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2:23 am - Thurs 11/15/07
Watching TV - While I CAN

Watching TV - While I CAN

Weds 11/14/07 (8:04 p.m.)

In a recent online journal entry, Carrie M. (More on her later) broke down her weekly tv schedule.

As you know, I like to watch a bit of tv myself - and hope to someday be on tv in some meaningful way - so I’m stealing a page from Carrie’s playbook, and giving you my current weekly tv schedule (With commentary, and an asterix, denoting my “Show Of The Night”).

Monday:

1. Chuck*
2. Heroes
3. Journeyman

So far, I haven’t watched an episode of Chuck that I haven’t found totally enjoyable. It’s a good premise - geeky guy gets drawn into the spy world against his will - the characters are all fun (And the girls are pretty), there’s a nice balance between humor and action, and it just has a good heart. There’s a sweetness to the storytelling I find appealing.

Heroes, on the other hand, is a show I was initially very excited about (Being kind of a comic book guy), and while the first season was definitely uneven, there was enough going on, and enough episodes that really delivered the goods, that I wanted to see where things were going.

But I was amongst the majority that found the season finale a huge letdown. And the second season, so far, has felt like nothing but a series of dramatic missteps and dead-ends (And all the presence of Kristin Bell has done so far is make me miss Veronica Mars). I’m basically “running on fumes” as a viewer, and am wondering why I’m still watching.

I actually haven’t watched Journeyman every week. For some reason, it’s hooked me enough to sometimes watch it, but not enough to make it a regular habit. I don’t know why, exactly; it’s a decent, if somewhat derivative, premise - guy travels back in time against his will, then has to figure out why he’s there (What needs to be “fixed”, basically), and work out why it’s happening to him in the first place - and it’s the kind of thing I’d think would have a stronger hold on my imagination (I’m wondering, if in my current frame-of-mind it’s a bit too “serious”, and not enough “fun” to suit me - My favorite shows so far this fall season seem to be heavily weighted towards “lighter” fare).

Tuesday:

1. Bones*
2 House
3. Reaper*
4. Boston Legal

This is the first season I’ve watched Bones and House on a regular basis; I’m not sure why, but I think in both cases, it was a simple matter of “too many shows, and just one VCR” (I also found Fox’s fall schedule - which started later than most because of baseball - very confusing). Now I wish I’d gotten my dvr sooner, because it’s a very enjoyable two hours of tv.

The primary appeal of Bones is the romantic chemistry/comic interplay between David Boreanaz (sp?) and Emily Deschanel, as “Agent Booth” and “Bones” (Before watching the show, I worried I wouldn’t be able to accept David B. in a new role, since I was an Angel fan, but it hasn’t been a problem). Beyond that, the writing is fun, the entire cast is quite likeable (And have a very nice chemistry of their own), and the tone is surprisingly light (For a show about solving murders that often shows pretty gruesome-looking human remains).

House is pretty much all Hugh Laurie. I’d only seen an episode or two prior to this season, and already I’m thinking about “the willing suspension of disbelief” - “they have these once-in-a-lifetime medical mysteries to solve every week?” - and I have no compelling interest in any of the characters other than “Dr. House”. But Hugh Laurie has been given such an entertaining character to play (And hits it out of the park), and is such an alternately smart, mean, funny, caring S.O.B., that he’s all the reason I need to keep watching. It’s just fun to watch him deal with people, and to watch other people have to deal with him.

Reaper would be a good companion-piece to Chuck, since they have a very similar basic outline (Geek/slacker guy, working a dead-end job, gets drawn into a second, secret life against his will - In the case of Reaper, “Sam”’s parents sold his soul to the Devil before he was born, so now he the Devil’s bounty hunter, assigned to hunt down souls that have escaped from Hell - all the while trying to maintain his regular life, and get “The Girl”). And I enjoy it for pretty much all the same reasons I like Chuck, but in this case, we get the added pleasure of Ray Wise, who is absolute comic perfection as the very well-dressed, avuncular “Devil” (Tyler Labine, I think his name is, also does standout work as “Sock”, one of “Sam”’s slacker friends). It’s another show where I’ve enjoyed every episode so far.

I don’t have quite the same “Why am I still watching this” feeling I have with Heroes, but I’m starting to get there with Boston Legal. It’s interesting, since I just finished talking about a show where our hero is the Devil’s bounty-hunter, but the trouble with Boston Legal, for me, is that I no longer believe it. It used to sometimes have serious “A” or “B” plots, while basically being another quirky “Ally McBeal” like show. But they fired all the actors who played relatively “straight” characters (I particularly miss Julie Bowen), and now it’s pretty much all “quirk”, and too often I find myself thinking not “this is funny”, but “this is just stupid”. The primary reason I’m still watching is James Spader, who is a very interesting, intelligent actor, playing a very interesting, intelligent character (And when he gets the chance to “let it rip” in courtroom scenes, he’s particularly fun to watch).

Wednesday:
1. Pushing Daisies*
2. Bionic Woman
3. Life

Pushing Daisies is like nothing else on tv - in terms of the premise, writing, acting style, “look”, etc. - and that in itself is reason enough to appreciate and watch the show. I imagine some people, like with me and Boston Legal, would find it way too “quirky” (And in the case of “Daisies”, too saccharine-sweet). But I think it’s romantic, funny, and just sweet enough. And it does a perfect job of creating its own fairytale-like world, to the point where you willingly “suspend your disbelief”...and are glad you did.

Bionic Woman I’ve only watched sporadically (Though I’m recording it tonite). It’s another of those shows, like Heroes, that I was enthused about because the comic book-ish premise appealed to me, but has been a bit of a letdown so far (For the record, I regularly watched The Six-Million Dollar Man, but was never a fan of the original Bionic Woman). I think part of the problem is the “Bionic Woman” herself (Michelle Ryan, I think is the actress’s name). She’s a bore, basically; I think the show would have been better served if they’d cast Katie Sackoff (From Battlestar Galactica) in the role, instead of as a rogue “Bionic Woman” whose bionic implants have made her crazy. And while I know they wanted to re-do this Bionic Woman and make it darker and grittier than the original (like the redo of Battlestar Galactical, which is a great show), it’s just not been that much fun to watch.

I haven’t watched Life every week, either (Though again, I’m recording it tonite). But when I have watched it, like House, the only reason I’ve watched is for the lead (Though right now, I can’t think of the character’s name, or the actor’s name who plays him). The character is a cop who was wrongly convicted of a crime, and has spent the last 12 years - I think it is - in jail, before his conviction was overturned. In order to get through his experience in prison, he became interested in Eastern thought, so now he’s sort of “Zen Cop”. And at the same time he solves “the case of the week” with his partner, he’s working on cracking the case that sent him to prison, trying to figure out who set him up to take the fall. When I’ve watched the show I’ve enjoyed it, but I guess not enough for it to be a critical part of my tv week.

Thursday:

1. Ugly Betty
2. Gray’s Anatomy
3. The NBC “Must See TV” comedies: My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office*, and Scrubs.

The combo of Ugly Betty and Gray’s Anatomy is probably the gayest/girliest tv I watch (Well, now that I think about it, that’s actually probably Sunday night), but while I’m still really enjoying Ugly Betty, Gray’s Anatomy” is another one of those shows I’m wondering why I’m still watching. Dramatically, the wheels started coming off the wagon even before season one was over, and so far this season, I’ve really felt the loss of Kate Walsh and Isiah Washington, and their comparatively adult, “grounded” characters. The writing feels off, so the characterizations feel off, no one seems to actually be “growing” as a character, and storylines (Notably George and Izzie’s whatever-it-is) are just not compelling. Again, I wonder why I’m still watching.

I really like all the NBC comedies - I think it’s a stronger lineup than most years of “Must See” Thursday nights (When they used to “hammock” one lame comedy in between powerhouse shows, in the hopes you’d be too lazy to turn the channel). But if I had to list the current shows in order of personal preference, it would go 1) The Office, 2) My Name Is Earl, 3) 30 Rock, and 4) Scrubs, with The Office as the show I’d put in the pantheon of “All Time Great TV Comedies”. I think Steve Carrell’s work as “Michael Scott”, in particular, is a thing of comedic beauty, but the entire cast, from top to bottom, is flawless. And congratulations to the writers (And to John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer) on doing the seemingly impossible, and creating a nice, believable, extremely likeable couple, without killing the comedy

Friday:

1 Friday Night Lights****

This is not just my favorite show I’m currently watching, but one of my favorite shows ever (About life in fictional “Dillon”, a small Texas town where life centers around high-school football). I love this show so much, I’m extremely frustrated that no one else seems to be watching it. It looks great, it’s fantastically written, flawlessly acted from top to bottom (Largely by a cast of previously unknown kids), and in Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton (As “Coach Taylor” and his wife “Tami”), you have the most realistic, sharply observed portrayal of a loving married couple, with their ups and downs, that I’ve ever seen on tv (If you want to catch up, you can buy the season one box set, watch back episodes on the NBC website - though I’m starting to think that’s wrong, since the writers are getting nothing for those airings - or buy it off Itunes. But if you enjoy good drama, and great tv, you should see. this. show. So it doesn’t get cancelled, and I can keep on enjoying it)

Saturday:

The networks gave up on Saturday programming years ago, so I have too.

Sunday:

1. Desperate Housewives*
2. Brothers and Sisters

Desperate Housewives took a serious nosedive last season, but this year, they’ve gotten their groove back, by giving us more of the “Housewives” together, and adding some new characters who actually add something to the show.

Brothers and Sisters is basically a very well-produced, well-written, well-acted soap – without the humor of Desperate Housewives - but I’m secure enough in my manhood that I’m okay with that (Basically, if it’s good, I’ll watch it).

And that’s what I’m watching right now.

Next month, The Closer and Saving Grace start up again.

 

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