Wednesday, November 10, 2004

TV Thoughts Thus Far

And now, the much-delayed post about the Television Season so far...

-So far, Desperate Housewives is actually living up to the hype. It's funny, slightly off-kilter, and it keeps you guessing. The cast is great and the show manages to somehow keep itself from getting too serious, too silly, or too outrageous. I hope it can keep this up, at least through the end of the season.

Another show I hope can keep up its creativity over the course of its first season is Lost. So far, it's a pretty good show. The producers were smart to have most of the characters with dirty little secrets (one's a criminal, one's a heroin addict, one's an Iraqi who fought in the first Gulf War) which could make for dramatic situations in the future. Then there is the bizarre creatures that are killing people, the 16-year-old distress message, and some unusual animals (what is a polar bear doing on a tropical island?). One thing I really like is the way they are giving most of the characters backstories. The most shocking ones thus far include the man with the scar on his eye (he couldn't walk until after the crash) and the Korean woman (she wanted to leave her husband and he doesn't know she can speak English). Given that each episode represents roughly a day, it could theoretically last for more than a couple of seasons. Whether it does is a tossup.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying George Lopez on Tuesday nights. I like the show's brand of edgy dysfunctional family humor. George Lopez is much better than its lead-in, My Wife and Kids. It's funny sometimes, but most of the time it's stupid.

-Most of the Thursday night lineup on NBC is a big disappointment. Joey isn't all that funny. I wasn't the biggest fan of Friends, but at least it was actually funny. The Apprentice has gone from guilty pleasure to lame for me. I think the unceremonious way the lone black woman was fired soured me on the show this season. As a TV critic pointed out, not even Donald Trump could fire someone just because others thought she was "crazy." It also doesn't help that the assignments have basically been excuses to advertise various companies. The only show that is still okay is Will & Grace...for now.

Despite Joey and The Apprentice not being all that good (and other NBC shows like LAX just plain sucking), I do enjoy Scrubs, Las Vegas, and Father of The Pride. Scrubs continues to be hilarious with its own unique sense of humor and an underlying sense of melancholy that doesn't drag it down. Las Vegas is actually just as good as it was last season, with its flashy look and combination of action/adventure and humor. They have even taken the chance with some more serious plots this season (such as the season opener and the crossover with Crossing Jordan). Father of The Pride is a step below Scrubs and Las Vegas, but it's fun to watch and it has improved from its first episode. The voice acting is very good. The actors who play Siegfried and Roy steal the show with easily the weirdest and most clever dialogue of the show. I think the show can only get better...too bad it's all but cancelled.

-After a hiatus from watching Adult Swim (I always kind of forgot about it), I've returned to watching it and it's still good. I'm still a fan of Harvey Birdman, with its twisted versions of Hanna-Barbera characters. The Jetsons episode featured a scene that was so wrong it was hilarious (think about how The Jetsons move about on the show). Aqua Teen Hunger Force is still one of the weirdest comedy shows on TV. However, I really enjoy a newer show on Adult Swim called The Venture Bros. It's a parody of Jonny Quest with surprisingly racy humor that's not as strange as other Adult Swim shows. I love the characters like Brock, the ultra-serious, ultra-violent equivalent of Race Bannon, The Monarch, Dr. Venture's archenemy who is more normal than you think and his girlfriend Dr. Girlfriend, a beautiful woman who sounds like Harvey Fierstein. The new show Super Milk-Chan out weirds even Aqua Teen and Sealab 2021. If the people who made Excel Saga were on crack and the people who made FLCL were on weed, then the people who made Super Milk-Chan are sniffing industrial strength epoxy . That's all I have to say about that show. As for Adult Swim's anime (apart from Super Milk-Chan, that is)...they've gotten some good shows. Full Metal Alchemist and Ghost in The Shell: Stand Alone Complex are hits waiting to happen.

-Damn baseball. I shouldn't have had to wait until November for new eps of my favorite FOX shows. Now that they've finally come on, I'm a happy camper. The OC needed a whole episode to clean up the mess from last season, but I'm eager to see how the rest of this sophomore season turns out. The FOX Sunday shows started out pretty strong. King of The Hill is probably one of the most underrated comedies on TV. It's realistic and hilarious which is something that many shows (animated or not) can't pull off. Malcolm in The Middle is just as loony and wrong as it has been (the exploding dirty diapers attached to balloons was easily the biggest laugh of the night). The Simpsons was okay, but I'm actually optimistic that this upcoming season will be better than the show's nadir a couple of years back. Arrested Development continues to prove why it won the Best Comedy Emmy. With well-defined characters, excellent performances, and outrageous plot twists, it's a wonderful show that I hope gains a larger audience.

The surprise of Sunday, though, was My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss. Filmed in Chicago, this reality show that parodies The Apprentice was mean, but funny. These people should have really seen through some of the stuff, even in the first episode. What's sad is that The Apprentice itself has gotten so silly that the stuff on My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss may not be so far-fetched.

-The shows we watch on The WB are still pretty good. I still like Smallville, but it's kind of wrong that they got rid of Pete (the lone black person on the show) and replaced him with Lois Lane. I guess they figured that Clark could be more angsty with no best friend (apart from eventual enemy Lex Luthor) and no one (besides his parents) that know his secret. Then there's the Love Square of sorts between Clark, Lana (the girl he likes who is dating an older guy who works at the school), Chloe (who had/has a crush on Clark) and Lois (who has some sexual tension with him). With three potential love interests, it makes sense that Clark ends up becoming Superman.

Everwood continues to be a great little family drama. I like how it tackles issues and scenarios that no other show would. This is a show that had a fifth grader find a vibrator. It's not a candy-coated show, but it's not ultra-serious either. It's just a very well-made show.

-The UPN shows (minus The Parkers which was cancelled last season) have started off on the right foot this season. All of them have their bouts of goofiness, but they are funny and entertaining. The cast of One on One is pretty likable. Flex Alexander continues to do good work to erase memories of the much-maligned Homeboys in Outer Space. Kyla Pratt works well with Flex (even if I always think about Penny Proud when I hear her talk). Half and Half is a lot of fun. While I like the main characters, the mothers steal the show. Their dislike of each other (and the way they deal with their daughters) often bring the biggest laughs. Girlfriends continues to be funny and heartfelt. Fortunately, having Toni be pregnant hasn't made the show less funny. The new Monday night show, Second Time Around, is okay thus far. It's not as good as the shows that precede it, but it's watchable. Eve is about the same as it was last season. It's fun with a very good cast (Eve and Jason George have good chemistry), but it's a little ridiculous at times.

I've been watching UPN's new drama, Kevin Hill, and I think it's pretty good. It's not exactly groundbreaking, but it's nice and sweet. The baby is cute (even if she changes every other episode) and it finds that nice balance of courtroom scenes, drama, and humor. My only wish is that they show Kevin interacting with more black characters. I applaud the show for being culturally sensitive (white/Latino best friend, gay nanny, biracial boss), but really...would it be too hard to have another black character pop up somewhere?

-This season of TV has been great so far. There's something on for me to watch virtually every night. There are some really interesting and creative new shows, while old ones continue to be fun to watch. In fact, it's almost too much to watch as we have to record shows nearly every night for my sister and ourselves. So, here's to good TV...while it lasts.

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