Friday, November 10, 2006

The TiVo DiVa: Save The Cheerleader. Save The World.

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.


Laura Vivanco said...

Now we want to see some bad guys go down. We want the good guys to win.

That was always a strong theme in Westerns, wasn't it? And I have a feeling that that was tied in to the Cold War mentality.

Some of these programmes you're describing sound as though they're a bit more ambivalent about who's right and who's wrong, and whether doing bad things makes the 'good' guy not really a 'good' guy anymore. It seems like it's not so easy to tell who is a 'good' guy and who's a 'bad' one.

Not having seen any of them, I'm just going on what you've said, but could this reflect some ambivalence about the 'War on Terror' post Abu Ghraib?

Anonymous said...

Although I do love watching Grey's Anatomy and a few other shows, I miss the days of watching "nothing" having something mindless and funny to watch and unwind with is always a great stress reliever.

Kelly F.

Kati said...

Welcome back Linda! I'm thrilled you're back and we're talkin' TV. I still adore Grey's Anatomy. It's my absolute must watch TV every week. The thing that intrigues me about the characters is that the writers aren't afraid to make them do things that the audience will find horribly inappropriate. I'm serious, I had an absolute sh*t fit last year when Mer slept with George. A fit! I was furious with her. Then I read the writers' blog ( and realized that there was a greater purpose to why she did what she did. It didn't make it any more palatable to me, but I could forgive and accept. This show works for me on every level because of the combination of humor and true human emotion that it shows. Even though the characters are all beautiful and smart, they're deeply flawed, and I appreciate that. Well, that, and the fact that the men on the show are one yummier than the other, for vastly differing reasons.

Interesting that I don't watch any of your new shows. I do watch Studio 60. I will continue to watch it because I genuinely believe that Aaron Sorkin is a genius. That being said, I think that he needs to find a way to make me care more about his characters. I watch because I've had a ten year long relationship with Matthew Perry and a seven year relationship with Bradley Whitford (as an aside, was it too soon for him to come back to TV? He still feels like Josh Lyman to me). They've been friends of mine for years, so I watch. But Sorkin needs to realize that attempting to elevate a sketch comedy show to the level of what the West Wing was is impossible. If he'd find a way to make us care about the characters, the show would be a stronger hit.

Now, my favorite new show of the year is Brothers and Sisters. It has an all star cast (Sally Field, Rachel Griffiths-- who mark my words, will get nominated for an Emmy this year, Calista Flockhart, Ron Rifkin, Tom Skerrit, etc.). It's an ensemble cast that genuinely works because of the variety of personalities on the show. Every storyline is compelling, and they have written in Kevin (one of the sons) one of the more realistic and compelling gay men I've ever seen on TV. Being gay is only one aspect of his personality, and he'd be a compelling character without being gay.

OK, well, this is turning into a dissertation, so I'll shut up now. Anyway, I'm glad you're here, and am looking forward to the conversation!

TiVoDiVa said...

Hi all!
Laura Vivanco: I like that the lines between good and evil have been blurred a bit. It makes things more interesting, right? A guy like Dexter is a monster, but when he kills a serial rapist, who doesn't give him an imaginary high five?
And Mary Kate: When you say Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are friends of yours, do mean, like friends? Or you know, TV friends? Because if you mean friends friends DO TELL! I've stuck with the show because I have been a big fan of theirs as well, but so far it feels forced. And I'm interested in why the Grey's writers had Meredith do that heinous sleep with George thing. Care to elaborate?

ev said...

Welcome back, Linda!! I am such a TV ho, my dvr is constantly full.

As to the current crop of shows, I, for one, am happy to see the trend of reality shows going down. I think that we are finally getting back to the type of TV shows that we loved to curl up and watch every week, that have a story line, and we can have a love/hate relationship with the characters(any one remember JR??) and in general just have fun watching- even serious shows. I think reality shows have hit their peek- except the well established ones.

Looking at shows that didn't make it already- Smith bombed. why? Maybe because we do have a thirst for justice and that show went just to far over the line for what is generally a moral society to be able to stomache.

Which makes shows like Heroes and The Nine so watchable. Who is good/bad and what did happen while they were in the bank. On the other hand, there are those shows which are just plain good writing/acting- Brothers and Sister, Bones, (ok, Angel is in it), ER (which has finally stepped it up again), and of course Gray's Anatomy.

For the most part, to me, reality TV is just not what I want to sit down and spend time watching with a couple of exceptions such as Extreme Makeover:Home Edition. I consider that my catharsis every week- it isn't about who gets voted off, who loses the most weight or who designs the best dress. It is about what this country has stood for- helping those who are less fortunate or have run into bad luck and need help. That is my feel good show every week. And no one here laughs at me when I cry, which I inevitably do.

And I love the eye candy Gray's and Lost and Studio 60 etc... provide me every week too.

Kati said...

Linda - Unfortunately, I don't mean friends, friends. I mean, they've been coming into my home for years and I consider them old friends. LOL!

Well, I'd have to go back and look at the blogs, but I believe the stance of the writers was that George was a culpable for the sleeping together thing as Meredith. In that he knew that she didn't love him and that this was going to mean A LOT more to him than her and he knew she was in a really, really bad place and he slept with her anyway, and then got mad about it.

In the end, I think both were guilty of it. As Christina said to Meredith afterwards, he's the weaker guy and you don't pick on the weaker guy.

Crosstalker said...

I would love to think that Americans are smart enough to want "serious" television. But come on, except for other writers and a few intellectuals we may encounter at work or in our lives, most people aren't that smart or even engaged in life. Most people hate to think (which got us the past 6 years worth of what passes as "democracy") and are quite content to skim across the surface of life. However, I have noticed that many young people (really young, like under 25) seem far more tuned into the real state of the world than their parents. This gives me hope that future generations may get serious about their world and maybe even their television. But the past few years of "reality" TV have not struck me as anything except the most scathing commentary on what people consider entertaining.

amy kennedy said...

Save the cheerleader, Save the world.

Diva--I was giddy to read that you sometimes whisper this to yourself. I thought I was the only one.

I rarely get to watch any show, unless it's on after 9:00 at night--otherwise I just catch snippets. So I can't really say too much.

I do want to say about Dexter--which I also have never watched, that it's based on these wonderful books by Jeffry P. Lindsay--they are so damn good.

Jennifer Y. said...

Great Post!

I watch Grey's Anatomy, but I have never really been a real big Meredith fan.

Prison Break is this close *holds thumb and forefinger close together* to losing me...I think when you are hoping they get caught there is a problem...LOL

LOST lost me a while back (no pun intended).

I LOVE HEROES...the way everyone with powers somehow meets or has a connection with each other kind of reminds me of the new show Six Degrees where everyone is connected but doesn't know it yet...but with super powers. That is the only thing they really have in common, but I noticed it the other night. I like Heroes a whole lot more.

I haven't seen DEXTER, but don't have Showtime...sounds interesting though.

I am hooked on The Nine too...I want to know more about what happened in that bank.

I also like Friday Night Lights and look forward to the premiere of 3 lbs next week...looks like an interesting show.

I love Dramas and the majority of television shows that I watch are dramas...not sure what that says about me...however, I wish there were more comedies worth watching on television.

P.S. I never really liked Seinfeld.

Sabrina Jeffries said...

Now see, I LOVE Studio 60. I think it's smart and hip and very funny. My only problem with it is that the lines fly by so fast that sometimes I miss the jokes until I rewind, which is not a GOOD thing, I admit. But I really do like the characters.

Amie Stuart said...

I've never really been a sitcom person and Reality TV left me with frost bite. That said, HEROS ROCKS!!!!!!!! Maybe it just appeals to the kid in me that still loves X-men and Spiderman from my Saturday morning cartoons =)

I'm still on board with Lost (which picked up the pace only to leave us hanging until Feburary Grrrrrrrr) and Prison Break *sigh*

The Nine lost me. I just don't care what happens to any of them (ducking). I was really sad to see Kidnapped go, but I'm really looking forward to the new show with Taye Diggs next week (hottie alert!)

Other new loves...Justice and Shark both of which involve lawyers who are bastards, but Shark (and James Woods!) is truly brilliant. As is Dexter. Ugly Betty is walking a fine line--I sure wish she'd dump Walter and get a Hero (pun intended LOL)

Kati said...

Oh! On the sitcom front, I adore How I Met Your Mother. Seriously, Neil Patrick Harris steals the show. And I seriously want Josh Radnor to be my boyfriend!

"Haaaave you met Ted?"

So funny!

Kati said...

Wow, that's a lot of "seriously!"

I think I'm watching too much Grey's.

Jennifer Y. said...

I like Shark as well, Amie Stuart.

I like how Justice shows viewers what really happened...that way you know if the defendant was guilty or innocent.

ev said...

Amie- you can watch the rest of Kidnapped online.

I haven't watched Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Brother's and Sister's and Ugly Betty yet- they are all waiting on my DVR so I can watch when all the repeats are on!!

And my question for NBC is- WHERE THE HELL IS CROSSING JORDAN?? They promised and then didn't come thru.

Amie Stuart said...

Maybe the change in TV--which seems like lots of shades of grey--is a more realistic reflection of the world we're living in?

Ev thanks and here here on CJ!

Jennifer, getting to see what really happened, and Ron Trott are my fave parts!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, amie: I watched Shark with the TiVo DiVa's mom, and I loved it. I wanted Jas Woods to be my dad. Which is weird, cause like, years ago I thought he was kinda attractive in that bad guy way.

ev, maybe the DiVa can tell us about Crossing. I think her mom likes that one, too.

I just can't get myself hepped to watch TV anymore, but you guys make me excited about it. Then, I see these pics of the actors and I'm like, what's wrong w/ me?

Seriously, MK, NP Harris was incredible in that movie about the two nerd guys who go lookin for a White Castle. I'll bet he's greatin his new show.

What's up w/ What About Brian? All I know is there was some commercial w/ some treacly pop tune and his running into a wedding a la Dustin in Mrs. R.

jennY: you need to write: I never liked Seinfeld...not that there's anything wrong with it. (rimshot)

sabrina, I remember the same thing about the first season of W Wing. I watched with the DiVa's mom, and we kept going, "wha? Did you make that out? Wha'd he say?"

oh, ev? My husband, the DiVa's bro, loves Ext Mak Home. I find it unfailingly maudlin. Like, "ok, cue the unfortunates!" But I understand the appeal.

crosstalker, reality TV is like a big trainwreck, and the only thing I've been able to watch is a couple minutes of the recent Bachelor with the "prince." My brain hurts when I watch it. I think it's a dehydration thing.

I think you're right about the ambiv'lnce, lauraV. The same thing that drives so many of us post 9/11 to sink into romance. When I was reading the DiVa's post, I kept thinking of something I read that a soldier in Iraq said about how could fighting personnel possibly know friend from foe in a populace w/ constantly shifting allegiance. He said something like, "if they're pointing their gun at me, they're the enemy, if they're pointing it at somebody else, they're John-flippin-Wayne."

Playground Monitor said...

I must be the only person in America who never watched Seinfeld or Friends or Buffy. I haven't watched a single new show this season. My TV viewing is limited to Dancing with the Stars (GO MARIO!), Survivor, CSI (the original) and Monk.

I don't know about anyone else, but I want to be entertained. If I want a lesson in something, I'll flip over to Discovery or The Learning Channel.


Kati said...

Michelle - Glad to see you up and better, Bella! Hope the head's back to feeling good!

You know, I have a friend who doesn't even own a TV. I feel like Joey (from FRIENDS), "What's all your furniture pointed at?!"

Marilyn - Even though he's a Dallas Cowboy, I've got to root for Emmett Smith. He's been dancin' on the field for years. I love that he's making such an amazing showing on DwTS. Although, Mario does have adorable dimples. SIGH. I'm a sucker for dimples.

TiVoDiVa said...

OK, I just watched the end of this week's episode of The Nine, and what's up with Lizzie and Randall? That flashback in the bank, when he almost answers her phone? Didn't it seem like maybe there was a connection of some kind, like maybe they knew each other? Very interesting...
And someone earlier today was talking about that Sunday night show Brothers and Sisters, which I've been watching as well. Calista Flockhart, back on TV, Treat Williams back on TV just MONTHS after the end of Everwood (RIP), and Ron Rifkin also back very quickly after Alias. My mother has always said that old TV actors never die, they just find a new show, and then another new show, and another. Why is it there is such a finite population of actors that network execs keep coming back to? Don't you find yourself saying every time you watch a show, "Now where have I seen that person before?" This season more than ever there seems to be tons of overlap of actors. Are "the powers that be" just too afraid to find new talent and are therfore more inclined to go back to the same old well over and over again? Can you guys think of faces that keep popping up on the tube for better or worse?

Kati said...

Well Victor Garber also is back on TV this season, after Alias ended.

Also, as I said before, I think it might be too soon for Bradley Whitford. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy and think he's a wonderful actor. But I think he needed to do like Matthew Perry and get a little distance from Josh. I still think of Josh every time I see him on Studio 60.

Laura Vivanco said...

I think you're right about the ambiv'lnce, lauraV. The same thing that drives so many of us post 9/11 to sink into romance.

I was thinking that this works in various directions. I mean, you've got Heroes, a programme about ordinary people who become heroes, (which is like the way that ordinary people showed great courage by helping others when the Twin Towers were falling) but there's also starting to be a distrust of those in authority (well, that's maybe been around for a while - it was in the X-files, for example), but also of individual soldiers, because of things like allegations of torture etc by ordinary soldiers. So I think that maybe begins to make the distinction between 'good' and 'evil' rather more complicated. Again, another programme I haven't seen, but what about the Sopranos? Is that not a programme where the main character is bad because he's a criminal, and yet people still can still understand him and find him sympathetic?

And then, alongside the morally complicated stuff, there are the makeover shows and reality TV, which provide a bit of escapism from the moral ambiguity.

Romance probably has the same mixture. There are some which are rather dark, possibly with dangerous, morally ambiguous heroes (like the latest Anne Stuart's?) and there are others which are nice, light, escapist regency historicals. And quite a lot of other stuff.

I'm rambling. But I think there's a place for all sorts of different types of programme/book. Sometimes people will be in the mood for something light, optimistic and escapist, and sometimes they'll want something a big more ambiguous. But at least romances, unlike the real world, always guarantee us a HEA.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Man, that's a great question, Linda. It's like actors like William H Macy who are spectacular and manage to stay below radar playing all those great secondary character roles. Then they start to get popular and, bam, they're everywhere and it --almost-- ruins how great their appeal is.

I'm sure it's like any industry: you prove you've got a little talent and are pretty easy to work with and people keep recommending you. But i've been wrong before.

And here's the thing. Our DiVa has this incredible ability to actually remember actor's names and the roles they play. I've always envied it. But it's like how you Bellas remember titles and characters and secondaries from novels from 15 years ago, and I'm always like, "oh, you know that book with that guy who loves that girl? Yeah. That was a good one."

ev said...

Play- there is a Monk Christmas special coming on this month!!

TD- is Treat on Brother's and Sister's?? I have dvr'd all the shows, so I haven't seen. I was so sad to see Everwood cancelled.

oh, and no one has mentioned Boston Legal, which I must say, for me, is just too funny sometimes.

TiVoDiVa said...

ev: Didn't you just love Everwood? I did, especially Bright Abbott. It was all about the Bright for me. And yes, Treat is on Brothers and Sisters. Beardless.

Playground Monitor said...

I saw about the Monk Christmas special. Yay!!! I have my Tivo set for a season pass for Monk to record new episodes. 2 weeks ago it recorded an episode and I'm thinking "WOW! Monk is back on." Last night the DH and I sat down to watch it and it's an old ep with Sharona BUT... it's an episode we've never seen and I could have sworn we'd seen every episode. We really enjoyed our Monk fix. He's such a flawed, lovable hero.

Off to my RWA meeting today where more than likely I'll get elected to a second 2-year term on the board. Y'all can just call me "Madame Secretary." ;-)


ev said...

TD- I loved Bright too. He was just such a typical guy. LOL You know that he succeeded in the future. I am so glad to hear that Treat is back on. I really like him.

Maryiln- My DVR is still set for Monk and Psych, which was also very good. I am looking forward to their full time return, and soon, I hope!!

ev said...

I have spent the day watching Star Wars. What a nerd.

hopeless romantic said...

TiVo DiVa, what is your take on Nip/Tuck this season? I used to really enjoy the show, and badboy Christian, but this fall it seems as if the writers are trying to make each episode more over the top than the last (I like over the top!)

TiVoDiVa said...

Nip/Tuck is like a train wreck. I just can't take my eyes off it. It's crazy, over the top (as you said), unbelievable, over the line, but I still watch it. I mean human organs being stolen and sold on the black market, Larry Hagman WATCHING, Matt going from bad to worse with Kimber, and now Escobar is back! YIKES!

Kati said...

ev - Me too! Star Wars in HD is a d*mn fine thing! That's all I'm saying!

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