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.

Jericho – Season 1, Episode 22 – Why We Fight

May 14, 2007

I’m hoping that this isn’t the last time I get to write about this show.  There’s no question it’s “on the bubble” as far as renewal goes and CBS sure isn’t the network that a show like Jericho would typically have a chance on, given its reliance (and sadly its success) on procedural shows.  Still, we can hope that CBS recognizes the great promise the show has and how it was really delivered in the second half of its season.

Well this was the episode for all the marbeatles where not only did lots happen but it was also so well executed.  I thought the flashback scenes to Eric’s wedding showing how he and Jake really didn’t get along played really well in contrast to the fighting scenes and Eric telling Jake he has his back.  I really was surprised that they killed off Johnston.  I knew there would be a death but I didn’t think it would be him.  Still, it makes sense in the larger context of the show and how it helps develop the core characters.

We also got a resurrection of sorts with Heather ending up in a military camp belonging to the newly formed government of the 21 United States of America.  How cool was that!  I wasn’t surprised to see Valenti as one of the people behind the new government and it was good to see the show address why he was looking for Hawkins’ nuclear bomb.  I have to admit that I wondered that myself and the explanation that its signature would prove who was behind the attacks made sense.

We also finally got the war between the towns that has been building the past 6 weeks.  I kept thinking about the barricade scene in Les Miserables as they cheered after winning the first round and then again as they prepared for round 2, just without the singing.  When the closing scene ended and the credits rolled with the helicopters overhead and the gunfire starting, I had one thought: There’s still a lot of stories behind the world of Jericho.  I hope CBS agrees.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A

Jericho – Season 1, Episodes 18 & 19 – AKA & Casus Belli

April 20, 2007

I haven’t written a review of Jericho since the 1st episode aired way back in September.  Truthfully the first 1/2 of the season didn’t really wow me.  I enjoyed a few elements like the mystery behind the bombs and Hawkins’ role in it but the pattern of town crisis of the week just didn’t keep me engaged.  I also wasn’t that crazy about most of the characters in particular Skeet Ulrich’s Jake.

When the show returned in February I decided to give it a few episodes before I dropped it for good.  I wasn’t optimistic.

Then the most amazing thing happened, the show actually got great.  The last 2 episodes in particular highlight what the show has started to do right – giving us answers about what happened with the attacks and giving some more cohesion to the weekly storylines.

In episode 18 we found out Hawkins’ role in the bombing and even more interesting that it really was a terrorist attack.  Best of all one of my favourite character actors of all time made an appearance – Daniel Benzali from Murder One – who unsurprisingly is the mastermind behind the attacks and works for Homeland Security.  We also finally had it confirmed that Hawkins is sitting on a nuclear bomb – cool.

This week’s episode focused on the post-bombing world as Jake and Hawkins head to New Bern to find out what happened to Eric.  In a nutshell, Heather is dead, New Bern is running a munitions factory and planning to go to war with Jericho and Jake and Eric get captured and are about to be strung up in front of the town.   This is the kind of storyline I would expect in a show about post nuclear war America.  I expect towns to be fighting for survival, new governments to be popping up and general lawlessness all around.  Throw in some profiteering by 2 of the most weasly and mercenary kids I’ve ever seen and this is now a real show (even though Skeet remains annoying).

Unfortunately given that it’s airing on CBS, isn’t a procedural and is getting its ass kicked in the ratings I don’t have high hopes that it’s coming back next season.  Still, after a horrible start the show has become extremely enjoyable and something I look forward to watching every week.

Avi’s Episode Ratings: A-

TV News: Studio 60 and Men With Trees Picked Up, Six Degrees Almost Cancelled, Jericho Takes a Break and Smith Stream Online

November 10, 2006

It seems like it’s coming down to the wire but lots of news about full season pick ups, hiatuses and Lost-like scheduling.

  •  Studio 60 gets a full season – I haven’t been shy in my criticism of the show but there’s a lot of potential so I’m glad it’s being given the chance to get better.
  • Men with Trees Gets a Full Season but it’s in Six Degrees’ time slot – I don’t watch either of these shows.  I tried them both but neither resonated with me.  I thought Six Degrees had potential but after a few viewings it didn’t look like it was going to live up to its interesting premise.  I’ll be shocked if its hiatus doesn’t really mean that Six Degrees is cancelled.
  • Jericho is going to split its season to run uninterrupted – Jericho’s fall season will end November 29th and the show will return for a winter season February 21.  I like this format for shows like Jericho and Lost.  It lets the show keep momentum by keeping you intersted week to week.  If you care (I don’t) King of Queens will air in Jericho’s time slot.
  • Unaired Smith episodes are going to stream online at CBS.com – I really liked this show and was disappointed when Smith was cancelled.  From my original posting it was clear that lots of people agreed.  You’ll have the chance to see for yourself the direction the show was headed when they put all 7 episodes and a synopsis of where the show was going on cbs.com.

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.

CBS – “Bold and Different” – What Crap!!!

October 20, 2006

Variety published an article today about CBS “throwing out the rulebook” next season and the network’s plan to put on unconventional shows that shock of shocks are not the procedurals that dominate CBS’s entire schedule.

Allow me to up front express my skepticism that this will ever happen.  Sure CBS may try a show or two that are unique but the reality is they won’t stick by them.  When Smith got cancelled and I blogged that I wasn’t surprised given CBS’s track record for not sticking by different kinds of shows, the number of comments from people who agreed was unbelievable to me.

It’s hard to blame CBS though.  The ratings for their procedural shows are huge and the ratings for their non-procedurals are mediocre.  There’s no one to blame but the people who watch their shows in droves.  I like Jericho but I think it’s just CBS throwing a bone to show they are willing to experiment and I don’t have high hopes that is will be on next year.  They really are only giving people what they want.

Still, it’s not what I want and I only hope that the creators who have great shows don’t waste their time putting them on a network that isn’t going to support them.

My rant is over and I feel better.  Let me know what you think.

Jericho gets Full Season Order, Friday Night Lights gets Extra Script Order

October 13, 2006

Zap2It today reported that CBS has given Jericho a full season order. After the Smith cancellation announcement last week, which had lots of discussion on this blog, I held off watching the last couple of episodes of Jericho given CBS’s lack of committment to shows that aren’t CSI clones. I guess I’ll watch now but I’m still not optimistic about its longevity on this network.

Even more exciting to me is the extra script order given to Friday Night Lights despite its sub-par ratings. I’ll be doing a review of this show right after this article but suffice to say I really like it.

CBS Sucks – Smith is now cancelled

October 7, 2006

I really liked Smith. I just watched episodes 2 & 3 and found it to be not only movie quality with fantastic actors, great effects and a story that really drew me in but also unique on television. On the other hand, I knew this show was in trouble as a CBS show. I don’t believe CBS has patience for shows like Smith which are too complex for the network’s typical procedural or bad sitcom viewer (except How I Met Your Mother).  I doubt Jericho will be far behind and after this announcement I might just stop watching now and not waste my time.  Good luck CBS – you might get ratings with your focus instead on new shows like The Class and Shark (which are terrible and you shouldn’t waste your timing watching) but I have no faith in you and the next time you try and launch a show that doesn’t fit your mold I won’t even bother watching.

Jericho – Season 1, Episode 1

September 22, 2006

I like the premise – a mushroom cloud that cuts Jericho off from the world. I generally like the cast. I think the show spent a bit too much time on Skeet and the bus crash. I mean, how did he end up hitting the only car on the road in the first place. It was a little slow for a pilot that is supposed to draw you in but I have good feelings about this one. I only hope CBS stays with it.

Avi’s rating: B