Tele-Tuesday: New Year, New Drama

Even though it feels like the fall television schedule just started and we’re still enjoying our favorite shows, it’s a new year which means it’s time for a new set of programs to check out!

This January, three new dramas attempt to sweep us off our feet – one revisits new crimes tracking back to an old, creepy prison; another follows a quirky specialist, who solves even the most difficult of cases; and one of our favorite novel and big screen attorneys works frantically to uncover secrets from yet another law firm.

*****

Alcatraz

We all know Alcatraz, also known as The Rock, as the impenetrable prison located on an island outside San Francisco that housed some of America’s worst criminals.  We also know that Alcatraz closed its doors in the early 1960s, but what if the former prisoners resurfaced and started committing crimes again?

That’s exactly what happens in the new FOX series, Alcatraz.  How is it possible that “ghosts” from Alcatraz are committing murders and other crimes today? Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) will work alongside an Alcatraz historian and expert (Jorge Garcia, Lost), while battling the government agent standing her in her way (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park) to solve these mysterious crimes.

Alcatraz premieres Monday, January 16th.

*****

The Finder

Bones is a favorite in our household, which is why we felt a tad bit robbed last season when “The Finder” episode aired in Bones’ time slot.  Of course, the introduction was rather genius – the network was testing the waters for the potential Bones spinoff, and briefly introduced the series by interweaving the Bones protagonists.

In the episode, Booth and Bones travel to the Florida Everglades to consult with a former acquaintance of Booth’s (Walter Sherman played by Geoff Stults).  Walter is a former war veteran with the ability “to find” anything or anyone.  Along with his bar partner (Michael Clarke Duncan, The Green Mile) and colleague (Saffron Burrows, Boston Legal), Walter solves the case for Booth and Bones, while dominating most of the sixty minute episode.

Despite feeling robbed, as mentioned earlier, the pilot episode showed promise.  It doesn’t hurt that Geoff Stults is adorable, for those who aren’t familiar with 7th Heaven or Happy Town.

Airing the “backdoor pilot” did suffer one casualty – Saffron Burrows will not resume her role.  Instead, The Finder will introduce two new characters:  Deputy U.S. Marshal Isabel Zambada (Mercedes Masohn) and an alleged criminal do-gooder, Willa Monday (Maddie Hasson).

The Finder will continue and follow its sister program (Bones) this Thursday night, January 12th on Fox.

*****

The Firm

The Firm picks up ten years after Mitch McDeere (Josh Lucas, Sweet Home Alabama) turns in his law firm’s documents to the FBI, proving they were over-billing clients (from the John Grisham novel and the movie starring Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, and Jeanne Tripplehorn).  The story continues that these said documents led the FBI to take over the law firm and uncover piles of other files incriminating the mob, who has in turn set their sights on Mitch and his family as retribution.

The U.S. Marshalls put the McDeere family (Abby played by Molly Parker, and daughter Claire played by Natasha Calis) into witness protection for a short period of time, but the TV series picks up after the family returns to a so-called “normal life” with Mitch running his very own private practice.

While defending a court appointed fourteen year old boy charged with stabbing and murdering a classmate, a large D.C. firm swoops in and offers Mitch an opportunity to run a new criminal division – a job he declines but can’t shake the feeling that this is the right job for him that he has always wanted, not to mention will save his financially unsound practice.  Despite Abby’s gut-feeling, considering her husband’s experience with the last firm (from the movie), the McDeeres attend a wine and dine to meet the partners and clients of the pursuing law firm.

But the deciding factor comes when Mitch is faced with a major legal battle versus a top medical company over a defective heart stint.  He strikes a deal with the D.C. firm – their resources for a percentage of his earnings.  He officially works for the firm, but he gets to keep his staff and his off-site office location.

"It's happening again."

As far as the upcoming season, I see that not only will Mitch have the mafia after him for his past actions (from the movie), but will also battle his own firm AND against the medical company (I’m thinking like The Rainmaker here, another Grisham favorite).  And, it’s already been shown that the firm’s “real” client in Mitch’s murder trial is not in fact the young woman he is defending; instead, it’s some “suit” who jumps to his death while Mitch is desperately interrogating him, trying to get answers.

So technically, we should have about three major plots…

The casting is absolutely great with Josh Lucas and his baby blues replacing one of Hollywood’s favorites in Tom Cruise, but also with Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear, Natural Born Killers) as the chain-smoking legal secretary Tammy (Holly Hunter role in the movie) and Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica) as Ray, Mitch’s private detective/ex-con older brother.  Plus as a side note and odd-fun-fact, the McDeere house in the TV series resembles the McDeere house in the movie (in my opinion).

The Firm premiered Sunday night on NBC, but will return this Thursday, January 12th to its normal time slot.

*****

What do you think – did you catch the pilot episode of The Firm or The Finder?  Do you plan to watch Alcatraz?  Which show has the most promise and why?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Power of Three

The holidays are near, and it is this time of year that usually limits the amount of new television programs airing on the major networks.  So, what do we do when our DVR isn’t as full as it usually is?  We watch the oldies, but goodies.

This week, Amber West and I discuss our favorite daytime reruns that we enjoy watching while we clean house, fold laundry, and bake treats for our sweets – Charmed and a Law & Order.   

Aaron Spelling produced many hit television series during his lifetime – Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, and the original Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place to just name a few.  That’s why when Charmed premiered, this TV addict was immediately on board.  And when I learned the show was about witches?  Major bonus. 

Charmed begins as the Halliwell sisters reunite in San Francisco for their grandmother’s funeral and soon discover that they come from a long line of female witches.  After the youngest sister reads the family’s Book of Shadows (a book containing the spells and magic from their ancestors), she believes that she and her sisters are supposed to be the most powerful witches of all time. 

One by one, the sisters learn they each possess a unique magical power, and they are quickly thrust into the line of fire when their first demon attacks.  Unsure of how to defeat the demon, the sisters join hands and repeat a passage from the Book of Shadows, “The Power of Three will set us free.” 

And that it did, for eight seasons.  Of course, The Power of Three chant wasn’t always the spell needed to defeat the bad guy, but ultimately, Charmed was all about The Power of Three.  Over the years, we watched the sisters learn the ins and outs of their magical heritage, hone their individual powers, and most importantly, protect the world from The Source (the “source” of all evil) and other demons and warlocks.

The oldest of the sisters, Prue Halliwell (Shannon Doherty), works as an art appraiser and photographer.  She has always felt responsible for her sisters, due to their mother’s death when they were young.  At the beginning of the series, Prue shares a rocky relationship with her youngest sister, one they must work through quickly in order to survive. 

Prue’s power?  Telekinesis – she can move things with her mind, meaning she can throw the bad guy against the wall, through the wall, whatever – perhaps the best power of all the sisters.  Prior to her death (sorry for the spoiler), Prue also inherits the ability to teleport, a skill that proves life saving on multiple occasions. 

Middle sister Piper Halliwell (Holly Marie Combs) works as an aspiring chef and buffer to her sisters arguing.  Piper is a romantic always looking for love.  Actually, her boyfriend in the pilot is the warlock attempting to kill the sisters.  After Piper recovers from that failed relationship, and a few others, she meets the man of her dreams and future husband – Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause).   

Leo is also the sister’s Whitelighter, their guardian angel who can “orb” (move magically through space) them out of trouble.

Piper’s power?  She can freeze time and people.  Eventually her power evolves and she has the ability to blow things up, which comes in very handy when facing a demon.

The youngest of the three original sisters (explanation to come), Phoebe Halliwell (Alyssa Milano) is nothing like her sisters.  Where Prue and Piper are both professionally driven, Phoebe has no idea what she wants to do with her life; however, after putting herself through college, Phoebe decides to go to work as a reporter for the local paper. 

Also a romantic, Phoebe eventually marries a demon (Balthazar/Cole Turner played by Julian McMahon) and later Coop (a Cupid played by Victor Webster). 

Phoebe’s power?  Premonition – she can see things in the past, as well as in the future.  Her powers intensify and she develops the ability to levitate, which she uses to learn and master martial arts in order to kick demon butt.  She also later develops the power of empathy, which she can use to mimic another’s powers or sense exactly what they feel.

After Prue’s death, Piper and Phoebe meet a sister they never knew about – Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan).  When the girls were younger, their mother had an affair with her Whitelighter and later gave the baby to a nun for protection.  Paige was adopted by “normal” parents and led a semi-normal life.  That is until she was drawn to a stranger’s funeral – Prue’s funeral. 

Paige’s Power?  Tele-Orbing – Paige inherited the Whitelighter abilities (including orbing) and combined with her telekinesis (like big sis, Prue), she has the ability to call out for items and they will be drawn to her. 

Charmed’s eight seasons weren’t enough for this television addict and supernatural lover.  I cried my eyes out during the series finale.  I still miss the sisters, their powers, the witchcraft, Leo, Cole, and even babies Wyatt and Chris (Piper and Leo’s sons) to this day. 

When I noticed TNT airs episodes during the day, I immediately set the DVR so I could watch the greatness of Charmed again, in order – from start to finish.  It will always be one of my favorite programs of all time, and therefore I must award the MacTV rating.  Charmed is like that good ole bowl of mac-n-cheese; it’s not the best food in the pantry, but man is it delicious! 

By the way, if I ever get a tattoo, it will be of the triquetra – the symbol on the Book of Shadows

Did you watch Charmed?  Which sister’s power do you wish you possessed?  Do you prefer demon Cole or whitelighter Leo?   Generally speaking, do you believe it witchcraft?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and find out which Law & Order she prefers while folding laundry and baking treats for her sweets all day long…and why. 

Come back next week when Amber and I something just in time for the holidays.  

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

Friday FabOoolousness – Love a Good Mystery?

A great method to enjoy reading is to find an author or a series of stories that you simply can’t put down. 

My collection of the series on a messy bookshelf

One fabOoolous example: James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club Series

The series follows four female friends (a detective, Lindsey Boxer; an attorney, Jill Bernhardt, and later Yuki Castellano; a medical examiner, Claire Washburn; and a reporter, Cindy Thomas) as they work together to solve murder cases in San Francisco.  Without giving too much away, I’ve included a short synopsis of each story.

1st to DieLindsey and her team of friends investigate the serial murders of multiple couples.  Readers are introduced to a few of the hardships in Lindsey’s life following her working on a tough case, “The Honeymoon Murders”, and her diagnoses of a life-threatening disease.        

1st to Die received such great reviews that a two-hour television movie starring Tracy Pollan as the blonde bombshell homicide detective aired in 2003. 

2nd Chance, co-written by Andrew Gross – The Women’s Club investigates a local gang-related murder spree.  Lindsey’s troubles continue, plus her father is introduced (they too share a troubled past).  The other three women have their hands full while assisting Lindsey with the case: one of the four is targeted by the killers, another gets involved in a relationship with one of the victims, and another announces life changing news. 

3rd Degree, co-written by Andrew Gross – Arson, fire, and bombs – OH MY!  The third installment of the series is action packed.  The “August Spies” threaten to kill every three days, and promise the politicians in San Francisco aren’t safe.  FBI investigator, Joe Molinari, joins as a recurring character while one of Lindsey’s friend’s life is in danger.  3rd Degree is nail-biting!

4th of July, co-written by Maxine Paetro – Lindsey goes on vacation to stay at her sister’s house in a desperate attempt to escape the drama and sadness in her life.  The detective in Lindsey can’t vacation, so she starts investigating the murders that she reads about in the small town’s newspaper, and discovers that these murders seem familiar to her.  Lindsey then does what she does best – she throws herself right in the middle of the cases.  Local authorities warn her to mind her own business, but does she? 

The 5th Horseman – co-written by Maxine Paetro – Lindsey and team investigate a San Francisco hospital when one of their own family members takes a turn for the worst after what should have been a routine hospital stay.  A pattern of inexplicable deaths emerge, and the investigation then threatens one of their own.  A new member of the team is introduced in the fifth installment: Yuki. 

The 6th Target, co-written by Maxine Paetro – Lindsey focuses on two cases – A shootout on a ferry ride where one of her best friends narrowly escapes with her life, and the kidnapping of affluent families’ children – no ransom, no contact – the children simply vanish. 

7th Heaven, co written by Maxine Paetro – The governor’s son is missing, and another arsonist is on the loose destroying rich couples and their beautiful homes.  Romantic tensions flare as Lindsey fights the intensifying emotions for her partner Rich, and her FBI agent, Joe. 

8th Confession, co-written by Maxine Paetro – Cindy discovers a homeless man’s corpse, and her empathy pushes her deep into the case.  Despite Lindsey’s warnings, the reporter in Cindy yearns for her big story, prompting Lindsey’s partner to keep a watchful eye, and a few other things, on Cindy.  Will jealousy break up the group?  Meanwhile, Lindsey investigates the mysterious deaths of a wealthy couple, and discovers her case might be related to another homicide that occurred decades earlier.   

The 9th Judgment, co-written by Maxine Paetro – Mothers and their small children are being brutally murdered in public parking garages, and the killer proudly signs his work with lipstick on the car windows.   At the same time, a cat burglar happens into the wrong home, and is now wanted for murder.  After successfully closing the cases, Lindsey’s life is turned upside down; the ending brought me to tears. 

The series releases the tenth installment, 10th Anniversary, Tuesday, May 2nd

ABC aired a dramatic series for one season (2007-2008) and cast Angie Harmon as Lindsey Boxer.  While I enjoyed the show, the episodes didn’t stick to the novel’s storyline, and the show was short-lived.  The visualization of the TV cast helps create a picture show in my mind as I read Patterson’s novels.  I can’t help but envision Angie Harmon as Lindsey (except Lindsey is blonde in the books), Laura Harris as Jill, Paula Newsome as Clair, and Aubrey Dollar as Cindy. 

Here’s to hoping that a network adapts a screenplay for the remainder of the series!  Why stop after 1st to Die?  Who doesn’t love a good two-hour mystery? 

Do you like The Women’s Murder Club series?  Who’s your favorite character?  What other series has you riveted and eagerly awaiting new installments?  I’d love to hear from you!