17 October 2006

Thoughts on Television

That title means to denote musings about television, not musings that appear on televison. Although, I suppose one could muse about precisely the musings one witness on television. And that's probably as close to an explication of the double genitive that you'll get in a blog post from me.

Moving on...teaching and getting settled in the new house have dominated the hours of the day so thoroughly that I have been a bit disengaged from the world lately. Not a lot of big events or news in British politics, and I can only handle American politics when mediated by Jon Stewart. But I have been watching a bit of TV.

Back in America it's fall (over here it's 'autumn') and that means the start of the fall television series (over here it doesn't mean much in terms of the telly, since series run for 4 to 10 episodes at most, and there is no autumn to spring season; indeed, for US series that show over here, the broadcasters wait until December or January to start the so that all 22 episodes can run back to back over each week). Luckily, thanks to the glory of the slingbox, the generosityof my mom, and the aid of one other kind soul whose name will not be disclosed, we too can watch the new US shows. So here's what I think:

  • Brothers and Sisters is a gigantic letdown. All those great people, and they run off Marti Noxon and insist on melodrama right from the start.
  • Veronica Mars can't possibly be as good as it was the first season, but if it could live up to season 2, I'd be delighted. Of course, it might not matter: it seems likely to be cancelled mid-season. Tragic!
  • Studio 60 is glorious for the sheer fact that we now get new words each week written by Aaron Sorkin. But I have to be honest: so far the show is disappointing. It just doesn't have that spark that we Sorkinites all crave. Something's missing but it's hard to say exactly what the something is. Matthew Perry is so not Chandler; Amanda Peet has presence; and who doesn't like Steven Weber (but Bradley Whitford still seems like Josh to me - although L says she thinks he might be gay, which would be utter brilliance if A) it were true, and B) they made nothing of it for most or all of the season).
  • Finally, Friday Night Lights is the showstoper, at least after the pilot! They get the Texas football culture and the show is so full of characters with depth that it almost feels like they should share some of them with some of the plethora of crappy shows out there.
Much remains to be seen: FNL could go downhill quickly, and Studio 60 might turn out to be genius (after all, after Fox screwed with the original order of the episodes, even the pure excellence of Firefly didn't seem all that great 3 episodes into its original airing).


sageblue said...

OK, let's throw down then.

First, some notes: I'm not watching Friday Night Lights and I have never watched Veronica Mars (yes, the crucifix is being erected right now...move on). The former seems too straight for me, and the latter just never fit into my schedule. Again, move on.

Now then:
--BroSis is indeed slightly disappointing, though I will probably stick with it for a couple more weeks because they are very pretty people. My problem? Hey, that's not Ally McBeal! Hey, that's not Brenda! I know, my problem, but, well. Also, there are a lot of characters...
--as there are on S60. I just completed the first five eps in a row (Rick's not watching it, and while the cat's away...) and I'm not disappointed, but also see what you are saying. Could it be the supporting players? I'm not feeling Hughley or Corddry really, and wish they'd give more to Jacott (Otis!!!). Also, isn't Evan Handler playing the same thing he did on TWW? Again, I'm digging it just fine, but there's no Leo right now.

What Else New?
--Heroes is fun, but I wish they start answering some questions. It's getting a touch annoying in that way, but I guess they can't blow their whole wad.
--The Nine may have the same problem. I love to see Bailey back. Anyway, it's dark and mysterious and has some good talent, so I'll run with it for a while.
--Ugly Betty is the exact opposite: pure, fun fluff. I worry that it will have the same plot every week (Betty doesn't fit in! She or her boss screws up! Everything is fine! Vanessa Williams is bitchy!), but, again, I'm hanging in.

What Else Old?
--Project Runway still rocks on and I can't wait for Top Chef.
--The Amazing Race has definitely returned to its former glory.
--Gilmore Girls is surprisingly good under new leadership.

So, yeah: right now, we're watching a lot of TV.

anonymous commentator said...

8:00: Prison Break (Season 2): Still worth watching just because it's reasonably well done and not the same as all the other shows you've already seen, especially if you are slightly conspiratorially minded.

9:00: Heroes: Entertaining distraction, but probably won't be great. Still, third best new show.

10:00: S60: Disappointing relative to prior Sorkin efforts, although still good enough to be in the top 5 shows and second best new show.

8:00: Friday Night Lights: First two episodes show writing, aesthetic sense to make it clearly the number 1 new show.

9:00: Veronia Mars (Season 3): Yes, it's not as good as the first season, but please, please, let the CW be wrong about mid-season cancellation.

10:00: I've already given up. Maybe I can just watch old Gilmore Girls on DVD to get up to speed.


8:00: Jerico: Soon to lose it's space on the TiVo.

9:00: Lost (Season 3): Waiting for me to watch Season 2 on DVD.

10:00: The Nine/Kidnapped: I'm behind on the TiVo, come back later.


8:00: Smallville (Season 5?): Still trending downhill.

9:00: Grey's Anatomy (Season 2/3): Entertaining fluff.

10:00: Six Degrees: Will keep watching for now, but not sold yet.


9:00 Battlestar Galactica (Season 3.0): Who needs anything else. Beginning to surpass HBO shows in the all-time rankings.


10:00 Brother & Sisters: Just doesn't have it -- it's like everyone in Our House grew up and Willford Brimley had an affair.

Ruth said...

You guys all have way too much time on your hands. Geez Louise -- I've never even heard of these shows.

Maybe I should just drape a black shroud over my TV to demonstrate my mourning for Deadwood. That woudl at least give me an excuse for being out of the pop culture loop.

dan said...

I'm out of the loop, too -- which is not a place I'm comfortable being.

Re VM: it matters, even if the show is canceled mid-season. It is what it is, whether 100 episodes or 65. I've been so used to seeing television by DVD these days, that I hardly consider them in terms of seasons, but rather an entire, contained story that starts with episode one and ends with the final episode, as though conceived that way from the outset. I think a lot of people are watching TV this way these days. Is there are market for straight-to-DVD-TV? If VM is canceled, could it continue a while longer going straight to DVD (or some other "removed" media)? I dunno. I do know that I love VM, and hope that it lasts a while longer, in some form or another.

tenaciousmcd said...

The only new shows I've seen are S60 and FNL, and the latter I've only seen in snatches. So here are my observations, for what they're worth.

The major problem with S60 is Harriet. Yeah, she's cute, but I don't see this charismatic genius comedienne thing, and it hurts that they keep SAYING that about her while all the skits we see are lame (Nancy Grace, Juliette Lewis, etc.). She seems more weepy than zany or funny. Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet are the strengths.

From what I've seen, FNL could be truly great. It rings true with my southern, football-crazy town, high school experience, although those weren't exactly my circles. The pathos of the backup QB is an especially strong story-line, and I loved that, even though he played well, the boosters blamed him for the loss and set out immediately to recruit a Katrina-victim ringer to take his place (complete with racial tension factor). Football dramas usually suck, especially compared to some of their baseball counterparts. This may be the exception.