Thursday, January 25, 2007

TV Status Report: Winter 2007

One of the things I'm glad to see developing in the world of TV is the split run system, where shows do a run of 10-12 episodes in the fall, take a couple of months off and then come back for a run of 10-12 in the spring. It makes it easier to keep track of when there's a new episode, and also allows the story to flow without interruption for as long as possible. Having caught up on a bunch of stuff on DVD, I'm now watching more shows on a weekly basis than ever before, though the process of natural selection may cause some of these to slip away before the season ends. Anyway, here's an update on what I'm watching.

24 - Due to an excess of Babylon 5 and other stuff, I've only seen the first two hours of the season. They were pretty strong, but I'm more aware of the 24 formula at work. I'm sure I'll get caught up in the season as it goes, but this opening wasn't as riveting as last year's. I've got the next three episodes and will hopefully catch up with them soon.

Battlestar Galactica - It's sometimes frustrating, but no other show on the air now comes close to the experience of watching a new Galactica. The effects just keep getting better, and this last episode did a good job of setting up a bunch of potentially interesting storylines. This is always a Sunday night watch, no waiting.

Friday Night Lights - I haven't seen yesterday's episode yet, but I could see this show going away for a while in February sweeps, so it's no rush. This is still one of the best shows on TV, and the past couple of episodes have done a great job of maintaining the show's quality. No other show feels more real than this one, the camerawork, acting and writing all make it totally believable, and that believability is the key to the show's success. I have the feeling this could be a show like Freaks and Geeks, where it's cancelled after one year, but every actor on the show goes on to success.

Gilmore Girls - I haven't seen Tuesday's episode yet, but I've grown somewhat disenchanted with the show under its new leader. Attachment to the characters keeps me watching, but the storylines just aren't that good, or particularly original, and I'm just waiting for the inevitable Lorelai/Christopher breakup. I have the feeling this is going to be an X-Files situation, where collective consesus will conclude that the last seasons didn't happen.

Heroes - I watched the most recent episode yesterday, and even though the show is technically fantastic, it's still never really hooked me. I think the reason is I just don't care that much about the characters. On a TV show you're pretty much there for the characters, sitcoms are basically about hanging out for a half hour with your fictional friends, and dramas are about watching your fictional friends go through tough times. But, I don't really care what happens to the Heroes people, much like Lost, the appeal of the show is in the shocking revelations rather than logical character development. It's still entertaining, but they're going to have to kick up their game a bit to get me back for the next season. The show is lacking that magic that makes you really care about what happens to the characters.

The Office - I'm through episode 3.7, and even though I still don't think it comes close to its British counterpart, the show is still one of the funniest American sitcoms ever. It's broader than the UK one, and that sometimes hurts them, but much like the last two seasons of Seinfeld, that broadness can also get bigger laughs. It's such an easy show to watch, always entertaining.

Rome - I'm through episode eight of the first season, and am hoping to catch up before episode three of the second season airs. HBO's shows are always a cut above when it comes to production value and ambition. The show manages to make the historical figures lively and accessible, and the emotions always feel real.

Veronica Mars - I wasn't particuarly impressed with the first half of the third season, but there's always just enough of interest to keep me watching. Maybe the lack of an overarching mystery in the last chunk of the year will free them up to do some bolder creative things. If I drop one show, it's most likely to be this one.

Wow, that's a lot of stuff, and I've got Babylon 5 in there as well. But, there's a lot of good shows out there, and once you're hooked, it's hard to back out.

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