Tuesday, September 25, 2007

That New TV Season Smell

It's in the air. Just step outside, waltz through the fallen leaves, and breathe deep the smells of autumn. That burning garbage smell, you ask? That's the smell of television production, young one. It's responsible for the extinction of another subspecies of bird every year. And with the changing of the seasons, so begins another year of what some may rather accurately describe as a whole lotta crapola. As a pop culture junkie with at least a workable enough sense of humor and taste in television, naturally, it's my duty to cast out into the "blogosphere" (I still can't type that without wanting to shoot myself.) my personal picks for the latest in television worth watching.

Chuck (NBC) - This is one I actually haven't seen yet, having missed the premiere earlier. But it looks potentially geeky and amusing. And it does have Adam Baldwin, beloved by all as Jayne in Joss Whedon's short lived space cowboy masterpiece Firefly. So that's a plus, at least.

(NBC) - After a four month wait, we're on to a new season of everyone's favorite geeky comic book hero show. The premiere was a solid start to the still relatively new hit show's second season, with new characters, more powers, and foreshadowing of new villains to come. Yeah, Mr. Sulu's dead now, but don't worry, Michelle Nichols (Uhura) is joining the cast later this season to give us our classic Star Trek cast fix. Likewise, we'll be seeing Kristen Bell, former star of the brilliant and little watched Veronica Mars, join the cast, with CW sadly and not surprisingly having axed her show back in May after a relatively mixed third season. (In short, watch the first two, you can take or leave the third.) From the looks of things, it should be another interesting season - and for those in the know, it's all about Mr. Muggles.

Without Veronica Mars, my tuesdays are a blank slate now. CW's new comedy Reaper has gotten good buzz, though, so that may be worth a look.

Pushing Daisies (ABC) - The latest from Bryan Fuller, creator of the wonderful Dead Like Me (Sadly canceled by Showtime.) and Wonderfalls (Which Fox barely advertised, shoved into a ratings-suicide friday night slot, and nobody watched, great as it was.). This forensic fairy tale, as they call it, focuses on the owner of a pie shop who works as a detective, and possesses the special ability to bring the dead back to life with a touch - and snuff it out for good with a second one. Being a big fan of Fuller's previous works, Pushing Daisies is a show I've been greatly anticipating, personally, and the released trailer has a bit of a Big Fish vibe to it. So long as the writing's sharp and funny as his previous works - with some more poignant moments appropriately scattered here and there - Fuller should have another home run of a series on his hands. The question is, will people tune in?

Bionic Woman (NBC) - A contemporary re-imagining of the classic TV series, produced by David Eick, who's also been producing the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. Knowing that, and that Galactica's Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) will have at least a semi-reoccurring role is what I'm going in with. It could turn out to be a hit like Galactica, or end up being sour. Too early to call at this point.

The Office (NBC) - Admittedly, I only just fell in love with this show this past summer, upon finally investing in the first two seasons' DVD sets, having caught a few episodes here and there over the years. Though I watched the original airing of the series premiere, I was turned off at first, largely because this American reimagining of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's acclaimed British comedy largely started off with a pilot that felt like what it was - Americans trying to pull off dry British comedy. It wasn't bad, but it was just a little off. But as the writers took the show and characters and made them their own, it's only gotten better. Regrettably, I still haven't seen the original series, but I have seen Gervais and Merchant's most recent series, Extras, which was awkward and wonderful. The outlook for The Office is good as ever, with more general daily life comedy with the Dunder-Mifflin Scranton gang and the long-awaited Jim/Pam relationship for everyone to pretty much never shut up about. (Though admittedly, I'm looking forward to seeing it unfold too.)

Scrubs (NBC) - The air is thick with endings. At least, that's how it's felt at the end of the past two seasons. Scrubs, as good as it is, has threatened to run itself into the ground on several occasions, with more recent seasons at times seeming nowhere near the level of the earlier ones. But for every few episodes that either pour on the schmaltz a little too hard, or slap us with too many pop culture references that don't quite click or mesh with the episode plot, they manage to produce one or two that really shines. It's about time to move on from Sacred Heart, though, and the cast and writers seem well aware of that, with this next somewhat shorter 18-episode season apparently being planned as its last. Plot threads will be tied up, as many characters from previous seasons as possible - and relevant - will show up again, and with any luck, it'll go out on a high note.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) - Time flies, and Sunny's just started its third season now. As usual, the gang is stupid and gets into all kinds of stupid shit - a word they also enjoy making liberal use of, with FX's more permissive stance on language on their network. In short, if you enjoyed any of the previous seasons, you definitely don't want to miss the new one - there's more McPoyles in it than you (Or probably anyone.) can handle.

Drawn Together (Comedy Central) - Stupid, extremely crass, and a semi-guilty pleasure (Hey, what's wrong with a little dumb comedy here and there anyway?), after a long hiatus, Comedy Central will finally air the latter half of the third season starting in early October, bringing the somewhat longer lived (By Comedy Central standards - rest in peace, Dog Bites Man, Stella, Halfway Home, and Upright Citizens Brigade.) animated reality TV parody to its conclusion. It may have in a lot of ways reproduced the successful Family Guy comedy formula (Frequent cut-aways, lots of random and typically irrelevant pop culture references for the sake of simply making these references and general absurdism.), but it's a show that still managed to produce laughs often enough to warrant watching. It's hard not to shake your head, seeing Comedy Central end Drawn Together while continuing to drag South Park out even longer, despite that it hasn't been funny in years, and isn't anywhere near as meaningful or intelligent as its fans insist.

Pretty much dead as usual, as nobody's home on friday night watching TV, right? Right? I tend to stick to Friday Night Stand-Up on Comedy Central then, myself.

Generally a weak day of the week for television as well

Family Guy (FOX) - Just this past sunday, Seth MacFarlane's popular animated series began its 6th season with an hour-long parody of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Admittedly, it wasn't the show's funniest episode by far, but it was one of the best pieces of geek fan service on TV this year. (Even if Robot Chicken did their Star Wars special first.)

American Dad! (FOX) - This coming sunday, MacFarlane's other, more politically-tinted absurdist animated series airs its 3rd season premiere. This one still tends to be fairly mixed in how it's received, but I find it similarly enjoyable as Family Guy, personally.

Robot Chicken (Cartoon Network) - Another crude, ridiculous, and pretty much entirely 80's and modern geek pop culture-derived show, Seth Green and company filming stop-motion sketch comedy with action figures. If you enjoy the usual Adult Swim type humor, it's been worth watching and continuing to watch.

The Boondocks (Cartoon Network) - After a near-two-year hiatus, in early October, the animated adaptation of Aaron McGruder's now defunct comic strip of the same name begins airing its second season. Once again, it'll be interesting to see what kind of trouble Huey, Riley, and Grandad end up getting in - and how many conservatives McGruder ends up pissing off again.

Battlestar Galactica (SciFi) - The show returns for the two-hour premiere of its 4th and final season in November, then airs the remainder of the episodes starting in January. Season 3 ended with a hell of a cliffhanger. Are the revealed characters really the final Cylon five? When the Galactica finds Earth, what kind of Earth will they be finding? And will the Cylons and humans ever make peae? Or will they simply wipe each other out? All these questions should be answered by the end of the series next year. Assuming the writers don't bog season 4 down with as much Starbuck/Apollo angst as season 3, anyway.

Continuing/In Reruns
Code Monkeys (G4) - I never thought I'd see the day when that obnoxious video game commercial of a network they call G4 would have a show worth watching, but continuing from this past summer, Code Monkeys has maintained a pretty consistent level of funny. Never thought I'd see something this funny from Adam de la Pena after I'm With Busey, either. In a nutshell, the show follows the fictitious staff of early 80's game development company GameAVision, primarily through the eyes of game designers/programmers Dave and Jerry. Wacky, crass Adult Swim-type hijinks ensue with lots of retro video game references, industry guest voices, and general jabs at the industry. All animated in an 8-bit NES style with character design clearly inspired by Technos' classic games. (Especially River City Ransom.) Worth watching on wednesdays if you're a gaming geek.

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (Travel) - Tony wrapped up his show's 3rd season in the past 24 hours with a show in Tuscany. Perhaps the edgiest - and my personal favorite - of the Travel Channel's lineup. Worth catching as the season reairs on monday evenings now.

The best part of this post is how it makes it sound like I do nothing but watch television. Obviously, I need to get out more. But as a pop culture junkie - and a somewhat obsessive-compulsive individual - I felt that it was important as one of these "hip," "relevant" blogger-people-things, to share my take on the fall TV lineup. Everything else? Crap. (Even though I've admitted how low-brow a number of these shows I watch are.) Watch what you like, though, and do try to read a book every now and then. Your brain will thank you later.

(And for those wondering where Project 27 Days news is, it's been met with further snags, in large part due to my life currently revolving around some extremely stressful technicalities I'm dealing with in order to finally graduate from college, having finished my academic requirements. It's rather trying to get into the frame of mind to write when withering under excessive stress and tension from an ongoing conflict I'd really like to get past so I can finally get my diploma and move on with my life. An embarrassing admission, but I really do wish that I were someone better at dealing with conflict and all the negativity and stress that come with that. But that's another entry for another day, with a less excessively personal slant, of course.)


priceless_seraph said...

man...I'm gonna miss Scrubs. ;_;

For me, it's more of those stupid dating shows on VH1. Those are addictive little buggers. I blame my old roommate for getting me into Flavor of Love. Although, Rock of Love turned out to be a heck of a lot better. :-X

Bret Michaels >> Flavor Flav

I'm also holding off Cups till after graduation myself. Now, if only I can get off of Blogger, MySpace, You Tube, and Frets on Fire and actually do my work. :-\

Benjamin Fennell said...

Yeah, no kidding. It's sad, seeing Scrubs going. I still need to catch up on what I missed last season in reruns on Comedy Central, now that they picked this past season up. I never saw the episode where they lost Laverne, though I know the actress who played her is going to be back in this final season as another character. This past season did have a few weaker moments, I thought, and honestly, the musical episode didn't do much for me, though then, I'm not a big fan of musicals. That said, at least they know it's ending, so they're planning a good ending so it'll go out on a high note.

Ah indeed, I haven't watched any of those. Saw Bret Michaels on Conan recently and was pretty indifferent, and all I've seen of Flavor Flav in ages was his roast on Comedy Central.

Now now, you've gotta leave yourself with some pleasures yet, yanno. ;)