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 – Unconventional Courtroom Fun

Welcome to this week’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday where Amber West and I channel surf over to TNT.

As I mentioned on an earlier Tele-Tuesday post, TNT hosts some of the hottest summer programming on television today, and the network once again hit one out of the ball park with the new dramedy Franklin & Bash

 “We’re Totally Lawyers” – doesn’t that sound exactly like something the “grown-up” Zach Morris or Travis Birkenstock would say?  

“As if” – who doesn’t totally love Saved by the Bell and Clueless? “Whatever!”

Now I can’t get “Rollin With My Homies” out of my head!

Now back to today’s post – As we learned in last week’s episode, Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) have been friends since high school.  The series begins with the two sitting at a diner watching the traffic in Los Angeles while they banter back and forth when suddenly a fender-bender takes place directly in front of them.  Racing out to the scene, they immediately offer their business cards and legal representation to the driver responsible for rear-ending another car. 

Why is the driver not responsible for the crash when he clearly bumped into the car in front of his?  Franklin and Bash explain that it is because the driver was distracted by the interactive advertising sign yards ahead flashing images of a sexy young woman. 

The young and unconventional attorneys take the case to court and after prompting the beautiful girl in the ad to unbutton her shirt while on the witness stand, thus proving her chest to be guilty of causing an unnecessary distraction to those driving, they win the case against a large and successful law firm.

Witnessing and enjoying the unique techniques of Franklin and Bash, Stanton Infeld (played by Malcolm McDowell) offers the two friends jobs at Infeld Daniels, where he is the senior partner.  Along with their ex-con assistant, Carmen, and their agoraphobic clerk, Pindar, the two join the firm.

Meanwhile, the obvious successor to his uncle, Damien Karp (played by Reed Diamond) takes a disliking to Franklin and Bash and does his best to discredit their antics – but his uncle loves it saying repeatedly that the two remind him of himself when he was younger. 

Further infuriating Damien, Franklin beds Hanna Linden (Garcelle Beauvais, former NYPD Blue cast mate of Gosselaar), another lawyer working at the firm almost immediately.  Why does this bother Damien? Hanna is Damien’s ex. 

We’re only three episodes in, but so far we’ve enjoyed each episode.  Meyer and Gosselaar have great comedic timing and a perfect on-screen chemistry.  Franklin and Bash live together, party together, and work together, yet never seem to tire of one another.  Their famous “Margarita-Monday’s” have already saved one of their cases and provided them the vision to defend another case successfully. 

I’m giving Franklin & Bash another MacTV rating.  It doesn’t quite qualify for the GTV rating that I’d give Justified, Burn Notice, or Bones, but it also doesn’t sit long on my DVR making it a tad better than JFTV. 

I’ve started playing a game with each new episode – how many of Gosselaar’s former TV co-stars will land a guest role on Franklin & BashWanna play?  So far, I’ve already mentioned Garcelle Beauvais…..can you name another?  

Tune in tonight for a new Franklin & Bash on TNT. 

What do you think of Franklin & Bash?  Did you enjoy the butt scene in the first episode, or was it too much?  What do you think of Franklin and Bash’s courtroom antics – are they believable, or would they never happen in real-life?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now, click over and check out Amber’s review of TNT’s Men of a Certain Age starring Scott Bakula, Ray Romano, and one of my favorites, Andrew Braugher. 

Remember to stop by the Twitter hashtag (#watchwed) and visit with us about today’s posts and any of today’s television shows that you’d like to see discussed on our series in the future.  Next week we discuss police dramas: Lifetime’s The Protector and TNT’s Memphis Beat.

Tele-Tuesday #5 – Summer Fun Part Two

Ready for more summer fun? Tune to the USA Network!

White Collar – 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 1 opens with Peter releasing Neal from prison under the strict supervision of an ankle monitor, AND one condition: Neal must assist the White Collar division of the FBI in capturing bad guys by utilizing his criminal expertise.  Neal enlists the help of his fellow con-artist, 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 most popularly known for her role as Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell).  In addition to solving a new FBI case each week, Neal focuses on discovering the truth behind his girlfriend Kate’s disappearance. 

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. 

In Season 2, 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 con played by Gloria Votsis), and Neal/Sara (insurance investigator 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, St. Elmo’s Fire) escaping once again, ending Neal’s quest for answers – for the time being.  What will happen in Season 3?  Find out when White Collar returns June 7th!

Covert Affairs – Abandoned on a deserted island by her love, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly) 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, Harper’s Island), and the former CIA director’s son, Jai Wilcox (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Annie jumps into the toughest cases.  Her boss, Joan Campbell (played by Kari Matchett), and her boss’s husband, current CIA director Arthur Campbell (the fabulous Peter Gallagher), constantly throw Annie into veteran situations, test her abilities, and review her loyalties to the CIA.  Annie also battles familiar woes living in her sister’s guest house, and playing perfect aunt to her two nieces, while keeping her cover story as a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution intact.

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.  Covert Affairs also returns June 7th

Burn Notice – Bringing sexy back to Thursday nights.  Miami + Burned Spy = Hottest Show on Television!  Michael Westen, a former spy burned by the U.S. government, teams up with Sam Axe (Michael’s friend and former Navy Seal), Fiona Glenanne (Michael’s gun-crazy on & off again girlfriend), and Jesse Porter (another spy accidentally burned by Michael) to keep Miami safe, and continue Michael’s investigation into his burn notice. 

Season 4 ended with a bang, no different from any other Burn Notice finale.  Why was Michael taken to Washington D.C.?  Was his burn notice lifted?  Burn Notice returns June 23rd.  

 

Law & Order: Criminal IntentGoren & Eames, together again, returned Sunday, May 1st, for the tenth and final season.  It seems tv-land is happy for the original CI partners’ return – the show’s rating was up 43% from last year.  In an interview with Candace Havens, Vincent D’Onofrio mentioned that the storyline this season focuses more on the cases than the personal lives of the detectives – back to Law & Order basics. 

Psych – It was just announced by the USA Network that Psych doesn’t return until Fall 2011, but I still highly recommend adding it to your Netflix queue for summer fun if you like mysteries, pop-culture from the 80’s, and laughing – especially for the blooper reel! 

Growing up with a detective father (Corbin Bernsen from the 80’s greats L.A. Law and Major League) teaching him to pay very close attention to detail, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) fools everyone into believing he has psychic abilities.  Everyone, that is, except his father, Henry, and his best friend, Gus (Burton Guster played by Dule Hill from The West Wing).  Shawn & Gus open a consulting/detective agency, “Psych”, and freelance their services to the Santa Barbara police department on numerous cases, despite the constant disapproval of lead detective, Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson).  Lassiter and his partner, Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), join Shawn and Gus to close the cases assigned to them by Police Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson), and comedy ensues each and every time.  Every episode promises laughs, especially with the absolutely hilarious nicknames Shawn & Gus assume for each case.  The 80’s references, 80’s music, and 80’s guest stars (Judd Nelson & Ally Sheedy from The Brat Pack, Phylicia Rashad & Keisha Knight Pulliam from The Cosby Show, Cybill Shepherd from Moonlighting just to name a few) make watching Psych a fun game of 80’s trivia, especially for those of us deemed children of the 80’s – like myself. 

Being a huge fan of the 90s hit Twin Peaks, I absolutely loved the Psych season five episode: ‘Dual Spires’.  James Roday outdid himself writing the episode: he perfected the oddities of the characters from David Lynch’s bizarre murder mystery; he mimicked the eerie music and peculiar dancing to a “T”; and, he incorporated a few of the Twin Peaks iconic elements such as the dead girl’s body wrapped in plastic found by the water, the diner, the log lady, the caged bird, and the pie.  Even better yet, Psych cast a few of the fabulous Twin Peaks alumni for the episode: Sheryl Lee, Laura Palmer; Dana Ashbrook, Bobby Briggs; Ray Wise, Leland Palmer; and, Sherilyn Finn; Audrey Horne.  ‘Dual Spires’ may be my favorite Psych episode to date! 

Do you watch USA’s In Plain Sight or Royal Pains?  Do you hope that Fairly Legal returns for a second season on USA?  Do you miss Monk or The Dead Zone?  What other networks and/or shows do you enjoy during the summer months?  I’d love to hear from you!

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