Early Thoughts on the TV Season

Given that three of us try to match schedules in order to watch the television series we enjoy together, we have come to watch just about everything via the DVR. We are definitely a time-shifting family. As a result, we’re only just about now caught up with most of the shows. It doesn’t help that several of the summer series we’ve been following are still running as well as trying to find the time to fit in Ken Burns’ wonderful World War II miniseries.

So, with that said, here are my early season impressions:

Sunday

Desperate Housewives seems sharp with some interesting new personal challenges for the women plus a new mystery in the delightful form of Dana Delaney and Nathan Fillion. Although, now that the regular cast has grown even larger, one wonders how all these stories will be served. The lesson Marc Cherry can’t forget is that the show is often at its best when two or more of the women actually interact with one another.

Brothers & Sisters is also off to a good start with the usual family dramas. The cliffhanger was certainly expected and could have been structured differently but essentially this remains a well-structured series with a strong ensemble.

Monday

Chuck is a well-done show, so far, although it needs to find a focus pretty quickly. It’s nice to see a loving sibling relationship, which anchors Chuck from the nonsense that has been dumped on him. Our CIA cutie is nicely shaded while the NSA creep could be a horrible stereotype, saved thanks to Stephen Baldwin’s performance. How this storyline is sustained will be the true test, I think.

How I Met Your Mother seems finally ready to tell us who this mystery woman is. All the characters have moved along in their lives so it’s time to bring the title to life. I only wish they mixed things up a bit so we different combinations from the cast.

Heroes deepens its mysteries while starting new storylines and introducing new characters. While I miss Nikki, Micah and D.L., it’s probably best not to have tried to fit their story in with the rest. Much speculation has been heard about the Mexican Wonder Twins and their powers but I’m willing to wait. The acts of the Golden Age Heroes, as I call the previous generation, seem ready to come back and haunt them which, to me, only deepens the overall story. Some great casting has continued to make this one of the strongest hours on prime time.

Tuesday

House enters the season with a nice challenge – House needs to replace his team. He’s become as dependent on them as he has his vicodin. The winnowing process and variety of would-be teammates has been entertaining and it’s nice to see Robert Sean Leonard have more to do than suffer from House’s abuse.

Boston Legal continues to be this maddening mix of over-the-top character farce coupled with compelling legal dramas. I’ll be curious to see how the cast makeover settles in and if we actually get to see Denny Crane practice law or run the firm. The relationship between Denny and Shirley has been surprisingly sympathetic.

Cane got slammed by the critics and I can see why. There’s little original here once you get past the ethnic angle. It’s got a great cast (I’ll see Hector Elizando in most anything) but needs some better dialogue and better pacing. The pilot felt awfully slow.

Wednesday

Pushing Daisies is a delight. With its oversaturated color palette and Jim Dale narration, this is a fairy tale with a set of off-kilter characters that you immediately warm to. The leads and supporting cast are equally strong so it’s up to the writers to make the most of them. I can see why ABC pushed this so hard; it’s the most original series of the season.

Bionic Woman looks appealing, with a fine cast. How David Eick will keep this from becoming standard action fare will be the challenge. Also, everyone has issues, everyone has secrets and that could weigh the show down if not handled carefully. The Fairfield jury remains out on this one.

Back to You is your standard sitcom, the kind they don’t make any more. The reason it is nearly extinct is that the form was constantly watered down with bad premises, bad casting, and awful writing. This is the all-star team come together for almost one last hurrah. The show is entertaining, if predictable.

Dirty Sexy Money is, as Deb put it, “over the top enough to be enjoyable.” It certainly boasts a great cast and an interesting premise. As long as Peter Krause’s hunt for his father’s killer doesn’t overshadow his dealings with the family, it should be fine. I gather, though, his strained relationship with his own family is getting downplayed but we’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday

Smallville wrapped up last season’s cliffhangers way too quickly, dropped Supergirl into the mix without much foreshadowing and threw us for as loop when we saw where Lana wound up. This really needs to be the show’s last year because the constant twisting of the relationships has gone beyond credulity. Also, with Mom in Washington, just what does Clark do when he’s not rescuing the world? His path to journalism is entirely missing.

Ugly Betty is a hoot and is off to a fine start. This is like a sorbet, refreshingly silly and well done after all the drama throughout the week.

Grey’s Anatomy remains, in my mind, one of the best structured and sustained series on television today. Yes, Meredith and some of the others are way too whiny, but how they inter-relate and how cases resonate with the personal lives is strong. It’s also nice to see some shading to Bailey, who should shine this season.

Big Shots should be better than it is given the cast. Some of the storylines are interesting while some of the characters are inconsistent. It is certainly the smarmiest show on the air and we may not keep this one around.

ER is okay but definitely showing its age as we remain on the spin cycle as things go round and round without really going anywhere. Stanley Tucci is a nice addition but it may be time to bring this series to an end.

5 comments

  • KRAD

    That’s Adam Baldwin who’s on Chuck, late of Firefly and Angel (not to mention Gargantua). Stephen Baldwin’s the young Baldwin Brother who was in The Usual Suspects (and Bio-Dome, but we try not to think about that one…).

  • Julio Diaz

    Right-o, KRAD. Adam Baldwin is not related to the Baldwin Brothers, two of whom are now also on TV (Alec on the birlliant “30 Rock,” William (a.k.a. Billy) on “Dirty Sexy Money.”

    With the exception of “Usual Suspects,” I’ve seen nothing to convince me that Stephen could act his way out of a wet paper bag. But I’d have said that about Billy before “Dirty Sexy,” too.

    Adam — who again, isn’t related — is good in anything.

  • Susan O

    A die-hard ER fan for more than 6 years, I gave it up years ago, when in a bizarre scheduling year, I missed the first two episodes of the season and realized I really didn’t miss it that much after all, and never watched it again. The same thing happened with NYPD Blue – the last 3 episodes are still on tape, but I have yet to watch them.

  • Bob Ahrens

    >>>>>Pushing Daisies is a delight.

    >>>>>Dirty Sexy Money is, as Deb put it, “over the top enough to be enjoyable.”

    Not that the shows aren’t good… it’s the network mentality I’m pessimistic of.
    There’s a pool here at work on how long it will take ABC to kill one or both of it’s best new shows…
    “…Daisies” and “Dirty Sexy Money”.

    I give the idiots in programming 6 weeks for “Daisies”.
    They’ll both be gone by Christmas.

    Hey, if it was Fox, they’d be gone by Halloween.

    Bob A

  • Re: Boston Legal. Isn’t that show ALWAYS going through an extreme cast makeover?