#14: the earrings of madame de … (max ophüls, 1953)
music friday: bruce springsteen, “we take care of our own”

catching up: justified, house of lies, lost girl

Two new-to-the-USA series began this week, and since we hadn’t yet watched either of the first two episodes of the new Showtime series House of Lies, we made Tuesday into Catchup Night.

First up was Lost Girl, which began its run in the States on the SyFy channel (it’s in the middle of Season Two in Canada). It has “not for Steven” written all over it (it is, on the other hand, very much a Robin show), but it came highly recommended, and quality is the ultimate “for Steven” marker. Since it features a strong young woman in the lead role, and since it takes place in a contemporary setting with fantasy elements, it draws comparisons to Buffy. While I loved Buffy enough to teach a course on it at Cal, I’m less a genre fan than a Joss Whedon fan … I don’t watch any of the post-Buffy vampire shows outside of True Blood. Still, Lost Girl gets a fine performance from Anna Silk in the lead as a Succubus, and the first episode did a decent job of setting up the context for what will follow. I’ll be back for the next episode, although I’m already tired of Ksenia Solo’s turn as the sidekick (I can’t tell if it’s Solo or the part itself that bothers me).

Next was House of Lies. SyFy had put a parental warning at the start of Lost Girl, claiming nudity was forthcoming, and there may be some in the Canadian version, but all we saw was half a butt crack and a little side boob. So when House of Lies began with a Showtime warning, I told Robin that this being Showtime, we were pretty much guaranteed some real nudity. Little did I know … the very first shot of the very first scene of the very first episode of House of Lies was of Don Cheadle and Dawn Olivieri sprawled naked across a bed. Ah, Showtime, always willing to try something new, but also predictably certain to include lots of nekkid people. Cheadle is great, I laughed a few times, and while I was reminded of the 1999 series Action, which I liked quite a lot (and which was quickly cancelled), I couldn’t resist the feeling that House of Lies would end up being another comedy that I lost track of. For now, I’m there.

Justified really deserves its own post. Last season it grew enough for me to consider it one of the best shows around, and while the loss of Margo Martindale will hurt, there are plenty of other fascinating characters, and the dialogue is going to be great as usual. Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins are bringing it once again (Alan Sepinwall said, “Goggins and Timothy Olyphant have such chemistry at this point that I'm happy to just watch them shoot the breeze”). With some good shows having finished their seasons, and with some even better shows yet to begin their new seasons, Justified becomes the show I am currently most excited about watching each week (sorry, Shameless). Fans of the movie Out of Sight, or fans of Carla Gugino, or just people interested in the inspiration for my annual Karen Sisco award will want to watch next week, when Gugino makes a guest appearance as a marshal named “Karen”.