TV in the USA

I am an avid watcher of TV.  I enjoy it thoroughly.  I believe that the venue of serialized drama is one that cannot be replicated in even the best of films.  TV offers the chance to go through many layers and seasons of character arcs and to explore a variety of themes through an established format.

The amount of TV shows that I keep up with has significantly decreased.  I am not up-to-date with this season’s Smallville or Heroes, but by all accounts, I’m not missing anything (although since writing this, I’ve read that Smallville has been improving).  Regardless, I will catch up at some point.  Chuck, as well, is a show that I’ve been slacking on this season.  On the other end, I just finished watching Season One of Mad Men and have watched a couple of episodes of the first season of The Sopranos, as well as the first half of the first season of Deadwood.  I went from only a couple of episodes of 30 Rock to being completely caught up.  And, of course, I have seen every episode of Life, House and South ParkSaturday Night Live, I’ve caught every episode this season and quite possibly last season as well.

I’m always hoping there might be that next show that I can love.  The thing is, so many people talk about watching stuff they don’t like.  I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.  If you really, truly like America’s Next Top Model or Flavor of Love or whatever else that is popular, go for it.  I never have been ashamed of my addiction to The OC (which will be addressed starting tomorrow).  If you like a show, watch it.  If you want to just zone out, that’s fine, too, but don’t complain about how much time you wasted watching TV.  I rarely feel like I’ve wasted time watching TV.

I’ve looked over some of the upcoming mid-season replacements (as well as shows that I have missed the existence of).  Most are unremarkable, as always.  Some demand to be remarked upon.  I will follow my own guidelines on this matter.

ABC

Homeland Security U.S.A. is apparently a show that has been around.  At first, I thought it was a scripted drama, which made me go “Yuck.”  A COPS-style show is less stomach-turning.

Better Off Ted.  I saw “Need a suicidal turkey? Done.” as part of the description of this “satirical office comedy.”  Still knowing nothing about it, I give it less than half a season.

Castle stars Nathan Fillion, best known from Firefly and Serenity.  He doesn’t seem to make TV shows stick around for too long.  He plays a mystery novelist that is bored and tries to solve crimes with a female NYPD detective.  If they have chemistry like Crews and Reese in Life, maybe it has a shot.

The Goode Family is a new Mike Judge show.  I don’t really care so much.  What interested me is that Nancy Walls changed her name to Nancy Carell.

ABC calls The Unusuals a modern-day M*A*S*H, yet it takes place in the NYPD, which I think nullifies the analogy.  “Leo Banks (Harold Perrineau), an overly cautious officer who refuses to remove his bulletproof vest” sounds like a fairly gimmicky concept to me.  Adam Goldberg is in it, who I like.  Perhaps it’s worth a shot.

NBC

One of the first things I was delighted to see through an ad on the NBC site is that Beethoven, the St. Bernard, has yet another movie (only on DVD).  Charles Grodin and Judge Reinhold certainly didn’t use up all of the excitement.  Beethoven’s Big Break, the 6th of what will probably be 9 Beethoven movies (or so I guess).  In case you’re curious, the cast includes Jonathan Silverman, of Weekend At Bernie’s, Weekend at Bernie’s II and The Single Guy fame, Rhea Perlman, (Carla from Cheers), and Steven Tobolowsky, formerly best known as Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day, but now seen on Heroes as Bob/Kristen Bell’s character’s father.

Kings is a re-imagning of the King David story, told through an alternate world with Ian McShane as the king of what’s basically the U.S.  Here’s how such a show goes:  if it’s too broad, it won’t be interesting and won’t maintain rabid fans.  If it’s good, a la Journeyman, it’ll get cancelled, because it’ll have rabid fans, but not enough of them.

The Jay Leno Show = The Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno at 10 PM.  Will it maintain an audience?  Do people watch The Tonight Show because it’s Leno or because it’s around the time they want to chill out and go to sleep?  Find out soon enough.

CBS

They seem to be lacking an abundance of midseason replacements.  More power to ’em if they’ve already got people hooked in on 3 different CSIs, Criminal Minds, etc.

FOX

Lie to Me stars Tim Roth as the lead of a bunch of human lie detectors.  It’s another case where I was excited until I saw the BS little featurette, which made it so accessible that it bored me.  They talk about the humor therein.  Blah.  I still think it could be all right.  Seems to be in the same vein production-wise as House and Bones.  If it isn’t panned, I’ll give it a shot.

The Cleveland Show is a spin-off from Family Guy.  I sincerely doubt I will watch more than the first episodes, as I am not caught up on Family Guy or American Dad.  Ah, and the guy that does the voice of Cleveland is white.  Surprise surprise.

Hole in the Wall is a show that they’ve done elsewhere.  Japan, at the very least.  But I’ve seen other versions, too.  You can check it out by looking up “Human Tetris” on YouTube.  It’s worth seeing once or twice, but if you’re watching this every week, you’re wasting a helluva lot of your life, I think.

Sit Down, Shut Up is an animated re-make of a short-lived Australian sitcom.  It’s being developed by Mitchell Hurwitz, of Arrested Development fame.  Has Henry Winkler, Will Arnett and Jason Bateman as voices.  Another wait and see.

Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated Dollhouse premieres on February 13, 2009.  It’s about people that have everything about them wiped out so they can be reprogrammed.  One of them, played by Eliza Dushku, becomes self-aware.   So far, FOX has committed to 13 episodes, at between $1.5-2 million a pop.

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So there it is.  Does anyone know anything else worth sharing?  And if you happen to catch one of these and find that it’s worth watching, let me know, all right?

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