Too much TV, too little time
In my line of work, October can be quite cruel. The semester is chugging along as the grading piles up. The TiVo gets stacked up with new fall shows & returning favorites. And my lifelong Red Sox fandom demands that attention be paid to post-season baseball. So while each of these things are great on their own (maybe not the grading), in combination it’s a lot to manage the overload. Still, I’m glad I’m not a Yankees fan…
My fall season monitoring has falling by the wayside somewhat, although I can tell a lot in terms of quality based on my TiVo triage. Pushing Daisies has vaunted into “must-watch on its scheduled night” status, which is a night early thanks to our good neighbor to the north. Most of the concerns from folks who loved the pie-lette episode on the comments for my last post and around the web focused on “how can they sustain this?” Episode two puts most of those fears to rest – if this week’s episode “Dummy” is any indication, the self-contained procedural murder plotlines will extend the show’s wacky quotient rather than ground it in genre convention. Tonight’s mystery involves murder by crash-test dummy, knitting, a dandelion-fueled eco-car, and a light-hearted take on bulimia, all wrapped in stunning art direction and nice guest star turns. The mystery-of-the-week structure seems poised to allow the show to explore different sides of its magical realist universe, hopefully avoiding whimsy weariness. And, I must mention, a stunning musical number from Kristen Chenoweth. And Anna Friel being utterly captivating and turning my cynicism into goo. Yes, I’m smitten.
The only other show that’s on the express track for viewing is Chuck, although episode 2 was certainly a drop-off from the pilot. Episode 3 waits on the TiVo, but it won’t suffer the fate of Gossip Girl (abandoned after one episode) or Back to You (lingering uncomfortably on the TiVo to fill non-existent free time). I want to like Bionic Woman more than I do, but I haven’t had the urge to watch episode 2 yet, which is a bad sign – tonal inconsistencies and conventional moodiness are outweighing the pleasure of Katee Sackhoff, but I hold out hope. Dirty Sexy Money started out well enough, bumping Gossip Girl out of the designated annoying-rich-person slot, but I fear that the show will swing too wildly between sincere soapiness and mock-E! trashiness, with poor Peter Krause left to hold it all together. But Krause is so enjoyable to watch on television that I’m on board for awhile.
As for returning shows, Heroes remains a deeply ambivalent pleasure for me. I like enough of the cast to watch, and seeing David Anders be all Sarky in feudal Japan
is a joy. But the show has never inspired confidence in me that the meandering between characters will add up to anything of significance, and the new eps stoke the fires of my doubts enough to leave ep 3 unwatched for a couple of days. As for the returning comedies, surprisingly My Name is Earl is the strongest out of the gate, maximizing the payoff of the prison setting to change-up the formula. Both 30 Rock and The Office have been fine, but a bit too much gearing-up for what hopes to be later payoffs. And I’m getting the most televisual enjoyment (beyond watching the Red Sox & Patriots cruise while the Yankees fall apart) from catching up with this summer’s FX show Damages – it plays the dual-time frame mystery quite effectively, and Glen Close is obviously great, but Ted Danson, Tate Donovan, and especially Zelijko Ivanek more than match her intensity. You’ve definitely got to start from the beginning, but it’s worth checking out on DVD down the road.
So the scorecard: Pushing Daisies, Red Sox, and Patriots are fabulous; Damages and My Name is Earl on the rise; holding steady with Chuck, The Office, and 30 Rock; questioning Heroes, Dirty Sexy Money, Back to You, and Bionic Woman; dumping Gossip Girl on the curb with the Yankees. Back to grading…
Filed under: Television, TV Shows | 9 Comments
Tags: 30 rock, back to you, bionic woman, chuck, damages, dirty sexy money, gossip girl, Heroes, my name is earl, pushing daisies, red sox, the office