given the go-ahead to full season “pick-ups” of new shows The Event, Chase, Law & Order: Los Angeles and Outsourced was met with a mixture of bemusement and bewilderment here at Rancho Yesteryear, because while I’m certainly not your go-to guy when it comes to choosing great television (I watch reruns of Mister Ed and Gilligan’s Island—what does that tell you?) I’m curious as to what special qualities these shows possess that will allow them to finish out the rest of the season. My first guess would be that the network doesn’t have anything else in the lineup to replace them—but I know that’s not the deal in the case of Outsourced, a sitcom for which they moved Parks and Recreation off the schedule. According to NBC, all of them have performed pretty well…and at first glance, I thought: “Hell, you had five nights of Jay Leno on last season—any show’s bound to be an improvement.” (This article here sort of proves me wrong on that score, however.)
I don’t watch much new television as a rule, but because of this nifty On Demand service provided by CharredHer, I’ve been able to keep tabs on favorites like Community and 30 Rock in addition to checking out some of NBC’s new talent. Truth be told, I’ve not seen anything that has really gone towards knocking my socks off—and as for the one show that I actually did like a lot, they’ve decided to pull the plug. So while it’s a little out of character for the blog to talk about “the new stuff”…well, I don’t have anything else prepared at the present time, so I’m going to go with this.
I’m also not too wild about Ritter as a lead, though I have to admit the only other things I’ve seen him in are a Law & Order: SVU episode and the films Happy Endings (2005; he’s good in that) and W. (2008; which pretty much stank to high heaven so it wouldn’t matter much if he was good or not). Ritter’s chief handicap is that his character bears a strong resemblance to actor Ethan Hawke, a thesp who’s the male equivalent of a Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan around Rancho Yesteryear. (Maybe I’d like Ritter better if he did some pratfalls like his old man—or sang Rye Whiskey like his grandpap.)
I asked Mom the other day if she had watched the new Law & Order: Los Angeles and she replied that she has no intention of ever doing so. I can’t say I blame her—I wasn’t too impressed with the first episode but the show has picked up a little and improved; I think my main beef with the series is that it’s a little incongruous watching a program whose NYC backgrounds were every bit a major character as the cast—seeing these “dedicated professionals” in the sun-bleached environs of L.A. is a little incongruous.
production on the series has ceased and then you’re moving the show to Saturday nights…well, it’s all over but the crying. Which is a shame; I was starting to like this one—Smits plays a Supreme Court justice who resigns from the bench to get back into lawyering and takes on controversial cases (why? Because he’s an outlaw!) with the assistance of a team that includes a partner (David Ramsey) constantly at odds with Smits’ political and legal philosophy, a preppy clerk (Jesse Bradford) and a cutie (Ellen Woglorn) who declares her love for him in the pilot episode (this is the one thing I find disturbing; you’d think someone would get fired for that) and the prerequisite tough gal (Carly Pope), who in this instance is the babe who does the investigative legwork and is prone to saying outrageous things that make the others blush with embarrassment.
The pilot episode was pretty good but my favorite so far was an outing in which Smits takes on a car company whose vehicles’ tie rod defects are responsible for a spate of automobile crashes—Kyle Secor, an actor I liked even before he played Detective Tim Bayliss on Homicide: Life on the Street, was in this one as the skeevy attorney for the car firm. The most recent one I saw was also entertaining—Smits is hired to defend the daughter (Ashley Rickards) of his Senatorial nemesis (Richard Portnow) when she’s arrested for a felony murder rap (she was driving the getaway car when her boyfriend broke into an apartment and killed a policeman in the process). (The twist in this one was a nice surprise.) Created by John Eisendrath, who wrote for the likes of Felicity (or as my sister Debbie used to call it after that WTF "spell-casting" storyline, Mendacity), Alias and Beverly Hills, 90210 (hey—we’ve all done things we’re ashamed of), Outlaw utilizes unconventional plots (in one story, the team defends a woman who croaked her kid by leaving the baby in the car on the grounds that such a statute is applied unfairly from state-to-state—hey, what are you gonna do…they’re outlaws!) and a lead character who, to be generous, is a bit of a scumbag (he gambles and sleeps with married women—but that’s because he’s an outlaw!) to put Outlaw a cut above your run-of-the-mill dramatic showcase. I’d trade off any of the aforementioned shows for the opportunity to see it become a bigger hit.
Unfortunately, Outlaw is destined to have a few troubles of its own outside of being dismissed from NBC’s lineup. This blurb here says that real-life attorney/weasel Larry Klayman is planning on suing NBC because he claims he submitted a similar idea for such a legal drama, even titling it with the same name. (And lawyers wonder why they’re held in such low regard, only a real wanker would kick a show when it’s down.)