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March Reviews (2007) April 3, 2007

Posted by Tim in Reviews.
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Will and Grace

Will and Grace

Will and Grace ended its eight-season run with two bittersweet episodes that captured the essence of the show – friendships – magnificently. It’s a cliched description, but watching the last episode end was like saying goodbye to friends (which could also mean Friends the sitcom, this show is as good).

W&G has one of the most quirky but lovable ensembles ever: Will (Eric McCormack), an insecure gay lawyer obsessed with neatness; his best friend since high school Grace (Debra Messing), a Jewish interior designer with good looks but nonexistent manners and fashion sense; her secretary, Karen Walker (Megan Mullaly), a self-absorbed wealthy lady of undetermined age who works for fun and is perpetually drunk and/or high; and Jack (Sean Hayes), an oblivious and usually unemployed actor who is the embodiment of gay.

Looking back on that paragraph, my description probably has those who haven’t watched the show recoiling in horror (IMMORAL!! BAD INFLUENCE!). And the show does include copious amounts of physical and crude humour. Karen and Jack’s antics especially have made me laugh out loud more times than I can count. They’re the best comic duo I’ve seen in any sitcom. Nearly all the leads can sing as well, and the show made the most of it. The scene where Grace belts out a shrill Sound of Music medley to a group of hapless children will always be etched into my mind.

But if you look past the humour Will and Grace was a story of friends, and acceptance of both yourself and others. I wonder at times whether it paints a picture of friendships that’s too idealistic; would people put so much effort in platonic, close friendships? Maybe the point is you can.

Heroes

Heroes

Heroes is a relatively new hit series that revolves around a group of people who discover they have super powers. I balked at first – after all, superhero movies are a dime a dozen nowadays since CGI became believable: we have Spiderman, Superman, Punisher, X-Men, Daredevil, Hulk; the studios even recruited more obscure supes like Ghost Rider and Hellboy.

The show gave me a pleasant surprise though. It uses to full potential the character-driven formula that has proven so effective in recent shows. I hear that the writers write actually down scenes for individual characters first, and then see how they can string them together. In the Heroes universe, evolution and mutation have gone to the next level in producing people with special abilities, and the diversity of the cast makes up for it, coming in yellow, black, brown, and white. You don’t end up feeling that there are any token foreigners just to level out the cast, like Sun and Jin from Lost; in fact Hiro Nakamura, a wide-eyed, plump Japanese with the power to control spacetime is one of the most popular characters. At the same time, Heroes attempts to show how humans are interconnected – interracial relationships are frequently shown, and many of the characters are unknowingly related.

The success of the show will depend on how the producers develop the plotline as it progresses. Character-driven dramas tend to be more interesting at first when you are discovering the characters and their backstories. Heroes hasn’t made the mistake Lost did when it focused too much on a small group of the cast, and alienated viewers by splitting the entire group up later. In fact, some of the leads don’t even have super powers (yet).

Today, on X-Play
Extended Play first caught my eye when it was airing on ASTRO channel 13 with Adam Sessler as its sole host. A show that reviewed games? A match made in heaven. It later moved to ASTRO TVIQ (Channel 14), and by then had been renamed X-Play with Morgan Webb joining Adam as co-host. It was a great time, seeing as it was slotted with other shows from TechTV/G4, e.g. Cinematech and Icons, the former comprised entirely of cutscenes from computer games, and the latter doing features on prominent figures in the gaming industry. The problem was that those only showed at night (and the wee hours of the morning); in the afternoons TVIQ aired lame, outdated educational programs. The bigger problem was that sometime last year ASTRO corrected the imbalanced programming by cutting all TechTV/G4 syndicated shows! Does any one even watch TVIQ any more?

Of course, there are other means to get X-Play :). I love the show. The battle-weary, irreverent pair of Sessler and Webb (who apparently does play games) mock the deluge of WWII and movie-based games, nitpick at sloppy AI, and provide a unique brand of self-depreciating humour. The show also features hilarious skits and characters from time to time.

But you can check it out yourself:

Sure I don’t always agree with X-Play‘s reviews, but it’s still a shining beacon in a sea of bad games (and boring shows).

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