Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let's talk about something else...

Believe it or not, when this blog started I never intended it to be exclusively about Georgia football. It was originally supposed to be a place for me to talk about ALL the stuff I am into, the stuff that I was spending hours on end talking about every day with my friends and family. But I ended up not having nearly as much time to write as I did when the blog first began, and a weekly football game was a good reminder that it was time to post something again, so every post ends up being about the Dawgs.

But right now, it's not fun for me to talk about the current state of the Dawgs (or, more specifically, the current state of DawgNation), and this blog is supposed to be fun for me (and hopefully for you, too).

So, let's turn our attention to something else I love to talk about...television. I am a self-confessed television junkie. In fact, if I had it to do all over I might have tried to become a real television critic. I watch way too much. How I manage to fit in all of the television I watch and also help my kids with their homework, handle my duties around the house, teach a Sunday School class, etc. is a mystery to me. Obviously, a lot of the credit (blame?) goes to the invention of the DVR, but it also helps that my wife is as big a junkie as I am, so a lot of our "bonding" time goes on while we are enjoying watching and commenting on television shows. We like to "actively" watch (comment/criticize, try to come up with where we know actors from, etc) rather than just sit there staring at the screen, so it's actually a nice way for us to spend some time alone together.

Anyway...the fall TV season is upon us. Here's what we are watching:


Returning shows:

Mad Men (AMC): I know, it's over halfway through the season now, so it probably doesn't count as "returning". But I had to mention it, because it has been my favorite season of my current favorite show on television. The episode from two weeks ago, titled "The Suitcase", is probably one of the best hours of television I have ever seen, and the best part about it was how it paid off character development that has been going on since the very first episode the show ever aired. The Don/Peggy dynamic is the heart of the show, in my opinion, and this episode used everything we have ever learned about those two characters, plus an acting master class put on by both Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss, to deliver an absolutely perfect episode.

If you're not watching this show, I don't know what else to tell you. Go. Now. To Netflix, or wherever, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

The Amazing Race (CBS): Yeah, I'm still in. I've been hooked for about six years, why stop now?

New Show I Am Extremely Excited About:

Boardwalk Empire (HBO): Let's see...it's a based-on-a-true-story show about Prohibition-era Atlantic City, airing on HBO, starring Steve Buscemi, written and created by Terrence Winters (who was basically the #2 guy on The Sopranos writing staff), with executive producer Martin Scorsese.

So...yeah. I think this show might have been written specifically for me.

The premiere was Sunday night (if you missed it, I'm sure HBO is airing it about 7500 times on their various channels this week), and it did not disappoint. As always, it's hard to judge how good a show is going to be based solely on the pilot...this was the only episode so far that Scorsese actually directed, and it felt a lot like a 70-minute Scorsese movie rather than the first episode of a TV series. But the characters that were introduced are intriguing, the cast is magnificent (it's FILLED with some great "Hey, it's That Guy!" guys), the world they have created is gorgeous and authentic, and the writing staff has a great track record. I'm in.


Yeah, now it starts getting a little more crowded...

Returning Shows:

Chuck (NBC): Love, love, love this show, and it's a shame it's not being watched by more people. If you aren't already watching, you may as well wait for this season to be over and then watch the whole thing on DVD, because barring a miracle this will be the last season.

The writing is smart and funny (with TONS of pop-culture references for geeks my age), the entire ensemble cast is extremely talented and entertaining (plus, Yvonne Strahovski). I will miss these guys next year.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS): Hopefully they will rebound from what was a pretty disastrous last season. The writers have basically spent the entire press tour admitting that last year was really really awful, and they are going to try to get back to what made the show good in the first place. The season premiere was last night, and let's just say it left me cautiously optimistic.

New Shows That Intrigue Me:

Lone Star (Fox): Interesting concept (con man living a double life who decides to try and live the life without the con), good cast (Adrianne Palicki from Friday Night Lights, Jon Voight, David Keith). Like a lot of the previews I've seen, I'm worried that there won't be enough "story" to make an actual long-running series, but I'm interested enough to tune in and see where it goes.

Hawaii 5-0 (CBS): Mainly for THIS, of course. But also in hopes that a cast that includes Scott Caan (who I have been a fan of since his epic turn as Tweeder in Varsity Blues), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin from LOST), and Grace Park (Boomer from Battlestar Galactica) will be enough to overcome the black hole of sucktitude created by Alex O'Laughlin. We'll see.

New Show I am Fully Prepared to be Massively Disappointed By:

The Event (NBC): Much like people used the term "The Next Michael Jordan" to describe every big, talented, athletic shooting guard that entered the NBA after 1990, this is around the 6th or 7th attempt by a network to create "The Next LOST" in the last five years. Let's see...there was The Nine, Six Degrees, FlashForward, V...I know I'm missing several others.

The creators of The Event appear to be making the same mistake that all of these predecessors have made...they think it's about the "mystery", when really LOST (as fully demonstrated by the finale episode) was about the characters who just happened to be in a mysterious setting. After watching the premiere of The Event last night, this looks like another case of a lot of sizzle, but no steak.

Go back and watch the LOST pilot...maybe the best pilot I have ever seen. And at the end of it, I had no INKLING of all of the super cool elements that were going to be introduced in the next six seasons...I was just looking forward to seeing more about these interesting characters we had just met and how they were going to try and get off the Island. Sure, we were introduced to The Monster, but it was secondary to the community that we were watching interact with each other.

After last night's premiere of The Event, I know little to nothing about the characters, and even less about this stupid "EVENT" everybody keeps referencing. There is a difference between being in the dark WITH the characters, and feeling kept in the dark BY the characters. So far, The Event feels a lot more like the latter.

Returning show you're not allowed to tell anybody I watch:

Hoarders (A&E): I have no idea why, but this show is a constant source of fascination for me. Plus, it always motivates me to do some sort of cleaning around the house, so that's always good.


Returning show:

Glee (Fox): As I've stated before, I was a performing arts geek in high school, so these are very familiar characters for me. I wouldn't call this a "great" show...there are too many continuity and logic issues with the writing, and too often the plots seem to be in place only to drive the song that is coming up, rather than the songs being driven by the plot. But the vocal performances are outstanding, the staging of the musical numbers is terrific, and there are some really good acting performances going on (Jane Lynch, of course, but also Mike O'Malley, Chris Colfer, and several others).

And I can't begin to tell you how excited I am that we are supposedly getting a lot more of my girl Brittany this season: "Did you know dolphins are just gay sharks?"

New Shows I am Trying Out, But With a Very Short Leash:

Raising Hope (Fox): From Greg Garcia, the creator of My Name is Earl. I enjoyed that show for about half a season, before the "Hey, aren't Redneck White Trash folks hilarious" humor got kind of old. This looks to be along the same lines, but with a cast that I am not as confident in (no Jason Lee, Jaime Pressly, or Ethan Suplee), so I don't know if I'll even last that long.

Running Wilde (Fox): The second half of the 9:00 Fox comedy hour, this one SHOULD be really good: from the creators of Arrested Development, starring the hilarious Will Arnett and one of my longtime crushes, Keri Russell. But every critic I trust who has seen the pilot and the next episode say that, against all odds, it's just not funny. I'm going to give it a shot, because I trust the people involved.

By the way, no matter how good these two shows are, expect them to stick around for a while, with the ratings juggernaut that is Glee as their lead-in.

No Ordinary Family (ABC): Looks like a live-action version of The Incredibles. I liked The Incredibles. Maybe I will like this.

New show I am trying to figure out if I'm going to watch:

Detroit 187 (ABC): I liked the initial concept, which was more of a documentary-style show that aimed to focus more on the cops than the cases (kind of a hybrid of Cops and Southland). But the network ditched the documentary concept (both because they felt it had been done before and some issues with the city of Detroit allowing the filming), and it is supposedly now just a typical cop show. I would be more excited if they kept the original concept, but it still interests me because it is shot on location in Detroit and it stars Michael Imperioli...so I think I'm going to try it out.


Returning Shows:

Modern Family (ABC): Deserves every accolade it has received, including the Emmy for Best Comedy. "People are going to stare, Mitchell...they're not used to seeing only one clown in a car".

Survivor (CBS): This one is actually pretty new for me, although it is obviously not a new show. In the past it has always been on Thursdays, which (as we're about to find out) meant that it was getting squeezed out by everything else I was watching. I did watch a good bit of the last two seasons, as I wanted to see what all the hype was about this Russell character (who I hated for so many reasons it would take another whole post to list). This season has Jimmy Johnson on it (the football coach, not the boring NASCAR driver), and of course it is an iconic show as far as television history is concerned, so I figure I will give it a shot. After one episode, I really don't like the Old vs. Young concept, and Jimmy is already annoying...so this one may not last long for me.

Cougar Town (ABC): Another one that is new for me, even though it is not a new show. Like many, I was turned off by the name and also by the fact that the first couple of episodes weren't funny. Like, at all. But supposedly the show got better as the season went along, so I'm going to give it a shot.

New Show I am Already Watching and Loving:

Terriers (FX): FX really has a hot streak going right now as far as developing new shows, especially dramas: Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Damages, Sons of Anarchy (which, to my eternal shame, I am still not watching), Justified...that's a pretty impressive little hot streak, even if Rescue Me has diminished in quality to the point where I gave up on it a couple of seasons ago.

Terriers does absolutely nothing to diminish that string of success. The cast is really good (including a typically great performance from Donal Logue, one of the great That Guys of our time), the writing is wonderfully snarky and dark, and the plot does a nice job of combining an interesting serialized arc with "Case of the Week" stories that don't feel as procedural as they really are.

New Show I Will Be Watching only Because it's J.J. Abrams:

Undercovers (NBC): I'm only watching because it's J.J. Abrams.

O.K....here is where it gets a little embarrassing...

THURSDAY (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Smoking Wreckage of My DVR):

Returning Shows:

Big Bang Theory (CBS): Great old school, laugh-track comedy, with an ensemble cast that started out as good and has just gotten better. Jim Parsons is obviously the breakout star, but the writers and actors have done a really good job finding the right niche for all of the characters, and they do a pretty good job walking the line between laughing WITH the characters vs. laughing AT them.

Community (NBC): Another great ensemble show, and I can't tell you anything about it that you can't discover for yourself by watching THIS.

Yes, I meant go watch it now. I'll wait.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC): Fine, go ahead...get all the name-calling out of your system. Want my Man Card? Sorry, gave that up back when we were discussing Tuesdays.

You know how golfers talk about how you can spend an entire day hacking around a golf course, but then you hit that one perfect shot and that's what keeps you coming back? That's what this show is like for me. I spend about 85-90% of the time infuriating my wife by constantly pausing the show and telling her exactly WHY the writing is so ridiculously awful and contrived, but then every once in a while they will break out an episode like last season's finale, which was one of the very best episodes of television I watched last year...and that's why I keep watching. Because I would hate to miss one of the weeks when they manage to knock it out of the park, because when this show is good it's fantastic.

The Office (NBC): I'm watching out of habit as much as anything else right now. I hate how they have written Jim and Pam's characters for most of the past two seasons. Andy and Kelly are the only characters that I consistently laugh at (though I do love Erin, the new receptionist).

This is Steve Carell's last season, but surprisingly they are going to continue on after he leaves. I'm hoping that this season of change will re-energize the writers, because I feel like they have been in a pretty lazy funk for the last couple of seasons (Michael is borderline retarded, Dwight says something weird, Jim/Pam are obnoxiously full of themselves, lather/rinse/repeat).

Fringe (Fox): If any show deserves the "Next LOST" trophy, it's this one. Fitting, since J.J. Abrams is one of the creative minds behind this one, too. This is a sci-fi show that understands that we have to have characters that we care about and relate to, or it doesn't matter how cool the genre stuff is.

Over the first season and a half, the show had a tendency to ignore the "Big Picture" story for too long (sort of how I remember X Files being, though I was never a huge fan), and the "Case of the Week" episodes, while interesting, didn't do enough to move the story along.

But the last half of last season was, for lack of a better word, AWESOME. The whole Alt-universe concept was very well conceived and brilliantly executed, and the end of the season left us with a whole slew of possibilities as far as the story line goes. I can't wait.

The Mentalist (CBS): This one is not a must-watch for me...it's one that we often build up 3-4 episodes of and then bang them all out at once. I'm usually not a big fan of the CBS procedurals, but Simon Baker makes this one worth watching, as does the underused and underappreciated Tim Kang as Cho...he cracks me up at least once a week.

Parks and Recreation (NBC): Wait...what? Parks and Rec isn't coming back until mid season?!? NBC decided to bump their best comedy for an insultingly gross and unfunny "comedy" made up entirely of "Hey, people from India are WEIRD!" jokes?

Is it any wonder that network is tanking?


Ummm....Blue Bloods, maybe? That's the new Tom Selleck thing. Other than that, Friday night is its typical fall wasteland.

Oh, and IFC is replaying Freaks and Geeks on Fridays...that was a show that I missed that I always kicked myself for missing, and I can see why everybody still raves about it.


All football, all the time.

This is also usually when I catch up on a lot of stuff that I missed during the week...thank goodness for DVR.

OK....so that's it. I feel like I just went through a confessional or something. That is a TON of TV, and I didn't even include the stupid reality stuff on cable that always seems to somehow incapacitate my remote and remove its ability to change the channel.

Now, it's your turn...what are some of the shows that you are most looking forward to this fall? Do you want to give my mother a heart attack by suggesting even MORE shows that you think I might be interested in?

Also, are there any that you would be interested in seeing posts about? I probably won't take on any recaps the way I have for LOST and American Idol, but maybe some short blurbs every week that could lead to some discussion in the comments?

Oh, gotta go...Hoarders is on!!!


Shan said...

Great post.

Looks like a lot of our shows overlap (except for the reality and a few comedies. And Grey's. Which I actually tried, before discovering I hate every single character). Thoughts on a few notables:

Sunday: I would add Rubicon, Dexter, The Walking Dead and Luther.

Monday: Haven't watched Lone Star yet, but it tanked in the ratings. I'm still gonna sample it, based on a good premise, good cast and near universal praise. After FlashForward, I think I'm gonna pass on The Event, unless everyone screams from the rooftops how good it is. But the cast just doesn't excite me. I'm watching House out of habit (and awe of Hugh Laurie). I also watch Castle, Weeds, and The Big C. In Treatment comes back (with eps on Monday and Tuesday) in October.

Tuesday: Agreed for most of your choices, but I'll also have V (when it comes back), Sons of Anarchy and Caprica (FINALLY returning in October).

Wednesday: I'm one of the rare folks who liked all the "mythology" and "Rambaldi" nonsense from Alias, and without that nerdbait, Undercovers doesn't sound that fascinating. I enjoyed Lie to Me, and I'm most excited about Terriers (such an amiable, low-rent vibe with terrific scripts and performances, but sadly, not drawing much of an audience) and Friday Night Lights.

Thursday: What a frakkin' pile up of programming. I'm most amped about Fringe returning, but I also watch the NBC comedies, Bones, Nikita, Always Sunny and Archer (along with Community, the LOLingest new shows of the year). Plus, kudos for your appreciation of Cho's deadpan on The Mentalist.

Friday: I'm going to give Human Target a chance this year, since it's paired with the The Good Guys (Dan Stark rules). Spartacus is coming back with a prequel, that will still feature John Hannah and Lucy Lawless (so sad about Sparty himself, though), and one of my favorite genre shows, Supernatural, has moved to Fridays.

Overall, of the new and returning (not counting things like Mad Men which are almost concluding), I'm probably most eagerly anticipating Fringe, Boardwalk Empire, Terriers, Sons of Anarchy, Caprica, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Community, Supernatural and Archer. And Glee, which could be awesome, or a train wreck, or most likely, both.

Rick said...

No mention of True Blood or Dexter on Sundays? WHAT??!!

Season 5 of Dexter is about to start up and it should be awesome.

I know True Blood's season is over but it's at least worth a mention.

Good list though. (Except for Grey's Anatomy 0.o)

Scott said...

Shan - Some of the ones you bring up I will be picking up when they come back in the winter (V, Caprica, Archer come to mind). Of course, by then several of these will already be canned (like Lone Star).

Rick - True Blood was a little disappointing this season, but there is no way my wife is letting me stop watching. I don't have Showtime, so Dexter is out for me.

Teresa said...

OMG that's a lot of tv!!!