tek's rating:

Bar Karma, on Current TV
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I should mention that apparently this is a show that anyone can contribute plot suggestions to, on the network's website. I'm not really sure exactly how that works. But anyway, the premise of the show reminds me very much of the short-lived series Nightmare Cafe. It's set in Bar Karma, a bar that seems to exist outside of space and time. Unlike Nightmare Cafe, the bar itself doesn't move around, but rather people who have reached an important crossroads in their lives may suddenly find themselves in the bar. When they go through a door, wherever they are in the world (or in time, whether past, present, or future), they show up in the bar, which of course is quite surprising for them. Especially since they already tend to have a lot on their minds, being very troubled by whatever's going on in their lives. Sometimes they try to leave the bar, which may bring them back to where they left, or the door may simply lead to a different door into the bar. The staff can also leave sometimes, and appear in the place and time the patron is from. And they tend to appear wearing whatever is appropriate to the time and place, though their own clothes will be restored when they return to the bar.

Anyway. There's a bartender named James, played by William Sanderson, who I always thought was kinda cool. Or whatever. And there's a waitress named Dayna. And in the first episode, we meet an internet mogul named Doug Jones, who's always been very lucky. But after sleeping with a woman one night, he wakes up to find she's been murdered, and the police want him for the crime. He then finds himself in Bar Karma, of which it turns out he is the new owner, having won the deed in a poker game. But he has to stay there, or risk being sent to jail for a crime he presumably didn't commit. There's some mystery surrounding that whole situation, which he'd like to figure out, but I'm not sure he ever will. There's also plenty of mystery surrounding the origins of both James and Dayna, and the nature of the bar itself. Hopefully some of those things will eventually be explained, and so far we have seen some interesting tidbits.

Um, so... the staff have to try and help the patrons make decisions about what path they'll take. There's a screen that shows events in their lives, generally possible futures, which tend not to be good. Then there's a deck of cards which James will lay out a few of, and on each one will be a video display of a possible future. There's also a globe in the office, which can be opened to display what looks like a holographic plasma ball or something. James can use it to explore different divergent timelines, to see the results of possible decisions the patron might make, consequences which may concern not only the patron, but possibly the whole world. And... there's probably other tools at their disposal, I dunno. But most of what the staff does is just talk to the patrons, try to learn more about their situation, and try to help them choose the right path, even if sometimes none of the possible outcomes seem particularly desirable. Of course, in spite of all the seemingly magical tools they have, even the staff (especially Doug) can only guess what the right thing to do is, and ultimately the decision is entirely in the hands of the patron. But until he or she makes a definite decision, they can't leave the bar (usually). I dunno, it's actually all sort of confusing, and the rules seem kind of... fluid.

Anyway... not quite sure what else to say. Considering Current TV is a fairly minor cable network, it's not surprising that the writing and production seem a bit unpolished. But the show's interesting enough to keep me watching each week, and it does seem like the mythology of the show may unfold along some interesting paths, over time. So... whatever. It's not great, but I like it. Kinda. And I feel like in time I might have rated it slightly higher than I did. Unfortunately, the show only lasted 12 episodes, and a lot was left unresolved.

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