Monday, November 02, 2009

Getting away from the whining about human nature in my previous post, here's what I'm watching on TV on Tuesdays:

On CBS, I watch NCIS. While the cool kids probably don't consider it hip and edgy, I've been a fan since the very beginning. (And when I say "very beginning," I mean I saw the characters in their very first appearance in a two-part episode of JAG, another favorite series.) I like the crime stuff okay, but I could get that from any number of shows. I watch NCIS for the characters.

As soon as I'd heard that Mark Harmon was going to be the lead, I was probably sold on NCIS. He's one of those old-school TV stars, like James Garner or Robert Conrad, who just seems to slip effortlessly into the roles he plays, and totally owns the screen when he's on it. As NCIS agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, he epitomizes cool on TV like nobody else I can think of. He's such a force for calm and reason on the show, which really helps sell it on those occasions that he explodes into righteous anger. He also balances the zanier, more extreme characterizations of the other members of his team, and it's those characters that make the show so watchable.

This season, NCIS is joined by spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles. It would be easy to dismissively say, "It's just like NCIS, only in LA," but I'm happy to say it's not quite that simple. Like the parent show, it's got a distinctive visual style, and it's got the same sense of humor. But instead of dealing with a team of characters, it pretty much focuses on a pair of partners, played by Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J. The interplay between them is like watching a fun buddy movie. It doesn't have a complex, twisty mythology involving time-traveling islands or anything but, like Castle, which I talked about last week, sometimes a show can keep you coming back by giving you characters you want to spend time with.

The third Tuesday night show I'm watching is also new this season, The Forgotten, produced by CSI/Pirates of the Caribbean/Big Explodey Action Movie guy Jerry Bruckheimer. It's a crime/procedural series about a group of civilians who try to identify unidentified victims of crime after the police no longer have the resources to devote to now-cold cases. And it's got that Jerry Bruckheimer TV series dark, moody, broody look and feel to it.

It's also got Christian Slater as the lead. I like Christian Slater just fine, but that wasn't the selling point. No, it was a combination of Michelle Borth (from the HBO series Tell Me You Love Me) in the cast and Stephen Gallagher as writer/producer that got me watching. Gallagher has written books and other TV shows that I've really liked, most recently creating last season's short-lived Crusoe. And Michelle Borth is hot.

I can't say I've completely embraced the show in the same way I have NCIS: Los Angeles or other new shows this season. I watched the pilot, skipped the next episode, but came back the following week and have stuck around since. What keeps me interested, I think, is the focus is more on identifying the victims and learning who they were than on solving the crime. Instead of focusing on forensic detail, we see the characters talking to people to learn about the victim as a person. That feels just a little more positive and interesting to me, and that's what keeps me coming back.

As I write this, I haven't seen the premiere of the remake of V but I'm totally planning on watching it. I loved the original V miniseries as a kid, and this one is produced by Scott Peters, creator of The 4400, another much-missed favorite. Plus it's got Elizabeth Mitchell, Morena Baccarin, and the chick who played Supergirl on Smallville. So, you know, totally there.

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