Wednesday, November 09, 2011
COLUMN: Fall TV
Have you ever had one of those certifiably lazy weeks? The kind of week where all you wanna do is plop down in front of the TV and accomplish as little as possible? For the past week, I've been living that dream. I say it's occasionally good for the psyche to kick back and let your muscles atrophy a bit. Good for the psyche, but bad for the newspaper column -- as it turns out, inspiration doesn't come a-knockin' when your highest form of brain stimulus for the week is "Two and a Half Men."
It's good, though, that my week of inactivity just happened to coincide with Fall TV Premiere Week. Now I can officially claim that I did NOT spend a week on the couch in a state of perpetual laziness. No, siree. I spent a week doing RESEARCH for my column on the fall premieres -- which, apparantly, I present to you right now. Here's what I caught and what I've thought:
How I Met Your Mother (CBS) - Once again, another season begins and we still haven't met that mother. Once upon a time, this show was edgy and hip. Now, it's softened with age and all the characters want to get married and have babies. It's the "Friends" curse -- which is understandable, since the two shows are almost interchangeable. We should be heading to a quick finish, though. With Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris both bonafide stars now, they won't make it past the next contract negotiation. I only hope that they end the show as anti-climatically as possible, with Ted going, "Oh, and then I went to a gas station to get a Coke, and that's how I met your mother. The end."
Two and a Half Men (CBS) - Charlie Sheen is history, and there's clearly no love lost for the fella, since they announced his death in the first scene and spent the rest of the half hour making jokes about it. Jeez, remind me never to tick off Chuck Lorre. Ashton Kutcher serves as a fine replacement, though, and this show might have some legs still.
2 Broke Girls (CBS) - Kat Dennings is one of my favorite indie hipster actresses, but I'm not sold on her here as a big-haired, trash-talking waitress. Still, it's one of those brainless sitcoms that's just non-stop offensive one-liners, which means it's moderately entertaining and destined to be a huge hit.
New Girl (FOX) - When it comes to playing charming, cute, and awkward, no one does it better than Zooey Deschanel. Here she plays a charming, cute, and awkward girl forced to move in with what appears to be three carbon copies of Joey from "Friends." Hilarity ensues. Actually, I'm still kinda waiting for it to ensue. But Zooey's great, so I've got high hopes.
The X Factor (FOX) - The biggest surprise in the premiere of The X Factor was that Simon Cowell didn't come off as the bad guy. In fact, compared to new judge L.A. Reid, Simon's downright huggable. As for the show, it's the same ol', same ol'. Everybody's got a sob story except for the token crazies paraded out for their 15 minutes of fame. In the premiere, one of them drops trou mid-song and poor Paula has to go be sick. When the highlight of the show is some guy's blurry manhood and a vomiting judge? Not off to a good start.
Revenge (ABC) - Finally, a TV show about incredibly wealthy people living incredibly wealthy lives. Sigh. This time, though, there's a twist: One of the wealthy people is secretly the daughter of some wealthy guy whose life the other wealthy people somehow destroyed in some as-yet-untold wealthy way… and now she wants revenge. Frankly, I don't care what she wants -- but she's seriously cute, so count me in.
The Office (NBC) - History will prove The Office to be one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. With Steve Carell gone, most think that the show's jumped the shark. I'm reticent to write its obituary quite yet, even though the season premiere wasn't that great. Still, I like the addition of James Spader's CEO character.
Parks and Recreation (NBC) - Hands down the funniest show on television. I want Ron Swanson to be my boss, Tom to be my friend, and April to be my girlfriend. Never before has central Indiana come across as a place I'd like to live. I'm voting Leslie Knope in 2012, are you?
Whitney (NBC) - Sandwiched into the middle of what's arguably the greatest comedy line-up in the history of television is this dud of a sitcom that I predict will be out the door by Christmas. Whitney Cummings is a really funny comic when she's allowed to be raunchy and edgy. Here, she's just abrasive and unpleasant, and someone needs to tell her that the definition of "acting" is NOT "talking, but louder." Cummings is also the writer and creator of "2 Broke Girls" on CBS, and she shoulda stuck with that.
Person of Interest (CBS) - Ah, yes. The show where creepy Ben Linus from "Lost" hooks up with Jesus Christ (or at least the guy who played Him in that Mel Gibson snuff film) to stop crimes before they're committed, all thanks to some secret government computer that watches our every move. Everything's so tense that it's silly, but I love Michael Emerson, so I'm sticking with this one for a while.
Prime Suspect (NBC) - I'm told this is based on a fantastic BBC series that starred Helen Mirren -- but as far as I can tell, it's a standard crime drama with Maria Bello as a hardened detective trapped in a world where all men suck. Her entire life is a boy's club that she's not invited into, ergo she spends the entire episode railing against her abusive co-workers, who all appear to hate her for no other reason than she wears a bra. By the end of the episode, I felt like pondscum just because I can pee standing up. Oddly, though, based on the gore and violence, the show appeals to be designed for men. Conundrum.
Fringe (FOX) - And I'll end my Week o' Sloth by telling you that the greatest show on television continues to be a little-known sci-fi epic that airs on the one night hardly anyone watches TV. Fringe is a world of parallel universes, complex characters, mind-bending plots, and a third season cliffhanger that might take this entire year to work out. You REALLY need to start watching. There's just one problem: By now, the storyline has gotten so deep that any new watchers will be hopelessly confused. So hurry out to the video store, rent the first three seasons, have an epic marathon, and then join along in the fun.