Monday, November 02, 2009

What Else I'm Watching

Here's a list of the other shows we're watching this fall:

Flash Forward - What would happen if everyone knew where they'd be and what they'd be doing in six months? What if in the course of learning that, you and everyone else in the world passed out for just over two minutes? What if someone had done it on purpose, and killed 20 million people in the process? Aside from Joseph Fines trying to sound American and sounding instead like a recent Eastern European immigrant, this is the best new show of the year.

Community - I generally stay away from half-hour comedies because they are *so* rarely worthwhile. For every Friends there's 20 Hello Larrys. Those of you of a certain age will know what I'm talking about. This show, however, is absolutely hilarious, with a very strong ensemble cast including Chevy Chase doing his best work in years. The plot centers around a lawyer who loses his accreditation (or whatever lawyers have) and is forced to finish his degree. The usual 30 minute morality play ensues, but it's done with enough aplomb and dryness that it rises about the standard fare.

V - I missed the original for some reason (I think it had to do with going to college at a time when very few students had televisions or computers in their rooms, and did homework on bearskins with pencils made of dyed fat), but I'll be watching this one. And anyone who has seen the actress playing the face of the aliens (haha! - Whoops, didn't want to give anything away there) will know why. She was attractive on Firefly, but she owns the screen in the V trailers. Hope the show's good too.

Private Practice - Two words - Kate. Walsh. Is there any other reason to watch? Is any other reason needed? Actually, I stopped watching this at some point last year, and in fact didn't watch any this year, but felt I needed a little Kate time this week and so watched an episode my wife had DVRed. And watched Amy Brennerman do some really terrific acting. Unfortunately, the show still is using the same exact formula for each show that they were before, but like Community, it may be enough if the acting transcends the scripts.

Grey's Anatomy - Kidding. I stopped watching this after the strike. This show lost every ounce of mojo it had when Kate Walsh spun off, and now it's just another medical nighttime soap going through the late stages of ER-ness. I'll play WoW if this is on.

Dexter - While this program, on the other hand, just keeps upping the bar and then nailing it. While last season's finale might have pushed the boundaries of likelihood, this year looks to be very interesting, especially with John Lithgow as Dexter's antithetical doppelganger. I admit it, I thought the concept for this show was going to be hard for American audiences to swallow, but it's really cast quite a bright light on sociopathy and psychopathy, and in a way I think few of us thought would be palatable.

The Prisoner - Actually a six-episode retelling of the classic 60's spy/psych thriller starring Patrick Magoohan. Unlike the original, which saw a huge internal conflict for the direction of the show between the guy who conceived it (spy adventure) and Magoohan (crazy psychodrama with all the attendant 60's pop-psychology elements), this show should be not only better from a technical standpoint, but also with a clear script. Ian McKellen plays No. 2, someone I've never heard of plays No. 6. And yes, the Rovers are still with us, but the Village is now in Tunisia. Starts in about two weeks from my posting this. I'm almost certain to be hugely disappointed, but this show is a sentimental favorite of mine, and I better start running through the DVDs of the original series!

There are several other programs that are done for the summer or nearly so - Mad Men, True Blood, Weeds - most of which are on premium cable.

There is one thing I don't get, though - What the hell is Fringe still on for? X-Files for the CSI generation, I guess - why worry about characters when you have fringe science as the star?


Sam said...

I agree with Community. Best new comedy this year.

And with Private Practice - I need my fix of La Walsh each week, even though the show itself is mediocre. I am looking forward to the sweeps arc with Stephen Collins guesting as Addison's father.

Alli said...

Yes, there is another reason to watch Private Practice: the reason name is Tim Daly. Actually he is my only reason to watch it :)

John said...

Check out Modern Family as well. It is the only other comedy that is can't miss.

Dug said...

Whoops, almost forgot Glee. As a choral musician, you'd think that I'd love this tale of high school program politics and brisk, catchy vocalese updates of songs that were popular when I was their age (30 years ago). And the woman who plays the Cheer-io's coach makes the show (as she has in so many of the Christopher Guest movies she's been in). However, I'm concerned that there are too many short term plot elements that suggest that the show will be hit and miss over time. I'm also a little tired of gay kids being identified as gay because they're prissy and worry about their appearance constantly. And the overuse of pitch-adjusting software on the vocals - these are supposed to be experienced musical theater people in the cast.

What drives me nuts, though, is that this show has about as much to do with choral music as Survivor. It's not choral music, it's pop music with a lot of background singers. The music is N'Sync, not Mozart, and "ancient music" means Journey, not Dowland. It's a little like American Idol without the judges - and I'd be hard pressed to say which part of AI I can least do without, the judging or the singing gymnastics with a breathy tone. It's not that the style isn't legitimate, I would never say that - it's just that it's not choral music. I've done Bohemian Rhapsody and a medley of ABBA tunes with choirs, it's different than what happens on this show.

One true thing - the focus on using competitions to establish the worth of a thing is, I believe, both natural and destructive. Choral music requires considerable teamwork and focus to detail, and if all you do is fight against another "team" you might as well make it a sport. It doesn't need to be - you can have 30 awesome high school choirs in a state and not need competition to raise their game. I've been in those kinds of choirs, and much prefer the ones where it's the music that's important, not the trophy. Get up there and touch someone's heart, and do you really need more than that? I don't. You sing well because the music demands it.

All of those professional gripes aside, I will say that the show has some excellent writing, a very good cast, some excellent comedic timing, and is being pushed by Fox like you can't believe. I just can't help but think that this will be another Desperate Housewives, excellent for about a year, then devolving into the soap opera it was spoofing by the second year. I can always hope, and the new show pool isn't terribly deep this year (all the really good stuff seemed to play over the summer), so it will hang on where others fail.

I do have to say that I'm missing Flight of the Conchords every time I watch Glee. I guess we'll always have YouTube.