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Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Oh, I'm Kickin' Television

So one of the downsides of being off the continent for the last two weeks of May was that I missed sweeps week. Not that it was that big a deal or caused me a moment’s consternation while abroad but it did mean that there was a lot of television to get through when I got back. And sadly, most of the shows I had to catch up on really weren’t worth the wait – disappointments almost all around. Let’s look at them one by one:

Veronica Mars: Okay, I won’t lie – this one hurt. Not only because the show was canceled but because it went out on such a weak note. Critics aren’t wrong when they say that the second season was worse than the first and the third worse than the second, but even so it was always enjoyable and a highlight of my broadcast week. Granted, the Logan/Veronica thing had gone as far as it could – score me as against their pairing if for no other reason than I’m tired of seeing the bad boys get the girl – but when the season’t major plotline wrapped up with about five eps to spare, it was a bad sign. It stumbled through the remainder of the season and the finale, which would end up being the series’ final episode, tried to cram a half-season’s worth of conspiracy into an hour and ended with a whimper. I appreciate that creator Rob Thomas had the sword of Damocles overhead when writing this season, as he has since the show’s first season, but the way it wrapped didn’t offer a strong finale or a cliffhanger leading into next season. Disappointing.

There are those who will call the show’s ending a blessing in disguise – as stated, if you were to plot the quality of the show over the three years, it’s a definite downward trend but that’s little consolation as I face a future of Kristin Bell-free Tuesday nights. I’m going to have to go find a new imaginary girlfriend. The Toronto Star talked to Thomas about the end of the show and possibilities for how it might yet live on.

Heroes: I only picked this one up reluctantly mid-season after being mildly intrigued but mostly put off by the season premiere. My inner fanboy, almost always willing to give anything comic book-y the benefit of the doubt, wasn’t impressed with the self-important, ponderous and embarrassingly melodramatic tone and dismal acting (and let me state for the record that as an Asian-Canadian, I found the character of Hiro utterly mortifying). What it did have going for it was a dense plot that seemed really well-assembled and capable of delivering a satisfying conclusion after a season-long run, and it seemed to be ready to deliver on that promise leading up to the season finale… only to blow it just short of the end zone. Seriously, that was one of the worst, most illogical and cheesetacular hours of television I’ve ever had to sit through. It may be back for a second season but I sure as hell won’t.

24: Well THAT certainly sucked. I can’t decide if the show has gotten a whole lot worse or if it was always this bad and I just didn’t realize it. Bad enough that Jack got a fraction of the screen time he has in the past and when he was front and centre, it was like he was neutered (his takedown of Fayed notwithstanding). Add in the endless interpersonal dramas of CTU staff about whom no one cares, another security breach of CTU (it’s not a working day if they’re not invaded) and… oh who cares. I actually came home with four hours of this season to watch and put off doing so as long as possible, so low were my expectations. And I wasn’t/was disappointed. Whichever registers a greater level of disgust. I mean, how convenient was it that Secretary Heller lived a ten-minute walk along the beach from where Jack fell into the ocean? Never mind, never mind. If there’s any upside to this, it’s that my Monday nights are now blissfully uncommitted to network television again.

How I Met Your Mother: Have to admit, I was surprised by this one – I realize that the fundamental plot of the series demanded that Ted and Robin split up, but I didn’t expect it to come so soon. My only question is will Cobie Smulders be back next season? I don’t imagine they could just write her out so abruptly but then you also don’t want to spend too much time dealing with the whole issue of lingering feelings between them while (presumably) introducing the titular Mother. And I’m obviously thinking WAY too much about a half-hour sitcom.

The Office: So victory to Team Pam. Again, is that it for Karen then? Shame – I was pro-Pam but didn’t mind having Karen around… Anyway – now that that issue is presumably settled, at least for the time being, now what? Actually not too concerned, I have faith that season four will be great. It better be, I don’t have much other television to look forward to. Stylus has a reasonably objective head-to-head of the UK Office vs the US Office though I (obviously) think the American version stands head and shoulders above the original now, largely on the strength of the supporting cast. I will give them Tim over Jim, though.

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip: I will admit I’m surprised that NBC opted to bring the show back from mid-season death to finish off it’s full run of episodes (the final one will air next week). Yes, it was the favoured critical whipping boy show from the second week of the season on but I watched throughout and though it was far from great and constantly frustrates for its squandered potential, I still found more to enjoy week to week than not. And goodness knows that it’s still better than most of the dreck that gets put on the air by the networks… I suspect history will look more kindly upon the show than the present but either way, it’s done. I’m just hoping it goes out on a high note.

Battlestar Galactica: Not much to say here since the season ended months ago, save to say that I’m actually glad they’ve announced next season, starting in January (!) will be the final one. The whole “All Along The Watchtower” stunt bascially forces the show into endgame mode so it’s good to know they’ll be pulling out all the stops for the finale. How they’ll sustain it over 20 episodes is beyond me, but then that’s why they’re producing the show and I’m just watching.

So looking ahead to September, my TV sched seems awfully light. Maybe season five of The Wire will have started up by then? I’m a little into season three on the DVDs and fear what’ll become of me when I’m done those, presumably before season four comes available. I’ll have to leave the house or something. Egads.

What, you want some music content? Okay – This past Saturday was supposed to mark Richard Lloyd’s final show with Television in New York City’s Central Park. Unfortunately, he missed the show on account of being hospitalized for almost a month with pneumonia. Brooklynvegan and his commenters have reports back from the show which went on with Verlaine collaborator Jimmy Ripp covering guitar duties. Obviously best wishes to Lloyd on his return to good health but I wonder if this is how he’ll be willing to close the book on Television or will he want a proper farewell gig once he’s feeling up to it? Either way, it makes their show in Toronto last June feel that much more special.

By : Frank Yang at 8:22 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Chris says:

    The Wire, my friend. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

  2. carol o says:

    Friday Night Lights may be something you can get into. Despite low ratings (and critical acclaim) NBC did renew it for next year. I’m not sure when the season one dvd set is coming out, but I’d guess late summer/early fall?

  3. bill p says:

    No word yet on Wire Season 4 DVD release date, but Season Five won’t air till next year.

    I will second Friday Night Lights, and would also recommend 30 Rock which is maybe the funniest show on TV right now.

  4. Frank says:

    oh no worries, man, I’m watching The Wire. it’s all I’m watching right now. 8 eps of season three to go…

  5. jcbiii says:

    After the Wire, you may want to check out The Corner, a six ep mini series by the same creators of The Wire, and many of the same actors as well. Like The Wire, it’s set in Baltimore (but in 1993) – but the tone is different and the focus is on the "consumer" end of the drug chain. Devastating, but well worth your time, especially if you liked The Wire.

  6. danieljosef says:

    I’m pretty obsessed with Big Love and Dexter..both are starting their second seasons in the US. And I totally agree with you all with regards to the Wire, its great!

  7. Thierry says:

    So do you think Amanda Peet will die in the final Studio 60? I’m actually sad to see the go now, as it has definitely come around in recent episodes…

  8. Taylor says:

    I’m kindof surprised you didn’t review the Lost season finale. The last half of season 3 I think was the best run of episodes on any TV show ever.

  9. Frank says:

    well there’s the small matter of my having never watched an episode of Lost in my life.

  10. Dan says:

    I highly recommend Friday Night Lights..DVDs come out this summer. It was the best new show this year.

    As well, you could always go on a Lost binge if you get the urge. It’s one of the more rewarding shows in the long term. I know we have roughly the same taste in TV and Lost is my second favorite show (next to The Wire)

    Dexter is a must, when its season one DVDs come out. I doubt they’ll be HBO priced..if memory serves me right Showtime shows are usually cheaper.

  11. Dan says:

    The Shield. The Shield The Shield The Shield.

  12. Paul says:

    I’ll soundly second bill p.’s advocacy for 30 Rock. Seriously, television hasn’t been so absurdly crazy-ass funny in as long as I can remember. It’s kind of different than The Office or Arrested Development, because it’s low-brow and obvious but still insanely clever. I’ll just say, there was one episode toward the end of the season with an Alec Baldwin bit that made me laugh so hard I nearly blacked out.

  13. panddd says:

    sports.

  14. Thierry says:

    I love 30 Rock so much, I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant!