Saturday, October 04, 2008

Darwinism at Work: Tv's Fall 2008 Schedule Begins!

Saturday Night Live's political caricatures have been the funniest thing on Tv for the new season so far.

It's that special time of year again, the National networks get together to launch their slate of programs geared to get our eyeballs glued to the tv set. In the late 70's, I loved this time when TV Guide would get double stuffed with program names and brief captions of what new shows were coming up (I'm still bummed Holmes and Yo Yo didn't make it. ). As I got older I watched less TV, but this year I'm in the mood to see more of the boob tube so I thought I would take a look at some shows this time around to see if the old feeling comes back. Maybe an organized approach is in order. I don't know how much I'll actually watch, I used to like watching shows morph from their original premise in a desperate grab for ratings, but we'll see how it goes.

Returning Favorites

The Simpsons (Sun Fox 8pm): After two seasons of getting a little abstract with their stories and humor, the long running cartoon has returned to what made it great - snarky humor, insightful intelligent gags and stories about family. Some Simpsons episodes in recent years were funny but left me scratching my bald head in the end trying to figure out what happened. So far that hasn't happened this year El Barto. Ay Carumba!

Family Guy (Sun Fox 9pm): My favorite animated dysfunctional family (sorry Simpsons) returns and the first two episodes were pretty good. The jokes don't come as fast as previous seasons, it's hard to tell if it's due to a more confident approach or maybe just drain from creator Seth McFarlane doing prolonged double duty for American Dad (and about to spin off Cleveland for his own show as well). In any case, I hope this goes better than last season's pattern of one new episode followed by three reruns before the next new ep. On the upside, Family Guy has not lost its willingness to hit below the belt over and over again.

Chuck (Mon NBC 8pm): Super geek Chuck is back to awkwardly spew top secret knowledge and stumble through spy missions with the help of two federal agents. The season debut episode had all the fun and flair of the 1st season intact mixing action, intrigue and dorky humor. Here's to hoping the program continues to improve.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Mon Fox 8pm) : The Terminator time line continues with a second season of running and shouting at machines. Terminator still has some gas left in the tank, but three episodes in some of the themes are trying too hard (in two eps John Connor ditches his bodyguard Terminatrix because he's a teen, a rebel. Also the Terminatrix programming "malfunctions" twice.) There's still some good stuff in the show (such as the storyline involving Sarah Connor's ex and his wife, plus a look into the future with Cameron the female Terminator) yet it seems like they're trying to expand the scope of the show at the expense of the original premise (last week Sarah Connor spent the hour talking with the pregnant landlady in the hospital. She didn't shoot nobody last week!). The flaws are forgivable so far, I still have a good time watching.

Big Bang Theory (Mon CBS 8pm): Mondays at 8 is the place to geek out between Chuck, Terminator and this sit com about a group of intellectuals and a beautiful girl. I watch it every once in a while for a decent if predictable laugh.

My Name is Earl (Thurs NBC 8pm): A show I watch every once in a while, the episode I watched last week had that offhand wackiness and Jerry Springer ready characters that I liked in the previous seasons. Good humor with a little bit of heart.

The Office (Thurs NBC 9pm): I started watching this show through reruns and am now ready to watch some new episodes of this brilliant comedy. It straddles the line between realism and mockery.

New Shows on the Block

The Mentalist (Tues CBS 9pm): Another crime show, another hyper intellectual detective. Simon Baker is...the Mentalist! Which I thought would mean a magician, but instead he's just this observant guy with a cell phone. It's not bad, a pleasant way to pass the time and fun to watch the show reference a lot of Northern California locations (the show's base is set in Sacramento).

90210 (Tuesday CW 8pm): Driven by nostalgia, I had to see a little of this. Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth return (what, no Ian Ziering? I mean, he must have been available) to their favorite zip code really boring. I watched 20 minutes and was stupefied by the lameness. It's supposed to be about the new generation of kids but I didn't see any potential star power, just a bunch of teens who didn't make it onto High School Musical 3. Hey 90210, I heard from Gossip Girl they're gonna be Priveleged to kick your ass at One Tree Hill! Sorry, couldn't resist that.

New/Old Shows That Might Be Good

My Own Worst Enemy (Mon NBC 10pm): Christian Slater finally slums it on TV as a secret agent man with an identity crisis. A lot of money has gone into plugging this one, I might just check it out. Though I would prefer to see Pump Up The Volume the tv series. Christian Slater can now be a fortysomething still living in his parents basement, playing "outlaw" music like Flesh for Lulu on internet radio in between day shifts at Subway. That would rule.

Life on Mars (Thurs ABC 10pm): Continuing with the man-with-a-gun-displaced-from-his-surroundings theme, the BBC show about a modern day Cop who gets hurt and wakes up in the 70's is being translated for the USA. The British show was pretty good and while it's not a comedy I'm sure ABC is hoping for a The Office style crossover.

30 Rock (Thurs NBC 9:30pm): I haven't been interested in this show, but Tina Fey has been on a hot streak with her SNL appearances and Emmy wins for this program. Should I cave in and watch this to check it out? I don't know, I remember trying to watch Sports Night because of the hype and never got those minutes back in my life. Hmm...

Well, that's what I have to look forward to so far this tv season (I know, my life sounds so fulfilling!) to pass the time when I want to relax. I keep wondering if I'm missing something with Heroes, then I watch 10 minutes and get confused so I give up on it (same thing happens with Battlestar Galactica). Maybe I'll get into it five years from now, that's my normal pattern for a show like this.

So far in this young Fall season, there has been one true highlight to me: The Saturday Night Live political skits. I don't even like politics, but I like to see how they'll riff on the faults and blunders of both sides for humor. They have about one more month to work with before the show goes back to being boring so I plan to catch it while I can.

In all, this TV season doesn't look all that exciting after all. I'll still enjoy what I like but don't see anything really mindblowing out there right now. Hopefully some program will catch fire and make some must see tv for me. But in the meantime I think I'll take up exercise. C'mon Hollywood, give me something to couch potato to!


Frontrow said...

30 Rock, its a different kind of humor. Very quick wit and alot of blink and you'll miss it jokes. But really the funniest show on TV right now. (At least last season....until it comes back later this month). The hype is real..... The Office is always solid. I didn't get it at first, but then watched season 2 through reruns. Once you get comfortable with the characters, it starts to roll. NBC has the best two comedies on TV!

Mr. Mike said...

I like The Office after watching those reruns, I liked the couple of episodes I saw of the British version and just didn't get around to the American one until about two months ago. When the boss guy followed his onstar guide as it instructed him to drive into a small lake, I became really interested.

I'm going to give 30 Rock a shot, thanks for the tip on the type of jokes to look for!

Some Kinda Wonderful said...

When do you guys find time to watch all that stuff and still go to work every day? Don't you ever just sit down and read a good book? :)

Mr. Mike said...

I like books but have trouble finding anything I want to read. Used to read classics like Jack London or Nathaniel Hawthorne and enjoyed them. But a book is a major time investment for me because I'm a slow reader, so I really have to be interested to start.