Tuesday, June 25, 2019

TV: Oh, those summer nights

On NBC's new summer show THE INBETWEEN, Paul Blackthorne has really bad indigestion. We're not surprised nor do we blame him as he powers through burp after burp. He does it in every scene, with nearly every line. We think Rolaids should probably underwrite the program.

Again, we're not blaming him nor are we really sure that it's a conscious acting choice. Considering the bad dialogue, indigestion might just be a natural side effect.


THE INBETWEEN offers bad writing galore. In fact, it may be one of the ugliest shows to ever grace summer TV.

Over at ABC, they're offering Poppy Montgomery's new show THE REEF BREAK and it's the perfect summer show. Crime and drama and romance set on the beach. Poppy's a surfer, she's a bit shady, got caught back in the day when she ended up married to Jake and didn't realize he was FBI. She knows the reef, she knows the people, good and bad and in between.

She's playing her role with as much confidence as the sun streaming and pouring down on the beach. She's a complete natural and fits in with her surroundings. Watching her in action brings a smile to the face.

And that's what a summer series should do. It should be the equivalent of a day at the beach, enjoyable and fun.

THE INBETWEEN is neither enjoyable or fun. Watching, you wonder how did this ever get on the air? You can almost hear Richard E. Grant in THE PLAYER saying, "If I'm really honest, this isn't even an American movie."

That would explain how Charlotte Sieling ended up as an executive producer. She's worked on a number of TV shows including the Danish version (the original version) of THE KILLING. THE INBETWEEN is dark and, honestly, hollow. Harriet Dyer -- a name no one ever thought would end up with stardom (and, based on THE INBETWEEN, that's still a good hunch) plays the lead named Cassie Beford. NBC promotional material insists that she "was born with a gift, though she may call it a curse." Oh, the drama!

Cassie's basically the little boy in THE SIXTH SENSE -- she sees dead people. She helps them resolve their problems -- which makes her a little like THE GHOST WHISPERER as well though she lacks Jennifer Love Hewitt's winning personality. Honestly, she lacks personality period.

The show can really be seen as a bad children's water color painting and Harriet's Cassie as the water that the paint brushes were left in before the water was splashed onto the painting causing a dark, blurry muddle.

With three episodes aired thus far (the next episode will air next week), NBC is seeing a steady erosion in the ratings with each episode. This isn't NBC's fault. They're promoting it like it's the return of FRIENDS.

Meanwhile over at ABC, where's the promotion for REEF BREAK? On Friday's MARVEL AGENTS OF SHIELD, they repeatedly aired commercials for the summer soap opera GRAND HOTEL. (GRAND HOTEL does not impress in episode one. Few soap operas do. We plan to review the show but are trying to give it an episode or two to find its footing.) Now if you are someone tuning into MARVEL AGENTS OF SHIELD, we have a few questions.

Our first question: Would you be more likely to watch an action show like REEF BREAK or a soap opera like GRAND HOTEL? Because we'd assume you'd be a better match with REEF BREAK; however, ABC aired no advertisement for REEF BREAK (again, while airing three for GRAND HOTEL). That confused us.

Our second question? Why are you watching the show still?

Last week was another episode of mental masturbation. Nothing happened. This is an action show, right? But we were (yet again) in a simulation of sorts so nothing taking place -- for Fitz and Gemma -- was really taking place.

Does the audience enjoy being jerked around like this? Now that this is a summer show, the episode order has been drastically reduced. Thirteen episodes for this season and thirteen for next. You'd think they wouldn't need to pad out episodes with that short of a season.

Our third question would be: How much do you enjoy being jerked around? Clearly, you must enjoy it some to put with non-action storylines that go nowhere. But we're referring to fan fave Deke, for example. He's barely been on this season. And, of course, the season started with Fitz missing and Gemma and Fitz apart. Isn't that how every season is starting to kick off -- Gemma and Fitz apart? It all gets a bit redundant after awhile.

But back to the characters. Deke's barely on. Gregg Clark's Coulson thankfully died. However, they've kept Clark on the show, now as a bad guy. If Clark was never believable as a team leader, he's even less believable as a bad guy.

But here's the thing: If they can bring him on as a new character, why can't they bring back Bobbi and Lance? It's not Adrianna Palicki's fault that Bobbi was written off and it's not Nick Blood's fault that Lance was written off. The plan was to star the two in a spin-off. But, in the end, ABC took a pass.

When that happens, most show runners say, "Let's bring them back!" And not for a single episode (the way Nick Blood was brought back) but as regular characters.

'B-b-b-but the storyline won't allow it, we wrote them out in such a way --'

Oh, get real. The universe has been created, recreated, destroyed and recreated again on MARVEL AGENTS OF SHIELD. It could easily be reconfigured to allow Bobbie and Lance to return. That is if they care about pleasing the audience. But maybe they don't care?

It's still more than a little stunning that so many faceless characters remain on the show after they were so quick to rush Brett Dalton off the show (first as Ward, than as Hive). What is the point of Piper or Davis being on the show? This is not meant as an insult to either Briana Venskus or Maximilian Osinski. With heroic efforts, they've brought their vastly underwritten roles to life. But if there are no storylines for Piper or Davis, why are the characters on the show?

Summer shows raise a lot of questions these days and maybe that's not a good thing. Hasn't the American school system conditioned us to put off all heavy thinking until fall?

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