Hello again, Bellas! Sorry about the technical difficulties last week...Computers! You can’t live with them, you can’t throw them against the wall smashing them into a million tiny bits and pieces. Or...can you? So much has happened on TV since I last checked in with you all! I guess the best way to get started is just to, you know, get started! I’ll tell you some of the programs I think are working and some which aren’t and why, and then I guess you all can let me know your opinions on the same things. So let’s get right into it, shall we?
A few old shows I’ve tuned back into:
Grey’s Anatomy (Thursdays at 10 on ABC) It seems like EVERYONE I know is watching Grey’s this year, and they all have an opinion on EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER! Folks I talk to are not feeling the love for Meredith (enough with the voice-overs and annoying me-me-me!) and they are disappointed in the weakness of Izzie’s character post-Denny (Rise above the indecision already! You worked your way out of a trailer park, girl, where is the spunk?).
Everyone (well, women anyway) seems thrilled to see McSteamy back and the towel-around-the-waist thing really was awfully nice, wasn’t it? Sigh. I agree with all this and haven’t really been disappointed so far with Season 3.
Although I will admit I am a sucker for a happy couple and a lot hinges on how the Meredith/McDreamy thing resolves itself. Remember Maddie and David on Moonlighting? Sam and Diane on Cheers? Yeah, I actually WANTED them to get together, too. Dramatic tension be damned! Get busy! My Bottom Line (MBL): I’m sticking with this one.
Prison Break (Mondays at 8 on Fox)So the Fox River Eight are outside the prison walls and things are not going well. At. All. Some really nasty people are trying to find them, most of whom are involved in a big ol’ conspiracy that stretches right up to the White House. Seriously: how many things can go wrong for these guys and could the countless ways in which they weasel out of these things be any more unbelievable?
Every week I find myself saying OK, if this crap keeps up I am SO out of here. But I haven’t given up yet. I really hope the writers throw us bone soon because I sure would miss Michael Scofield’s pretty face if I have to give this show up...MBL: I am still watching but am seriously skeptical.
Some shows I’m lukewarm on:
Lost (Wednesdays at 9 on ABC)It seems like The Islanders just haven’t found their groove yet. I’m bored by the latest flashbacks and I’m not exactly thrilled with the Others who have been added to the cast. And I kind of miss some of the original folks who haven’t gotten very much screen time, like Sun and Jin. I still dig the Sawyer/Kate thing and I’m a loyal person, so I’m sticking it out, but again, it’s going to take more than a CGI polar bear to keep me interested.MBL: Pick up the pace, people, before it’s too late.
Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip (Mondays at 10 on NBC)This show had all the promise in the world: a great cast and great writers and a great premise. How come it’s so boring? How come none of the skits on the Saturday Night Live-like show that they all work for are actually funny? How come every episode feels like a lesson in morality or the power of television or the evils of censorship and Corporate America? How come Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme can’t use their powers for good instead of evil?MBL: Come on down off your high horse, guys, and just entertain us.
A few new shows I think are great:
Heroes (Mondays at 9 on NBC) Save the cheerleader. Save the world. Where do I begin? Just typing it makes me giggle. Sometimes I just whisper it to myself -- Save the cheerleader. Save the world. This is a little bit brilliant, isn’t it? It’s hilarious yet compelling. It is absurd yet magnetic. It is just bizarre enough to make me want to tune in and see how it all works out.
I love the cast (I have an uncontrollable urge to hug Hiro every time his wide-eyed mug shows up on screen), I love the notion that everyday people are ready to break out and be heroes and I love that I’m not quite sure who’s good and who’s bad. It makes me giggle and makes me think and those are things I love in a show. MBL: Other than Peter Petrelli’s hair that I just want to CUT, this show ROCKS.
Dexter (Sundays at 10 on Showtime) This guy Dexter Morgan is so supremely twisted that I just can’t get enough of him. By day he is a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department. By night he is a serial killer, but he only kills really bad people, so that makes it OK, right? And he might be completely incapable of human emotions towards other adults, but he’s really nice to kids, so that makes it OK, right?
Is he a hero or a monster? Or both? This show sort of came in under the radar for me, and if you don’t have Showtime, WATCH IT On Demand because the stories, the acting, the music, the camera work? It is just. Mesmerizing. MBL: This show rocks EVEN HARDER.
The Nine (Wednesdays at 10 on ABC)There’s something about this show. The story is there was this 3-day hostage standoff in a bank, and the show started when the crisis ended, so while we know who made it out alive and who did the deed, we don’t really know any of the details of what went on inside.
We know that some of the survivors, the nine, have come out better then they went in and some have come out much worse, and we get a few details about why each week. And it draws me in. I like these people. I want to know the story. It’s kind of a slow burn thing. MBL: I’m hooked. And I got my mother hooked. So there’s that.
And finally, at the risk of getting way too serious, let’s talk big picture...
Is TV is a reflection of society as a whole? Does television sort of take the pulse of American viewers? If so, what do this year’s new shows tell us about the current state of our collective psyche?
I think I see a trend:
-There are at least 2 shows on right now about rescuing missing people and the lengths to which people will go to find loved ones who were taken from them against their will
-There is a show about ordinary people with extraordinary powers like the ability to fly, or stop time in order to keep people from harm’s way
-There’s a show about a bunch of strangers who unwittingly enter a crisis situation and find bravery or acceptance they never knew they had-And there’s a show about a “bad guy” who kills “worse guys” and as a result becomes the baddest “good guy” in town
Is there something to this? A thirst for justice, a longing to rise above (both figuratively and literally!), a need for accountability, for order and peace in an increasingly scary world, for rewards for the good and punishment for the bad? Sort of heavy stuff, right?
I recently heard a television commentator on National Public Radio talking about how a show like Seinfeld, a show about nothing, probably wouldn’t be a hit in a post-9/11 world. People just don’t have as much tolerance for “nothing” anymore. We want something.
I could be reaching, but let’s come right back to Save the cheerleader. Save the world.
Think cheerleader and you think of a young, innocent girl full of hope and optimism, a symbol of American youth and vitality, both Everybody and Nobody. Is she just a cheap hook to get viewers, or is she a metaphor, a symbol of what America was pre-9/11 and now wishes it could be again?
In an awesome case of art imitating life, is saving the “cheerleader” actually the key to saving the “world”, like, really?
Heck, I haven’t got a clue. But it does seem like “TV as escapism” is an entirely new animal. Is it true that we no longer want to zone out in front of the tube while laughing about nothing?
Now we want to see some bad guys go down. We want the good guys to win. We want the lost to come home and the fairy tale ending. Tune in this season and you might just get a bit of satisfaction in a few of those areas. Of course it might take November sweeps to get you there...
My suggestion? Grab a glass of wine, settle in and escape. With a vengeance!
The TiVo DiVa is my sistah-in-lawr, Linda. She writes from her very happy home in the greater-Boston area.