Talking Television

Our routine usually involves us sitting down and watching shows on our DVR several nights per week. We record far more shows than a sane person should be watching but we can easily get through four hours of prime time programming in as little as two hours, forty-five minutes once you zap through commercials and credits. As a result, we hit a rhythm and mange to keep up with shows that entertain us.

We had quite the backlog as the summer waned and we’ve worked through that and are finally getting caught up with the new season. We find ourselves sampling very few of the new series because word of mouth and reviews warn us away. As a result, much as I like Selma Blair, I know to avoid Kath & Kim along with The Ex-List and tonight’s My Own Worst Enemy (which sounds like a rip-off of the far superior BBC series Jekyll).

Instead, we’re about to dive in and try Life on Mars and that may be the only new show. We’re back with our returning favorites and I have to say, most are off to their entertaining best. Chuck remains a wonderfully inventive spin on the spy genre with great performances from a winning ensemble. Similarly, Dirty Sexy Money is over the top fun and I can see Lucy Liu is going to keep things interesting although I think after two episodes we see Trip sinning his web around Nick just a little too often.

On the disappointing side, Heroes is suffering from rerun syndrome by doing another change-the-future-to-save-the-world story. They also are missing a bet by not having more of the powerful people interact, which was one of the best things about the end of the first season. They found one another, banded together to save the world and should have kept in touch. If anything, the series is also suffering from characters not really talking to one another so information doesn’t get shared in anything resembling a timely fashion. The introduction of Daphne the speedster is refreshing and seeing her in the future married to Parkman is intriguing.

Desperate Housewife’s jump five years ahead was nicely handled because stirring the pot shows that even though they change, the sense of desperation remains. Marc Cherry’s biggest issue seems to be that everyone is fairly miserable at the same time without anyone really sustaining any happiness to contrast the misery. The same with Brothers & Sisters which keeps building up the dramatic complications without the little victories that give us the reason to keep going. The latter series, arguably, is better acted and has more potential given the sprawling family.

We’re enjoying True Blood without having read the novels and come to it without preconceived notions. It’s a nice spin on the vampire lore and setting it in the south also keeps things interesting. We’re certainly interested to see where the relationships are headed and if our guess as to who the killer is is correct.

The only complication is the DVR itself. We recently exchanged the previous one for a new one from Cablevision. And sure enough, this one has a different problem that makes watching a frustrating experience. That’s four DVRs in almost as many years which means there has to be a hardware issue that you would think Cablevision would have resolved by now.


  • New reader to your site and felt compelled to comment about Life on Mars. Please, please watch the BBC version. I might be biased being a Brit myself, but it is light years ahead of the version currently being shown by ABC.

  • Bob

    I too am in a guilty love relationship with “DSM”…. love Donald Sutherland in anything he’s been in since “Ordinary People”…
    However, “MARS” has got me concerned…. Great concept, but I am a little iffy on Harvey Keitel….He does the angry cop thing really well, but it still reminds me of the guy he played in “Rising Sun”. Is he ever gonna show some depth to this character?

    BTW, “Daisies” is still worthy of some attention.
    I’ m just as enthralled as I was last year…and excited to see what Bryan Fuller has planned for us. For me, it’s like Joe Michael with Bab 5…. he’s got the whole show mapped out in his head and he gives us a little peek one hour a week.

  • Donald

    I have to second the recommendation of the original BBC Life on Mars. The US version have made too many of the characters typical pretty faces, Harvey Keital notwithstanding. I will probably watch a few more episodes of the US version, but my hopes are not high. I just can’t see them ending the series the way the original did. That was must see television.

    I’ll have to check out Jekyll. I found My Own Worst Enemy to be mildly entertaining.

  • Paul Balze

    I watched the premiere of the US version of Life on Mars and found it watchable, but I don’t know if it’s appointment television for me. I may be handicapped somewhat by memories of Kojak, which was a cop show filmed in NYC in the era Mars is trying to replicate. There’s also my tendency to look for anachronisms (Hey, that’s a ’74 Satellite in front of the police station! What part of 1973 is this supposed to be?).

    I’m enjoying True Blood quite a bit. I wonder if we’ve got the same person pegged as the killer?