About Last Night…

April 8, 2010

Last night, the TV gods offered up a vision of a show that I’m not so sure I want and brought me to the end of one I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of. Let’s talk, shall we?

Let's forget this even happened and just go get some dim sum.

On CBS, Criminal Minds presented us with the backdoor pilot for the proposed fall spin-off. For those unfamiliar with backdoor pilots, it’s a device producers use to present a spin-off show through an episode of the show it’s being spun from. Backdoor pilots have a varied track record. On the successful end of the spectrum, there was the introduction of Horatio Cane and his Miami wackiness in an episode of the flagship CSI and the trip Addison Montgomery took to visit L.A. in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. On the unsuccessful end, that episode of Gossip Girl last spring that attempted to peddle an 80’s-Los Angeles set story of Lily’s life, starring Brittany Snow. Don’t remember it? That’s because the CW nixed it after the episode aired.

Anyway, last night we were introduced to Sam Cooper, an FBI agent with ties to both Hotchner and Rossi. As the heavy-handed dialogue told us over and over again, Cooper doesn’t do bureaucracy, doesn’t follow the rules, and always follows his gut. He’s played by Forest Whitaker. I’m not sure if I would have ever liked the character, regardless of the actor playing him, but I really don’t buy Whitaker in his shoes. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my totally shallow inability to look at Whitaker for too long without being creeped out by his face. I know, it’s awful, but that lazy, droopy eye really freaks me out. I’m not sure I’m ready for him to headline a show.

So, CBS, take my advice: Your primetime landscape is already a bounty of riches. I understand the need to hedge costs and end some long-running programs in favor of cheaper, newer series. But, your network is already clogged with franchises. Between the three CSI’s and two NCIS’s, we do not need another franchise. Take a chance on some originality and let this pilot quietly go out the backdoor it came in from.

Best Moment: Blech. None.

Gayest show ever? You say that like it's a bad thing...

What a sweet little hour Ugly Betty was last night. In fact, this entire fourth season has been completely charming. After a bungled third season that saw a massive ratings decline, ABC effectively cut the show off at the knees by moving it from its cushy Thursdays-at-8 timeslot to the coffin known as Fridays-at-9. The show creatively rebounded, finding the heart and charm viewers remembered fondly from the first season, but ratings continued to landslide. A faint glimmer of hope was offered when the network moved the show to Wednesdays to close out it’s burgeoning comedy lineup, but the damage was already done; viewers just did not follow and ABC cut the episode order short and cancelled the show. One has to wonder if ABC isn’t kicking themselves as Betty’s replacement on Thursdays, the much-hyped FlashForward, has halted both creatively and ratings-wise.

But, back to last night, what an episode it was. We saw the return of Christopher Gorham’s adorable Henry Grubstick. We saw Hilda and Bobby finally marry. We saw Mr. Dunn come to New York to offer Betty her dream job, only in London. We saw Marc realize he actually can be a good person. We saw (I think) Daniel realize that (maybe) he’s in love (perhaps) with Betty. But, most importantly, we saw Justin finally come out.

I’m so glad we were given the opportunity to see this story line actualized before the series ended, and with such authenticity and grace. The scene between Betty and Justin at the wedding had me in tears and was, I think, some of young Mark Indelicato’s best work on the series. By the time he was offering Austin his hand to dance, I was sobbing. It was just fantastic. And how about Hilda and Ignacio’s hairbrained Surprise Coming Out Party?! Hysterical.

I expect more tears next week, as Betty finally decides to put herself first and takes up Mr. Dunn on her offer. I’ve enjoyed the walk down memory lane the show’s provided us with visits from Gio, Christina, and Henry. My only regret is that we weren’t granted one last visit from Rebecca Romijn’s Alexis, but there’s always the possibility of the next week’s finale, I suppose.

Best Moment: With more than a handful of heartfelt scenes last night, probably the lightest, most comedic moment came when Wilhelmina and Claire had a total Dynasty-Alexis-and-Krystle-in-the-pool rumble at the photo shoot. Hilarious.