Saturday, May 21, 2011

Television: The Good, The Bad & The Cancelled

The end of 2010-2011 tv season is here - lots of shows shined, while others failed. Not surprisingly, a large amount of shows won't live to see another season to make way for a storm of new shows. Here are my thoughts:

1. The Good -

Fringe - I wrote about Fringe's epic third season back in January, so I only have a few things to add: 1. The series is one of the few that is getting better with age - every episode is better than the last. 2. That being said - it still aggravates me that it is a copy of Alias. Come on JJ - stop trying to fix your mistakes and come up with some new ideas (Don't worry...I still heart you...). 3. If Ana Torv doesn't get an Emmy nomination I will be at a loss for word. Not only did she do a fantastic job at portraying "Altivia" she also transformed into William Bell (the character that is usually played by Leonard Nemoy) - it was sheer perfection. 4. I really didn't want Olivia & Peter (I learned his name!) together but I think they are handling their relationship well so far. 5. The finale titled "The Day We Died" was awe inspiring. Why can't more shows be so imaginative?

Parenthood - I am surprised at myself for not writing a post about this show (aside from mentioning it in my picks for Emmy nominations). This is currently my favorite "family drama" on television. Also, hands down my favorite ensemble of actors - I have always been a fan of Peter Krause (since SportsNight), Monica Potter is a doll (I've met her and she is seriously sweet and beautiful in person), Sarah Ramos (loved her on American Dreams), Sam Jaegar (who played that douche on Eli Stone), but my favorite actress on the show is Mae Whitman. I bawl through most of her story lines - especially when she sang that song at open mic night. I love that every episode is dramatic (I cry at least once an episode) yet it is never really overly so. They don't end with huge cliffhangers, instead the episodes stay grounded in reality. My favorite moment so far: Peter Krause dancing to 'O.P.P' - Possibly the greatest thing I have ever seen.

The Vampire Diaries - The sophomore season of VD has been fantastic. There has been so many moments where I was stunned beyond words. For example: Caroline was shot in the head. Claus took over Alaric's body. Bonnie DIED (but not really). And Holy crap - did everyone watch that finale?!? That is how you successfully end a season while creating intrigue for another. My mouth was dropped open through it's entirety. I didn't think they would actually kill Jenna but that wasn't even the biggest surprise! The most jaw dropping moment was when Sheriff Forbes accidentally shoots Jeremy. I really liked Jeremy this season (much better than the whiny, self involved brat from season 1) so I was really upset when he "died". I really like how Bonnie brought him back only to have him "see" both of his exes - that is a great set up for next season. Probably the most intriguing part of next season will be Stefan's story. He is now Klaus's bitch - a genuine "ripper" which will obviously have a harsh effect on his relationship with Elena. Speaking of - Elena & Damon had a great heart-to-heart moment as Damon lay on his deathbed (bitten by Tyler). I have been sort of rooting for them ever since Damon said "I will always choose you" to her a few eps back. I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

NBC Thursday Comedies - Remember when NBC owned Thursday night? Well, they are back with a solid block of genius shows - Parks & Recreation, The Office and Community are 3 of the best comedies on network tv (30 Rock is hit or miss and Outsourced is entertaining but I wouldn't describe it as "genius"). Parks & Rec is probably my favorite of the night - the addition of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott really sets this show apart from other comedies. Rob Lowe has never been funnier - his pronunciation of "literally" gets me every time. April and Andy are quite possibly my favorite couple on television. My favorite episode is when Ben moves in with them and gives them a list of things to buy for an "adult" apartment - he says "there is a 30% chance that they'll die". I also love the episode where it is Ron's birthday and Leslie finds out and has something planned for him. Ron: Leslie has a lot of qualities I find horrifying. But the worst one by far is how thoughtful she can be. Hilarious. The Office has really had a solid season - I was skeptical with it being Michael Scott's last season, but the last few episodes without him have been some of the season's best - so next season might actually have a shot at being awesome and rejuvenate the show. I like that this season they stepped out of the actual office a few times (for Andy's play and to have a Glee party - awesome sauce!). I also really enjoyed the episode where Jim and Dwight have a snow ball fight - well it is just really Dwight attacking Jim with snowballs. It was epic. I usually find The Office to be funnier during the second or third viewing (which is what makes it so awesome) so I can't wait to catch the reruns sometime soon. Community continues the absurdity that I wrote about back in January. The season ended with the most epic paintball game in the history of time - it was just about the most ridiculous but entertaining television I have ever experienced.

The Walking Dead - I loved it! It is an amazing concept ( I have been waiting for so long for someone to do a scary tv show – seeing how people flock to horror films and they are relatively cheap to produce – what have we been waiting for? Happy Town did not cut it…). The first episode was a little cliched for a zombie story – guy in a coma wakes up to find everyone is a zombie, but it is also a mind-blowing classic zombie plot that creates an entire world of the unknown. This allows for the series to go in many directions and ask many questions – How did this happen? Where are his loved ones? Is the entire world like this? I am glad that the show is on AMC because they will likely look into the darker side of humanity (like they do on Mad Men and Breaking Bad). The acting is impeccable so far (and the marketing – hello premiering it on Halloween was a genius move but even better was putting up an ad on the side of a funeral home). The second episode was really great – setting up the group of survivors that will have to overcome their differences and work together (such a cliché…but still somehow so good). The group of course includes several key stereotypes – it reminded me of Sue Sylvester taking attendance. How disgusting was the scene where they cut up the zombie and “wear” him in order to mask the smell of living flesh? How could that plan go wrong? Oh yah…rain. I love that they add a bit of drama to the story - The wife is now with the best friend (after thinking her husband was dead). That is a pretty decent twist of drama! I can't even tell you how excited I am to see what develops on this series!!

Southland - Another show that seems to get better with every episode. There were so many "moments" in the third season of this show that stand out in memory. The moment when Sammy finds out the baby might not be his. The scene where Ben confronts the man who raped his mother. The moment where the 6 year old boy pretends to shoot John (silent but soo gut wrenching). The car chase scene where they accidentally hit the woman crossing the street. And of course…the scene when Nate died. I will be thinking about that scene for a while. Shawn Hatosy did an amazing job in that scene and the one after it (Emmy worthy). The season ended with John going to rehab and my 2 favorite characters (Ben & Sammy) partnering up! That is a good way to reinvigorate the show (and woohoo there will be more!).

Glee - I write regular posts reviewing each episode of Glee - so I don't have much else to add. I agree that season 2 hasn't been as strong as season 1, but I would also argue that when you have something as perfect as Glee's freshman season it is pretty impossible to top it. I think that the creators did their absolute best, but it ended up feeling a little forced. It is still one of the best shows on network tv and every episode has entertained me (even it's worst episode - Comeback). I love that season 2 episodes parallel season 1 episodes. I love the series is socially conscious and that the creators recognize the responsibility that has been placed on them. If you want more of my opinions on the show - just read my previous posts. The only other point I want to make clear is that Cory Monteith deserves the award for the most adorable man on tv. Oh does that not exist? Ok. Then I guess an Emmy will do (or at the very least a nomination).

2. The Bad -

Desperate Housewives - I wrote about this show in my January post and have to say it has just continued to get worse. So many plots shoved into a few episodes - and none of them were very interesting. I am really sad about the split between Lynette and Tom - they are my favorite couple!! I love Tom so I am upset that they changed his character and made him into a complete douche. I feel like they are running out of ideas and are desperate for drama, but I think it is just about time to end the show.

Chuck - The show is still decent - it is just not very interesting or shocking. The only thing that surprised me the entire season was that Agent X was Volkov. That's it. The season focused mostly on leading up to the wedding of Chuck and Sarah - every pre-wedding event was of course derailed by some crazy spy plot. I like the dynamic between them and enjoy them as a couple but it got sort of tedious to sit through. I just haven’t been invested in this season at all. I have no interest in the whole “my parents were spies/ is my mother a good guy or a bad guy?” storyline - Alias did it better. I enjoy the supporting characters on the show (Captain Awesome and John Casey compete for my favorite character every week) – but they have all had considerably less screen time this season. And Morgan as a spy is just plain ridiculous.

90210 - I am disappointed with this season only because season 2 was actually really good - but sadly, season 3 was just pretty ridiculous. The whole Naomi rape thing was wrapped up pretty quickly – I am confident that she would have lasting emotional problems that could have made her a very complicated character but instead they took it to the extreme. Her rapist kidnapped her, she fought back - tied him up and kicked his ass (and gave us a painful cry – they should have reserved this storyline for a better actress). I loved that Adrianna became “famous” – she is turned into a complete Hollywood stereotype and I love it!!. Then they ruined the whole story by having her steal a dead pop stars song and then had her blackmailed and trapped into a lame ass plot. Turns out Teddy is gay (although it was spoiled before it happened - so the shock factor was lacking) but I loved it anyway – they handled the topic in the same cheesy overly dramatic way that I would expect from this show. But then they ruined the story by having him "come out" to his friends and then his life is suddenly full of sunshine and rainbows - I am sorry but coming out to your high school friends isn’t the “hardest part” of being gay, considering you wont even know those people within a few years. The most annoying girl on t.v, Annie was give three misguided plots - the first (and most ridiculous) was having her almost give her eggs to some creepy lady. The plot was quickly dropped (apparently she didn’t sign any contracts). The second was a single white female plot with her crazy cousin (turned into a boring mess) and the third was her becoming an assistant to some old but apparently legendary Hollywood actress (who dies and gives Annie her fortune - how convenient since her mom is having money troubles). I like the chill surfer girl (name?) better this season – although her sleeping with the guy that also slept with her mother is super gross (as was the guy). But then they gave her an even worse plot - marrying a guy who is dying of Cancer. Can we all just stop for a second and say the obvious - Navid is not hot (like not even a little bit) - how did he get the 2 hottest girls on the show? The showdown between Silver and Adrianna is probably the most interesting thing that happened all season. The finale ended with Naomi's pregnancy but I would have preferred Adrianna jumping (or falling or getting pushed) from the cliff because that truly would have been a shock.

Gossip Girl – My thoughts on this show can be described with a simple quote from the season finale:

“I haven’t been this bored since I believed in Jesus”. – Georgina Sparks.

3. The Cancelled - Pretty much every new show that I watched this past season has been cancelled. I have to admit most of them were borderline mediocre - The Event, No Ordinary Family, Detroit 187, Mr. Sunshine, Hellcats...the list goes on. I can't say that I can really put up a good argument to keep these shows on the air, however it is exhausting to invest your time in a series only to have it cancelled so quickly. Even V was given a second season to work out the kinks (which it did) but still cancelled anyway. This is sending the wrong message to viewers - I am starting to think that next season I might not watch any new shows - instead I will wait to see which ones survive, wait a few seasons and then view it via Netflix marathon. This way I avoid all of the shows that are duds. I still question cancelling shows so quickly (before they gain a faithful audience), while they keep shows like One Tree Hill on the air (which I will quote one of my favorite people ever - Joel McHale - can be described as lacking "depth, characters or trees"). It has become the biggest joke on television. One more thing: ABC better not cancel General Hospital. Seriously, I will officially break up with the network.

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