Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Keeping a Bent Life from Breaking

This week Amber West and I review two new 2012 midseason comedy replacements on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – ABC’s Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and NBC’s Bent.

Comedy seems to be at the top of this year’s midseason replacements with many of the networks picking up new sitcoms.  While it is annoying to watch our favorite series end a bit early this year, we can also see the upside to introducing these new programs in April so that the decision makers don’t necessarily cancel a popular show just to test the waters with a pilot (we’ve seen that happen one too  many times).  With this in mind, we’re tuning in to these newbies and trying to not hold any grudges.

Bent follows recently divorced attorney, Alex (Amanda Peet), as she tries to pick up the ”bent” pieces of her life post-divorce.  With sole-custody of her daughter, Alex buys a small home that is in need of renovations.  She hires Pete (David Walton), a contractor who is a recovering gambling addict trying to pick up the pieces of his “bent” life as well.

Alex and Pete...

Alex and Pete are nothing alike — Alex is a responsible person with a no-nonsense personality, while Pete flies by the seat of his pants.  From the first episode, we could already smell the romance brewing between these two and we wonder how long it’s going to take before they get together.  But wouldn’t that be the kiss of death for the new sitcom?  TV audiences have proven over the years that they like the chase and romantic tension between leads, and ratings plummet once the couple gives in to their sexual urges (we’re specifically thinking of Moonlighting here and hoping we don’t see the same fate with Bones).  Not to mention, Alex has a serious boyfriend (Ben, played by Matt Letscher) who can also sense the attraction between Alex and Pete and who conveniently intervenes anytime the two get too close.

Alex and Ben...

That’s right — Bent has a love triangle…

The two leads aren’t the only ones living “bent” lives.  The new comedy also stars Jeffrey Tambor as Pete’s “bent” father, Walt.  Walt is a struggling actor working feverishly to land a new agent since his has recently died.  We’re led to believe he’s never really had a successful career, but he’s positive and has never given up hope.  Walt’s life is also “bent” considering he is still madly in love with his ex-wife (played by Marcia Gay Harden), who is a successful stage actress over in Europe.

Jeffrey Tambor knows comedy...

Pete knows the flame still burns  between his parents, and he knows that his mother will tug at his father’s heart strings before returning to her life overseas; therefore, he tries to keep the two apart.  Pete’s reaction to his parents is almost a realistic, rather than an optimistic approach which is a nice deviation from most fictional characters on television today.

The series also stars Margo Harshman (Sorority Row) as Alex’s sister, Screwsie.   Screwsie is a hoot; while her life is anything but perfect, she does seem a bit less “bent” than the rest.  She owns her own catering business, which seems very lucrative, and she almost always has a drink in her hand (tequila, wine, or coffee).  She’s young and enjoys not being tied down, especially when that means she can manipulate one of Pete’s workers (Gary, played by Jesse Plemons from Friday Night Lights).

Wrapping up the Bent cast is Alex’s daughter, Charlie (played by Joey King from Ramona and Beezus) and the rest of Pete’s contracting crew: Clem (comedian J.B. Smoove) and Vlad (Pasha D. Lychnikoff).

Charlie really likes Pete...

Each episode focuses on the home renovations and at least one other story line.  Honestly, I wonder what will happen if or when the construction job is complete — will the show fizzle out and die, or will Alex find something else to keep Pete and his crew busy?  The general plot idea definitely works at first, but there is also an obvious end to the storyline which leads us to wonder if the creators have thought that far out or if they’re just hoping to get picked up and they’ll take it from there.

While Bent has only aired for three weeks, viewers have been lucky enough for a double dose each of the past three weeks giving us six episodes to date.  I personally love the banter between Alex and Pete; Pete and Ben; Alex, Pete, and Ben; as well as Pete and his crew, and Screwsie (isn’t her name awesome?!?!) and anyone else.  The dialogue is sharp, witty, and a lot of fun.  That said, I award Bent with the JFTV rating.   I’d like to give it more, but I simply can’t; it’s not the best comedy I’ve seen, but it is one of the most enjoyable airing now on Wednesday nights (now that Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea? have aired their season finales).  For the time being, Bent will have to settle as one of my favorite TV snacks…

Before wrapping, I just want to add that David Walton (Pete) is adorable!!  I didn’t really know him before and wondered why they didn’t get someone familiar to play opposite Amanda Peet, but now I am more than happy with the selection.

And by the way, I really love the message of the show — our life can always bend, but it’s up to us whether or not it breaks.  Cheers!

What do you think? Have you watched Bent?  Which character do you like or relate to the most?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.  Thanks to Hulu, she got a sneak peek!  And I don’t know about everyone else, but I am really looking forward to James Van Der Beek, playing James Van Der Beek, and poking a little fun at himself…

Come back next week when Amber and I review two of TV’s newest dramas dealing in scandalous affairs and shady clientele – Scandal and The Client List

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

Tele-Tuesday: The Return of the Two Hour TV Mystery

A few years ago, the Hallmark Channel aired a new two-hour TV Mystery Movie every Friday night.  These programs were very entertaining and mystifying, and created character adoration with audiences that lasted a couple of seasons each before suddenly stopping.

These mysteries include…

Mystery Woman

Mystery Woman stars Kellie Martin as Samantha Kinsey, the young Nancy Drew-like sleuth who inherits an old-fashioned book store.  Samantha’s book store assistant who has a background as a government secret agent (played by Clarence Williams III), and her best friend who also happens to be the assistant district attorney, help her drive the town’s chief of police crazy by sticking their noses in cases where they clearly don’t belong as civilians.


McBride stars John Larroquette as M. “Mac” McBride, a former detective turned defense attorney who works with an over-zealous young assistant and his adorable dog.  McBride takes cases that no one else will, and the police and his ex-girlfriend/lead detective (Marta DuBois) laugh at his chances in court, despite his win/loss record.

Jane Doe

Jane Doe stars Lea Thompson as Cathy Davis, a stay-at-home puzzle maker and mom who can’t stay away from her days at the Central Security Agency, especially when her old partner (Joe Penny) returns repeatedly asking for her to step aboard in a consulting role.

Murder 101

Murder 101 stars the great Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Jonathan Maxwell, an expert criminology professor at the local university who assists the local police solve numerous crimes with his down-on-his-luck nephew (Barry Van Dyke), a former detective turned private investigator.

While we mourn and remember these television mysteries, now we can look forward to the return of the two-hour TV mystery as TNT brings us Mystery Movie Night with a new story each week (sometimes two) until the end of the year, starting tonight.

November 29thScott Turow’s Innocent stars Bill Pullman as a judge suspected of killing his wife decades after he was charged and cleared of killing his mistress…also starring Richard Schiff, Alfred Molina, and Marcia Gay Harden.

November 30thRicochet, based on the novel by Sandra Brown, stars John Corbett as a detective who finds himself in a sticky situation while investigating a judge, having an affair with the judge’s wife, and investigating a murder…also starring Gary Cole and Julie Benz.

Meeting Sandra Brown at DFWcon 2011

December 6thHide, based on the novel by Lisa Gardner, stars Carla Gugino as a police detective investigating the mummified remains of six murder victims…also starring Bridget Regan, Kevin Alejandro, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

December 7thSilent Witness, based on the novel by Richard North Patterson, stars Dermot Mulroney as a defense attorney, once accused of murder himself, defending his long-time friend for the murder of one of his students…also starring Michael Cudlitz, Anne Heche, and Judd Hirsch.

December 13thGood Morning, Killer, based on the novel by April Smith, stars Catherine Bell as a FBI agent working undercover as she tracks a serial killer…also starring Cole Hauser and William Devane.

December 20thDeck the Halls, based on the novel by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, stars Kathy Najimy as a former maid turned private investigator working with her detective friend as they search for two missing persons hoping to solve the case before the holidays…also starring Scottie Thompson.

Set the DVRs now!  Which of these new TNT mystery movies are you most looking forward to?

Did you watch the Hallmark Channel Mystery Wheel?  Which story did you enjoy the most?   Which of your favorite mystery novels would you like to see adapted to the small screen?  I’d love to hear from you!

Tiffany’s Tele-Tuesday #2 – This one? Or that one?

This one? Or that one?

Do you ask yourself these very questions if and when you have a free hour to watch television? 

I realize that most people don’t watch (or DVR in my case) four to ten hours of television a night — so, I am here to help you! 

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation versus CSI: Miami versus CSI:NY

My #1 – CSI: NY.  The addition of Sela Ward this season really helps make up for losing Melina Kanakaredes, and Gary Sinise is always great.  I feel the ensemble cast of NY wins against the other two CSI shows, and New York City is a wonderful supporting cast member.  I also like the NY storylines a bit more than the others CSI shows — the crimes appear to be a bit more believable.  I do hope the remainder of the 2011 season brings more of David James Elliott’s guest appearances as a FBI agent.  Plus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that I have a small crush on Carmine Giovinazzo (Danny Messer). 


My #2 – CSI: Miami.  I love the bright colors and shots of Miami throughout the episodes; however, Horatio Caine, his sunglasses, and his one-liners drive me nuts!  Honestly, if it wasn’t for Horatio, Miami may rank above NY.  I must admit though, Horatio and his sunglasses have become a staple for the show.  I love Calleigh Duquesne, and I applaud the show’s attempts at covering Emily Procter’s pregnancy since they chose not to write it into the storyline.  I can’t wait for next season when Calleigh has more scenes, and hopefully the show re-explores the Calleigh/Eric Delko relationship.  Major kudos to Miami for bringing back Adam Rodriquez’s character, Delko.  I liked Eddie Cibrian, but it just wasn’t the same. 

My #3 – the original, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  The Vegas edition has been through a lot in its 11 years on the air.  The original cast has dwindled: Grissom is off the screen even though William Peterson is still involved with the production; they killed Gary Dourdan, aka Warrick Brown, and he was probably my favorite.  The show has tried to redeem itself with the addition of Lawrence Fishburne, and that did help.  The show also brought Jorja Fox back after a brief hiatus.  But, unfortunately, the storylines too often reach far beyond the norm making it last on my list — but then again, it’s Vegas, baby!  You may now think I’m stranger than you once thought, but a part of me watches to support my fellow Red Raider: Guns’ Up – George Eads, aka Nick Stokes. 

The Law & Order franchise – Law and Order: SVU versus Law and Order: Criminal Intent versus Law and Order: LA

My #1 – Law and Order: Criminal Intent.  NBC dropped CI a few years ago, but the USA network picked it right up.  They’ve waffled a bit with characters: Chris Noth, Jeff Goldblum, Annabella Sciorra, Saffron Burrows, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Alicia Witt — all big names, but still not the originals – Vincent D’Onofrio (Goren) and Kathryn Erbe (Eames).  CI returns this May for its final season on USA.  Goren and Eames may be on my top all-time partner list along with Booth & Bones (Bones), Crockett & Tubbs (Miami Vice), and Maddie Hayes & David Addison (Moonlighting).  Goren & Eames’ partnership works, and I’m glad they’re back to close out a solid show. 

My #2 – Law and Order: SVU.  SVU has another great ensemble cast, but showcases gut-wrenching storylines.  The Special Victims Unit works assault and rape cases led by Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), and her partner, Elliott Stabler (Christopher Meloni).  Benson, the product of her mother’s rape, and Stabler, the father of five children, take the cases personally and sometimes they take actions that we as viewers wish we could see more of on television (in other words, they’re not always by the book).  The main characters are joined by Tutuola (Ice-T), also not by-the-book, and Munch (Richard Belzer), who adds a small comedic touch to the otherwise dark story.  SVU loads the guest stars into each season.  So far in the 2010-2011 season, the show has featured Jeremy Irons, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Marcia Gay Harden, Debra Messing, Rose McGowen, and many more.  Warning – the writers don’t sugar-coat things.  If you don’t like watching bad things happen to children, don’t watch! 

My #3 – Law and Order: LA.  NBC rushed LA to make up for the fact they cancelled the original Law & Order without much warning after 20 years.  I shelved my frustrations, and I looked forward to the new cast led by Skeet Ulrich.  NBC aired a few episodes this fall, and then bam, it was gone.  After more than a 4 month hiatus, LA returned last night with a BANG.  Yea, they really did kill off Skeet Ulrich.  I don’t mean to ruin it for anyone, but it aired last night.  A small redemption: former Law & Order cast member Alana de la Garza (also formerly of CSI: Miami) has joined the LA cast.  Now the show is led by Terrence Howard and Alfred Molina, and I’m quite sure they can hold their own.  I’m not giving up yet, but as it stands now, LA is the low-Law and Order on my totem pole.   

Do you battle with This One or That One?  If so, who do you choose?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Tune in to Tele-Tuesday these upcoming weeks for more: Criminal Minds versus Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior; NCIS versus NCIS: Las Angeles; Archer versus Family Guy; Hawaii Five-O versus Blue Bloods; Rizzoli & Isles versus Body of Proof

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