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|Written by Lauren Cheal and April Yorke|
|Wednesday, 14 October 2009 00:00|
We have divided this year's preview into 3 categories, and we'll dive right into the dramas that you should be watching this fall, and those that you should probably avoid.
The Vampire Diaries: There's an extent to which it's just Dawson's Creek with fangs, but the fact that it centres on a female helps correct the sexism that ran through that other Kevin Williamson project. Otherwise, it's already started to improve on the pilot with the actors filling out their roles (only Ian Somerhalder and Steven R. McQueen seemed to really dig into their characters from the word go) and other characters that we thought little of (namely Stefan (Paul Wesley), this series' Angel/Edward/Bill) starting to grow on us. Plus, everyone's hair has improved, and we are very sensitive to hair on screen. (Thursdays at 8, CW)
The Good Wife: Ok. We are pretty torn about this one. A lot of things about this show point toward miss, and it really isn't doing well in the ratings, but we watched the pilot and thought it was a pretty good show. It stars Julianna Margulies as wife of a politician who is caught having sex with a prostitute (sound familiar? Yeah, the premise is a bit dumb). Chris Noth (Mr. Big) plays the jackass husband and the cast is strengthened by Christine Baranski as the mentor/adversary to Margulies' Alicia Florrick who is forced to return to the working world. Cheating politician storyline aside, this show is a basic law procedural with a fish out of water twist. Florrick has been away from the world of criminal law for a long time, but she has a sharp intuition and uses it to her advantage. Like we said, it is formulaic, but the pilot was enough to get us to tune in again. (Tuesdays at 10, CBS)
Melrose Place, ugghh. The Beautiful Life (already cancelled, thank goodness).
this. (Thursdays at 9, CW and SunTV)Supernatural: Over the course of the last four seasons, Supernatural has gone from slightly guilty pleasure to out-and-out favourite show. Yes, hotties and violence, two great tastes that taste great together. But never mind all that. The writers have slowly built up a mythology around the most tragic American family in the history of tragic American families. Now the brothers Winchester have not only kicked off the apocalypse (Dean broke the first seal while in Hell; Sam broke the final seal trying to get revenge for Dean's time in Hell), but they have also discovered that their roles are even more complex: Dean (Jensen Ackles) is the archangel Michael's Sword, which is to say his vessel, so Michael can come down and smite recently released from Hell Lucifer; Sam (Jared Padelecki) is Lucifer's true vessel, and he won't back down until Sam agrees to let him in. None of the angels can find God, and our own angel of Thursday, Castiel (Mischa Collins), rebelled against Heaven to side with Dean. Full-on Armageddon, Lucifer on the prowl, and God has checked out. The end is well and truly nigh. Did I mention that Jim Beaver (Deadwood's Ellsworth) is a series regular? And they look like
Friday Night Lights: We know that no one watches this show. We know it because NBC knows it (and isn't airing it until next year in the second half of the regular TV season). But we implore you . . . watch this show. The show is heartbreakingly real, well-observed, and just plain sharp. Season three really helped pulled the show out of the small mess that was season two, and we are extremely excited to see what happens in this next instalment. (eventually, NBC)
Mad Men: We aren't technically up to date on this one, but from what we have heard, it is still excellent (and if what we saw in season 1 and 2 continues, it is most certainly worth our time). As writer Matthew Wiener accepted an Emmy on behalf of the show, he bragged that he was the only person in the room of television folks who had complete creative freedom on his show. These are the perks of working at AMC, a network previously known only to viewers of classic movies. Whatever they are doing, it seems to be working. Don Draper is a brooding, mysterious and sometimes horrifying castle of a man, the girls in the office are endlessly entertaining, and we can't resist the chic costumes and lifestyles presented to us on the show. Plus, did we mention Jon Hamm? We would even buy his "John Ham," if given the chance. The man is HOT. (Sundays at 10, AMC)
Grey's Anatomy: This show seems doomed to never return to its former quasi-glory. Dead Denny killed this (already gasping for air) show.
CSI: We love a procedural as much as the next guy, but when Gil Grissom is not even on the thing anymore (nothing against his replacement, Laurence Fishburne), it is time to move on. The great thing about procedurals is that you can watch them for all eternity in re-runs on Spike, and there are more than enough of those to last us until the sun explodes.
We should preface this short section by saying that the writers of (Cult)ure Magazine generally believe reality TV to be dead. But for those who are still hanging on, here are our recommendations.
There aren't any. Like we said, it is a dying genre (in quality, if not in quantity).
Apparently there is something called Hoarders . . . it sounds horrifying. CBS has a show called Arranged Marriage which also sounds bad. Don't waste your time on either.
The Biggest Loser: "Hits" might be a bit strong, but some of us do like watching The Biggest Loser. Even if you only catch one of the early episodes and the finale, it is worth the time. The show is 80% filler (those freaking meat scales that flash different weights for an eternity before the show cuts to a commercial are infuriating), and 20% trainer Jillian Michaels verbally and physically abusing (with love) her victims. To see a 400+ person completely change their body and their life is amazing, and we will continue to watch it. Also, it is kind of a freak show . . . especially at the beginning when these people, who obviously don't know how to work out, are forced to run on a treadmill with Jillian holding them back with a jump rope around their midsections. Classic TV, we tell you. (Tuesdays at 8, NBC)
So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD): This one is a mouthful, but if you are at all interested in dance, this show is pretty entertaining. It falls in the category of reality TV that we like to call "merit based." The young men and women on this show are quite talented and their hard work is fun to watch. Unfortunately SYTYCD has some of the more annoying judges in reality TV today (Nigel the Smug, Mary the Shrieker, and occasional guest judge/choreographer Mia (Michaels) the Banoodles -- yes, that is a word she invented last year and it quite aptly describes her mental functioning). These judges are always asking for things like "more organic purity in your movements" which we really don't get, but the entertainment factor of the dances and the really smooth hosting job by Cat Deeley make up for it. (Wednesdays at 8, FOX)
Project Runway: Following some drama over a move to the Lifetime Network from Bravo, this competition show is back and still one of our favorites. While Tim Gunn's try at his own show failed pretty miserably last year, he is really great on PR. Pssst . . . contestants . . . if Gunn tells you that your draped dress is "not working" you should believe him and change the ugly thing! We always agree with his assessments and so do the panel of judges. In contrast with SYTYCD, the judges on this show are great. Nina Garcia and Michael Kors really know fashion and it is clear that they use this knowledge when judging these contestants' creations. For those who don't know anything about fashion, the show is also a good introduction to the industry and some of the techniques used in making apparel. (Thursday at10, Lifetime; Saturdays at 10, Slice)
Food-based Reality Shows:
These are also "merit-based" and feature people doing what they are best at. Top Chef is our favourite, but Hell's Kitchen can also be entertaining, mostly because we kind of love Gordon Ramsey ("you bleeping donkey!").
How much time do you have? Survivor lost its mojo some time ago (if we had to pinpoint, we would say that train wreck season when some genius (Mark Burnett, creator and show god) decided to divide the tribes according to "race"). We were shocked that Big Brother earned a second season, let alone an 11th. Dancing with the Stars is another one that has never been great, but this season's "celebrities" really leave something to be desired-Aaron Carter, really?
And here are our best guesses for hits and misses for Comedy this Fall.
Glee: We happened to catch an episode at random the other week and really liked it. It's formulaic (someone, generally the teacher, quits vocal choir every week), but it has fun playing with and gently mocking said formula. It also has the slick look of a Ryan Murphy production without the ickiness that forced us to drop Nip/Tuck and ringers in rocking out the pop-only musical numbers. Unfortunately now songs that wouldn't normally be a blip on our radars get stuck in our heads (you should more than like it if you are going to put a ring on it). Also, it co-stars the great Jane Lynch -- enough said. Bonus: Kristen Chenoweth was on the other week, played a character named April, and sang Heart's "Alone." Shout-out! (Wednesdays at 9, FOX and Global)
Community: This show has potential. The cast includes an older and wiser (maybe) Chevy Chase, Joel McHale (The Soup), and Yvette Nicole Brown (who played the Staples employee who didn't like Dwight's buggy eyes on The Office). Community is the story of a group of community college students and the life choices they made to end up there. The show is light comedy, but it might be worth 30 minutes of your time this week. (Thursdays at 8, NBC)
Cougartown: Um . . . we don't know much about it, but we saw a preview where lead (and producer) Courtney Cox is getting a painful bikini wax . . . hi-oh! Plus, the show is called Cougartown. We'll be skipping this one.
Honourable (Canadian) Mention:
Being Erica: Recommended by one of our readers, Being Erica is a generally funny look at a woman who is trying to figure out what she wants out of life. Coming into its second season, the actors and writers of the show are hitting a discernable stride.
The Office: We all know that Season 4 and 5 were not ideal...but we stuck with the show because sometimes it is so funny it hurts (see mostly Season 2). And while we are pissed that NBC couldn't afford to draw back great talent of Amy Ryan as Michael's dorktastic love match, we are giving it one more year of our attention. There is too much talent on that show for us to not tune in. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica. (Thursdays at 9, NBC)
30 Rock: Yes, it has won every Emmy in the world since the beginning of the world, and that is annoying. But we have to face facts here. We really love Tina Fey. There is something about her portrayal of comedy writer Liz Lemon that makes us think that we are shockingly similar to ol' Liz. Like last season, in the Great Jon Hamm Episode, Liz overdosed on some lactose and lived to regret it. I think she spoke for us all when she uttered "Cheese stew . . . what was I thinking?!!" as she made an abrupt exit from her date with the hunky Hamm. Maybe she is our generation's Mary Tyler Moore . . . something to think about, that. Anyway, Fey leads an otherwise solid (if sometimes irritating, Tracey Jordon) cast of characters and the show is light enough to be enjoyed at any time. (Thursdays at 9:30, NBC)
How I Met Your Mother (if only for NPH) and Accidentally on Purpose (although it will likely be cancelled soon).
Two and Half Men: We don't understand the humour here. We are sorry to our parents who really love the show, but we just don't get it. And yes, we have heard that Jane Lynch plays a hilarious psychiatrist, but it just isn't enough to make up for the constant jokes about Charlie Sheen's character sleeping with a lot of women (plus she's on Glee now). Gong . . .
The Big Bang Theory: People are really split about this one . . . a lot of folks say that it is really funny, but we have not seen that. We have seen overly caricatured nerds that are just annoying. Maybe we love real nerds too much; this one just isn't for us.
When we asked some of our Top TV experts what show's cancellation they were most enraged about, and everyone picked Pushing Daisies. Here is why:
Pushing Daisies. The facts are these: there is no show currently airing with more spark or creativity. Of course, we should have known it would never last, but then they really shouldn't have had such a perfect cast, such singularly witty writing, or such stunning set designs if they didn't want to break our hearts with its cancellation. And the episodes when Ellen Greene or Kristen Chenoweth would sing? Man. We could watch wee Chenoweth singing her guts out while inadvertently dancing with Pablo the floor buffer guy again and again and again. Fuck you, ABC, and your stupid Grey's Anatomy. And your boring Private Practice. And your train wreck Desperate Housewives. Castle gets a pass, though. Nathan Fillion is aces. They should try to get him on screen with Lee Pace and then get them singing. Oh, that would be good.
Tags: 30 rock, beautiful life, biggest loser, friday night lights, glee, good wife, mad men, melrose place, preview, project runway, pushing daisies, so you think you can dance, supernatural, the office, tim gunn, vampire diaries