What's the best night for TV on television? That's hard to say. Everyone knows about Thursdays, and Sundays--especially adding HBO and Showtime--might get the nod, at least for adults. However, if you ask what's the best night for Television on one network, it would be hard to argue against NBC's Monday Night Lineup. I don't see anything that even comes close.
Before the night even started, a grave announcer told us about the three shows we would be seeing that night (Chuck, Heroes, My Own Worst Enemy), and then they showed us that it was Mohinder Suresh from Heroes! He even said "...because things sound more impressive when I say them like this." Good times.
First of all, I want to apologize to Michael Strahan (and NBC), for decrying the stunt casting of having Strahan guest-star on Chuck when he just got a new gig on NBC's Sunday Night Football. Actually, Strahan is on FOX.
Oops. My bad.
I think I was quick to find fault because in general I don't like stunt-casting. It feels gimmicky, and takes away from the characters I love, which is the main reason you watch a show like Chuck. (It's not like you're hoping for an Alias-like techno-thriller.) So, when I saw that Nicole Richie was a guest-star, I got nervous. However, if you didn't know anything about what she was before, I think you'd have been perfectly fine with Miss Richie's performance. Her husband (played by Fred Savage's younger brother Ben) wasn't quite as good. I think that probably is my bias again.
When it comes to the Savages, you either grew up with Fred on The Wonder Years and The Princess Bride, or you grew up with Ben on the monstrosity I like to call Boy Meets World. Guess which camp I fall into? When Sarah meets Nicole Richie's character, in her fake Frozen Yogurt shop, it turns out it's someone from her (real) past. This prompts Chuck to say,
"Of all the semi-tart Asian-influenced frozen yogurt shops in all of town....."That cracked me up. Anyway, the episode involves Sarah having to go to her 10th High School Reunion. Boy, that gave me pause. I look at people like Sarah and Chuck, and I just assume they are older than I am. but Sarah's 10th Reunion was from 1998, four years after mine! That made me feel ancient. There were several very clever high-school "homages," let's call them. One involved the names. Nicole Riche's character was Heather Chandler, from the movie HEATHERS, while Ben Savage's was Mark Ratner, who, you will recall, was the movie-theater geek who loved Jennifer Jason Leigh's character in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH.
Other homages included several extended sequences from GROSSE POINTE BLANK (itself about a ten year high-school reunion, and by the way, go see that movie if you haven't yet), and some that looked straight out of CARRIE.
The music took me back too. There was MmmmBop by Hanson, The Backstreet Boys, that Dawson's Creek song, and--in the best move--Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up, all while Sarah and Nicole Richie's character are in full-on girl fight. How can you ask for more than that? You just can't.
I meant to write about Heroes last week (the "Angels and Monsters" episode), then decided to wait until this week and fold all my thoughts into a column. Which, didn't happen. I suck. However, last week's episode was one of the best ever, and this week's did not disappoint. The two things I want to write a column about, which in my opinion elevate Heroes from typical genre fare, are the mythic nature of what we're seeing, and the family relationships. Boy, how that's coming home to roost. For three seasons we've wondered what was the deal with Peter and Nathan's father. Now we're seeing some of that come together. AND HE'S PLAYED BY THE IMMORTAL ROBERT FORSTER!!!!!
Still not sure what Papa Petrelli's power is, but it makes total sense he can steal other's powers, since Peter and Sylar are his sons. I so can't wait for the reunion/fight between Mama Petrelli and Papa Petrelli. I know some people have been upset at Peter seeming to veer toward the dark side, while Sylar tries to become good, but I think that's all part of the plan.
Think about it for a minute. These powers are like Apotheosis. In other words, these people have become unto like gods. That kind of power has to be very tempting, in all sorts of ways. That kind of power has to tap into our best instincts, and our worst. It is consistent, the way I understand it, that some Heroes would be temped to the Dark side, and some Villains would try to find redemption.
Think about any of the classic mythology tales. Basically those folks are humans with god-like powers. How many of them do good all the time? How many are purely evil? Are they not tempted like the rest of us? And why would powers make that any less the case?
Anyway, I am digging this Villains arc they're on. I like the interplay between what's good and what's evil, and I don't need my villains to always wear dark hats and stay in their cage. It doesn't bother me in the slightest that Sylar might try to change. This show works as metaphor much more than as real. You watch it as real, but obviously can't delve too deeply (or it would fall apart). I don't have a problem with that. Most of the world's greatest literature has always worked the same way; involving ourselves on multiple levels.
As far as characters go, I usually spend half my time annoyed to pieces at about half the characters. For me the last year that's been Claire, who is so whiny and ungrateful I would shoot her (if it would do any good), and Matt Parkman bores me to death too. Not to mention which, who is watching Molly with Parkman in African and Mohinder completely unhinged?
I continue to love Hiro/Ando, especially the comic relief stuff. I totally called last week when he stabbed Ando as a set-up. Some of the one-liners were hysterical, like when that speedy chick Daphne sends Hiro and Ando after the African precog (who can paint the future), but warns them.
"That's the trouble with pre-cogs. They see you coming."Then when Ando sees one of the paintings on the rock of Hiro, he quips, "Ah, they all look alike to me." Hilarious! That was topped only by Hiro searching after the African pre-cog, going, "Mr. African Ee-sak?" I guess you have to know Hiro for that to be funny.
Whatever funk Heroes might have been in, they definitely have their mojo back. I desperately need to write a big column about it, for new people. If you don't watch Heroes, and happened to stumble in, GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING! You won't be sorry.
I was going to do my very best not to make a cheesy analogy here, but with the title of tonight's episode, I feel I have no choice? When it comes to MOWE, much like a cheap hooker, I'm in all the way, and very quickly at that. I keep waiting (hoping?) this show will suck, but the first two episodes were fantastic.
Tonight might have been even better than the pilot, mostly because "Edward" performs the "Hummingbird" on Henry's wife (in case you're new, Henry and Edward are split personalities, so the poor wife didn't realize), and after Henry objected, apparently they did something even dirtier! Anyone who doesn't know the Hummingbird, well, I just feel sorry for them. But I'm kinda wondering what the "even dirtier" thing is.
So, in the first episode we learned that Edward is a remorseless secret agent for some unnamed secret government agency who--for unknown reasons--had an alter identity--"Henry"--put in his brain. Henry lives his normal (to him) life, complete with wife and kids, and whenever the agency needs him, "Edward" is reactivated. Except, the problem, is that Edward/Henry's chip is malfunctioning, and you never know which personality will appear. This means normal confused Henry popping up during missions, and confident Edward popping up (literally, I guess) in bed with Henry's wife.
Got that? It's not nearly as confusing as it sounds, but it's Hell-cool.
In this episode Henry continues to be obsessed with figuring out what has happened to him, not content with the idea that he's a manufactured personality only 19 years old, and fake at that. Henry pours through old family movies, trying to connect with his past, only to learn that most of it is fake. We see the show through Henry's point of view more than Edward's, so even though Henry might be the construction, our sympathies are with him. Then again, Henry is a bit of a whiny baby. Edward seems more interesting--in and out of bed--in every way.
Also cool: we see more of Mike O'Malley, another agent with a manufactured personality. I wrote last week that I am a fan of O'Malley, but usually he plays funny. Here he plays straight, grim even, and he's fantastic at it. We also met the big boss, at least the biggest so far, played by super-asshole (at least on screen) James Cromwell. If anyone can lend instant dignified menace, it's him.
What can I tell you? I wasn't looking for a new show to like, and I have never been a fan of Christian Slater, but I am totally liking My Own Worst Enemy so far. My advice is to take 90 minutes and catch up on the first two episodes (nbc.com, hulu.com, imdb.com). I think you'll be glad you did.