leverage team gets it done, and I grant my second GTV (Gourmet TV) rating of the season: Leverage gives us everything we want and more.

White Collar – Tuesday nights on USA

Meet Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer, from Chuck and Tru Calling), a suave and sexy professional con-artist captured by FBI agent, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). 

Season one opens with Peter releasing Neal from prison 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, aka Stanford Blatch from Sex and the City), 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 (played by Tiffani Theissen, Saved by the Bell and the real 90210). 

In addition to solving a new FBI case each week, Neal focuses on discovering the truth behind his girlfriend Kate’s disappearance.  Neal continues his search while everyone, including Peter and his FBI right-hand Diana (Marsha Thomason from Vegas), investigates Kate’s story on their own, each hoping to bring closure to Neal’s heartache. 

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). 

Season 2 ends with Neal’s previous mentor turned nemesis, Vincent Adler (Andrew McCarthy best known from his 80’s hits Pretty in Pink, and St. Elmo’s Fire) escaping once again after the U-Boat treasure that Neal and Peter helped reveal, goes up in flames. 

Or does it? Neal is a con, remember. 

Will Neal flee with Mozzie and claim their fortune? Or will he stay and continue his new life helping the FBI catch other cons?  He is a great asset for the Feds…and our television screens!

This has never been done before, but I grant White Collar another GTV (Gourmet TV) rating of the season: it has everything we want and more. 

That’s two in one post!

Did I mention that Neal is sexy?  Neal’s piercing baby blues and charming smile illuminate in combination with his dapper tailored suits and his Fedora hat. 

Do you agree with my double GTV ratings this week?  Are you a Leverage or White Collar fan?  Would Leverage be worthy of a GTV rating without Eliot, Hardison, and Parker?  Will Neal stay or will Peter have to arrest him yet again?  I’d love to hear from you!

Did someone call a doctor?

Now click over to Amber’s review of this summer’s medical programs: TNT’s HawthoRNe and USA’s Royal Pains.  What will she rate two of the networks biggest hits?

Come back next week for a special recap edition as Amber and I revisit our earlier Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews. What are we still watching?  Have our opinions changed? 

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our August and September schedule and would love to chat with you!

Last, but certainly not least, did your favorite TV shows make the Emmy nomination categories?  Vote here for the 1st annual Tamberny awards.  Leave a comment by July 29th and you could win blog linkage on my special Tele-Tuesday Siskel and Ebert style Emmy breakdown where Amber and I promise to not agree!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

 A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – SyFy TV

This week, Amber West and I switch things up yet again and review two of TV’s hot new science fiction dramas on TNT and SyFy.

Over the past few years, the SyFy network has rivaled the basic television channels with their original series such as Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Andromeda which all aired for at least five years each.

Today, SyFy has found new must-see television with series Being Human, Eureka, Warehouse 13, Haven, and Sanctuary, which is why when Alphas premiered July 11th, our household couldn’t resist checking it out.

Alphas follows five people who have super human abilities.  Together, they track and study other Alphas while also working with local law enforcement to ensure that other Alphas misusing their powers are sent to “The Compound” and kept off the streets. 

Dr. Lee Rosen – a non-Alpha played by Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Temple Grandin), leads the extraordinary team of Alphas, and uses his scientific research to better understand and control the Alpha population.

Each Alpha has a neurological difference providing them with an exceptional advantage over humans.

Would you like the strength to physically move a car blocking your path?

Meet Bill – a hyperadrenal-Alpha with super strength and training as a former FBI Agent, played by Malik Yoba (New York Undercover).  Bill reminds me of the Hulk, only he sweats profusely when his power is activated. 

Have you ever dreamed of pitching a perfect game?  What if you could master the art every time you stepped on the baseball mound? Or, what about the ability to toss a quarter into the vending machine change slot from ten feet away? 

Meet Cameron – a hyperkinesis-Alpha with perfect aim and motor skills, as well a history as an army sniper, played by Warren Christie (October Road).  Cameron appears vulnerable despite his physical stature.  He’s haunted by his failed marriage, and he misses his son desperately.

Would you like the ability to manipulate your way out of a speeding ticket by simply making eye contact with the traffic officer?

Meet Nina – an influencing-Alpha who manipulates others with her power of persuasion, played by Laura Mennell (Blood Ties and the motion picture, Watchmen).  Nina is absolutely beautiful, and she drives a new “borrowed” sports car in each episode. Now that’s what I call a super power! 

Have you ever wished that you could intercept the audio waves of a cell phone call so that you could hear the entire conversation taking place in front of you?  Or wish that you had the ability to read someone else’s text messages from a distance? 

Meet Gary – a transducing-Alpha or human antennae that can intercept any sound or radio wave, played by Ryan Cartwright (Bones).  Gary is always maneuvering his fingers through the air as he enjoys the different internet feeds, audio waves, etc.  He lacks a sense of humor, and the ability to lie.  I almost wonder if he has a form of autism.

Would you like the ability to eavesdrop on conversations taking place about you when you’re not around? How about the super power of microscopic vision?

Meet Rachel – a synesthete-Alpha, the most vulnerable of the Alphas with the ability to strengthen one of the five senses while leaving the other four useless, played by Azita Ghanizada (General Hospital: Night Shift).  Rachel’s powers are simply amazing, and she plays a large role in the investigations, yet she takes a back seat to her family.  Her current family drama surrounds their disagreement on arranged marriages. 

In the pilot, the Alphas help local law-enforcement officer Don Wilson (Callum Keith Rennie) solve the shooting of a federal prisoner locked inside a sealed interrogation room with no windows.  The investigation leads the team to the “The Ghost”, an Alpha with the power of persuasion via direct contact.  The extremist group known as “Red Flag” was also introduced as the main threat to the Alphas, and should return throughout the season as the Big Boss Trouble Maker.

The upcoming season promises to reveal more threats to the Alphas, and will test the Alphas loyalties to one another.

After only two episodes, I give Alphas the rating of SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out.  I was pleasantly surprised with the series start, and will definitely give a few more episodes a try before removing from my DVR.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why? What do you think about Alphas? Has SyFy found another hit series?  Does it remind you of Heroes?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now, click over to Amber’s review of TNT’s Falling Skies where Noah Wyle battles aliens and machines trying to protect our world’s children.  What are those spike things the aliens attach to the children’s spines?  YUCK! 

Come back next week for another quadruple special – Amber reviews the summer’s medical programs: TNT’s Hawthorne and USA’s Royal Pains, and I take on the summer cons: TNT’s Leverage and USA’s White Collar.   

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  Amber and I would love to chat with you!

Last, but certainly not least, did your favorite TV shows make the Emmy nomination categories?  Vote here for the 1st annual Tamberny awards.  Leave a comment by July 29th and you could win blog linkage on my special Tele-Tuesday Siskel and Ebert style Emmy breakdown where Amber and I promise to not agree!

 A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – USA’s Spies and Suits

This week, Amber West and I switch gears and bring a double review of the hit shows on USA. 

Why? Because USA’s summer programming is so hot, we’ve decided the only way to do the network justice is by making this edition of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday too hot to handle. 

Our double feature includes spies, suits, and sports – a triple threat.  Wait; since we’re both writing about two series, it’s technically a quadruple!  Right?

 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 a former IRA agent who doubles as an arms dealer and bounty hunter; Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless), Michael’s chain-smoking mother; and, the recent addition, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), a former counterintelligence agent that Michael accidentally burned while uncovering truths behind his own burn notice.  

Burn Notice is one of the best, and definitely the sexiest shows on television; therefore, I have no other choice than to award the show with the highest #WatchWed review to date: GTV (Gourmet Television – Everything we want, and more!).  

To add fuel to the already smoking hot Burn Notice, Jeffrey Donovan might just be the sexiest man on TV.  Does anyone else make eating yogurt look so yummy?  When he throws on those sunglasses and flashes that crooked smile while wearing his designer suits, he has women melting in their living rooms across the U.S.  

 

Suits 

Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), a recently appointed senior partner at a Manhattan law firm, is instructed to hire another brilliant Harvard Law graduate to add to the associate pool, hopefully someone as bright as he is.  

Meanwhile, across town, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) fastens his tie, grabs the briefcase filled with marijuana that his BFF has left for him, and heads to a hotel to make a drug deal yielding enough cash ($25,000) to keep his grandmother in her around-the-clock care nursing facility.  

What Mike doesn’t know, is that his low-life best friend is sending him to an undercover cop with his briefcase full of drugs.  Using his better judgment and brilliant observation skills, Mike picks up on the sting and ducks into Harvey’s interview room trying to avoid the cops chasing him.   

Intrigued by the young man with a briefcase full of pot, Harvey indulges and interviews Mike, learning that this young, brilliant man sitting across from him has an eidetic memory (perfect recall) when Mike recites blurbs of the Bar review materials with only the slightest provocation.  Despite the fact that Mike never graduated college, let alone law school, Harvey hires Mike on the spot. 

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? 

While it’s still early in the series, I give Suits a MacTV rating (MacNCheese TV: Guilty pleasure – Not perfect, but it satisfies) because I am looking forward to future episodes.  I can’t wait to see how long before anyone discovers the truth behind Harvey’s new star associate, and how the writers continue to develop this very unique story. 

Be sure and catch Burn Notice and Suits Thursday night on USA!

What do you think? Do you agree with my top rating for Burn Notice? Should Michael rejoin the CIA? What about Suits? Have you fallen victim to USA’s latest summer hit?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now – remember to visit Amber’s review of Covert Affairs, starring Piper Perabo as CIA Operative Annie Walker, and Necessary Roughness, starring Callie Thorne as therapist to the stars, Dr. Dani Santino. 

Come back next week when Amber and I switch over to the world of fantasy and review TNT’s Falling Skies and SyFy’s Alphas

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  Amber and I would love to chat with you!

 A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

 

Tele-Tuesday: White-Hot TV

We all know the temperature is red-hot in Miami.  In 2007, the temperature rose when a new production came to town.  With sexy stars and massive explosions, Burn Notice raised the climate in Miami to white-hot.

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.  Freezing bank accounts and assets, and deleting the agent’s entire job history are just a few of the government’s little tricks when burning an agent.  With nothing, Michael turns to his family and friends for assistance as he takes on odd jobs for money, mostly utilizing his background as a spy to take down drug cartels, find kidnapped victims, and handle any other sticky situations that require his expertise.  The news of Michael’s success as a private investigator quickly spreads throughout Miami, and he’s known as the go-to guy for anyone finding themselves in a bind.  The numerous requests for his help often interfere with his only goal – discovering the truth behind his burn notice.

On a personal note, Michael has a hard time letting anyone get close to him, undoubtedly due to his life as a secret agent.  Michael every so often lets down his emotionally hardened wall to friends and family, and he reveals a vulnerable side.  He can’t refuse to help his loved ones out of trouble, regardless of just how deep they’re in.  While his primary goal is to unravel the mystery behind his excommunication from the government, Michael will do anything necessary to keep his close circle of loved ones safe.

Michael first enlists an ex-navy seal buddy, Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), to help him uncover the truth behind his burn notice.  Since retiring, Sam’s life has been focused on women and booze.  Sam often refers to his conquests as “lady-friends”, and these women inevitably provide Sam with cars, money, and rich bungalows that he lends to Michael for use during their freelance work to interrogate suspects, hide clients, or even hide themselves.

Despite his friendship and loyalty to “Mike” (Sam’s the only one who calls Michael by the commonly used abbreviation), Sam was forced to inform on Michael to the FBI, but Sam found a way to only report “half-truths” to the feds, with Michael’s help of course.  After some of Michael’s file mysteriously vanished, the FBI’s no longer needed Sam’s help.  Undercover, Chuck Finley (Sam’s alias) uses his knowledge of the American government to obtain the necessary information for Michael’s task at hand.  With his training as a Navy SEAL and his brilliance with tactical plans, Sam proves to be a valuable asset for Michael and the team.

The second member of the team is Michael’s ex-girlfriend and former IRA agent Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) who doubles as an arms dealer and a bounty hunter.  Fiona loves to blow things up and always jumps at the chance to build and plant explosives.  Fiona and Michael first met while he was undercover as an operative, and his abrupt departure (his cover was blown) has always haunted her.   She wants nothing more than to rekindle her relationship with Michael, and even uses his mother against him at times.  Fiona’s sharp-tongue and quick-wit make for some of the best banter between the characters.  She has a love/hate relationship with Sam, and really only tolerates him because of his loyalty to Michael.

Not quite a member of the team, but always in the middle of things, is Michael’s chain-smoking mother, Madeline Westen (played by the great Sharon Gless).  Madeline hovers over Michael, always reminding him that he was never around when the family needed him most: he didn’t attend his father’s funeral, he doesn’t help his brother (who happens to be a train-wreck by the way), and he never tells her what she wants to know such as where he’s been all these years and why he always flees when she needs him most.  Regardless, Madeline loves her son and does whatever necessary to keep him close by.  One of Madeline’s favorite tricks is to insist that Michael help her friends, and in return she too joins the team now and then by going undercover to aid her son and his friends.

The fourth and newest member of the team, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) is a counterintelligence agent accidentally burned by Michael.  Not knowing Michael was responsible, Jesse approaches Michael and asks for his help uncovering the truth behind his very own burn notice.  Feeling guilty, Michael not only invites Jesse to join the team, but he also offer’s Madeline’s garage to Jesse as a safe place to stay.  It’s not long before Jesse puts two and two together, and though he ponders killing Michael, he ultimately rejoins the team after Madeline tricks her son and his friend into talking it out.

Last season ended with Michael arriving in Washington, D.C. and coming face to face with a man who greets Michael with a cold, “Welcome back.”  Will Michael’s burn notice be lifted?  Will Michael and Fiona grow their relationship as a couple, or will Michael continue to push her away?  Will Jesse’s obvious feelings for Fiona pose as an additional threat to Michael & Fiona’s future, or will he graciously step aside?

 

Burn Notice is one of the best, and definitely the sexiest show on television.  To add fuel to the fire, Jeffrey Donovan might just be the sexiest man on TV.  Does anyone else make eating yogurt look so yummy?  When he throws on those sunglasses and flashes that crooked smile, he has women melting in their living rooms across the U.S.

Not to leave the men out, many argue that Gabrielle Anwar is indeed the sexiest woman on TV.  C’mon guys, doesn’t it have something to do with her love of guns and explosions, or is just her smokin’ hot body?

And, not to deny their sexiness, Bruce Campbell rocks Sam’s Hawaiian shirts unbuttoned down his chest, and he wears a pinky ring like no other.  Oh, and Coby Bell?  He’s quite the sight for sore eyes.

Is this enough for you to check out USA’s hit?  Tune in this Thursday, June 23rd for the season premiere.

 

Are you a Burn Notice fan? Who’s your favorite character on the show and why? Do you watch because of the sexy cast, the compelling and action-packed story lines, or for another reason?  Do you think Michael and Fiona can survive a relationship, or does the show need to continue to play a cat & mouse game to keep it interesting?  I’d love to hear from you!

Stay tuned after Burn Notice for the season premiere of Suits on USA.

Remember to stop by the #DevilColony hashtag in Twitter today to celebrate James Rollins’ new release – The Devil Colony.