April 8, 2008By Joe Diliberto Posted: Apr 8, 2008
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Night Shift, wherein I climb up on my soapbox and rant about what I watched in prime time. Along the way, look for interview nuggets from nighttime stars and dispatches from industry functions. And if you're not careful, you just might learn something. First, a quick look back at the weekend...
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: The fourth season got under way Friday with an exciting life-or-death space battle that gave way to a life-or-death… um, prayer session. Okay, so there's this long-running plot thread about whether Baltar is The One, and it's an interesting intellectual exercise to ponder why an artificial life form created by a polytheistic race would fixate on a monotheistic religion — but praying is probably not the most interesting visual ever (which is obviously why a sick kid and a nubile acolyte were tossed into the mix). Despite the "miracle" revivals and slit throats, the second half of the episode was pretty much a snooze. But this series has more than earned a few indulgences (pun intended).
Speaking of indulgences, I caught up with the gorgeous Grace Park (Athena/Boomer) at the Sci Fi upfront afterparty the other night and asked her how she feels about being a sex symbol. "That's so funny when people ask that," she laughed. "When I look at BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and the characters that I've been playing, they don't seem sexy to me — I'm wearing these rubber flight suits, or I've been covered in bruises and cuts and scars. Or I'm pregnant. I always say I don't really know what the American public perceives as sexy anymore. Or maybe it was just that one Maxim shoot I did." Or, maybe you're actually hot....
Now, a look at last night's offerings.
GREEK: If you're like me you probably assumed that ABC Family is just the place for Harry Potter movie marathons and cut-rate Cutting Edge and Bring It On sequels. Well, it's not, and Exhibit A is GREEK. While this young-adult soap is set at a college (fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University) and characters do learn life lessons, it is neither heavy-handed nor didactic. GREEK concentrates on the Greek system, specifically the sisters of Zeta Beta Zeta sorority, led by president Casey, played by Spencer Grammer (ex-Lucy, AS THE WORLD TURNS). Last night's episode focused on Casey's clash with her rival, Rebecca (Dilshad Vadsaria), who is dating Casey's ex, Cappie (Scott Michael Foster). As revenge, Casey had a fling with her ex, Evan, then went on a double-date with Rebecca & Cappie in the company of a random hot guy she just met (but should have checked out more thoroughly). Could this be any more soapy? GREEK bravely tackles young-adult issues like peer pressure, alcohol, love and sex head-on. Characters are shown drinking and getting busy, and one character, Calvin (Paul James), is proudly out. In fact, last night, Dale tried to "cure" Calvin through prayer. However, Dale was not presented as a one-dimensional religious nut; rather, he truly believed he was doing Calvin a favor. Sexuality is dealt with maturely (even when characters are making immature decisions) and even-handedly — guest hunk Jonah was shown shirtless and soaking wet long before supercute Spencer showed off her bare tummy glistening with sweat. Is it all GREEK to us? We should be so lucky!
NEW AMSTERDAM: The idea of an immortal who has grown weary of life is pretty common in fiction, and truthfully I never really grasped the idea of somebody tiring of not being able to die. But title character John Amsterdam (Nikolaj Coster-Waldauhas) made me understand the urge. As a reward for saving an indigenous woman's life in 1642, Dutch trader Amsterdam was enchanted by a mystic whose spell decreed that he would not grow old or die until he meets his One True Love, at which point he will be able to die. Um… huh? That's a reward? Congratulations, you're in love - you're dead!
In 2008, Amsterdam is a New York homicide detective who uses his centuries of familiarity with New York (originally called New Amsterdam) to solve crimes. Each week a case conveniently reminds Amsterdam of an incident from his past. (This was all done much better in the vastly superior HIGHLANDER syndicated series. I understand some fan wags have dubbed this new show HOLLANDER.) Unfortunately, Amsterdam was such a jerk in his past that I have no interest in following his exploits. When did he go from sexist, classist, racist dullard to moral cop? The modern police cases are simplistic MacGuffins for dull flashbacks. Amsterdam's OTL appears to be Dr. Sara Dillane (Alexie Gilmore), a blandly pretty blonde. Worse, she cheats on her husband with Amsterdam! How can any grand expression of "true love" literally spanning centuries culminate in adultery? Where's the rooting interest in that? (This is no Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle.) Topping it off, Amsterdam and Sara strike zero sparks together, while his chemistry with partner Eva Marquez (Zuleikha Robinson) is so hot I have to wonder how the guy survived 400 years being this stupid. NEW AMSTERDAM earns my first "Take the Night Off" recommendation.
See ya on the next Night Shift...