“LA to Vegas” Should Be Grounded. Not Worth Your Time.

Fox’s new sitcom “LA to Vegas” is a workplace comedy about the flight crew and regular passengers of a budget airline that flies LA to Vegas on Friday night and return trip on Sunday night. It stars Dylan McDermott as Capt. Dave the pilot. He is constantly looking for opportunities to bang women in the cockpit. Stewardess Ronnie played by Kim Matula hates her job and wants to move onto a better airline and better route. Steward Bernard played by Nathan Lee Graham provides a bit of stereotypical gay comedic quips that are mildly funny but generally missed the mark. Veteran comedic Swedish actor Peter Stormare is also mildly funny as a professional gambler who is a regular passenger. But even that isn’t enough to save the show.

I suppose you could describe it as “The Office” on board an airplane. But I never have been a fan of that kind of low-key humor and didn’t like The Office at all. So I can’t really do much of a comparison to say whether this is better or worse.

For me this kind of humor just doesn’t work to begin with and so I can’t judge if this is just my dislike for the type of show or if it really is as bad as it seems. Ultimately my criteria for any sitcom is “Did it make me laugh?”. This one didn’t.

I’m rating this one a very definite “Skip It“.

Finally caught up… Leonard returns to Roseann; Cooper and Legend do Superstar; More Robot, Punisher, and Van Helsing; Star Wars is grossest

We finally get caught up on entertainment news with these items from December 2016. By the way I made the conscious decision not to try to track all of the various media people who have been taken down by allegations of sexual impropriety. It’s not that I don’t care about the issue. I very much do so. But the deluge of reports has been so widespread in the media that I’ve not bothered to repeat much if any of it here. I’ve only mentioned some of the fallout such as the retooling of the final season of House of Cards and to highlight a couple of lesser-known media people such as the executive producer of Supergirl/Arrow etc. and a DC comics editor. Today we add to the list journalist John Hockenberry who is probably the only person who served as a war correspondent in Afghanistan while being confined to a wheelchair by spinal board injury. He was a bit of a hero of mine. Met him once at a disability conference and very much enjoyed his autobiography Moving Violations. He has acknowledged some of his inappropriate behavior and apologized so give him some credit for that. One other interesting recent revelation. Lord of the Rings Director Peter Jackson confirms that Harvey Weinstein ordered him not to cast Ashley Judd or Mira Sorvino in the Rings Trilogy.

 

In the links below see:

Postmortem interview with producer of Berlin Station at the end of season 2. I really love this show.

Interview with creator of Netflix anthology series Black Mirror

Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated December 13

Postmortem interview with producers of Mr. Robot on season 3 finale and looking forward to season 4.

Interview with Star Wars director, writer, producer about deleted scenes

Article explaining $10 million reshoot to replace Kevin Spacey by Christopher Plummer in “All the Money in the World”.

Interview with Kit Harrington about the end of Game of Thrones, Gunpowder and beyond

Spoilers from Inside Line dated January 2

 

Not in the links below but also of interest:

Johnny Galecki will take time out from his Big Bang Theory duties to return as David on the ABC revival of Roseanne Barr show. Show will premiere on ABC March 27.

Netflix has renewed Stranger Things for season 3. Given its popularity that was no surprise.

CBS announced primary days for 2 midseason shows. “Living Biblically” prepared February 27 is about a man who decides to start living his life strictly according to the teachings of the Bible. I wonder if that means he will murder his son if his son disrespects him (see Leviticus 20:9) Also the other show is “Instinct” story Alan Cumming who is a celebrated author and college professor who also happens to be a former CIA operative. He gets back into the life after a detective needs his help to stop a serial killer who is using his first book as a guide. Premiers March 11.

The 2018 Oscar ceremony will start at 8 PM instead of traditional 8:30.

Franz Drameh who plays Jax on Legends of Tomorrow has left the show as of the midseason finale

Production of HBO series Westworld was briefly delayed by the California wildfires. It has resumed.

Production on CBS series SWAT was also briefly delayed by the wildfires.

Berlin Station has be renewed by Epix for season 3 and I can’t wait.

Quentin Tarantino has been pushing to direct a new Star Trek movie that would be R-rated. Nothing green lit yet.

NBC is planning a live production Of Jesus Christ Superstar for Sunday, April 1 Easter. Hold onto your hats! None other than Alice Cooper has been cast in the role of King Herod! John Legend  will play Jesus. We can hardly wait!!

Netflix announced Jessica Jones season 2 will premiere March 8 and we can’t wait.

RIP Bruce Brown movie producer who created classic surf documentary Endless Summer. He was 80

The Good Fight returns to CBS All Access for season 2 on March 4. This show is almost worth subscribing to the service.

The Punisher has been renewed for season 2 by Netflix

RIP movie producer Howard Gottfried who produced “Network” and “Altered States” among others. He was 94

USA Network announced Mr. Robot has been renewed for season 4

Dominic Purcell says that season 6 of “Prison Break”is still a possibility. Let’s hope so.

Oprah will receive the Cecil B deMille award at this year’s Golden Globes

Clint Eastwood’s new movie “15:17 to Paris” has won its appeal to have its rating changed from R to PG-13.

Disney has reached a multibillion-dollar deal to purchase much of Fox. Fans hope it means the unification of the MCU.

Apple streaming service has ordered a outerspace drama series from Ronald D Moore who created the reboot of Battle Star Galactica. That should be interesting.

Once Upon A Time returns to ABC on March 2

BBC America has canceled “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” after 2 seasons. I desperately tried to like the first season but it just didn’t work for me. Was surprised it got renewed once.

Syfy Channel as renewed Van Helsing for season 3. I watch it but it’s just okay. Nothing great.

None of the $10 million it took to re-shoot “All the Money in the World” to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer went to costars Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg. They agreed to the reshoot for no additional money.

Stargate Origins will premiere on MGM streaming service on February 15 for 10 episodes. This is a prequel to the original series/movies

A remake of “A Star Is Born” starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will be released October 5, 2018

Epix has canceled Nick Nolte series “Graves” about a former president after 2 seasons. I watched a couple of episodes and it was just okay.

RIP sports broadcasting legend Dick Enberg age 82

91 TV series were canceled or died a natural death in 2017

RIP animator Bob Givens who worked on classic Bugs Bunny cartoons. Age 90

Talks are underway to bring back “Mad about You” with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. Keeping my fingers crossed for this one. I loved that show.

New series on Syfy Channel “Krypton” to premier March 21

RIP actress Rose Marie who costarred on the old Dick Van Dyke show as Sally Rogers. Age 94.

RIP mystery writer Sue Grafton age 77

Ringo Starr and Barry Gibb will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

Showtime has canceled “White Famous” after one season

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was officially the highest grossing movie of the year. Over $1 billion worldwide. Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast was number 2

Netflix series “A Series of Unfortunate Events” season 2 premiers March 30

Hoda Kotb as been named coanchor of the Today Show replacing Matt Lauer

 

 

 

 

‘Berlin Station’ EP On Tonight’s Finale, The Far Right’s Rise, Ashley Judd & Season 3

‘Black Mirror’ Creator Charlie Brooker On Season 4, Comedy, Jodie Foster & Potential Animated Spin-Off

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on The Originals, Gotham, Roseanne, NCIS, Grey’s, S.H.I.E.L.D., Timeless and More

‘Mr. Robot’ Season 3 Finale Shocker: Sam Esmail On Tonight’s Revelation, Surprise Guest & What’s Next In Season 4

Rian Johnson & Ram Bergman Talk ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Deleted Scenes And Finding Light In The Dark Of Episode VIII

How Ridley Scott, Dan Friedkin, Runner-Up Christopher Plummer & $10M Reshoot Ransomed Getty Kidnap Pic Back From Kevin Spacey Scandal Death Sentence

Kit Harington On The End Of ‘Game Of Thrones,’ ‘Gunpowder’ & What’s Next

Matt’s Inside Line: Scoop on X-Files, Lucifer, The Originals, Once, Blindspot, Chi Med, MacGyver, Crazy Ex and More

 

Not quite so out of date entertainment news from November 2016

Continuing to try to get caught up on entertainment news we now move on to stories posted in November 2016.

 

In the links below see:

Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated November 3

Spoilers from Inside Line dated November 14

Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated November 17

 

Not in the links below are the following items of interest:

The Twilight Zone will get a reboot at streaming service CBS All Access

RIP actor Brad Bufanda who had a recurring role on Veronica Mars. Committed suicide by jumping off a building at age 34.

After the Kevin Spacey scandals Netflix has announced House of Cards will continue for one more season with Spacey written out of the show.

Showtime has renewed Shameless four season 9

Jack and Audrey back together again! Kim Raver will guest star in a multi-episode arc on Designated Survivor

Rian Johnson who wrote and directed The Last Jedi will write and direct a new Star Wars trilogy separate from the Skywalker series.

RIP famous gossip columnist Liz Smith age 94

Wonder Woman 2 is scheduled to release in November 2019

Among some of the lesser-known figures to have been fired in the wake of sexual harassment allegations are the executive producer of Arrow and the DC comics editor in charge of Superman.

The Handmaid’s Tale season 2 will appear on Hulu in April

“You’re the Worst” has been renewed for a fifth and final season on FXX

Former Castle star Stana Katic will starting a new Amazon streaming thriller titled “Absentia” about an FBI agent who returns home after vanishing several years ago.

Dharma goes zombie hunting! Jenna Elfman known for playing Dharma on “Dharma and Greg” will join season 4 of “Fear of the Walking Dead”

Production on “Veep” final season 7 has been postponed while Julia Louis Dreyfus undergoes treatment for breast cancer

The sequel to Fantastic Beasts will be titled “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” scheduled for release November 2018

NBC Olympics will live stream 1800 hrs. of coverage of the Winter Olympics in February

TV Land has canceled Lopez starring George Lopez

Netflix as ordered my new series titled Messiah about a present-day return of Jesus

Netflix will release season 4 of Grace and Frankie on January 19

CMT has announced Nashville will end after season 6

RIP rockstar Malcolm Young guitars and cofounder of AC/DC

RIP country singer and actor Mel Tillis age 85.

RIP actor Earl Hyman who played Cliff Huxtable’s father on The Cosby Show age 91

Amazon streaming will release all 10 episodes of anthology series “Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams” on January 12

RIP jazz icon and actress Della Reese at age 86

Syfy channel announced season 3 of The Magicians will premiere January 10

NBC has renewed offbeat comedy The Good Place for season 3. I initially liked it but I think it’s getting old.

RIP singer and actor David Cassidy known for playing Keith Partridge in the Partridge family age 67

Seth Meyers will host the 2018 Golden Globe awards on January 7

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been renewed for season 2 on Netflix

RIP actor Rance Howard, father of director Ron Howard he was 89

Lennie James a.k.a. Morgan Jones will cross over from The Walking Dead to Fear The Walking Dead

Meghan Markle will be leaving Suits to marry Prince Harry

CBS series “Wisdom of the Crowd” will end after just 13 episodes. Series star Jeremy for event is facing sexual misconduct allegations. But the show probably would not have lasted anyway. It wasn’t that good.

CBS sitcoms “Man with the Plan” and “Superior Donuts” have picked up full season orders

This month’s Chris Young “Sure sign of the coming apocalypse award” notice to MTV for relighting another installment of Jersey Shore.

CBS as expanded its order for the next season of Elementary from 13 to 21 episodes.

Showtime has renewed SMILF for season 2

Michael Greene and Brad Fuller will no longer be showing for “American Gods” season 2 on Starz

Netflix has renewed “Mindhunter” for season 2

RIP actor Jim Nabors who was Gomer Pyle on TV age 87

 

 

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on New Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, Big Little Lies, Flash, Walking Dead, Will & Grace and More

Matt’s Inside Line: Scoop on Timeless, Lucifer, New Girl, Arrow, #OneChicago, Supergirl, Grey’s, The Flash and More

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on Good Doctor, Roseanne, Chicago Fire, Supernatural, Walking Dead, The Flash and More

 

More out of date entertainment news from September and October 2016

Continuing to catch up on my out of date entertainment news. Here are the stories from September an early October 2016. For some reason I got out of sequence and already did part of October. I don’t know how September and early October got skipped.

 

In the links below read:

Spoilers from Inside Line dated September 13

Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated September 22

Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated October 3

 

Not in the links below but still of interest:

The first new series to be canceled this season is “Me, Myself, and I” after just six episodes. I’m very disappointed. I really liked it.

RIP actor Frank Vincent who played mob boss Phil Leotardo on The Sopranos and Goodfellows, age 78 complications of heart surgery

Syfy Channel has greenlight a series Nightflyers and outerspace series based on a novella by George RR Martin. Set in a future where Earth faces imminent destruction and a group of explorers head into space to meet an alien ship that may hold the key to our survival. Martin will not be involved with the project.

Trevor Noah will continue to host The Daily Show on Comedy Central through 2022

TV and radio host Larry King has announced he has lung cancer

Rumor has it that Game of Thrones is shooting multiple endings.

Outlander had series record audience numbers for its season 3 premier on Starz. I’m a big fan.

RIP character actor Henry Dean Stanton at age 91. Most recently appeared in latest season of Twin Peaks

Word is both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton will return for the next reboot of the Terminator films.

RIP Jake LaMotta who was the subject of the boxing film Raging Bull. He was 95

RIP game show host Monty Hall at age 96.

RIP rock icon Tom Petty age 66

TMT announced Major Crimes season 6 will be in the last

It has been confirmed that Pauley Perrette a.k.a. Abby Sciuto is leaving NCIS at the end of the currencies

ABCs reboot of American Idol will feature Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie as judges

HBO has announced Veep season 7 will be it’s last.

The Doctor Who spinoff series “Class” has been canceled after one season

RIP comic book legend Len Wein cocreator of Wolverine and the editor of Watchmen age 69

JJ Abrams will direct Star Wars episode IX

History Channel has renewed Vikings for season 6

HBO has renewed John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” through 2020

Matt’s Inside Line: Scoop on Arrow, Lucifer, Flash, Supernatural, Gotham, #OneChicago, Elementary and More

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on Grey’s, SVU, Teen Wolf, Riverdale, Supergirl, Suits, The Flash, Once, Last Man and More

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on This Is Us, Flash, New Girl, Arrow, Grey’s Anatomy, The Blacklist, Supernatural and More

 

Out Of Date Entertainment News from October 2016

I haven’t done entertainment news blog since September so a lot of my so-called “news” is old hat. It’s also been tough to wade through my usual sources because about a third of the news articles are about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and other sexual-harassment stories. Rather than do a giant blog trying to catch up all at once, I’m going to do it month by month. So here are the old news stories that I should’ve covered in October 2016.

Before doing this post I also did a brief recap of some of the TV reviews I did in September and October. You can find it here.

Follow-up Comments on My Fall 2017 Reviews

In the links below read:

Spoilers from Inside Line dated October 12

New cast members for next season of Doctor Who

Video of old TARDIS set being dismantled

Spoilers from Inside Line dated October 26

 

 

Not in the links below but still of interest:

George Clooney will receive the AFI lifetime achievement award in 2018

Speculation remains that Game of Thrones will not return until 2019

Westworld is scheduled to return in the summer of 2018

RIP comedian Ralphie May was a finalist on Last Comic Standing age 45 complications of pneumonia

American Horror Story producers edited the October 10 episode to tone down violence in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting. The unedited version is available on demand.

Megan McCain daughter of Sen. John McCain is the newest cohost on “The View”

Cinemax announced a new season of military action drama “Strike Back” will premiere February 2 with a totally new cast.

Matt Ryan will guest star on two episodes of Legends of Tomorrow as Constantine

Victor Garber will be leaving Legends of Tomorrow sometime this season. He is going to Broadway to replace David Hyde Pierce in Hello Dolly. His first performance is set for January 20

CBS military drama SEAL Team has been given a full season order of 22 episodes

NBC has canceled its summer medical drama “The Night Shift” after 4 seasons. I never watched it.

RIP actor Roy Dotrice who played “father” on the 90s series Beauty and the Beast. Aged 94.

RIP actor John Dunsworth who played newspaperman Dave Teagues on Syfy Channel series Haven. Age 71

The new Han Solo movie will be titled “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and will premiere May 25, 2018. Ron Howard took over as director after the sudden departure of previous directors. No reason given.

Chelsea Handler talkshow has been canceled on Netflix

CBS has renewed summer series “Salvation” about an asteroid about to hit earth for season 2. Although the first season ended before the asteroid hit, I’m surprised the show got renewed. I watched it because it wasn’t much on during the summer. But I would classify it as just barely watchable.

Actress comedian Julia Louis Dreyfus is battling breast cancer

Star Trek: Discovery has been renewed for a second season on CBS All Access

The Orville has been renewed for a second season at Fox

René Zellweger will play Judy Garland in an upcoming biopic film

Showtime has renewed Ray Donovan for season 6. The setting of the show will shift from LA to New York

CBS has canceled summer sci-fi series Zoo after 3 seasons. I kind of like it.

Sara Ramirez a.k.a. Dr. Calliope Torres from Grey’s Anatomy has joined the cast of Madam Secretary but you might not recognize her with a short haircut.

RIP actor Robert Guillaume who played Benson on that show as well as Soap. He was 89

It has been confirmed that Vincent D’Onofrio will return as Wilson Fisk and daredevil season three on Netflix

RIP blues legend Fats Domino age 89

AMC as renewed Preacher for season 3 and we are well pleased

SNL alumni Fred Armisen is joining the cast of “The Last Man on Earth”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt’s Inside Line: Scoop on Once, Scorpion, Blindspot, X-Files, The Flash, NCIS, Ghosted, Chicago Fire and More

Doctor Who Casts Three New Series Regulars, One ‘Returning Role’

 

Deconstruction of TARDIS set means we’re getting a new TARDIS

 

Matt’s Inside Line: Scoop on Blindspot, Once, Arrow, The Originals, Elementary, Supernatural, Blue Bloods and More

 

Follow-up Comments on My Fall 2017 Reviews

I haven’t done an entertainment recap since September. Before I go through all of my usual entertainment news with links and one-liner updates I thought I would do a quick post to revisit the shows that I reviewed during September and October as well as talk about a couple of movies. I’ve included links to the original reviews.

I mentioned that the latest incarnation of American Horror Story showed great promise in part because it appeared to contain absolutely no supernatural elements. I’ve only seen seven out of the 11 episodes this season which wrapped up in November but that assessment still holds true. It is just as scary, bloody, an interesting as previous seasons but somehow I think it’s even scarier because it could be 100% real. The story revolves around a disturbed young man who becomes politically active inspired by Trump’s victory as president. He also spawns the creation of a cult of purveyors of murder and mayhem designed to scare the populace into accepting him and his campaign of fear mongering. This series has been very uneven season to season. Some years it has been really great with excellent character development, interesting stories, and lots of blood and gore. Other years are we got was blood and gore. If you been sitting out AHS, consider checking this one out on demand. AHS is back in a good way.

America Horror Story: Cult Capitalizes On Political Fear

I said that the new sci-fi comedy series “The Orville” from Seth MacFarlane was great comedy and great sci-fi at the same time. That prediction held up the entire 13 episodes. Many critics and fans say that it is closer to the original Star Trek than the new reboot Star Trek: Discovery. While I still like Discovery on its own merits, I have to agree that The Orville definitely feels very much like classic Star Trek in a very good way. It tackles some very serious classic sci-fi themes and still has some very over-the-top comedic moments. The season finale episode “Mad Idolatry” was very reminiscent of one of my favorite Star Trek: Next Generation episodes “Who Watches the Watchers“. It involved a crew member who interfered in a primitive culture and a religion arose around that encounter. Really quality stuff. The goofy humor might be a turnoff to some “serious” sci-fi fans but I still have to recommend it highly.

The Orville Works as both Sci-fi and Comedy

Speaking of Star Trek: Discovery, I have seen all nine available episodes. The show is on hiatus until later in January where we will get 4 more this season. In general I like it. The characters, stories, and special effects are all top-notch. But I have to agree with some of the critics that it seems to break a lot of cannon for classic Star Trek. Try not to let that turn you off. This is still good stuff and it is marginally Star Trek like. It just doesn’t fit in very well with the traditional Star Trek timeline. I’m still not sure it’s worth the subscription to CBS All Access. If you are a fan of both sci-fi and the old legal drama The Good Wife, then perhaps the combo of Discovery and Good Wife spinoff series “The Good Life” does make the subscription worthwhile. CBS All Access has a third original series that I have not yet seen. It is a police comedy called “No Activity“.

Star Trek Discovery Is Worthy but Is It Worth It?

Initially I gave “Young Sheldon” a rather bad review. I continued to watch the show and it’s not quite as bad as I initially felt. I thought in the initial episode Sheldon came across as a little bit pathetic. But the characters have begun to grow on me. I still would have to say that “Me, Myself, and I” is a better show about a young brainy kid and his adult self.

Young Sheldon is a Warm Fuzzy Disappointment

In my reviews of NBC’s “The Brave” and CBS’s “SEAL Team” I said it was a tossup whether you wanted more action in Brave or more personal stories in SEAL. That remains true. Neither are as good as I wish they were but I continued to watch both. I would have to say between the two I prefer The Brave. Perhaps a better choice is the new CBS action drama SWAT which I did not review. Of the three I like SWAT best. Of course all of them suffer from plot holes and plot driven technology. I probably would not stick with SEAL Team if I wasn’t such a big fan of David Boreanaz. Also Shemar Moore‘s charisma adds a great deal to SWAT.

The Brave vs. SEAL Team — Take your pick

I reviewed 2 new Marvel comics series: Inhumans and The Gifted. Although I watched the entire season of Inhumans I was not really that thrilled with it. People who were familiar with the characters from the comic books seem to appreciate more than I did. The royal family just seemed to me to be a bunch of whiny self absorbed over-privileged ass holes. It was only because traitorous cousin Maximus was even a bigger ass hole that there was any real conflict in the story. I found it difficult to root for the so-called good guys. I don’t mind flawed heroes but they have to be compelling and I’m not so sure these were. On the other hand “The Gifted” is phenomenally good. It’s everything we look for in an X-Men universe story. Great characters, great stories, good performances, outstanding special-effects. I’m only six episodes into the season but I really like it and look forward to more.

A pair of new Marvel series are just okay. The jury is still out on The Gifted and Inhumans

As mentioned earlier, I continue to enjoy “Me, Myself and I“.
Unfortunately the series was canceled after just six episodes. No word yet on if any remaining episodes will be available on demand or will be shown in some junk time slot later in the year. This was the first canceled new series of the season.

“Me, Myself and I” is a lighter, funnier “This Is Us” and better alternative to “Young Sheldon”

I did not continue to watch “9JKL” or “Valor” beyond the initial one or two episodes.

“9JKL” Not as Lovable as Raymond

“Valor” is young, pretty, and empty of content.

I still have serious problems with “The Good Doctor” but apart from its primary premise it is a good medical drama slide continued to watch it despite my difficulties with the main character and premise of the show.

“The Good Doctor” Challenges Preconceptions Perhaps Too Much

Moving briefly on to movies, since my growing review for Dunkirk the only two movies I’ve seen are Justice League and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I will just briefly say that I really liked Justice League although again DC isn’t quite up to Marvel standards. And as far as Star Wars goes I may do a different blog post outlining why I think the naysayers are wrong about the film. Most people like it but there are good percentage of Star Wars fans who did not like it and I think there are wrong.

That’s all for now. I will have what my regular updates on the blog in a few days.

“The Good Doctor” Challenges Preconceptions Perhaps Too Much

I have a lot of mixed emotions about ABC’s new medical drama “The Good Doctor”. The main character is surgical resident Dr. Sean Murphy played by famous child actor Freddie Highmore. You may remember him from the 2005 version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and Finding Neverland among other roles. My favorite of his films was “August Rush” in which he played a foster child who is a musical prodigy who goes on a journey to find his real parents. That one brought me to tears many times.More recently he played Norman Bates in his teen years in the TV series “Bates Motel”.

The gimmick in this particular show is that Dr. Murphy is an autistic savant.

We’ve already seen a number of other TV dramas depict characters with Asperger’s syndrome which is a form of autism that manifests itself mostly as extreme social awkwardness. My favorite such characters were Max Braverman played by Max Burkholder on the TV series Parenthood along with his mentor Hank Rizzoli played by Ray Romano. Another good example was Jerry “Hands” Epperson on “Boston Legal” played by Christian Clemson. We’ve even seen portrayals of surgeons with Asperger’s syndrome when Mary McDonnell guest starred on three episodes of Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Virginia Dixon. Although Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory” has never been officially labeled as having Asperger’s, a number of commentators have suggested that he exhibits many of the characteristics.

However unlike all of these Asperger’s examples, Sean Murphy goes way beyond the simple social awkwardness that we’ve seen in any of these other characters I’ve just mentioned. They do not describe his form of autism as Asperger’s Syndrome. It is just described as “autism”. This character exhibits a much more extreme awkwardness of personality. Highmore plays him with a very childlike voice and broken speech pattern more akin to someone like Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of Raymond Babbitt in “Rain Man”. The childlike quality of his personality more closely resembles an adult with Down Syndrome.

Naturally when someone encounters this man-boy the last thing they would think was that he would be capable of being a doctor of any kind let alone a talented surgical resident. In the opening episode there is a meeting of the hospital staff in which they attempt to reject his entry into the surgical residency program. His cause is championed by hospital president Dr. Aaron Glassman portrayed by former West Wing staffer Richard Schiff. Glassman literally puts his career on the line and says that if Dr. Murphy does not succeed in the program, he offers to resign as the hospital president. Most strongly opposed to Murphy’s position is surgical chief Dr. Marcus Andrews played by Hill Harper who you may recognize from Homeland, Limitless and Covert Affairs.

Theoretically one would expect me to be extremely sympathetic towards a character who has a disability and is attempting to overcome people’s extremely low expectations of his capabilities. But the way this particular character is portrayed, I’m finding myself squarely on the side of Marcus whose attitude is “Get this freak out of my hospital and away from my patients.”

It’s apparent that each week Dr. Murphy is going to use his alternate way of thinking and perceiving to diagnose patients and save their lives in ways that escaped the attention of the so-called normal doctors. Without this proof of his medical genius there would be no way he would be remotely considered capable of doing the job. There’s more to being a doctor then simply coming up with brilliant diagnoses and having skill with a scalpel. The ability to communicate and collaborate with colleagues is an essential part of the job for which Murphy is totally unsuited.

The fact that he was given the opportunity to take the job, stretches the credibility of the TV show almost to its breaking point. I think the only way to enter into the story is to consider it science fiction. Imagine an alternate reality where such a person could get a chance to take a job for which they are seriously deficient in necessary skills.

We get lots of flashbacks to Murphy’s childhood. We learned of his abusive parents, that he ran away from home with his brother and they attempted to live on their own, and of his brother’s tragic accidental death. The death of his brother along with the death of his pet rabbit led him to the field of medicine. He couldn’t save either of their lives but maybe he can save someone else’s. We also get glimpses into his relationship with his mentor Dr. Glassman who is been in his life since his childhood and the loss of his brother.

These flashbacks serve to illustrate his approach to events in the present day. But even further stretching the credibility that this person could be taken seriously, during the flashbacks Murphy goes into an almost trancelike stare as he recalls the events. Someone will ask him a question and he goes into this trance while we watch the events of his past play out. When the flashback is over, he is still standing there with a blank look on his face while everyone wonders what the hell is wrong with him. Then having gained the perspective he required from the flashback, he comes up with an answer to whatever was asked of him. The fact that he is not fully present in the current moment further stretches the credibility that anyone would or should take him seriously.

Clearly the intent of the authors and producers of the program is to challenge us to accept people who are “different” and not impose our prejudicial limitations upon them. After watching three episodes and despite watching him use his medical brilliance to save multiple lives, I’m still not convinced he can do the job. Maybe I’m like the racist fans of Archie Bunker who didn’t see him in a negative light but saw him as a hero. Maybe I’m on the wrong side of what the creators of the show intended. But I can’t shake my perspective even though one would expect me to be sympathetic.

I would not find credible a television show about a person like me who attempted a profession that required physical capability beyond my capacity to matter how sympathetic of a character I might be.

Apart from all of this, show is a really very well written, well acted, medical drama. While Murphy is the primary character, he is not the sole focus of the story. There is the typical politics and competition between the other surgical residents, the egos of the attending physicians, and the politics of hospital management that are the staples of medical drama shows like Grey’s Anatomy and ER. On that level, the show works pretty well. The stories of the patients that they treat are compelling. The other characters besides Murphy are three-dimensional and considerably more believable than Murphy.

For now I’m going to sort of hold my nose and continue to watch the show to see where it goes. The non-Murphy parts of the story are sufficiently interesting to be entertaining and I’m curious to see what they do with the Murphy story as the show progresses.

So as I said at the beginning, I have very mixed feelings about this program but for now I’m giving it a very cautious rating of “I’m watching it”.

“Valor” is young, pretty, and empty of content.

Valor” is the CW network’s entry into the crowded military drama genre. Both NBC and CBS also have a new military dramas this year that I’ve already reviewed here. This one centers around a female Army helicopter pilot. It’s definitely geared towards the 20-something audience that is the typical CW network demographic. It’s populated with lots of attractive young actors you never heard of. No grizzled veterans to be found.

Unfortunately it is not much of the way of interesting characters or plot either. Normally I would tell you about who is in the show, a bit about the characters, the bit about the plot. This is so generic cliché that it isn’t worth my effort to describe it to you.

Unless you are greatly inspired by the story of a military woman trying to make her way in a man’s world there’s nothing much to see here. The action is not as interesting as NBC’s new show “The Brave” and the character back stories are not as interesting and CBS’s new show “SEAL Team”. If you want a good military show, go watch “Top Gun” for the 10th time or try one of the other new military shows we just mentioned.

Obviously this gets my rating of “skip it”.

“9JKL” Not as Lovable as Raymond

After spending eight seasons playing Dr. Hank Lawson on Royal Pains, Mark Feuerstein got away from comedy and played the bad guy on the reboot season of Prison Break. Now he’s back to comedy in his new half-hour single camera sitcom “9JKL” on CBS.

In this show he plays Josh, an actor who had his TV series “Blind Cop” canceled and he lost everything in a nasty divorce. So he moved to New York into the apartment building where he grew up. He lives in apartment 9K next to his overbearing parents in 9J and his brother and sister-in-law and their baby in 9L.

His smothering overbearing mother is played by Linda Lavin and his goofy somewhat senile father is played by Elliott Gould. I really like both of them in these parts.

The question I have is can they really make a show out of the one joke that this guy has these overbearing parents and a nosy brother who live too close to him? In some respects that was the major plot point of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. But that wasn’t the entire story. Raymond was married with kids and although his parents were the major source of conflict and therefore source of comedy, it just wasn’t the whole story. If the first episode of 9JKL is any indication, it doesn’t go much deeper than that.

There are other plot lines as well. Josh is trying to figure out how to start dating after his divorce. The second episode is all about his attempts to have a one night stand because he apparently has never had one before. He dated his high school sweetheart, college sweetheart, a series of six-month relationships followed by the woman he married and then divorced. Of course he fails when his mother makes the one night stand girl her new best friend. The other subplot of episode 2 is that his father bought too many bananas. Yawn.

The show has a very annoying and overbearing fake laugh track. It is single camera edited rather than filmed in front of an audience. Even if it did have an audience, it would still need the laugh track because it isn’t really that funny.

As I said earlier I really like Lavin and Gould and was a big fan of Feuerstein from Royal Pains but I think two episodes was plenty enough for me to get this rating of “Skip It”.

“Me, Myself and I” is a lighter, funnier “This Is Us” and better alternative to “Young Sheldon”

Me, Myself, and I” is a new single camera half-hour comedy created by producer Dan Kopelman who is most famous for his other coming-of-age comedy “Malcolm in the Middle”. When I first heard about this show it was obviously a show with a big gimmick and I wondered if that’s all it was. Fortunately it seems the gimmick works pretty well.

It’s a life story of Alex Riley as told through three different time periods in his life over a 50 year time span. The main character is portrayed by three different actors in each of those time periods. The young Alex is 14 years old in 1991 portrayed by Jack Dylan Grazer. He recently appeared in the Stephen King horror film “It” but has few other acting credits.

The show starts with him in the midst of three major turning points in his life. The young Alex is uprooted from his home in Chicago when his mom marries an airline pilot and they moved to LA. The most difficult part of this move for him is that he absolutely adores Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls but is suddenly transplanted into LA Lakers country. He is a bit of a nerd and loves inventing things.

His new stepbrother Justin takes him under his wing and tries to help him navigate life in a new school environment. He calls him “little brother” even though he’s only 30 some days older than him. In the opening episode Justin plays the role of wing man as Alex tries to hook up with one of the hottest girls in their class. Justin is played by Christopher Paul Richard who has previously appeared as one of Bobby Axelrod’s sons in the Showtime series “Billions”.

The adult Alex is 40 years old and takes place in present-day. He’s played by SNL veteran Bobby Moynihan. Here he is a struggling inventor whose company was worth about $2 million but now has fallen on hard times and is on the verge of bankruptcy. He’s recently divorced and living out of a friend’s garage. He’s trying to put his life back together and still be a good father to his nine-year-old daughter. At the end of the episode he finds out his ex-wife is moving out of town and taking the daughter with her. His business partner and sidekick Darrell is played by Jaleel White who you’ll remember from his iconic childhood role of Steve Urkel on Family Matters.

The older Alex is 65 years old in the year 2042. He’s portrayed by veteran comic actor John Larroquette. In the opening episode the turning point for this stage of his life is that he recently recovered from a heart attack and decided to retire as CEO of his now successful technology company Riley industries. He is searching for what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. We will avoid spoiling a minor plot twist near the end of the first episode that hints at where that part of the story is going.

The show is funny, has a lot of heart, and is well written and acted. At first I thought it was just a ripoff of the multi-time period approach to the hit NBC drama “This Is Us”. And while that may be true, they pull it off successfully. It is a little bit rushed to trying to get these three different stories moving along in just a half-hour comedy. The first episode was about 60% young Alex, 30% adult Alex, and 10% older Alex. We will have to see if subsequent episodes shift that balance so we get more of the other stories. Still if it remains mostly a coming-of-age story about a young Alex that would be okay. The writing does a pretty good job of tying the story together. Events in one of the time periods connects to the other time periods. Think of it as a sort of one person rather than three-person version of “This Is Us” with all of the heart and comedy and not any of the tearjerk aspects.

I also can’t help but make contrasts to the new series “Young Sheldon”. If you are looking for a coming-of-age story about a nerdy young kid and how his childhood influenced his adulthood then this is a much much better choice than Young Sheldon. In many ways this is the show that Young Sheldon could’ve been but isn’t. One of the reasons this show might succeed where Young Sheldon will not is that we can see the adult and the older versions of the character evolve along with the young version. This show is not saddled with 10+ seasons of history of its adult character with which it must somehow correlate and provide some sort of continuity.

For now I’m giving it a somewhat tentative raising of “I’m watching it”. I suggest you check it out and see if it resolves your disappointment in Young Sheldon.