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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SEASON IN REVIEW: Dramas

Here is my rundown on the best of the new dramas this year. I'm saying a sad goodbye to a few of my favorites.

BEST NEW DRAMA SERIES
Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC) - Hands down my favorite new show of the 2010-2011 season and my favorite drama on the air this year, I'm so sad that it won't be returning even though the ratings didn't warrant it. Detroit 1-8-7 was a gritty classic cop drama set in a city with so many stories to tell. The show was raw and real, the cases were heartbreaking and interesting, the ensemble cast was stellar. Everything about this show was good TV. It wasn't as flashy as some crime dramas on the air but it didn't need to be and it had the perfect mix of intertwining the case or two of the week with the personal lives of the characters. For quality alone, it deserved a second season.


Runners-Up
The Event (NBC) - There are certainly flaws in this high concept sci-fi/political thriller but it was captivating nonetheless. The show had bumps along the way, it veered off course sometimes and stretched the limits of believability even in a genre like this. But it was still interesting - it had so many twists and turns and some characters really showed some growth through the series. I didn't always think it was exceptional quality but I certainly couldn't stop watching. It had a cliffhanger ending that made me sort of wish there was a season 2.
Lone Star (FOX) - It's hard to even remember this great new drama about a two-timing con man which was cancelled after its second episode on September 27. But what promise it had. With a plot unlike anything on network TV and an excellent production level, this had a chance to be an award-winning drama. But it debuted to terrible ratings and FOX gave it a quick hook. What a shame because it could have been something special. And it would be great to see those remaining four episodes.

BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A NEW DRAMA
Michael Imperioli, Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC) - As Detective Louis Fitch, Michael Imperioli created the most dynamic and interesting character in the 2010-2011 season. Fitch was a whiz in the questioning room and pretty tough on the beat but he had a personal life and past life that led a lot to be desired. From his antagonistic yet caring relationship with his rookie partner to his embarrassment about anything personal, he was a deeply complex character that the writers only scratched the surface with. Detroit 1-8-7 was a magnificent show and he was the best part of it.

Runners-Up
James Wolk, Lone Star (FOX) - It would be great to see where this character would have gone but as Bob Allen in the sadly short-lived drama, James Wolk was perfect. He was the perfect mix of charm and deception. He also was great showing the deep conflict in the life he had always known. This character really could have gone somewhere had FOX given it the chance.
Blair Underwood, The Event (FOX) - As President of the United States Elias Martinez, Blair Underwood was a perfect fit for the role. In the age of Obama, Underwood resembled him in many ways other than skin color. He was always a character I wished we had seen more in this large ensemble, but his role was pivotal in the story.

BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A NEW DRAMA
Kathy Bates, Harry's Law (NBC) - NBC's midseason legal drama was uneven throughout its 12 episode run but there was one constant through it all and that was Kathy Bates in the lead role as Harriet Korn. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that she is the reason it worked and the reason it's coming back for a second season. The times the show was weak was when she wasn't on screen. She was a commanding presence in every scene she was in, particularly in the courtroom. This drama has promise so hopefully the writers can work some things out so the weight doesn't fall completely on Bates' shoulders for the second season. Not that she's not up to the challenge.

Runners-Up
Laura Innes, The Event (NBC) - One of the most interesting characters in a complex web of characters on this show was Laura Innes' Sofia. As the leader of the terrestrials, she was originally an ally to the US, then an outcast among her own people, and then a powerful enemy to Earth. Sometimes the situations were absurd but Laura Innes gave a leveled performance that helped carry even the most ridiculous plot twists.
Kelli Giddish, Chase (NBC) - I had to find a place to give some love to an underrated drama from the season - the action show Chase about US Marshals. As US Marshal Annie Frost, Giddish did not win me over initially but she got better and better as the season went on and her character got some depth. She was tough as nails but occasionally let her guard down. This show really showed improvement over the season and could have worked great on CBS with all their procedurals.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A NEW DRAMA
Zeljko Ivanek, The Event (NBC) - As the steely eyed Director of National Intelligence Blake Sterling, Zeljko Ivanek's character underwent some of the more dramatic changes in this complex series. Originally a somewhat suspicious member of the president's team, he turned into one of the most heroic and a true ally to the good side's cause. He rarely showed flashes of high emotion but his serious demeanor and toughness won me over during the course of the season. I wasn't a fan of his early on but I was rooting for him by the end.

Runners-Up
James McDaniel, Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC) - As the veteran Sgt. Jesse Longford, cop show veteran James McDaniel was a pivotal piece of this excellent ensemble. He was tortured about his decision to retire and still had all his wits about him out on the job even though he was a little slower when chasing down the bad guys. He had a great relationship with his partner too. He was someone to root for.
Christopher McDonald, Harry's Law (NBC) - As the bombastic and egotistical attorney Tommy Jefferson, Christopher McDonald was the best part of Harry's Law this side of Kathy Bates. He was quite an oddball but yet somehow endearing and he had great chemistry with Kathy Bates. Let's hope he becomes a more regular character next season.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A NEW DRAMA
Taylor Cole, The Event (NBC) - Taylor Cole's Vicky Roberts probably went under the biggest transformation over the course of the season on The Event. She was originally half of a mysterious couple then a ruthless assassin and finally a confidante and the most valuable assistant to the show's protagonist Sean Walker (Jason Ritter). She had a back story that made her more understandable as she changed her ways when her family was threatened. Plus she was tough as nails and beautiful at the same time.

Runners-Up
Aisha Hinds, Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC) - As Detective Arianna Sanchez, a young hispanic cop from Detroit, Aisha Hinds was one of the many great members of this ensemble. She was tough on criminals and didn't take any crap from them yet she had a very vulnerable side seen in her relationship with Det. John Stone (DJ Cotrona) and her subsequent grieving over his death. I felt like we were just being to go deeper with her character and it's one of many reasons I wish the show was coming back.
Jeri Ryan, Body of Proof (ABC) - I wanted to give a little love to Body of Proof which was a good but not great addition to the drama lineup this season. As Dr. Kate Murphy, the boss of Dana Delany's main character, Jeri Ryan shows strong leadership. Her character hasn't been seen a ton but she seems like an interesting player who will hopefully be touched on more next season.

WORST NEW DRAMA SERIES
My Generation (ABC) - What can be said about the worst new show of the 2010-2011 season. ABC's documentary stinker was cancelled after two episodes which was two episodes too many. It took an interesting premise (revisiting high school classmates after ten years) and made it cliched, fakey, and terrible. There wasn't one thing to like in this show which tried too hard and completely squandered its intrigue. What a mess. I ripped this show apart in my initial review so look back there if you want to read more.

Runners-Up
Outlaw (NBC) - Poor Jimmy Smits. He was a bright spot on a very weak show. With an outlandish premise and lame courtroom drama, Outlaw was doomed from the start for many reasons. It was banished to a sleepy Friday timeslot and forgotten quickly. Sometimes when a premise seems too absurd (a Supreme Court justice giving up his chair to "change the Court"), the show just shouldn't be made.
The Cape (NBC) - NBC's comic book show just wasn't for me at all and I really can't comment on it as a comparison to other shows like it because I don't watch them. It was just too campy and not interesting enough to make up for the camp factor. Not for me and judging by the ratings, not for many.

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