Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Television Tuesday: Fall Premiere Week

This week is fall premiere week on the telly, when the networks debut (for the most part) all their new shows and new seasons for existing shows. 

Ooohhhhh. Exciting.

Well, it is if you're like me and enjoy a slightly unhealthy addiction to the boob tube, as my father used to refer to it. I like me some good drama and comedy and there's a lot of T.V. shows that have been delivering just that for a while now (Justified, I 'm looking at you. Hurry back!). This year, for the first time that I've been aware of, it feels as though we've hardly gotten away from things over the summer. Adverts for new fall shows have been running since before the 2010 spring season ended and my EW magazine has been hemorrhaging ads for new shows practically since Memorial Day. It's hard to get excited for new programs when you're being hit over the head of them before you've had a chance to finish processing the finale of LOST (to be fair, I'm not sure that last bit will ever happen.)

But I am having television fatigue. Yes, I said it – I am weary of the boob tube. Even with my DVR, I simply cannot keep up and the time suck that's happening from trying to is becoming detrimental. 

As a result, I have decided to parse down my DVR "Must-See" list for this fall. A quick rundown after the jump.

CHUCK – goes without saying. They've resolved the UST (unresolved sexual tension) and added Linda Hamilton as SpyMommy for the season arc and with a new CIA-run Buy More and a preggers Ellie, I'm ready to rock-n-roll.

SONS OF ANARCHY – the beauty - and curse - of these basic series shows is their short runs, only 13 weeks of new episodes at a time. At season 3, I'm totally wrapped up in the conflicts of the outlaw biker gang that constantly feels like a strange if electrifying mix of Shakespearean and pulp.

MODERN FAMILY, COMMUNITY, COUGAR TOWN, and THE BIG BANG THEORY – finally, for the first time in years, sitcoms that are smart, clever, bitingly funny, hysterically wacky, and filled with tons of heart and silly songs (and, with COUGAR TOWN at least, lots of wine). It's been a while since I've laughed out loud at a sitcom, but these shows regularly hit the funny spot.

THE CHOIR – I love this show so much. It's winding through its last four episodes, and I'll miss it when we it goes on BBCAmerica hiatus.

GLEE – I tried to step back from this a bit last spring in a pre-emptive attempt to cut back on my T.V. watching. The wackiness and the camp sometimes gets to be too much for me, but then the sweetness, Brittany, and the music constantly pulls me back. I love it. It's staying.

SUPERNATURAL – I got pulled in with the Winchester Boys over the summer, catching up with TNT repeats of seasons 1-3 and CW repeats for season 4. I want to see how they write their way out of Sam taking the devil back to hell and what happens when Grandpa Winchester shows up. Plus, those boys are awfully pretty.

TERRIERS – lacking any JUSTIFIED for awhile (season 2 filming doesn't even begin until October) I'm watching this great, new show about a pair of PIs on the bottom rung of the PI evolutionary ladder. It's funny, it's quick, and it's a little sad, but marvelously engaging. Another basic cable show that hooked me from the start. 

CASTLE – I enjoy CASTLE the show but mostly I'm there for Castle the man because I have deep and abiding love for Nathan Fillion. But the procedural shows are really beginning to weigh me down. THE MENTALIST is another casualty of procedural fatigue. Both these shows have killer leads, but I'm really only interested in the Red John episodes of THE MENTALIST and the UST of Castle and Beckett is getting old quick. With Internet episodes and holiday reruns, I can scan through the best when not trying to ruthlessly cut down a 140,000 word (and growing!) manuscript (and you thought I wrote a lot here!).

BONES – another show I've watched a long time, primarily for Boreanaz. And now, I've taken as much Brennan crap as I can stand. I don't buy it anymore and there's only so much genius tunnel vision I can buy with her. Despite being a superb episode of work from Boreanaz and Deschanel in the episode when she finally kicks him to the curb for good (or at least for right now), that was the final straw. , I've never like Brennan and find her to be an inconsistent character that shifts her highly-touted rationality to fit whatever her needs/wants are in the moment and I'm done.

GREY'S ANATOMY – I go back and forth with GREY's. What usually gets me to watch is the addition of actors I like, such as Kevin McKidd and Mary McDonnell, but it doesn't take too long before Shondra the Showrunner screws around with everything and pisses me off (if I could have lifted my T.V., I would have thrown it against the wall during the George and Izzie debacle). Even McSteamy isn't enough to counter that. I have finally learned to only tune in for the big episodes, like the riveting two-part season finale. I've got the DVR set to record the premiere because I want to see Christina and Owen get married, but that'll be it.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – I caught up with this show online this summer out of boredom and its mythology caught me up enough to try out the new season. Two episodes in, I'm done. Kevin Williamson's shows are just too mopey for me – 35 minutes of whining for every 10 minutes of plot momentum/action. I didn't even make it past October with Dawson's Creek and I'm not going to be a must seer for this one either.

NCIS – Mark Harmon's smile is what drew me to this show long ago, but now I'm kinda digging the whole thing, especially the humanizing episodes like Tony's doomed romance with Jeanne and when Gibbs goes home to PA. This is another season premiere I'm cued up for on the DVR, but I'm not planning on going beyond that. Again, I'm weary, and have no problem with waiting for the odd repeats or online episodes. I never got into NCIS: LA (too boring) so that poses no dilemma for me.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – funny as all get out when it's firing on all cylinders, but I can't be bothered to care about Ted or his future but not too future baby mom. It's all about Barney, Marshall, Lily, and Robin Sparkles for me and again, if I really want to see it, there are other places to find it.

THE CLOSER – pretty sure this last season was the last one for me on THE CLOSER. The one-note wonder of Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson is over and while the squad and Fitz have been enough to keep me hoping, after this last run of Mary Sue wonderment, I'm done. 

I tried HAWAII FIVE-0 and CHASE last night and both are blah, certainly not worth giving up CASTLE for either one of them. I actually think CASTLE may get back on the DVR for insomnia nights and for the Captain (oh Captain!). Alex O'Loughlin is terribly pretty and cut like a sharp knife and I've never felt as though he gives the wooden performances he's accused of, until now. Putting him up against Scott Caan, who's a trip, just seems to bring that plankness to the fore. I did enjoy the pilot, helped spectacularly by the surprise appearance (to me) of James Marsters as the episodes baddie. I had a good time yelling at the screen (ex: it's a casing, you git! Like the crime scene techs would have left it behind and Way to hit the carotid artery there, buddy. Come on! You're supposed to be a SEAL and you can't hit center mass?! ) and that always entertains me (though never those friends/family brave enough to watch something with me) so it wasn't a total waste, but I don't see it continuing. I liked Annie Frost in CHASE but she's no Karen Sisco, and while I'm also fond of Cole Hauser, I've already got a U.S. Marshal show (Hurry back JUSTIFIED, in case I haven't already said that yet!) - two if you count IN PLAIN SIGHT, which I don't because, yep, I'm done there too - and I don't need another.

Of all the debuts this week, the only one I was really tempted by is LONE STAR for the sheer amount of fantastic critical buzz its getting (and the lead is a dead ringer for FNL's Coach, Kyle Chandler), but I'm staying away from it so as not to get caught up in yet another show. Plus, based on the ratings of its premiere last night, this is likely another FOX show bound for an early and regrettable death, and I don't need another Brilliant but Canceled show to miss (still pining for you, LIFE).

I do plan to watch LAW&ORDER UK, probably the first time I've anticipated watching an L&O show since the SVU debut. Jamie Bamber, formerly Apollo on the late great BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, is heading up that cast, which makes it an instant headliner on my list. It also has Freema Agyeman, my least favorite of the revamped Doctor Who companions, but that wasn't her fault and I'll get over it (eventually). I suspect that BBCAMERICA will roll out one or two more shows that I absolutely have to see (they usually do), but right now L&O UK is the only newbie I'm excited about checking out. 

This fall season will be the first time in a long time that I'm not lining up the DVR for a list of new shows. It's not that there aren't any out there, simply that there are none that can pop as well as those four comedies or engage as much as LOST, which, yes, I do still miss. I'm lacking a deeply plotted, heavily mythological show (THE EVENT is a nonevent, I promise you), but I really don't think I'm missing it and I'm more than OK with that.

And if I'm wrong, well, that's what NetFlix is for.

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