Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday 10 ET Roundup: "Castle", "Hawaii Five-0", "The Playboy Club"


I have three shows on my DVR during the Monday 10:00 time slot -- for now -- and after I'm finished watching one of them live, I usually head straight to bed, which obviously doesn't really give me a chance to review them until Tuesdays. So, for the foreseeable future, if I do any reviewing of "Castle", "Hawaii Five-0" or "The Playboy Club", it'll probably come in a quick roundup format for that timeslot. As it is, I wanted to share some brief thoughts on last night's season premieres.

"Castle"
The show I chose to watch live last night (well, plausibly live... we'll get to that) was easily the best of the night. The resolution to last season's cliffhanger, at least from the Kate getting shot perspective, was predictable, but still handled with the right sense of drama. I thought the way things developed from there were very good, especially when it came to the Castle-Kate relationship. A lot of times when a show does a late-episode twist, it can be really gratuitous, but in the case of Kate's revelation about her memory of the shooting, it goes a long way toward explaining her actions during the rest of the episode.

With all the drama going on, the case of the week kind of got the short shrift, but for this week, I was fine with that. I don't see that continuing in future episodes, which should have more of a balance between weekly procedural and ongoing story.

"Hawaii Five-0"
This one worries me a little more. That's not to say last night's episode wasn't good -- I actually enjoyed it a lot, but I really liked this show last year because it was less focused on the bigger picture, spending lots of time with fun, disposable action. This entire episode was mythology heavy, adding more layers than were covered in all of last season, and while it still made for a strong episode, I'm not sure what that means for the season to come.

Still, the addition of Terry O'Quinn to the cast can't be a bad thing -- though I'm already waiting for the inevitable scene where he and Chin Ho build a raft together -- and I'm glad they didn't waste too much time getting McGarrett out of jail, cleared and back on the Five-0 task force. I will miss James Marsters's occasional guest spots, unless they're planning on having him show up as a ghost (note to producers: NO). Lastly, I loved Masi Oka's increased presence on the show last night, and I hope that IS a sign of things to come.

"The Playboy Club"
Even after every preview I read suggested this thing was a disaster, I still had high hopes for it. Well, hopes, really. But I tried watching it live last night, and after five minutes I had to flip over to "Castle". I finished "The Playboy Club" off this morning, and not surprisingly the subsequent 35 minutes were no better than the first five. Because of the glossy '60s setting and the smooth male lead, this is being packaged for fans of "Mad Men". But "The Playboy Club" is "Mad Men" if "Mad Men" had its brain bashed in by a crowbar and its subtlety removed with a rusty screwdriver.

Weirdly, the thing that bothered me the most about the show is how the female characters and the Hef voiceover kept insisting that the Playboy Club itself was somehow empowering to the scantily-clad women. That mentality undermines any credibility the show might have had (well, that and the fact that within the first few minutes of the episode a guy got killed by a stiletto to the neck). I also got a weird vibe from lead bunny Amber Heard, who seemed to have this look on her face that said "get me out of this thing, please" for the entire episode.

If "The Playboy Club" survives the season, I'd be shocked. In fact, unless it improves drastically in the next couple weeks, it might not survive until Halloween. Which, I guess, could be a good thing in terms of freeing up my Monday schedule.

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