I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in work and in the new fall season of television. I love that my job gives me a nominal excuse to actually watch all this shit.
For those keeping score, brief updates on all the shows I’ve been testing out for the fall season, sorted roughly by airdate/time:
Heroes – Extremely entertaining, and a lot better than I thought it would be. First two episodes show a lot of promise, but I’m not sure I buy that the production values and writing quality can be kept up long-term. Series television is harder than hell, especially when it has to look this good every week.
Vanished – Stopped watching after two episodes. Utterly preposterous with horrible acting, and totally wasted its Atlanta setting. If you’re going to bother to set a series somewhere other than New York or LA, then actually set it there. Don’t just intercut some stock footage of the city and call it even.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – Major disappointment. As has been astutely pointed out by the TV critic at the Akron Beacon-Journal, a huge part of the failure is that the sketches for the comedy that’s supposed to save the world? Are exceptionally weak (and the Gilbert and Sullivan bit is a rip-off of a Saturday Night Live bit with David Hyde Pierce, which in turn was a rip-off of Animaiacs).
Friday Night Lights – Just watched the first episode, and it was fucking awesome. Gripping, well-acted, extremely well directed. If the rest even come close to the pilot, this show is going to be fantastic. My favorite new show of the season.
Knights of Prosperity – Hasn’t premiered yet.
Standoff – Dreadful. The pilot was just awful, though the second episode (which I watched because the TV was still on after my show finished) was at least slightly better, but the only reason it was watchable was because of Tim DeKay as the unhinged air traffic controller. When your guest cast far outshines your leads, you have a serious problem.
Smith – Better than it has any right to be. Way better than Heist and probably better than Thief. Again, another one I’m unsure can keep this up for 22 episodes, but I’m a lot more open to it than I was when I heard the premise.
Jericho – Unexpectedly and morbidly fascinating. Poor Man’s Johnny Depp (aka Skeet Ulrich) isn’t bad, and Gerald McRaney stumbles onto his second great part of they year after playing George Hearst on my late, lamented Deadwood. However, the post-apocalyptic premise is what makes this worth watching. The only question that remains, as it does for so many other shows, is: For how long?
20 Good Years – Hasn’t premiered yet, but I’m hearing horrible buzz.
30 Rock – Hasn’t premiered yet, but will at least be funnier (if not necessarily better) than Studio 60.
Justice – Interesting concept, headache-inducing execution. The first show I’ve ever stopped watching because of the style in which it is shot. I thought all the jump cuts were going to give me a seizure. There’s a line at which your special effects drown out your plot, and this show was about thirty feet over it.
Kidnapped – A hell of a lot better than Vanished, but didn’t grab me for some reason. I meant to TiVo the second episode, but when I forgot, I realized I just didn’t care. That’s never a good sign.
The Nine – Premieres tomorrow. Will at least be better than Six Degrees (see below).
Ugly Betty – Been done before, totally clichéd. Still really great, mostly because America Ferrara owns the title role. This is one of the few shows I don’t see having any problem whatsoever mining years of material out of its premise.
Shark – James Woods is great, but they keep trying to give him a heart of gold in the scenes with his kid, and it robs the character of any resonance. I’m going to keep watching for a few episodes in the hope that it improves, but I’m not too optimistic.
Six Degrees – The pilot committed the worst sin in television: It was completely and utterly boring. Didn’t even watch the second episode.
Dexter – Michael C. Hall is spectacularly creepy as a sociopathic serial killer whose day job is as a forensics expert for the Miami Police. Way better than the concept sounds. Also way better than anything else on Showtime, though I admit that’s a somewhat low bar to clear.
Brothers and Sisters – I don’t know why I even bothered. Sally Field has always irritated me, and I knew I’d never buy Calista Flockhart as an Ann Coulter-type conservative ballbreaker. I heard the second episode was better than the pilot, but not even Rachel Griffiths could bring me to keep watching it.