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Two and a Half Men

What’s the show about?
After his wife has thrown him out, Alan Harper has moved in with his brother Charlie who is a ad jingle composer, a womanizer and lives on a beach house. On the weekends Alan’s son Jake lives also there.

“Pilot”
Just when he was about to get laid, Charlie’s brother Alan calls him and asks whether he can move in for a few days when he’s already standing in front of Charlie’s bedroom door. Alan’s wife has thrown him out but he believes that it’s just a phase – Charlie doubts it. And on the weekend Alan’s son Jake also moves also in. Charlie’s life is about to be turned upside down.

My Opinion
Charlie and Jake are a great team and Alan has a cool dry humour when it comes to Charlie’s sex life and his behaviour towards women. But the supporting cast is also awesome: Bertha the housekeeper and grandma Evelyn and Rose – Charlie’s personal stalker. 😀 One of the funniest sitcoms these days and from the same producers as The Big Bang Theory.

Leverage

What’s the show about?
Black King? White Knight? Nate is a former insurance investigator but now he works with a thief (Parker), a hacker (Hardison), a hitter (Eliot) and a grifter (Sophie) to help people the normal law can’t or won’t help. Nate is a master at Xanatos Speed Chess and he uses this ability to outmanoeuvre his opponents and get what he wants.

“The Nigerian Job”
The CEO of an airplane manufacturer hires Nate to be the boss of a gang of thieves to steal back blueprints that were stolen from him. But he has played them all and tries to get them killed. Now Nate is turning the tables. He hires a new face and old “friend” of his, Sophie, and together they are getting the prints back and the CEO in trouble.

My Opinion
It’s a worthy successor of the 80’s A-Team and basically as unrealistic – which didn’t matter then and doesn’t matter now. Back then B.A. welded some steel together and built some form of tank, today Hardison is manipulating any electronic device to get hoodwink the bad guy. The characters are funny to watch and two of them (Nate and Sophie) have an even more personal connection.

Dollhouse

What’s the show about?
The Dollhouse is an institution that provides people. The so-called “actives” have a wiped memory, no clue about their former lives. When sent on an engagement they are imprinted with all the knowledge and skills they need for this. The engagement can be anything from a hot weekend orgy to negotiating a kidnapping. The actives are supposedly volunteers and they will get back their lives after five years of service. FBI agent Ballard is trying to expose this and the Dollhouse has problems of their own: The wipe is not as clean as it should be and one of their actives went rogue.

“Ghost”
After his daughter was kidnapped and he was warned not to involve the police, Mr. Crestejo engages an active. She’s imprinted with the knowledge of the best kidnapping negotiators and is also given a background where she was kidnapped herself to become the best person for this situation money can buy. Meanwhile FBI agent Ballard still tries to find this mysterious “Dollhouse” but his superiors doubt it even exists and warn him to not to step on any more toes on this ghost hunt.

My Opinion
Most people (myself included) agree that it started out rather slowly with a engagement of the week pattern but in the second half of the first season it got better when they truly began to explore the Dollhouse itself and its inner workings. The ratings weren’t good either and when Fox had to decide whether to kill Dollhouse or Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the cancelled the latter. I will definitively watch the second season and hope that the ratings go up.

Night Court

What’s the show about?
Judge Harold “Harry” T. Stone presides a night court in Manhattan where he and his team process mostly cases of solicitation, theft and other minor demeanours. Every night there are different whack jobs and weirdos that await their judgement and Harry is sentencing them unless he shows someone his newest magic trick.

“All You Need Is Love”
On the last day in office the mayor has appointed a new judge to the bench. Since it was a Sunday evening nobody was home – except for the man at the bottom of the list: The very young Judge Harold T. Stone. When he arrives there everybody is aghast and can’t really believe that this man is a judge, especially since he doesn’t behave that way. Instead he shoots can snakes out of a gun and shows magic tricks. But when he’s in the court room he knows what he’s doing even when it doesn’t look like it.

My Opinion
It was a great team and I had many laughs long before Ally McBeal ever entered a court room. I especially liked John Larroquette in the role of the assistant DA Dan Fielding and Richard Moll in the role of the somewhat slow yet harmless giant Bull. The show also had a great number of known guest actors such as Michael J. Fox and Brent Spiner. Especially Spiner had a recurring role as a Yugoslavian hillbilly.

21 Jump Street

What’s the show about?
Young cops in their early twenties – who look even more younger than they are – are going undercover in high schools to investigate crimes that happen there – drug dealings, extortion, car thefts, … The unit works out of an old chapel on Jump Street. Sometimes they go into a school alone, sometimes as buddies, sometimes as enemies. But in the end they bust the bad guys.

“Pilot”
Officer Tom Hanson has a problem: He looks younger than he is and his colleagues and (what’s worse) criminals don’t take him seriously. Even though he has now a partner who is willing to work with him the captain can’t risk his officers getting hurt or killed. But he has a solution: Hanson is transferred to an undercover unit where he meets his future partners: the officers Doug Penhall, Harry Ioki, the beautiful Judy Hoffs and their captain who was in Woodstock.

My Opinion
It was a cool show for its time but I bought the first season only for sentimental reasons. Now and then an episode is ok, but I wouldn’t watch the entire show again. Still I enjoyed seeing Johnny Depp and Peter DeLouise in their early roles again. DeLouise (son of Dom DeLouise) has mostly stopped acting but instead became a director and producer, most notably on Stargate SG-1 where he has the occasional cameo.

And I don’t think I have to say much about Depp:

The IT Crowd

What’s the show about?
Roy, Moss and Jen are the IT department at Reynholm Industries. Roy and Moss are the typical geeks while Jen has no clue about computers at all. But together they manage to live a rather quite life in the basement where they are only disturbed when some idiot upstairs has no idea how to work with a computer.

“Yesterday’s Jam”
Jen has just been hired by Reynholm Industries to become the head of the IT department. She has no clue about computers but luckily for her neither has Reynholm. But when the actual computer guys Roy and Moss get wind of this they try to expose her.

My Opinion
The humour of this show is very British and might not appeal to everyone. It might come to mind but you can’t really compare this show with The Big Bang Theory even though both are very nerdy. I hope that there will be a fourth season – or Version 4.0 as they call it.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

What’s the show about?
At some point in the future the computer system Skynet will become self-aware and start a nuclear assault on mankind. Only a few people survive this holocaust and fight against Skynet and its machines (e.g. the Terminators). The leader of that resistance is John Connor. But that is then, this is now. Now John Connor is a teenage boy who tries to survive attacks before the war has even started. At his side fight his mother, Sarah, and the reprogrammed Terminator called Cameron and together they try to destroy Skynet before it’s activated.

What happened before?
The series takes place two years after the second movie and ignores the third one. It also shifts the time-table forward, making Terminator 2: Judgement Day take place in 1997.

“Pilot”
It’s 1999 and Sarah and John Connor have once again moved to a new town. They live under the alias “Reese” but that’s a fatal mistake since that’s the name of John’s birth-father and the Terminator called Cromartie finds them this way. Luckily for John one of his new classmates, a beautiful young girl named Cameron is also a machine and he protects him. But they have to flee and it’s not a matter of where but of when. Cameron initiates a time travel and they find themselves in the year 2007, four years before Judgement Day.

My Opinion
I began to watch this show open-minded. I was never too invested in the Terminator saga, so a series that ignored a movie was not a problem for me. And I also liked all the major actors from both seasons (after which it was cancelled). But there were some plot issues I couldn’t cope with. There was no time travel logic at all – i.e. even less than in the movies. People and Terminators travelled from the future whenever they wanted, no biggie. Still, at some point I seem to have accepted this because I didn’t notice it that much in the second season. But the second season had this unsatisfactory three-dots-arc I didn’t care for and in the end the only thing that wanted to make me watch a third season was the cliffhanger. But that’s not enough.

Roseanne

What’s the show about?
The Conners are a working-class family with three children: Becky, Darlene and their son DJ. Dan is a construction worker and mechanic and Roseanne works at first in a factory but later opens her own diner “The Lunch Box”. This sitcom follows the life of that family and those close to it.

“Life and Stuff”
A typical day in the Conner household. Dan tries to get a new job as construction worker but when this fails he helps his buddies working on a truck engine. Roseanne has to leave work early to go school and discuss Darlene’s problems with her history teacher.

My Opinion
I always liked this show because like Married … with Children they broke with the usual “happy family sitcom” routine. In addition the problems the Conners had over the years felt somewhat real and weren’t always resolved at the end of the episode.

PS: Guess who was a regular guest star in the first season, many years before ER or Ocean’s Eleven? Him:

SeaQuest DSV

What’s the show about?
The SeaQuest is a Deep Submerge Vehicle and the largest submarine there is. Its task is to keep the fragile peace on Earth’s oceans that have become farming grounds and mining fields for all kind of entrepreneurs and countries. The SeaQuest works under the mandate of the UEO – the United Earth & Oceans Organization and is only partly a military ship. It’s also a research vessel and a lot of scientists live and work aboard it.

“To Be or Not to Be”
A year ago Commander Ford had to relieve Captain Stark of her command because she intended to fire nuclear torpedos on rivalling parties. Now the ship belongs to the UEO and Admiral Noyce is trying to convince Nathan Bridger to take command. He has designed the ship but after the death of his son he’s also retired and has no intention to return to this world. But he agrees to take a look and when a pirate sub starts to attack underwater colonies he hasn’t really a choice.

My Opinion
I liked this show, even the third season – which was different and where the SeaQuest had a new captain. The ship was an underwater version of the Enterprise but due to the environment they could tell new stories and old stories differently. Unfortunately large parts of the crew were replaced from season to season and they never had a real chance to become a well-developed team. Especially the more distinct members of the first season were replaced by younger people who didn’t have the charm of the old ones.

The Big Bang Theory

What’s the show about?
The sitcom revolves around the lives of three physicists, one engineer and one waitress. The two physicists Sheldon and Leonard live across the hall from Penny the waitress. Leonard is in love with Penny but she hasn’t responded yet. Sheldon and Leonard are often visited by their friends Rajesh and Howard (the latter one being the engineer) and when their world clashes with Penny’s hilarity ensues.

“Pilot”
Leonard and Sheldon have just aborted a high IQ sperm donation when they discover that they have a new neighbour: Penny, a waitress at “The Cheesecake Factory”. When Penny takes a shower in their apartment (and hopefully doesn’t discover the Darth Vader shampoo or the Luke Skywalker conditioner) she asks Leonard for a favour…

My Opinion
One of my favourite sitcoms of all time. The five are so hilarious together with Sheldon being the heyday of most episodes. Sheldon is totally unaware of his rudeness and his arrogance and it’s great fun to watch him and the others. I can’t wait for the third season to begin next week and I am glad that the network has already ordered a fourth season.

Part 8