Fall TV Roundup
It is impossible to watch every new show, not to mention keep up with returning shows and old favorites. Lately I have had Sunday afternoons available to actually watch the multitude of things piling up in the DVR.
Here's a rundown, feel free to chime in with your own thoughts.
(I know this is the Film forum, but I think tv shows are at home here too - some tv shows are of cinematic quality, others feel like watching a bad B movie!)
Mad Men - A Returning Favorite.
The intriguing graphic design homage that is the opening credits has come to life this season. The interior design of the new offices is textbook 1960's Philip Johnson. I could watch this show with the volume turned down and be pretty happy. But watching the characters deal with business successes and failures is both entertaining and educational. When people ask me what's so great about this show, I just tell them to get Season 1 on DVD and start watching.
Dexter - another returning favorite.
I will admit the recurring theme can get a bit redundant, but the plotline that ties each season together is unique and engaging.
The Event - Lots and Flash Forward have a baby.
Need I say more? A conspiracy theory thriller with interwoven characters, a familiar looking President and First Lady, some token action in each episode and a scifi twist that does not call attention to itself. If they have thought this through it could be fun for a while. But like Flash Forward, it could run its course by November sweeps.
There was some chatter about this a couple of weeks ago. I am losing interest quickly. An underlying plotline/conspiracy theory, good-looking characters, graduates of Lost and BSG and a seemingly endless supply of bad guys with A-Team quality bad guy acting. You know, this is actually a lot like the A-Team - a squad of former military and law enforcement types who each week use their various skills to help solve some local crime.
That's enough to get started with. Honestly, I need to whittle down my list of shows to follow - it's just too much to keep track of.
Ohhhh yeah, I love me some Dexter! That's such a great show. To me, it's the superior alternative to the bland crime drama shows like CSI and NCIS and whatnot. It actually has a good story to it. And wow, that last season with John Lithgow was incredible! I don't yet know where they are going with this new season, but I've noticed they don't really establish the main plot of the season until 4 or 5 episodes in usually. It's one of the few shows that gets me nervous when I'm watching it!
I like Mad Men a lot too. I'm still working my way through downloads of this current season trying to catch up. I can't put my finger on why I like it so much, but I just do. Or maybe it's Christina Hendricks.
If I may add a few:
HBO has a really good 2 hour block on Sundays right now, starting with:
Boardwalk Empire - This might be my new favorite show on TV right now, it's got the same level of period detail as Mad Men, but tons more action. It's about prohibition era life, mainly taking place in Atlantic City, but there are stories going on in Chicago and New York as well, involving people like Al Capone. And it's probably got the best cast on any one show right now.
Bored to Death - Jason Schwartzman is a failed writer who becomes an amateur private detective just to spice up his life. Each episode is a new case he's working on, but there are continuing plot lines with relationships and such. Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson are his best friends. It's now in its second season, and its mostly hit or miss, but when it hits it's really good.
Eastbound & Down - One of the greatest vulgar comedies to grace TV, ever. Kenny Powers is an American hero.
I think the only network television show I give any love to is Community, on NBC. Such a creative comedy, and its full of film references and spoofs. Last week they spoofed space travel movies like Apollo 13, by having the characters drive a stolen Kentucky Fried Chicken space simulator in an RV back to the campus. But I'd suggest watching it from the beginning to get to know the characters first. If you need any evidence of Community's awesomeness, watch the paintball episode from season 1.
And to throw in two quick late night cable comedy shows currently running new episodes:
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, on FX - It's now in its 6th season, but this season has actually been kind of mediocre (based on the shows amazing history of greatness), but the dynamic between the characters is good enough to keep watching this until it eventually gets cancelled. But i assume it's FX's highest rated show, so they'll keep it going as long as they can.
Nick Swardson's Pretend Time, on Comedy Central - It just had its series premiere last week, and it's 2nd episode airs tonight. It's just a sketch comedy show from a pretty funny stand-up comedian. I like this guy, so I'm giving it a chance, the first episode was probably about 80% good, but he did recycle a sketch I saw a while ago on Funny or Die.
Venture Bros. keeps on being some of the most awesome, entertaining, and densely-plotted TV out there. The character development arcs are as detailed as those in Mad Men, maybe more. Every episode has multiple call-backs to stuff in previous seasons, so it may be hard for new viewers to jump right in the middle of that and get why this is so outstanding. Nevertheless, it remains probably my favorite thing on TV these days. Get or rent a DVD of Season One and I think you'll be hooked.
30 Rock remains very funny and the jokes have upped their pace, as well as raunchiness.
Community has some of the sharpest writing I've seen this season and plays with interesting themes, again, in an otherwise formulaic structure. The weekly riffs off of pop culture iconic and references are great parody commentaries on "Goodfellas", "The Right Stuff", John Woo films, etc.
I must also be the only fan of "Outsourced", an entirely conventional fish out of water sitcom, but the chemistry of the actors is great, they really sell it.
On BBC America I'm digging a geek show called "The I.T. Crowd."
My DVR seems to be making choices for me: I have tit set to record both the new and old versions of Five-O, but it hasn't kept any new episodes in memory for me to watch since the first two episodes. I think it is trying to tell me to stick with the old ones. The nwe one is flashy and noisy but full of fail in the plot and script departments.
Sons of Anarchy is a really good show on FX. I really like the work of Bob Thiele, the show's music guru. With his band, The Forest Rangers, and many guest musician's, Thiele usually comes up with some interesting versions of some old rock songs. The shows lead actress, Katy Sagal, yes Peg Bundy, also has provided the lead vocals for some of the tracks used in the show. You can find music from the series on iTunes.
Yeah, Sons of Anarchy was pretty good from what I've seen, though I've only gotten through the first season thus far. At first glance FX seems like a crappy network, but they put out a handful of really good shows if you start to investigate. The League is also hit or miss from what I've seen. Though I'm not a regular viewer, these second season episodes seem funnier than what I saw from the first.
In regards to Outsourced, I've watched every episode so far, but I only kind of like it. But I totally agree the chemistry between the actors is right on target. I just hope by the end of the season (or if it gets picked up for a second) it starts to relax a little more and do some funny, creative stuff. That's what happened to Community, the first half of the first season was actually kind of mediocre, and they were pushing the whole Jeff and Britta relationship as the main story too much. Then they took a mid-season break (for the Winter Olympics I think?) and when they got back it appeared as if their attitude about the show changed, and they started doing WAY better material, and started focusing on all the characters more. The first half of the season wasn't bad, but when you compare the two halves, it's ridiculous how much better the show got after the break. Now it's one of the best network shows on TV!
I now prefer "The League" to "Sunny," although it stil has it's hilarious moments. FX has some great shows in my opinion...
Justified, with Timothy Olyphant is worth checking out...new season starts in February.
"The Shield" was very good, although I got hooked very late in it's run.