I have been meaning to get to this column for like 2 weeks and something just keeps coming up. We are about a month into the Fall season and already we are separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Overall, this season is going a lot like I figured it would, a whole lot of pomp, not so much circumstance.
Let's look at the returning favorites first. For me one of the best shows back on the air this season is NBC's Chuck. It has that great blend of action, humor, and sex appeal that doesn't take itself to seriously. It picked up right where it left off last season, building the relationship between Chuck and Sarah, the tension of the will they or won't they get together melodrama. Adam Baldwin is great as Agent Casey, the tough guy of the group who is slowly getting won over by Chuck's charm. Definitely a keeper. So much fun.
Coming up right behind (or maybe even slightly ahead) is ABC's Pushing Daisies. I love the chemistry between Ned the pie maker and Chuck the alive again girlfriend. Chi McBride is simply one of the funniest characters in TV as detective Emerson Cod. It is a show full of light hearted humor, fantastic set and costume design, and the show is so unlike anything else on TV that I want it to be successful. The supporting cast is top notch and I want the return of the love triangle with Chuck, Ned, and wayward pie waitress Olive. Please watch this show!
Rounding out my top 3 returning shows is The Office. When did painful awkwardness become so funny. I miss Pam being in the Office, having moved onto bigger things, but the addition of the new HR rep for the Scranton branch was a stroke of genius. She is a perfect counterpart for Steve Carrell, I can't wait to see what my favorite sitcom has in store.
Onto new shows! While I think the strike has hurt this season more than they would care to admit, I haven't been that impressed with the new line up this fall. The worst of the bunch was the CBS sitcom The Worst Week, maybe the most unfunny half hour of TV I have ever watched. I also have quickly dropped the Mentalist, confirming my suspicions that it was an unfunny combination of USA's Monk and Psych.
I did like the first episode of the Aussie sitcom by way of America Kath and Kim with Molly Shannon and Selma Blair. It has a very different feel to it than most sitcoms and I find that I can get behind quirkiness. I also think that Selma Blair is just really funny as the spoiled brat and I am inclined to give it some more air time.
I also watched the first episode of the Sci-fi original series Sanctuary, about a group of people who have pledged to help find a safe place for people with special abilities or heritages to stay...or held depending on their disposition. The first episode had fairly good effects and decent acting. I have hopes for the best as this show has warranted a few more viewings on my part.
The first episode of Life on Mars, a BBC remake about a cop from 2008 who is hit by a car and awakens in 1973 also dropped last week. While the first episode was a bit spotty, I am hoping that now the the admittedly thin premise is set, we can get on with the show. I am definitely giving it more time. My guess is that the adventures he has in the 70's is what is going on in his mind while he is in a coma, but that the results somehow effect the modern world he is trying to get back to. Worth a bit more exploration.
Now let's look at a few other shows. Heroes, in my opinion, is the show with the most prove this season. After what many perceived to be a lackluster and rushed second season, Heroes needed to start with a bang. I think the two hour intro was more of a whimper. With the promises of villains, most of them are defeated rather quickly. That leaves current heroes to become villains and I don't know that you want to change up the status qua like that after a rocky season 2. I will say this, they did start amping it up in the third episode and I am very anxious to see Monday's continuation. If they keep up with what they started last week, Heroes will be to the top of the pack again. I also think more Kristen Bell wouldn't hurt.
Fringe is a new series still on the bubble for me. I like the X-Files meets Lost concept a lot. I don't like that all the characters, except the older professor, are all pretty blase. I am not ready to give it up, but I am ready for the show to make me commit to the characters more. It is hard to stay excited about a show when you can invest some of yourself into the action.
The old standbys, namely The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, South Park and My Name is Earl continue to stay in rotation. Particularly Family Guy and South Park. Last weeks episode where the boys of South Park bring George Lucas and Steven Spielberg up on rape charges against Indiana Jones was priceless. With Family Guy, we are still singing that stupid Bird song from their season opener. It is a good time for animation right now.
Speaking of animation really quickly, I also watched the first two episodes of Cartoon Networks Star Wars: The Clone Wars and I have to admit, I was impressed. Downplaying the kid centric view of the film, these shows try to find a balance between humor, action, and quality. The show seems to be doing a better job than the film and I for one am happy to be able to like Star Wars again.
Fox's Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles is also a show that has be scared. As my choice, I wanted a show with a lot of action and adventure and Terminator is still struggling to find its identity. For every great episode that builds towards the shows quality potential, we get one of two filler episodes that don't quite measure up. I am looking for the same consistency that they had in the first season. Something to find a measuring stick against and to start working on a big picture.
The best show I was introduced to this year that I didn't know about is Mad Men, AMC's series about the men of New York's Madison Ave and the advertising agencies they work for in the early 1960's. A show where the they really show how men behaved back then, infidelity, booze, smoking, more women, all in reckless abandon. Yet everything is in such a perfectly written shell. The writing is some of the best on TV, the characters are rich, deep and varied. All the character can do unforgivable things, yet you find yourself rooting for people to find happiness.
I got through season 1 on DVD in about 3 days, and caught up with a lucky DVR block of season 2 after that. I am currently up to date on all the episodes and I eagerly look forward to Sundays and new shows.
That being said, there are still a few shows that either haven't started or I haven't watched yet. My Own Worst Enemy with Christian Slater and NBC's redux of the classic Crusoe still drop this week. Be on the lookout early next week for another update on the Line Up and the shows we all love. Thanks for reading and happy viewing.
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