Wonderland
Pilot

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Still Crazy After Just One Hour

Still morning, and time to check in at the hospital. Wife-Beater does a bit of yoga -- and "Namaste" to you, too. (The credits are still rolling. Method Man is a guest star. Very hip, very now.) Oh, hell -- more jump cuts: weight-distressed woman still holding hand over mouth; male half of fornicating couple enjoying a post-orgasm cry in the mirror; woman kicking scale (bad, bad scale!) under bed; older guy gazing fondly at still-sleeping children, who, based on the last sixty seconds, can evidently doze through anything. Weight-distressed woman is pregnant; we see her in full now, and her swollen belly provides sudden insight into her scale-induced tantrum.

Moments into the show, this "drop the viewer into the middle of the action, as though we've all been watching for weeks" is fast becoming tedious. Yes, it conveys motion (and I'm getting sickness). Yes, it subtly puts us in the disoriented position of our the characters, breaking that pesky fourth wall and inviting us to participate, not just spectate; to feel, not just to watch. And, yes, it's a most annoying plot device: one-element, 2-D personality-building masquerading as edgy, "make them think" subtle character introduction. Ack. To clear things up: older guy is Dr. Robert "Bobby" Banger (Ted Levine, beloved by millions as the flesh-dressed serial killer from Silence of the Lambs). Pregnant lady is Dr. Lyla Garrity (married to Dr. Neil Harrison, who we met in Group, and played by feisty Michelle Forbes, from Kalifornia and Homicide, Life on the Street). Libido boy is Dr. Abe Matthews (puffy-haired Billy Burke, from nothing noteworthy).

More morning shots -- parallels between home and hospital. Guns? Hospital only. Tooth-brushing? Both places. Orange juice? Both places. Placing pieces of food individually on one's fork before eating? Hospital only. Pancakes? Home only. So different, yet so much alike. (And still more credits. Oh, good gravy, the theme song is by Madonna and William Orbit. Is Peter Berg doing penance for past indiscretions?)

We're in Dr. Bobby's kitchen, as he grills his two sons on the importance of discipline (or, the reason that Coach Parcells is a genius). Kid One interprets discipline as "When you have to go to your room for a time out," or "When you have to sit on your bed." Dad doesn't agree, but it sounds okay to me. Wait, isn't that the youngest kid from Malcolm in the Middle? Are there not enough child actors to go around these days? And what's with the dye job? Kid Two, bypassing the discipline debate altogether, whips out the non sequitur and announces, "I want one ear bigger then the other." Referring, we now see, to the Mickey Mouse pancake Daddy is gamely creating. Big kiss, corporate parent! Talk of big ears, more talk of Bill Parcells (I smell a manly sports fan); it's family time. The phone rings -- the estranged wife calling to discuss schedules. She: "Listen, I'm running fifteen minutes late. Can you please have the kids downstairs waiting for me?" Dr. Bobby: "Good morning." She: "Is that a yes, Robert?" Dr. Bobby: "Yes." She: Click. She's abrupt. She's icy. She must be a working mother.

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Wonderland

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