Friday, May 15, 2009
Boob Tube In Review
Now that we're at the point that many TV series are having their finales to prepare for the big Summer rerun frenzy, it seemed right to look back at the season that was 2008-2009. After blogging about what I was looking forward to at the start of the season, I wanted to take a long hard look at how the shows I thought I would like panned out plus other shows I caught along the way. I just need closure, you see.
My favorite TV show on the air today got off to a so-so start before picking up steam. No show is funnier to me with Chuck's effervescent mix of pop culture humor, likeable characters and spy fantasy action. And what's wrong with having a government intelligence computer for a brain? The second half of the season started a new direction for the show by pushing Chuck to learn that his father and chief Intersect programmer Orion is one and the same. The season ending episode was all things great about Chuck as he got an upgraded Intersect locked in his head that allows him to do Matrix type stuff. "Guys, I know Kung Fu."
Flight Of The Conchords (HBO)
Like Chuck, Conchords got off to an OK start before finding that sweet spot of absurd naivetee' and kitchy musical numbers. Their Bonnie Tyler style power ballad escapade was a real winner. While it wasn't as good as the first season, Conchords sense of humor remained intact and brought some chuckles to me. The charity concert for epileptic dogs was classic. Who knew New Zealand and Australia were such enemies?
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
One of the reasons Chuck does poorly in the ratings is this show, a brainiac mecca sitcom loaded with sincere geekatude. The presence of hyper intelllectual anal retentive Sheldon upped the yuk factor and the series seemed to delve headlong into the real lives of young nerds. Whether it was Sheldon practicing his Admiral Ackbar imitation ("It's A Trap!"), forming a Wii Bowling league or ecstatic trips to the comic book store, Big Bang had its subjects down cold. And in one of the best guest appearances I've seen this year, geek nation pinup girl Summer Glau's showing spurred the awesomely cheesy pickup line "Is it hot in here, or is it just Summer?" When a show has you freeze framing the end title card of each episode, you know it's on to something.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox)
Speaking of Summer Glau, her show Terminator had a rough second season. Terminator's attempts at X File style mystery and conspiracy fell flat and over arty episodes detracted from the power of the original story. It just seemed to drag forever until the season ender, where the show decided to start kicking ass and taking names. If the rumors are true, it was too little too late as the show is said to be headed for the chopping block. I guess Terminators aren't indestructable after all. You just have to stop looking at them to make them go away.
WWE Raw (USA)
The grapplers got a little more attention this season by pumping up the storyline of Randy Orton and his big boot. Stories and match quality remained rock steady though not much in the way of mind blowing events took place.
Hells Kitchen (Fox)
Gordon Ramsey's latest victims were the usual run of the mill slobs masquerading as "chefs" with the exception of the two finalists. Loudmouths and lazy quitters filled 9/10ths of the show until it came down to the final two, the quiet methodical Paula vs the young hot shot Danny. In last night's finale, Danny took the prize. It's rare to see people who could actually cook on this show so it was great to see two chefs go head to head that could actually make food.
Celebrity Apprentice (NBC)
I haven't watched this show in the past and caught the last half of the season along with my wife. The business world is a brutal place even when playing for charity, these celebs back stabbed and cut each other off at the knees all in the name of donations. It was fun to watch these former famous people struggle to nail assigned projects and snipe each other in and out of the boardroom. Trump knows how to play people, letting them stew as much as possible to goose ratings. Case in point: Senior citizen commedianne Joan Rivers upset win over poker player Annie Duke. Duke played the game better but Rivers was the one people liked. This program delivered one of those stuck-in-my-head moments as River's disgust for Duke led to her withering spite when saying "You're a Poker player...a POKER player!"
American Idol (Fox)
The season isn't over yet, though this round of Idols have been the most entertaining bunch in years. Adam Lambert aka Glambert has drawn a ton of attention for his artful hair metal wailing and ambiguous sexuality. Lambert is unlike any prior Idol contestant, he runs the show; the show doesn't run him. Bands like U2 and Led Zep clear music for his explicit usage. If he doesn't win next week it will be the upset of the Century. And of course my favorite of this season, Allison Iraheta, delivered a blues rock edge to the masses with her raspy voice. And Glambert's duet with Iraheta on Foghat's "Slow Ride" was one of the greatest moments of this TV season. Too bad new judge Kara DioGuardi became more tiresome as the season wore on, I liked her at the outset until they got to the live shows where she just repeated whatever Randy said minus the "Dawg".
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network)
The animated adventures of Anakin and Obi Wan turned out pretty good. Some episodes were better than others. On the good ones, the animated show would pick up the zip and zeal of the original Star Wars movies. In brief flashes, I could go home again.
Moral Orel (Cartoon Network)
A series of short episodes that I think lasted for one season because the creator of the program passed away, Moral Orel places a pious kid in a world of selfishness and hidden lies. This show is not afraid to rub the viewer's face in what conservative religion would consider depravity yet is careful to protect Orel's sheltered soul.
Family Guy (Fox)
Like usual, Family Guy new episodes were harder to come by than a winning lottery ticket. When new eps were on, it was pretty good though there was a noticeable attempt to raise the squirm factor this season. There was one episode where the story revolved around OJ Simpson that was particularly uncomfortable to watch. Though seeing Stewie go on steroids or kidnap the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast for his personal pleasure was awesome.
The Simpsons (Fox)
As consistent as a Swiss watch (I think I got that metaphor right), The Simpsons continued to both poke fun and lionize the American way of life.
Burn Notice (USA)
I checked out USA's original series about a spy who has had his spyness stripped from him by the agency he works for. So he hangs around Florida working odd jobs for his selective skills. The key to this show is the knowing voice over from the series stars as he assesses and rhapsodizes about his misfortune and strategies for winning spy games. A decent show.
Best Week Ever (VH1)
Now hosted by that gap toothed comedian that's not David Letterman, what was one of my favorite shows has become achingly unfunny. Focusing on a select staff of comics, the show still has a good eye for memorable video footage from other programs yet the commentary and yuks are really lacking.
Robot Chicken (Cartoon Network)
It's always reruns that are on which sucks and is too bad, this homage to playing dollies in stop motion photography is a blast when they find a joke that sticks.
When I look at a list of programs I meant to watch (The Office, 30 Rock, The Mentalist, etc) I don't understand why I didn't check them out more thoroughly. Oh well, there's always next Fall.