I gave two new fall shows a shot last night, and I liked both of them. I hadn't been planning to watch Last Resort, but the buzz was good, there was nothing I cared to watch on opposite it, and I didn't feel like doing anything else. It reminded me of good Tom Clancy, from back in the Red October days before he became a franchise. The gist of the story is that a US submarine in the Indian Ocean gets an order to fire nuclear missiles at Pakistan -- but the order comes through the channels that would only come into play if Washington had been wiped out, and yet it seems like it's business as usual there. When the captain asks for the order to be confirmed through the more usual, official channels, a nearby US ship fires on the submarine. The sub and its crew take refuge on an island that hosts a UN listening station and a shady crime boss. Meanwhile in Washington, the public is being told that Pakistan fired on and sank the sub, and there are hints of some kind of conspiracy involving a president who's about to be impeached. I suspect that this plot might be better served in a movie or miniseries because dragging it out through an open-ended US television series might get old fast, but I found the pilot to be rather gripping. There are a lot of interesting "what ifs" in play. There's a huge cast of characters, but only a few in the pilot stood out. I'll be curious to see how they're developed on an ongoing basis. If this one is available OnDemand, I may shift it to another slot, though, because I'm not in the mood on Thursdays for something that intense, and there's a serious mental shift from this to The Office.
Then there was Elementary, the new Sherlock Holmes series, and I found myself enjoying it a lot. I've never been a huge Holmes buff, so I don't notice or care when they get it "wrong." For the most part, it's another CBS procedural (which is "comfort food" TV), but I like the characters and their relationship. In this version, Holmes is living in New York after getting out of rehab, and his father has hired Joan Watson, a former surgeon, to be a kind of sobriety accountability partner (babysitter) to him. What I enjoy about this version is that the partnership seems more even rather than Watson being mostly an audience surrogate to marvel at Holmes's brilliance. Her strengths mesh well with his weaknesses, and she's not at all in awe of him. Meanwhile, he's a little impressed by how well she takes to detective work when she's dragged into his case because she has to monitor him 24/7. This is less witty fun than the British modernization Sherlock, but there are some things I think it does better. Again, though, I may move this to OnDemand if that's available, depending on the mood I'm in.
But tonight starts the best Friday night of TV since maybe the fall of 2005 when SyFy had the lineup of Firefly reruns, one of the Stargates, Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who. We get the cross-network double feature of Grimm and Haven, which fit deliciously well together. It's paranormal procedural night, as well as being Night of the Dark-Haired, Blue-Eyed Lawmen.
Since they premiered around the same time and both were built on fairy-tale themes, Grimm and Once Upon a Time were often compared. I don't think the two series are anything alike, but they do form two ends of a triangle if you connect them through Haven. Haven may not have any outright fairy tale elements -- there's no Cinderella here -- but it does use some tropes and themes that come up in fairy tales, like the town under a curse, secret identities, people sent to break curses without knowing all the facts, etc. I went through the triangle pretty well on a panel at WorldCon, then less successfully at FenCon (thanks to Benadryl), but I'll try to recreate it here.
Let's start on the Grimm end. Both Grimm and Haven are paranormal procedurals that have a case of the week format fit into a big-picture arc. In both series, the main character has a particular gift that allows him/her to recognize and deal with the paranormal stuff that's going on. He/she has the ability to see the reality even when others are seeing something else. In both cases, the main character appears to be a key figure in a greater struggle, and that puts him/her in danger, even though he/she hasn't figured out everything that's going on yet.
But then we bridge over to Once Upon a Time, and though Haven and Once Upon a Time seem nothing alike on the surface, think about the set-up: Both shows are about a snarky blonde with a mysterious past working in law enforcement who goes from Boston to a small coastal town in Maine, where she learns that this town may hold the key to her mysterious past, the town seems to be under some kind of curse, she's immune to the effects of the curse, and she may be the key to breaking the curse for good, which puts her in danger from those who don't want the curse broken. Oh, and in both shows, she becomes a local cop. Only Haven is the Stephen King version of the story instead of the Disney version.
So, tonight is going to be spooky sofa time. I think I'm going to make a pizza and maybe even create some atmosphere by lighting some candles and turning out the lights, and that's something I don't think I've done since the glory days of the X-Files.
And then this weekend, we get the last adventure of Amy and Rory with the Doctor. I'm so very sad. I'll miss Rory. The thing that's cool about that character is that he was an everyman who turned out to be extraordinary, but who never lost that everyman quality. I think he always had the potential -- even at the beginning, he was the one who'd figured out that something was going on and was gathering evidence -- but then there were all the deaths, the two thousand years as a Centurion, and lots of heroics, and yet he was still the Best Friend everyman kind of guy.