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Notebook: "The Bachelor," "Lost," "United States of Tara," "Trust Me," "Lie to Me" -- And Is It Too Soon To Be Tired of "American Idol"?

By admin Published: January 5, 2009

TB

Spent parts of the New Year's holiday and the weekend on some viewing, as you can see from the titles in the headline. Some extended notes about "The Bachelor" after the jump and some briefer comments on other shows which I expect to write about at greater length closer to their premiere dates.

Also, in case you missed it, here's my DVD column from Sunday.

I should start with "The Bachelor" but I have to get a couple of things off my chest first.

Starting with: Senator Al Franken.

I know the battle for the Minnesota Senate seat isn't over. But it does seem to be going Franken's way. And, having watched Franken in various show-biz roles for many years and talked to him a few times, I just get a grin from saying "Senator Al Franken." Some folks may have felt the same way when they first said "Governor Ronald Reagan" or "Senator George Murphy" (the latter still remembered as the subject of a Tom Lehrer song declaring "isn't it great -- at last we've got a senator who can really sing and dance.") So let me say it once more: "Senator Al Franken."

And, on another point for further discussion, I have watched the first new hour of "Lost" and it is FABULOUS. Terrific start to the new season, some key things cleared up but still plenty of suspense, and it moves very quickly -- I was shocked that it ended so soon. I hope the second hour -- which I will also be watching before the season premiere on Jan. 21 -- holds up.

Now, to the "The Bachelor." In recent years, the show has tried to come up with an interesting gimmick for a season, and this year it's that bachelor Jason Mesnick (formerly of "The Bachelorette") is a single dad -- and four of the 25 women competing for his affections are single moms. What we learn in what I've seen of tonight's premiere -- the preview omitted the rose ceremony -- is that single parenthood is no guarantee of greater sanity or better behavior than anything else in the "Bachelor" process. It may even raise other questions. For example, what kind of mother leaves her 14-month-old child for an indeterminate period so she can find a new husband on a television show?

We also learn that there were a lot of bad gowns in this group, and that there's no clearly suitable-for-marriage woman in the premiere, just the usual collection of women seeking attention in various ways. (Please, no more poems!)

Briefly noted:

"United States of Tara," premiering Jan. 18 on Showtime, has an intriguing premise. A suburban mom (Toni Collette) has dissociative identity disorder -- what's more commonly called multiple personalities -- and becomes three other people besides her usual self. So her husband and two children have to deal not only with everyday life but with the issue of who their mother is right now. It also has an interesting writer/creator in Diablo Cody, who made the big screen sparkle with her script for "Juno." Showtime has sent out four episodes so far, and I have seen two, and it's a minor miracle I got that far. There's a scene in the first episode that is icky on so many levels that I stopped watching and waited overnight before going back to the show. There also what seem like huge logic flaws in the storytelling. So if I had to decide whether to keep watching based on the first episode, I never would have come back. The second episode, though, made me willing to try the third. Not enthusiastically but because I want to see if it sorts out the problems.

I'd also like to see more than one episode of "Lie to Me," which premieres Jan. 21 on Fox. It stars Tim Roth as an expert on people's body language, who can spot a lie or an emotional twist in nothing flat. The show is very much in the vein of "House" -- remember House's early declaration that everybody lies? -- and Roth is an interesting enough actor. But I want to see a second episode because I am concerned that each show will just be a repetition of the first, instead of something where the characters develop over time and the situations become more interesting. In other words, is "Lie to Me" really another "House," or is it just a dead end along the lines of "My Own Worst Enemy"?

I have seen two episodes of "Trust Me," which begins Jan. 26 on TNT, and that's plenty. Starring "Ed's" Tom Cavanagh and "Will and Grace's" Eric McCormack, it's about a couple of advertising guys whose partnership takes an abrupt turn in the first episode. (The cast, I should note, also includes Cleveland's own Monica Potter as an ad writer.) The show has a basic problem in being about the same basic subject as "Mad Men," which is so much one of my favorite shows that anything else right now would find it a very difficult act to follow. But even if there were no "Mad Men," "Trust Me" would seem blah, a weary little exercise lightened only occasionally by the interplay among the actors.

Getting back to fun stuff, I did finally get around to a DVD of "Hellboy II," and had a sweel time. Love the rich look of Guillermo del Toro's work, and Ron Perlman strikes just the right note as Hellboy. Not as keen on Selma Blair's performance, but I may be projecting too much "Kath & Kim" on it.

As for that question about "American Idol," it arose when I watching some football on Fox over the weekend and saw a few zillion promos. And where the show may actually be a little different and entertaining this year, the promos are so same-old-same-old that I felt tired just watching them.

I also managed to squeeze in some reading the last couple of weeks, and may post more about that later.

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