For the past three years, my wife and I approach each Fall season with one thought in mind: let’s try not to pick up any new shows. We have a DVR (Comcast HD – Motorola DCT6412), and have a dozen or so subscriptions, and we just don’t want to spend more time in front of the set than we already do. Well, the Fall lineup appeared, and with it came a decent set of new shows.
Let’s start with last years’ subscriptions (not necessarily in priority order):
- Saturday Night Live – sure, it’s 90 minutes, but with a DVR, it’s really about 25 minutes total
- Grey’s Anatomy – not my pick, but the wife and all the friends love it
- House – I can’t get enough of the “mysterious ailment drives patient into hospital, doctors wittily convince House to take the case, initial obvious treatment appears to work but almost kills the patient, side antics with some moron with a sexually-related issue that’s instantly solved in a derisive manner, main patient approaches death, inter-doctor conflict ensues, then 6 minutes before the end of the episode House stumbles upon the solution, fade out to cool classic rock music.” Yeah, it’s formulaic, but I like it.
- Boston Legal – Shatner and Spader. Nuff said
- Criminal Minds – This is one of the shows I like to have on the DVR to watch via Slingbox when travelling.
- The Apprentice – Its our guilty pleasure. Each year since the first we keep meaning to remove it from the list, but somehow it never disappears. Plus I auditioned for it once – yeah, it’s true, I admit it.
- Scrubs – Great show with very underrated writing.
- Globe Trekker – Nice to see the world we live in, even if it’s not in HD (Equator on Discovery Channel may replace it soon)
- World Poker Tour – I still like watching TV poker, but this is the only one whose reporting is tolerable (can someone PLEASE replace the WSOP guys, they’re just horrid)
- My Name Is Earl – Best new show from last year, Jason Lee has found his calling. Unfortunately it’s a scummy guy-turned ethical, but he’s darn good at it.
- The Office – Loved the BBC version. Hated Season One. Now it’s the best comedy on TV.
- 30 Days – Of the whole list, this is the one I’d call a must-watch. Morgan Spurlock’s “reality” show pitting individuals against very alienating situations is very eye-opening.
- Arrested Development – So good I still watch it. Seen every episode. Willing to see them all again.
- Simpsons – It’s really here for nostalgic purposes, as it’s been lousy for a few years running. I figure the whole season has about enough material for two entire episodes these days.
- Family Guy – Not as good as the first two years, but has more individual LOL moments than anything else I watch. Although I didn’t appreciate the so-called “Season Finale” last year, which was really just the Stewie movie divided into three parts.
See, it’s a long list! Granted, a few of the shows (WPT, Simpsons, SNL) I/we don’t care if they get wiped when the DVR runs out of space, but there’s still just way too much television there. And, yes, there are new ones this year:
- Psych – I really enjoyed Monk for a year or two before I got tired of the same routine (although Tony Shalhoub is just great). I find Psych is kind of a “Monk 2.0” with a different type of quirkiness. Fun show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and has some clever moments. Especially the musical numbers during the closing credits.
- Studio 60 – It’s good, but not as great as we all want it to be. The pilot was excellent, but it’s been a few notches below ever since. Amanda Peet is completely unbelievable in her role, and we need to see a lot more of Timothy Busfield and a lot less Steven Weber. But I’ll keep a-watching for now.
- Standoff – The interaction between the couple is a wee bit, shall we say, nauseating, but everything else about the show is great. I doubt it’ll make it, but I hope it stays alive.
- Heroes – The best show on television today. It’s like X-men lite. Or a more serious Greatest American Hero. Or Lost without an ever-expanding mystery (nope, I don’t watch Lost. Why? Well, I got burned by Twin Peaks, of which I was a huge fan back in the day. When I have positive confirmation that the entire Lost storyline will make it to air, then I’ll go back and catch up with the DVDs. Until then, I wait for the mist to clear up a bit). Actually, it’s not like any of those – it is a truly unclassifiable show. I’d watch it for two hours a week if they’d make it that long. Other than a tiny bit of overacting by a few of the actors, it’s great. If you don’t watch Heroes yet, you are missing out. It is the best show on television today.
That’s my list or now. I watched two episodes of 30 Rock and I can’t figure out how such a good premise and cast can be so lame. Twenty Good Years didn’t even have Twenty Good Minutes, and I felt like Tambor and Lithgow must’ve cringed every time they heard the embarrassing laugh track. Didn’t want to bother with Brothers & Sisters, or Six Degrees, or The Nine – I hear they are okay, but I’m just saturated in each category they target.
UPDATED: for an excellent counterpoint on the health/quality of TV today, check out Steve Gillmor’s “TV is Dead” post.