Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A handy cheat sheet

If you've ever thought, "I wish I could keep track of all the science fiction and fantasy shows out there, but it's too much work," then this chart is for you!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A look ahead to the new fall TV season

Just like last year, I'm going to go through the schedule night by night and tell you what I like and what I don't. If I already have an established show in a slot, I won't talk about the new shows, but if I have an opening, I'll discuss all the alternatives in that slot, since it seems fairest that way.


8:oo-- No contest here. Heroes it is!

9:00-- The only new show in this slot is Trauma, which doesn't look at all like the kind of thing I'd like. I may or may not bother to watch the first episode.

10:00-- Castle. Woo hoo!


8:00-- Nothing to report.

9:00-- Two options, neither of which I like: the new version of Melrose Place, and the new version of NCIS. I predict that my TV dial will remain in the off position.

10:00-- There are two new shows in this hour. The Good Wife stars Juliana Marguiles as a political wife who goes back to her career as a lawyer after her husband is impeached. It seems only slightly interesting, but Chris Noth plays her husband, and I like him. I just don't think I want to see him playing a dirtbag of a character! The other choice is The Forgotten, a show about a group of amateur investigators who reopen cold cases. I'm honestly not sure which, if any, of these shows I'll end up watching.


8:00-- Two choices here: Parenthood, which I already discussed, and which I like more for its cast than its premise, and the sitcom pairing of Hank with The Middle. Hank stars Kelsey Grammar as a tycoon who goes bankrupt and relocates to his old hometown. The previews look ok. The Middle stars Patricia Heaton as the typical harried housewife and mother. The previews don't enchant me. So do I go with the one-hour show that I like or the half-hour show that I like? Only time will tell.

9:00-- Lots of choices here: Glee, the high school choir show that was previewed this week after American Idol, and which I think is uneven but shows promise. Beautiful Life, a show about models starring Mischa Barton, which I don't expect to like and didn't do anything to win me over with its previews. Or the sitcom pairing of Modern Family, a mockumentary about 3 very different families, and Cougar Town, a show with Courtney Cox as a divorcee looking for love with younger men. I'm about 95% sure I'll go with Glee.

10:00-- The only new show is Eastwick, a remake of the novel and movie. I'm not sure why they decided to make this at this exact moment, but it could be fun in a campy way, so I'm game to try it.


8:00-- Some choices here, too. The Vampire Diaries, a sort of Twilight knockoff about a vampire and the teenage girl who loves him. I wasn't expecting much from this, but the previews are oddly compelling. Flash Forward, a story about what happens when everyone on the planet experiences a simultaneous vision of the future. Or the sitcom pairing of Community, which I mentioned before and looks really funny, and Parks and Recreation, which I started watching, gave up on, but am willing to give another shot. It figures that there would be three good shows on at the same time, right? I don't know what I'll do here.

9:00-- Fringe, of course!

10:00-- I'm willing to give The Mentalist another try, now that it's not in direct competition with Fringe. From what I saw during the time Fringe was in repeats, it was a pretty good show.


8:00-- There's a new sitcom called Brothers about a former NFL star who moves home to live with his (you guessed it!) brother, but I don't expect much from it.

9:00-- This is my only hour with a conflict between two shows I watch now. Ugly Betty vs. Dollhouse. Since I'll have no problem watching one of them over the weekend, this doesn't seem like a problem.

10:00--Absolutamente nada.


8:00-- The Simpsons is still on my list of shows I theoretically watch, and after that comes the Cleveland Show, a spinoff of Family Guy. Since I don't watch that show, will I understand?

9:00-- Three Rivers is a medical drama starring Alex O'Loughlin from Moonlight. He had me at hello.

10:00-- Brothers and Sisters, indubitably.

Well, there you have it. This season looks even less interesting than last, although I'm sure I'll have a few surprises, as I always do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The inside vs. the outside of the cup

I am so riled up right now that I probably shouldn't be allowed to post anything online, but I'll try to be constructive here and express my opinions in a thoughtful matter. I really don't like the way our society is heading, and the way that women's options, especially regarding personal appearance, have closed up in the last 10 years or so. You may not believe this, kiddies, but there was a time when a woman could have short hair and be considered both sexy and not a lesbian. If you don't believe me, look at Janine Turner in "Northern Exposure" or Winona Ryder in "Reality Bites." Ironically, during that time period I always tried to buck the trend and have long hair, but looking back on it, it was nice to have a variety of options available to me, options that I suddenly realize are no longer there, and I can't for the life of me pinpoint at what exact moment they were lost.

There were plenty of beauty rules for girls even when I was growing up, but there were on the level of suggestions that you would find printed in magazines once in a while, whereas now the beauty rules are irrefutable truths that all women simultaneously realize somehow. I managed to feel perfectly happy and confident about my eyebrows for 30+ years, and aside from brushing them once in a while, I never thought of them as a body part requiring maintenance. But all of a sudden I'm in violation of the cardinal rule of womanhood, that eyebrows must be waxed at all times. Likewise, the new precept for breasts, which is being stated as if it were a universal truth, is that the nipple must fall exactly halfway between the shoulder and the elbow. Now when watching old movies, I can scarcely pay attention to the plot because I'm so obsessed with looking at the leading lady's boobs and seeing how they measure up. Anyone who thinks that this rule is truly universal and has always been in place has never seen Meryl Streep in "The French Lieutenant's Woman." I don't think she was even wearing a bra at all! And somehow she still managed to win Best Actress!

I guess what I'm trying to say (and I never would have believed it if you'd told me I'd feel this way 10 years ago) is that I'm coming out of the closet as a feminist. Women should have options to be and do whatever they want, and I think we should pay more attention to their thoughts and feelings than we do to the way they look. And if you ever find me getting my eyebrows waxed, I'll eat the wax!

A little something to keep you busy

By the way, if you're interested in that sort of thing, this is the best compilation I've found of TV show previews put out by the various networks. I haven't had a chance to watch them yet, since I'm at work, but I'll let you know my feelings when I do.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is

Ok, so maybe I was a bit optimistic with my previous post, and I don't really have 11 returning shows in the fall at all. First off, it's looking like Privileged isn't coming back after all. (The jury is still out on Reaper, from what I understand.) Second, Chuck and Better Off Ted are being held as midseason replacements, while Friday Night Lights probably won't return until next summer! So my count is actually 6, not 11, which is still better than most years. And the only conflict is Ugly Betty and Dollhouse, which are both airing on Fridays at 9. This conflict is easily resolved, though. I shall watch Dollhouse live (because they need all the live viewing they can get) and tape Ugly Betty to watch over the weekend. Unless I get digital cable again, which I've been considering, and which would mean that I couldn't tape one thing and watch another. But I'm sure Ugly Betty would be available online as it always has been, so there's no conflict there either.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I can't believe my ears

In the last couple of days, we've suddenly had news that a whole bunch of shows I like are being renewed. Not everything is official, of course, but it looks like this is a list of the shows I like that will be coming back.

Better Off Ted, Brothers and Sisters, Castle, Ugly Betty, Dollhouse, Fringe, Chuck, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, and possibly Privileged and Reaper

That's 11 shows! I don't think I've ever in my life had 11 shows I like come back. It's an embarrassment of riches! But this also means I'm going to have to change my strategy. In the past few years, I've watched almost literally every new show that came on, because I knew I needed to my options open and continually be adding new elements to replace the ones that kept getting cancelled. I've been open-minded enough to try even shows I was 85% sure I wouldn't like, just in case I was wrong about them, and readers of this blog know that I've picked up a few surprises that way (although I've also sat through my share of turkeys.) Well, if I'm starting the season next year with a slate of 11 shows, that means I'll only have room for a few new ones and have to be much more selective in what I pick. It'll mean adapting to a whole new way of thinking, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Season Finale Fever

So many shows have been having their season finales, and I decided I should talk about them and my feelings about the season as a whole. So here goes.

  • Chuck-- I don't want this show to end, but if it did, the penultimate episode would have been the place to do it. Everything tied up so neatly with a bow that it was kind of confusing that there was another episode after that. So if the show is cancelled, I'll just pretend the real finale never happened! If it does come back, I'm honestly not sure what will happen in the future, and that's pretty exciting. And I really, really, really hope that Chuck and Sarah one day get to finish what they started in that motel room!
  • Heroes-- I feel like the net sum of this season was zero. A lot of things happened only to be reversed in the end. Sure, a few minor characters died, but otherwise, all that running around through corridors didn't really achieve anything of lasting importance. Except for the twist with Sylar/Nathan. That's something I didn't see coming at all, and I wonder how this is going to play out in the future.
  • Castle-- I didn't expect much from this show when it first came on, but it's really snuck up on me. There was no immediate chemistry between the leads as on Moonlighting, but they actually did develop something special along the way, and maybe it feels more real because it wasn't just love at first sight. Castle has demonstrated that he really cares about Beckett and her well-being, such as that episode when her ex-boyfriend with the FBI showed up. He was willing to put aside his cheeky ways and be what she needed him to be in front of company, and that says something about him. I also like how the ex-boyfriend didn't try to break them up, but instead encouraged her to give Castle a chance. That seems more like something that might happen in real-life than the pointless horn-locking that most shows would have given us.
  • Fringe-- The season finale blew me away! A lot of people have been upset with this show because they think it isn't moving fast enough and didn't like the "case-of-the-week" episodes, seeing them as filler. I'm not one of those people, and I was perfectly fine with the way the show was going, but they certainly did kick everything up a notch with the finale, and now even the nay-sayers are impressed. Clearly, they've known where this was heading the whole time, and it will be interesting to see what territory they cover next season.
  • Cupid-- To be honest, I'm still not feeling any chemistry whatsoever between the leads, but I don't know that that's such a bad thing. In the finale, I actually thought the show was moving in a different direction and going to set our fair doctor up with that actuary, and I was kind of disappointed when he turned out to be a jerk. But I don't actually think the show needs any romance between Trevor and Claire, because the romance of the week is plenty! I love watching all the couples get together, and I'm sorry that this show probably isn't coming back next year.
  • Life-- This was a long time ago, but I didn't talk about it then, so I'll mention it now. I'm so glad they were able to end the season with Reese and Crews back together, if only for a moment. It was a powerful moment, and Charlie's abandoning his Zen training to kill his kidnappers was also powerful. Who would ever have thought murdering someone could be life-affirming, but it signified the end of his detachment from the world and his willingness to fight for his life. It really did seem like a series finale, so I can live with it if this show doesn't come back, although of course I still want it to.
  • Dollhouse-- This finale was also a game-changer, and I'm not sure where this show will be going if it comes back either.
  • Friday Night Lights-- We know this show is coming back, but the future as far as what characters we end up following remains to be seen after the finale. Will we just follow Coach Taylor at his new job, or will Tami keep working at the old school and thus give them divided loyalties and us a window into both schools? It all remains to be seen.
  • Brothers and Sisters-- I'm glad we got a real goodbye for Tommy; it also seems like they've left the door open for him to return in the future if he wants to. I wonder how long it will take for Justin and Rebecca to get married, and how many bumps they'll have along the way. Is Ryan going to turn out to be evil? Even Holly is scared of him now, and that's saying something! I wonder what will happen with Kitty as well. Does Rob Lowe want to leave the show? That's the only explanation I can find for her character's sudden reversals.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Unbirthday!

Although I appreciated the birthday card I recieved this morning, today is not my birthday! But here is the song I'm singing right now: "A very merry unbirthday to MEEEEEEE!"

My thoughts on the Dollhouse

So I woke up this morning, realized that tonight would be the season finale of Dollhouse, and actually started to feel a little excited. So many people have such conflicting feelings about this show, so I thought it would be a good moment for me to analyze mine, which I really haven't done before.

A lot of people are really wierded out by the premise, and they seem to be focusing on the sexual aspects of the show to the exclusion of all else, thinking of the Dolls as nothing but very expensive sex slaves. I don't share this view. First of all, fiction is different than real life, and this is something that all science fiction fans should realize but I think a lot have forgotten. In the 1960's and 70's (and even earlier, I guess, with the likes of George Orwell), science fiction was a way for people to explore social problems in a less-threatening way than talking about them in real life. Does anybody seriously think that George Orwell was advocating that we would all like to live like they do in 1984 or Animal Farm? I certainly hope not! Instead, he was just pointing out what might happen if we did live in societies like those. In the same way, Joss Whedon is pointing out what probably would happen if we could control people as utterly as the Dollhouse controls the Dolls. That isn't the same as saying that he'd like it! And if it makes you feel a little icky inside sometimes, maybe that's the point.

Second, usually when people are focusing on sex to the exclusion of all else, it reflects something in their own mind rather than in the actual work they're studying, and I think I see that happening here with the people who criticize Dollhouse for its sexual content. We haven't really seen that much, and most of it was in the early episodes when we know Fox was meddling with the show and probably trying to make it sexier than it really is. So if you imagine that tons and tons of sex is going on in all the moments that we don't see, that says more about your dirty mind than it does about the show. And as far as Sierra's abuse by her handler goes, see the above paragraph. Sometimes you have to take your characters to bad places before you can save them, capiche?

Another criticism of the show is that nothing much happened at first. It seems like everybody expects instant gratification these days. But watching a Whedon show is more like watching a time-lapse photograph of a flower blossoming. At first it looks like nothing is happening at all, and then you notice things moving very slowly, and then all of a sudden, wham! It opens up in the blink of an eye. I think the first season of Dollhouse has been like that. Lots of things happened at first that seemed like they were meaningless, but now we're getting the payoff for a lot of those things all at once.

So I'm very excited to watch the finale tonight and see where we've been being led all this time. I hope you will join me!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

NBC's first try at an upfront

So NBC attempted to tell us about their new fall schedule on Monday. I say "attempted" because they didn't actually tell us the fate of all their shows, or exactly what they were going to do in the fall, or even give us an idea of what their schedule would be, and I feel they lost some credibility in the process. It's like the kid who volunteers to do his presentation first in class and then spends 10 minutes looking for his Powerpoint on his flash drive.

At any rate, NBC did tell us about 6 new shows they plan to showcase next year, and Hulu has previews of (almost) all of them. So here are my thoughts on them after taking a peek.

  • Community-- This is the show that everybody seems to like the most, and I agree. It's about students at a community college, seen from the point of view of a lawyer who was just disbarred and has to find a new line of work. The big headliner in this one is Chevy Chase, who plays the retiree who goes back to school to expand his horizons, a stock character that every real-life college I've attended has at least one of. (Is it really possible that Chevy has become that old? Apparently!) This looks like it should be a lot of fun, and I will definitely try to tune in. If only I knew when it would be on!
  • Parenthood-- It's a little baffling to most people why NBC would decide to remake a 20-year-old movie, especially one they've actually attempted as a TV series before, but this one doesn't actually look so bad. From what I could tell from the preview, it has very little in common with the actual movie. (Full disclosure: despite two attempts, I have never made it past the first half hour of the movie.) The thing that made me decide to give this a try is the number of big name TV stars they have here: Craig T. Nelson, Peter Krause, and Erika Christensen being at the top of the list. I've loved Erika ever since Six Degrees, and so I'd love to see her get another shot at a series. Same goes with Peter Krause from Dirty Sexy Money.
  • Mercy-- I wasn't expecting to like this show about nurses, but the preview sucked me in. I have to admit the big draw is James Tupper. Swoon!
  • 100 Questions-- This seems somewhat similar to The Ex-List, but hopefully being a sitcom instead of a dramedy will improve the premise in some way. A woman has to answer 100 questions from a computer dating service, and apparently each question will take one full episode, in which she relives her past, to answer. I'm afraid I'm going to lose my patience with this one, but it could be saved if it's really, really funny.
  • Day One-- This is the only show that had no preview, because it's not set to start until after the Winter Olympics are over. From what we know, it's about a group of friends and how they react after some kind of natural disaster and/or nuclear holocaust that destroys civilization. We've all seen this concept a million times before, in iterations both sublime and sucky, so it all depends on how this show is made, and that's something we don't know yet.
  • Trauma-- An ambulance crew. A lot of yelling and a lot of gore. No thank you, please.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My predictions analyzed

I was digging around trying to discover what I posted on May Day last year, so I didn't completely repeat myself, and I discovered my post on last year's upfronts. Before I get all excited on this year's upfronts, which start next Tuesday with NBC, I thought I'd evaluate my predictions last year and what I actually ended up watching. Most of the shows that I didn't expect to like I actually didn't end up liking. The exceptions were Fringe, which I thought would be too dark for me but really isn't, and Privileged (then called Surviving the Filthy Rich), which I was afraid would be "shallow and vapid." On the other hand, I gave much more credit to Do Not Disturb and The Ex List than they were actually due, and I expected to tape Gossip Girl while watching Chuck, a scheme I quickly gave up on.

Finding this post is making me much more excited for this year's upfronts to begin. Hope springs eternal!

God grant you a joyful May

A happy May Day to you!