Well, okay, "given up" isn't entirely accurate. More like cut back - Lost has lost me once again, I broke up with Prison Break (with only lingering Dominic Purcell withdrawals), Smallville is back to sucking, and The 4400 is on hiatus. That left Supernatural, BSG, Grey's, House and Heroes on the drama front, with Monk and Psych wrapping up my Fridays. Still more TV than I've ever watched in my life (I kinda miss my high school days, when all I watched was seaQuest and Sliders, followed by the good old days of Buffy, Angel, Will & Grace and Queer as Folk exclusively), but I'm dealing with the jam-packed schedule. Mostly. I've resisted the pull of The Dresden Files and haven't started watching Bones again. I was doing so well.
So why the hell did I watch The Black Donnellys?
I hate Paul Haggis. Hate. (My mommy always told me not to hate, but in this case, it's justified.) His "nudge you with a sledgehammer" approach annoys me to no end. There are teen slasher fics with more subtle style. Yes, I enjoyed Crash - but I did so on the strength of the acting, of the cast... his script was a huge black mark, and if it weren't for the performances (and I mean all around, from Terrance Howard to Brendan Fraser) the film would've been a flop for me.
Bottom line - Haggis is a one-trick pony. A victim of Shyamalan's Sixth Sense disease. He lives for the twist, for the reveal, for the "gotcha" moment that he hopes will get a shocked gasp or a disbelieving head shake or a "Holy shit!". Everything he writes is leading up to such a moment.
Of course, The Black Donnellys proved no exception. When Joey Ice Cream revealed that he'd seen toddler-esque Tommy behind the wheel of the big bad Metallicar-wannabe that made a hobbit of Jimmy, I was only half-surprised. I knew there had to be a dark, shocking, life-changing twist, because it's Haggis, and that's what he does. The man undermines his own storytelling. Whatever ambitions he aims for, however fresh he wants the story to be, he loses the intended shock-value because his audience is expecting a shock. The first person who writes me a script entitled "Being Paul Haggis" - where the Act Three punchline has him shooting himself in the foot - gets a willing slave for life.
Nevertheless, I'll be watching again next week. Why, you ask?
Much like Crash, the cast just transcends the story. And it's not even the entire ensemble this time. I spent the first (commercial-free) half hour trying to keep the brothers straight in my head (wow - why did that bring to mind a Winchester joke?). It got better toward the end, but there still wasn't enough material to get a firm grasp on Kevin or Sean. But Jonathan Tucker (as the Donnelly brother with a good boy candy coating over a dark and haunted chewy center) and Olivia Wilde (as the neighborhood girl who loves him, despite trying not to) are made of awesome. They made me all sniffly and nostalgic for days of Everwood and my beloved Ephramy.
And here's a confession: I kinda like Joey Ice Cream's character. Reminds me of Max Casella circa Doogie Howser. Or, hell, Max Casella in anything.
Oh yeah - Heroes rocked the cashbah, locked the cashbox, and stopped the catbox last night. Papa Bennett for the win, y'all.