Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I never thought I would say this, but television is becoming more reliable than the movies. I think the main reason is that movies only need a good enough trailer to get you inside once, whereas television has to actually be somewhat good to get you to tune in again next week. Having said that, TV can still be disappointing, especially those shows that started out okay and have fallen in quality and still you have to stick around for a resolution.

If it weren't for DVD, I never would have seen most of the shows I now watch, because I hate commercials and I hate waiting until next week. The only shows we watch week to week are those that we began on DVD and caught up with.

The first show I watched via DVD is the best one of all, THE SOPRANOS. I may never see a show that good again in my lifetime. My only quibble was the first half of the last season that was totally pointless and felt like filler.

We just finished all three seasons ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and that show was solid all the way through. I don't find modern Sitcoms funny anymore, and here comes this show so surprisingly funny that it gives me faith in the medium.

THE SHIELD was downright great in the first season and it’s been pretty solid since then. I missed the premiere episode last fall when it came back on and I’ll now have to catch the finale season on DVD.

THE WIRE was the HBO show that few watched. It would have been cancelled on network TV, but it’s surprisingly smart. What The Shield does for action The Wire does for the slow surveillance. There are a ton of characters and some are played by non-professional actors and yet everyone is seamless in the storylines. It’s not for all tastes. We crawled through the first season and almost gave up in the weak second season, but then became believers in the 3rd season and beyond

NIP/TUCK is a prison sentence. I chose it to watch on a lark when we ran out of other options. The pilot episode is decent and the whole first season moves along pretty good, but Dylan Walsh is such a milquetoast and his wife Joely Richardson is so fickle you can’t really like either one of them. The character who is supposed to be the cad, played Julian McMahon, is the easiest one to root for. Also, the plot lines are ridiculous and practically recycled in later seasons with a few twists. The point of the show seems to be shock value, because no taboo is left untouched. Now we’re too far in to stop watching and yet I feel like I’ve invested too much time not to see how it resolves. It’s a prison sentence.

BIG LOVE just returned to HBO in January for season 3. I think this will be the last season. There’s really no where else to go with it. We started watching it because it came on right after the Sopranos a few years ago. The first couple of episodes made me feel a bit uncomfortable, but now I just see the whole thing as a farce with serious expressions and no door slamming. What man Paxton’s age would really want the drama that goes with more than one wife?

I’m not a Sci-fi guy typically, but we blew threw the one season of FIREFLY which is really just a space western. Trish who doesn’t like either genre had no trouble spending long Saturdays watching episode after episode.

We also saw the first season of the British show, HUSTLE, about a bunch of conmen ala David Mamet. It was decent but repetitive so we may or may not go back for more later. The seasons are only 6 episodes long so it wouldn’t be hard to get through them.

This past weekend we began watching 24. This is the first network show in the DVD cue, and after three days we’re through 10 episodes. I had never seen 5 minutes of the show until this last weekend and it is as riveting as advertised. The main reason is that Kiefer Sutherland’s character Jack Bauer is just the kind of guy you hope works for the good guys in real life. In the show he is complicated, direct, and will do anything to stop the evildoers.

We may try HOUSE some time or another. I’ve seen a few of those already and Hugh Laurie is great as that character. I’m also leaning toward something British in the near future, maybe WIRE IN THE BLOOD which I have read good things about.


Grace said...

DO try HOUSE sooner than later. HUGH LAURIE is AMAZING!!!

E said...

Good practical advice Tom.

For my money, the best shows on TV right now are SpongeBob and Wipeout. Enjoy the early seasons of 24 which were great. I am watching season 6 now which is repeating old themes and repackaging expired characters. Hopefully taking last year off is helping season 7 which I'll watch next year on DVD. Baseball season will start soon and I'll turn on my TV again.

Sir Saunders said...

I really enjoy American Idol. Lost has been consistently great. I've now seen every episode and it has a tight and intriguing mythology. Battlestar Galatica is fun and also training all at the same time. It's kind of like a bit morality play. I like Terminator: Sara Connor Chronicles but it has some goofy subplots to it. I completely agree regarding TV being better than Movies. I've thought of this often when I'm out with the kids and see what is playing but rather be home catching up on shows I've missed.

Dude said...

Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and 24 are on my someday list. Weeds didn't make your list, but add it if you haven't seen it. We recently caught up with the first four seasons of The Office. We still don't have cable so we're not watching American Idol like we did last year. We are streaming from a computer to the TV to keep current on Desperate Housewives, 30 Rock, and Fringe. Those are the only shows I'm watching this year along with SNL highlights and the Sarah Connor Chronicles, which Marci doesn't watch.

Tom said...

I had forgotten about WEEDS. We watched the first two seasons in just a few days after Abby was born. I also catch THE OFFICE here and there on TV. The British version is superior, but it takes some getting use to. The humor is more subtle and the characters seem like real people.

Sir Saunders said...

This is the best scene from weeds:

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