The New Fall Season - Wednesday & Thursday:
Veronica Mars: Two episodes in, and the central mystery (or mysteries? the bus crash and Logan's "murder") seem vague enough to sustain the entire season but focused enough to provide good drama, as well as being personally connected to several of the characters, as the Lily Kane murder was. There's a lot of promise in the new characters (Guttenberg and Carpenter are both really good in their roles) and I love the notion of Keith Mars running for sheriff again. The second season opener didn't give me the drop-dead "must watch this" vibe that the pilot episode did, but it's still every bit as strong as it was. And good enough that I'll Tivo it even though it's up against Lost.
Lost: How good is Lost this season? So good that I'm watching it on TV, live, with commercials, which I don't do for *anything* any more. The second episode was a little weak, but overall, I'm loving the mixture of answers and more questions that we've gotten from what was at the bottom of the hatch, and the ensemble cast is still strong, although too many of them are very much background right now (we've barely seen Hurley, Said, Shannon, Charlie, Claire or Sun in the early episodes). I'm always wary of the "X-Files factor" with this show, and almost certain it will disappoint me in the end, but I'm still completely hooked right now.
Alias: And the reason I'm almost certain it will disappoint me in the end is Alias. Still very watchable in season five, but real world occurrences have damaged the show pretty badly. Vaughn's death as a way to get Jennifer Garner and her ex away from the awkwardness of playing couple in love, Sydney's pregnancy as a result of, well, Garner's pregnancy, Greg Grunberg's departure for "The Catch" and other roles... none of these moves are good for the show, in my opinion. I'm also unsure whenever a show basically adds new characters out of the blue, obviously to fill in for departed actors, although I like both actors who are coming in. And this is a show that really would have benefited from better closure on many of its ongoing stories, from the way SD-6 was resolved to the many resolutions of Rimbaldi, rather than an increasingly complex mythology (shades of X-Files) and the introduction of yet another shadowy conspiracy group with vague goals (Prophet 5).
The good news is, Carl Lumbly gets back in the spotlight as Marcus becomes more in the action, which is something that's been sadly lacking since around mid-season two, Jack Bristow is still very much involved and the Syd/Jack relationship is one of my favorite things about the show, Marshal continues to be a scene-stealing member of the cast and if you don't think too hard about the larger context of the show, the Prophet 5 stuff seems interesting enough as a way to propel the season. I stopped buying Alias DVDs after season three (and should have stopped at season two), but I haven't stopped watching, and I probably won't. I just don't care as much about the ongoing elements as I do the episodic, which is a shame.