I meant to write this a couple months ago, but never got around to it. I wanted to make sure it got posted before the new season began. Since it begins tonight with the new episode of The Office airing, it goes up now. I may do follow-up on shows that I can’t give a fair hearing to here.

24 (Fox) – 24 definitely wins the “most improved” award after the dreadful Season 6. I wish that they had brought back Tony Almeida in a role that would allow him to be more prominant in the future, but who knows? Half the fun of the series was trying to figure out whose side he was on, so at least they used him to potential. Though I realize that Jack Bauer is the star of the series, I wish they would quit killing or dispensing with all of the supporting cast (except Chloe). It’s lost its shock value and much of its emotional resonance and it’s sort of reached the point where you don’t want to become attached to any character cause they’re probably gonna get killed off. Complaints aside, it was 24 hours of action-packed excitement.

Battlestar Galactica (SyFy) – I’ve gone back and forth on the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica, ultimately deciding that they did about as good as could have been done with where they had put themselves. I especially liked Tyrol’s role in the implosion of peace negotiations. Aaron Douglas, who plays Tyrol, has a fantastic everyman quality about him. I hope some network takes notice.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – TBBT has probably become my favorite comedy on television now, edging out The Office. Even Howard and Rajesh, two subjects of complaints last time I commented on the series, are doing a better job of earning their keep. That being said, I liked the comic book guy more and would have prefered he get a role than either of those two. The Lawrence-Penny storyline weaves in and out as one might expect in the early seasons of a show with the potential to last for a while. I look forward to the next twist or turn.

Boston Legal (ABC) – It’s over, and not a moment too soon. Boston Legal was easily the most exasperating show I have ever watched. Moments of brilliance interrupted by smug moralizing that I found off-putting whether I agreed with what was being said or not. Most frustrating is that this could have been a truly great series, but it just couldn’t get over itself. But despite all that, it remained a good show and one that, even when I tried, I couldn’t stop watching.

Chuck (NBC) – The Subway gambit worked! I’m not sure I care as much, though, having seen the season finale. I believe that, knowing that the series was probably going to come to an end, they needed to give us a good stopping point. There’s really nothing worse than a “To Be Continued” on a TV show’s last episode. And given how much certainty there was in many circles that the show was going to be cancelled, and given that they chose to end on a cliffhanger (and went out of their way to do so, I am left with no choice but to conclude that they will never end the series. A television show has a sort of contract with its viewers. We’ll invest our time and interest and they will give us a pay-off. I understand that sometimes shows are canceled without warning and there isn’t much that can be done, but that was not the case with Chuck.

Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) – Like Chuck, DSM was expected to be cancelled and ended on a cliffhanger, but unlike Chuck it actually was. I’m more inclined to give DSM a pass, though, because it was cancelled before midseason. This one was always on the borderline of whether I wanted to watch it or not, but it sadly picked up the most steam in the final four episodes, which they didn’t air until this past summer. I really, really wish I knew what happened next and the story of Nick George’s father.

Fringe (Fox) – I quit watching after 14 episodes. Rather, I quit watching after five episodes, then decided to watch the remaining 8 of the half-season, then quit again. It’s not a bad show and in fact got a lot better in episodes 7-14. But they reached a good stopping point and Mark Valley, one of the best things about the show, left. I found that I didn’t care enough about the general storyline to keep watching. Particularly when I am suspicious about whether or not these shows will be given a proper ending.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS) – This show just keeps getting better and better. At the same time, I wonder if it’s not going to start a down-hill descent soon. But if it stays this entertaining as we wait for The Moment (when Ted meets his future wife), I’ll definitely stay tuned.

Life (NBC) – This is how it should be done. Life was on life support (no pun intended) during its first season and ended the half-season with a sort of conclusion. Then, at the end of the second season, it was almost certain to be cancelled. Rather than pulling a Chuck-like gambit, they simply gave us a conclusion that we can be satisfied with. You can see where they could have kept going, but alas it never picked up the viewership. It’s a shame and probably worth a post all its own.

Lost (ABC) – Somehow, they got me to feel a little sorry for Ben. Right as he was killing somebody, too! And they finally got me really liking Juliet and of course they kill her. And… almost all my comments here are on the little stuff cause I don’t even know what the big stuff is. Overall, I thought the season was good. It actually did a pretty good job of doing some of that explaining of stuff that others said would never happen. And by using time-travel, it did it in a way that wasn’t tedious. Not sure what to make of throwing the Jacob/Esau at the end there. Is another layer really what they need right now? They seem to think so and I don’t have the energy to doubt them. Whatever they’re doing, it’s been a heck of a ride.

My Name Is Earl (NBC) – My Name Is Earl pulled a Chuck. Boo. Worse, like Chuck, if they’d just ended the episode a couple minutes earlier, the cancellation would have been more okay. But they went out of their way to try to manipulate us into begging for another season. What’s sad is that the show had actually gotten a lot better from some of its iffy earlier seasons and was more worth-watching than ever. And now it’s gone. Grumble.

The Office (NBC) – Probably the weakest season in the history of the show, it got a lot better in the second half. Michael Scott quitting and the introduction of Charles Miner hit the spot and brought the show closer to its Officey roots and away from the soap opera of the Dwight-Angela-Andy love triangle.

The Shield (FX) – Fantastic ending. It gave a sense of completeness that few shows do. The show created a fantastic reality wherein the characters you find yourself rooting for are (mostly) dealt their just desserts and you have to keep reminding yourself “This is what they deserve”.

Southland (NBC) – Southland is sort of a grittier version of Boomtown and I liked Boomtown and so Southland was alright as well. The bleeping oddly works. We’ll see how they do when they have more than six episodes to work with.

Two and a Half Men (CBS) – For the last couple seasons this has been the show that’s always barely worth watching and this season was not much different. It’s there, it provides a few laughs, and I find myself watching it out of pure momentum. Charlie’s girlfriend honestly doesn’t do much for me, which I think is dampening my enthusiasm a little bit. Always frustrating to see the layabout Charlie get these responsible, with-it women that ought to have little or no use for the Charlies of the world. Blar.

Worst Week (CBS) – Cancelled after 14 episodes and, though I enjoyed the show muchly, I can’t really complain. It had a formula that was bound to get old sooner or later. It’s interesting watching the British version how much better than American version is and how important it was in this show to have a really likeable protagonist. And the girlfriend/wife has to be one of the best girlfriends/wives ever on television ever, ever, ever.

Category: Theater

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8 Responses to 2008-09 TV Season in Review

  1. PeterW says:

    I found the short-lived Kings to be worth watching. Like Life, they ended on a relatively satisfying note despite having set up storylines for further seasons.

  2. trumwill says:

    Thank you *so much* for saying that. I’d been on the fence about whether or not to check that series out and mostly wanted to know if it ended on a satisfactory note. I just didn’t know anybody who watched it.

  3. john says:

    What, no Goode Family?

  4. rob says:

    Did you watch Breaking Bad on AMC? It’ll be back in a couple weeks, and I heartily recommend it. The premise sound stupid: the dad from Malcolm in the Middle plays high school chemistry teacher who starts making crystal meth. But it is so much better than that.

    The Terminator tv show was uneven, but far better than the last two movies. Probably because of budget constraints, they couldn’t blow up as much stuff, so explored new themes. It was largely about people coping with impending, unavoidable catastrophe. I might be biased because I think the first two Terminators were pretty much the only good scifi movies ever. Well, Gattaca was watchable.

    I’m rather fond of science fiction novels, but most of the movies are just action movies with lasers instead of guns. George Lucas made a crapload of money by replacing swords with laser swords: how deep. The next scifi movie franchise will probably be built on laser fists.

    Terminator was totally self-contained. Really, you only had to believe one impossible thing: time travel; and a couple of implausible things. Mostly, the way people reacted to the sci fi aspects was realistic. Guy thinks he came from the future to fight a robot? Everyone thinks he’s insane: that actually makes sense. Second movie, woman thinks her son’s going to be a messiah after a nuclear war: totally batshit crazy. It actually explored how people would react to the premises, and seemed true to human nature. Like supernatural horror movies, scifi needs some grounding in reality to feel compelling.

    Wow, I just wrote a lot about terminator for no reason at all. But the tv is well worth watching.

  5. Kirk says:

    Wow, I just wrote a lot about terminator for no reason at all.

    The first Terminator was on t.v. a few months ago. Although it looks a bit dated (it’s twenty-five years old now), it still holds up well. What struck me however, is that no fewer than three of the actors in it went on to star in Aliens.

    Two of them are pretty easy to recognize. The third is a bit tougher, as he has just a bit part in Terminator. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when I recognized him, though. (Arnold rips his chest out.)

    That said, I am a bit disappointed in many sci-fi movies nowadays. District 9 was interesting, but was more of a morality tale than anything. The upcoming Surrogates might be okay.

    However, I am surprised by how much I like ABC’s “Defying Gravity.” Not only does the title seemingly describe the actresses’ breasts (booyah!) but I find the stories interesting enough. Also, I’m something of a fan of Ron Livingston.

    As for general t.v., I’d like to see a post on what shows our host likes so far this season. For new shows, I find myself enjoying “Glee” and “Community”. Also, the season premier of “The Office” held my interest. However, “Parks and Recreation” still doesn’t quite make the grade for me.

  6. trumwill says:

    John, I blinked and missed that one.

    Rob, I have Breaking Bad in my queue. Looks really interesting, but I haven’t watched any of it yet. I’ve seen the second Terminator movie but none of the others. I almost saw the most recent, but it disappeared from the theater too quickly.

    Kirk, I typically do a round-up about 6-8 weeks into the new season. I hadn’t realized that so many of the shows have started!

  7. rob says:

    Kirk, I appreciated District 9. A bit like Alien Nation if they had been more alien and in south africa. The alien technology was ok: different without being magic.

    I think my problem with scifi movies and tv in general is that I look towards the genre as exploring social and personal consequences of the sci fi aspects. In those respects, Surrogates looks pretty good from the trailer. Most sci fi movies are just gadgets and fighting.

    Will, first Terminator was better. Oh yeah, I especially appreciated it because of Arnold Schwazenager. Monotone voice, exagerated build. The steroids did something to his face, so it’s off without being deformed. He’s in the uncanny valley to me. I can beleive him as a person designed by a computer

    Californication is also worth watching. I got over David Duchovny being in it pretty fast. The show is much more about relationships than sex. Very human, for lack of a better word. It was pleasant surprise. Haven’t seen the third season yet. I don’t have a tv, so I’m usually behind on my shows.

  8. Abel says:

    I thought Battlestar ended just right. I was satified with the way the show ended.

    As for LOST, I guess they had to kill Juliet off since she’s going to be staring in that V show. 🙂

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