Pasadena. Home of the Rose Bowl Parade, or what is probably by now called "The eBay Rose Bowl Parade" or "The Prudential Rose Bowl Parade, Brought to You by Kodak and Pepsi." The place where a little old lady terrorizes Colorado Boulevard in her shiny red Superstock Dodge. The rather unremarkable suburb of Los Angeles where a lot of entertainment industry events take place. No, not Burbank. The other one. Pasadena. It also happens to be the setting for one of the darkest, edgiest dramas to hit television this year.
And that drama would be Six Feet Under. But now there's this new show, Pasadena, one that strives to add even more darkness and edginess to our understanding of this heretofore unacknowledged 'burb. Who knew that Pasadena had such untapped reservoirs of strangeness? Certainly not the residents, who have described on the forums how incredibly dull the place is.
And the setting isn't the only similarity to SFU. In the place of Alan Ball, mastermind behind the edgy, mainstream film hit American Beauty, we get Mike White, mastermind behind the edgy, indie film hit Chuck and Buck. And instead of indulging Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates with an occasional role as a guest director, we get Oscar-winning actress Diane Keaton. And instead of a show that's been written up and analyzed all over the place, we get about seventy-five words in Entertainment Weekly's fall preview. It's an injustice! Reba got more press, for crying out loud.
As the premiere opens, Diane wastes no time yanking out the camera tricks. A teenage girl, wearing a black beret-like hat that gives her an unfortunate resemblance to Monica Lewinsky, walks down a flight of stairs, surrounded by dozens of cameras and reporters. Our point of view is through the various cameras recording her descent, so the shots are getting jostled around from being in the middle of the action. Dude, get off my foot! Those reporters from Channel 7 are so pushy.
We get a voice-over, as the girl at the center of attention introduces herself as Lily Greeley McAllister. Her narration is all over this episode (though I hear it trails off in later episodes), so I'll take a page from the My So-Called Life recaps and abbreviate future voice-overs with the designation "LVO." As Lily makes her way toward a car, which inexplicably seems to be parked in the middle of the foyer of the building, she LVOs, "I'm a Greeley of the Pasadena Greeleys. We Greeleys are an interesting family. In Pasadena, we were the family. People idolized us. Or they demonized us. But no one really knew us. We were a mystery." She gets in the car; it drives out of the building, leaving the reporters behind. Lily continues to VO that since the family's recent scandals have become public, they've been on the news and in all the tabloids. A cut outside the building reveals that she was in City Hall. Wow, the Greeleys must really be powerful if the were allowed to park inside the building. Did they have to drive down the steps to get out? LVO concludes the scene as the car drives off, saying that everybody thinks they understand her family, but she knows the real truth, which is supposedly something completely different. She promises to tell us all what really happened as she stares outside the car window, drawn to something happening off-frame that we don't get to see. And given the ratings for the premiere, I don't suggest holding your breath waiting for that mystery to be revealed.