I was a little rough on Jericho last week. That's only because I had high expectations for this new drama. This season offers more than just one new show to try, however. I found at least a couple of these that might end up winners, at least in my book. Followed by, of course, my own humble opinion regarding potential 'repairs.'
Monday night: In the middle of ESPN's still-rough football event, I've carved out a chunk of time to surf over to watch Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I believe the entire crew from the recently-retired West Wing steers this wonderful Aaron Sorkin drama. On a ten-scale, it's a ten. What would I change? Very little. I'd lighten-up some of the low-light scenes. I mentioned this current fascination with darkness in my long review of Jericho. Maybe I'm getting old, but I do like to see who's doing what to whom. My only other nit-pick with Studio 60 concerns the busted love affair between Matthew Perry's character (head writer Matt) and his leading lady, Harriet (Sarah Paulsen). I know you gotta have conflict; that's a given. Let's not dwell, though-- 's all I'm saying.
Tuesday night: I'm a football fan. No shame in admitting that. So I'm psyched about Friday Night Lights. Loved the movie. I'll have to read the book, too. For the TV version, I've got the same small criticism about the over-use of ambient lighting (or the lack there-of). One big question in my mind: why, tell me why, didn't the network schedule this show on Friday nights?? No, that's not a stupid question! This show ain't knocking the ratings dead, by any means. Any little help-us-find-it might matter! Other than that, this is an eleven out of ten.
Special mention goes to Boston Legal. This delightful/devilish show is in a league of its own. Might even have to give it a twelve on that scale of ten. What a fine and surprising save for a series that started out as the sappy and forgettable The Practice. Outstanding.
Wednesday night: Getting past Jericho brings me to Lost. Probably the most creative show on network television. Deserves its own review, too. Everybody talks about this show, especially on the net. Personally, however, I'm getting lost trying to track the hundreds of unanswered questions in Lost. The cast keeps shrinking, as well; and most of the cuts appear to be more contractually-forced than plot-driven. I love reading mysteries, so I should enjoy the endless twists presented by this exceptional drama. I need some answers here, and soon. Otherwise, I'm simply gonna lose interest. In the late slot, I really like what little I've seen of The Nine. Looks like a dynamite premise, very well executed. I'll have to watch a couple more episodes and revisit that one.
Thursday night: I have to put Survivor on my list of shows I can't live without. The cast changes every year, of course; but the set-up and host remain the same. What other show could last this long (is it ten seasons? nine? I'm not sure, off-hand), without making wholesale changes? Even the music has held up over time. You can speculate about producers interfering and creative/deceptive editing and so on. I still love this concept. No other so-called reality show offers Survivor's intriguing blend of social interaction, team-building, and awesome sight-seeing. The only beef I can think of is actually a compliment: why not show reruns during the summer, like every other successful network show does? Then I could miss a few episodes on first-run.
More Thursday night: Obviously, this is THE night for the networks. I can't explain it, but I can accept it. Suddenly, Grey's Anatomy is number one--even pitted directly against the mighty (yawn...) CSI. I've only watched sporadically, so I'll offer this impression: title character Meredith Grey--played by the wispy, weepy Ellen Pompeo--bothers me. She makes me nervous. She's lovely, in an edgy LeAnn Rimes kind of way (it's in the eyes, I think). But she always appears to be on the verge of tears. I can't stand the preachy synopsis she has to deliver every week, either. That's just me, though, folks. How can you argue with Number One?
We watch ER, despite its advanced age. Almost no one from the original cast remains, and the current newcomers often have little new ground available to them. I miss Carter. I even miss the old Carrie Weaver. I hardly ever find myself emotionally involved anymore, either. But we still watch, waiting for those ever-rarer magic moments. We don't get to watch My Name is Earl, or The Office, however. Those are two of the funniest shows on network TV, but they run opposite Survivor. Since Survivor never shows re-runs, we're forced to wait for the summer season to catch up with Earl and Office. They're still all-out hilarious all those months later, though. I'm not nearly smart enough to offer any suggestions for improving either one.
Friday night: After Thursday's must-see schedule, we're stuck with Friday's who-cares offerings. Since my wife and I are boring old married people who don't regularly drink, dance, or gamble, we find ourselves looking for something to see on this dead-zone night. Fortunately, the dead-zone has ghosts! We love Ghost Whisperer, and not just because we can watch it with the kids without being embarrassed. Jennifer Love-Hewitt always looks spectacular, of course. (Will she ever look older than nineteen? Could she show any more cleavage and still be shown on camera?) I'd ease off on the outrageous eye make-up, if only so JLH can hold her eyes all the way open more easily. This show suffers from the dreaded dark-scene syndrome, too. I know: it's scarier that way. I get it. Still bugs me, though. Other than the ghost show, I have to admit that my wife loves Men in Trees. Good for her; hope she enjoys it right up to the time they cancel it. Maybe the WB or TBS will option this one. Otherwise, it's doomed. That's just my opinion.
The weekend brings blessed relief, especially in the fall. No matter what else might be on, I can always find a great football game or NASCAR event. Who needs dramatic plot twists when you can have option roll-outs or botched pitstops? As long as colleges play on Saturday and SuperBowl Sunday remains in the future, then life is good. All the rest may come and go, but football and racing just keep going and going. That's what keeps me sane. Until next time...
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