Tag Archives: “Swingtown”

Best & Worst of the New Fall Shows (2011)

Yeah, I know…I’ve been gone a long time. Sorry for that. Between working like mad on a new script (remember when I used to do that?) taking care of Greta and watching just about every new show out there, well, let’s just say it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Whew…

I’ll start with the worst of the new shows. And let me say from the get-go that I am only judging these shows by the pilots, you know, like the networks do. I’m sorry, but, if you can’t grab me from the first episode, I’m done with you. I mean, I wasted two seasons watching “Glee” and all it did was get worse and worse, so, sorry, new shows, I do not have time for lameness.

That said, I gotta tell ya, most of the shows I sampled weren’t that bad. I mean, even the one’s I’m not gonna watch for whatever reason were way better than some of the crap from season’s past, so, good on you, networks! OK, back to the worst of the bunch…

“The Secret Circle” (The CW) This show was just plain old boring, I’ve seen teen witches done better elsewhere, and aside from the presence of the always sexy Natasha Henstridge as the school principal with a secret, I could barely stay awake to the ending. Yawn…

“Free Agents” (NBC) I don’t even know why I watched this show to begin with. I absolutely loathe Hank Azaria and after watching the pilot, I like, double-triple loathe him. Yuck!

“2 Broke Chicks” (CBS) This show really bummed me out, man. I was so looking forward to it and really expecting a lot from the crackling-good cast, but, the writing was just not there to back them up. And on top of all that, the jokes were really gross. And not even clever gross, just gross and crass for crass-ness sake. Urgh…soooo disappointing!

“Whitney” (NBC) Same thing here. Gross humor, crude jokes, yawn. I will say that the lead actors grew on me as the half hour progressed, but, wow, that supporting cast felt like the table scraps from some long-forgotten 90’s sitcom: couple with pushy wife and mousy husband…check. Drunk and single best friend…check. Crazy, self-centered mom…double check. Oy…who needs it?

“The Playboy Club” (NBC) Dear NBC, just because you set a show in the 1960’s does not make it “Mad Men”. It’s not even that the show is that bad, it’s just kinda…eh. And when you think about how much dough NBC spent making and marketing it, “eh” is probably not the reaction they were going for. And for the love of God, please lose the Hugh Hefner voice overs…you weren’t changing the hearts and minds of America, Mr. Hefner, you were peddling smut. Classy, well-lit smut, but, smut nonetheless, so, please, get over yourself.

Now, before we get to the best new shows, I’d like to start with some honorable mention winners. You know, shows that I might watch if there was nothing on, but, not necessarily shows I’d add to my Tivo Season Pass anytime soon. Let’s call them the shows I’d watch if I had all the time in the world to watch TV…

“Pan Am” (ABC) Glossy, juicy, sexy, this show is really a lot of fun. The cast is great, the story possibilities are endless and those planes are so damn sexy, I mean, seriously, did ya see the couches in that French chick’s section? Amazing! I wanna live in that world, but, sadly, I just don’t have time to watch it.

“Charlie’s Angels” (ABC) Same thing here, the show is surprisingly good, with a totally game cast and a premise that, thirty some odd years on, still works. Hot chicks, guns, karate, pretty sunsets…it’s all there and it still works like gangbusters, but, I just don’t have the time. Sorry, Angels…

“The X-Factor” (FOX) OK, now this show was downright awesome! Fun, pithy, emotional…all the things that “American Idol” used to be. And best of all, Paula and Simon are back where they belong…together! The only problem is that it’s on every freaking night, and we are already committed to our returning favorite, “The Sing Off”, so, we might jump back into this one in a month or so, but, for now, it’s a pass.

“Up All Night” (NBC) We’re still kinda on the fence with this one too. Christine and I love all of the parenting stuff — I mean, whoa, some of the shit they joke about is like, ripped from our headlines! — but whenever they cut to Maya Rudolph (who I normally love!) the show goes all kinds of crazy…and not in a good way. We are regular viewers for the moment, but, one of two more wrong moves by Rudolph might just send us packing.

And now, for the best of the best, the shows that we will watch every week until they end, or, you know, get canceled before their prime like the late, great “Swingtown”. Anyway, they are…

“Prime Suspect” (NBC) Only “Whitney” has more billboards down here right now, so, I had a huge awareness of the show going into the season, but what I didn’t know was how totally fucking awesome it would be. Seriously, it’s like, pulse-pounding, truly groundbreaking-television. Fantastic acting, directing, writing, whew…mark my words, amigos, this is gonna be the show to beat at next year’s Emmys. AMAZING!

“New Girl” (FOX) OMG, I can’t tell you how pleased I was that this show didn’t totally suck. I’m not always a fan of Zooey Deschanel, but she lights up the screen with her goofy, sexy charm here. And her supporting cast is also totally awesome. Cute, funny, seriously-sweet…I kinda wanna marry this show.

“Revenge” (ABC) As dark and twisted and soapy-weird as “New Girl” is cute, this show puts the “j” in juicy, baby. And, man alive, is it good! I don’t know how they’re gonna stretch the premise over five years (or beyond), but if the acting, writing and totally cinematic sweep of the show is gonna be this good, well, sign me up! “Revenge” rocks!

So, that’s what I’ve been doing the past couple of weeks…what have you guys been watching?

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“Swingtown” on CBS

Summer time on CBS has traditionally been good for exactly two things…round-the-clock repeats of “CSI”, and three weekly episodes of “Big Brother”. And though “Big Brother 10” is still a few weeks off — we’re counting the days, Chenbot! — the “Tiffany network” has really shaken things up this summer by airing the shockingly- good original series, “Swingtown”.

Set in the candy-colored world of key-party-loving 70’s suburbia, the show seemed destined to fail from the outset. I mean, whoa…that title alone sounds a little more HBO or SHOWTIME than CBS. But for whatever reason, stodgy old CBS is airing this show and we could not be more thrilled about it!

I know it sounds like a one-note concept — “The Ice Storm” lite, if you will — but “Swingtown” is packed full of fresh, funny, and richly-imagined characters and enough complex subplots and drama to sustain the show through at least three or four seasons. And surprisingly, the best stuff on “Swingtown” has little or nothing to do with the swinging!

Sure, the sexy title got you in the door for the first episode — or at least it did us! — but three episodes in, “Swingtown” has revealed itself to be a pretty kick-ass TV show. Calling to mind some of the more nuanced, character-driven series of the past like “My So-Called Life” and “Freaks and Geeks”, “Swingtown” is, at its core, a beautifully crafted, often hilarious, show about people and relationships. I know, a good show airing in the summer? Shocking!

But maybe a slot on the CBS summer schedule is just what this show needed. With other networks churning out crap like “America’s Got Talent” and “Celebrity Circus”, ‘Swingtown” has the cool adult dramedy category pretty much all to themselves. So rock on, Swingers!

Centered around a trio of vastly different families — two of which have teenage children — the show spends just as much time developing the relationships between the kids as it does the adults, and the payoff is spectacular. I am not exaggerating when I say that there has not been a family drama this good since the late, great “Once & Again” left the airwaves.

Another thing “Swingtown” has going for it is humor. Like “Freaks and Geeks”, the show’s sly, deadpan humor is sometimes so painfully realistic that you’ll find yourself wincing through the laughter. There was a subplot recently about the boys selling their father’s Penthouse magazines to their friends that I swear could have been lifted directly from my childhood. Although, if memory serves, my Dad was more of a Playboy man…and, trust me, my brother and I would have never sold those gems to anyone!

Anyway, um…back to “Swingtown”. Despite what our friends at Because We Love It might say, if the super cool characters and crackling good dialog doesn’t win you over, then surely the costumes and set design will. I can’t tell you how many times Christine and I have paused just to stare at the groovy stuff in these folk’s kitchens and living rooms and shout out: “We had that!” Hilarious.

And just when you think the nostalgia factor couldn’t get any higher, there is the music! Swirling disco classics giving way to awesome 70’s rock and folk, hell, half the time you’re wondering how they even afforded these songs. In last week’s episode, they actually played the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in it’s entirety. Do you know how much that song alone probably cost old Les Moonves? Wow!

But seeing as last week’s episode was the first to feature full-length opening credits, perhaps CBS has decided to throw some more money at the show since it’s pulling in halfway decent ratings. Whatever the reason for the support, we just hope they keep this amazing show on the air through the summer and hopefully beyond. Yep, it’s that good!

“Swingtown” airs Thursday nights at 10PM, so, toss your car keys in the bowl by the door and check out this rocking good show for yourselves.

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