-- Castle has steadily improved since the somewhat cloying pilot. The characters are unfolding in interesting ways -- I totally buy Fillion as a good Dad. The clue paths are smarter than most of the crime shows on air (the elevator video and the Bluetooth for example). Just smart, smart series choices. A little heavy on the pop music openers, but that's me. Special shout-out to the costume designer.
-- No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: man, I could watch Jill Scott do that allll day long. I have a particular weakness for localized procedurals, and the fact it's shot in Botswana is amazing. Particularly like Anika Noni Rose.
-- Kings: Dead show walking. Well, shit. It's wildly uneven, but when it's good it's filthily good. One is tempted to blame the folks at NBC, who have literally decided that they will never be the number one network again, so "hey, instead let's become a glorified AM radio station". However, I'm willing to be irresponsible and generalize this fiasco out to indict Hollywood marketing's general cultural cluelessness.
If you watched the promos for Kings, what you saw was either a cryptic "butterfly" campaign, or more recently a series of ads focusing on the soap opera around a king's family -- very Dirty Sexy Money, with red-tinged shots of sexy beautiful people dancing in a club. What you have not seen is Ian McShane and Brian Cox acting a smoking hole through your television. What you have not seen promoted is the fact that this show is based on the biblical story of King David. God and faith are discusses reverently and seriously in every epsiode. And the "sexy" clips taken from the eps for promos are relentlessly cherry-picked. This thing is more sexless than almost every other drama on TV.
After years of the cultural Right bitching and moaning about how Hollywood doesn't provide for them, NBC could have gone to every evangelical church in America and said "We're serializing the story of King David in a modern, very relatable way. Here you go, a multi-million dollar series, in prime time, based on a Bible story. You're frikkin' welcome." But that sort of cultural outreach, guerilla marketing would never have occurred to most of us here in LA. Mock Fireproof all you want, they got the job done.
No, the guys who were probably two doors down from the "SyFy" geniuses came up with a campaign that brilliantly made sure no one who might like the show would even know what it was about. They took the most unique show premise on network television and did their damndest to make it look like every other show on television. Rock on.
-- " ... a bigger gun." Whew. Despite a dip in mid-second season, it now looks like Life becomes my American equivalent of the British Life on Mars. The meta-plot is unfolding beautifully, and you can't watch the last five minutes of the latest episode and tell me that isn't some of the finest TV directing (and DP-ing) being done right now. I mean, don't get me wrong -- the British LoM is 16 eps of perfect TV, as far as I'm concerned. But I'll go back and rewatch Life again, for its own sake.
-- Better Off Ted made a really subversive choice last week. The two female leads are Portia del Rossi's Dick Cheney-like Ice Queen and Andrea Anders as the free-spirited dreamer trapped in the soul-crushing corporate world. Using Ted's daughter as the lens, the show (I assume intentionally) implied that given the choice, an Ice Queen with a belief that a little girl should be empowered is a better role-model than a weak character who feels so trapped in her world that she rebels through childish misbehaviour and fantasies of escape. They took the Butterflies Are Free paradigm out into the alley and double-tapped it. Aces.
-- This poster is currently up on the board in the Leverage writers' room, and in my office at home. (grab it here, h/t Smarterware)
-- Skype is proving to be invaluable in coordinating with the Portland production office, but Google Voice makes me weak in the knees.
-- In the Comments, the book or series of books you think would make a great transition to TV. Miniseries/Brit format (6-8 hours) allowed.