Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Fall 2009 TV: What I’m Still Watching December 1, 2009

A couple of months ago, I gave an overview of what tv shows I would be watching this fall. Some of them were my returning favorites, while others were newbies that I wasn’t sure about. Now that the fall season is well underway, and most of these shows are about to go into holiday hibernation, I thought I’d give an update on what I’m still watching, and which shows have lost my interest.

Didn’t Make It Past the First Round

At the beginning of the fall season, I watched a handful of pilots out of curiosity, and had a reaction of either immediate disinterest or horror.

  • Cougar Town – So bad that it was painful to watch. Poor Courtney Cox – Monica Geller would be embarrassed by her character.
  • The Middle – Hidy ho, neighbor! This show was too “hunky dory” for my taste. It came across as a slightly desperate attempt to reach out to middle America. The result was a sometimes funny, but mostly contrived comedy that was a wannabe hybrid of Everybody Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle.
  • Eastwick – I may have liked this show if it had a darker, supernatural element to it. Instead, it was mostly soap opera fluff with a dash of magic thrown in. I also found all three main characters unlikable, particularly the married one. I felt little sympathy for her when her husband threatened to seek full custody of their kids when they decided to get divorced. Who could blame him? She struck him with lightning! I wrote this show off by the end of the pilot, and it looks like the network has done the same, since I read they haven’t ordered the back nine episodes.

Still Sitting on the Sidelines

Some shows that I considered watching haven’t even seen any playing time. These are all shows I have watched off and on in past seasons, but so far this season the episodes are just piling up on my Tivo.

  • Bones – Actually, I only recorded the first episode of the season, and really only because Cyndi Lauper was guest starring. It’s still sitting unwatched on my Now Playing list. (I lost interest in this show about the time that Angela and Hodgins broke up. That was such a forced story.)
  • The Mentalist – I like the characters on this sophomore hit (and I love Simon Baker!), and I’m intrigued by the ongoing Red John investigation, but I just haven’t found the time to watch any episodes this season. I may catch up some in the next couple of months.
  • CSI – Ever since Warrick’s tragic departure, and then Grissom’s move to South America (or where ever he went to live in the jungle with Sara), this show has been a little depressing. I’m not a huge fan of some of the newer characters, although I like Laurence Fishburne just fine.  At this point in this veteran show’s run, I only watch the episodes that sound interesting to me. So far this season nothing has sounded too good.
  • How I Met Your Mother – I still haven’t finished last season’s episodes, much less gotten into this season’s. I guess this just isn’t Must See TV for me. It really never has been. I’ll probably do what I’ve always done, which is to catch up during summer reruns.

I finally started acting my age and stopped watching Vampire Diaries.

Cut from the Lineup

  • FlashForward – I really wanted to be excited about this show. Yet every week something was missing. I didn’t find any of the characters compelling, and wasn’t sure why it really mattered what they saw in the future and what they would do about it now. And it took them forever to introduce Charlie – I mean Dominic Monaghan’s character! In every preview, they would show him, but he didn’t actually have much screen time until several episodes in. By that time, I had already decided to bail. Perhaps this show was trying to do too much with too many characters. What worked for Lost doesn’t seem to be working for it. I have a feeling this one won’t make it past season one.
  • Vampire Diaries – All along, I felt too old to be watching this show. I rolled my eyes at all the exaggerations of teen angst, and the absence of authority figures. It seems like most of the grown ups were only introduced so they could be killed off (such as the football coach and the reporter). I was intrigued enough by the family dynamics between Stefan and Damon, and Damon really is a fun character. However, the final nail in the coffin was all the mumbo jumbo about crystals and such, and the secret society who vowed to protect the town from vampires. It was all a little hokey. Why not just stick to the formula of a teen who falls in love with a brooding but good-hearted vampire, who happens to have an evil, trouble-making vampire brother? The show seems to be a hit for the CW, and I am sure many fans will continue to enjoy it. I, however, am relieved that I now have one less show to watch on Thursday nights.

"Modern Family" is one of my favorite shows this season

Second Team

These are shows that I’m still watching regularly, but sometimes weeks after they air. In other words, they aren’t “must see.”

  • 30 Rock – Still funny, but I’m not compelled to watch it immediately
  • The Office – Continues to be hit or miss. I don’t like the direction the show has taken Jim’s character lately, portraying him as a fish out of water in his co-manager position.
  • Community – Community seems to be getting better with each episode. We just watched the Green Week episode, which was hilarious, particularly the montage sequence that had Senor Chang salsa dancing at the “Greene Daye” concert, while Shirley gave an inspiring speech about brownies, and Abed and Troy sang “Somewhere Out There” to coax their lab mouse out of hiding. Comic genius.
  • Modern Family – Modern Family also gets better with each episode. I love how it balances quirky and deadpan humor with characters that are actually lovable. I like all the characters on the show, which is very rare on today’s brand of sitcom. On the latest episode that I watched, which had to do with a “stolen” bicycle, toddler time, and the installation of a ceiling fan, I was really touched by the ending. Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria’s wine country getaway plans are spoiled when Manny’s father cancels his plan to take him to Disneyland. Rather than tell Manny the truth about his deadbeat dad, Jay sacrifices his and Gloria’s kid-free weekend, telling Manny that his dad wanted them to take him to Disney World, and that he had sent a limo to take them there. That was really sweet. And like Jay said, the most important part of being a dad is just showing up. Sniff, sniff. This show really deserves a post all its own, so I won’t praise it anymore right now.

Glee remains a joy to watch

My Must-See TV

  • SYTYCD – I’m still enjoying this show, although this season’s choreography and performances have been underwhelming, except for a handul of my favorite couples. I’m used to investing more time into this show during its summer runs, but since it’s up against so many fall shows, I’ve devoted much less time to blogging about it. I vote that they return to a summer-only format.
  • Glee – I am in love with this show. While some episodes are better than others, and some of the humor is just plain silly, there is plenty to make up for those small complaints. The musical numbers are always fun, Sue Sylvester is the funniest character on tv, and every episode ends on an uplifting note that has me either cheering for the characters or celebrating life itself. Can one little tv show achieve all that? Apparently so.
  • V – ABC, why must you be so cruel? Four episodes? That’s it? And now we have to wait until March?! I am disappointed to learn that the ratings have plummeted, and I hope that someone will generate enough buzz to get this show back on America’s radar. It is certainly worth it! I was fascinated by the first four episodes. It was very different from the 1980s miniseries, but that wasn’t a bad thing. I like both versions. In this new version, the acting is top notch, the cinematography and special effects are impressive, and the story is compelling and very applicable to our society’s current concerns (healthcare, vaccinations, terrorism, etc.). Perhaps they should have just made this into another miniseries, because it will be very disappointing if the show gets canceled before we know how it ends!
  • Fringe – How strange that this is the only one hour drama that I am currently watching (now that V is on a long hiatus). It used to be that I only watched a couple of comedies, and several one hour shows. Maybe I just don’t have the time anymore, or maybe there are more good comedies than dramas right now). With Lost and 24 scheduled to kick off in the next couple of months, my tv lineup will be more balanced. But for now, I remain fascinated by this scifi/thriller/mystery/drama. Olivia, Peter, and Walter are all characters that I care about, and the mysteries are a satisfying blend of disturbing and riveting. I got really antsy waiting for this show to return during Fox’s baseball playoffs coverage. I’m glad that at least one good new show from last season has continued to be successful.

So there you have it. I now have three must-see shows, plus another four comedies that I enjoy watching. That’s all that remains from an original batch of 15 shows that I was considering watching. Have you lost interest in any of this season’s shows? Which ones are you still loving?

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Thoughts on Last Week’s TV: September 28-October 2 October 7, 2009

Once again, I’m quite a bit behind on my tv blogging. I’ll continue to blame the fact that most of the shows I watch are on Thursday night, which means that I spend the weekend and the beginning part of the following week making my way through all of them. As I share my random thoughts about the shows this week, I’ll list them in the order that I watched them, to give you an idea of my viewing priorities.

  • Glee – After adoring the Kurt-centric “Put a Ring On It” episode, I had mixed feelings about this episode, which focused on Will’s attempt to breathe new life into glee club by welcoming back one of its former stars, played by the amazing Kristin Chenoweth. Meanwhile, there was a will she/won’t she subplot about whether Rachel would rejoin glee club. Chenoweth stole the entire show – it was great hearing her perform the song from Cabaret, as well as her bowling alley duet with Will of “Alone.” That being said, I was irritated by the over the top nature of her character. Sure, it was funny that she met Will in the mansion she was squatting in (she and her box of wine), but was it necessary for her to show up to class, rehearsals, and performances drunk all the time? And the part about her teaching two of the girls how to shoplift using their thighs was just odd. I’m still annoyed by Rachel’s diva attitude, but I must say that it was nice to have her back when the group performed “Somebody to Love.” I am really looking forward to this week’s “guys vs. girls” episode. Should be fun!
  • Fringe – How odd, that a bowling alley was pivotal in Glee and Fringe last week. It’s not often that I can find common ground between a high school musical comedy and a sci fi investigative drama. While Kristin Chenoweth was stealing bowling shoes and Finn was manipulating Rachel, Olivia was being rehabilitated by a wise bowling alley manager. I enjoyed watching her frustration grow over his instructions about bowling and tying shoe laces, until finally she focused enough to be able to walk across the room without her cane, and point her gun without her hand shaking. The investigation of the week also added another interesting layer to the show’s mythology, as we discovered that mysterious men are carrying top secret info about human culture to the strange albino man. Up until now I’ve assumed that he was friendly and wanted to help Walter et al, but now I’m not so sure. Is he from the parallel universe, or somewhere else completely?
  • FlashForward – I was honestly bored during this week’s episode, and found the strange mix of humor and drama off-putting. On one hand, you had the humorous account of the guy who was on the toilet when the world passed out, as well as in his flash forward. On the other hand, you have a father trying to decide how to tell his son that his mother is dead, and a little girl trying to process the disturbing vision she had of the future. However, I’m willing to stick with the show and see where it’s going. So far, I haven’t been drawn into the characters’ lives enough to care about them.
  • Vampire Diaries – I already shared my thoughts about this episode here. One thing I can say is that this episode drew me into the series more, because it introduced some new mythology and an edgier tone.
  • So You Think You Can Dance – The parade of auditions continues… I decided not to blog in detail about the auditions because usually when I do that, the majority of my favorites don’t end up in the Top 20. Instead, I’ll wait until Vegas Week, and then start sharing my thoughts on individual dancers. I would like to commend the judges for not belittling many of the wannabes. They give them constructive criticism and encourage them to keep practicing. So much nicer than the American Idol judges. (Mary was only out of line one time, when she joked with Mia that the “demons have been exorcized” after that guy in New Orleans looked like he was having a “conniption fit” on the stage.)
  • The Office – I rolled my eyes through much of this episode, which found Michael and Jim butting heads in their new positions as co-managers. Michael was behaving like a four year old, and Jim’s response was to stare at the camera like, “How am I supposed to deal with this?” Also not very funny was Pam asking peope for money instead of traditional wedding gifts. That was more sad than funny, even though it makes sense. They are about to have a baby, so they need dollar bills, not fine china. However, I was amused by Phyllis, when she told Pam that she would be giving her and Jim a birdhouse mailbox as a wedding gift. That reminds me of the oven mitt she made as a Secret Santa gift a few seasons ago. It was kind of funny how jealous Dwight was of Jim, and how he tried (but failed miserably) to start a revolt in the office. The best part of the episode was when Michael gave Jim a “World’s Best Boss” mug, and they shared a strong drink in Jim’s office. It was nice that they found some common ground – the stress that comes with making tough decisions. That was a sweet moment.
  • Community – This show continues to be uneven, but this episode was rather amusing. It was nice to see John Michael Higgins (Best in Show, Kath and Kim) as Professor Whitman, an accounting professor who had taken it upon himself to inspire his students to seize the day and live life to the fullest, by doing things like standing on their desks, walking around barefoot, throwing away their textbooks, and climbing trees. His performance was an appropriate satire of movies like Dead Poets Society. And I’m not sure what to think of that bizarre movie that Abed made for his film class, but it was certainly entertaining. My favorite part of the episode was Pierce (Chevy Chase) teaching football jock Troy how to sneeze like a man. Troy’s wimpy sneezes were funny enough, but then Pierce demonstrated a few different loud and in charge sneezes, and they were hilarious. I can relate personally to the phenomenon of the masculine sneeze, as my husband nearly brings down our house every time he sneezes.

And the ones that I haven’t gotten to at all: How I Met Your Mother, The Mentalist, Dollhouse

What were your favorite shows last week? Any new shows that you have added to your weekly lineup? Any that you’ve already given up on?

 

Thoughts on Last Week’s TV September 30, 2009

I had trouble keeping up with primetime tv’s official fall premiere week, since I was out of town (read: away from my Tivo) from Thursday to Sunday. I’ve finally finished watching most of the shows I recorded, and am ready to give my brief opinions on each one. Here we go…

  • So You Think You Can Dance – I had been underwhelmed by the season six auditions until this episode, which showcased a couple of unique performers – most notably the first guy. When he walked out in those golf pants with that goofy grin on his face, I was expecting the worst, but instead he was fantastic – a quirky, cute, Evan-esque dancer. It’s old news now, but I am looking forward to seeing Adam Shankman as the fourth permanent judge on the show. He is such a lively, encouraging presence on the panel. I’m anxious for the actual competition to begin, but at the same time, I’m enjoying these shorter episodes!
  • Glee – I’ve already written at length about this episode here. “Preggers” was my favorite show of the week.
  • Eastwick – I watched this pilot episode mainly because the show is filmed on the old Gilmore Girls set a WB Studios in Burbank. I’ve toured that set twice now and was interested to see how it looked on tv. Unfortunately, the set was the most interesting thing about this “Desperate Housewives meets Bewitched” concoction. A couple of notes about the Eastwick, formerly Stars Hollow, set: it was weird to see Lane’s yellow house in the background shots of the town square, and I’m pretty sure that Rebecca Romijn’s character’s art gallery is in Luke’s Diner. What a shame that such an iconic location is now home to such mediocrity. A show about witches and magic should have at least a slightly dark tone, but Eastwick was all about being cute and funny. But if cute and funny is what the writers are going for, it’s not really working. I was appalled with how self-absorbed the three main characters are. For example, the “mother of five” witch was acting like she was the victim after she struck her husband with lightning! Maybe instead of using her powers to make the ground rumble and lightning come from the sky, she should be using them to help her husband overcome his obvious problem with alcohol. Oh well, this is a fantasty show. It’s just not my cup of tea, and I won’t be watching it again.
  • Cougartown – Simply awful. Atrocious. I may have laughed one time. I only watched it in the first place to see just how bad it was. Now, it wasn’t as bad as the train wreck that was Cavemen, but it was pretty close. What is Busy Phillips doing on this show? Why is she friends with Courtney Cox’s character, and how old is she supposed to be? I am confused because I’ve been watching her on Freaks and Geeks recently. I know that show was made ten years ago, but on it she played a high school student, and now she’s playing a young professional who hangs out with cougars? Weird. “Gross” is the best word I can use to sum up this show.
  • Modern Family – This show has a lot of potential. It gives us a peek into the lives of three very different families: a seasoned married couple (no nonsense, yet paranoid mom and a dad who thinks he’s cool) with three children, including a potentially wild teenage daughter; a gay couple who just adopted a baby girl; and an almost senior citizen (a hilarious Ed O’Neill) who is married to a much younger, fiery Latin woman who has a son just as passionate as she is. It turns out that they are all related, too. I laughed many times during the pilot, including the scene in which the dad accidentally shot his son, his daughter’s boyfriend, and himself with a pellet gun; and the scene in which Ed O’Neill was mistaken for one of the mall walkers because of his wind suit.
  • Fringe – This wasn’t one of the strongest episodes ever, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. We learned that Olivia has developed some sort of super hearing from her interdimensional travel. As for the main story about a mutant human who was killing the locals, it was very much like an X-Files episode. It reminded me of the one where Doggett and some new female agent went underground to investigate a reptile man who blinded his victims with venom so he could kill them. While Fluke Man was the nastiest X-Files creature ever, this mole rat scorpion boy was pretty gross, too.
  • FlashForward – I was highly intrigued by this show, am am interested to see how it will develop. It is reminiscent of Lost’s first season: there are many likable characters who we will learn more about a little at a time; all the characters have been brought together by a catastrophic, and unexplained event; and there is a ton of information that we don’t have yet. How creepy was that one guy walking around at the baseball park when basically the whole rest of the world was unconscious? Who was that?! I look forward to seeing what role Dominic Monaghan will play.
  • Vampire Diaries – I already shared by thoughts about this episode here.
  • The Office – I didn’t enjoy this episode as much as the season premiere. Too much of Michael being socially awkward, not enough interaction among the rest of the staff. I did, however, enjoy the unusual pairing of Toby and Dwight on their undercover mission to find out if Darryl was telling the truth about his work related injury. I loved that Darryl’s sister looks just like him, and that Toby got a chance to do something besides get insulted by Michael. I also liked Andy’s impromptu description of the makeshift cheese tray. Very random and amusing.
  • Community – Episode two of this new show introduced us to the hilarious Spanish teacher, Sr. Chang. My main problem with this comedy so far is that the funniest moments are always in the previews. The result is that when you watch the episode, nothing surprises you – kind of like when a movie trailer gives too much away. The show will be more successful when I laugh more often and am pleasantly surprised by jokes that weren’t in the promos.
  • Dollhouse – The season premiere left me feeling confused, as if I had missed an episode from last season. The thing is, I didn’t, so I hope they will fill in the blanks later on. The most compelling character now is Dr. Saunders, played by Amy Acker. I am curious to know who she was before she became a doll. And Acker is once again playing a tragic figure, as she did on Angel, since we already know her ultimate fate (if you watched the 13th episode, which didn’t air on tv). 😦   Why can’t they show the whole cast in the opening credits? Is it really necessary to see Eliza Dushku in 50 different costumes? She is only one small piece of the larger puzzle, and there are much more interesting aspects than her character. Oh, well. I’m glad that Paul Ballard is now her handler. Should add an interesting dynamic to their relationship.

Still on my Tivo from last week are a couple of other new shows (The Good Wife and The Forgotten), as well as the season premieres of The Mentalist and How I Met Your Mother. I’ll get around to them eventually. What were your favorite and least favorite shows last week?

 

Fall 2009 Television: What I’ll Be Watching September 6, 2009

Now that I’ve completed my preview of the networks’ new shows, it’s time to reveal my weekly viewing schedule. I have a feeling this list is going to overwhelm me. In the following rundown, all times listed are central, and I’ve also given the season premiere dates.

  • Sunday – Actually, I won’t be watching anything on Sundays. It will be nice to have one tv-free night. I watched the first seasons of Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters, as well as one season of The Amazing Race, but I’ve long since stopped watching all of them.
  • Monday – I am starting off very reasonably. No shows on Sunday, and since I gave up on Heroes early last season, only one show on Mondays. (I enjoy House, but since it is “my husband’s show,” I only watch it when I’m passing through the room or folding laundry. I prefer Dr. House in small doses.)
    • How I Met Your Mother (7-7:30 on CBS, beginning Sept. 21) – I enjoy this CBS comedy, especially Barney’s character, but it’s not necessarily “Must See TV” for me. I typically watch some first run episodes, and catch most of the rest in reruns. (I have yet to see last season’s finale.) One question before I move on to Tuesday – why is One Tree Hill still on? Shouldn’t it have ended like three years ago?! Who watches it?

  • Tuesday
    • So You Think You Can Dance (7-9 on Fox, beginning Sept. 15) – We meet again so soon! It seems like we just crowned Jeanine the winner of season five, and it’s already time to welcome in a new class of hopeful dancers. I wasn’t very excited about it until I watched last week’s “Top 15 Routines” episode, which showed the best dances from all five seasons. I’ll continue blogging about the performances and results show, but it may be toned down from my rigorous summer schedule, since I’ll have quite a bit more tv shows to keep up with.
    • V (7 p.m. starting November 3 on ABC) –When I first heard about this remake of the ’80s movie/miniseries/series, I laughed. But after watching a preview, it actually looks pretty good. I look forward to it.

  • Wednesday
    • So You Think You Can Dance Results Show (7-8 p.m. on Fox, beginning Sept. 9)
    • Glee (8-9 p.m. on Fox, beginning Sept. 9) – I watched the pilot again this weekend. What a fun show! It’s a nice break from the more intense one hour shows that I watch.
    • New shows on Wednesday that I may watch, if they hold my interest
      • Modern Family (8-8:30 p.m. on ABC, beginning Sept. 23) – This will probably be a “catch in reruns” show for me.
      • Eastwick (9-10 p.m. on ABC, beginning Sept. 23) – This show will have to be really impressive to earn a permanent spot in my weekly lineup.

  • Thursday – This is where things get ugly, or at least technologically challenged. (I may have to put both my Tivos to work.)
    • The Office (8-8:30 p.m. on NBC, beginning Sept. 17) – Even though this comedy is still funny, it has nothing on 30 Rock. If I had to choose, it would be “goodbye, Michael” and “hello, Liz Lemon.”
    • Community (8:30 p.m. on NBC, begining Sept. 17, until 30 Rock premieres, at which time it will move to 7 p.m.) – I am especially looking forward to this show since I teach at a community college.
    • 30 Rock (8:30-9 p.m. on NBC, beginning Oct. 15) – How hilarious was the season finale with the celebrity song about donating a kidney? If Tina Fey and the gang can keep it up, they have more Emmys in their future.
    • Fringe (8-9 p.m. on Fox, beginning Sept. 17) – Oh, how I’ve missed Walter, Peter, and Olivia this summer. Can’t wait to welcome more creepiness into my living room!
    • New shows on Thursday that I’ll be watching until they lose my interest or I run out of time:
      • FlashForward (7-8 p.m. on ABC, beginning Sept. 24) – A show with an intriguing premise and an impressive cast
      • Vampire Diaries (7-8 p.m. on CW, beginning Sept. 10) – Vampires and teenagers: will that be an interesting or bad combination?
    • Shows that I’ve been watching that will likely be dropped because of the ridiculous number of good shows on this night:
      • CSI (8 p.m. on CBS, beginning Sept. 24) – I watched most of last season, and enjoyed the addition of Lawrence Fishburne to the cast. However, there are simply too many shows in this prime hour of primetime. As in seasons past, it will be pushed aside and saved for rerun season or syndication.
      • The Mentalist (9 p.m. on CBS, beginning Sept. 24) – I was rather entertained by this show last season, catching most but not all of the episodes. Since it is the only show airing at 9 p.m. that I’m interested in, I will watch it occasionally.

  • Friday – Now that we’re done with Thursday, let’s move to the more manageable Friday
    • Dollhouse (8-9 p.m. on Fox, beginning Sept. 25) – I’ve been catching up with season one on DVD, so now I’m ready to watch season two as each episode airs on Fox. Hopefully this one will make it through the end of its second season, but if not I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts.

Breaking it Down

  • Returning show I’m most looking forward to: Fringe
  • New show I’m most looking forward to: Glee
  • Number of shows I will definitely watch: 6 (This includes Glee, the only new show that is a shoo-in to join my regular lineup.)
  • Number of additional shows I may watch: 9
    • 3 of these are shows that I only watch sporadically
    • 6 of these shows are new, out of which there are only two that I’m pretty sure I’ll want to keep watching (V and Community)
  • Number of shows that I’ll watch when they return at mid-season: 2 (24 and Lost)
  • Number of shows that I can realistically handle: 10 (With the approach of mid-season shows, this means that I’ll have to cut some others from the starting rotation.)
  • How many shows from each network I’ll be watching this fall
    • FOX: 4 definitely’s
    • NBC: 2 definitely’s, 1 maybe
    • ABC: 4 maybes
    • CBS: 3 maybes
    • CW: 1 maybe

Based on these figures, it seems clear that Fox is my network of choice. And to think, I don’t even watch American Idol, if I can avoid it! NBC is the network that makes me laugh, ABC is the network whose new shows most intrigue me, CBS is the network that has trouble holding my interest, and the CW is the network barely hanging by a thread. Which shows (and how many) are you planning to watch this fall?

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