Friday, March 16, 2007

Random reviews

• Quick takes on new and recent TV odds and ends.

TV The Ri¢hes (FX, 9 p.m. Mondays)
The pilot of FX's new drama found fertile material in the screwed up lives of thieving gypsies / travellin' folk / con artists. Here's hoping the Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver-fronted series doesn't lose its edge as the Riches and their two children assume the lives of a recently departed, well-to-do family.
Premiere: &&&1/2

TV on DVD Battlestar Galactica Season 2.5
Since I don't have Sci-Fi on cable, I've just finished up last season while the rest of the world is basking in late season three and news of renewal for the fourth. Season two continued to raise the bar for un-geeky sci-fi and still is, for my money, the best drama on television today from any broadcast outlet, cable or otherwise. Loaded with weighty plot points — President Roslin's bleak struggle with cancer, the fate of the hybrid baby and the pivotal presidential election pitting Roslin against a former ally — this season continued the trend of getting impossibly richer as the series progresses while maintaining its earthiness and toaster (cylon) sexiness. The last three episodes tease and twist beautifully; just when a viewer could get a tad complacent, a shocking new direction is cast. Verdict: &&&&&

DVD A Life in Pop
"Chris (Lowe) and I share in the fantasy that was and is the Pet Shop Boys," says Neil Tennant in this lengthy UK documentary on the career of PSB. Fans can rightly quibble that this or that album or issue gets glossed over, but this doc is made essential by frank interviews with the likes of Brandon Flowers (The Killers), Tim Rice-Oxley (Keane), Trevor Horn, Robbie Williams and, of course, Tennant and Lowe, who have refused to play by the rules over the course of nine albums. Verdict: &&&&

TV on DVD Seinfeld Season 4
"It's going to be hard to even watch Seinfeld now," a friend of mine said after the bizarre Michael Richards incident, but I'm not boarding that train — I'm still happily whisked away to the world of Seinfeldian minutiae. After perfecting its tone in season three, a confident boldness blossoms in season four with outstanding episodes such as "The Cheever Letters," "The Contest," "The Airport" and "The Outing." And it bears repeating that the Seinfeld DVDs are the gold standard in packaging and extras, enhancing an already sublime experience. Verdict: &&&&&


Chuang Shyue Chou said...

My friend thought that 'A Life in Pop' should have featured the producer Stephen Hague whom he considered instrumental in shaping some of the Pet Shop Boys album.

Jebb said...

That's actually a very good point. Without Hague's brilliant reworking of "West End Girls," PSB might never have had the hit that made the last 20 years of wonderful music possible. Trevor Horn is an excellent interview in the documentary, and I have no doubt that Hague could have provided some fascinating perspective, as well.