This is the time of year when a lot of people look forward to their favorite fall activities: Football, hunting season, raking leaves, taking a third job to pay heating bills, hanging plastic on every window in a pathetic attempt to survive the upcoming horrors of an unforgiving winter –
Ahem. Sorry. Guess I was projecting, there.
Anyway, the one thing I do look forward to is the upcoming TV season. True, I’m suffering through the winter of Reality TV, but I remember the halcyon days of intelligent, quality television: Gilligan’s Island, The Munsters, The Dukes of Hazzard … you know, the classics.
I watch too much TV, so I pledged not to try a new show unless one of my regulars gets canceled. Sadly, that happens all the time, especially since so many of the shows I like debut on Fox, the Surrender Network. Join me, if you will (and hey, you got this far), for a look at my returning favorites and a few newcomers:
Bones details the working relationship between an anthropologist and her FBI agent handler as they use forensics to solve crimes. Sounds horribly boring in a CSI: Cleveland kind of way, doesn’t it? But, as is often the case in shows I like, the characters and humor drew me in.
Be warned: if you’re the type to watch TV with dinner, make it a different show.
How I Met Your Mother managed to get four seasons out of a guy in the future telling his kids the story of how he – yup – met their mother. All without ever actually identifying the mother. This show introduced one of the two great comic characters of the 2000’s, in the form of the legen -- wait for it -- dary Barney Stinson.
Meanwhile, The Big Bang Theory introduced us to the other one: Sheldon Cooper, who has more neurotic tics than the government has money printers. The show is supposed to center around four friends and the beautiful girl next door, but Jim Parsons’ Sheldon would appreciate that he’s doing a “Spock” -- a supporting character who takes over the show.
In the same block of comedies is 2 1/2 Men, in which a confirmed bachelor reluctantly takes his loser brother and nephew into his home. Oddly enough, one of the main characters is underage in a show that ten years ago would have to have gotten the network shut down on decency charges. You’ll laugh and wince at the same time -- mostly laugh.
Supernatural is the story of two brothers who hunt various, um, supernatural things. They make it look fun even while really nasty stuff is going on. But at the end of the last season they literally raised the Devil, and where can you go from there?
Dollhouse is the newest effort by Joss Whedon, who made the best series ever to be destroyed by a network (Firefly) and also a little thing called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A secret corporation wipes the minds of “volunteers”, who are reprogrammed to be anything for anyone who’s willing to pay the money. If that sounds like a really expensive form of prostitution, well – yeah, although the main “doll”, (Eliza Dushku) has done more karate chopping than bed hopping.
The show started out weak (ignore episode 3, please), picked up at episode 4, and starting with the sixth show kicked butt and took names. Still, of the two Fox SF shows playing Friday night, the better one got canceled (Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles).
Lost? The most incredibly appropriate title in TV history, this time hopping batch of confusion follows the survivors of a plane that crashes on an island that, I maintain, is a remnant of Atlantis. It won’t be that simple, of course – nothing on the show is that simple. Or maybe it is. How should I know? I’m SO confused. But Lost is the most fun fog of confusion I’ve ever been in.
Heroes. See above about confusion, time travel and more characters than NBC has in all its shows put together. It stumbled last season, but I’m not quite ready to give up on this X-Men rip-off. Like many of these shows, if you decide to watch it you’re going to have to go back and start from the beginning. If you do that, could you take notes and maybe explain it to me?
Doctor Who is the longest running SF show ever, having started the year after I was born. It had a slam bang relaunch in 2005, and this ain’t your father’s Doctor. The premise: An alien Time Lord dashes through time and space and has a blast doing it, even though people and planets have a bad habit of getting dead around him. Yay for kid’s shows!
Fringe is my favorite new X-Files rip-off from last year, about an FBI agent and a mad scientist (seriously!) investigating fringe science and a shadowy conspiracy. The first season finale ended with the main character stepping into a 2009 in which the Twin Towers still stand, the White House was destroyed, and John F. Kennedy lives. For you Trekkers, it also featured a cameo by the original Spock, while the new Spock was hanging out over on Heroes.
As usual, we lost some good shows in 2009: Sarah Conner, Reaper, Battlestar Galactica … you know, I’ve suddenly realized how much of a science fiction geek I am. Still, I replaced those with a couple of non-SF comedies that show promise:
10 Things I Hate About You is based on a movie which itself was based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew believe it or not. It gets bonus points because my daughter swears they based the dad character on me. Unlike all too many teen comedies, it treats its audience like intelligent people.
After two episodes, Glee is a must see in my house. As all five of my regular readers know, my daughter spent three years working her buns off in competitive show choir, which is what this show is about. Like 10 Things it treats characters, both teen and adult, like real people, complete with real snark and sarcasm – along with snappy song and dance numbers.
We’ll see how many of these are still on the air in spring, 2010 … I don’t have a great track record.