Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catching up with the Squarehead

The new t.v. season is perplexing. In my opinion, there are plenty of interesting things on offer, but according to the "experts" there are no breakout hits. Some are chalking the low numbers up to our new way of watching: apparently delayed viewing with a Tivo/DVR takes longer to calculate, so in a few weeks, we'll see what the hits are and are not. But these days, networks are quick to axe shows that don't provide the numbers (the now-beloved "Firefly" is one of the most egregious examples -- P.S. FOX sucks), so what will they do if nobody has the numbers? That possibility, and a looming writers' strike -- possibly as soon as next week! -- point to the liklihood of more reality television than ever before.

Oops . . . I think I just threw up a little.

So what is on that's worth a look before it goes into hiatus for the strike? Here's a little bit of mho:

Monday nights: nothing new that's appointment TV, but I'm still on the "Heroes" bandwagon. Supposedly numbers are off, and critics are being harsh, but Milo Ventimiglia's new pecs and haircut keep me watching (so I'm shallow). Plus, I thought last week's ep (in which we finally meet Molly's "Nightmare Man") was an improvement over the last few. Plus, no twins! And Kristin Bell!

I also like "How I Met Your Mother," and watch it more regularly than I did last year. As for the new shows? "Chuck" is cute enough, but the setup is similar to "Reaper" (both feature hapless nice guys who work at big-box stores, and who have suddenly been cursed with quirky, slack-busting responsibilities), which I like a little better. I'm not writing it off, but it's not must-see. "Aliens in America" is surprisingly good, with a slight "Freaks & Geeks" tinge, but could easily turn out to be a one-trick pony. And "Journeyman"? Because I loved Kevin McKidd in "Rome," I firmly believe he deserves better than "Quantum Leap" without the funny.

Tuesday nights: I'm sticking by "Bones" on its new night -- it's t.v. for smart-ish people; the cast's zippy chemistry and quick dialogue more than make up for the very occasional shaky plotline. (Plus, David Boreanaz. Yum.)

If you're in the 25 - 40 demo, "Reaper" might be the most appealing new show of the season. Those of us who cut our teeth on Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith should revel in its warped-yet-warm humor. My favorite scene yet is the moment Dad timidly confesses to the unnerved Sam -- who's recently been visited by rottweilers and visions of flamey death -- that his soul was sold to the Devil before he was even a gleam in supposedly sterile daddy's eye. (I maintain this scene is a strong nod to the classic moment Buffy "came out" to her mom as the Slayer . . .). Ray Wise, as the Devil, walks a gleeful line between avuncular and menacing; in another standout scene he lectures Sam on the importance of personal responsibility as he bloodily wipes out a sinful ice-rink worker with his own Zamboni. However, the pilot episode, directed by Smith, set an unreasonably high mark. We'll see if it keeps freshas well as I hope.

Wednesday nights: "Bionic Woman" is supposedly the big news, but I'm lukewarm. (I even forgot to record it last week.) Not surprisingly, Katee Sackhoff's renegade prototype is the best thing about it. (Mr. Eick, so far, this is no "Battlestar" -- I think I'm gonna wait for the return of the real thing . . . c'mon January! Or maybe November, for the "Razor" movie . . .).

Instead, give your Wednesday love to "Pushing Daisies" and "Dirty Sexy Money." The former is like Tim Burton on X -- bright and cheery, yet deeply twisted -- and the cast is charming. This week's episode even featured a hip musical interlude that gave Kristin Chenowith and Ellen Green something right up their alley (allies? allys?) to do. Meanwhile, "Dirty Sexy Money" might be my favorite new guilty pleasure. It's soap-silly, but the magnificent cast elevates it: Donald Sutherland on weekly t.v.? I'm so there. Plus, I love Peter Krause (Nate of "Six Feet Under"), and Jill Clayburgh, and Billy Baldwin (turning more Alec-like by the day). My only reservation is that so far the male characters are more believably drawn than the female, but the comedy/soap/mystery elements mix well, and they have my vote.

Thursday nights: Not much new here; I record "Earl" & "30 Rock" & "The Office" for later, and I watch "Supernatural." (It's not genius, but I'm a sucker for pretty boys, muscle cars, demonic fury and an inventive classic-rock soundtrack. So sue me.) And I've still got mad love for AMC's classy "Mad Men," but last week was the (stunning!) season finale. If you missed it, rent the DVDs ASAP, and pick it up next season (yes! it's been renewed for summer 08!). It just keeps getting better with every episode.

Friday nights: If I'm home, I play catch-up with the DVR. Meh. (I know I'm supposed to love "Friday Night Lights," and I'm probably missing out, but something's gotta give if I don't want to become a complete shut-in.)

Saturday nights: Here's a non-network import that rocks: if you like your procedurals dark and scary, a la "The X-Files," give BBC America's "Torchwood" (aka "CSI: Cardiff") a try. It's produced by the team that rebooted "Dr. Who," and is in fact a spin-off, but is far darker, sexier and all-around more adult. Sex, grisly murders, aliens and wicked Welsh accents. I kid you not; it's good stuff.

And, finally, Sunday nights: HBO used to own Sundays, but no longer. (I'm considering changing to Showtime so I can stop waiting for somebody to burn me copies of the awesome "Weeds.") I keep one eye on "Desperate Housewives" -- I know, I know. But, despite the fact that he's been given little to do so far, Nathan Fillion (Captain Mal of "Firefly") joined the cast this season, and I love my Captain. (Can you tell I watch a lot of shows with former Whedon staples? Thank the PTB so many are getting work!) Plus, it's brain-cell-free viewing for low-key Sunday nights. I also decided to give "Brothers & Sisters" a try, and it's not bad. It's got an excellent cast (Sally Field, Rob Lowe, Rachel Griffiths) and a complex take on America's current political environment. And Calista Flockhart, while still skinny, isn't even more irritating than her character requires.

So that's it. Did I forget anything? Probably. But that's certainly enough to keep a t.v. dork like me busy for now.

1 comment:

Smarty Mags said...

You didn't mention Samantha Who?, with that adorable Christina Applegate, whom we all grew up with. I think she's charming. Christina, maybe not the show so much. Although it was cute.