Sometimes things occur that make me laugh. Like the fact that my two new favourite TV shows are called Haunted and House.
Haunted premiered on Ten tonight with the pilot followed by the second ep. I caught the ads for Haunted over the last week and it certainly looked intriguing. I have to say that I am very much over the amount of crime driven TV that we have, but I do look out for the odd gem in all of that rough.
Haunted stars Matthew Fox; you perhaps know him as 'Jack' in Lost. The show began on UPN in 2002 with the lead in of some other popular show... it's name escapes me. Oh! That's right, it was called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sadly it didn't pick up the audiences to guarantee longevity and was canned after 13 eps.
A good way to get me to watch an ep of a new show is to have a supernatural twist, then give me good characters in a well written plot. Add to the mix great cinematography and direction and I'll be hooked for sure. Haunted oozes atmosphere and tension. It made me jump several times, and that I really enjoy. It's not pschological terror tension like Millenium was, more along the lines of The Sixth Sense.
Matthew Fox's character, Frank Taylor, is an ex-cop-PI who is on the case of an abducted child and is forced to kill the suspect to save himself. The event nearly kills him and he is obviously scarred by it. This experience opens up Frank’s ability to ‘see dead people’.
It is dealt with far differently than what we normally come to expect from ‘beyond the grave’ assisted TV shows. He doesn’t see flashes of the victims in their moment of death - Millenium or Profiler; there’s no helpful ghosty who he becomes pals with - Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased); Frank has no psychic ability to speak of - Medium; and there’s no aliens, demons, or monsters – The X Files, Buffy, Angel (and so many others).
The ghosts in Haunted appear to be poltergeists as well as the general see-through variety. There’s lots of ‘moving’ items, voices and noises. In the second ep tonight the bloody hands banging on glass doors and windows was unnerving.
It’s tense. I applaud any show that can make me jump several times an hour; with two eps every week, that’s a lot of jumping! This is the sort of intensity I was hoping Lost was going to be able to sustain, but hasn’t really managed to find.
I’ll be tuning in next week to see what else is install for Frank. If you are afraid to watch when it’s on so late, set a tape and watch during the day!
My other favourite new show is the most bizarre medical drama I’ve seen. Its title character is possibly one of the most un-likable men on TV. I would say in most other shows he’d be the doctor that is called in when there’s no other choice because everyone hates being around him.
Placing House as the central character makes the whole show take on a unique attitude. The writing is very snappy and the wit is sharp. The characters were three dimensional from the pilot episode so they can already draw on emotion and conflict.
The medical side of the show is slick and the actors deftly deal with the verbal vomit that comes with this sort of show. The visuals of drugs working and ailments are in the style of CSI, and a little gross at times. I can’t stand watching anyone have a Lumbar Puncture, even if it’s simulated. It just makes me squirm at the pain.
I think it’s the unique addition of comedy that makes this program stand out against the others. Laughing is part of life, and I think that that is what most medical dramas lack. They focus on the intense drama so much that it becomes routine. I need a variety of emotion to give me reason to allow a show to take me to those extremes. They’ve taken a leaf out of Buffy’s book by allowing the characters room for humour. If I can laugh with a character I’m more willing to cry with them.
House is abrasive, honest and rather unconventional. It doesn’t appear to be afraid of throwing issues around nor making the difficulties of their roles trivial. I don’t envy the pressure that lies with anyone in the medical field, and House is a good reinforcement of that.