another season of tv over and done with. which shows were good, which were bad, which deserved more of a chance than they were given... all will be covered in my tv wrap-up!
best returning show(s):
The Shield - it's the sixth season of a show i really didn't see going past five seasons... boy am i glad they rolled on to six (and are filming seven). this season might just be the BEST of the entire run. this has always been a show about the demise of the strike team, a group of 4 friends who play it fast, loose, and hard... and things are really starting to fall apart. it's hard to watch them fall apart, but it's also hard not to look away. wonderfully acted and written, this is where it's at for cop dramas. the season goes downhill a bit in the last few episodes, and the finale wraps up a few things a bit too neatly and leaves other things hanging way too wide open (my feeling is that they were picked up for a 7th season halfway through filming the 6th, which they originally planned to be the last, and kind of opened things up at the end of this season so that there COULD be a 7th)... however, since the season was on such a high for so long (probably 7 or 8 of the 10 episodes this season were stupendous), a small decline was inevitable.
Life on Mars - this was the second and final season for one of my favorite shows of the past 5 years. this little gem from the BBC had a cop from today get in an accident and wake up in the 1970s - was he in a coma, mad, or time traveling. that was the question, and the only quibble i have with the show is that they didn't explore each option enough (you pretty much knew which one he probably was the whole time). but what they DID with it in the end... wow. i'm surprised they got away with it on television. also, the writing for the second season stepped up a notch, with every episode having a mini-theme, and that theme being carried through multiple storylines. usually i agree that it's good to go out on top (something the BBC is known for) but honestly, with a season this good, i wouldn't have minded another 8 episode season. oh well, there's always the spin-off...
best new show:
Heroes - boy am i glad that a show that's pretty much a comic book come to life has been embraced by the public as it has been, because that means i get to see a comic book in action. sure it sometimes covers issues that comic book fans are like "well that's been done to death before," but it's done in a unique enough way and, well, it's live action. the writing is superb, especially considering the large cast they have to handle (and oh the plot twists)... the characters are interesting, with rich backstories... the powers are unique enough to put it apart from other superhero stories... it's good. damn good. a superhero soap opera.
The Office - another show i didn't see working past a few seasons, the american version of the office just finished up their third and perhaps strongest season. they've really come into their own this season... however, i'm still worried that all the crazy things that michael whips up for the gang to do is going to get a little contrived, a little "been there done that." oh, and of course you've got to worry a little too if you know what happened at the end of the season (whenever things like that happen, shows tend to have a hard time writing themselves out of it) - hopefully the show has another strong season or 2 left and then they bow out gracefully when they know their time is up (and hell, if they're still going strong after five, six, seven seasons, by all means keep going... i just don't want them to run too long).
shows that deserved more from their networks:
Studio 60 - West Wing on the set of Saturday Night Live, the kind of "fast talk" that drove me nuts on west wing fit perfectly in its new setting, and that's why i liked it. later episodes of the show had the story going in all these weird directions, and focusing just a tad too much on relationships... but still the show was GOOD. it deserved to finish out a season and have a proper end. NOTE: after i started writing this i've since learned that NBC is airing the final 6 episodes this summer. i've currently seen 5 of the 6 and they were pretty good. i just hope that the creators knew they were getting canned before filming the final ones so that they can wrap up the series. it's a shame this isn't coming back, but kudos to NBC for airing them... however, shame on them for not promoting it better (i only found out it was coming back 2 days before the first episode back).
Daybreak - probably my favorite show that deserved more from their network, daybreak was a mix of 24 and time travel. main character was stuck in some sort of loop that he had to keep reliving the same day over and over. turns out it's a pretty important day... he had to solve this big conspiracy thing, so each new day he'd tackle another part of the puzzle. good premise, but again i didn't see it going past a season, maybe 2, before it got tired. sadly, ABC canned the show mid-season, with nothing resolved. hopefully it gets a DVD release with the unaired episodes, because man it was shaping up to be a good day... NOTE: again, just like Studio 60, after i started this i found out that ABC did "air" the final episodes (taking the series up to 13 episodes) and they aired them online as webisodes. weird, but at least it offered the fans a conclusion... i think. i hope. i've downloaded them but haven't watched yet. as with studio 60, i hope the creators knew they were canned before filming wrapped up on the final episodes.
Raines - only caught 2 episodes of maybe 5 that aired... the character was interesting (with the brilliant jeff goldbloom bringing him to life), but not interesting enough to hold the entire hour. his supporting cast was pretty bland, and the stories could have been a little better... but the premise, the character, were interesting enough to warrant some more episodes.
Andy Barker P.I. - again, only caught 2 episodes of maybe 5 that aired... now i love me some andy richter, but this show was pretty sub-par. however, i wanted more because, well, i love me some andy richter. and it had an interesting supporting cast (buster from Arrested Development was pretty good).
shows on the rise:
Prison Break - turns out getting out of prison was just the start. the second season of prison break had the gang being hunted down, then becoming the hunters. there were plenty of plot twists, lots of supporting characters meeting their demise, and an ending that really begs the question "what's next?"
House - ok, maybe if you're a long-time watcher, this one's not "on the rise," but it's personally on the rise for me because i used to be just a casual watcher. now i'm a full-on fan. sure the medical cases can be absurd and predictable (patient is sick, then sicker, oh wait maybe they're cured, no wait we almost killed him, ok he's going to die, and then by some miracle they realize what's wrong), but it's the story in between that makes it worth watching. i especially like the relationship between house and wilson... one of the most original, twisted, fucked up, and real relationships i've seen in a show. and the season finale! wow. if they stick to their guns and mix up the cast like they allude to at the end of the season, i would give them props. it reinforces more that the show is all about house, which it is.
good but not great:
My Name is Earl - good to watch while waiting for the office at 7:30. i did dig the final episodes this season, where earl worked on becoming his own man... only to have it all taken away in the season finale. be interesting to see where it goes from here.
30 Rock - alec baldwin makes this show worth watching. however, i can't get over my dislike for tina fey... so the show is just good, not great.
Halfway Home - a comedy central original, this show was good to watch after south park on wednesday nights. it's about a bunch of degenerate adults in a halfway house. good, but not great.
Scrubs - i've always been an "on again, off again" fan of this show. right now i'm on again, but the show is starting to show its age. to be honest, i started watching because i thought it was their last season... only now i hear it wasn't. so this show might really belong in the next category...
shows on the decline:
all Law and Orders - they are all just starting to show their age. first one i would cut would be criminal intent... i mean the original draw was vincent d'onofrio and now he's only on half the time or less and they're coming up with absurd cases - or doing what ELSE i hate, doing "ripped from the headlines" cases, what the second show to go does all the time, the original law and order. and finally, even my favorite one, law and order: svu is showing its age. this season went WAY too much into their personal lives and suffered for it. with all of these, i'm happy watching reruns from their heydays.
The Simpsons - i'm not even sure if this is on the decline really, it might be at the bottom. the simpsons really need to either do a complete overhaul of their writing staff or just call it quits. i'm not sure how many more absurd reasons they can come up with for marge to get upset at homer and leave him, only to come back to him in the last few minutes of the episode because she's a dupe. doesn't she realize she's just going to leave him again next week? the only funny parts of the show are homer and some of the town supporting cast. oh, and nothing is worse than a bart-and-lisa based episode. groan.
Family Guy - i used to LOVE the referential humor of this show, and was super-stoked when it came back on the air due to DVD sales, but now family guy is a pale shade of what it once was. what's funny is that they've now become SELF-referential, referencing old episodes, even pretty much doing plots that they've already done before. the formula is getting tired.
first off, these shows aren't in the "shows on the decline" list because i don't necessarily think they're on the decline - maybe they just had a bad season. hey, it happens.
24 - this was like a casserole of leftovers from all the previous seasons, but somebody forgot to cook it. you've got your personal tragedies (my favorite in the show, why i liked season 1 the best), your nuclear attacks (by the muslims AND the russians, see it's different!), a raid on a consulate, a new partner to break in, an attack on CTU, the chief of CTU having to step down, too many main characters dying before their time (before their characters have really been fleshed out)... and politics, politics, politics. add on top of that trying to wrap up season 5 and it was just too much. the ONLY reason you should suffer through the season is to get to the personal moments of jack bauer - unfortunately they are few and far between. i'll tell you the best one - the last 15 minutes of the season. damn was it good. so next season, focus only on a few things, don't fall back on formulas from previous seasons, and don't kill off people before we get to know them.
South Park - entering its 11th season, i'm worried that either south park has tackled every tough issue that's out there today OR there were no tough issues for them to tackle while they were making this season. let's see: paris hilton is still a rich whore, war is still going on, catholicism is still messed up... what to do! the final 2 or 3 episodes finally started doing "fresh" material, but the rest of the season just felt "been there, done that." now, they've had dry spells before and i've felt it, but this didn't feel the same - this really felt like they've done everything. i really hope i'm wrong.
show i watched the most:
Law and Order SVU reruns - what can i say, i'm a sucker for rape homicide.
and... drumroll please...
the best show of the season...
TIE: The Shield season 6 and Life on Mars season 2 - the acting and writing in both these series was the best on television for at least this past season, probably of the last 5 years.