Yes- No- Yes: A Sampling of Summer

by Judi

Yes: The Philanthropist


Ok, NBC. You got me for now. Though I had my doubts on what this preachy rich-man-feels-guilty-gives-back drama was really going to give me, I was pleasantly surprised. Though far down on the list of the Best Pilots ever (not even on the list, in fact), this show is promising. Disconnected billionaire seeking connections, in rather unexpected places. I can just see the Craigslist ad now.

I’ll give you the rest of summer to improve, Teddy Rist, because there were many, many stupid things about your first episode (paging ghost of your dead son who leads you to the village so you can deliver the vaccine). But it’s summer and the pickings are slim anyway, so you win. For now.

No: Merlin


Lord. Why do all of NBC’s fantasy shows/movies look EXACTLY the same? That movie about Jason and the Argonauts or whatever it was called, the 10th Kingdom series… all of them have this same look to them. It’s very distracting. Anyway, I was bored after about ten minutes of viewing and I escaped into the bowels of my TiVo Suggested Picks instead. Merlin is homely and a bad actor, Giles from Buffy– ugh, I think I preferred you in those old coffee commercials.

Yes: Make It or Break It


Let’s just all admit the first point right now- gymnastics is the best part of the Summer Olympics. In agreement? Ok, if you agree, then keep reading. If you’ve started going on and on about swimming (boor-ring), then you can make yourself busy elsewhere.

I can usually take or leave ABC Family’s original programming (Greek- yes. Secret Life of An American Teenager aka from the creator of 7th Heaven whose idea of television programming has all the ingenuity and taste of Wonder Bread– no.) but I was totally sucked in by the promo for this one- “The girl they found on the playground?” Oh, hell yeah. Let’s go. Take a gaggle of tightly wound, teenaged gymnasts. Toss in Candace Cameron-Bure (who at first I thought looked amazing and then I thought she looked kind of cheap and now I can’t decide), a string of overbearing parents who are basically looking at said gymnasts with dollar signs in their eyes, obligatory kid in a wheelchair and Meg! from Sunset Beach! and you get… a shockingly entertaining family show.

Don’t get me wrong- there’s definitely a lot of trite cliches at work here. What’s refreshing is that the show takes SOME of those cliches and turns them on their head, which you’re not expecting at all (because this is a cable series. On the Family channel.) For example, Emily (poor girl with K-Mart unitard) has a trashy mother who forgets to pick her up from practice… but instead of going the usual Lifetime Movie route (Mom’s a selfish bitch, a drunk etc etc) we feel instant sympathy for Chloe (Meg! from Sunset Beach), who is also super tough and trying desperately to stay on top of everything so that her kids (including a wheelchair-bound son) get everything they need. And superstar Payson (what the hell kind of name is that?) is the most tightly wound kid in history. She’s also incredibly quiet and focused- she’s acutely aware of what’s riding on her and the fact that in this sport, you can blow years of training in just a few minutes. You just know this one is going to snap and it’s going to be awe-some.

Bottom line- kids are going to LOVE this show. And since I basically have the same taste as a fourteen-year-old girl organzing video tapes in the AV room, I loved it too.


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