Mid-Season Review

ReviewIn October I made a (somewhat late) list of the television shows I planned to watch this season. A mix of old and new shows made the list, and after half a season, I thought a mid-season review seemed like a good idea.  Not surprisingly there are several shows that have dropped off the radar, due to time, or my lack of interest beyond the premise, or poor execution, or my lack of patience in the show. Here is a quick rundown of where  I am this season, and the why beyond why I’m still watching, what I am watching.



What I’m watching: Summer Television 2012

“And well, time slips away, you know.”
“I know very well”

This quote from the new ABC Family Series show Bunheads perfectly sums up the reasons why I haven’t written on this blog in a few months.  Life happened, time got away, etc.  No excuse other than I was busy, and some stuff got in the way, and the effort to make time to write was too much for a little while.  So, with summer time on my hands, you’ll find me, jumping back in the saddle, after the jump.


In Another Life

As a teenager I loved lots of different types of television shows, including shows that were targeted at my age group.  As I have gotten older, I have re-watched these shows as an adult, and some have aged better than others.   My So-Called Life, for example, holds up to my (more) mature viewing eye. Yes, I identify with the parents a bit more than the first go round, but I am proud of my younger self for having good taste.  The show has drama and perhaps even heightened drama, but it never veered into melodrama.  Other shows I loved back then, say Beverly Hills 90210, are enjoyable purely on a nostalgic level. I can see why I liked to watch it, but there’s not much there for me anymore. The acting isn’t great and the story lines aren’t that plausible (ahem, Donna Martin graduates). I guess I can say I was fully part of the 90s zeitgeist, but that’s about it.

Despite this, and perhaps the pervading television wisdom, shows primarily about teenagers, can be and are good. Switched at Birth, which is in its second season, is a show somewhere in the middle between My So-Called Life and Beverly Hills, 90210.  It’s a show with a ridiculous sounding name (my vote for a better name is the title of this post), a fairly melodramatic premise, that is actually executed rather well. So, I’m officially going to come out of the Switched at Birth closet, and say, it makes pretty good television. And I will tell you while if you just click below! You know you want to…


The Simple Beauty of Friday Night Lights

(Note there are mild spoilers if you haven’t ever seen Friday Night Lights. I have tried to not spoil the last season though, in case UK viewers want to try and track it down.)

A few weeks ago, NBC aired the last episode of Friday Night Lights. That this happened in 2011 and not 2007, should pretty much be considered a TV miracle. After criminally low ratings for two seasons and the Writers Strike of late 2007/early 2008, typical (revenue-driven) wisdom would say it should have been cancelled. But, on the back of critical praise, a small but dedicated fan base, and the fact that in 2008 NBC was suffering from a true lack of quality TV, an innovative deal was struck to keep Friday Night Lights (or FNL to those in the know) on the air. Three 13 episode seasons would be shown first on Direct TV (a satellite provider) and then re-aired on NBC. Nothing like this had really been tried before, and the deal saved what has certainly been one of the best shows in recent memory, and one of the best family dramas ever.


Treme: A closer look at Post-Katrina New Orleans

Treme, the new HBO series, takes a look at New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The name of the series comes from the neighborhood of the same name which has been home to many musicians that helped make New Orleans so famous. Treme comes from David Simon and Eric Overmyer, who both worked on Homicide: Life on the Streets (one of my favorite shows ever) and The Wire. Both of those shows were critically acclaimed in their time and known for their diverse casts and strong writing. In the first five episodes, I’d say Treme fits right in.

I’m still "Lost" and loving it

After the most recent Lost outing, the final season of the show about an island, is down to seven episodes. We are at the beginning of the very end my friends, and in about 6 weeks we’ll have to say good-bye to one of the most interesting, spooky, suspenseful, and confusing shows ever.

As we push forward to the end, let’s take a step back to see where we are. Instead of flashbacks or flashforwards, we are in some sort of ‘sideways world’ (as coined by Doc Jensen), a sort of altera-universe where Flight 815 didn’t crash, but made it all the way to L.A. Our characters are still intrinsically linked in our sideways world–while each episode focuses on one character, there are several interactions between each other. I guess these people just belong together.


The Next Lost?: Flash Forward

The latest show to catch my eye is the new American drama, from ABC (shown on FIVE in the UK)Flash Forward. The basics of the story are that everyone on the planet blacks out for 2 minutes and some odd seconds at the same time, and during this time most (not quite all, or so we have been led to believe at this point) people saw flashes of some future event roughly six months in the future. Everything is in chaos when they wake up, as you’d suspect and people are wondering what now? Why did this happen? Can those that saw great futures ensure they happen, and can those that had not so great futures stop them? Flash Forward has all the elements that generally catch my eye in a tv show: an intriguing and mysterious hook with a seemingly sci-fi twist, attractive actors, great cinematography, and decent writing. Plus, the very famous Jett Jackson, of course. The questions is: haven’t I seen this all before?


Returning Fall Favorite: Fringe

Fringe, which just started its sophomore season this week, ranked as one of my favorite shows from last season. From J.J. Abrams, Fringe was a lot of sci-fi fun and it was easily addict-able with strong performances from most of the cast, especially from John Noble as crazy-scientist Walter Bishop. The stories were fun and entertaining, and the first season cliffhanger was brilliant. Apparently controversial in the U.S., but brilliant nonetheless. My main issue last year with the show was that it was often predictable; I often knew the outcome of the show or a twist that was coming many scenes before it was revealed. In fact, the best part of the Season 1 finale was that while I knew what was going to happen before each of the two big reveals, it was only a few seconds before, which leads to that great feeling that you figured something out while still getting to be shocked at the same time. So, how did the the second season kick off? I’d have to say about the same as last year–good fun, but alas, somewhat predictable.


The Best (or Worst) of British, (or in this case Australian on British), TV: Summer Heights High

No offence, but the best show I’ve seen lately is Australian. To be specific, Summer Heights High, which is a fabulous faux-documentary from creator, writer, actor, and all around funny man, Chris Lilley that is playing in London right now. Summer Heights High tells the ‘story’ of one term at the high school of the same name, specifically focusing on three characters: Ja’mie, Mr. G, and Jonah.


Is the "Life on Mars?"

I hope you will forgive me for the bad pun that is the title, and if it hasn’t made you roll your eyes too much, I hope you will continue reading.  I do also realize the title is in reference to the David Bowie song not the red planet that is our neighbor in this universe, but not being one to pass up obvious puns, I just couldn’t help myself.

What follows is a fairly lengthy post (which will be discovered after the jump) that covers generally the first two episodes of the U.S. Life on Mars. It isn’t too spoilery, but if you don’t want to know anything about the second episode please proceed with caution.