From Fredfa's "Hot Off The Press" thread:Critic's Notes3 high-quality series worth keeping
By Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle
You might have guessed that the television business is impatient, twitchy and insecure, and forever looking at numbers to spin and people to hook up to measuring devices. It's a crazy place. They need hits. As an afterthought, they also need quality. When they look at their shows, sometimes they can't quite figure out what to do with them. It's complicated.
So let's make this easy: Dear Fox, TNT and ABC. Please renew "Lie to Me," "Trust Me" and "Life on Mars."
These are high-quality shows. They are entertaining. Better yet, from a critical standpoint, they are meeting their potential - trending up, if you will. All of this despite your current or near-future tinkering.
-- "Lie to Me" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox but shifts to 8 p.m. on March 4. Let's hope the fans figure that out.
-- "Trust Me" follows cable's most popular series, "The Closer," and there's a gigantic drop-off of viewers from there, making the meager numbers of "Trust Me" all the more glaring. But those shows are not compatible. It's a programming mistake; this series needs to be nurtured in the appropriate spot, not penalized for failing to hold onto viewers from TNT's highest-rated show.
-- "Life on Mars" had a nearly two-month gap between its seventh and eighth episodes - and when it came back it was on a different night.No need to play the blame game. But these shows are worth keeping. And here's why:Fox's "Lie to Me"
focuses on Cal Lightman (the superb Tim Roth) as the foremost authority on using science to figure out when someone is lying (based on the work of psychologist Paul Ekman of UCSF). With the potential to be Fox's next "House," this is a procedural that transcends the limits of the genre. The series has had compelling story arcs and is slowly developing not only the tics of Roth's Lightman - whose obsessive brilliance fuels the series - but also the supporting cast. By using actual science to indicate what the facial expressions and body language of people say about them, "Lie to Me" is infinitely more interesting than CBS' "The Mentalist," and the series deftly uses photos of real people (celebrities, politicians, etc.) to show how their often infamous tics are identical to those people in the fictional plot of "Lie to Me." It's a neat trick and, combined with Roth's wonderful portrayal and the emerging backstories of the other characters, has kept "Lie to Me" improving from week to week. Note to Alex Rodriguez: Don't be surprised if you pop up here. By the way, ratings for this series are good, but Fox might be waiting to see what it can do leading into "American Idol" on March 4, instead of out of it - a far tougher task.TNT's "Trust Me," 10 p.m. Mondays,
manages to be funny, charming and serious within the confines of one hour - a rarity for any show. The series stars Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace") and Tom Cavanagh ("Ed") as best friends and rising creative partners at a Chicago advertising firm. When McCormack's steady Mason character becomes creative director, thanks to a timely heart attack that hits the previous creative director, it puts a slight strain on his relationship with Cavanagh's impetuous Conner, who is the copywriter on the team. Both a workplace drama and an expansive take on friendship, "Trust Me" has played on the magnetic charm of both actors. But the series has surprised with strong writing that fuels interesting plots and welcome depth to the cast.
Both Monica Potter as the uptight but talented Sarah - another copywriter - and Griffin Dunne as Tony, the boss of the department, are standouts. Other characters in the firm are also beginning to get fleshed out, adding to the storytelling elements of "Trust Me." But the core element here is that McCormack and Cavanagh are entertaining and engaging. Of the three series, this one might be in the most danger. Here's hoping TNT gets sold on it.ABC's "Life on Mars," 10 p.m., Wednesdays,
has already overcome a number of hurdles, so it would be nice to assume the show is lucky or blessed or both - but it's on a network that matches its bold ambition with a quick hook. The first success of the series was managing to not mar the reputation of the British original it was based on while keeping its spirit in subsequent episodes. The premise is tricky: A detective in New York City circa 2008 gets hit by a car and wakes up in New York City circa 1973. Is he dead? Is he dreaming in a coma? Actual time travel? It's the core mystery - but the series works cases every week from the precinct in 1973, making it a procedural new fans can join late.
Jason O'Mara is riveting as Sam Tyler, the detective gone back in time. Harvey Keitel is his hard-as-nails, ethically challenged boss, Gene Hunt. And Michael Imperioli plays a shifty fellow detective, Ray Carling, with aplomb and a full-on '70s mustache. The cast is rounded out by Gretchen Mol as Annie, trying to make it as a female cop in an era not ready for her, and Jonathan Murphy as Chris, the somewhat naive younger detective. It's a stellar ensemble that inhabits a cool, retro New York City and going about business to the beat of one of television's best soundtracks. It's a quirky show coming into its own. The only thing "Life on Mars" needs from ABC is more life.http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...DDFA15TOUF.DTL