I like tv. I do. I really enjoy smart tv. Arrested Development is probably the smartest and one of the funniest shows ever created. I say one of, because The Simpsons holds a special place as the funniest tv show ever. It’s almost surreal to think that I can consciously remember seeing it on tv during the Tracey Ullman show and then finally as it’s own show. And it’s STILL running.
Fall is almost upon us, so let me take you through a few shows that I’ll be returning to and/or am excited for.
Let’s break things down by days of the week.
• Chuck 8p NBC – Chuck is my geek guilty pleasure. It’s not a great show by any means, but there’s something I just really enjoy about it. Zachary Levi is perfect for the role and he’s a down to earth kind of guy in real life. Not to mention Yvonne Strahovski isn’t too bad to look at either. I’m not sure how I feel going into season 4. Seasons 1 and 2 were great, 3 felt sub par. The whole “relationship” thing came to a head and then it became Mr and Mrs Smith type stuff. And I won’t even mention Brandon Routh, let’s just say that was definitely a miscast. We’ll see if it can hang on one more season. It’s been on shaky ground before and I think NBC kept it around one more season so they didn’t have one more slot to fill, post Leno-gate.
• Glee 8p Fox – I like Glee. Yes more or less it’s a somewhat more mature version of High School Musical. But then again if you know me, you know my dark secret obsession about HSM (1&3, I don’t count 2). Things I’d like to see them explore a bit more that I felt they left out, the relationship between Will and Emma. I was left feeling like there was no even balance about their story line, it was either an episode about them or not at all, no middle ground. The same could be said for the rest of the season. Spread out your story lines for pete’s sake. And what the heck happened to Ken Tanaka (the PE coach), yes things didn’t work out with him and Emma, but it’s like he doesn’t work at the school any more. I’m not sure what to think about new cast members coming on, the cast is big enough, but I guess it’s Fox’s chance to keep things fresh. But the one thing that I really want is more of Kurt’s dad. Gotta love Mike O’Malley. This role has really shown off his acting chops. I’m just glad I get a double dose of him (see Parenthood below). We’ll see if the show can grow and mature or if it’s just going to ride the itunes, dvd, and cd machine that it has become.
• Running Wilde 9:30 Fox – This a new show. And one that I’m very excited about. First and foremost it has about a million and one Arrested Development connections. For crying out loud half the cast of Arrested Development is in this show. Unlike the not so funny (and now canceled) animated Sit Down and Shut Up. Will Arnett is in the lead opposite Kerri Russel, who I’m excited to make a big return to tv. Remember her, she was Felicity. And oh so cute as my 13 yearold self thought when she was on the Mickey Mouse Club. The show won’t be Arrested Development and no one should hold it to those standards, but it will be hard not to do so. I can just hope for a solid stand out comedy on a Tuesday which lack any solid comedy competition. Keep your eye on this one.
• Parenthood 10p NBC – This in my opinion was one of the more underrated shows of last year. It has a large, and I mean large ensemble cast, with some pretty big heavy hitters in it. Read this show costs a lot to make. Which may end up spelling an early ending for the show, unless the ratings significantly pick up for it. That said, Parenthood is the yang to Modern Family. Modern Family is light, funny and easy to roll with. Parenthood kinda punches you in the stomach with a fistfull of reality. Yet I feel it is a very honest show. It’s a show about family, instead of just watching a family. There are some very good dynamics set up and a lot of great characters, all played by well casted actors. I hope more people end up seeing this show as a great staple of tv. If you haven’t already seen it make sure you go and see it. I would say it’s way better than the previous tv incarnation of the Parenthood franchise, but nothing can really top Steve Martin in a cowboy hat and two bathmats tied around his legs talking about “your lower intestines”. Yes that may be the roots for this show, but parenting has come a long way from 1989 to 2010.
• Modern Family 9 ABC – There’s not too much more to say about this critical hit. It’s funny in all the right places and is a great take on today’s family structure(s). The cast is impeccable, in the same way Parenthood is, but for all the funny reasons. I think the best part of the show is the character Manny. The kid leaves me in stitches every time. Honorable mention goes to Mitchell. All in all it’s a well rounded group of people that play perfectly off each other to create a zany yet still believable 2010 family structure. It walks the line as something more than a sitcom. Leaving you wanting more each week.
• Undercovers 8 NBC – This is a new show. And really the only reason it’s making the list is because it’s tied to JJ Abrams. The show premise is: “Years into their retirement, a husband and wife team are re-activated as CIA agents.” Not super original. But I like Abrams, and knowing that he took a hands on approach to direct the pilot because he believed in it enough makes me at least a little curious. I think what I’ll do is wait for the first few episodes to air and see what people are seeing and then catch up on Hulu if it sounds like something that is worth my time. Honestly it sounds like a holdover for a botched pilot from a year before that NBC pulled out of the recycle bin to fill slots once it moved Law and Order: Los Angeles into the void of 10p on weds.
This is the big night. Lots of heavy hitters. Especially for NBC, it’s their bread and butter, especially when it comes to comedy. I’ll try to be short.
• Fringe 9 FOX – I’ve had a love/hate thing going with Fringe since the start. How I’ve hung around for 2 seasons kinda baffles me at this point. Though I must say the last 4 episodes of season 2 changed all that for me. For most of the show up to that point I really didn’t enjoy watching Anna Torv in the lead. She was barely there and there wasn’t much to her character, which now I’ll chalk up to the writers as she most certainly showed her acting chops in the last few episodes of season 2. The high point for me really has been Joshua Jackson, whom I’ve never really cared for until Fringe came along. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and delighted by his performance. And of course John Noble is steadfast and solid. I’m excited to see where season 3 takes us plot wise. They have certainly been building up to this point and I think we’re really going to see how far down this rabbit hole goes.
• Community, 30 Rock, The Office 8, 8:30, 9 (respectively) NBC – Community was the new kid who easily walked in as the cool kid on day one. And that’s not just a crappy metaphor since the show takes place on a community college campus. Funny to the core. Some of the best comedic moments on tv last year. We’ll see where the writers take us via season 2. Will they continue to do well what other shows fail to do? Or will they fall into routines and tired tv conventions. 30 Rock continues to be solid, but I feel it’s running on in it’s years. Yes Tina Fey may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for what it is, it’s consistently funny. Special kudos to Alec Baldwin and Jack McBrayer. Then there’s the office. Hmm not quite sure what to say. It’s been good, but I think it’s on it’s last leg. Especially with Steve Carell leaving at the end of this season and the long love struggle between Jim and Pam has all but run its course, with the exception of a divorce or a death. We’ll see how it does this season. Sometimes you just have to shoot Old Yeller in the face. Those are the facts of life.
• Outsourced 9:30 NBC – This is more of an honorable mention than anything else. I’m really not sure what to think of this show. The Indian thing (dots not feathers) really has been causing a stir around the biz. Many think it’s too over the top or just down right disrespectful towards those of Indian heritage. We’ll see how it goes. If I had to put money on it, I’m guessing no more than 8 shows before it gets pulled. Honestly I’d much rather see a good British show ruined like Spaced (read the US pilot script here) or even a US version of the IT Crowd. Note: I really like the pilot script for Spaced as it kept much of the charm of the UK version, and not all US knockoffs of British shows are bad, The Office is an example of that, once it came into its own.
Note: this is the place it seems that FOX sends it’s shows to die. Too many examples to list. But both shows that I’ll list for Friday are on FOX.
• Human Target 8 FOX – I started watching this show last year, because my DVR was lonely. With the show having already switched days mid season during it’s first season, no surprise it would end up in the graveyard of Friday night, come this season. Billed as a 24 replacement, it never really took off. It’s charming in many ways and fills somewhat of an “action” need. And the show can be taken episode by episode never requiring a commitment towards story or character, each episode more or less stands on its own and then takes a rinse and repeat attitude toward the next. We’ll see how it does this season. It’s not on the top of my list and will be a fall back with a low priority in my hulu queue.
• The Good Guys 9 Fox – (Not to be confused with the motion picture The Other Guys (also a cops) A summer hold over, which is rare. A side note: I still wish ABC had carried over Defying Gravity from last summer, but alas, ABC is dumb. Back to The Good Guys. A summer show that was lost in the sea of reality and summer cable hits, the good guys must have done decent or FOX had a major programming gap for the fall. The show is more or less a buddy cop show. It’s not the best, but it’s not the worse. The other summer cop show was Rookie Blue on ABC which I liked a bit more. It’s a drama but we’ll see if ABC brings it back at all either as a mid season replacement or next summer. The good guys’ cast is mediocre, I’m not a fan of Collin Hanks (yes that Hanks), didn’t like him in the original Band of Brothers and I think he’s just really connected (see previous mention of Hanks). The “girl” isn’t too shabby to look at, due to her being more of a plain, girl next door kinda look, played by Jenny Wade. The only real anchor of the show seems to be Bradley Whitford who plays Hanks’ partner, a gruff veteran of the force who likes to play by his own rules. I almost puked having to write that sentence, because I know how many other hundreds of shows could be described that way, yet this show lacks any originality to describe it any other way. My main gripe with the show is the storytelling device of non-linear time based plot development. It’s overdone. Stop please. Do something original. I don’t want to see one scene then immediately see 2 days earlier flash upon the screen. Geesh. If anything I started watching this show due to the lack in summer network programming and it will be yet to be seen if I follow this show into the fall season.
Well that’s all for this fall.
A few special notes: Not on my list are Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother, for the reason that I’m a late comer to those shows and really need to catch up from season 1 before I engage with them now, they are both in my netflix queue and I will get to them soon. Also not mentioned are cable shows, for two reasons, one I wanted to focus on network show and that I no longer have cable and a DVR so my accessablitiy to them will be limited.
If I had to pick a few cable shows to highlight it would be Archer on FX (airing in 2011), a great cast and a very Arrested Development feel, super funny animated not-PG rated tv. Tosh.0 would also be on the list as they continue to produce great commentary on internet life. As well as Dexter and Californication both great in my book, especially Dexter. 2nd special mention goes to V coming back in 2011 and a long shot for FlashForward to be picked up by one of the basic cable networks.
One last mention. Conan. Need I say more?
What are you going to be watching? Leave a comment or two.
P.P.P.S. – I’ve mentioned Arrested Development more times than I can count. Because I truly think it’s the best tv to come out in the last 20 years. Really. Better than The Simpsons, but they hold the #1 spot for different reasons. I really think this show was taken off the air too soon. For what “mediocre” ratings. It had a fan base and worse shows have stayed on the air with fewer viewers per episode. The point I will hold to is that the show was TOO smart. As pompous as it may sound and actually is, you had to be smart to get the show. You had to know about a myriad of things to get references and jokes. They did not play to the lowest common denominator by far. Case in point, there were jokes set up in season 1 that don’t get a punchline until the end of season 3. That’s smart writing. But enough is enough, if you haven’t seen the show, head over to hulu or queue it up in netflix and sit back and enjoy the Bluths. I’ll be more than happy to talk more about Arrested Development at any point.