Monday, October 13, 2008

Recent Television

Ever since I got a DVR I've been watching more TV. But I don't just record everything that's on... I keep an eye out for programs I think I might enjoy. I record shows I know I like, such as Psych, Monk, and Burn Notice. Someone said I'd like Eureka, so I set my DVR to record that, and the next day there happened to be a marathon where they showed the whole first season - that was convenient. I liked the first season of Chuck, which I watched online, so now that season 2 finally started I am recording it as well. I always liked Law & Order, so I set my DVR to record all episodes of that - I canceled that request after maybe 1 week because I had 37(!) episodes recorded! I've been watching those when there's nothing else on. I also caught up on probably every episode of Scrubs and that 70s Show - but not in any sensible order.

Watching all this TV I'm seeing ads for new shows coming out. There was In Plain Sight, more recently Raising the Bar and Sanctuary, and coming up is My Own Worst Enemy and Leverage. And of course, the 3rd season of Heroes just started - can't miss that!

I thought it would be prudent to share my thoughts on these new shows I've been watching...

Monk: I've watched a LOT of episodes of Monk, and frankly I'm a little sick of it. I like detective shows, but Monk is not really a detective show. It's a show about an odd guy put in laughable situations (laughable just because he's odd), and then at the end he says "Oh, by the way, I solved the case." I imagine I'll still watch it when it comes back on in January or whenever, but I might give it up before too long.

Psych: I like Psych a lot better than Monk, because it's about a guy actually using his 'unique gift' to solve crimes. In season 2 I liked how they made Gus less like 3PO and more like R2. Yes - that's a pop culture reference - seems fitting considering obscure pop-culture references are a big part of the show. The latest season is wearing on me though. In the first place, it's more soap opera-y. They seem to be playing up the long-term storylines more, which in general is OK, but I'm not sure they're doing a great job. So what, after a year of vehemently resisting Sean's advances, Jules is going to go out with him? That sounds pretty lame. Also, Sean's antics have just gotten more and more silly and inane. he's working with the police, at an active crime scene... sometimes I think he ought to grow up. it's odd, because in previous seasons I didn't think he needed to grow up...

Burn Notice: I continue to enjoy Burn Notice, I don't think it's changed much since I first saw it. there was a big, emotionally revealing scene at the end of last season where the ex-girlfriend, who seemed to be acting as if she were the current girlfriend, told Michael she wasn't going to hold a torch for him anymore... yet every episode since then she tries to get Michael to admit he misses her or wants her back or something. other than that though the show is cool. I like when he describes how an Op works, in layman's terms - like comparing a kidnapping to a business deal.

Eureka: I've been enjoying Eureka as well, despite the constant emphasis that "High IQ" = "smart" and yet the "dumb" sheriff is always the one with the answer that saves the day. Speaking of saving the day, I do think they could maybe have 1 episode where they don't have to evacuate the town or threaten to destroy the world. I'm not sure I'd stay in a town that has an evacuation threat 4 days a week.

Chuck: Chuck is pretty cool, and this season he's doing more Spy stuff... and they've amped up the "relationship" between Chuck and his "girlfriend". I think that's fine, but frankly I get it. they don't need to say it, out loud, in every episode. I've never liked the comic relief of the buddies at the Buy More either. I hope Morgan isn't as annoying as last season.

Law & Order: I've been watching re-runs, but that show continues to be really good. I don't watch Criminal intent or Special Victims Unit, just the original Law & Order. I like the ones with Jerry Orbach (edited to correct - I had the name all wrong), but despite which actors are on it, the show does a much better job than most. It's good, quality television (to the extent that exists).

In Plain Sight: A show about U.S. Marshals in the Witness Protection Program? It's just OK. I like the sidekick (Marshall) best. the mom and sister characters are just ridiculous. I was fairly entertained by the show, but it's not amazing. I'll probably watch the next season, if there is one.

Raising the Bar: Another court drama, looked like it could be cool. this one dramatizes and sensationalizes the Public Defender. The main character overacts a lot, and he's dating a prosecutor who routinely deceives, tricks, and manipulates to win cases (against him) at all costs. And of course each of his clients is totally innocent, and an incredible sob story to boot. For court drama I'll stick to Law and Order - even if Jack McCoy really never seems to lose a case. It's a lot more realistic and compelling.

Sanctuary: I don't know if I could be more disappointed in a TV show. It looked like something along the lines of Hellboy or Men In Black. I'm not a huge fan of either, but I watched the premier just to see what the show was about. The main character - an FBI profiler (or I guess he got fired for the FBI and now works for the police?) who's really observant and smart, but has an annoying penchant for not believing a case is ever as simple as everyone says. it turns out his mother was killed by a monster when he was little, and so when he gets recruited into this secret group (a mother, her daughter, and a random tech guy) who spends their time catching and studying "abnormal" creatures, you think he'd fit right in. Nope - even after accepting that there's a mermaid and a guy with wings downstairs, and a Neanderthal serving tea, he still doesn't "get it". I've never seen such a moron for a main character. Also, the acting is really bad, and I don't even care for the premise to begin with. I canceled all future recordings of Sanctuary after the second episode.

Heroes: It turns out I can be more disappointed in a TV program! The first season (and a half) of Heroes was very cool - even though I had to listen to the time traveling Hiro say "Darn, I didn't get there in time" over and over again. Season 3 promised to be bigger and better than ever, as it explores the dark side of the heroes - they're Villainous side. Well - so far the show has been a ridiculous failure if you ask me. Right in the beginning they invalidate the entire first season (in which the whole point was to keep Sylar from getting to Clair and taking her power because then he would be unstoppable). Well, they did save the cheerleader in season 1, but did they save the world? Sylar came right back. And in Season 3 now he caught up with Clair and took her power. Not only did she not die from it (she's indestructible after all), but now the big, bad boogieman has her power! I guess that's ok though, because it looks like he's going to be a good guy now. there are bigger things to be disappointed about... I'll accept that maybe Hiro just isn't very smart and therefore not very good at using his time travel abilities. But Peter, especially Future Peter, is pretty much a bad ass. All of a sudden he's bumbling around, shooting his brother, and losing the 'present' version of himself? Of course the ONLY way to stop Nathan from revealing his abilities is to arrive just when he's about to do so and shoot him. Give me a break. Also, for whatever reason Clair's on a vendetta against Peter - so she shoots him with a gun? Really? And it works? Then Clair, Daphne (who is clearly the product of that internet Make-Your-Own-Superhero thing they did), and 'fear guy' challenge the 2 most powerful beings ever (Peter and Sylar) - and they win? Just by punching Sylar? I could go on, but I'd really rather not. We won't even talk about Parkman (the ex-cop) and his 22 year old wife. I was really impressed in the beginning by how they made all these interesting abilities, and how the characters sort of resembled their abilities, but now the show is just so contrived it's actually painful to watch.

Leverage and My Own worst Enemy don't actually look that good. leverage reminds me of hustle, a British show about a group of con men that was actually pretty good. Maybe it'll be worth watching, but I doubt it'll be very good. My Own Worst Enemy stars Christian Slater, which probably means his career is on the decline. I just saw an interesting but relatively bad movie with him in it called He Was A Quiet Man, further evidence in support of that theory. A guy with a split personality, one of which is a super-spy? Hmm.... I'll check it out, but I don't have high hopes.

It turns out there's not a lot of good stuff on TV. No surprise really. All the stuff I liked is getting worse, and all the new stuff isn't very good. If it weren't for reruns of Scrubs and That 70s Show, I might give up TV altogether!


Renee said...

It's Orbach! Jerry Orbach! If you're going to be a fan of the dead man, at least give him some respect!
RIP Lenny, We love you!

(bet you didn't know I was an L&O fan. I've really seen too many of them...)

Rick Holzgrafe said...

I'm gonna hang in there for a few more episodes of Sanctuary. I agree the first two were quite disappointing. But I'm a fan of Amanda Tapping from all those years of Stargate SG-1, so I'm hoping the show will improve. And I think the third episode was an improvement; not the best thing on TV, but enough to keep me hoping.

Seth Jaffee said...

I took Sanctuary off my DVR list and never looked back. My roommate told me the third episode was better, but it didn't phase me in the slightest.

I hope the future shows of it treat you better!