Thursday nights are known in tv-viewing homes across America as a conundrum, an impossibility, and most definitely a night that you have to check that your DVR is working, and then stay home so you won’t get behind on all the buzz about your favorite shows! I’ve mentioned on Eclaire Fare before that Thursdays this fall are especially a challenge for me, as there are about eight shows that I am interested in watching. So what did I decide was “must see tv” last night? Fringe, The Office, and Community. Still waiting on my Tivo are Bones, Vampire Diaries, and The Mentalist, and in the next few weeks I’ll be adding FlashForward and 30 Rock. I only recorded Bones because I wanted to see guest star Cyndi Lauper, but needless to say, I’ll have plenty of shows to choose from this weekend. So anyway, back to my must-see list, here are my thoughts on the season premieres that I felt compelled to watch right away.
- Fringe – The season premiere was giving off strong X-Files vibes: the creepy shape shifter guy who was going around town killing innocent bystanders, the congressional hearing to determine whether or not the Fringe division would be shut down, and the global war for survival that very few people know is happening. And I loved every minute of it – from the jolting opening scene in which Olivia suddenly reappeared and catapulted through her windshield onto the pavement, to the closing, heartbreaking moment in which we saw poor, dead Charlie being dumped into an incinerator by shape shifter Charlie. This show certainly knows how to come out of the gate at a full gallop. What a terrific season opener! Walter and Peter’s banter is as clever and amusing as ever, Olivia still exhibits an appealing balance of emotion and resolve, and even the new girl on the block didn’t bother me. In fact, I think that FBI Agent Jessup may be a good addition to the group of core characters. She seems unphased by the weird stuff she’s encountered thus far, and was willing to bend the rules to keep the investigation into Olivia’s disappearance/car crash/subsequent murders going. The actress, Meghan Markle, looks vaguely familiar to me, but her tv credentials are pretty slim. Let’s hope that this will be her breakout role, so she won’t have to be remembered as one of the models who held a briefcase on Let’s Make a Deal! One more thing about her – I’m not sure what to make of the closing scene that showed her linking info from the Fringe cases to biblical events in Revelations. Are we supposed to think that she’s in a cult? or crazy? or keenly aware of a bigger picture? I look forward to finding out more. One more thought on this show: at the end of last season we found out that (apparently) Walter brought the Peter we know over from the parallel universe when his son Peter died as a little boy. This secret has all sorts of implications big and small, but I’m wondering if Peter could be a key figure in this struggle between the shape shifter group and William Bell. From what I gathered last night, something important has been hidden somewhere. I’m wondering if perhaps it’s hidden in Peter? Just a thought… This is currently my favorite show – quite an accomplishment for a sophomore!
- The Office – Oh, how I have missed Jim, Pam, Stanley, Creed, and the rest of the Dunder-Mifflin gang. They were all in top form in this season premiere. My favorite episodes are the ones in which we see a lot of interaction among the staff, and there was plenty of that going on when rumors spread out of control thanks to Michael’s need to be included. As usual, there was some inappropriateness from Michael (his inability to stay out of Stanley’s very personal business), but I like how some of his false gossip ended up being true, made others question themselves (Andy’s sexual identity crisis), and ultimately forced Jim and Pam to share their baby news. Those two sure know how to save the day. They spared Stanley the extreme awkwardness of having his dirty laundry revealed in front of the whole office by giving up on their plan to keep Pam’s pregancy secret as long as possible. The Office is at its best when all the characters are given a chance to shine, and at its worst when it focuses more on the slapstick, over the top antics of Michael and Dwight. The season premiere, then, falls in the “best of” category.
- Community – I’ve really been looking forward to this new show! I enjoyed the pilot, but I had already seen all the funniest parts in the promos (the old man trying out for the track team, the dean giving his lackluster welcome speech to the students, Abed’s Breakfast Club reenactment, etc.). During the first half of the episode, I was irritated by what a jerk the main character, Jeff Winger, was. But, once he was put in his place by his professor friend (who gave him a packet full of blank paper instead of the answers to all his exams for the semester) and Britta (the girl he hit on, who then gave him false hope, only to take it away again), I started to like him more. Now that this ragtag group of misfits (the retiree, the single mom, the high school jock, the overachiever, the ditz, the Aspergers guy, and the disgraced fake lawyer) is banding together in an effort to survive their classes, I look forward to seeing what happens. I loved the music in the final scene, especially the Breakfast Club tune. And I have to add that I didn’t appreciate the total lack of respect the show had towards community colleges, at least at the beginning of the episode. I teach at such a college, and I’m happy to report that while there is some truth to the portrait of community college life that Community offers, my students are several notches above the ones represented on this show. I understand that they play on the stereotypes for maximum comical impact, but I hope that as the show goes on, the characters are portrayed as more than just dumb losers who couldn’t cut it at a university.
Did you watch these shows? What did you think about them? My favorite of the night was Fringe. They made a bold move, messing with one of the main characters, and I’m interested to see how that storyline will play out. Stay tuned for my thoughts on Glee (loved loved loved the latest episode!) and Vampire Diaries.