Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So... much... TV...

I'm a little late with my reviews of the new TV season. I wanted to give the new shows a couple of episodes to settle in before passing judgments (pilots can be tricky) but then I got busy and didn't have time to watch, much less write. I'm mostly caught up now, so here's an update on what I'm watching from my original list, in the order in which they premiered. I'll try to be brief!

The Simpsons. How long has this show been on? Does no one think it's time to let it go? It doesn't suck, but it's just not that funny or interesting anymore. Status: I'll watch it if I'm home and there's nothing else on.

Family Guy. Still makes me laugh out loud, no matter how cheap it is. Status: DVR.

Desperate Housewives. It's way better than last season, but I can't quite get behind it anymore. When did it become a comedy? There's always been humor (and it's involved Teri Hatcher falling down and been completely annoying), but the first season was also genuinely creepy and often moving. Now it seems like every character has a "wacky" plotline, each of them hateful. Still, I can't look away. I want it to get better again, and I like Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross so much, so I'm sticking with it for a few more weeks. Status: DVR...for now.

The Class. All the critics seem to hate this show but I find it very amusing and charming. Don't get me wrong, it's a total mess (absurd premise, too many characters, too many unconnected plots) but I like the cast (especially the mean girl) and it makes me laugh. And now Sara Gilbert! I suspect it won't be around much longer, so I might as well watch it while I can. Status: DVR.

How I Met Your Mother. I still like it, though it's getting a little repetitive. Status: DVR.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I like it, and I don't care what anyone else says. It's no West Wing or Sports Night, but I'll take a mediocre Aaron Sorkin script over what passes for dialogue on Six Degrees any day. And I love the cast. I do wish it were less about somehow saving television, and more about interesting people doing an interesting job, but Sports Night took a while to find its footing too (remember the laugh track?), and The West Wing was originally supposed to be about Rob Lowe, so let's all calm down and give this one a chance, okay? Status: DVR.

Heroes. I fucking hate this show. I hate it on its own, and I hate it even more because I can't stop watching it. I'm watching it right now and my hostility is growing. The writing is horrible ("give me a chance to catch my breath before you take it away again?" kill me), and I don't like a single character. At best they're boring, at worst they're horrible people. In between there's all manner of whiny, grating, and just plain dumb. I'm confused by people's powers; are they genetic or supernatural? (I ask mostly 'cause the whole mysteriously-drawn-together-to-save-the-world thing is very The Stand. Then there's that magic comic book.) If it's the latter, what's the point of the narrating doctor? (Really, what's the point of all the narrating? Let's lock Mohinder in a room with Meredith Grey and see who drops first.) Why does Hiro's power (and seriously, writers, you're so lazy that you actually named a character hero??) apparently involve him taking a massive crap in his pants every time he uses it? Is Ali Larter's multiple personality disorder really a power, per se? Isaac supposedly lives in Lower Manhattan, but from the looks of the (beautifully painted) view out his window I'd say he lives on the Statue of Liberty. So, yeah, lots of hate. But here I am, watching it every week. I'm still just interested enough to want to know where it's all going. Plus, these guys are the season's absolute masters of the cliffhanger twist ending. Usually by about 45 minutes in, I'm saying I won't watch it again, and then the immortal cheerleader is waking up on an autopsy table with a Y-incision and I'm forced to tune in next week. Status: DVR, damn you!!

House. I've always liked House in small doses, focusing on the medical wackiness of the week, not the characters' emotional issues. I'd heard good things so I checked it out again this season, but I'm still not all that interested. Status: Watch when I'm home and there's nothing else on.

Standoff. The pilot was surprisingly good. I was literally on the edge of my seat for much of it. But I wondered how long they could keep it up before they ran out of new hostage situations. Based on episode two, I'd say not long at all. Status: Maybe I'll watch when I'm home and there's nothing else on.

Justice. I'll watch Victor Garber do anything, but wow, this show is boring. Another pilot that showed promise (I especially liked the gimmick of showing what really happened at the end), but all the CGI in the world can't convince me that research and jury selection are exciting to watch. Status: Maybe I'll watch when I'm home and there's nothing else on.

Jericho. Like Heroes, it's not very good, but I'm interested in it anyway. The opening had moments of awesomeness, and I want to learn more. It's like a mopier version of The Day After. I feel like I’m watching a little too much that’s mediocre right now though, so if it doesn’t improve soon I’ll probably dump it. Status: DVR for now.

Lost. I'd kind of lost interest last season, but they've really grabbed me back this year. I lost patience with the flashbacks, not just because they didn’t seem to be advancing the plot at all (though that was part of it), but because they were boooooring. I felt that frustration again watching Jack go crazy last week (really Jack, nobody cares), but I’m digging the Others and the new puzzle pieces. I don’t mind unanswered questions as long as the new ones are interesting. Though I would like some closure on the monster and the polar bear! Status: DVR.

The Nine. Haven’t watched it yet. Status: Filling up the DVR.

30 Rock. Ugh! I’ll give it another shot, because I like Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski, but UGH! The pilot was annoying and cliché-ridden, and seemed to be only funny by accident. Tracy Morgan is irritating under the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances. It’s bad when the commercials for a show (which featured Fey and Alec Baldwin doing bits, not scenes from the show itself) are funnier than the pilot. Come back to SNL, Tina, they clearly need you desperately! Status: One more chance to not suck.

Project Runway. Something odd has happened – I don’t watch any more reality TV except Runway. It took me a little while to get into this season (I spent the reunion show thinking, “Who are these people?”) but once about half the designers were gone I got totally hooked. Yes, there’s reality show fakery and bitchiness and manufactured interpersonal issues, but ultimately these people have to have the skills to make something, and that’s what I (and most critics) find so appealing about it. It’s not underwater relay races or eating bugs or even voting by the fickle American public – they have to actually deliver the goods. Status: Over tonight! :-(

Six Degrees. Wow. Painful. I gave it two episodes, figuring it was unfair to judge a pilot with so much setup, but I couldn’t make it through the second one. What a boring bunch of people! And it’s more like one degree, apparently. Bleah. Status: Off the list.

Ugly Betty. More like Boring Betty. A real critic – you know, one who gets paid for it – somewhere said it's like a telenovela crossed with an afterschool special, and I can't put it any better than that. I'm all for camp, but shouldn't it actually be funny? And I'm all for heartwarming drama, but shouldn't it actually be heartwarming and dramatic? And shouldn't Betty actually be ugly? I know it's TV, but America Ferrara is not ugly. Betty just needs to go on What Not To Wear and she'll be fine. The braces will come off eventually. I also hate that the show perpetuates the image of Queens as some sort of no-man's-land hundreds of miles from Manhattan. People, Queens is a huge borough. In any other metropolitan area it would be a good-sized county. I get the impression that Betty lives way out in the more suburban area (think Archie Bunker and Raymond), but the western side is right across the river from Manhattan, and it’s not like some backwater. Status: Off the list.

Battlestar Galactica. Frak, yeah! If you’re not watching this show, you need to be. From the beginning. Get over the title. Get over the network. Accept that this is the best show on television. It’s a political thriller, a war drama, a sexy soap, and it’s dark. Watch it, watch it, watch it. Status: Frakkin’ obsessed.


We’ve also been watching Brothers and Sisters, mostly ‘cause we’re too lazy to change the channel or move after Housewives. I didn’t think I’d like it, and I was right, but it’s vaguely interesting background noise. Boy likes that it’s actually about brothers and sisters, and finds those relationships realistic, so maybe I just can’t appreciate it as an only child. Mostly I can’t figure out everything that’s going on or if I’m supposed to care, but maybe if I stay lazy I’ll figure it out eventually.

And I’m newly hooked on Grey’s Anatomy, but I’m still planning to write a separate post about all the TV I watched on DVD at the end of the summer, so more on that later.