Thanks to a lot of excellent series on cable, it did not feel like a long summer at all. In fact, I was genuinely shocked to realize it is now September — and time for new fall series already!
Welcome back, GOSSIP GIRL. It certainly was a long, hot summer in the Hamptons, playground to New York’s elite, and hunting ground for Nate and Chuck Bass, who apparently availed themselves of every available (and, in the case of Nate, unavailable) female on Long Island. The storylines took a while to get rolling while viewers were caught up on where everyone is. Luckily, there was plenty of eye candy to distract everyone. Yes, the already impossibly good-looking cast somehow managed to get even more impossibly attractive. When Blake Lively‘s Serena was unsubtlely dressed as a Greek goddess, it didn’t seem like bragging. And onlyLeighton Meester‘s Blair could stand beside her and make you ignore Serena. She’s almost pretty enough to make you believe that scion evil, Chuck Bass, really would show up to greet her with a bouquet of roses. But c’mon — he’s Chuck Bass…supervillain! No way he goes all doe-eyed and weak in the knees over a frail — no matter how gorgeous she is. Skipping out on Blair in the season finale? That’sChuck Bass. Mooning over Blair in the fall premiere? That’s not the Chuck Bass I got to know over the course of last season. And what’s Blair’s damage? Apparently she thinks she can tame him and turn him into the man he should be. Not likely. He’s Lex Luthor and “B” is queen of the B’s — as in bitches. My hope is the Chuck/Blair affair goes south in some monumentally painful way that turns them both back to the dark side.
It cannot be a coincidence that Nate’s cougar looks an awful lot like Serena. And Dan still has the worst timing — whether it’s Serena and Nate’s PDA leaving him Pretty Damn Angry or having two of his good-time gals show up at the same party. He can’t catch a break; but maybe he doesn’t deserve one at this point. Little J seems to have done her penance in a sweatshop and earned redemption with the now-together Eric. What would Gossip Girl say?
I’ll tell you what I have to say about ONE TREE HILL: It really overdosed on the fantasy sequences…and exposition. The dialogue has always been clunky, but here the storytelling dragged, too. The big problem with too many dreams-within-dreams is that the viewer can never relax and accept the story — because it might be another attempt at “Gotcha!” plotting. When crazy Nanny Carrie reared her ugly (okay, undeniably pretty) head, who didn’t think Dan was having a crash-induced hallucination? This Misery-inspired plotline seems poised to inspire misery in fans, because there is no rooting interest. Are we supposed to be pulling for the brother-killer or the kid-napper? Dan won’t die, and the nanny won’t fly away on her umbrella.
It was no dream that Lucas settled on Peyton — especially since the show seemed to spend all last season setting up Lucas/Peyton as this one true love story. As a convert who only drank the Kool-Aid at the beginning of last season, I don’t have the baggage of the previous four years — Peyton appears to be Lucas’ Great Love from high school, and Brooke seemed to be a mere dalliance. But veteran viewers like my colleague Mala inform me that Brooke and Lucas really were in love, and casually tossing her aside is wrong. Lindsey sure seemed to be a serious relationship, but as Michaela McManus was cast as the new ADA on LAW & ORDER: SVU, I knew Lucas wasn’t going to get hitched to Lindsey. Not that he got hitched to anyone, by the way. He and Peyton spend the episode making goo-goo eyes at each other instead of actually tying the knot — which doesn’t bode well. The next opportunity for nuptials doesn’t arise until November. (I guess Jamie can dance the reception, unveiling the routine he’s polishing to accompany Flo Rida‘s “In the Ayer.”)
And, finally, farewell to THE MIDDLEMAN, which wrapped up its run with a … middling (sorry) story of an alternate reality where everything that is good and noble about our world is twisted and evil. There were some entertaining shout-outs to the cult movie Escape From New York, but eventually the references got so thick (Officer Van Cleef, Carpenter Rd., 1997) that they drowned out the shout-out to two classics — the film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension (the Oscillation Overthruster; the seashell-shaped warp generator), and the STAR TREK episode featuring the Mirror Universe Trek (the goatees and sword through the Fatboy logo). It began to weigh down the story. The best part was Matt Keeslar‘s interpretation of Snake Plissken as a Middleman. From the eyepatch to the wild hairdo, big gun to his growling dialogue, Keeslar did a heck of a Kurt Russellimpression. And Noser and Lacey and the crew (except Pip) all looked cooler. Why is it everyone always looks so much sexier in evil parallel dimensions? Apparently meglomaniacal dictators make it their business to dole out copious amounts of leather and cosmetics instead of food.
But will ABC Family dish out another season of MIDDLEMAN? Stay tuned…