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 Post subject: New TV shows 2005-2006
PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:36 am 
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Location: The City in the Autumn Stars
I watch a lot of TV. Too much probably. But we all have our addictions and this currently is mine. Now, when I'm talking about TV I mean american TV shows, mostly of the scripted kind, and not just couch surfing. Watching TV shows is pretty much like watching movies only there are shorter sittings but instead there is more than one. So now I thought I'd share with you what I think of the new shows in the American TV season. At least those I've deemed worthy to check out (I do read up on everything that arrives, but I don't have a look on everything, far from it). I guess this is for those interested in picking up a new show or two, but have a hard time filtering through the noise. Or seomthing like that.

Comedies:

Many critics have said that this is the year for comedies, just like last year was the year of dramas. I wouldn't disagree, the quality of the new drama shows are noticably less than last year (although that's to be expected, shows like Lost, Veronica Mars and Battlestar Galactica are quite rare), and the new comedies are much more interesting.

Everybody Hates Chris
This show is loosely based on comedian Chris Rock's childhood and it's also narrated by him. It's about a black kid gorwing up in NY slums during the eighties. Growing up in the slums and going to a school with only white kids because his parents (mother) wants him to have a better education than the schools with black kids provide. There's also two very annoying siblings in the picture. The show, especially the parents, are quite over the top, but if you like Chris Rock's comedy you'll like this show. Personally I think Chris Rock is hilarious, so I really enjoy this show.

How I met your mother
A show about a man telling his kids about how he met their mother (duh). The actual story takes place in current times and the kids only show up for one or two scenes per episode. The main reason I started watching this show is due to Alyson Hannigan (who used to be Willow on Buffy) is in it. And no, she is not the mother. And then it turned out to be extremely funny. It's the only new comedy with a laugh track, but for this show it actually works. Anyway, the story being told to the kids is probably the longest ever since it starts with the main character being single and includes (as far as I can tell after a few episodes) every attempt at finding love he makes for the rest of his life. I seriously doubt the mother is going to show up for a long, long time. It's a good thing it's all funny, at least so far.

Kitchen Confidential
A comedy about a star chef who ruined his life by drinking too much that is now that he's sober getting a chance to run a kitchen again. Sounds awfully boring, doesn't it? Well, it's not. It's actually a very clever and funny show. It stars Bradley Cooper (Will on Alias) and in the supporting cast there is Nicholas Brendon (Xander on Buffy). Those two are fine actors and so is the rest of the cast (some of which will be familiar). It's a bit more subtle than Everybody hates Chris and How I met your mother but it makes up for it by being very clever instead. Probably too clever for it's own good since it's not doing too well in the ratings (it airs opposite to How I met your mother, which is doing much better). Having equally clever and equally ratings challenged show Arrested Development as a lead-in probably doesn't help much either.

My name is Earl
What's with the name dropping in the titles? This show definitely doesn't suffer from being too subtle. This is a show about one piece of white trash who discovers karma and goes about to right all the wrongs he's done in his life. And there are a lot of wrong doings to atone for. To help him he has his brother and the maid at the motel they are currently living at. The reason he got this epiphany (and how he can afford to do it) is a lottery win of $100000. The win in itself wasn't it though, but rather the car that hit him when he ran out of the drug store cheering. Something good happened to him that he didn't deserve and it almost killed him so now he has to make sure he deserves it. This show is also a bit over the top with quirky characters, but it's all in good fun. All the characters are losers and white trash, but that just adds to the amusement. It may not be as subtle as Kitchen, but it's still clever as hell (the show, not the characters. They're mostly kinda stupid).

My pick for best comedy: Everybody Hates Chris (second place, for those who don't like Chris Rock, is How I met your mother)

Sci Fi Dramas:

There are a bunch of dramas with a mystery/sci fi/supernatural twist this season. This is of course due to the smash hit that was Lost last season. But none of them is a new Lost, mostly because none of them are as ambitious in scope (as for Lost, I've had my share of gripes with that show, but currently I think it's great, but that's a topic for another time).

Supernatural
This show about two brothers that travel across the US in search of their lost father stars Jared Padalecki (Dean on Gilmore Girls) and Jensen Ackles (Jason on Smallville and Alec/Ben on Dark Angel). When their mother was killed by supernatural being when they were kids their father took up ghostbusting as his profession and now they are following in his footsteps. The younger brother a bit reluctantly, but when his girlfriend was killed by the same creature that killed their mother (or at least one with the same MO) he becamse more convinced. The show so far has been fairly cliché and every episode is basically a short version of something that's already been shown in a horror movie. The good news it's still good entertainment for an hour (and to be honest, a lot of horror movies would benefit by being an hour shorter). They arrive to a place, find out something bad is happening, get rid of the beastie, save the day and the girl (and so far there is always a girl). Unfortunately, that is the main problem of the show. It has been a bit predictable in the first episodes and it would really help the show if they failed to save someone just to add a degree of uncertainty to the show. I still think this is a good enough though.

Invasion
A hurricane hits Florida (what a shocker) and during the aftermath strange things start happening in a small town. Actually strange things started happening during the hurricane, but almost no one saw them. Pople are acting strange, there are some sort of strange creature in the swamp that attacks people (although under water so no one has seen it yet) and the military that are supposed to do relief work seem to be covering something up as well. The brother-in-law of the main character is convinced the Hurricane was a smokescreen for an alien invasion more and more things seem to indicate he may not be wrong. Add to that a great cast (Eddie Cibrian from Tilt for instance) and what's not to love? Well, the storytelling has been rather slow. Very slow actually. This is a character drama and the focus is how a family (or two families, but they are overlapping) deal with the strange happenings and not so much about the strange happenings themselves. In that sense, this is the show that mostly mimicks Lost, unfortunately they also mimick that shows shortcomings as well. There isn't much happening with the overall plot, but the show isn't exactly episodic either. It's only been a few episodes, but I really feel something needs to get the story moving or it could become very boring. So far it hasn't been because the characters and actors are that good, but they're on borrowed time.

Treshold
This is rather the opposite of Invasion. A (for me) largely unknown cast, but a show that focuses on the story first and the characters second. This doesn't mean the characters are bad or underdeveloped, just that the plot is the focus of the show. This is also about an alien invasion of sorts. Some sort of alien vessel appear over the sea (it may have been tracked from space I don't recall). It hovers in front of a ship and sends out a sound that makes most of the crewmen crazy enough to start killing eachother. A woman whose job it is to plan out worst case scenarios and write protocols for how to deal with them is brought in because one of her protocols, Treshold, has been activated. She and a team of scientists go to the ship and find that the alien signal altered the crewmens DNA. Some of them are also briefly exposed to a recording of the signal, which does have some effect on them but not DNA-altering. The also find that some of the crewmen are still alive but they all escape from custody and later the team finds out they are trying to find a way to alter the DNA of all humans.

I really like this show, it has good characters and an interesting plot. Every episode, while fairly stand alone, adds something to the overall story progression.

My pick for best Sci Fi Drama: Threshold

There are two other new Sci Fi/supernatural dramas this season, but from what I've read they're not very good. But for those interested, they are Surface and The Night Stalker.

Other Dramas:

Here the pickings are really slim this year. Not that there aren't a lot of shows to chose from, it's just that they all seem to suck. Only two have been found worthy and one is a little sketchy at that.

E-ring
A show about the planning and decision-mkaing in the Pentagon. Specifically in regards to special operations. There are two reasons I started watching this show.
1: Dennis Hopper stars in it.
2: I'm a fan of military disciplin on film, especially when it is in connection to dark ops.
If neither of those applies to you, don't bother with this show. If only one of the does, then this still isn't that great of a show, but could be worth it. So far it's been very formulaic. A situation is introduced which requires some sort of military surgical operation. An operation is planned in the Pentagon and then permission to carry it out needs to be granted. To get green light for an operation lots of people needs to be convinced and there is haggling, begging and promises of favors taking place in order to convince them. Then they get permission and the op goes through. And that's really all there is to this show so far. It's not bad, but it's not exactly good either.

Prison Break
This show, on the other hand, is quite good. Very good even. It's about a man who, in order to save his brother from death row, robs a bank and has himself sent to prison. He of course has a plan on how to break them both (and a few others he needs to help them) out of there. Meanwhile the brother's ex girlsfriend (who is also his lawyer) tries to find a way to clear his name since it appears he was set up by someone with connections in all the right places. It's partly about prison life and partly about conspiracy theories. But it's all good. The story spans over the entire season and the show reminds me a little of 24. It's not as good or genre defining as 24 but it's still a very good show. The best part is that it's been getting better with each episode which makes me excited about the future (although I'm a bit curious how an eventual second season will be handled).

My pick for best other drama series: Prison Break, but there really isn't any competition.

My overall favorite of all the new shows this far is Prison Break, with Threshold a close second. Although Prison Break has had a few more episodes in which to grow, so this could change. Everybody hates Chris loses out because I much prefer hour long dramas over 30 minute comedies. If not for that bias it may have come out on top.

_________________
Josan on the power of commas:
"I saw a comma slay a fiendish burglyronic embryo of drenella 5 once."


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