‘God Friended Me’ Packs a Lot into Its Pilot, Including Some Flaws

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GOD FRIENDED ME: 1.01 “Pilot”

I’ve read a few reviews and tweets about God Friended Me, and they haven’t all been positive. I’ll get to their points, but I’ll go ahead and preface this post: As someone who was a fan of Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and Joan of Arcadia, the idea of someone getting some godly intervention, making them question their beliefs and their own sense of self, appeals to me. So with that in mind, a lot of God Friended Me hit the right notes in my book.

That said, the episode I watched yesterday was in no way what I expected. First of all—and please don’t judge me here—I somehow missed the boat that this was an hourlong show and thought it was supposed to be a half-hour sitcom (maybe it was the 8:30 time slot? Ok, ok, I really have no excuse). So already, the tone and overall feel of the show was very different than what I thought I was tuning into. Would it have worked better as a half-hour sitcom? I don’t know. I liked the show overall and what it tried to do, but it probably would’ve set itself apart from its spiritual predecessors if it was. But it’s not, so let’s move on.

The whole idea is that podcaster Miles is friended on Facebook by an account known as God. While this may seem strange for anyone, it’s especially odd for Miles, who is an atheist, despite his reverend father. Naturally, Miles thinks the God account is a hoax, but when it starts suggesting “friends” who need his help, he starts to realize there’s more to this account than meets the eye—whether it’s a hoax or not.

Now, the biggest complaint I’ve read about this show is in this premise. First and foremost, they argue that Millennials don’t use Facebook anymore. What’s more, the show tossed in so many Millennial key terms to make it seem relevant to the younger audience, it somehow came across forced and out of touch. As someone who is in her mid-30s, that didn’t quite bother me. I was able to gloss over it.

Instead, I focused on the God bit. And overall, it drew me in. Did it take on a lot? Sure. I felt like some of it was a little too easy. He saved the guy from the train. His new friend reunites with her estranged mother and becomes part of her new family—with a sister. He may not have smoothed things over with his father, but at least they’re spending time together again. And even in his podcast, he may not be a believer in a higher power, but he acknowledges that we should at least think about it.

Some of this feels like it should’ve been taken on over the course of the season. Sure, save the guy in one episode. Maybe baby steps with the mom. Maybe show up in the back of the church for the father, but stop once you see Miles walking away and hold the chess scene for a later episode. As for the podcast? I can’t imagine that Miles would have been that easy to admit that you should be asking questions when his entire platform is on atheism—and he’s so strongly confident in that viewpoint that he’s able to take on a rabbi in the opening scene.

But as far as setting up the show, I thought it did a solid job. Like I said, I’m a sucker for this kind of show. Has it been done before? Sure. But I’d still choose it and its attempts at creativity through episodic trials over the overdone procedural and hospital show any day. Plus, it’s got an entertaining cast, so I’d like to see where it goes.

Image by CBS

The Good Wife: The British Invasion

THE GOOD WIFE: 3.02 “The Death Zone”

With this Sunday’s episode of The Good Wife, the critically-adored show founds its footing for the third season.

Where the premiere’s court case took a backseat to establishing Alicia and Will’s continuing romance and setting up Cary and Eli within their new roles, this week’s case of a mountain climber sued in the British court of law for his libelous tell-all book brought something fresh to the procedural side of things. Namely, it brought guest star Eddie Izzard as a malicious British solicitor whose finesse keeps Will and Alicia on their game. Thankfully, Lockhart/Gardner has the co-counsel of a Scot who knows the British court system, a definite dark horse and the quiet hero of their victory.

Another strength of the episode was Kalinda’s involvement with Eli Gold, who hires her to find out more about a potential political client. While the P.I. does make a misstep along the way, Eli recognizes her strengths within the firm, and promises he’ll use her services again. For a first-time partnership, theirs showed definite promise. Kalinda had considerably more screen time this ep, and isn’t half the fun of her character waiting to see how fabulous she’ll look as she works her way to the truth? Thank you, writers and wardrobe department, for delivering on both fronts. (Seriously, did you see the fuschia shirtdress?)

And let’s not neglect Diane, who had much more material to work with this episode, trying to discover why Peter required an audit of Lockhart/Gardner before he’d hire them to handle the state’s civil cases. Not only did the senior partner gracefully navigate an awkward visit to Alicia’s apartment with the same skill that puts her ahead in the courtroom, but she seems to be onto Will’s involvement in a potential Alicia/Peter split. She makes him promise to fire Alicia if she’s found to be working against the firm, which will hopefully play off later this season. What’s that saying? If you introduce a gun in the first act, it’s got to go off by the third.

Top funnies of this episode included: Diane’s continued obsession with “Chinese walls” and Alicia going in for a hug with son Zach after he offers to do the dishes. Also, Mickey Gunn, the newly-introduced campaign manager with a Southern drawl. I was enamored with his casual attitude and his fantastic collection of socks. I think Mr. Gunn will be back – he was just too much fun for a one-off character.

Next week: House fans rejoice, Lisa Edelstein is in Chicago! In the first of a multi-episode arc, Lisa will be playing Celeste Serrano, an unconventional attorney and (dun dun dun) Will’s ex. I for one would tune in just for Dallas Roberts, returning as Alicia’s brother Owen.

It’s a wealth of riches, I tell you! I hope you’ll be tuning in with me.

Thursday Open Thread: Sheldon or Abed?

CBS announced its new fall schedule yesterday, and it sent the TV world all a twitter. CBS moved one of its biggest comedies–The Big Bang Theory–to Thursday night. The show will now be against one of my favorite shows (and one that’s growing across the TV landscape as one of the best comedies currently on TV), Community.

So here’s my question:

Are you on Team Sheldon or Team Abed?

It seems like an unusual question to ask, but read this blurb from one of the articles analyzing the change:

(The move, by the way, puts “BBT” directly opposite NBC’s “Community,” in a battle for comedy supremacy among TV’s two most Asperger-like characters who have yet to be diagnosed as having Asperger’s. I’m sure Sheldon and “BBT” will win that fight handily, but I am and will remain an Abed man.)

And if you’re wondering, so am I! If I had to choose, I’d choose Abed and the Community team all the way for my entertainment pleasure. But what about you? Do you have a preference? Are you going to toss some wonderful characters aside? Would you even choose at all and just do some awesome channel-flipping in commercial breaks?

Then again, maybe we’re just talking characters. Maybe if these guys were your buddies and not TV characters, you answer might be different. Maybe some of you would choose one for one thing, the other for something else. After all, I think Abed would certainly be my Mobile Shoutout on Cash Cab if a movie question came along, but if it were science related? Well, get me Sheldon.

So what do you think? Who would you choose–and for what? Let me know in the comments.

image from CNN

Thursday Open Thread: How would you fix NBC?

I have to say that growing up, I’ve been a big fan of NBC. Must-See TV Thursday nights were fantastic, and I even remember tuning in to some great comedy on Tuesdays as well. Plus, it aired Sisters, and any show that revealed that George Clooney was a hottie before ER gets mad points in my book.

Even if he did get blown up.

But anyway, nowadays, NBC doesn’t really have the best reputation. With the Leno/Conan controversy, the failing shows, and the crappy Olympics coverage, there’s only one thing to ask you great readers:

How would you fix NBC?

I guess the bigger question is, would you fix it, and if so how. But I’ll let you decide what you really want to answer.

Personally, I don’t want to see NBC fail. If CBS can make itself one of the top networks after being so miserable in the early ’90s, NBC can fix itself, too. I mean, if the Peacock disappeared, it’d be the end of an era. But maybe that’s something we need? Do we even need NBC anymore?

Suggestions, vents, and laments are welcome. So have at it in the comments.

On a side note, I find it ironic that this image has Patricia Arquette from Medium on it. Talk about your NBC errors. TGICBS, my friend. Thank goodness, it’s CBS.

*image from NewYorkTimes.com

The Good Wife: “Sometimes things are as they seem.”

CC finally found out what Peter did.

THE GOOD WIFE: 1.13 “Bad”

Mystery solved! We finally know what Peter allegedly did, and we didn’t need a stupid Munchkin (who was so noticeably absent, it was wonderful) to figure it out. Welcome back, Good Wife. I assume you saw it, but in case you missed, it Peter declined to prosecute cases, especially those having to do with shady real estate deals (remember who bought Alicia’s necklace) in exchange for favors. One of those favors was paying for his trysts with Amber, his hot call girl.

Peter’s appeal was certainly the most compelling part of the show. Here, we learned that Childs told one of his associates to keep an eye on Peter during a real estate task force. Interestingly, where Childs thought that cases were being dropped for shady reasons, he never bothered to pick them back up when he became state’s attorney. It also turns out that while Peter’s real estate contacts were paying Amber, Peter was paying her as well. For a call girl, she’s pretty smart. Double payment’s the way to go, especially if you’re sleeping with someone 30 years older than you.

In light of all this evidence, Peter presumably wins his appeal. Childs offers to argue for Peter’s release on humanitarian grounds. The conviction and disbarment would stand (so Peter can’t run again), but at least he’d be home with his family. Peter seemingly doesn’t want to take that deal, and next week, we’re getting a trial! And Kalinda’s going to testify against him.  Anyway, I thought it was strange that Peter didn’t bother telling Alicia any of this. One of the more interesting scenes this week was when Peter asked Alicia if she still loved him and that she’s talking like an attorney. Alicia responds with how hurt she is, and for now, they just need a plan.

Alicia’s plan for this week included lots of time with Josh Charles (which was delightful for me). Will and Alicia were representing Colin Sweeney who liked autoerotic asphyxiation and reminded me of the weirdos that were constantly on The Practice. He’d been found not guilty of murdering his wife but was facing a civil suit. The judge from this case was also the judge who signed all of the wiretap authorizations on The Wire, and I think he was on The Practice too. Apparently, if you’re a judge, you can move from Boston to Baltimore to Chicago without much difficulty.

Our friendly judge kept ruling in favor of some blonde innocent newbie who’d been in court three times before because she was cute. This infuriated Will because he’s competitive…which only makes him more attractive. This was pretty hilarious, actually. Anytime Sweeney brought up his sexual predilections, opposing counsel was so embarrassed, she had to sit down.

In the end, the missing body turned up in the stepdaughter’s farmland. She was arrested, and Sweeney was found not responsible for his wife’s death. As a gift, he gave Alicia a creepy strangulation manga. Isn’t he sweet?

Not sweet, was the whole Diane subplot, wherein someone she defended in a drug case continually threatens her upon release. The threats force Diane to purchase a gun, but it makes her think that dogs are menacing ex-cons so, in the end, she returns it. Honestly, we didn’t need see this, even if it provided some character insight. I’m way more interested in Peter’s trial. But my question is this: how long can the writers delay Peter’s release? It seems we’ve had three episodes already in which Alicia’s had to grapple with Peter coming home. I would hope that he stays in prison longer so that Alicia can have a love interest (maybe Will?). Anyway, next week looks like it’s going to be good, and I’ll be here to recap.

Catching Up on ‘The Good Wife’

THE GOODWIFE: 1.11 “Infamy”
THE GOOD WIFE: 1.12 “Painkiller”

All right guys, I’m back from the incessant travel, and I’ve finally caught up on The Good Wife.  Before I start, I think we should all acknowledge Julianna Marguiles’ big win on Sunday?  What did everyone think? Does she deserve the Golden Globe?  I have to say, I’ve been impressed with her performance on this show, but I was really thinking January Jones deserved it.

In the first case, a TV host (much like male Nancy Grace) was accused of slander and effectively causing a woman’s suicide.  Will slept with opposing counsel, and this broke my heart.  Because of the judge’s ridiculousness, they ended up losing.  Alicia was half-on this case, and half on a divorce case.  Turns out Peter’s replacement’s wife wants a divorce, and she wants Alicia to handle it.  During the course of the negotiations, Alicia learns about wire taps, photos, etc. that Childs had on his laptop.  At the end of the episode,  it’s revealed on this talk show that Diane may be a closet lesbian.  She laughs nervously, and it’s unclear whether it’s true.  What does everyone think? And how does everyone feel about the fact that Josh Charles cheated on me?

Infamy was a much better episode than Painkiller.  I liked that we finally figured out who was sending photos of Peter with the prositutes, and we didn’t need Munchkin’s appearance in order to do so.  In Painkiller, a 17-year old died from an oxycodone overdose.  The doctor works for the hospital, which is the firm’s client, and Alicia is assigned to his case. Unfortunately, he wrote the prescription from his house, meaning the hospital was no longer liable.  Alicia, naturally, decides to represent the doctor anyway.  During the course of the investigation, it turns out that the mother was buying oxy from a dealer, and her kid took the wrong dosage…I could not see that coming.

On the home front, Alicia hires a new nanny from Northwestern.  She lets Munchkin hang out with a 16 year-old with the door closed. Of course, he starts making out with her and they probably did other stuff too.  Grace and Munchkin don’t like her, but there’s not much that they can do because Gran’s in the hospital.  I thought this was really ridiculous.  First of all, anyone applying to be a nanny with a psych background isn’t going to tell kids they’re oversexed.  Second, would anyone really hire a nanny four years older than your teenaged kids?

Anyway, in the end, the nanny was fired. Gran’s out of the hospital and comes back to babysit the kids.  Kalinda goes to work for Peter and Childs (to get the tapes).  We’ll see what happens tonight, and I promise I’ll tell you within the week.  Until then!

HIMYM: Vanilla Thunder’s my new nickname

CC’s stepping up to the HIMYM plate this week.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: 5.10 “The Window”

Let me begin by saying, I love Joanna Garcia. I thought she was great on Gossip Girl, and I think that Privileged was the most underrated (and prematurely cancelled) show of last season. So when the Joanna Garcia window opened, I was pretty excited for Ted, despite it being pretty obvious from the outset that he wouldn’t be ending up with her in the long-term. I was hoping, though, that it would last longer than one episode.

Maggie’s the ultimate girl next door. She went to college with Ted, Marshall, and Lily and was always a serial monogamist. Ted recounts that he waited a month for her to get over a breakup, but someone snapped her up. Then, he waited a week…an hour, etc, but she always in long-term relationships. He makes a pact with Maggie’s neighbor to call him when she became free so that he wouldn’t have to wait at all. Of course, he forgets that he has to teach a class…which wasn’t really about architecture at all so much as Maggie.

The set-up to the episode wasn’t that great, and I felt like it could’ve been funnier; they also could’ve given Joanna Garcia more to do here. However, the lengths that Ted’s friends go to in order to prevent Maggie from meeting other men was pretty amusing. I especially enjoyed Robin staving off Maggie’s coworker (Jamie Kaler from My Boys) by throwing herself at him, betting everyone that she had the goods to keep him away from Maggie. I am curious, though…last episode, Robin met a coanchor when she was “focusing on her career” and cursed Marshall/Ted. I wish the writers had let us know what happened with that.

Marshall and Lily were also integral in keeping Maggie away from other dudes, even as she used the bathroom…and also keeping her entertained until Ted’s return. The source of said entertainment was a letter 15-year old Marshall had written to 30 year-old Marshall. I don’t know about everyone else, but I want a nickname as awesome as Vanilla Thunder. What nickname could be better?

Of course, it wouldn’t be an episode of HIMYM without some shenanigans out of Barney. Barney bets everyone that he can get a girl to sleep with him while he’s wearing Marshall’s overalls, and he won’t take them off until he gets laid. He had a glimmer of hope for a little while, when Maggie complimented his overalls, but ends up with her elderly neighbor when Maggie finds her soul mate. And Maggie did find her soul mate. It wasn’t Ted, her coworker or Barney’s overalls, but a childhood neighbor. The window’s closed for Ted, but we’re pretty sure another one will happen. When that will be is the question…

The Good Wife: “You don’t know the lengths I would go to protect my family”

THE GOOD WIFE: 3.09 “Threesome”

My question to everyone is this: Do that many people really watch Chelsea Handler? And would a Chicago State Attorney sleeping with a call girl constitute national news such that the prostitute would get a book deal? I think not, but in any case, we finally met Peter’s hooker and she’s in love with him. Because really, who’s not in love with Mr. Big?

Peter’s prostitute signed a book deal and was making the talk show rounds, thereby embarrassing Alicia. For some reason, she also took it upon herself to call Alicia at work. Angry about this woman’s violation of her privacy, Alicia tells Peter that he needs to make it stop so he threatens his call girl with information about another client of hers. And yet, that doesn’t stop her from tracking Alicia down in a parking lot. See, the hooker thought that Peter loved her (especially because she was willing to have a threesome and Alicia wasn’t), but alas, he just wants to get out of prison and back to married life.

This week, we also saw Munchkin’s (apparently his name is Zack, but until he proves that he can act, I’m sticking with Munchkin) grandmother throw out evidence that Peter is actually innocent of most charges…not that we have any idea what those charges are. I’m hoping that this will be the end of that storyline, especially now that Alicia’s been told her husband’s innocent. It’s been driving me crazy.

Also crazy is Jonah Stern, founding partner of Alicia’s law firm. This week, Alicia had to get him off a DUI charge and deal with his craziness.  It turns out he wasn’t drunk, but rather, has dementia. I actually thought this was a pretty good case, not because it was surprising that Jonah was ill. However, he provided some much needed comic relief to an otherwise drama-filled episode.

The big twist at the end of the episode is that Jonah’s going to take a couple clients and start a new law firm, despite the fact that he’s a shadow of what he once was, legally. Jonah asks that Alicia join him, but she refuses. What did people make of Alicia’s refusal to jump ship? Do you think it has something to do with loyalty to Will? Or that Jonah’s diminished mental capacity will mean that the firm will never get off the ground, and she can’t take that kind of risk? I understand both reasons, but it’s not as if her current job is guaranteed for longer than a few months (not that she’s going to be the one to lose her job). Why not take a risk?

Okay, fine, Alicia took a risk by making out with her husband at the end of the episode. It’s no threesome (they’re everywhere on TV nowadays), but it’ll do in a pinch. Jonah tells Alicia that her husband’s innocent, but he’ll probably never get out of jail no matter how many appeals that she files. I really want to know what he’s been convicted of doing. Can we have some answers here, please? The Good Wife’s on hiatus for a little while so we won’t be getting any answers soon.

The Good Wife: Don’t trust people in politics.

THE GOOD WIFE: 1.08 “Unprepared”

Chicago’s tough. As ER taught us, people get shot all the time, crazy people stab you in a trauma room, and sometimes chemicals spill. People then have to prosecute perpetrators of that craziness, and frankly, they’re way slimier…at least that’s what we learned last week. Luckily, Julianna Margulies has shed her pink scrubs for power suits to play Alicia Florrick.

The title of this episode was fitting. Not only was Alicia unprepared for the prospect of her husband coming home, but she also had a client unprepared to testify in her own defense. The client was a professor accused of setting fire to her lab because her stem cell research wasn’t going so well. In order to make it look like some fringe group had ordered the attacks, she (or someone?) printed a whole bunch of fake hate letters.

Will and Diane decided to have two hungry, competitive associates prep the witnesses. Naturally, that pitted Cary and Alicia against one another and put them in the same room. Sadly, we were without Francine this week, but I digress. Cary was a little too hard on the witnesses when playing prosecutor, but that allowed him to expose holes in one witness’s story. Turns out, he was secretly in love with the client and destroyed her research so that she’d stay and reciprocate her feelings. I actually kind of liked this week’s case and the work Alicia/Cary did, at least more than the cases the past few weeks. Sometimes this show tries to present legal cases that tug at your heart strings; this one didn’t, and the lack of sentimentality was much appreciated.

What was not appreciated is the continuation of the Detective Munchkin Florrick storyline. Someone dropped video coverage of Peter’s meeting with the big, bad real estate developer in front of Alicia’s door. Determined to figure out if the video was strategically edited/who planted it, Munchkin (I really have no clue what his name is) uses an ipod with a video camera to capture our evil FedEx guy in the act of delivery. Unfortunately, when you hide your camera in a plant, any movement can jostle the ipod so we only saw that it’s a tall man. Could be anyone, right? Does anyone have any guesses?

Anyway, I’m getting a little sick of the little kid and his attempts to exonerate his dad. I thought it was more interesting that the two kids have opposing reactions to their father’s impending return, although I think it’d be less expected if Alicia’s son were angry and her daughter was trying to clear his name. Gender lines aside, the turmoil the kids feel is certainly more believable than one of them taking surveillance footage. And wouldn’t the building be able to tell them who’s been entering and exiting the premises?

The best part of last week’s episode was definitely Peter’s appeal. The lawyers initially believed that Alicia wouldn’t have to testify at the appeal, but the state’s attorney had a vested interest in seeing Peter return to jail. Just like her client, Alicia was unprepared to give testimony. More importantly, it didn’t seem like she was particularly prepared to have her husband home. She didn’t know where he’d sleep, and if she even wanted him there. Seeing her grapple with these conflicting feelings was pretty compelling, and I wished the writers had explored this more. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Peter come home. One of the assistant state attorneys had a brief (but benign) conversation with Peter and later used it to say that Peter had tried to bribe him so that he’d remain in jail…which he did. Interestingly, I’m still not sure Peter did to get himself in jail in the first place. And yet, I’m sure Alicia’s little kid will be the first one to let us know.

The Good Wife: Everything’s about the Constitution

CC catches us up on The Good Wife.

THE GOOD WIFE: 1.06 “Conjugal”
THE GOOD WIFE: 1.07 “Unorthodox”

Two weeks ago, I can’t remember anything exciting happening on The Good Wife other than Peter and Alicia having a conjugal visit. Of course, the previews made it seem like “holding hands” meant that they were going to get it on. But no, they slept in separate beds. The only reason a conjugal visit was necessary was because they needed a place to talk that didn’t involve a video camera or a transcript. I thought that episode was sort of slow. The case was interesting because Alicia and company managed to get a falsely accused inmate off death row, but little else of interest happened…except that Francine from Gilmore Girls now appears to be a regular.

This week, however, we had a lot more good stuff. First, the firm is doing layoffs, and everyone fears for their job. Will tells Alicia that she needs to impress Stern (the other partner that we never see) by being second chair his daughter’s civil suit so that she can be retained over Cary. Apparently, Stern’s daughter had an eruv wire outside her house that fell, and it was unable to be repaired due to the Sabbath. Alicia’s paired up with outside counsel, Ryan Alprin, who chooses to argue that Anna and her husband’s religion prevented them from making repairs. And it turns out, that said argument may have worked until it turned out that Anna wasn’t so estranged from her dad after all. She used her cell phone to call him on the Sabbath! Luckily, Alicia and Kalinda discover that the plaintiff colluded with someone at the security company to make the wire come down.

Despite laying off a bunch of attorneys, Will decides that the firm should hire Alprin and asks Kalinda to run a background check. That search yields the surprising result that Alprin’s not actually an attorney. He flunked the bar, which is tough. Since they’re about to win, Alicia makes a surprising decision (at least to Kalinda)—she’s going to make Alprin rest the defense, take a walk around the building so that they can win before she reports him to the judge. This is too bad because there was some serious flirting action going on between them. Meanwhile, Will proposes that he and Diane make moves to oust Stern from the firm to save them from laying off so many attorneys. Diane doesn’t like that idea, mainly because Stern usually votes her way at board meetings, and she needs his alliance, especially with hiring decisions. Could this mean that Alicia’s going to be out of a job? No…I really doubt it, but I’m sure the Cary vs. Alicia decision will be coming soon, and I’m going to bet someone that both are retained.

It wouldn’t be an episode of The Good Wife without some home drama which bordered on absurd this week. Alicia’s son last noticed that photos of his father smoking crack with a prostitute were photoshopped. Naturally, he decides to find the prostitute so that he can talk to her, get her to admit that it was fake, and obviously reveal her true identity. Keep dreaming, kid. Seriously. Naturally, he finds her picture online, calls it and charges it to his grandmother’s credit card, only to find out that the lady on the phone isn’t the lady in the picture. Clearly, he’s never been on match.com. Anyway, Jackie finds out and Alicia has a conniption fit on her kid because he shouldn’t be calling prostitutes.

I did feel sort of bad for her son, who’s so memorable that I can’t remember his name. He didn’t feel that he can tell his mother that he’s on a one man mission to exonerate her husband. Next week, it looks like Alicia will be testifying for Peter. I’m actually interested in seeing this, more than I have been these past couple weeks.  The Peter/Alicia conflict and the economic battles of the firm are certainly better viewing than the cases lately.   However, I’d be even more psyched if Alexis Bledel became a cast member (wishful thinking here…I am not reporting rumors) so that we could have a Rory/Logan reunion. ‘Til Tuesday!