Monday, September 10, 2007

TV Thoughts - Midseason Post-Mortem & Fall Season Predictions

I did mention how much I hated the very idea of Kid Nation, right? I mean, I thought it wouldn't be possible for me to hate reality television more, so kudos to CBS for that one, at least, I guess.

So... midseason. Not as great as I'd hoped, but not bad. The Sopranos ending felt a little too precious and "look how clever I am" to me, and while I give David Chase full credit for guts, I also have little patience for these "it's more real" type endings, in whatever medium. Yeah, it's more real... guess what? You ain't writing reality. Fictional endings have resolutions, there's supposed to be payoff to all the build-up. Damages and Rescue Me both lost my interest well before the midway point. The 4400 is testing my patience with its comedic plotlines that we're clearly meant to take seriously (The Marked? A de-aging drink? Really?) and Big Love, though I watched it all the way through, has more or less lost me. I find almost every character (except Margene) to be completely compromised, and Bill, the lead, is a complete shitheel, which I don't think is what the producers want us to think.

Actually, HBO is dangerously close to getting canceled off my cable bill. Entourage is still (just barely) watchable, but nowhere near as engaging as it was, and I'm guessing it's going to get worse instead of better. Even if John From Cincinnati had come back for a second season, it wasn't must-see enough that I couldn't wait on DVD. Tell Me You Love Me, despite all the critical praise, bored the living hell out of me. The only thing HBO has left is Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I'm not sure that's enough for the monthly bill... I'll probably ride out the Curb season, and then if there's nothing promising on the horizon, HBO is gone.

Showtime might make a re-appearance, though. Weeds has been great thus far this season and I've heard good things about Dexter. The first episode of Californication didn't do much for me, but if Dexter wins me over, and if Showtime starts developing shows the way HBO did a few years ago, they might steal the pay TV spotlight for me. Best midseason show, though? Burn Notice, on USA, just the right side of cheesy with a terrific lead actor, just enough Bruce Campbell for flavor and plenty of clever spycraft courtesy of consulting producer Michael Wilson. Can't wait for it to come back from tennis-induced hiatus.

As for the fall season? Well, it looks kinda dire for new shows, but there are a lot of shows hitting their stride in second and third seasons, so it's not as bad as I thought. I first did this rundown based on information from the upfronts in late May, but I've seen and heard more on the shows by now, and some timeslots have changed, so here we go again.

SUNDAY
Honestly? There's nothing I watch on this night. Good thing, as it'd be up against HBO's last remaining toehold in my interest, Curb Your Enthusiasm. But I might start watching Family Guy again, if it doesn't conflict with Curb.

MONDAY
8:00 p.m. How I Met Your Mother (CBS) - I've gone from "I could take or leave this show" to loving it, mostly from re-watching summer reruns and realizing how great the cast is and how good the comedic timing is. Entertainment Weekly had a great write-up in their Fall Preview by Whitney Pastorek that further cemented my interest. (September 24)

8:00 p.m.: Chuck (NBC) - I still like the basic concept of this one, still enjoyed the teaser, and the buzz is pretty solid. Unfortunately, it's been moved up against How I Met Your Mother. Fortunately, I have two Tivos, one in the office, one in the living room. Unfortunately, stuff that gets recorded only on the office Tivo sometimes doesn't get watched. And I like to have HIMYM on both Tivos, so I can re-watch in the office while on the computer. So Chuck *might* get a spot on the office Tivo, but if it doesn't grab me immediately, it'll lose out to HIMYM reruns. (September 24)

9:00 p.m. K-Ville (FOX) - Anthony Anderson in a cop drama set in New Orleans, and I really want to like that. But I'm sort of inclined to distrust FOX on new shows, since they're likely to cancel anything that's actually good, and why get invested. Also, and more of a deal-breaker, it's on opposite Heroes. Still, this one will get the same chance Chuck did on the office Tivo, and if it's great, it'll survive. It also gets the benefit of one week without Heroes competition, which means it gets a one-week tryout on the living room Tivo. (September 17)

9:00 p.m.: Heroes (NBC) - Every little bit of info about season two, from casting to plot hints, has me excited to see it again, despite the lame season finale. (September 24)

10:00 p.m.: Journeyman (NBC) - In my initial writeup, I said that I was getting a lame vibe, and I failed to figure out where lead actor Kevin McKidd came from. Now I know that McKidd played the tortured soldier Lucius Verenus in Rome, and I've seen some of the slick promo spots NBC has put together for this time-traveling drama, and I'm definitely intrigued. It also has no timeslot competition. So it gets a shot. (September 24)

TUESDAY
9:00 p.m.: Reaper (CW) - I really wanted to abandon the CW after they abandoned Veronica Mars. But damn it, the geek buzz on this thing is huge. The pilot is directed by Kevin Smith, the production values make it look like a quirky Barry Sonnenfeld/Bryan Fuller show (although that show is actually Pushing Daisies, more on that later) and now that the timeslot competition of Chuck has been moved away, I'm definitely going to be watching. (September 25)

10:00 Cane (CBS) - I'm rooting for this to die so that Nestor Carbonell can get back to what will almost certainly be a more interesting role on Lost.

WEDNESDAY
8:00 p.m.: Pushing Daisies (ABC) - Weird, intriguing premise, pushed over the top because the guy behind it is Bryan Fuller, of Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls. Pushed even further because of Barry Sonnenfeld's involvement. I love the tone these guys bring to their work, and I like the weird premise (guy whose touch can bring someone back to life, but then he can't touch them ever again without undoing the gift, and one of the first people he brings back is his girlfriend) and the comic book promo I picked up in San Diego. It's between this and Reaper as my most anticipated new show. (October 3)

8:00 p.m.: Back to You (FOX) - It sounds like an NBC show, with Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton as co-anchors of a local news show, and it features Fred Willard, which is always a good sign. This is supposed to be a good, classic comedy, and it could win a place in my heart like How I Met Your Mother did. Since it starts a week early, on September 19, it has two weeks to earn a spot on my office Tivo before Pushing Daisies starts.

9:00 p.m.: Bionic Woman (NBC) - Buzz on this one has been disappointing, and I wasn't all that interested in the first place. It doesn't have any timeslot competition, though, so it'll get at least a couple episodes. But there's plenty to watch, and not enough time in the day, so if it isn't really good, it's gone. (September 26)

9:00 p.m.: Gossip Girl (CW) - A show about rich bitch girls and their trashy lives? Even having it narrated by Kristen Bell can't make me watch this, although if she was narrating it in character as Veronica Mars, calling these girls out for their inane lifestyles... well, that might do it. Happily, I can get my Bell fix on Heroes this season.

THURSDAY
Must-See TV is back on NBC on Thursdays, much to my surprise. I don't think there's anything (even Lost and Heroes) that could tear me away from 30 Rock, The Office and Scrubs. Fortunately, there's nothing else worth watching on Thursday nights. Except Ugly Betty, which is reportedly good but doesn't really strike me as that interesting. I'm going to watch season one on DVD, though, and if I'm wrong, I'll watch season two on DVD as well... because there's no way I'm not watching 30 Rock. Oh, and America? If you choose "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?" over Earl and 30 Rock, I'm breaking up with you.

8-8:30 p.m.: My Name Is Earl (NBC) (September 27)
8:30-9 p.m.: 30 Rock (NBC) (October 4)
9-9:30 p.m.: The Office (NBC) (September 27)
9:30-10 p.m.: Scrubs (NBC) (October 25)

FRIDAY
9:00 Friday Night Lights (NBC) - Goddamn, is this show good. I passed it up last season, just like everybody else, because I didn't have much interest in high school football. But after unanimous critical praise, putting it in the same box as "great TV nobody is watching" like Arrested Development, I gave the DVDs a shot by renting the first one from Netflix. After watching the first disc, I went out and bought the DVD set the next day, because I didn't want to wait for them to arrive in the mail. This is a fantastic show, well-written, well-acted and well-directed. This is a drama about football for people who don't care about (or even better, actually dislike) football. I'm a geek, and the jock is my natural enemy, and I'm still completely wrapped up in this drama of high school jocks, coaches and their families. Even more than Heroes, this is the drama I'm most looking forward to seeing back on the air. (October 5)

My predictions for the season, based largely on what I'm excited about?

BEST NEW HOUR-LONG: Pushing Daisies on ABC
BEST NEW SITCOM: Back To You on FOX (Admittedly, there's almost no competition for this slot)

BEST RETURNING HOUR-LONG: Friday Night Lights on NBC
BEST RETURNING SITCOM: 30 Rock (Although it's really a three-way tie with The Office and How I Met Your Mother)

6 comments:

CHunter said...

Randy,

Dexter is so worth it. Give it a try, dude.

You'll like it.

Randy said...

It's next up on my Netflix queue, so I'll probably be watching it this weekend.

Zack said...

I caught the pilots to CHUCK, DAISIES and REAPER in San Diego (well, REAPER online through a promotion after the con).

DAISIES is excellent, feature-film quality, though I'm not sure how long they can maintain its look and feel with TV resources.

CHUCK was better than I expected -- well-done characters and action scenes, and lots of potential ongoing plots set up. Plus, a nice sarcastic character for Adam Baldwin.

REAPER kind of disappointed me. I liked some aspects, but this played like something I would have written back in college. The best material was the Kevin Smith-esque banter between the lead and his friend...and after reading that Smith did some rewrites on the pilot, I'm not sure how well that will play in the show. There's only so many "beat the demon of the week with weapon of the week" plots out there.

Glad you're into MOTHER and FNL now. I got to interview the guy who plays Jason Street earlier this year -- that is one huge comics fan.

Greg McElhatton said...

After the dire TELL ME YOU LOVE ME wraps (I gave up 20 minutes in, the first HBO original series to not get the pilot watched in its entirety at Chez Greg since... um... K STREET) I believe the next show out of the gate will be Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's 12 MILES OF BAD ROAD which is her take on a Dallas real-estate empire. Kick-ass cast (Lily Tomlin, Mary Kay Place, Gary Cole, Joanie from DEADWOOD) and Bloodworth-Thomason always gets a chance with me. Heck, the 30 second clip I saw of it about six months ago had me in hysterics. Fingers crossed!

Randy said...

Glad you're into MOTHER and FNL now. I got to interview the guy who plays Jason Street earlier this year -- that is one huge comics fan.

I'd heard this. Since they're filming in Austin, I kept wondering if he might come into my shop. I recognize several of the places they film at... the burger joint they use a lot is actually EZ's, a really good burgers, wood-fired pizza and milkshake place that I've been eating at since I moved here.

But I hadn't been in a few years... watching FNL reminded me that I wanted to go back. :)

I believe the next show out of the gate will be Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's 12 MILES OF BAD ROAD which is her take on a Dallas real-estate empire. Kick-ass cast (Lily Tomlin, Mary Kay Place, Gary Cole, Joanie from DEADWOOD) and Bloodworth-Thomason always gets a chance with me.

That's a damn good cast, but I don't know that I've ever been huge on Bloodworth-Thomason's stuff in the past.

Next thing they have in the works that might interest me are the work they're doing on George R.R. Martin's Fire and Ice books (which I've not read, but have heard tons of good things about) and Preacher (which makes me nervous, given who's producing).

But I'm actually thinking, upon further reflection, that I might call and switch from HBO to Showtime this week. I think I can wait to catch Curb on DVD, but I really want to keep up with Weeds, and I'm sure I'll find the same about Dexter when I finish up the first season DVDs.

Chad! said...

Pushing Daisies and Reaper are both phenomenal shows. PD is the best thing that's come around the pike in a looooooong time. Here's hoping they keep the quirk and style and don't sacrifice what makes the show as charming as it is.

I thought reaper was really clever and should be a ton of fun. It kind of confirmed my belief that Kevin Smith can be a pretty funny guy when he has a bit of a leash on him and can't go "blue" with his comedy(ala Clerks cartoon). I'll be watching these for sure.