Fall Season 2006 – How it’s Going So Far

October 30, 2006

In September I launched this blog looking ahead to a season that was ripe with promise.  Lots of new, interesting and diverse shows that catered to the TV snob in me who hates procedurals with their “fill in the blank” of the week premises and favours complex serial shows that require a weekly committment.

So here we are 6 weeks into the new season and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag using this moment as a checkpoint. 

Let’s start with the Good.  Two of my favourite shows on the air right now started this season – Heroes and Friday Night Lights.  Unfortunately at this time only Heroes has been given a full season while Friday Night Lights struggles.  Hopefully the order for extra scripts means NBC is going to give it a chance to grow.  Brothers & Sisters is also starting to grow on me after a pretty rocky start.  If you are not watching any of these shows, please start now, especially Friday Night Lights.

I’m going to give honorable mention to Jericho and The Nine, the first of which has been given a full season and the latter which also has a script order.  I like both shows but there’s something about each that keeps them off my “must see” list.  For Jericho, I love the premise and the mysteries beneath the show but dislike Skeet in the lead and the “crisis of the week that only Skeet can fix” is wearing thin.  The Nine is kind of the opposite.  It has an excellent cast but the premise and mysteries don’t seem like enough to sustain an entire season let alone a long running show. 

Now the Bad which I’m going to split into 2 categories, shows that I hoped would be good and aren’t living up to my expectations and shows that were good but got cancelled early.

For shows I hoped for better from, there is no better example than Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip which I picked as my best of the year after seeing the pilot.  It turns out that it’s all been downhill from there.  Check some of my other posts to see why this is my biggest disappointment of the year.  I’m still watching but this one is on life support with me.  I also hoped Vanished and Six Degrees would have been better shows than they turned out to be.  I’m still giving Vanished another chance after the World Series but Six Degrees got dropped long ago. 

As for shows that I liked but got cancelled before getting a real chance to succeed, Smith and Kidnapped were both in my Good list.  Smith got unjustly cancelled after 3 airings (check out this posting for comments from lots of angry viewers) and Kidnapped got sent to Saturday night to finish off its 13 episode run.  Thinking about it a bit more, I’m going to move Kidnapped to the Good category and look at the show as a mini-series since it will actually have an ending and it’s a great show.  Pick it up on DVD next year, you won’t be sorry.

Now for the Really Bad.  In this category is Ugly Betty and The Class.  Ugly Betty lasted 1 episode with me and I have no idea what the critics who love this show saw in it that I didn’t.  The Class lasted two episodes but I knew after the first that it was off my list.  Neither of these shows have anything redeeming about them.  Check out some of my earlier posts on these shows to see what I disliked. 

So where does this leave me 6 weeks into the new season – with 3 shows that I love, 3 I like a lot, a couple I hope will get better before December and some that were either awful from the get go or just didn’t appeal to me at all. 

All in all a season that started with lots of promise but turned out to be the same as all the others.  Bring on the mid-season replacements.

Ugly Betty and Brothers & Sisters get Full Seasons

October 17, 2006

Zap2It reported today that Ugly Betty and Brothers & Sisters have been given full seasons by ABC.  I just wrote about Ugly Betty and how I truly think it is one of the worst shows I’ve seen in a long time (on par with CBS’s horrible The Class) but the critics and the ratings seem to disagree with me.  Brothers & Sisters on the other hand is starting to exhibit great promise.   The first 2 episodes were kind of boring but the last two have been excellent.  I guess Greg Berlanti has officially now taken over and his trademark ability to write about families and how they interact with each other is starting to shine through.  The writing has gotten snappier, the characters have gotten sharper and Sally Field is already the front runner to win an Emmy next season.  I even am getting over my dislike of Calista Flockhart.  Next week’s trailer showing Treat Williams joining is just icing on the cake.

Bottom line: ABC at least got 1 out of 2 right.

Capsule Reviews: Survivor, Ugly Betty, The Nine, Lost

October 17, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands – Episodes 4 & 5

After a promising start that emphasized the social game over the last few seasons’ increasingly complex (not in a good way) and lengthy challenges, we had 2 episodes that returned to the excesses of the past.  Of a 43 minute episode, more than 20 minutes was spent in challenges.  There’s nothing else to say.  If this continues another week, I’m dropping this show.

Avi’s Episodes Rating: B- 

Ugly Betty – Episode 1 and beyond

I finally got around to watching the first episode which is also the last as far as I’m concerned.  I would end this article right here except I have to express my confusion as to what the critics who are gushing over this show are seeing that I don’t.  Let’s start with the concept which I don’t think is enough to sustain a crappy movie let alone a weekly show – ugly girl works in fashion industry and shows that brains and inner beauty are more important than superficial appearances.   Nothing wrong with the message but this show takes this base concept and makes everyone in the show mean.  Now I admit I don’t work in fashion or pretend to care about fashion and maybe I’m naïve but I find it hard to believe that any workplace is as unprofessional as this one.  Even if I’m wrong about the fashion industry or even society in general, this show takes it one step beyond reality and common decency and mixes in even worse dialogue and background music.  Even despite these issues, I like to give new shows the benefit of the doubt and would have watched one more episode, until the last 5 minutes.  The big reveal that the believed dead editor of the fashion magazine is still alive, attached to a machine and conspiring with Vanessa Williams’ character to take on the CEO and his son (Alan Dale and Eric Mabius who both deserve way better) took this show into ridiculous soap opera territory and made me erase the remaining episodes off my PVR.

Avi’s Episode Rating up to the Last 5 Minutes – C+

Avi’s Episode Rating after the Show – D

The Nine – Episodes 1 & 2

 If you’re not watching this show, go right to ABC’s web site and get caught up.  The premise is a simple one – 9 strangers are held hostage in a bank robbery for 52 hours and emerge as different people who together now share a unique bond.  The mystery of what happened in the bank unfolds in short clips over each episode as the story follows the characters in the aftermath.  The cast is a “who’s who” of TV actors in particular the great Tim Daly (I miss Eyes) as the detective with a gambling problem who stepped up as a hero during the crisis, the understated Chi McBride as the bank manager who has bottled up everything that happened to him and his daughter, the ever dimpled Scott Wolf as a surgeon (like his former older brother now on Lost) who last episode killed the hospitalized bank robber and finally the outstanding John Billingsly as the formerly suicidal man who becomes a hero and finds a new lease on life.  There’s a lot going on and I don’t know how they can keep the show going for more than a year or 2 but I don’t care.  It’s a great show and I don’t know why more people aren’t watching.  Go watch now!!!!

Avi’s Episodes Rating – A-

Lost – Season 3, Episode 2

I enjoyed this week’s episode much more than the season opener.  Sun and Jin’s back story was great and answered the question (maybe) from last season whether Sun’s pregnancy is an island miracle or the result of an infidelity.  Kate and Sawyer’s chain gang adventure was lots of fun ending with Sawyer’s assessment of the Others’ troop strength.  It was good to see Sayid the hunter back in action and I appreciated the irony that generally passive Jin could be more dangerous than Sayid if he wanted.  Finally, the ending with Ben holding out to Jack the possibility of returning home made me hopeful that the show may actually have an ending.

Despite all these good things it finally hit me 5 minutes into this episode my issue with Lost.  The thing I like the best about this show is also what in my opinion is its biggest weakness.  I love the complexity of the show, the sprawling cast, the numerous mysteries and the large canvas where so many things are simultaneously happening I can’t wait to see what happens next.  The problem is with a cast roster that takes the first 10 minutes of the show to unroll most characters don’t appear week-to-week.  The huge mysteries and sweeping storylines unfold at a pace that I find frustrating when it only runs 22-24 episodes a season.  I want more.  I want to see all the characters every week.  I want lots to happen every week.  Unfortunately it’s just not possible in a network TV show.  To be clear, I’m not going anywhere.  I do, however, increasingly understand why some people like to wait for the DVDs where these issues become less obvious.

Avi’s Episode Review – A-

Capsule Reviews – Thursday Sept. 28

October 1, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands – Episode 3

For a great take on this episode read Alan Sepinwall’s review where he suggests that the season should have worked in reverse, they should have mixed the teams first and then split them by race.  Instead the “social experiment” turned out to be much a do about nothing.  I am, however, liking the renewed focus on the social dynamics of the game over the challenges.

Avi’s episode grade: B+

Ugly Betty – Episode 1

I still haven’t watched this but my wife wanted me to take back her endorsement of this show.  She woke up the next morning and told me that after thinking about the show, she didn’t enjoy it afterall.

Nicole’s episode grade: C

Shark – Season 1, Episode 2

Let’s see how close I was in predicting the pattern of this show last week:

  • I’m the greatest prosecutor ever. I eat defense lawyers and even lawyers on my own team for breakfast.  – Check and check
  • My daughter hates me.  – Check
  • I might lose this case so I’m going to wallow. – Sort of, I got the “might lose” part right but not the wallowing
  • Watch me pull some new evidence out of my ass and win. – Check
  • I’m the greatest prosecutor ever. I eat defense lawyers and even lawyers on my own team for breakfast.  – Check
  • My daughter kinda likes me.  – Check
  • The End – Check
  • Final verdict: The show wasn’t horrible despite the formula (always great to see one of my favourite character actors Zeljko Ivanek) but I’m overloaded with TV so this one’s gone.

    Avi’s Episode Review – B-