the Hyperion Chronicles
"One a day keeps illiteracy away"

#162 TV 4: It's a good thing Edgar Rice Burroughs is already dead

I had not planned on running another TV column until Wednesday, but there were a few new shows I got to see over the last week, and after the strong support I got from all my mini-reviews, I thought I'd bring you a few more.


Joan of Arcadia
I said last time that Joan was promising, but the Pilot wasn't all that. After seeing the second episode, I'm in. This one's a keeper. If you have nothing to do on Friday nights (or if whatever you do doesn't take place until after eight o'clock), then I encourage you to get into this. As long as you're not overly anal and like to think about spiritual matters, but in a light-hearted way, this is for you.

Lyon's Den
I thought the second episode was much better, but later I couldn't figure out why. I'm still unsure about this. The plotting is a bit weak for a show with this pedigree, and the acting a bit cliché already. I'm still intrigued by the show's dark secrets, but it may take a long time to get to them (which dramatically raises the stakes of how much they have to pay off not to make viewers angry). I'm still watching, though.


10-8: Officer in Training
I'm not a big fan of someone who "One-Acts," which means leaving part way through something and then writing a review as if they watched the whole thing. However, as long as I have full disclosure, in this case I'll live with it. I tried very hard to watch this show, but quit after 20 minutes. I felt like I was watching a 7th Grade Talent Show: you know they mean well, and the awfulness isn't their fault, and you can't help but feel sorry for them. The cast seemed likable, but nobody thought this through. Are they making a Sitcom, a Drama, a hybrid; what? Just terrible.

And ABC, once again proving they have the Programming ability of sheep (and not those really smart sheep from the commercials that always trick people into not getting Serta mattresses, but sheep that couldn't even get into Vassar), have elected to put 10-8 right before their one bona fide critical hit: Alias. I'd think the whole thing was funny if I wasn't concerned this will hurt Alias's ratings. What I think they should do on Sunday nights is start with Threat Matrix, which is kind of a spy show, and surely has no chance on Thursday nights opposite Friends and Survivor. Then, after Alias, they could feed into another hot tough girl, in Karen Sisco.

Karen Sisco
This one's also a keeper. Based on the 1998 Stephen Soderberg film, Out of Sight, Sisco stars Carla Gugino in as the titular character, the role Jennifer Lopez played in the movie. The show is already slickly produced and the characterization seems confident (with the immortal Robert Forster as Karen's dad!). The premise is that Karen makes bad choices in men; always falling in love with criminals. This might sound like your own best friend, but there's another problem: Karen Sisco is a U.S. Marshal. Ah, the rub. I don't see how this show has a prayer against the juggernaut of Law & Order, but everyone in my family liked it, and maybe it will catch on or ABC will wise up and move it. Recommended.

I went out of my way to watch Tarzan: I had to tape it because I wanted to watch Alias and the Cubs/Braves game, and then I couldn't get any of the River Midgets or the Interns to watch it for me. People: you have no idea the Yeoman's work I perform here at the Institute.

Although, in a way, it was refreshing, because I haven't seen a show this spectacularly bad since...I can't even think of anything this bad right off. Maybe something will come to me. Okay, here's the set-up: Jane Porter is a detective in (presumably) New York, dating another detective and living with her younger sister, for some reason (I'm guessing because she's hot and this is the WB). Her partner is Token Cliché Black Man, complete with sass and moxie. (Seriously: Tarzan has like, three black people in New York. There are more than that in Montana.)

Tarzan is heir to the trillion-dollar Greystoke Empire, but was lost with his parents in the Congo when he was a boy. His uncle (played by X-Files' Skinner) has brought him back (for nefarious purposes, of course), but Tarzan does not like confinement, so he keeps escaping and apparently causing as much trouble as a pack of wild dogs. (In fact, that's what Jane originally thinks he is.) Eventually, Tarzan meets Jane, and saves her life, and even though Jane has a nice boyfriend and Tarzan is illiterate, can barely speak, and never bathes, Jane sets back the Women's Movement 30 years by falling completely in love with him.

Supposedly each week Tarzan will help Jane solve crimes, and next week Xena (I'm not kidding. Well, I'm sort of kidding. Lucy Lawless, who played Xena) enters the picture as an aunt of Tarzan or something. I had to keep stopping the tape to write down funny things I saw. The clichés: cops eating doughnuts, and the previously mentioned sassy black protective detective. Then there are the pop culture references: Dr. Phil is quoted, and Sassy McBlacky (I didn't catch his name) talks about Sigroy and Fried. (that's not a typo. That's what he calls them.) Then there are the howlers: Tarzan at times is just a normal (albeit buff) guy, but at other times is a superhero, jumping Incredible Hulk distances and quite proficient at kung fu! (Tarzan also goes without shoes except when he's jumping, where you can clearly see his shoes on, and then he apparently takes them back off and stuffs them somewhere when he is done climbing and jumping.)

This show is atrociously bad, which made it kind of fun. The leads are pretty, though. The girl playing Jane is a virtual nobody (although she reminds me of someone, and it's going to bother me until I figure out who). The guy playing Tarzan is a former Calvin Klein model, and looks eerily like Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, if Brad had been 10 years younger when he made the film. For all the terribleness, there is undeniable chemistry, as Jane falls for Tarzan, and this is what the producers are counting on: girls with no common sense watching another girl with no common sense. The target audience here is women who thought everything Julia Roberts did in My Best Friend's Wedding was justified.

Another reason it took me awhile to get through this was because I kept having to rewind it, since I started daydreaming. I was trying to imagine what Tarzan would be like if the other networks had made a show about him...

"Next on Touched By an Apeman..."

Tarzan gets Jungle Fever!

"He can't read or write or speak two-syllable words, and he never bathes. But he's a hunk, and 30 desperate women are vying for his attention in the Jungle Bachelor!"

CSI: Congo. "Listen to what the rhino-dung is telling you..."
"...Our victim was mauled by lions and then picked clean by vultures, but we'll have to wait for the autopsy before we can rule it a homicide..."

They'd probably just put a human baby in the hands of a momma gorilla and film the whole thing.

Law & Order CI (Carnivorous Intent): "In the Criminal Jungle system, the animals are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the prey who run and hide and the predators who eat them. These are their stories...(Bong Bong)..."

I only wish I could get away with writing the idea I had for HBO...

October 6, 2003

Thanks to Koz

Motto Explanation
Combination of two things. One: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Two: including Hyperion Xs, this is my 7th column in 7 days