TV Round-Up

7 Feb

Somewhere amidst all of my album preparations and the ensuing chaos, I’ve somehow still been finding time to watch my stories. Some shows are still doing it for me, some are showing signs of flagging. In weekday order:

gossip-girlGossip Girl

I’m an avowed fan, and this show continues to be a great deal of fun. Awesome clothes? Check. Horrible, bitchy characters doing immature, nasty things to one another?  Check.  Adults whose drama that is in no way as interesting as the drama of their offspring?  Check.  And yet…. and yet… and yet.  Discontent brews.  Maybe it was the last episode, the first true “miss” of the season, dealing with Dan’s fake-then-real affair with the new (apparently 17-year-old) English teacher at Constance and removing Chuck from the action and placing him in a confusing and half-baked Illuminati plot line that seems imported from another show.  Maybe it’s the general feeling that, after all of the “My father is dead, I love you” shenanigans of the mid-season climax, the writers can’t find another good plot line to sink their teeth into.  I don’t know.  But for some reason, I’m starting to have my doubts.

chuck-norris-002Chuck

Hell yeah. Still the most consistently enjoyable hour-long show on TV, for me.  The episodes leading up to Christmas were great, in particular “Chuck vs. The Santa Claus,” with the Reginald VelJohnson Die Hard homage and some actual drama in Chuck and Sara’s storyline.  The return ep, “Chuck vs. The 3-D,” was great, too, though perhaps it did tie that particular conflict up a bit too neatly.  Chuck is always good for a laugh, and is breezy enough that, as long as it doesn’t start to take itself too seriously in seasons to come, it will always be fun to watch.

fringe-poster-1Fringe

Meh.  I keep finding time to catch episodes on Hulu, but I’m getting behind, and I don’t really care that much.  They’re trying so hard to make Anna Torv’s character likable, but they still haven’t hit on a formula for her that works.  They also keep getting ex-cast members from The Wire, and have yet to really get any good use out of any of them.  In particular, a scene a few weeks ago between Torv and Lance Reddick really grated – Torv’s rogue agent was all, “Let me do it!  I don’t care if our supervisor suspended me.  Are you going to stand in the way of justice?”  And Reddick was all, “Do it.  I’ll deal with the supervisor.”  It was, like, The Anti-Wire.  So, yeah, I’m interested, but barely.  The only thing keeping me around is X-Files nostalgia, dying hard.

damages-postrDamages

Here’s a hackneyed truism of the world of TV: any critically-acclaimed show that starts a second season by putting its entire first season on Hulu in the middle of December is going to get their show watched by me. Too specific for any show to qualify? I present exhibit A: Damages. I watched the whole first season in, like, two weeks, and really liked it.  The new season?  Okay, maybe.  It was great getting to watch every episode back-to-back – this kind of show, with the twists and turns and fake-out time line, benefits from that kind of viewing.  Seeing the episodes week to week is making the plot twists and revelations seem both contrived and arbitrary this time around.  However, I’m down to see if Timothy Olyphant can bring some of his rockingness to the screen (always down for a return to form from Seth Bullock), and Glenn Close continues to be pretty great.  She is really scary.  Rose Byrne’s perpetual sad-face is a little bit of a downer, though for once, it’s nice to see a character who suffered a huge loss in a previous season actually act like it a few months later.

dharmaLost

Okay, okay… okay.  Jesus, if you asked Facebook, you’d think that everyone on earth watches this show.  I got off the bus during season 3, then got back on the bus when I heard that they’d gotten things back on track in season 4. I’m worried, though – I’m starting to think that the amazing “The Constant” was one shining moment that will not be repeated, and so far, I’m not really loving this season. The writers are playing with fire in a big way with the time-travel – once you unstick your entire show in time, things start to become meaningless. I get that there are rules, but they don’t always apply, and are confusingly explained, to boot.  Why is Desmond immune to the rules again?  And what does his immunity say about the rules, in general?  And why hasn’t anyone run into a past version of him or herself? Thinking back to season three, when the constant bullshitty flashbacks about Sun and Jin or Jack’s tattoos made me want to gouge out my own face, I certainly acknowledge that the show has become 50% more interesting.  The flash-forwards are as interesting as the action on the island.  However, taking a show that was 50% broken and fixing it only brings it up to the same base level as other shows.  They’ll have to keep the twists somewhat logical, and smartly use the characters to emotionally ground things, or they’re going to lose me.  I’m not really that optimistic.

the-office-michael-scottThe Office/30 Rock

I group these two together because A) I always watch them back-to-back, and B) they are both the same level of totally awesome.  The Office is having a killer year, and holy crap, the hour-long episode that ran after the Super Bowl was possibly their funniest episode ever. There is nothing not funny about a cat flying through the air.  As Mike pointed out, “That’s because cats don’t like to fly.”  Yeah, pretty much.  Also, Stanley continues to be my favorite supporting character – “If I have a heart attack and I’m alone, then I’ll die.”  “And you’re oKAY with that?”  “I’m okay with the logic of it.”  HA.

30 Rock is also kicking major ass – Tina Fey has gotten really, really funny as a comic actress.  Damn.  She always had the writing chops, but the more she gets comfortable playing her part – successful yet pathetic single woman who has kind of gross grooming and eating habits and is more than a little neurotic – the better she gets at it.  Of course, we guys watch the show and fall in love with her every week, just like Jon Hamm did in last week’s episode when he learned that she was in the cheese-of-the-month club and wrote letters to Subway’s advertising department defending the word “whom.”  But the way she plays the character is idiosyncratic and brilliant. “And then I will put MY MOUTH ON HIS.” (balls up fists and puts them in front of mouth).  “Iwantto go… there…” Haa.  Love ya, Lemon.

friday-night-lightsFriday Night Lights

I absolutely loved the first season of this show.  It was amazing.  I’d actually say that, along with Veronica Mars season one, it was the closest thing to a perfect season of television I’ve ever seen. Well, not counting The Wire, which pretty much had five perfect seasons.  But.  But.  Season two?  Not even close to so much. It wasn’t just the shark-jumping murder/cover-up as much as it was a divergance of focus. The show moved away from football and onto more generic teen melodrama.  The thing that works for Friday Night Lights is right there in the title – while all of these folks have tough lives, and are trying to make it work as honestly as possible, they have football to bring them together.  While while it is indeed the “football show that isn’t about football,” the sport remains the heart of the show, and without it, things didn’t hold together.

The third season, having already run on Direct TV and now re-airing on NBC and Hulu, is an amazing return to form.  The first three episodes have felt like season one again – dramatic, heartbreaking, real, and more than anything, really funny. I’ve been having a blast watching. Coach and Tammy are still the best on-screen married couple I’ve ever seen, and the supporting cast are (almost) all given great plot lines that reinforce their characters, as well as the theme of the show.  Namely, that life in a small town in Texas is hard, dreams don’t usually come true, and it’s the connections we form with one another that really matter. Here’s hoping that we get to see a season four.

battlestar_galactica_tshirtBattlestar Galactica

Holy balls, this one’s going down in the record books.  How could a show with a name that turns off so many people, a remake of a cheesy 70’s Saturday morning Sci Fi kids’ show, come out swinging as the best show currently on TV?  Who knows.  Ron Moore, Mark Verheiden, David Weddle, Jane Espenson, and the rest of the writing team deserve serious credit.  The cast is absolutely insanely great.  The music, written by rockstar Bear McCreary (about whom I’ve spoken quite a bit over the months), is amazing. The special effects dazzle, and the direction never misses a beat. I guess it’s all of those things – these final episodes have been just jaw-dropping. The most recent episode, when the buildup and discontent in the fleet finally metastasized into outright rebellion, felt as tense and visceral as the show’s felt in a long, long time.  Things are coming to a close, and the show knows it – folks are gonna start dying, betrayals are permanent, and the small victories (Starbuck = John McClain) feel all the more hard-won and satisfying.  I have no frakking idea how this show is going to end, but I can tell you two things: it will be epic, and I will be watching.

Dollhouse

Yeah, this show isn’t on yet, but dude.  I am SO WATCHING IT. It’s got Faith; it’s got Helo. it’s got Joss; it’s got an excellent chance of being canceled after ten episodes.  It’s got my attention.

dollhouse

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4 Responses to “TV Round-Up”

  1. thesoniashow February 7, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    I agree with you about “Fringe.” I was watching the show when it first started, but I found myself not caring about the main character at all. Pretty soon, the episodes were piling up on my DVR, unwatched. I feel like I watch so much TV and, eventually, this show just didn’t make the cut.

    I disagree, however, about “Lost.” I have really enjoyed this season, and I think it’s a matter of time before someone bumps into a past or future self. Here’s the thing with “Lost” … I give the show mad props for being different. So many TV shows are just lawyer shows, doctor shows, cop shows; I appreciate that “Lost” is trying something original. Even when the episode is a miss, it’s still more entertaining than most of the shows on TV.

    I love “FNL!” Love it! The second season was not nearly as good as the first, but I am really loving the third season so far.

    And, as for “BSG,” the show continues to reward faithful viewers with amazing performances and writing. It’s frakin’ awesome!

    Thank you for the excellent post, sir!

    • Kirk February 7, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

      You know, really, I agree with you on “Lost.” It’s nice that the show is trying something different, and that they’ve done so much work towards creating their own mythology (hackneyed though it may be). Reading back over it, my post sounds a little harsher towards it than I really feel – I totally still watch the show and get a kick out of it. I think I was just so traumatized by how retarded it got for a while there that I’ve never completely forgiven it, even with the great episodes that they turned out last season. But yeah, still a fan, and I still have hope, just tempered with an equal amount of gun-shyitude. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindorf are kind of ginormous DBs, too, which doesn’t help…

      Are you gonna watch Dollhouse? Any predictions there?

  2. thesoniashow February 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    Of course I will watch “Dollhouse.” I have my DVR all set up. I feel that any Whedon show deserves my precious TV-viewing time.

    I have read about problems behind the scenes of “Dollhouse” (rewrites, reshoots, network meddling), but I have faith that Whedon can deliver a show that is, at least, entertaining.

    • Kirk February 9, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

      I’m hopeful, for whatever reason – I have this feeling that, despite the network meddling, it’s going to be pretty good, if short-lived. This article at io9 got me excited for it – here’s hoping!

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