Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall 2008 TV Season (So Far): Part 2

And now for Part 2 of my thoughts on the TV season so far:

Fringe - This is hands down my favorite new show of the season. Hell, maybe it’s my favorite new show in a while. I haven’t felt so strongly about a show since Veronica Mars got shitcanned. Fringe is a fantastic blend of action, mystery, and humor. The humor surprises me, because J.J. Abrams is no Joss Whedon, and even his relatively lighthearted fare (Felicity) generally lacks humor and honest to goodness jokes. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I do love the dark humor that permeats Whedon's work. But there’s a decent amount of levity here, which I love. J.J. has a knack for perfectly casting his series, and this is no exception. The chemistry of the main trio is fantastic. If I have one quibble, it’s that Astrid doesn’t have enough screentime and lines, but I’ll hope for better in the future. I’ll also hope that J.J. doesn’t allow Fringe to get too, too dragged down by weird mythology, the undoing of Fringe’s predecessor The X-Files and occasionally J.J.’s own shows, Alias and Lost. Still, for the foreseeable future my Tuesday nights are spoken for.

House - After one episode, I’m already sick of the new Private Eye. Like, as sick as I was of the horrible Vengeful Cop Tritter storyline from season 3. Spin him off or write him off or something, stat. And I hope they don’t delay the House/Wilson reunion too long, their relationship was one of the best parts of the show. But I really like the energy that the new team members bring to the show, and the cases have been really interesting so far. This, paired with Fringe, makes for a killer Tuesday.

90210 - The new 90210 is innocuous fun. Like I said earlier, I’m not crazy over vintage 90210 purity, so I don’t have a high emotional stake here. I will say it’s been nice seeing Brenda and Kelly back again, even with the utterly non-surprise reveal of Dylan as Kelly’s babydaddy. As for the fresh crop of Hills kids, like I said, they’re innocuous but fun. The new Brenda smiles. A lot. She’s actually the weak link of the show, the other characters seem marginally more engaging. Ultimately, the show is escapist fun but completely disposable.

Hole in the Wall - I tuned into this steaming pile of dreck thinking it might be wacky fun à la Wipeout. I won’t make that mistake twice.

Greek - This show remains cute and enjoyable, but what I most need to comment on is the brilliant use of euphemisms to sneak some really randy stuff past standards and practices. It’s amazing, and deserves applause, because that is some subtle, tricky, fabulous work.

America’s Next Top Model - Against all odds, this is the most likeable crop of models I’ve seen on this show. As much as I love catfighting drama, I was getting sick of watching horrible, horrible girls (Yaya, Dominique, Lisa) make it pretty far, while my favorites got booted fairly early (Heather, Sarah, Marvita) in every cycle. This cycle, I hated ShaRaun’s homophobic, entitled ass right off, so I pegged her as making the F2 because that’s usually how it goes, but to my delight she was booted off first. Right now I’m rooting for Sheena, Elina, McKey, and Analeigh, but at the moment there’s no one I’d loathe to see win it. I was also surprised by how well the Isis storyline was treated – I didn’t expect sensitive and realistic treatment of a transgendered person to come from ANTM of all places – and I was sad to see her go last week. (And she still looked more feminine than last season’s Dominique. Man, I still hate that scary, crazy woman.)

Ugly Betty
- Well, I do like being right about neither Henry nor Gio being chosen for Betty’s Summer Vacation. That said, I don’t think the premier episode was the sharpest of the series. While Wilhelmina’s new regime at Mode was funny, I missed the old chemistry of Daniel, Alexis, Wilhelmina, Betty, Marc, and Amanda all under one roof. But I did love the new look of the show, now that it’s being filmed in New York City instead of a Los Angeles sound stage. And Lindsay Lohan’s brief appearance was nice and understated, two words we haven’t been able to associate with LiLo in a while. Here’s hoping the next few episodes pick up the pace.

The Office – Sadly, I think this show gets incrementally less funny each year. It doesn’t slip much, but it definitely does slip. Of course, the show was out and out hilarious in season 1, so even in a diluted fifth season, it’s still funnier than most things on television. And the new HR rep – a.k.a. the female Michael – brings a great new energy to the cast.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
- This one’s been a victim of the Monday/Tuesday pileup for me. I just caught up on Hulu, and it looks like I may not be the only one slacking on my watching. The nets really need to spread the scripted stuff out throughout the week a bit better. It just doesn’t stand a chance against a pileup of Chuck (which I don’t watch but would if I had more time), Gossip Girl, Big Bang Theory/How I Met Your Mother. Oh, and Dancing With the Stars, which remains bafflingly popular. I wonder if it wouldn’t do better at 10pm with Prison Break (which I watched obsessively for season 1 and checked out of three eps into season 2) as a lead-in and with only Boston Legal as its real competition. In a way, I wonder if the ratings aren’t hampered by the show’s availability online. When I’m facing a Tivo Showdown, I usually side with the show that will be take longer to be posted online, and Hulu usually beats and so I end up Tivoing Gossip Girl, watching HIMYM on a small TV in another room (because I am not tech savvy enough to figure out how to tape one thing and watch another on the Tivo TV), and Huluing T:SCC when I get a chance. At any rate, I’m hoping this show beats the odds and sticks around for a while, because this season has already given us Shirley Manson as a urinal, okay? Imagine what else it has up its titanium sleeves.

Part 3 later this week!


Sex Mahoney for President said...

I'd like to say that The Office slowly gets less funny each year, but, after rewatching the entire series with a friend who had never seen them, that's blatantly untrue. They're just as good.

Sex Mahoney for President

smd said...

I just feel like the ratio of dramatic character development to outrageous humor is skewing slightly more towards DCD these days, which isn't unusual for a maturing comedy show and doesn't even make for a worse show, just different. Then again, I haven't rewatched any of the episodes since they aired, so maybe I should do a Netflix marathon and see if my opinion changes.