Monday, October 05, 2009

The Whats-On-TV Update

So I'm watching quite a bit on TV these days. Between returning favorites and brand new stuff, there's quite a bit to see, esepcially in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy arena.

So here we go:



Yes, I'm among the die-hards who are still watching this show. Season one was so good and the writer's strike interrupted season two prematurely so I was willing to forgive. After that, it just seems like they've never really regained their momentum... or footing... or something. There are moments of greatness so I'm still watching and hoping for this show to return to fulfilling its potential.


Anything with Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly) in it is worth the watch. What surprised me most was that Lori took a liking to this show about a suspense/thriller author (think Stephen King... Rick Castle?) who teams up with the police for research (and to solve copycat murders from his books in the pilot). The writing is fresh, the banter snappy and the mysteries aren't too easy to solve either. They had me at Nathan Fillion and the fact that he's a writer.

The fact that I'm not watching anything on Tuesdays and Wednesdays these days is made up for by the sheer number of shows I'm trying to keep up with on Thursdays and Fridays. It's a good thing that a lot of what I watch on Friday is on cable with multiple air times or I'd miss some of it.



This show is being touted as the "new Lost." So far, I'm seeing the correlation although I'm not sure I agree with it. I'm intrigued for now but there's not a lot happening every episode. And what is happening seems somewhat predictable. Lori seems to like this one too (there aren't a lot of my shows that I can say that about) so I'll keep checking it out.


This show, new last year, continues to surprise. It's sort of the worthy heir to The X-Files but instead of aliens, it seems to be dealing with an alternate universe that often manifests in our world as something the characters are calling The Pattern (the conceit is that the team investigates "fringe science" but it all seems to be increasingly tied to this alternate universe. Oh yeah, and there's this bald pale guy called The Observer who is supposedly in every episode. Except I'm usually too wrapped up in what's going on to locate him. The mad scientist, Walter Bishop is genuinely funny, if not morbidly so, and very unique. John Noble should get an Emmy for portraying him. Oh yeah, and did I mention Leonard Nimoy plays the enigmatic William Bell? Plenty of freaky surprises to go around.


Here's a show that has been getting darker and yet better with every season. The show started out about these two brothers (Dean and Sam Winchester) who were traveling across the country looking for their dad who had disappeared. Of course, their dad hunts supernatural beings (think ghosts, zombies, vampires, etc.) and vanquishes them. The sons are also schooled in such ways and follow in dear old dad's footsteps in hopes of finding him. Over the years, they found their dad, their dad got killed, and then each of the brothers have been killed only to have been brought back for some reason. Last season, a bunch of demons were released and angels came into the mythology as the brothers and everyone they know were trying to stop The Apocolypse. At the end of last season, Lucifer was released. And now the brothers, with the help of an angel named Castiel, are trying to stop Armageddon. The show plays hard-and-fast with Biblical canon, apparently having their own definitions for demons (other than fallen angels) and even what angels are. But it's all pretty cool, nevertheless. One thing I do like about it is that it doesn't try to pretend that there's not a supernatural aspect to our lives, even if they take dramatic liberties in presenting it.


MONK, USA @9pm

I've followed Monk since the first episode. Probably since MASH, there hasn't been a show that has succeeded at being funny yet sad at the same time. This is being touted as the last season and I believe there are only a few more episodes left. Still to come: Monk's original nurse, Sharona, drops in for an episode and the two-part finale that I hope will finally wrap up Monk's wife's murder and get him re-instated to the SF Police force (or at least will find him happy with where he ends up). I have high hopes that the writers will pay this series off well. It's been successful both financially for USA and critically (Tony Shaloub has won multiple Emmys... I've lost count of just how many... for his portrayal of Adrian Monk).

PSYCH, USA @10pm

I have to admit, when USA premiered Psych, I didn't get it all that much. I liked the lead character, despite how flaky he is. But I didn't much get the sidekick. Since then, and with the help of multiple flashbacks to the 80s in each episode's opening, I have come to understand and even revel in the relationship between Shawn and Gus that dates back to their childhood. The writing on Psych is top-notch and hilarious. The one-liners often force me to rewind to hear it again and the pop-culture references, often back to the 80s, are to die for. Which is a good thing because there's usually a murder to be solved. Shawn, raised by his policeman father to be ultra-perceptive, pretends to be a psychic because it's the only way the police will believe him. With success behind him, he and his best friend open up Psych, the psychic detective agency and, as they say in Hollywood pitch meetings, "hilarity ensues." Except this time, it really does.


It's 9 years old this season. And finally, depsite the fact that the great Michael Rosenbaum has departed the show and thus taken the character of Lex Luthor with him, we're finally getting into some Superman stuff. Except they're calling him The Blur (which comes from The Red-Blue Blur, a term that was being used to describe the super-speeding Clark Kent as he would swoop in to save the day). AT least that's what they're calling him for now. Clark still can't fly. But Lana is gone and the romance between Clark and Lois Lane is blossoming. It's only a couple steps away from the Superman that we know. Clark is even wearing the S on his shirt. It's just silver on a black shirt and instead of a cape, he's got a trench coat. I say, just take us there already! I've diligently watched this show from the beginning. When it's time to wrap it up, give me Superman and bring back Lex for the finale. Do that, and all 9 (or 10 if it comes to that) years of watching will have been worth it.


I was never much of a Buffy or Angel fan. But Firefly was my kind of show. So last year I gave Joss Whedon's new show about mind-wiped disposable people a shot. I found it mildly engaging and discovered that Whedon was using the show to subtly comment on our culture. It started out a little wobbly and got better with each episode. By the time the finale came around, I was fully on board but somewhat sad because I didn't think it had any chance for renewal. But never underestimate the power of fans in this 'verse. Lo and behold, Dollhouse was renewed and now it's back with some slight tweaks (now the lead character who is routinely wiped of her memory is maintaining some aspect of the various personalities that she's imprinted with). It's still engaging and the between-the-lines commentary is still there. Ratings aren't, however, so if you want to check out Dollhouse, you might want to hurry.


To those of you who like to pretend that the Star Wars prequels never happened, I have to say I disagree with you. And it's not because I have an irrational love of Jar Jar Binks (although he doesn't bug me as much as he does some SW fans). It's mostly because, if the prequels didn't exist, than either would this excellent computer animated series, set between Episode 2 and Episode 3. There are times I'm watching The Clone Wars and I think to myself, "this is what the movies should have been like." We get full-fledged Jedi action, plenty of battle droids, lots of 'splosions, even a lot of Expanded Universe references and, since the show is in the half-hour format, characterizations that get straight to the point. There's nothing not to love. If you like Star Wars and you've given up since the prequels, give Clone Wars a chance. You'll be glad you did.


I have to be honest here. This show seems like it would be right up my alley. And I recorded the entire first season. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to watch any of it. So I don't know if I can/should recommend it. But everything I've read about it supports my suspicions that it's my kind of show. It starts back up this Friday with a 13 episode second season. So I expect I'll tape those too and eventually I'll get to them all. More info:


LEGEND OF THE SEEKER, Syndicated (in Long Beach, CW @ 5pm)

A lot of sword & sorcery translates to the small screen (and to the big screen for that matter) as pure cheese. But Sam Raimi does a pretty good job with this one, adapted from Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" novels. I don't know how good the adaptation is since I haven't read the books. But the show is consistently pretty good. The new season supposedly starts the weekend of October 31 but, as with all first-run syndicated shows, you may have to hunt for it.

And that's it for now. Chuck and Lost are supposed to come back mid-season and there's the new V, Caprica (Battlestar Galactica prequel spin-off) and Day One (the latter having been recently downgraded into a mini-series) that I'm looking forward to as well. Not to mention the oft-delayed Battlestar Galactia: The Plan movie. But I'll have to weigh in on those once they start and/or return.

For now, enjoy good stories wherever you can find them.