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    Thursday, March 31, 2005

    TV: Eyes

    ABC’s sharp new series, set in a high-end detective agency, is a throwback to ’80s shows like L.A. LAW, where we follow several characters who are rich, somewhat amoral, and happy about both states of affairs. There are also elements of classic P.I. shows like THE ROCKFORD FILES, which makes a welcome change from all the procedurals currently on the air.

    Tim Daly (yes, the WINGS guy) is on fire as the slippery head of the firm, proving that my Operation Travolta theory also works on series TV. And kudos to the costume designer. At one point in last night’s premiere, Daly wore a pair of eyeglasses so cool that they knocked me out of the show. The side supports on the frames only went as far his temples. (My Macmillan Visual Dictionary tells me that those side supports are actually called ‘temples,’ so there you go.) All I know is I want those glasses, even if they cause severe headaches.

    EYES creator John McNamara is also responsible for the acclaimed series PROFIT and worked on the Bruce Campbell cult classic THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY JUNIOR. But for me the highlight of his résumé is the 1998 show VENGEANCE UNLIMITED. Michael Madsen starred as the mysterious Mr. Chapel, who every week put a complex plan into motion to deliver a comeuppance to a nefarious soul who badly deserved it. Mr. Chapel never asked for money from those he helped, only a future favor in giving some other bastard his just desserts.

    The writing on the show was clever and unexpectedly funny, and Madsen was ideal as the lead. ABC, in its wisdom, aired this dark and twisty series at 8PM opposite FRIENDS. When it failed to find an audience the network tried to make the show appear lighter in tone without actually changing it; a new title sequence set to a mock-Sinatra tune was added that included some throwaway footage of Madsen dancing. That brought to mind images of Madsen cutting a rug and an ear in RESERVOIR DOGS, which only made the show seem even darker.

    VENGEANCE UNLIMITED died a quick death, but I watched every episode. I’m still waiting for the show to come out on DVD. Considering the kind of dreck that’s been reborn on home video, I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

    Miscellaneous: Links

    The Onion A.V. Club offers Bad Scenes in Great Movies, and Great Scenes in Bad Movies. The latter list is more fun. It’s great to see someone else acknowledge the divine slapstick ballet that opens SUPERMAN 3, and to admit that at least parts of DEATH TO SMOOCHY are funny.


    I watched every episode of VENGEANCE UNLIMITED, too, but that wasn't hard since there weren't many of them.

    I liked EYES well enough, but I'm not sure I'm ready for another show with a continuing storyline. I'm already committed to DEADWOOD, and that might be enough. We'll see.

    Those glasses caught my attention, too. Looked mighty painful.


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