I try to do my reviews after about six or seven episodes, but life got the better of me this time around and so here I am, writing it mid-season. I’m breaking the shows into three categories: Shows I’m Watching, Shows I Should Be Watching, and Shows I Am No Longer Watching.

-{Shows I Am Watching}-

The Big Bang Theory – Season three is still going strong. Kudos to the writers for letting Leonard and Penny get things going and not relying on the perpetual will-they-won’t-they storyline that is all too easy to do. With The Office having allowed Jim and Pam to get married, I wonder if this is becoming a trend? I am disliking Howard and Raj less and less and finally view the two of them as a net bonus to the show. The character of Sheldon Cooper remains priceless. Grade: A

Community – This one took a little while to grow on me. I almost dropped it altogether, but have not yet. The show still doesn’t seem to have found its stride, but it does have a sort of endearing quality as we get to know a little more about the characters and they are explored with a little more depth. Ironically, the more I enjoy this show the more I wish it had never been made. Steven McHale, who plays the main dude, was slated to play the main dude on an American version of The IT Crowd. The more I enjoy this show and Steve’s part on it, the more I realize how awesome he would have been as the main character on The IT Crowd. Grade: C+

FlashForward – I was originally going to take a pass on this show, but a couple of very different individuals recommended it to me. I figured that something that appealed to both of them (Clint and Rick, for those of you that remember such people) had to have something going for it. I was less than entirely enthusiastic about the plot, wondering “What can they really do with that on an artistic?” Well, the answer is an intriguing drama that looks at self-determination, accountability, and fighting against fate. It still doesn’t classify as “thoughtful”, but there is at least enough of that in there to keep it interesting. Grade: A-

Fringe – Around halfway into the last season, when John Scott made his disappearance, I decided to stop watching this show. I was convinced to give it another chance by overhearing a conversation about it. It’s a good thing I did, because the show has gotten a lot better. While there are some seriously twisted minds writing for the show and grossing out the viewers for grossness sake, the overarching plot is becoming increasingly interesting and complex. To wit, John Scott started out a hero, but then we discover was a double agent. Then we find out that he was a triple agent trying to ferret out the double agents. Then we find out that the double agents could credibly make a case that they were preparing humanity for an oncoming war, which would make them protectors of humanity. And with so much left unknown, you know there’s a lot more to it than that. Grade: B+

How I Met Your Mother – The New Yorker, I think it was, pointed to this show and compared it to Friends to point out how much better television has gotten. While I think I like The Big Bang Theory a little more, How I Met Your Mother is probably the best comedy on television right now. The characters are so-so at times, but the overall narrative is phenomenal. The only thing that prevents it from being an “A” is the lack of credibility behind Ted The Professor. Grade: A-

The Office – People are finally starting to talk about this show again, which is a credit to the writers that for a lesser series would be in auto-pilot by now. The “lesson” for the show this season is that while being cynical of management is easy, being a manager isn’t. People complain about the prickification of Jim Halpert, but I think that it’s a natural direction for the show to go. And what he did to Ryan was sufficiently classic to give him a pass for a lot of prick-like behavior. Grade: B+

Parks & Recreation – This is another one that has grown on me. It’s part-and-parcel a ripoff of The Office in so many ways, but I have no problem with exploiting a formula that works. It has the advantage of being a bit fresher with a bunch of new characters to get to know, which makes this show’s B+ less impressive than The Office’s. Even so, I look forward to it week in and week out. Grade: B+

Two and a Half Men – The show that just will not die. It’s creatively been out of juice for quite some time, but it stays just funny enough to continue watching. Clint likens the show to junk food. In small quantities it is very appealing, but you get too much of it and it will make you sick and will stop tasting good. I can’t decide if it’s that there are too many episodes or if the newer episodes just aren’t as good as the older ones. Grade: C-

White Collar – This one was a little gem. Another good combination of episode-to-episode plots and longer story arcs. It also has a pleasantness to it that make it feel a little different (I think that’s one of the things that fueled Monk’s popularity). After the plot of that last episode, though, they have be dying to know what’s next. There had better be a “next”. Grade: B

V – I’m enjoying this show well enough, though it wasn’t worth Dr. Juliet Burke’s life. I think that the show may have been a bit more interesting if the aliens were slightly less obviously evil. But having accepted the 70’s premise for what it is, the execution of fantastic. Grade: B

-{Shows I Should Be Watching}-

The Good Wife – Clancy took an immediate liking to this show and so it has become one that we watch together. However, we haven’t been making the time to actually watch it. I’ve seen about four episodes and I’m enjoying it. There’s a good mixture of episode drama that gets resolved by the end of the hour and the ongoing storylines of the case against the main character’s husband. It’s also good to see Josh Charles in something. It’s overdue. Grade: B+/A-

Cougar Town – I’ve only seen one episode and was torn on it. I’m obviously not the target audience, though. Clancy also watched it and she declared this as one that she’s interested in watching. So it’s one of those that I will watch if she and I ever get around to it, but otherwise I won’t make a particular point of seeing. Grade: TBD

Modern Family – I’ve only seen one episode of this show as well, for the same reasons that I’m behind on The Good Wife. This one I really did like, however. The mockumentary style is quickly becoming cliched, but it’s still a good storytelling device that can get you in the heads of the characters (or at least introduce you to their self-preceptions). An interesting cast of characters with actors with varying degrees of familiarity make it seem to succeed where The Middle failed. Grade: TBD

-{Shows I Am No Longer Watching}-

Accidentally on Purpose – This was the hardest one to drop and I may end up giving it another shot down the line. Once again, this is a case where I am really not the target audience. But Jenna Elfman is Jenna Elfman, with Grant Show thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, I don’t care all that much for the baby’s father and that’s really hindering my enjoyment of the program. I also don’t like the girlfriends of Elfman’s character, either. Grade: C

Hank – Ahhh, what I would give to have Back To You back on the air. Kelsey Grammar is wasted on this family comedy with wisecracking kids and the wife who always knows better. I gave it one and a half episodes. Grade: F

The Middle – Ahhh, what I would give to have Back To You back on the air. While not as bad as Hank, it’s a wasted vehicle for former BtY star Patricia Heaton. While it’s not as uncreative as a lot of family comedies, it seems to be picking up where Malcolm in the Middle left off and it has come up short in comparison. Maybe when I actually have a family, I will be more interested in the family comedies again. But this one didn’t do it for me. Grade: D+

Category: Theater

About the Author

8 Responses to TV Shows In Review: Fall 2009

  1. Kirk says:

    I found “Glee” to be pretty much the best show this year. At times the plotlines became silly, but the music more than made up for it.

  2. john says:

    Steve McHale?

    Speaking of shows you should be watching…

  3. trumwill says:

    Joel McHale, rather.

  4. DaveinHackensack says:

    Late to the party, but we just started watching the Office a month or two ago. I think we’ve seen most of the previous seasons now. Funny show, and one that isn’t afraid to mock some PC nonsense in the guise of mocking the Michael Scott character.

    The other few shows we’ve watched are over now (Crash, Curb Your Enthusiasm) or wrapping up (Doll House, which both sucks and sucks you in).

    We’ve been DVRing Glee, but haven’t seen an episode of it yet.

    You watch a lot of TV, btw.

    Also, the original V aired in the 80s, not the 70s.

  5. trumwill says:

    Joel, Steve, 1980’s, 1970’s, this is why it’s probably not best I write posts in places where I don’t have Internet access!

    The second season of The Office is quite possibly the best season of any sitcom ever. It’s been more hit-and-miss since. With the exception of Season Two, where they burned through a lot of the character plot potential, it’s at its best when it’s focused more on actual workplace humor. That’s where I think it would be advantageous if it were at a more corporate kind of environment. More office-humor available. They were supposed to have a spin-off last year. I was hoping it would be Corporate with their NYC headquarters.

    Since becoming unemployed, I watch more TV than usual. But a lot of these are carry-overs from previous seasons, so that’s only a partial-excuse. The rest is that I tend to watch TV while doing other things. Particularly back when I was employed, I’d have shows running while I was cleaning, working on computers, modifying images and maps for Hit Coffee, and so on. Often I just have it piped in to my Bluetooth headset and I’m not actually watching it (this is easier with some shows than others). Now that I have more free time, I spent more time actually watching TV rather than just listening to it.

    Even now, though, I barely have the attention span to actually watch a TV show while not doing anything else. I’m wired and conditioned to “watch” while doing other things. Right now I’m at the in-laws and without the ability to pause when my attention is too focused elsewhere to pay attention, it puts me in quite a bind!

  6. DaveinHackensack says:

    My doing other things TV is Bloomberg. It has the 20 minute repeat cycle on most major stories, like other cable news, except without the screaming and idiocy. Occasionally if something comes on that I find interesting, I can rewind the TV to catch it. The Office (which we’ve been watching hopelessly out of sequence) I like to focus on, because there’s a lot of non-verbal humor in it — the facial expressions and such.

    Maybe you’ve covered this before, but are you looking for a job now, or sort of on hold until Clancy finds hers? Have you signed up as a provider on Elance? I just hired a Pakistani off of Elance for a small project a few days ago, but I also found an American lawyer through there. Maybe worth a shot.

  7. trumwill says:

    I used to like it when dentists offices and whatnot would leave it on CNN-HN. I think that HN has gone to a more traditional format with shows and whatnot, but back when they had rolling short stories on a cycle, it was the only cable network worth watching.

    I’m holding off until we land somewhere. Elance sounds interesting. If we end up somewhere that it’s difficult for me to find work (which is likely), I might look into it.

  8. DaveinHackensack says:

    If you want to get your feet wet with Elance — i.e., get a small project and a review under your belt — let me know.

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