Tag Archive for TV

Dead Set

Dead SetSometimes when you buy stuff on Amazon, they give you some free money to use on their Video on Demand service.  Normally, I might not use it, but I managed to sock away enough of these at one time (the free money always has an expiration date) and used it to watch 2008’s Dead Set in the only way legal in the US.

Dead Set is a zombie horror mini-series that was produced for the BBC in England.  Beginning on eviction night of the popular Big Brother TV show, the outbreak happens and quickly spreads, leaving only scattered people and those safely locked inside the Big Brother house as survivors.  It is two and a half hours of fast paced zombie action that is a perfect juxtaposition to The Walking Dead currently airing on AMC.

I simply cannot recommend this series enough.  It was fantastic, although Romero purists might hate the faster moving zombies.  Absolutely worth seeing for any zombie fan.  Check it out if you haven’t seen it already.

Terriers

Terriers

Terriers on FX

From the “Best TV Shows You Probably Aren’t Watching” file comes Terriers.

The show isn’t full of flashy action sequences.  It isn’t full of sex.  It’s about solving crimes, but it isn’t a procedural.  It has no teens, no supernatural elements, no super spies or super powers.  What it does have is excellent writing, great stories, and fantastic performances.  There is action, and sex, and crime solving, but the show is really about the characters.  In just six episodes I’ve gotten to know these characters better than some shows manage in entire seasons.  The style of the show is like an old noir detective film.  Scrappy underdog characters with huge character flaws.  And snappy dialog.

Terriers is about Hank Dolworth.  He’s an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic.  He flushed his career and his marriage down the toilet, and now with his best friend Britt Pollack, a reformed criminal, the two of them are making ends meet by running an unlicensed private investigation business.  Basically what you’ve got is an ex-cop who knows the law and where the edges are, and an ex-con who is good at breaking and entering and other less than lawful pursuits trying to do the right thing, even when they aren’t exactly sure what that is or how they should go about doing it.  It begins with an old drinking buddy of Hank’s asking for a favor.  This leads them into some dealings with corruption in local businesses and forms the story arc for the first five episodes.  One of the best parts about the show is that it doesn’t divide it’s focus.  Many shows like to have a case of the week for the episode and fill the background with character arcs.  Terriers manages to actually use the case of the week as part of the character arcs and overall story arc.  It all blends together instead of feeling like each scene is part of one or the other.

It’s just really good.

If you haven’t watched it yet, I’d recommend giving it a shot.  Full episodes are available on Hulu.  If you like it, tell a friend.

The 2010 Upfronts

This week all the networks announced their fall seasons, and as usual, being a big TV watcher, here are my thoughts…

First, here are links to the network pages for their fall line-ups: NBCFOXABCCBS and The CW.

Next, the shows I’m losing (more shows than these were cancelled, these are just the ones I was watching): 24, Dollhouse, Better Off Ted, Defying Gravity, Lost, Ugly Betty, Accidentally on Purpose, and Gary Unmarried.  Of these, the only one I am really upset about is Better Off Ted.  It was, quite possibly, my favorite sitcom ever.  With pre-emptings and shufflings I don’t think it got a fair chance.  Season 1 is on DVD, buy it.  Season 2 is likely coming, buy it.  And when the complete series is released, buy that too.  Okay, maybe you don’t need to buy it twice, but you should buy it in some form.

Monday:

NBC: Chuck, The Event, Chase
FOX: House, Lonestar
ABC: Dancing with the Stars, Castle
CBS: How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, Two and a Half Men, Mike and Molly, Hawaii Five-O
CW: 90210, Gossip Girl

NBC looks like it has a winning line-up as far as I am concerned.  I already like Chuck and both The Event and Chase will be given a shot.  Fox isn’t looking too shabby either, I like House, but while the cast of Lonestar looks promising, I’m not sold on it entirely.  The con man angle is nice, so I’ll give it a chance.  For ABC, I’ll continue not watching dancing shows, but I’m in for another season of Castle.  CBS, HIMYM I like… but I’m also getting bored of not meeting the mother.  I’ll give Mike and Molly a shot, and I’m down for Hawaii Five-O.  The CW has nothing on Mondays that I care to see.  Total: 7 hours, 8 if Lonestar doesn’t suck.

Tuesday:

NBC: The Biggest Loser, Parenthood
FOX: Glee, Raising Hope, Running Wilde
ABC: No Ordinary Family, Dancing with the Stars Results, Detroit 1-8-7
CBS: NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife
CW: One Tree Hill, Life Unexpected

Reality shows still don’t interest me much outside of American Idol in the spring, so The Biggest Loser is a loser for me, but I found myself really enjoying Parenthood despite initial reservations, so I’m in for that.  Glee won me over already, and I’ll give both Raising Hope and Running Wilde a shot based entirely on their casts.  Hope looks better than Wilde.  No Ordinary Family: not only is the cast full of people I like, but it’s about superheroes, so count me in.  Skip dancing.  Detroit 1-8-7 has a strike against it – homicide.  Lots of other crimes happen out there, why does almost every cop show focus on murders?  This is going to be one of those shows I won’t watch until at least five people I trust tell me it is worth seeing.  CBS has programmed a night full of shows I’m not watching.  I gave up on One Tree Hill a while ago, and I’m still watching Life Unexpected.  Total: 5 hours, 6 if Detroit 1-8-7 turns out to be worthwhile.

Wednesday:

NBC: Undercovers, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Las Angeles
FOX: Lie to Me, Hell’s Kitchen
ABC: The Middle, Better Together, Modern Family, Cougar Town, The Whole Truth
CBS: Survivor, Criminal Minds, The Defenders
CW: America’s Next Top Model, Hellcats

I’m a J.J. Abrams fan, so I’ll be watching Undercovers, but I’ll be skipping the Law & Order shows.  Nothing for me on FOX.  All three of ABC’s returning half-hours I skipped last season, but am now catching up on, so I’ll probably continue watching them.  I’ll probably add Better Together, but The Whole Truth doesn’t interest me.  Legal dramas just don’t keep me watching unless the characters are great, and I’ll wait to hear reviews before I bother trying.  Mostly, I’m not interested in CBS’s Wednesday, but The Defenders might be something I watch.  Legal dramas, eh… but throw in comedy and I’m willing to give it a shot.  And the CW’s Hellcats is about cheerleaders and I’m a guy, so, yeah, I’ll be watching, but I may not stick about.  Total: 4 hours, 5 if The Defenders works, back to 4 if Hellcats sucks.

Thursday:

NBC: Community, 30 Rock, The Office, Outsourced, Love Bites
FOX: Bones, Fringe
ABC: My Generation, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice
CBS: The Big Bang Theory, S#*! My Dad Says, CSI, The Mentalist
CW: The Vampire Diaries, Nikita

I bailed on 30 Rock a while back and I never gave The Office a chance, Community is something I’m thinking of going back to catch up on, and Outsourced looks pretty funny.  I’m not overly thrilled with the idea of Love Bites, but I know the wife will want to watch.  FOX has a winning line-up.  We kicked Private Practice to the curb this year, but we still watch Grey’s Anatomy.  My Generation looks like it’ll be pulled from the schedule within 6 episodes.  The Big Bang Theory is still awesome, William Shatner will draw me in for S#*! My Dad Says, and I’ll probably keep sitting through The Mentalist if only for brief moments of Cho (he and Rigsby need a Dragnet-like spin-off).  We finally gave up on The Vampire Diaries… I’ve always talked about how lots of TV shows get stale because of their unwillingness to kill characters, this show illustrates the exact opposite, someone seems to die every episode – they’ll spend a whole night introducing a character just enough to make you care and then whack them.  People die so often I came to assume everyone was going to die and numbed to it.  I’ll give Nikita a shot because I like spy/action shows.  Total: 6.5 hours, 7.5 if she makes me watch Love Bites.

Friday:

NBC: Who Do You Think You Are, School Pride, Dateline, Outlaw
FOX: Human Target, The Good Guys
ABC: Secret Millionaire, Body of Proof, 20/20
CBS: Medium, CSI: NY, Blue Bloods
CW: Smallville, Supernatural

NBC has nothing for me unless Outlaw gets some great word of mouth.  I love Human Target and the Premiere of The Good Guys this week was enough to keep me watching.  ABC only has Body of Proof that I want to watch.  I keep watching Medium despite my frustration that Allison and her family don’t seem to actually pay attention to their own lives, and Blue Bloods looks good enough to try.  Smallville can die in a fire, and despite feeling like Supernatural should have finished strong at the end of this past season I’ll be watching to see where they go with it.  Total: 6 hours, 7 if Outlaw holds up.

Saturday:

NBC: Encore programs (repeats)
FOX: Cops, America’s Most Wanted
ABC: College Football
CBS: Crime Time Saturday, 48 Hours: Mystery

Nothing.  Nada.  Total: 0 hours.

Sunday:

NBC: Football
FOX: The OT, The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, The Family Guy, American Dad
ABC: America’s Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters
CBS: 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, Undercover Boss, CSI: Miami

I’d almost say it’s a repeat of Saturday, but I might still watch Brothers & Sisters.  The show has gotten a tad out of control with crazy plot lines and intrigue, so I also might not.  Total: 1 hour, 0 if I kick B&S.

So… the final total for the week is a low of 28.5 hours of television and a possible high of 33.5 hours.  Yeah, that’s a lot of TV, but not all of these shows will stay.  Of course there will be mid-season shows too, and this list doesn’t include the less traditional schedules of the cable networks like USA, TNT, FX, Syfy and so on.  I think I can attribute a good chunk of the increase over 2009 to NBC actually having a 10pm slot this year since the whole Jay Leno debacle.  And there you have my thoughts on the 2010 Fall Season.

The 2009 Upfronts

Last week, all the TV networks trotted out their fall line-up, and as with every year, what follows are my thoughts.  To see the schedule and find links to all the shows, check out the incredibly awesome Laurel’s TV Picks.

Mondays:

ABC goes with Dancing With The Stars and Castle.  I love Castle, but Stars is a waste of TV as far as I’m concerned.  At midseason they’ll switch Stars for The Bachelor, another waste.  CBS mostly keeps its line-up with How I Met Your Mother (watch), Two And A Half Men (pass), The Big Bang Theory (watch), and CSI: Miami (pass).  Rules of Engagement has been pushed to midseason, and they’ve added Accidentally On Purpose, which I’ll tune into.  NBC is bringing back Heroes, which I’m taking a “wait and see” attitude on (I’ll wait for other people to tell me its good and then catch up), and pairing it up with Trauma, which I have no interest in seeing.  At midseason they swap both of those for Chuck and Day One, both of which I will watch.  And this fall NBC is throwing away the 10pm slot to keep Jay Leno happy, and to finally let people unwilling to stay up late to watch “late night” TV. *sigh*  Fox has gone with House and Lie To Me, with 24 showing up midseason.  I gave up on Lie To Me this year, each episode was too similar for my tastes.  The CW has Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill, both of which I stopped watching.

Monday verdict: 3 1/2 hours to start, which a push up to 5 1/2 at midseason.

Tuesdays:

ABC will have Shark Tank, Dancing With The Stars Results, and The Forgotten… skip, waste and watch.  CBS expands one NCIS into two and follows them with The Good Wife, none of which I will watch.  NBC goes with The Biggest Loser and then more Jay Leno, with 100 Questions coming in midseason when Loser goes to 90 minutes.  I’ll watch 100 Questions.  Fox wastes the evening on So You Think You Can Dance until January when they replace it with American Idol and Past Life.  Heaven help me, I’m addicted to Idol, but I’ll be passing on the rest.  The CW has 90210 and adds to it Melrose Place… nope.

Tuesday verdict: 1 hour, going to 1 1/2 at midseason.

Wednesdays:

ABC brings in four new half hour comedies that I won’t be watching, and ends the night with Eastwick, which I’m curious to see if it is any good. Lost will likely return at midseason, and being the last season (and that I like the show) I’ll watch.  CBS changes nothing: New Adventures of Old Christine (pass), Gary Unmarried (never miss it), Criminal Minds (pass), CSI: NY (pass).  NBC decided to resurrect Parenthood at a TV show, given the cast I want to see it, but I won’t unless someone tells me its worth watching.  Midseason they’ll swap it for Mercy, which I want to see.  They fill the rest of the night with Law & Order SVU and Jay Leno… no, and no.  Fox will have results from Tuesday’s voting for SYTYCD and follows it with Glee, which I watched and was extremely surprised how much I enjoyed it.  In January we’ll get Idol and Human Target (must see).  The CW gives me another night of nothing worth watching by having America’s Next Top Model and following it with a 90210-style drama about models.

Wednesday verdict: 2, maybe 3, hours to start, becoming 4 in the midseason.

Thursdays:

Finally we hit a night with more TV for me… ABC gives us Flash Forward, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, and I’ll watch them all.  CBS has Survivor, CSI and The Mentalist, of which I only watch the last.  NBC is still trying to regain its Thursday comedy dominance: SNL Weekend Update Thursday, Parks & Recreation, The Office, and Community (with another wasted 10pm slot on Jay Leno).  I like SNL’s Weekend Update and Community looks good, and 30 Rock comes back midseason.  Fox has Bones and Fringe, yes and yes.  And the CW brings out The Vampire Diaries to join Supernatural.  Now, I’ll watch me some Supernatural, that show rocks, but The Vampire Diaries is going to have to be very good to keep me interested… it looks like Twilight, and I have no interest in Twilight.

Thursday verdict: 8, maybe 9, hours.

Fridays:

ABC has Supernanny, Ugly Betty and 20/20, and three ‘no’s from me.  CBS has Ghost Whisperer, Medium and Numb3rs, with word that Flashpoint will show up at some point.  I was glad to see Medium saved from cancellation since the recent episodes have been quite good, and I enjoy Numb3rs and Flashpoint.  NBC gives us Law & Order, Southland, and a final 10pm Jay Leno for the week.  Fox gives us Brothers (pass), Til Death (used to be decent but now, pass), and Dollhouse (yay!).  And the CW has Smallville and reruns of Top Model.  No CW for me.

Friday verdict: 3 hours, possibly 4.

Saturdays:

Should we even discuss Saturdays? Its nothing but sports and reruns and crap and shows networks want to cancel but contractually have to air.  I wish someone would revitalize Saturday evening television.

Saturday verdict: 0, zilch, nada.

Sundays:

ABC sticks with Extreme Makeover, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sister (I watch the last).  CBS has The Amazing Race, Three Rivers and Cold Case and won’t be having me as a viewer.  NBC has football which they will replace with reality shows, neither interests me.  And Fox has its animated shows, all of which I have stopped watching.

Sunday verdict: 1 hour.

The weekly verdict: 19 hours, going to 24 by midseason.

Of course, there are several midseason shows currently not on schedule, but given the penchant for networks to cancel shows quickly, they’ll all see the light of day.  Of those, I’m interested in The Bridge, The Deep End, Happy Town, Parental Discretion Advised, V, and Better Off Ted.  Scrubs is listed as returning, but I thought it ended so well that I wouldn’t mind if they didn’t bring it back.

And none of this includes the many shows that cable networks have started airing, but so few of them stick to the traditional fall season model that I’m just watching those all year long, but usually only 2 or 3 at a time even though its got to be a dozen shows.

Lastly… the post mortem.

Crusoe should have known they’d never last more than one season, the fact that they didn’t resolve their story in their 13 episodes is a failure.  I had hopes that it would be a 13 episode mini-series and encourage other networks to do the same, but it didn’t work that way.  Cupid also got cancelled, again.  I say again because, and most people don’t realize this, it was a remake of an earlier show.  The earlier one was also good, and also cancelled too soon.  Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Eleventh Hour, ER, The Ex List, Harper’s Island, Kings, Life, Life on Mars, Lipstick Jungle, My Name is Earl, My Own Worst Enemy, Prison Break, Privileged, Pushing Daisies, Reaper, Samantha Who?, Terminator, The Unit and The Unusuals.  I don’t have room to eulogize them all.  Some were cancelled too soon, some right on time, some past their prime, but all of them were shows I watched (or am still watching as they play out the productions on Saturday nights).  Looking at this list, I am losing more shows this year than I am gaining, and if the networks keep moving toward more reality TV and if Jay Leno is popular at 10pm, that may be a trend which continues… or it may just mean that all the shows worth watching will be on cable.

Jeremiah

What if there was a virus that somehow affected only people who had gone through puberty and killed them, all over the world?  That is the stage that is set for the TV show Jeremiah.  Don’t bother looking for it in your local listings, it ran on Showtime from 2002 to 2004.  The first season ran 20 episodes and the second season ran for 15, and I enjoyed every single one of them.

The major saving grace of this show is that they avoided mutants and monsters, it is just about people.  The show begins fifteen years after a virus killed off all the adults, making the oldest people on Earth around thirty years old or so.  The world is in disarray.  Since kids generally don’t know how to run complex machines everything eventually stopped, and not many kids know how to grow crops so starvation was a big problem.  They learned to fend for themselves.  And now, fifteen years later, towns run by bullies have solidified and barter cultures have arisen, and some kids have even spent time reading books instead of burning them trying to regain the knowledge they lost in “the Big Death”.

I was worried, of course, as I always am when watching shows that were cancelled that it would end poorly.  But Jeremiah managed to tell two seasons worth of stories and even end well.  So, if you are a Netflix user and you own an Xbox 360 with a Live Gold subscription, I highly recommend throwing this show into your instant queue and giving it a shot.

The 2008 Upfronts

Time for the TV Network Upfronts, the listings of what’s new, what’s returning and what’s been given the old heave ho.

On Monday, NBC went first and confirmed the death of Bionic Woman, Journeyman and Las Vegas. While losing Las Vegas didn’t really phase me as I thought the show was going down hill, I really enjoyed Bionic Woman and Journeyman, with the latter really shining toward the end of its run. Things from my watch list that survived the cut: Chuck, Heroes, My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, Life and Medium, with the last two getting new time slots (Lipstick Jungle also survived, but the wife watches that one, not me, I swear). Of their new shows… My Own Worst Enemy looks interesting and I’ll give it a shot; Kath & Kim will warrant a watching; Crusoe has piqued my interest; as has The Philanthropist; Kings might survive a single viewing; I’m going to pass on Blue Blood; Zip and Man of Your Dreams are going to have to win me over; while The Listener, Merlin and Knight Rider are three shows I might watch just so I can make fun of them. Overall with NBC, its looking like I lost 3 hours a week, but after early cancellations and failed starts I may pick up about 3 hours a week… at least until fall 2009.

NBC Extra… way back when it premiered, I was a big fan of ER. I stayed a big fan for about 8 seasons. When Dr. Mark Green (played by Anthony Edwards) died, my interest in the show sort of petered out. I’ve caught episodes now and again when they did something special, like when Dr. Carter returned, but I’ve also missed entire seasons. However, I might be checking out the show again for the 2008-2009 season since it will be the final season. I love when shows end with an actual planned ending instead of an abrupt cancellation. I think it will be worth watching.

On Tuesday, ABC went early, and they officially axed Men In Trees, Miss/Guided, Notes From the Underbelly, October Road and Women’s Murder Club (and the Cashmere Mafia, which the wife watched and I sometimes paid attention to). Returning shows from my schedule: Samantha Who?, Eli Stone, Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, Dirty Sexy Money, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, Scrubs (moving from NBC), and Lost. Of their new shows: Opportunity Knocks, crappy reality/game show, pass; some Ashton Kutcher/Tyra Banks show, crap, pass; The Goode Family, its Mike Judge so I’ll give it a whirl; Life on Mars, the only new item ABC has that I’m excited for. ABC didn’t announce many new shows, instead they listed a large number of projects “in development” some of which are bound to air, and a couple might even be worth watching. The round up for ABC sees me losing 4 (5) hours and gaining 1, maybe 1 1/2, hours (maybe more if some of those “in development” shows don’t suck).

Later on Tuesday, it was the CWs turn. They didn’t cancel anything I watch. A rare event, though not surprising when you consider they canceled most of their shows that I watched last season (I and my 3 wonderful seasons of Veronica Mars hate you and every single one of your programming executives). Meanwhile, it means I’ll still be watching: Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Supernatural, and Reaper. The CW is short on new shows like ABC with only 3 announced: Stylista is more reality TV garbage; Surviving the Filthy Rich looks to be another guilty pleasure that will suck me in like Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill; and while the thought of a 90210 relaunch has my inner child whimpering in terror, I’ll probably end up watching it too. So, making up for ABC, it looks like I lost nothing from the CW but I’m going to gain 2 hours a week.

CW Extra… I used to watch Smallville. For the first few seasons I really enjoyed it. In my opinion, however, they wasted a perfect opportunity to rewrite the rules of television shows. Smallville should have been strictly about Clark Kent in High School and coming to term with his powers. After three or four seasons, we should have seen Clark graduate and head off to college, bringing the Smallville story arc to a close. The following season could then have seen the launch of Metropolis, where we would meet a world weary Clark Kent returning home from travel abroad (college and work as a budding journalist, who also occasionally saved some lives). Clark knows that he needs to use his powers for good, and we follow him as he explores how best to do that. Run that show for a couple or three seasons until Clark is solidly Superman and then wrap up Metropolis. From there you could do a new Superman TV show or even move into some sort of Justice League show, or do a series of TV movies, or even launch into movies (well, if not for that Brandon Routh thing). Instead, we have seen Clark languish in Smallville, retreading stories and trying to find new ways in which huge things are hidden in this tiny Kansas town. Frankly, 8 years of Clark saving lives in Smallville, everyone should know he has superpowers by now. “Oh, look, honey, its Clark come to stop yet another meteor infected townsperson!” Last season I gave up on Smallville and until someone tells me the show is ending I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Wednesday gave us CBS… and they axed Jericho, Moonlight, Shark, and Welcome to the Captain. I’d also mention they canceled Viva Laughlin, but even though I enjoyed the show it has been off the air so long at this point that I forgot it was part of the last season. Surviving the cut: The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Two And A Half Men, Rules of Engagement, CSI, Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs, and The Unit. Surprisingly, all of their new shows look like they will rate at least a few viewings: Harper’s Island, The Mentalist (this show sounds like a dramatic version of USA Network’s Psych), Eleventh Hour, The Ex List, Project Gary, and Worst Week (CBS doesn’t provide direct links to their shows, only the grid). So I’m losing 3 1/2 hours and gaining 5 hours.

CBS Extra… Look, I’m not saying that stunt casting guest stars is a bad idea, but at least be smart about it. This past week on HIMYM they have the second Britney Spears appearance, and it was really stupid. The rest of the episode about Lily and Marshal was great, but the Barney/Britney bit was just awful. She might earn you ratings, but she’s a horrible actress and using her makes the bunch of you look like a bunch of ratings pandering whores. Cut it out.

Thursday saw FOX lay out their lineup… gone from the schedule are Back To You, Canterbury’s Law, New Amsterdam, The Return of Jezebel James, and Unhitched. Stay for my viewing pleasure: 24, American Idol, Bones, Family Guy, Prison Break, Til Death, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. New for the fall: Fringe looks good, and being a J.J. Abrams product means I’ll watch it; Do Not Disturb will get watched if only because it is being paired with Til Death (although Til Death made a major change for the worse this season concerning their new character addition to the show); Outnumbered might get a viewing; Dollhouse is Joss Whedon so I’ll watch it, but the premise doesn’t excite me; Lie to Me, it seems powers of observation are all the rage this year; Courtroom K stars Alfred Molina, so I’ll watch it; Sit Down, Shut Up and The Cleaveland Show are two animated additions that I might watch; Secret Millionaire is yet another stupid reality show. So on FOX I appear to be losing 3 1/2 hours, but I might be picking up 6.

FOX Extra… I’ve been watching Til Death from the beginning, but they are about to lose me. The introduction of the new character, Kenny, well, he might make the show better for some people but I find myself wanting to turn the show off whenever he gets involved too much in the story.

So there you have my annual review of the TV Upfronts. Some good stuff, some bad stuff…

But mostly, as I plead every year… people, please, I am begging you, stop watching all those awful reality shows.

Alias

12 out of 13 nots
for awesome spy stuff, characters I cared about, and actually having an ending

So, I managed to make my way through all five seasons of the TV show Alias.  Damn, that was some good television. Read more

The Edge of Disbelief

The wife and I have been watching the show Alias lately, on DVD of course since its been off the air a couple of years. I must say that I am really enjoying it. Overall, J.J. Abrams proved that you can do incredibly complicated multi-season stories where each episode is also satisfying within the whole, something he would later lose during season three of Lost.

While the show includes many quasi-realistic gadgets and situations, its normally just right at that line of believability without going over into complete bull shit… at least until the last couple episodes of season three. This may not be exact, but the scene is that they’ve just put together this machine and slapped a container of goo in it, and it begins drawing out these wavy lines, which are determined to be a brain-wave pattern, and the dialog goes:

SLOANE: Each individual has a signature brain-wave pattern as unique as a fingerprint. So to exploit this, the DoD’s developed an experimental satellite network capable of remote encephalography.
SYDNEY: Reading brain-waves from orbit.

See… I’d buy that perhaps brain-waves are as unique as a fingerprint, but reading brain-waves from orbit? I had been comfortably standing at the edge of the ocean, happily watching the waves hit the beach, and this exchange was like stepping into the water to find out that despite the sunny day and warm winds the ocean water is so very very cold. I was snapped right out of the show to turn to the wife and say, “Did they just say reading brain-waves from orbit?” Luckily, they didn’t dwell on it, they didn’t show the team calling the brain-scanner office to track down the pattern in question, they just said “Found her” and moved on. In fact, its unclear if they even used the brain-waves at all as they may have just had a hit on one of the identities they knew the girl had been using. Of course, season three ended shortly there after with the girl in question being on the loose again, so its possible that the orbiting thought police might be utilized in season four to find her again. I hope they don’t…

Anyway, I’ve heard that season five wasn’t so hot, but I plan on watching the whole thing. I’ll post a review of the entire run once I’m finished.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

11 out of 13 nots
for Terminator fighting awesomeness

When I first heard about the new TV show The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I was excited.  I love the Terminator movies, and I always wanted to know more about the points in between, particularly the gap from Terminator 2 to Terminator 3.  However, after watching the premier episode, I was left with a general “meh” attitude.  The show certainly didn’t suck.  It wasn’t garbage, but it also lacked a certain pizazz I was hoping for.

I’m glad I stuck with the show, because in my opinion it got much better… more after the break.

Read more

The Fall Season Preview Review

Over at Laurel’s TV Picks, she’s gotten up her annual Fall Season Grid.

I’ve spent the last week taking a look at the various clips and plot summaries of all the new shows and returning shows… what follows is my opinion of the new fall season as it currently stands. Keep in mind, some schedule juggling and even show re-tooling happens, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Monday:

The returning shows worth watching are How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 8pm), Two And A Half Men (CBS, 9pm), Rules of Engagement (CBS, 9:30pm), Prison Break (FOX, 8pm), and Heroes (NBC, 9pm). Gone are The Class, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and a couple shows that get canned early on. Of the 5 new shows on Monday, it goes like this: Sam I Am (ABC, 9:30pm) is about a girl with amnesia who wants to be a better person that she used to be, so basically My Name is Earl about a woman with head trauma, might be funny so I’ll give it a look see. The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:30pm), two nerds live next door to a hot chick, since I’m already watching the other 3 shows in CBS’s comedy block, I’ll give this a chance. Journeyman (NBC, 10pm) is about a journalist who travels in time… yeah, I thought it sounded stupid too until I watched the preview for it, now I figure its weird enough for me to like and to get canceled, I give it 6 episodes, max. K-Ville (FOX, 9pm) is about police in New Orleans working in a city still recovering from Katrina, pass. Aliens in America (CW, 8:30pm), something about a Pakistani Muslim exchange student, and like everything else on UPN.. I mean the CW’s Monday night comedies, I won’t be watching it.

Five shows from last season, three new ones… total of five and a half hours of TV.

Tuesday:

Returning shows worth watching on Tuesday… The Unit (CBS, 9pm). Shows not returning: Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Standoff and the Knights of Prosperity. Much hate for the networks for what they did to my Tuesdays. New show breakdown: Cavemen (ABC, 8pm), the Geico commercials are not funny and I predict this show will be no better, pass. Carpoolers (ABC, 8:30pm) is about businessmen who carpool together and I presume will tell stories about their lives… what better show to pair up with the suckfest Cavemen will be than another show that sounds like a suckfest, pass. Cane (CBS, 10pm) is the story about a Cuban American sugar and rum producing family, a plot which sounds like it would be a great daytime soap, but as a weekly nighttime drama, I’ll pass. Chuck (NBC, 9pm), about a guy who gets a government server downloaded to his head so suddenly they need to use him as an agent… reality check, they’d actually throw him in Gitmo and torture him until they got their info back, I predict this show will last just as long as most other robot/computerized human shows, less than a season, not worth my time. New Amsterdam (FOX, 8pm) is the name for Old New York, and this show is about a guy old enough to have lived there, he’s immortal, he’s a homicide detective, and only true love will make him mortal again, but it looks interesting enough to garner a viewing or two. Reaper (CW, 9pm) stars the kid from The Loop (another unfairly canceled show, but not from Tuesday) as a kid who winds up being the devil’s bounty hunter, now some of you may be old enough to remember Brimstone, this doesn’t look at good, but might be funny, so I’ll watch it.

One returning show and two new shows… three hours.

Wednesday:

Returning shows worth watching: ‘Til Death (FOX, 8:30pm) and Bones (FOX, 9pm). New shows: Pushing Daisies (ABC, 8pm) about a guy who can bring people back to life, some more permanent than others, I don’t really understand, I might watch it, I might not. Private Practice (ABC, 9pm), where Dr. Addison Montgomery from Grey’s Anatomy runs off to California, to be honest, a spin off hasn’t looked this good in ages, definitely a keeper. Dirty Sexy Money (ABC, 10pm) could be interesting and has a great cast, I might watch it, but I suspect the name, if kept, will be its downfall. Kid Nation (CBS, 8pm) has a bunch of kids living in a pioneer ghost town making their own rules… interesting sociology experiment, awful TV show idea, pass. Bionic Woman (NBC, 9pm), I am hoping this is great, but I’m worried it won’t be, I’ll be watching to see. Life (NBC, 10pm), a wrongly convicted cop is freed and returns to the job… totally unrealistic, in the real world he would sue for millions, win, and retire deservedly, but the show might still be okay. Back To You (FOX, 8pm), Kelsey Grammer returns to TV in front of the camera and it looks to be pretty funny, it will round out my two hours on FOX nicely. Gossip Girl (CW, 9pm)… my hatred for this show known no bounds, seriously, I hope it gets worse ratings than Veronica Mars ever did and they cancel it in under six episodes.

The round up… two returning shows, three definite new shows with two or three maybes… four to six hours.

Thursday:

Shows from last season worth watching: Ugly Betty (ABC, 8pm), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 9pm), My Name is Earl (NBC, 8pm), 30 Rock (NBC, 8:30pm), Scrubs (NBC, 9:30pm), Smallville (CW, 8pm), Supernatural (CW, 9pm). Gone are The O.C., Six Degrees and Happy Hour (the show so good they canceled it twice). New shows: Big shots (ABC, 10pm) just doesn’t look good. Kitchen Nightmares (FOX, 9pm), I didn’t watch Hell’s Kitchen, I won’t watch this.

Seven old shows and no new ones keeps me at five and a half hours for the night.

Friday:

Returning shows: Men In Trees (ABC, 8pm), Ghost Whisperer (CBS, 8pm), Numb3rs (CBS, 10pm), Las Vegas (NBC, 9pm). Gone to the big schedule in the sky are… well… nothing I watched. New Shows: Women’s Murder Club (ABC, 9pm) is based on a series of books by James Patterson, I enjoyed the first book, the wife enjoyed them all, but what I’ve seen of the show so far was… unimpressive. Moonlight (CBS, 9pm), I really liked Forever Knight, but I’m not sure about this new telling of the (now tired) vampire trying to do good tale, may give it a shot though. The Singing Bee (NBC, 8pm), pass. Search for the Next Great American Band (FOX, 8pm), I’ll give it a chance since I always thought American Idol with groups instead of solo artists would be cool. Nashville (FOX, 9pm), pseudo-reality TV like Laguna Beach annoys me, pass.

So I keep four hours from last season and gain maybe three more… six or seven hours.

Saturday:

Saturdays are a dead zone of repeats and encores, where they don’t even try to schedule new shows any more since people don’t watch… or maybe they would if anything worth watching, aimed at the people who don’t go out… I’m thinking Sci-Fi and Horror shows would do well here, but the networks obviously don’t want to change a good (bad) thing and aim to continue their rerun filled Saturdays.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Sunday:

Returning shows worth my time: Brothers & Sisters (ABC, 10pm), Shark (CBS, 10pm) and the Family Guy (FOX, 8pm). Nothing lost here for me… as for new shows: Viva Laughlin (CBS, 8pm) at first glance sounds uninspired, a guy going to run a casino loses his funding and has to turn to his enemy for help, especially once you know its a remake of a UK show, but with Hugh Jackman involved and the mention of the integral part music will play… my interest is piqued and I may give this a chance. Life is Wild (CW, 8pm), about a family that moves to Africa, can jump in a lake, pass. The CW’s other Sunday offerings, CW Now and Online Nation are going to get a pass from me as well.

Three shows kept, maybe one gained… two and a half or three and a half hours for the night.

Not On The Schedule:

You might have noticed that there are many shows I didn’t mention, like Lost, Medium, One Tree Hill, October Road, and Notes From the Underbelly, all shows that were not canceled, and yet they don’t appear on the schedule… it seems that the networks are hedging their bets, holding shows in reserve until they cancel some early failures or waiting until the schedule shakes out a bit to find a place for their shows to get good ratings. There are also new shows picked up but not on the schedule. I’m not going to touch any of the reality shows, most reality shows are crap and you people should stop watching them so they’ll stop making them, but there are no less than SIX new reality shows and game shows waiting in the wings, and each of them sounds worse than the canceled Thank God You’re Here. On the comedy side there are four: The IT Crowd (NBC) is a spin off of the Office, or so it seems, and like the Office it is an import from the UK. Miss Guided (ABC) looks funny, and its got Judy Greer in it and I want to see her on a show that doesn’t get canceled for once, but ABC doesn’t have a spot for it until Dancing with the Stars ends or if one of its new Tuesday shows fail… lucky for Judy, both Tuesday shows look like stinkers. FOX has two half hours waiting for a chance, The Return of Jezebel James comes from the people who brought you Gilmore Girls, and The Rules for Starting Over comes from the Farrelly brothers, both are proven good writing teams, but both shows seem a bit iffy, I’ll watch them if they ever make it to the big leagues. On the Drama front you’ve got all sorts of stuff… NBC is holding Lipstick Jungle, from the woman who gave us Sex in the City and starring Brooke Shields, I’ll pass on it, but the wife will probably want to watch it, so I expect it to come in and replace something I want to watch, like the Bionic Woman. CBS, the network that used to be for old people, has Swingtown in its bullpen, and it has to be the oddest show I’ve ever read about… set in the 1970’s, a couple moves to a new “swinging” neighborhood… and if you don’t know why “swinging” is in quotes, then this show is probably not for you, even if you do know, this show is probably not for you. ABC is holding on to Eli Stone and The Cashmere Mafia, the former, about a lawyer who begins hallucinating and doing good things, might be quirky enough to succeed if it gets a chance, the latter is basically the Lipstick Jungle but on a different network. And lastly, FOX is keeping two shows off the schedule for now… the first is Canterbury’s Law, and the best thing going for it is that its coming from the same team that does Rescue Me over on FX. The second show is The Sarah Connor Chronicles, yes, that Sarah Connor… taking place between Terminator’s 2 and 3, Sarah and John, with the help of a reprogrammed Terminator run for their lives and try to make sure the future is safe from the annihilation of humanity.

In there, you’ve probably got another four hours of shows I’d watch if given the chance.

All in all, the new fall season is looking to be about thirty hours of TV watching per week. Of course, if the networks repeat what they did this season, with all the delays, hiatuses and cancellations, I might not ever have more than twenty in a single week.

And there you have it… Enjoy.