TV in 2010

Catching up on my thoughts from the fall premiere week:

This fall hasn’t been too good to new shows, according to Entertainment Weekly’s review of the ratings numbers.  I’m also not sure what it says about our civilization when “Dancing with the Stars” is a top show.  Ken Tucker of EW makes some observations (everybody’s trying too hard to make a cult hit; cable?).  But, this fall hasn’t exactly been very exciting.

“Community” – oh, wow, this has been a pretty darn good show.  I keep watching it online instead of on real tv (man, I’m can’t give up my real tv, but the time slot for “Community” is not good for me), so I end up making myself a mini-marathon to catch up.  Just Good Stuff.

The season premiere was pretty entertaining, but really: Senor Chang, the ex-Spanish teacher/now student, as the creepy hanger-on who wants to join the gang – creepy.  Ken Jeong can be a bit much; on the other hand, his rivalry with Prof. Duncan, the irritating Brit, is funny.

The second episode of the season was sadly funny, because Jeff had to realize that getting back to his law firm life was going to be a bit of a joke (Drew Carey as the law firm partner with a hole in his hand (yes, literally) was also sadly funny).

The “Halloween” episode was ridiculous: zombies?  And, Troy tries to save the day by accepting his inner geek/nerd, and exploiting the Power of Imagination.  Didn’t quite work (the only way to fight zombies is to – well – fight them), but hilarious.  Oh, and the fear of crazy cats – a trope out of the silliest scary movies – too funny.

Jeff and his Britta and/or Annie problem apparently continues (to whatever extent; I think we should just go with the laughs and the sadness, bearing in mind that Annie is supposed to be 15 to 20 years younger than him and Britta is more of the friends with benefits type of relationship with him, if there’s anything more than friendship between them).

Yes – that’s right – sadness!  Jeff and Britta are the “we’re too cool for school/but…not really” attitudes; Shirley is hiding her darkness (no wonder she is determined to be Christian – her religion is probably what keeps her sane); Pierce is Chevy Chase pathetic with his aging; Annie tries too hard, and there is that really depressing past of hers (she had to be treated for burnout after high school and before college, after all); Abed is unable to emotionally connect (he’s possibly on the autistism spectrum, or just really human in trying to connect with people); and Troy — I think he really is the most well-adjusted (putting aside his little eccentricities) one of the group.

That last episode this week, where the gang “celebrates” Troy’s 21st birthday (they couldn’t really celebrate since he’s a Jehovah’s Witness and shouldn’t  be really celebrating if he wishes to be consistent with his religion), but the gang’s attempt at going to a bar so that Troy could legally drink – well, it was a sweet and funny and tragic comedy.  It felt like this episode of “Community” could go along the great traditions of the more classic hard episodes of “MASH” or “Cheers” or even “Frasier” and “Friends” (I’d even say “Office,” but I’m not a big “Office” viewer; which, if you really think of it, none of these were “happy” so much as situational series about friends, family, and work).

I found the Circus documentary (maybe it was more “reality show,” but it was documentary in its presentation) on PBS very fascinating about how it showed a year in the life of the Big Apple Circus.

Mike Hale in the NY Times commented on how (New) Sherlock Holmes has too much Doctor Who about him, since the People Behind the Doctor made the new series possible.  The new series was aired on Masterpiece Theatre, and I liked it pretty much.  But, really – Sherlock got ridiculous.  I can’t blame either Watson or Lestrade from wanting to just smack him upside the head.  The modern twist on the relationship of the Holmes brothers was strangely entertaining.

“Fringe” – I still have some catching up to do, but the alternate universe episodes were far more entertaining than I expected.  Alternate Broyles is still a good man.  It’s nice to see Charlie again, even if it is Alternate Charlie.  Lincoln Lee isn’t a bad guy.  And, Olivia’s dramatic return home to her universe – well, let’s just say there was sacrifice involved and how sad it was.  Actor John Noble ought to get an Emmy nomination for playing two roles (Walter and Walternate).  And, while it took Peter forever to figure out what was going on, he got smart real fast.  I think Broyles was a bit crazy to have given Peter a gun and a bullet-proof vest, as if he were an agent and not a consultant, but maybe Peter ought to think about becoming a real agent already.

I watched some “House” but I lost my commitment to it a long time ago.  I find the whole House-Cuddy relationship now a big turn off.  And, Wilson and his women problems (particularly how he  so did not get his first wife figured out) – ugh.  They seemed to have made Wilson rather pathetic.  But, it is kind of amusing to see Amber Tamblyn though on “House”; at one point her old “General Hospital” character was going to be / now is a medical student; now she is playing a medical student on prime time.

The canceled stuff:

Re: ABC’s cancellation of “The Whole Truth” – I kind of liked this show, even though it still needed some more work (ok, a lot of work).  It was Law and Order with Rob Morrow and Maura Tierney, two actors who ought be in a good show somewhere somehow.  ABC could’ve given them another show entirely – and I suppose it was generous that ABC gave them as much time as they did, as opposed to FOX killing “Lone Star” after only two episodes(!); really, it’s not like ABC had anything else going for it, does it?  (seriously: no.  Not with “Dancing with the Stars” and “Ice Skating with the Stars” and another “Bachelor”…).

Re: NBC’s cancellation of “Undercovers” (can’t find a link at the moment) – I wanted to like “Undercover,” because the leading pair was so attractive.  In fact, I thought that Boris Kodjoe as the husband had a charisma and acting ability; he deserves a good show!  But, the series felt like “Alias”-lite. and it needed some more weird stuff, and Alias-craziness. And, polar bears, Lost-style.  J.J. Abrams didn’t push it and neither did NBC, which didn’t exactly make me feel better about NBC really.

Re: FOX’s cancellation of “Lone Star” (also can’t find a link at the moment) – see, I liked the first episode; I just didn’t see how the series was going to last.  Sorry.  The lead actor was hot and all, but that’s clearly not enough to keep yourself on the air.  You can have a complicated plot line, but not to the point that you can’t find a way out while still building an audience.  Or at least keep FOX happy.

“Lie to Me” got put on instead.  I want to like it, but… I’m turned off by how much lying is going and I’m not clear as to what Tim Roth’s character Dr. Lightman is really doing.  Is he mostly using his scientific skills to detect lies for good as a detective type?  He’s lost his link to the FBI, so what’s he doing?  Helping the helpless?  Helping whatever arises?  I haven’t committed to watching it, so maybe that’s why I can’t get into it.

Re: NBC’s cancellation of “Outlaw” – actually, I was stunned by how long NBC kept the show on at all.  Oh, and there is this fantastic article by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick on  “Outlaw” – such great lines, especially about Jimmy Smit’s ex-Justice Garza.  Says Lithwick: “And Justice Garza is vile.  Not cutely flawed like Dr. House but god-awful, like Skeletor.”  A Skeletor reference! OhmiGod! How often does that happen in a newsmagazine, even one like Slate?

The return of “Conan.”  I didn’t really watch much (I still haven’t quite stuck with it, because I’m not much of a cable viewer), but I suppose it’s nice that he’s back and he’ll develop what he has.

I could go on.  But, I’ll leave it to another post…