Sometimes, I just don’t know what people want. The critics were fairly brutal where SWINGTOWN is concerned, and yet I found it — and no one is more surprised than I to have this be the first word which comes to mind — charming. Every moment seemed to offer a new flashback to an era I kinda sorta vaguely remember (having been a pre-teen in 1976). People smoking on planes, the funky fashions, references to The Omen and oh, that glorious, wonderful parade of cheesy songs! I’m sure those who tuned in expecting a smutfest left wildly disappointed, as the series is driven more by character than plot and, despite having sexual mores as it’s central theme, tends to take a less-is-more approach. But if you go into it looking for a good time, well, you’re gonna leave as satisfied as the party guests who ventured down into Tom and Trina Decker’s basement. Sure, it’d would have been nice if the doe-eyed couple who move from Eden to Gomorrah had taken a tad longer to be corrupted. By the end of the first episode, Susan had popped a Qualude and ditched long-time gal pal Janet (the delightful Miriam Shor) for life on the swingin’ side of town. But heck, who could resist the charms of deliciously sleezy Tom as personified by Grant Show? Given the way Janet’s hubby was eyeing Susan (and that “Geez, do we really have to leave?” look he gave his wife after she accidentally wandered into an orgy room and demanded of her happy-to-be-there spouse, “Do you know what kind of party this is?”), I’m dying to see where things go. Sorry, but in a summer filled with reality and reruns, you’d have to be a total square not to dive into this groovefest. The writing’s on the (bathroom) wall: For a good time, call the residents of SWINGTOWN.
While I abhor the endless AMERICAN IDOL auditions which seem to stretch for months, I’m wishing that SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE would show us more of the episodes in which they search for finalists. In part, this is due to the fact that while IDOL focuses on the negative, DANCE nearly always finds a way to spin things in a positive manner. But more important is the fact that we seem to miss out on key steps in the audition process. Personally, I want to see the dancers trained by contestant-turned-choreographer Travis, which we get only snipets of. And certainly when we got to the highly hyped “Vegas week”, which consisted of a single episode, I was dying to see more of the grueling process through which these talented young people go. So while it’s true that with IDOL, less would definitely be more, the complete opposite is true where DANCE is concerned.
The upcoming series about which I’m most excited is scheduled not for fall, but mid-season, so you’ll forgive me if I start doing a little early lobbying to get a show — any show — booted from the CBS line-up so that they’ll make room for HARPER’S ISLAND. Of course, the serialized murder-mystery could turn into the next REUNION, so I’ll expect CBS to swear to us that no matter what happens,we’ll get a resolution. Any shows in the works that you’re excited about? Or are you just looking forward to more episodes of favorites like PUSHING DAISIES that got the short-shrift thanks to the writers strike?
I couldn’t figure out why CBS would waste SYBIL — a flick starring Emmy winner Tammy Blanchard and every-award-known-to-man winner Jessica Lange — on a post-sweeps Saturday night, having given it almost no advertising support… until I tuned in. Both actresses — who deserved far better — gave it their all, but a weak script more interested in rushing from (plot) point A to (plot) point B than in actually allowing us to get to know the characters dooms their efforts from the start. One can’t help wondering if this project started as a miniseries — ala the 1976 Sally Field original — and wound up being edited down to fit into a two-hour slot. In any case, what we got was a watered-down version of the classic, with two amazing actresses doing phenomenal work despite the limitations of the production.