Friday, March 19, 2010

Notes on Pop Culture: 'FlashForward' Retooled, 'Nurse Jackie'/'US Tara' Return and 'Wimpy Kid' Flick Premieres

*Warning, spoilers ahead from the latest episode of FlashForward.*

FlashForward Retooled

I wasn't among the FlashForward haters per say, but by the time ABC late last year decided to put FlashForward on hiatus until mid-March, I wasn't sure what that meant for the sci-fi drama's future. New creative folks were brought on board and I wondered if it was the beginning of the end for a show with a promising premise but which didn't consistently deliver and frequently got caught up in intrigue and complexity at the expense of character development.

I watched the two-hour FlashForward return last night -- while checking in on the NCAA tourney games, go underdogs! -- and was pleased by what I saw: Interesting people, thoughtful connections and more depth when it came to the characters. Plus a whole lot of answers. We were told who the guy in the baseball park was who remained awake during the blackout and why (some mysterious ring). We found out more about the flashforwards of Mark Benford, Simon "Charlie from Lost" Campos and Lloyd Simcoe. We learned that Simon's not as evil as he may seem but was instead being played by a sinister uncle who worked for a nameless, faceless sinister boss.

We saw the introduction of a group called Sanctuary -- run by a former window washer who didn't die on the day of the blackout because he believes he was saved by God (Gil Bellows from Ally McBeal) -- and we learned that perhaps Nicole Kirby (who plays Jane Sterling on Mad Men) didn't really see herself being murdered in her flashforward, drowned and punished for something, but maybe she was freaking out during a full body baptism. And that penny wall thing . . . cannot forget the penny wall being created by Nicole's mother, who lit a Bible on fire and wears angel wings over her bathrobe.

If the rest of the season is this intriguing, I'll be there.

Showtime's Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara Return on Monday

I completely bought Edie Falco as an ER nurse Jackie Peyton during the first season of Nurse Jackie. Fierce, strong, compassionate, smart, unfaithful and addicted to pain meds, Falco's former persona of Carmela Soprano quickly fell by the wayside as the episodes unfolded.

By the time the season one finale concluded, her lover Eddie had been fired from the hospital and found out that Jackie was married and had kids, visited Jackie's husband Kevin's bar and then made a drunken scene at the hospital. Plus Jackie had been experiencing adverse reactions to the copious amounts of illegally obtained meds she was consuming. (Paging Dr. House.) My guess is that we haven't heard the last from Eddie or Jackie's drug issues.

Airing after Nurse Jackie is the season two premiere of the United States of Tara, featuring the Emmy-winning Toni Collette playing Tara Gregson, a woman struggling with multiple personalities she can't control. The first season ended with her coming face to face with the person who sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager. This season starts with Tara having been alternate-personality-free for months.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie Premieres

My three kids are thrilled about the fact that a movie based on one of their favorite book series -- Diary of a Wimpy Kid -- is being released today.

Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+ and called it, "a jaunty and forthright production with a lively look reflecting the book’s illustrated pages, [the movie] does a great job of being in two places at once: In the head and gangly bodies of kids, and in the hearts of those of us who have survived grades 6-8."

However a Boston Globe movie reviewer gave it one-and-a-half stars (out of four), saying that the film makes the main character, Greg Hefley, an unlikeable jerk: "In his quest for instant fame, our hero treats his friend like dirt, trash-talks the school’s perfectly reasonable alt-girl (Chloë Moretz), ditches a group of kindergartners in a construction pit in the rain (and blames it on [best friend] Rowley), and otherwise behaves like a little Hun."

Wonder who's right?

Image credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC.

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