Pat Clark

Clark: A somewhat 'Unusuals' situation to be in

Gabe Harding (Shoshone) of Shurez, Nevada participates in the grand entry into the quad area during the fourth annual Modesto Junior College Pow Wow in 2002. The Native American Powwow returns to MJC this weekend. (Adrian Mendoza / The Modesto Bee)
Gabe Harding (Shoshone) of Shurez, Nevada participates in the grand entry into the quad area during the fourth annual Modesto Junior College Pow Wow in 2002. The Native American Powwow returns to MJC this weekend. (Adrian Mendoza / The Modesto Bee)

I had a disturbing thought while reaching for the remote control late last Wednesday evening as I prepared to watch the première episode of "The Unusuals" on ABC:

"I am going to really hate this show and I really don't want to hate this show."

Why the fear and dread? Because Jeremy Renner is a star of the new cop procedural dramedy and Jeremy Renner is from Modesto. Because if I hate the show, I have to write that I hate the show. Because if there's any chance I have to do something I don't want to do, chances are extremely high that I will have to do it.

It's not that I'm Jeremy Renner's personal media cheerleader and have to love everything the Beyer High graduate does. But it's a lot more pleasant to write positive things about local people than negative ones.

This is an entertainment section, after all. We like things to be entertaining.

Still, we can't be biased for or against the local folks. Nor can we pretend a big network show starring a kid from good old Modesto doesn't exist just to avoid penning the unpleasant.

So I sat down with my remote control, resigned that "The Unusuals" would be horrible.

Surprise, surprise, it was pretty darn good.

Not great -- I'm not predicting Emmys or anything -- but good.

Pretty darn good.

And, to my relief, Renner's character is likable and he's likable in it.

Crisis averted.

The show is meant to be a quirky take on the basic cop procedural and it's got a solid cast helping make that happen. One of my all-time-

favorite quirky character actors, Adam Goldberg -- whose name you may or may not recognize but whose face you almost certainly would -- is the quirkiest of them all as a man who is medically ignoring his recently diagnosed brain tumor while professionally putting himself in grave danger as an early out.

That doesn't sound funny, but it kind of is, in a gallows humor way. And Goldberg is bitter/funny in pretty much everything he does.

Renner quite adeptly carries the deadpan for the hour and is the most grounded character of the crew. The show's "name" star is Amber Tamblyn. She's kind of the weak link, though, since the idea of her being a gritty cop-type seems too tough a sell for her to pull off.

So far, that is.

Apparently, 10 episodes of the show were filmed and are expected to all be aired in this replacement season Wednesday night spot ("The Unusuals" replaces the recently departed "Life on Mars," which I am still deeply bitter about losing, so let's not go there). That means the show has a chance at going from pretty darn good to pretty darn great as it settles into itself and into what it wants to be.

Or, it will fall victim to viewer apathy and will be cancelled like the engaging and well-crafted "Life on Mars" and too many other great shows you people refuse to watch. (Oops. I guess I went there).

Elsewhere around the Scene:

Need a little culture? Modesto Junior College brings back its annual Native American Powwow this weekend. The colorful and energetic event features cultural booths with American Indian jewelry, arts and crafts, paintings and beadwork, along with music, dancing and drumming and food for sale from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the MJC campus quad,

435 College Ave. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 575-6700.

Maybe you'd rather rock your weekend Off The Air? If so, check out the "Stephen King of Indie-Pop," Chris Robley & The Fear of Heights, tonight at Deva Cafe in Modesto. The Off the Air Presents show features Robley and his band as they tour in support of their new album, "Movie Theatre Haiku." The show is at

8 p.m. today at Deva, 1202 J St. Tickets are $5.

Don't worry if you can't make that show -- Robley and band also will play at The Partisan in Merced on April 21 at 8 p.m.

If you're feeling groovy, you might enjoy the urban, Latin and funk jazz sounds at the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge on Wednesday.

Travis Vega & Friends help kick off the Central Valley Music Group's indoor Smooth and Urban Jazz series with a show at the Fat Cat, 930 11th St., Modesto. Guitarist Vega will be joined by Levi Huffman, Earl Evans and Ed Saunders of the Valley Rhythm Section along with Blue & Beige featuring Marty Martinez. The Joe Barretta Band opens the show. Tickets are $10 at www.tickets.com or 877-237-8013; doors open 6 p.m., music starts 7 p.m.

Finally, if the spirit moves, head over to see Christian rock group Superchick on Thursday at Mill Creek Church, 147 Auto Center Court in Modesto. Superchick's "Hey Hey Tour" also features Tal & Acacia and Rachel Hockett. The 7 p.m. show is sponsored by Generation New Hope and tickets are $10. Call 918-7388.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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