Thursday, September 6, 2012

To Tide You Over

By Megan Geilman

Labor Day is over, the leaves are just starting to change color, the children are back to school and our fall lineup is about to begin once again. Fresh episodes to see, cliff hangers to be answered, relationships with our DVR to be rekindled…it’s perhaps the other most wonderful time of the year. But alas, the new seasons don’t air for a few more weeks and you're probably out of ideas for nightly viewing. You want something engaging, but nothing that will get you sucked in (think LOST) and mess up your carefully manicured viewing schedule set to begin. I hear ya, so I've reviewed a few one season shows that for various reasons are fairly high quality but did not get renewed and would be easily forgotten if we were still living B.H. (Before Hulu).

The Finder (13 episodes, available on Hulu)

As miffed as I was that the series premier hijacked one of my precious Bones episodes, marketing it as a spin-off series (I wasn’t aware you could simultaneously introduce completely new characters in a locale 1,200 miles away and spin them off into their own show but apparently you can) the show actually ended up being fairly enjoyable. My husband found the witty banter more palatable than that of Psych (which has a very similar premise) while I enjoyed the quirky set and interesting characters.
White guy genius finder is a Major Walter Sherman (played by Geoff Stults) who, after a brain injury while serving overseas, magically develops the OCD-like need to find things for people. He is ultra observant (a similarity to Psych) and often disregards the law, which makes for funny one-liners from his black man partner, Leo Knox (played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan) who has to tell him exactly which laws he is about to break so that he can weigh his options.
Although the last episode had the characters doing some radically un-characteristic things, the writers did a fairly good job wrapping things up and not leaving TOO many cliff hangers. The ending leaves you slightly wondering, but able to move on…something I give credit for.

Flash Forward (22 episodes, available on Hulu and Netflix)

The show has a tantalizing premise that is set up in the first episode: everyone in the entire world blacks out at the same time and has a 2 and a half minute “flash forward” of their future on a precise date. After everyone wakes up, people try to make sense of what the “future” may hold and what exactly the “future” is. It played better than it sounds…sort of. After rave reviews on the premier, viewership steadily dwindled as the season progressed. Yet many, like myself, held on as the show was still an engaging and intriguing enough to give it my Friday nights and to hopefully find out what actually goes down on that fated day…this is where the news gets really bad:
Be prepared for what is perhaps the biggest and most agonizing cliffhanger in television history. Spoiler alert: the finale ends HALF WAY through the big day. BIGGEST. LET DOWN. EVER. Whether the writers did it in retaliation for being cancelled or just plain old-fashioned laziness spite I do not know—but it sucks a big one. My guess is they were probably relieved they didn’t have to wrap up the premise of THE ENTIRE SHOW. Clearly I’m still incensed about this, but it was a fun watch while it lasted and if you can handle the anger at being cut off, let er’ rip. It is fairly addicting though and at 22 episodes, it might cut into your fall viewership so consider yourself warned.

Awake (13 episodes, available on Hulu)

Perhaps not as engaging as the above mentioned shows, I left this one for last because it does the best job of doing a one season show: great acting, pretty good writing, interesting plot line, and A SOLID, NO CLIFF HANGERS ENDING.
Jason Isaacs does an amazing job as LA Cop who after an accident, can’t tell when he is awake and when he is asleep—experiencing two simultaneous realities where in one his wife is still alive, and in the other, his son. He uses clues from each reality to help him solve crimes in the other and at the same time trying to figure out how his family got in the accident in the first place, which I won’t spoil for you.
I was only slightly sad to see this show cancelled, but not really, because it had a finite premise—I mean, the guy can’t go on forever not knowing if he’s in a real reality or not, especially when he already starts having hallucinations in the first season. It just wasn’t sustainable—luckily the writers saw this and did a good, albeit somewhat silly, job of wrapping up everything nicely.

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She lives in a small artsy borough just outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and unborn child. She is in the painfully slow process of getting her interior design business off the ground, but also does graphic design, if you're into that.

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