Wednesday, November 24, 2004

TV REPORT CARDS – THE OTHER NETWORKS

FOX

Fox is without a doubt the most unpredictable network (and I mean that in a bad way). Their upfront schedule diverges in several areas from their aired schedule, and I don’t even know if their three part season plan is still in place. They have cancelled most of their interesting shows of the last few years by the end of their first season (Firefly, True Calling, John Doe, etc. - with the notable exception of the OC and 24 – and maybe Arrested Development, which I don’t watch), and they jumped the most shamelessly on the reality bandwagon. They cancelled Tru Calling (a show that they had renewed at the time of the upfronts) by just dragging their feet on starting production, finally making the announcement that it was cancelled about a week before new episodes were to start. All this lead to a period (until November – Fox’s phase 1 season) where, for the first time in the network’s history, I wasn’t watching a single show.

The OC has started back now, though, and the signs look good. The OC was basically my favorite new show last year, getting better and better, and extending its season until it crashed in the last third. After a stream of perfect episodes around the holidays, there was only one good episode after February – the second to last (Vegas trip) episode, which was outstanding by any measure.

The first episode of this season was a snoozer, but it was obvious that the producers and writers were doing heavy lifting to get the rails of the show back in place. This has resulted in a couple of fine episodes, including the much remarked upon comic club episode, where comic talk had to eat up 10 minutes of screen time, surely a record for and mainstream drama. Adam Brody is in relatively good form, although he seems to have had a cold the whole season so far. Everyone in the cast is in pretty good form except for Marissa, who, it almost seems, the writers want lame her off of the show. Her involvement in the show at this point doesn’t seem necessary. Anyway, besides the first episode plot cleanup project, the year is off to a good, but not roaring start.

I’ve seen only the first episode of HOUSE, the medical drama(dy) with Hugh Laurie, and it looks to be pretty good, but I need a couple of more eps to truly weigh in. And until 24 and American Idol start (I know, kill me now), that’s all the Fox.

WB

This is the station of the shows I almost watch. Never watched Charmed and Gilmore Girls (though I will if DVD’s become available for multiple seasons and I can catch up), which I would probably like, I missed trying Jack and Bobby and the Mountain, and I’ve heard some of the other shows are good from friends and family. But, since Buffy and Angel went bye-bye, I watch no WB.

UPN

Never watched any substantial UPN in the past (I tried a few shows that weren’t too bad, but got cancelled). But VERONICA MARS is a destination unto itself. My earlier review Came off a bit harsh in retrospect, as I was still struggling to find the show’s wavelength. The “afterschool special” issue I referred to has largely disappeared, although the show does maintain a specific teen show charm. The Vibe I failed to isolate in my initial post was the Rockford Files vibe – the resourceful and likeable, if beaten down and outsider-y, individual that is competent out of sheer will, but is still looking for something to complete their lonely and damaged souls. The shows also have the “brutality” I went on and about in common. The show has been getting better and better at a fierce rate, and has an upward trajectory compared to the other really good new show’s (Lost) flattening progression. This is a truly great show. There, I said it.

Overall, the season is better than I thought it would be, and has some really good new shows. If only they had kept Global Frequency on the schedule, TV come January would kick ass like it’s 2001-2 (the last truly great season).

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