Monday, September 26, 2005

new televison show: Surface - episodes 1 & 2

7 pm Central, NBC

Yet another aliens-among-us television series, Surface debuted last week with three separate stories of encounters with mysterious unknowns from the ocean.

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A deep-sea diving submersible surveys a part of the ocean where matter bubbles up from the earth's crust. Dr. Laura Daughtery (Lake Bell), the attractive and divorced marine biologist helms the craft and catches glimpses of something swimming outside that her handlers on the surface don't see. The craft goes into a turmoil and loses power. Later, back on land, the government takes over control of the data. They know something is up and are very hush hush about it.

At the same time, roughly, a couple of brothers head out to a oil rig for some deep sea diving and spear fishing. The spy a really large grouper and hide in the shadows for it to swim by. Instead, something massive and fast bears down on them. They duck out of its way by hiding in the oil rig superstructure. The younger brother, out for his for first time, naively spears the creature and is dragged down to the depths, out of site, with green lights appearing as he disappeared. You just know he's magically going to reappear later on. Does this remind anyone of Mulder's sister being taken away in his prescense, when he was a young man?

Finally, a group of kids are out water skiing at night. One of them, Miles Bennett (Carter Jenkins) has an encounter with something in the water. It's mysterious and small. The next night, they sneak back and discover a collection of what appears to be eggs. They bring one back, store it in the family aquarium and hide the resulting growing creature as it breaks out of the glass enclosure and hides in the bathroom.

In episode two, the survivng brother, (Rich Connelly - Jay R. Ferguson) from the diving accident travels to a beach to see some mysterious whale that has become beached. He's quite certain it's the same type of creature that took away his brother. Our stubborn marine biologist also shows up. Eventually, the two hook up in one unlikely scene.

The government officials and scientists begin to examine the deceased creature. It looks like a cross between a dinosaur and a marine iguana. They begin laser drilling into its open jaws when an explosion happens, disfiguring one of the scientists. At the hospital, he nears death and surprise, surprise, crawls out of bed without a scratch on him. Hours earlier, he had lost part of his face.

Our adolescent kids manage to feed creature while keeping it a secret from everyone else. It escapes from it's cooler home in the pool side change room, and runs amok in the pool during hottie teenage sister Savannah's (Leighton Meester) bikini party, causing panic as people mistake it for a rat. Towards the end of the show, the kids realize that it needs to eat live food and they summarily dump live gold fish into the water filled bathtub. Nimmy, short for Nimrod, the creature's name, coos and rolls around like a content sea otter, utilizing both front paws to grasp his gold prey. He emits some green light and all seems well.

This show has virtually no one you can really root for. Dr. Daughtery has little character and appeal. The good ole boy brother Rich has some single-minded intensity that makes his a bit more interesting. The two young boys are annoying and I kept waiting for Nimmy to sink his teeth into one of their hands during Pavlovian conditioning feeding time (with a bell.) Nimmy is just too unrealistically cute when the kids should really be terrified of it.

I believe the writers are trying a little too hard to please a wide demographic. There's the massive ocean-going monstronsity and its cousins sighted around the world and then there's the cudley, Ewok-esque future Christmas toy for the kiddies. Croation actor and all around scowling, bearded Eastern European kingpin Rade Serbedzija shows up as a scientist (Dr. Aleksander Cirko) for the government. He has incredible screen prescence, and it is a surprise to see him sign on for this mediocre series. Time will tell if Surface amounts to much, but so far hasn't given us much to look forward to.

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