Saturday, December 5, 2009

Current TV Shows 2010: Put Down The Remote

Since everything is going on fall break and leaving me in agonizing pain and denial.. I felt it would be a good time to address this topic -- Television.

Back when the leaves were turning and the world seemed new, I began charting the progress of television shows that would be premiering or returning soon and that I was eager to see. At the time, I titled this picture "TV Rules My Life" for the obvious reasons of how it was clearly dominating my schedule and, should I be obeying its every notation, I would barely have a night not sitting in front of the TV for several hours. Except Tuesday. What's up with Tuesdays?

As it were, I was subject to the limitations of living in a home with my parents at the time, and they, themselves, had a number of programs - most of which were wildly separate from my own. This caused a bit of a clash when it came to watching, but more precisely when it came down to that the TiVO they owned could only record two shows at a time and then you weren't allowed to watch a third station if that was happening. Really, the most problematic time came on Mondays. Monday, Monday, Monday... I wanted to watch Heroes ( God knows why ) and Trauma and Lie To Me... the parents wanted to have recorded Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men and How I Met Your Mother and House... and Lie To Me. During these times, I'd take myself into my bedroom and watch Heroes and Trauma on my own with my iffy antenna - iffy because perhaps, maybe one of them had been snapped in half and hastily replaced....

Lie To Me got recorded, though, so Mondays were never a total loss as far as TiVO went.

Time went by, though, and shows premiered, and leaves fell and the sky darkened... and I began weeding out those shows that I knew would start becoming a chore instead of a pleasure to watch each week. The last cuts were made, in fact, only a few days ago, so I share that new image with you now.

Shows that got the axe: House, Law & Order: SVU, Flash Forward, Dexter, White Collar, Better Off Ted

House: I really lost interest in keeping up with the show a while ago, but since it was supposedly taking a new direction this season, I'd at least been curious to catch the premiere, despite that I'd missed a good deal from earlier. As it turns out, I wasn't actually that interested since I missed the premiere, put off watching the premiere when my parents kept it on the TiVO for me, and still have only seen one episode since. However, that episode was great because it was about Wilson ( which wasn't the great part ) and in the background it lampshaded its own predictable formula of how the sick patient cases go by having House's team occasionally run past shouting weird diagnoses or lamenting that they'd gotten it wrong and now the person was crashing.

House quickly went off my schedule because I just wasn't thinking about it enough.

Law & Order: SVU: While it still remains my favorite L&O, it is no longer my favorite cop procedural and I've found that, in watching it, I'm more amused than invested. The characters have always been sort of one-hit-wonders in their own boxed up cliches, but I liked Stabler and I liked the way the cases were handled. Now, I just have seen too many episodes of it and the appeal is waning. To break out, they'd need something new - but to change too much would no longer be the right show. It's a great thing to sit back and catch up on when you need some entertaining noise in the background, and I'm glad it's still going for that, but I can't make myself keep up with it in a weekly fashion.

SVU left the schedule because I couldn't be bothered.

Flash Forward: Here's a more interesting one, because Flash Forward I was initially very excited for and sat down to watch as it premiered. I was intrigued, as I usually am by large puzzles, clues that need to be added up, and actors with the last name Fiennes. But two things had already started to bother me once it was over. 1) Everyone seemed to be hamming it up, acting melodramatically and giving me a bad feeling. 2) Puzzles were solved too quickly. Now, I understand that the audience needs to feel like something happened in the episode, like they are receiving new information, or they'll quickly become frustrated by having more questions than answers ( Hey, Lost ). However, I like a little time to suss things out myself. It seemed like they'd introduce these huge epic plot twists just to have them solved by the end of the episode - or sooner! Sometimes even by the next scene. After missing a few episodes, I found that I was dreading having to catch up with it rather than hurrying to do so...

Flash Forward was dropped because of its over-the-top acting, plot twists, and uninteresting pacing. And, man, I didn't even make it to Dominic Monaghan.

Dexter: Oh, this one's easy. I love the show, but we didn't get the station it was on. Showtime wasn't offering episodes, so I just got busy watching other things.

White Collar: Another one I was super excited for. I really like cheeky criminals one the one side, and Tim DeKay on the other, so, seemed like a surefire hit. Now, this is unfair because I only watched the Pilot, but I watched wowed off my feet by it. I liked Neal, but I didn't like how he instantly got the better of his FBI handler by smoozing his way into that nicer apartment. It would've been nice to see him struggle a bit. There was also a good deal of focusing on how he was running, oh they knew he'd run why did they ever trust him, and then him... not being running. I'd say stretch that one out a bit, so the tension can build a bit more about why he's doing or not doing certain actions. Anyway, like I said: unfair because I only watched the first episode.

White Collar was dropped mainly because I wanted a shorter schedule and I wasn't knocked off my feet by it.

Better Off Ted: Now this is a show that I just went crazy for every episode. I cannot possibly describe right now how much I did enjoy this show. And since this post is already too long, I won't. Better Off Ted premieres again soon, so maybe it'll be back on my schedule. Or maybe I'm afraid that it won't be able to keep up what it had.

Shows that actually got the axe: Dollhouse, a lot of deserving sitcoms

Yeah, well. Whatever to you, too, FOX.

Shows that survived: Trauma, V, Stargate Universe

Trauma: I didn't even expect to watch Trauma, except that it came right after Heroes so being the kind of lazy person I am that leaves the TV on until something that really sucks comes on, it's a natural progression. Also, I'd seen the ads ( I really like the new NBC brand right now ) and thought I'd recognized one of the actors. I really wanted to know who he was because I felt like I liked him for some reason. As usual, my character-instincts were strong, and Rabbit became one of my fast favorites from the very first instant he was on. Trauma isn't radically different than other medical/procedural shows out there, but I like what I'm seeing so far, and I like seeing the different cases and how some of them aren't huge epic disasters but just, say, small accidents or even people scamming for a drug fix. It's nice. ... and kind of gross.

V: I'll start off by saying this one is edging closer. Again, unfair, because I only watched the first episode. Actually, I watched the whole old miniseries and then the first episode, and I like some of the changes that were made, but I wasn't so hooked as to eagerly skip right to the next episode either. This means that either I'll catch up one of these days and plug along, or I'll forget about it for a while, realize I've missed too many episodes to bother, and drop it.

Stargate Universe: Let's ignore for a second that the most recent episode did something by which I am baffled and put off -- and focus on how I'm enjoying it as a whole. Different, yes, than earlier Stargates. Perhaps, yes, attempting to channel BSG and LOST a bit too much... but not so much that it turns me off. I'm starting to feel like I'm missing the sci-fi element to it all, though. In focusing on some much-needed character development, it is still losing its touch that its a sci-fi show and should, hopefully, feature some more aliens, spaceships, and, well, sci-fi elements. I understand that they're in space, and in an old spaceship they're trying to figure out... but only one of the characters is really invested in doing just that, and he's shown to be an immoral, smarmy man who could be trying to get everyone killed. So. Not sure what SGU is trying to say about space discovery...

Shows I can't give up: Heroes, Lie To Me, Criminal Minds, Supernatural, Fringe, Dollhouse, LOST

Heroes: ... I don't know. I don't even know. I hate where this show has gone, the writing is the most sheepish retconn-y contradictory stuff I've seen in a while, and it's courting a love affair with a villain who should've properly met his end back when the show was good in Season One. But I morbidly tune in out of curiosity... and a love for superpowered carnivals. And Ray Park.

Lie To Me: Ever since Monk took off with the trend, and House spat out his first insult, quirky investigators has been a niche digging itself a large hole in the television environment. A grave? Perhaps. But since then, snarky misfit leads have been hit or miss as it whether their brutal intensity ( or stifling complex ) is endearing or annoying. Or both. To me, Cal Lightman is both. And I love him for it. It helps that Tim Roth is amazing and delivers lines that most other people wouldn't be able to get away with - much like his British-but-pretending-not-to-be companion Hugh Laurie. Except, unlike House, for me, I watch Lie To Me for its cases and its supporting characters, not just for its sadistic leader.

Criminal Minds: My new favorite cop show, having topped SVU, because of its focus on behavioral analysis. I'm a sucker for a good psychology, and I enjoy the way Criminal Minds delivers. It isn't stunning television by any means, and hits the same one-points as other procedurals, as well as occasionally seeming out of hand, but I like what it does when it does it.

Supernatural: I'll be with this one to the end. And it had better end. I don't want to see Supernatural's name dragged through the mud because it made the mistake many do of lasting longer than it had enough story for. Supernatural is some entertaining, good, flawed, television with some supremely entertaining actors at its helm who clearly enjoy what they are doing. I can appreciate that as much as I appreciate a good religious mythology.

Fringe: This is honestly one of my favorite shows now. I find myself excited to watch it every time there's a new episode. It has the mystery-of-the-day that lets you have some mode of satisfaction by the end combined with a smooth, over-arcing plot that is revealed over time without being rushed or ignored. I might not understand the "science", and half of it is likely bogus, but they make me believe, and I like hearing about things such as telepathy and teleporting as if it were a bit more grounded. But only a bit. Because.. ya know, fringe science.

Dollhouse: I wasn't sure how I felt about Dollhouse for a while. Although it had deep, human themes to it, I found most of the episodes to be just lightly entertaining and fun to watch. But as it went on, and, actually, through a second viewing of the first season after I bought it on DVD, I found I was even more caught. Unfortunately, it was then announced to be canceled. Thems the brakes when you're Joss Whedon, I suppose. I love the questions Dollhouse asks, and I love the world. I will miss it a good bit.

LOST: My introduction to loving LOST is a long and twisty story I will share another time. Now all we need to know is that I'm trapped in that world whole-hearted. I haven't quite found another one I like discussing and theorizing about more than this one, and I'm terrified and sad that it will be over. However, I am glad that it has a set end-point because we all know the worst fate of a TV show is to last too long. Then you're just left with a bitter note of what used to be good. No, I hope LOST goes out with a bang... which is... ya know, sort of backwards since.. that's what.. this season is starting with...

ANYWAY. These are the things currently fueling my love for television. Everything stated here is my opinion, and can be challenged. And, who knows, maybe one of my favorites will crash and burn. It's not like it's never happened before, Heroes.


rmarkyates said...

It's a little shock and shame to hear that Flash Forward and Dexter were canned.

Although I am a little behind with them being in the UK: half-way into Flash Forward series 1 and have just had the morbid pleasure of Dexter series 1 on dvd just recently.

I do love my Lost, although I've yet to embark on series 4. I can't forgive them for letting Charlie go as he was one of my favourite characters. I do hope that the change in flash back format will work as i wasn't keen on it in the end of series 3. Did it work for you? Is it still as good or better than the first three series?

I'm looking forward to seeing Dollhouse as I'm a Joss fan and also catching up on Fringe and Heroes series 2. I've heard bad things about the latter, which are worrying.

Better off Ted sounds interesting.

Great post by the way! :)

stoph said...

If you mean canned off my list, in Dexter's defense, the majority reason was because I just couldn't watch it for free. I'll probably get around to catching up when I have a free slot on Netflix or somesuch.

As for Lost, I've a bit of a mixed feeling. On the one hand, I don't believe the 2nd season was as well done or interesting as the others. I've only grown more fond of the show as it goes on because I'm more engrossed in characters and mythology that are later introduced. In the very, very beginning, I was actually a bit bored and frustrated by it. I think this latest season, 5, has been so far my favorite in terms of using time and flashbacks - but a lot of people complained about it being too jumpy and confusing, so. It can get complicated!

A+ on Dollhouse and especially Fringe from me. I wish I could say better things about Heroes, because the concept is a treasure to me, but I just haven't been happy since that wonderful first season. But who knows-- maybe you'll think it's great! Plenty of people disagree with me on stuff, and more power to them. XD

Better Off Ted is quirky and precious. Check it out!

And thank you!