New TV Round Up

>I remember a few years back when there were only one or two shows on that I’d bother taking the time to program my VCR to record. Most everything else I could take or leave. Some of these shows, like Survivor, I’d start watching regularly out of habit more than actually seeking it out because I was a fan.

Nowadays, though, television has changed dramatically… and for the better! There are so many good returning and new shows on now that I’m seriously considering letting some fall by the wayside simply because I don’t have the time for all of them.

Returning Shows

I’ve enjoyed NBC’s The Office since it’s American premier. I think it’s grown beyond what the original creators thought it could and it doesn’t show any signs of wrapping up or wearing down. I was worried a bit about how they were going to handle the show now that the two main romantic hopefuls were finally together, but from the looks of it I think the office antics will keep the show from falling into the hole that most shows experience when the romantic tension is gone.

My Name is Earl is another show on NBC that is going strong. I really enjoy these “sit-coms” that don’t feel the need to beat you over the head with a laugh track every time the writers felt they were being funny. Instead they deliver a more subtle humor that in many cases tends to be more intelligent.

If you’ve never seen My Name is Earl, check it out. It seems to fly just below many people’s radars while it’s possibly one of the best-written comedies out there.

It seems like a few years ago, a show like NBC’s Heroes wouldn’t have had enough support from the network enough to give it a fair chance to grow an audience. I’m glad that such a well-conceptualized show is being given so much network respect. I think this is positive fallout from the success of ABC’s Lost, which is supposed to return in January or February sometime.

Heroes is definitely a show that I make a point of to see every episode even if I have to record it or buy it online. (Although I don’t think I’ll be buying it anytime soon since it’s no longer available on the iTunes Music Store.)

New Shows

The first show that made me start to feel very optimistic about the new TV season is NBC’s Chuck starring Zachary Levi (Less Than Perfect). Chuck is a well-written, frequently very funny show about a computer repair nerd who accidentally get’s thousands of the nation’s secrets implanted in his brain. Since he then becomes the only “copy” of the materials the government has he becomes enlisted by two competing spy agencies to assist them in protecting the country. This is a show that doesn’t try to take itself too seriously but is a lot of fun!

The Bionic Woman, which is also on NBC (a trend?), was developed by The SciFi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica co-executive producer David Eick, and I think the connection shows. Beyond the obvious connection of being a campy 70’s show that’s been updated for modern audiences, it also has the same dark feel of BSG, and many of the minor actors.

While normally this would be the type of show I would be excited to embrace, when placed up against all of the other great shows on the air, this is surprisingly one that I’m thinking of making a conscious effort to skip. Really, how much time can I spend watching TV every week? Especially considering the three shows that I’ve saved for last—

At first glance, NBC’s Journeyman would appear to be a re-imagining of the show Quantum Leap. While in some aspects this is true, the creators have done an excellent job of making the characters and situations seem very real and believable (within the reality of the show), so that I feel much more of a connection with the time traveling Dan Vassar, played by Kevin McKidd (Rome, Nicholas Nickleby).

Journeyman has enough of an episodic flow with self-contained storylines that it should be an easy show for viewers to pick up on without feeling too lost, but there’s also the ongoing mystery of why he’s time traveling in the first place, that should be an interesting topic to explore. This show is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

One new show that I really didn’t expect to like as much as I do is NBC’s Life. The premise of the show is that a former police officer returns to the force after having been framed and wrongfully imprisoned for years. While in prison Charlie Crews, played by Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers), gets a keen insight into the criminal mind, and also develops his own unique perspective on life. All of this combines into an investigative technique that is really fun to watch unfold.

I really think that I’ve saved the best for last with ABC’s Pushing Daisies. I must confess that the thing that initially turned me onto the show is that it was going to be narrated by one of my favorite, but rarely seen, actors Jim Dale (Pete’s Dragon, The Harry Potter Audiobooks—by the way, Jim, if you’re reading this, e-mail me. I’d love to design a Web site for you).

Watching Pushing Daisies is like watching Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It is so well written in a storybook style and the art direction and acting is so charming that it’s a real treat! It really seems like the producers take as much time and care with all aspects of this show that they would normally take on a feature film.

Pushing Daisies is about a pie maker named Ned, subtly played by Lee Pace (Infamous, The Good Shepherd), who has the unusual ability to bring people back from the dead with a touch. He uses this talent by teaming up with a private investigator and touching crime victims and asking them how they died, and then he touches them again and they go back to their dead state. The problem is that if he keeps them alive for longer than a minute, then someone randomly in the vicinity dies instead. Also, in waking up his recently dead childhood sweetheart and keeping her alive, he in unable to touch her or else she’ll become dead again.

I watch every episode of this show with the fear that it’s going to be cancelled because I’ve seen too many good shows that seemed too unique to be embraced by the general public. (Ever heard of Firefly?). I can also imagine that this show would have very high production costs which would mean it would have to do really REALLY well for the network to keep it going.

I’m sure there’s much more out there to watch, but I’m going to try to keep it reasonable. These are the shows that I’m hoping will be embraced by the world at large and have long and fruitful lives. I know that by letting shows like The Bionic Woman go off of my schedule I run the risk of getting wrapped up in a different show that gets cancelled and then having to catch up with this also-ran (if it survives), but I guess that’s a chance I’m going to have to take.

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