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July 28, 2010

Rizzoli & Isles 1.3: "Sympathy for the Devil"

Oh, show. I keep wanting you to be good, and you keep disappointing. But not quite enough to make me give up hope. More after the jump . . .

Plot: The murder itself was fine, I guess, but the cultural stuff was annoying. It was pretty obviously objectifying the victim's family culture as Other, and not even for the purposes of exploring that cultural conflict, but rather to show us, again, the differences between Rizzoli and Isles. Okay, we get it! And really, if Rizzoli is the one who went to Catholic school, as they tell us over and over, why is Isles the one going on about Catholic doctrine? Clumsy.

Setting: This still does not feel like Boston at all. Just for the record.

Characters: I still like Rizzoli, and the conflict with her family, although her dad and brother were noticeably absent from this episode. But the stuff with her mom was good - the mother clearly has the best of intentions, but just doesn't get her daughter, and it should be interesting to see if they let them start working that out rather than just belaboring it for laughs. I still hate Isles and love Frost. And I really got to like Donnie Wahlberg's character, so of course he's leaving. Is that it? Is he really totally gone? The one real Boston thing on the show? Really?

Posted by Kat at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2010

Rizzoli & Isles 1.2: "Boston Strangler Redux"

I really didn't like this episode. Really. It went beyond mediocre indifference to outright dislike. Now, everyone's allowed an off day once in a while, but you're on notice, show. If you don't improve I'm going to go catch up on House instead. To find out my many issues with the plot, the characters, the writing, and the setting (so basically everything!), click on the nifty link below.

The plot: A Boston Strangler case, already? I mean, sure, it's natural for a Boston-set procedural to go there eventually, but the fact that they did so in the second episode makes me suspect that they started out with a lack of original ideas, and that doesn't bode well for the show's future. The case wasn't solved in any satisfying manner, either. Rather than detecting, our heroes stumbled from one suspect to the next, and then seemed to look at the clock, say "Nope, not far enough in the hour yet!" and decide the murderer had to be someone else. There was no reason for Rizzoli to wait so long to look at her brother's pictures, except for the supposed sibling rivalry that the show never really bothered to make us believe, and if she's as good a cop as they keep telling us she is, that wouldn't have stopped her.

Guest stars: I actually liked Donnie Wahlberg, and the childhood history between him and Rizzoli was interesting, so I wouldn't mind if he stuck around. Brian Dennehy, who you I last saw as, improbably, Kublai Khan, was less exciting. It was pretty obvious that something was off about his character from the start, and all his stuff about Rizzoli being female seemed designed to tell, rather than show, us that Women in the Police Force Have It Very Hard. Okay! We get it! (Same with the various prejudices of the one suspect's Irish mother. Asking if Frost spoke English? Really? When raciist and/or sexist characters are so over-the-top, it takes something away from the fact that this is a real issue and makes it into a joke.)

Characters: I still like Rizzoli, but she can't carry the show by herself for long. I hated Isles in this episode. It's like they took Brennan from Bones, watered her down, made her thoroughly unlikeable, and then tossed in a few random attributes to make her different. The result is by no means a coherent character. If she's so into fashion, why was she wearing that ridiculous get-up at the baseball game? If she can't understand people well enough to function in society, why is she suddenly psychoanalyzing them? She just makes no sense, and I want her to go away. But I suppose that's unlikely since she's a title character.

I still love Lee Thompson Young as Frost, but he was tragically underused in this episode. Will they ever let the poor guy do anything but vomit? The former partner wasn't as interesting in this one, and somehow looked completely different. Was it the same actor? Rizzoli's family is still okay, and I like the brother, but the parents got a big sitcommy in this episode. I'd like to see more of Rizzoli and her brother working together, as long as it doesn't result in this random "You're my brother so I must ignore your evidence!" nonsense.

The writing: This episode was filled with conversations that made no sense, either in context or on their own. The most egregious example of this was the one with Rizzoli's father at the station. Why on earth were both her parents there, anyway? Why did Rizzoli suddenly ask him about the family business, in the middle of a murder case? I get that we're supposed to see that the mother is trying to get the kids out of the police force and the father isn't/doesn't really know, but it was very clumsy and really made no sense as a conversation. The episode was full of these exchanges, where someone said something and then someone else said something else, and it was supposed to be a response but really wasn't the same conversation at all. Some shows do things like this deliberately, to make certain points, but here it just felt careless and clumsy. Another example: At the end, Rizzoli starts explaining her dating history to Isles, seemingly out of the blue. They're friends, right? This is a weird conversation friends to be having - either they'd have already had it, or they wouldn't want to. And nothing happened as a catalyst to make them have to, either. Hello, exposition fairy!

The setting: I still don't really feel like we're in Boston, despite the fact that they said the word "Boston" at least twice a minute in this episode. The traffic report at the beginning of the episode was a dead giveaway - I've been listening to Boston traffic reports for ten years, and I have never heard one that short or that coherent. They make no sense. They refuse to use official names for any roads or bridges or anything. I'm pretty sure they're designed to make sure outsiders get lost. And the traffic is never, ever just "fine" everywhere. That whole "No traffic problems, even though it's a holiday!" nonsense? (And wait, it was a holiday? What was it? Am I misremembering?) Really, the episode lost me right there.

Posted by Kat at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2010

Rizzoli & Isles 1.1: "See One, Do One, Teach One"

The short version: Rizzoli & Isles was far from perfect, but it held my attention, so I'll keep watching for a while. The long version: after the jump.

I'll admit I was a bit creeped out at the beginning of the pilot. The opening bit in which we actually see the crime being committed showed a little too much actual violence than I usually like in my procedurals, but if I like the show otherwise, I can deal. Really, this was a lot creepier overall than I had anticipated, but that's not necessarily bad. Hoyt (the Surgeon) was a really disturbing foe, and I'm curious to see how they will keep future cases at the same level since presumably future villains won't all have history with Rizzoli. When Hoyt popped out of that body bag, I was honestly shocked and a little scared. Good job, show!

A few notes on production: I enjoyed the Irish theme music, although it seemed an odd choice given that Rizzoli is supposed to be Italian. I suppose the Irish music was supposed to help situate us in Boston, but really, I wouldn't have known it was supposed to be Boston if they hadn't said so. This is better than an annoyingly bad Boston imitation, I suppose, but still a bit of a letdown. We'll see how much they do with location in future episodes. (I am, for the record, glad that the various actors aren't really attempting Boston accents, because those usually end up being distractingly bad.) The color seems very saturated in the flashbacks, and the rest of the show is a little washed out, which is an odd choice. Will there be lots of flashbacks in the future? Hard to tell.

Now, the characters: I liked Angie Harmon as Lindsay Boxer in Women's Murder Club, and so far I like her similar portrayal of Jane Rizzoli here. Yes, the tomboy thing was made a bit much of, but I'll allow that they were establishing her character in the first episode and give them a chance to stop hitting us over the head with that in the future. And I really liked that the guys didn't have to rescue her. So far, she's a consistent and reasonably believable character. I really like her family so far, although some of the sibling rivalry stuff is a little heavy-handed. Her mom is great - of course she would express her fear for her daughter's safety by commenting on her makeup choices - and I hope we see her dad soon.

Sasha Alexander's Maura Isles is a less well-drawn character, at least so far. It's like they just copied Tempe Brennan from Bones, but then decided they needed a girly-girl to balance the tomboy thing. So they smashed the two together, and it doesn't really work. I mean, how many socially awkward scientists do you know who are also fashion plates? I'll give them another few episodes to try to figure this out. Similarly, the show couldn't seem to decide what the relationship between Rizzoli and Isles was supposed to be. There were some references made to them being close friends, but at times it seemed like they barely knew each other. And - sure, there are some people I see at work every day, virtually never see outside of work, and yet would not hesitate to call in an emergency, so that's not my issue, exactly. It's fine if the characters themselves aren't entirely sure of their relationship, but the show needs to stop telling us one thing about it and showing us something else.

For me, the best part of this episode was Billy Burke's guest turn as an FBI agent involved with the case. "Bella's dad from Twilight" was something of a revelation as a romantic interest, and I really wish he were sticking around. Hopefully they'll bring him back at some point.

Thankfully, it seems that the other highlight of the episode, Lee Thompson Young as Rizzoli's partner Barry Frost, will be sticking around. The Famous Jett Jackson is all grown up, folks, and he's hot! And he can act! (He had a great guest spot on The Good Guys this week too.) I immediately bought his rapport with Rizzoli, and loved the way they worked together and were quick to defend each other in various ways when necessary. And yet it does not seem like the show wants us to see any romantic or sexual tension between the characters, which is kind of refreshing. If the show were Rizzoli & Frost, I'd be all in. I'm not quite sold on Rizzoli & Isles, but I'll give it a chance.

Posted by Kat at 02:00 PM | Comments (1)

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