What I Watched on my Summer Vacation – Part III – TV News I Missed

September 7, 2007

Although I took a hiatus from writing about TV news, I sure didn’t stop following it.  Here are some of the big TV news announcements of the summer and my thoughts on them.

  • Veronica Mars Cancelled by the CW – Not a huge surprise but still a disappointment.  As much as I wasn’t crazy about season 3, especially the last few non-arc episodes, Veronica Mars was a great show.  I watched a couple of season 1 episodes this week now that it’s in syndication and all I have to say is that the first season truly was a brilliant feat in episodic storytelling and I’m going to miss it.  Of course what this paved the way for was…..
  • Kristin Bell joins the cast of Heroes – Fanboys went crazy at this news, myself included.  Veronica the superhero.  How cool is that!
  • The Sopranos ends with a black screen –  I admit I rewound the PVR a few times and swore at the TV.  At first I was disappointed with the ending but as I thought more about it I did appreciate the lack of closure as consistent with the uniqueness of the show.  Now a few months later I’m back to disappointed but still looking at the series as a whole it’s hard to be upset for long.  It will truly be remembered as one of the best shows to ever air.
  • Jericho gets renewed for a second season – After being cancelled by CBS, a network that has demonstrated little to no patience for a show that isn’t a procedural, a viewer campaign sending nuts to the network convinces the powers that be to renew the show.  I’m super happy about this.  After a very slow first half of the season (ironically, the half where the ratings were good), the second half began to kick butt with twists, turns, deaths and a compelling story that drew me in every week.  Even though it’s only been renewed for a few episodes to give it a chance this may be enough to ignore my initial bitterness and get me to watch a CBS show this year.
  • Battlestar Galactica is going to end after season 4 – I think it’s great that the show is already crafting an ending allowing it go out at the top of its game but I’m not ecstatic about the recent news that SciFi may spread the final 20 episodes over 2 years.  At this point I just want it to start.  January still seems a far way off.
  • Isaiah Washington fired from Grey’s Anatomy – Handled badly by all parties at the end of the day I just don’t care.
  • Emmy Nominations Announced – There isn’t much I can add to the confusion and outrage expressed by any one – critic, fan, etc – over the silly nominations.  No Friday Night Lights.  No The Wire.   No Lost.  No Battlestar Galactica.  Lots of Boston Legal and Two and a Half Men.  Do the nominators actually like TV?  I’m happy about the 30 Rock, Sopranos and Office nominations as well as Brothers & Sisters acting nominations.  Also not too disappointed by the absence of 24.  But what about The Shield and the brilliant Walton Goggins.  I guess this isn’t the year the Emmys become relevant.

Just a few highlights from the summer.  It’s great to be back.  My Fall Preview entries are coming next week.  Let me know your TV news highlights from the summer.

Rumors of Veronica Mars Being Renewed Continue

May 9, 2007

Michael Ausiello rumor hound extraordinaire is reporting today that prospects have improved for Veronica Mars to be renewed.  Between the cancellation of Gilmore Girls leaving a hole in the CW schedule and the apparently positive response from the CW president on the “Veronica joins the FBI” trailer that was shot, it looks like early reports of the show’s cancellation were premature.

As my regular readers know I’ve been a huge Veronica fan since its brilliant pilot episode and throughout its first season personally gave copies of my recorded DVDs to many, many people.  I haven’t loved this past season as much as the first two  and am still a little disappointed that they chose to abandon the arc format for the last few episodes.  Still, I definitely am not ready for the show to end yet and I’m personally encouraged by the change of direction next season and the new possibilities it opens up.  I’m still not sure how crazy I am if they drop the entire cast (specifically Keith, Logan and Mac) but I will say that if the show does drop the mystery arc model and goes to a mystery of the week format then I probably won’t be back next season.

I guess we’ll find out next week when CW officially announces its 2007-2008 schedule.

What Show Will You Save? An E! Online Poll

March 30, 2007

E!Online is running a poll asking people to vote on the one show they would save from a list of programs that are “on the bubble”.  According to Ain’t it Cool News the show that has received the most votes the last five years running has been renewed.

Of the 17 shows on the list there are 5 that I’m pulling for: 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs and Veronica Mars.  But according to the rules I can only choose one.  Last year my vote would have gone to Veronica Mars hands down but this year I have to vote for Friday Night Lights, especially after watching last night’s amazing hour  It’s not that I don’t want the rest to make it but rules are rules.

Click here to vote for your favourite and feel free to comment below and let me know your pick.

How Rob Thomas Will Stop Veronica Mars From Being Cancelled

March 17, 2007

Answer: Veronica Mars, FBI.

Rob Thomas is pitching the CW that if they pick up Veronica Mars for another season he’s willing to fast forward a few years and change up the show by (depending whether you read Yahoo or TVGuide) making our favourite sleuth an FBI agent or a trainee at the FBI academy.  The assumption is that if they make this change most of the cast will likely not be returning, except probably her father and maybe Logan. 

Still I like the idea a lot.  Lately I’ve been feeling like the writers are stretching every week to create on-campus mysteries for Veronica to solve and to weave in a larger campus centric extended mystery arc.  By putting her in the FBI academy or making her an agent this should really broaden the ability to solve mini-mysteries while working within a cool season long arc (picture her as a Clarice chasing her Hannibal Lecter).

Truthfully, I don’t care what they do.  As long as the show isn’t cancelled and I get me some more Veronica next season.

Veronica Mars – Season 3, Episode 15 – Papa’s Cabin

February 28, 2007

Well that’s it.  The last episode of the last mystery arc of the season.

Loved how Keith dove right in to the sheriff job.  It will be interesting to see if he keeps the job beyond an interim capacity.

Even more fun was seeing our favourite suck-up TA suck up to our favourite detective.  It was good to see him realize that while he may be fully up to speed on the academic in’s and out’s of detective work he sure doesn’t have any thing close to the field experience of Veronica.  Silly TA asking Veronica questions like “Is there a way?”  Must be a linear thinker. As we found out, he’s sure no match for her.

I’ve got to say.  The episode did keep me guessing until the end.  As I wavered back and forth between the wife and Landry to both, I have to give my wife credit.  She continued to maintain that it was the TA even when it seemed like it was for sure Landry.  So much for my planning to mock her.  I guess she can comment below and mock me.

Overall a good episode heavy on resolution with just a smidgen of good teen angst.

Unfortunately that’s it as VM goes off the air for the next 6 weeks of Pussycat Dolls something, something, don’t care.  When it comes back the show is not going to be the Veronica Mars I’ve loved for 2 1/2 years as it completes its third season run with individual self-contained episodes instead of good meaty multi-episode mystery arcs.  I’m still going to watch and I’ll do my best not to prejudge until I see them but I’m prepared to be disappointed and even more hope it’s not a harbinger of things to come presuming it’s renewed for Season 4.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A-

Veronica Mars – Season 3, Episode 12 – There’s Got to be a Morning After Pill

February 7, 2007

After last week’s frakstastic episode that spoke to my inner Comicon going, Battlestar Galactica loving geek we get a reasonably decent episode packed full of Veronica goodness along with a heaping dash of Keith.  I’m definitely going to miss when this show drops the larger arc in the back third of the season.  It gives balance to the show.
So this week Logan and Veronica break up for the gazillionth time but this time it looks like it might stick.  I forgot that the history between Veronica and Madison runs all the way back to the first season.  Hard to blame Logan for lying given what happened when Veronica found out.  I guess they’re going to ramp up the “Piz goes after Veronica” storyline now but I don’t see it.  No chemistry whatsoever.  I’d even rather see her with Dick.

The mystery this week had Veronica solving the mystery of who slipped a pregnant girl the morning after pill.  Not a great stand alone mystery but not bad.  I really do love how the show weaves background characters in and out of the show.  It’s a good reward for fans who pay attention.

Who wants to bet that the Dean was killed by his wife’s ex-husband.  I like that Tim is investigating too.  It could be fun to see him, Veronica and Keith team-up.  They need to bring this story a little more front and centre.  The few tidbits they throw at us aren’t enough to solve the mystery especially with only a few episodes to go before the arc concludes.

Regardless of the stories in any given episode what makes this show still great is the dialogue and interplay between the characters.   We feel Veronica’s pain after being betrayed by Logan.  We appreciate the best father/ daughter relationship on TV for the way they communicate in ways beyond the banter.  We laugh everytime Dick is on screen for his great one liners, intentional or not.  And of course, we vicariously feel triumphant when our characters succeed whether its uncovering a clue, solving a mystery, having a car stolen and then returned or just placing a camera to steal someone’s password.  All fun and games.

Hopefully CW will give this great show another season but for now it gets a:
Avis episode rating: B

What I Did on My Vacation – See Lots of TV Stars

February 1, 2007

While I was vacationing in Florida I took a side trip to the FX Show in Orlando. In addition to having lots of comics for me to buy there were also lots of celebrity guests. Here are some of the stars who were there. The Veronica Mars picture is actually from another convention but she was there and I’ve never posted it so here it is.

Me and Kristen Bell

Me and Kristen Bell

Firefly Panel

Firefly Panel

Sylar and the Cheerleader

The Cheerleader and Sylar
Believe it or not – The Greatest American Hero

The Greatest American Hero in the flesh

Updated: Can I Hear a Booooooo – Veronica Mars off the air for 8 weeks to make room for Pussycat Dolls reality show

January 20, 2007

Updated: I have to echo Yoni’s comment on my blog with a boo for Veronica Mars for making its final 5 episodes self-contained. The best part about the show is its ability to balance the big arcs with the character moments and the mysteries of the week. All this does is upset the balance.

So let me make sure I understand, the CW is a new network that hasn’t been able to successfully launch a new series yet. Most of its shows are nearing the end of their runs or are way past it (yes I’m talking about you 7th Heaven). But instead of taking a risk and investing in a show that has the potential to be a long term asset, it puts on a reality show looking for a new Pussycat Doll. At least if it was for something good I could handle Veronica taking a hiatus but for something that is at best a one hit wonder (light on the wonder) I think the CW is out to lunch.

Here’s the link to the article discussing the change and the possibility of Gilmore Girls being renewed for another season. What’s that smell – oh yeah, another former good show way being pushed way past its expiry date.

Top 10 TV Shows of 2006

January 1, 2007

 It’s been a great TV year.  I’ve spent the last few days making my list, watching the episodes twice all in preparation to give you my top 10 TV shows of 2006.  So without further ado…

1. The Wire – When this show completes its 5 year run after the next season, it will likely be the best show to ever air on television.  This doesn’t mean it will be my favourite – after all it’s not an easy or even particular entertaining show to watch compared to the typical TV fare.  It is, however, the most fascinating, compelling, best acted show ever and this season exceeded even the high bar set by past seasons with its examination of the Baltimore school system, the rise of the next generation corner boys and their leaders and a study of the politics of being mayor.  The thing I find most amazing about this show is its ability to juggle multiple storylines, a cast of 30+ actors – all leads and supporting at the same time – and the way it doesn’t force feed the viewer with simple, pat resolutions to complex situations.  This show is frequently compared to a great book in terms of its pace and complexity but for me The Wire would not be as brilliant in any other medium where the quick cut scenes and the power of the actors transcend any printed page.  I have to give a special shout out to the 4 actors playing Michael, Naymond, Duquan and Randy.  Their performances gave their stories the gravity and heart that made this season one of the best.  It’s going to be a long wait to find out what happens next.

2. The Shield – I’m shocked that I haven’t seen this show on that many best of lists from this year.  In its fifth season, The Shield was at its best, using the unbelievable Forrest Whitaker to paint our Strike Team into a corner from which they did not emerge unscathed.  Bringing to a head all of the storylines from the previous 4 seasons, including the amazing pilot episode, the season concluded with a moment that I saw coming and couldn’t believe was happening at the same time, changing the show forever and setting the groundwork for the new season.  What more could a viewer ask for!

3. The Office – It’s blasphamy to say this in many TV circles but the US version of The Office has now surpassed the original in my books.  I could mention the obvious moment of the past year – the season ending kiss between Jim and Pam which was the best season finale of last year.  I could mention the amazing Steve Carell who brilliantly can be an incompetent buffoon one minute and an effective regional manager who has the loyalty of his staff the next.  I could talk about all of the great episodes from the past year balancing laughs, cringe-worthy moments and emotional scenes simultaneously.  Instead I’m going to focus on what truly has made this show unique from its British counterpart – the amazing work that has been done to make the supporting characters integral parts of the show.  This show would not be as great as it is without Stanley, Kevin, Angela, Creed, Phyllis, Kelly, Oscar, Toby, Roy and new additions Ed Helms and Rashida Jones.  Every week this is my favourite show to watch and I’m sure this won’t change in 2007.

4. Battlestar Galactica – I watched the entire series since the summer and all I have to say is wow!!!  It’s hard not to agree with the mainstream critics who say that this isn’t just great sci-fi but great drama that should appeal to everyone.  2006 saw some brilliant moments for this show including the introduction of Pegasus, the birth of the first Cylon-Human baby and the truly game changing season 2.5 finale which jumped ahead a year in the settlement and Cylon occupation of New Caprica.  I love how the show is able to paint its characters into difficult situations that seem to have no solution and no easy answers, often forcing them to make hard decisions.   Unfortunately this means sometimes the show has to take an easy way out sometimes (Roslin’s cancer, death of Admiral Cain for example).  Still week after week the show is excellent, character driven, action packed TV.

5. Heroes – Although we’re only 11 episodes in, I have high hopes for this show.  As I’ve written before I’m a comic fan so I was somewhat predisposed to either love the show or hate it with nothing in between.  I’m glad it turned out to be the former with great characters, fun mysteries with forward momentum every single week, great villains and cliffhangers galore.  It’s still a little early to know if this show will have the staying power to be great in its 2nd and 3rd seasons but for now I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

6.  Everwood – An unfortunate casualty of the WB-UPN merger (One Tree Hill and 7th Heaven, don’t make me laugh), Everwood was able to wrap up its storylines in a way that not only pleased fans of the show but was consistent with the way we expect the characters we’ve come to love over the show’s 5 seasons to behave.  It also served as an amazing bookend to the first season with Andy talking to his wife, Amy’s grand gesture to win back Ephram, Nina and Andy getting together, Ephram finding his calling in Everwood and the Brown family at peace with their past and future.  Here’s hoping the rest of the series makes its way to DVD very soon.

7.  Friday Night Lights – It’s appropriate that this show follows my previous favourite family drama on this list.  Friday Night Lights has a richness in its stories of the people who make up the Dillon Panthers and the community that worships them, that doesn’t exist on any other show today.  The characters are 3 dimensional with the actors who play them transcending their archetypes of the dumb jock, the arrogant jock, the tough coach, the newbie quarterback and the hot cheerleader.  Like Everwood, this is a show about a town and the families in it.  Jason Street is a definite standout in the cast and I also have to acknowledge the show’s matter of fact integration of religion into its fabric which contrasts with the heavy handed portrayal in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. 

8. The Sopranos – After starting with a bang, the show kind of meandered a bit as it ended the first 1/2 of the 6th season.  Still, The Sopranos remains event television and Edie Falco truly did the work of her career this season as her character finally acknowledged the life she’s led with Tony.  Gandolfini also had amazing moments especially his interactions with AJ.  Those who thought it wasn’t violent enough or moved a little too slow don’t hold much weight with me.  I have high hopes that Chase and company will bring this show to the conclusion it justly deserves.

9. Veronica Mars – I’m not sure if I’m crazy yet about the new format of shorter story arcs but Veronica Mars continues to uniquely mix teenage angst with family drama and film noir each and every week.  Last May’s finale was one of the best edge of your seat episodes ever wrapping up old storylines and showing why the characters on this show have us tuning in. 

10. Lost – I worry about Lost and season 3 to date hasn’t made me feel more confident that the show knows where its going or will be brought to any form of resolution.  However, as long as Abrams, Cuse et al continue to include jaw dropping moments like Michael shooting Ana Lucia and Libby, the destruction of the hatch and the introduction of the Others I can forgive some of the weaker moments and the limited story momentum.  Concept wise I still love the show including the formula that mixes flashbacks with life on the island and I’m glad ABC decided to run it uninterrupted for the duration of the season since the frequent reruns last year didn’t help with momentum issues.  It remains true escapist TV entertainment and I hope the remainder of season 3 is as good as the fantastic back half of season 2.

Honourable Mentions: I’m going to give an honourable mention to Entourage, How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs and Dexter.  All were great this year but making a list is about drawing lines and this is where drew it.

Veronica Mars – Season 3, Episode 9 – Spit & Eggs

December 4, 2006

After a season that has been kind of uneven, this episode was sure packed with all kinds of Veronica goodness.

The show started with Logan breaking up with Veronica and as much as I wanted them to be together the first 2 seasons, since they’ve been together Veronica has become unlikable and Logan has lost his Loganesque charm. By the end of the episode both seemed like they were on the way back to being their old selves.

All the Veronica regulars made appearances this week even if they didn’t all have something to do (yes Weevil that means you). Still it was good to see the return of Mac and it’s always great to see Dick. I got nervous midway through last week that maybe Dick would turn out to be the rapist, at least until I remembered that the storyline started last year. It’s a good thing. Every time he and Veronica are together in a scene we get some of the best lines of any episode.

This week also brought us the end of the first mystery arc of the season and started the next one. So, I went on the record a few weeks ago that I thought the rapist was the dean. I admitted I had nothing to back it up and clearly I’m no Perry Mason. There’s been a lot of buzz online that the reveal of Mercer and Moe seemed out of left field. I didn’t find it too unreasonable given that they found the GHB and razor in Mercer’s stuff a few weeks ago and that Moe has been driving the safety mobile since the beginning of the show. My one complaint is that the show really didn’t make it too clear, after last week’s reveal, which rapes were committed by Mercer and Moe and which were faked. Still, as long as the show is internally consistent, I’m happy with the ending.

Speaking of the ending, the show concluded with the murder of the dean and Logan getting himself thrown in prison with the rapists. Ahh the things we do for love. Can’t wait until January.

Unfortunately I need to conclude this posting with the upsetting news that Rob Thomas is replacing his final mystery arc of the season with stand alone ones. Rob, if I wanted to watch CSI or any other procedural I would. I watch Veronica Mars for the balance of characters, mysteries of the week and a big, overarching, hairy detective story. Please stick to plan and continue to make me and the rest of your fans happy.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A