TV Round Up – Lie To Me, Human Target, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Episodes, Chase, Off the Map, Harry’s Law

Lots of tv episodes to catch up on this week!

Lie To Me ended a brief 13 episode season with one of those annoying flashback episodes that far too many tv shows do these days. Begin with a shocking scene – in this case Gillian covered in blood – and then do a ‘two days earlier’ thing. The episode featured a Social Network-type plot, with internet nerds fighting amongst themselves and ultimately committing murder. The lead genius but socially inept character (and I know I’ve seen that actor in something else recently, also obnoxious I think..) was like Mark Zuckerberg as played by Jesse Eisenberg if a tad more homicidal!

Frankly the show has become almost a parody at times this season. Cal Lightman as played by Tim Roth used to be just eccentric, but Roth seems to be trying to out do his Hugh Laurie as the mean bastard character far too much, and often quite unnecessarily. In the earlier seasons the relationship with Gillian Foster was left nicely vague, but they’ve tinkered around with that a few times lately too.

The one aspect I do like his Cal’s relationship with is daughter, although like Rick Castle’s teenage daughter, she is far too witty, wise and perfect. The other supporting actors have been especially poorly served – pretty much background most of the time. While I still enjoy the show, (Particularly nice to see Annabeth Gish recently) the balance of the show is way off and in my opinion, Tim Roth should rein in his over the top performance (and cut down the cheeky cockney chappie accent!)

Human Target has been messed around in the schedules this season, which is a shame as I think it is a more consistent sow this year. This week’s episode had nice touches of humour as the team tried to help out a man married to a Russian spy! We also got a few hints about possible intrigue around the death of Ilsa’s husband. Human Target’s cast are working well together and the plots are amusingly diverting.

Spartacus:Gods of the Arena continued with the requisite sex and violence! Lucy Lawless got her kit off – AGAIN!  But then so did quite a few other characters. The episode featured a con game on a visiting bigwig who Batiatus wanted to help him get his foot on the ladder of the stadium. Gannicus, the current champion ended up having to shag his best friend’s wife to amuse the VIP while we saw Lucretia and Batiatus be almost sympathetic to their slaves awkward plight – something that didn’t seem to bother them a few years later as we saw in the original Blood and Sand series.

As always, John Hannah and Lucy Lawless hold the show together (I do worry for the 2nd season of Blood and Sand with no Hannah..) and Jaime Murray as the scheming Gaia is fun too. However, the show walks a fine line in terms of being just too much with the blood and boobs! It is also a problem of the format that we KNOW certain characters will not die, and the uncertainty over who might get a sword in the guts at any moment was one of the thrills of Blood and Sand.

Comedy series Episode had a pretty funny one this week, and I’m enjoying the series overall. Tamsin Greig can do no wrong for me, and Matt LeBlanc is pretty good fun too. The pair bickered throughout most of this week’s episode  (Tamsin Greg and Matt LeBlanc, there’s an unexpected comedy pairing!) before finding common ground over Matt’s love for his kids. However, it didn’t last as he threw up on Beverley’s shoulder, then brought in a girlfriend while spending the night in their guest room (The L Word’s Rachel Shelley!)

Chase has been one of my guilty pleasures this year. An all action Fugitive-type show that sees US Marshall Annie Frost, a tough girl who could outlast Jack Bauer chase cons on the run every week. The show is not subtle by any means, but the pace is usually pretty good and the fast moving story lines and action are entertaining. This week saw the second of a two part episode with Annie being kidnapped and taken to Mexico by a drug boss who blamed her for the killing of his wife. Annie took about 2 minutes to escape of course! The supporting cast is rather dull or poorly used unfortunately. I haven’t found Cole Hauser interesting in anything since Pitch Black. Jesse Metcalf will always be John the gardener from Desperate Housewives to me. Amoury Nolasco, the lovely Sucre on Prison Break and Rose Rollins, the equally lovely Tasha on the L Word are very under used. I don’t think the show is doing that well in the ratings, but I do like how ballsy and uncompromising Annie is – much tougher than most guys on tv right now.

I got round to watching the premiere of Off the Map the other day. I’ve never been into Grey’s Anatomy, but this young medics in the jungle series features a good cast. I’ve been waiting for Caroline Dhavernas to be a big star since Wonderfalls – but that was in 2004! She is a really appealing presence and it’s a mystery why she hasn’t been in much since. Mamie Gummer – Meryl Streep’s daughter – was a lot of fun on The Good Wife last season and clearly has inherited some talent along with the Streep pointy nose. Kiwi actor Martin Henderson, probably best know for The Ring is the hunky lead doctor at the jungle medical centre as the two girls and a spoilt brat young male doctor all arrive to ‘pad their resumes’ with some voluntary work. But of course, each of them has a dark and/or secret past they are trying to atone for. Formulaic stuff, but the presence of the wonderful Michael McKean guest starring helped to keen my interest and I will watch again.

Talking of formulaic, Harry’s Law is pretty manipultive highly unlikely legal nonsense. Kathy Bates looks uneasy tottering around as a non nonsense born again lawyer. This week she was doing her all to see the release of a wrongly convicted man. The good thing about the episode was the relationship between Harriet and the surly but ultimately good convict. No soppy stuff, but both character were trying to do the right thing. Nate Corddry’s storyline -carried over from last week about trying to help a Chinese girl he fancies was jsut silly and rather creepy! Christopher McDonald however is MUCH more fun as a self publicizing media whore lawyer. They should sign him up as a series regular as opposed to the stereotype villains with hearts of gold. It’s been a long time since I watched David E Kelley’s Ally McBeal and even longer since I actually enjoyed it, apparently if you liked Boston Legal, this has the same feel. I never watched Boston Legal and as much as I like Kathy Bates, I’m not sure how long I can stick this one out!