Random Premiere Week Thoughts (So Far)
Intriguing enough to warrant a follow-up, especially since I've read elsewhere that in the second episode the show raises its game considerably. Sure, maybe there are too many characters, but honestly, I kind of likes that--sitcoms tend to be warier than dramas of big ensemble casts, and a bigger cast might mean that the show will be able to avoid staleness, or recycling of bits, for much longer than the average sitcom. Lizzy Caplan (had to go to IMDB to remind myself of where I've seen her before - she was Nick's disco-loving girlfriend on Freaks and Geeks) was the standout for me - I liked her sardonic character, cynical yet still somehow very happy-seeming. And the romance between the suicidal red-head and Caplan's sister was sweet and unforced. Many have railed against the lameness of the girl whose prom boyfriend turned out to be gay being married to a stereotypical queen, but a) I thought the gag was pretty funny the first time at least, and b) how great would it be if the "gay" husband turned out to be effeminate, swishy, and as gay as can be culturally, while being very, very much a raging heterosexual sexually. that would be sweet.
How I Met Your Mother
Out of the gates roaring. Robin and Ted have convincing sexual chemistry as a couple, but more importantly a good natural feeling together as well--we believe them as natural mates. But the focus of the ep was Marshall's epic depression, and it was handled pretty wonderfully - naturally, honestly, and always with great humor. Ted's explosion at Marshall was just brilliantly played and written. And the George Clinton stuff? Pitch-perfect. All this and Barney delivering a great Tom Joad riff about scamming girls and getting a lap dance I'm surprised made its way past the sensors.
Loved it, but am more eager to see how subsequent episodes play out. Many have called Amanda Peet a weak link, criticizing her for playing the head of a network who seemingly just smiles all the time. I thought her performance was nicely subtle, the smile being the character's her way of projecting calm control to the higher-ups on such a disastrous first day. Watch it dissolve when she can't find her office to reveal the barest glimpse of the panic beneath, and you'll see a hint of the depth her character will display as we progress. (Or so I hope.) The religious stuff did feel a little forced, and I'm not sure that having the Hayes character actually regret going on the 700 Club worked--it felt pandering and smug. Hopefully, her character will be allowed to be a positive defender of Christianity as well. Whitford and Perry have great chemistry, though, and Perry was just great here - I can't wait to see him dig into some quintessential Sorkinese in weeks to come. And is it too early to give Judd Hirsch his Guest Star Emmy?