Saturday, September 24, 2005

TV: Lost, Head Cases, Supernatural

// Premiere episodes round-up //

Lost (ABC, 8 p.m. CDT Wednesday) • I'll concede this is the most interesting, stylish and smart drama currently on network television. The character back-stories have proved to be one of the most captivating aspects of the show, which is filled with burning questions: What is that creature? Who are these mysterious other people on the island? What's at the bottom of that hatch? The possibilities for the latter seemed more interesting until the season premiere took us there. My problem with this show is commitment. While I was willing to let The X-Files tease me for nine seasons, I'm simply unwilling to watch the creators of this show make it up as they go year after year, while never offering real resolution. Premiere verdict: &&&

Head Cases (FOX, 8 p.m. Wednesday) I stumbled upon this legal comedy-drama and found myself enjoying every last stitch of it. Jason Payne (Chris O'Donnell), young lawyer at a powerhouse firm, has a nervous breakdown, losing his job and marriage in the process. Through his psychiatrist, he is assigned a support partner who has explosive disorder; Adam Goldberg, as Shultz, takes on this role with manic gusto. The premiere deftly balanced the drama of Payne's breakdown with Shultz's over-the-top antics. Maybe I just identify with loons, but this is the most pleasant surprise of the new shows I've seen. Premiere verdict: &&&

Supernatural (The WB, 8 p.m. Tuesday) • If this is Buffy with boys, as I've seen it described, I'm glad I never watched Buffy. Two brothers (Jensen Ackles, Jared Padelecki) whose mother was killed in a supernatural event become monster-of-the-week hunters when their father, who devoted his life thereafter to finding whatever killed his wife, goes missing while on the trail. The premiere relied on two fright sequences: The opening, with the demise of the boys' mother, was almost creepy until she ended up engulfed in flames on the ceiling, and then it was just silly. Next, the bulk of the episode is devoted to the boys investigating a ripped-from-the-urban-legends spook, an alluring young woman who stands at the roadside preying on young men as she tries to "go home again." The use of jerky video distortion in her image is so The Ring that the producers should be sued. The frights are bland at best, and the brothers are no Mulder and Scully. Premiere verdict: &&

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