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Archive for the ‘question of the day’ Category

First, the good news.

Best Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Years of Devotion to How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs has been painful at times, as both of these hilarious but criminally under watched shows suffered from time slot shifts and near cancellation more than once. But HIMYM‘s fifth season was all but assured this year as it experienced a small uptick thanks to it’s new lead in. Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady’s superior Friends meets Seinfeld meets SciFi convention multicam sitcom has quickly become the most reliable funny show on the boob tube.

Best Comedic Performance- Male

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

The lanky actor with a slight lisp and a gift for comedic OCD reactions has been the breakout  star on a solid ensemble cast. A virtual unknown before the show, he has quickly become the front man for the cast, doing more press than all the others four combined. And if anyone has seen his spots on Craig Ferguson, he is charming, funny, and Un-Sheldonlike. But nothing tops TBBT Christmas episode, in which Sheldon hugs Penny ( Kaley Cuoco)- that is physical comedy at it’s best.

Best Comedic Performance- Female

Jane Krakowski as Jenna on 30 Rock

She has always been funny ( look at her character on Ally McBeal), but this year, Jenna has been inspired, even profane ( black face? Seriously?). Jane and Tracy Morgan are making a brilliantly idiotic comic team. Jenna’s vacuous presence makes up for a more uneven season.

Best Drama Series

Chuck (NBC)

Okay, it’s one of the funniest shows on TV. But this spy dramedy mashup is also one of the most affecting shows I have ever had the privilege to watch. The Josh Schwartz /Chris Fedak run show has vastly improved in it’s second season ( and it’s first, strike shortened season wasn’t bad to begin with). Wildly inventive while being almost religiously devoted to geek world references ( plus a deep love of the 80s- the show adores Spies Like Us to the point of ridiculousness, but you love every minute of it). Bonus- an awesome soundtrack. Well, it is a Josh Schwartz show.

Best Dramatic Performance- Male

Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski, Chuck

We in the know and who loved Less than Perfect  remember Levi as being comically gifted ( and a great singer- ” Luck be A Lady” was a series highlight for me). But his portrayal of the Nerd Herder with a government computer in his brain is a gentle mix of comedy and pathos. He breaks my heart as often as he makes me laugh. And now that he knows kung fu, I’m all agog. Brilliant.

Best Dramatic Performance- Female

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olsen, Mad Men

As the girl who walks into the mean manly man world of advertising, she delivers a subtle, heart breaking performance. She has suffered tremendously for her ambition on both a personal and a professional level, but do not mistake her for a pushover. Moss, so winning on The West Wing as Zoey Bartlett, has really grown into a spectacularly nuanced actress.

Best Series Finale- Till it wasn’t

Scrubs (ABC)

In perfect cohesion with the rest of the series. Everyone was there. Hooch really is crazy. Beardface, Snoop Dogg Intern/Resident, Gloria, even those who have passed. A sweet sentimental moment where J.D. ( Zach Braff- still so good here) sees his future. Small cameo by Bill Lawrence himself. Then ABC ruins my deep affection for this perfect episode of a much beloved network cannon fodder show by bringing it back for a ninth season. It still is a moving show, but I can’t imagine Scrubs without J.D.

Best Series Finale That Is Actually A Finale

ER (NBC)

The Thursday night lead out for fifteen seasons, ER  stopped being the big focus of NBC somewhere around the time George Clooney left. Lord knows I barely watched it in the last decade. But I tuned in all the same. And it, too, was a perfect finale. In fact, it really wasn’t a finale at all. Yes, old timer cast members came back for a visit, but it felt organic, not forced. The episode mirrored the pilot in many ways, yes, but it felt like it was true to the show as a whole. It was special because it wasn’t special.

And now the bad:

Worst “Comedy”

Kath and Kim ( NBC)

Just not funny. Too bad. I love Molly Shannon.

Worst ” Drama”

Knight Rider ( NBC)

This show wasn’t that good in the 80s when Hasselhoff was the MAN. Did Silverman and co. really think it would work now?

Moments from the season that should be remembered:

  • Adam Lambert’s gorgeous version of ” Mad World”, Kris Allen’s stunning rendition of ” Falling Slowly”, Allison Iraheta ‘s exquisite ” Someone To Watch Over Me”, and whatever that note was that Danny Gokey let loose at the end of ” Dream On” which wasn’t even human. ( American Idol)
  • An injury plagued season of Dancing With The Stars that was more entertaining than it had any right to be.
  • Barney Stinson is in love with Robin Sherbatsky!
  • While we’re on the topic of HIMYM, damn, they did the lamest/coolest job of hiding Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders pregnancies.
  • I cannot reiterate how hilarious the hug Sheldon gave Penny in the Christmas episode of The Big Bang Theory is. Just genius.
  • Chuck Bass says ” I love you”. Twice.
  • The entire second season of Chuck. This show is so much better than Heroes.
  • House losing his mind. Kutner’s suicide. Amber. Huddy sex that wasn’t real.  ( House).
  • The performance of Harvey Keitel in the short but glorious run of ABC’s Life On Mars. yes, I was the person watching.
  • Barack Obama elected to the office of President of the United States of America. ( every network imaginable).
  • The Daily Show
  • The White Stripes showing up to sing ” We Are Going To be friends” on Conan O’Brien’s last Late Night
  • Jimmy Fallon not totally sucking as he took over Conan’s slot.
  • Jimmy is still no match for Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show.
  • The Colbert Report
  • Hugh Jackman hosting the Oscars. The Theater geek in me died a glorious,rapturous death. I loved most of it.
  • Gray Gardens
  • Almost everything on the Food Network’s prime time sked.

So this lead me to the question of the day. What was your highlight of the 2008-2009 TV season?

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The recent cancellation of ABC’s great remake of BBC’s ” Life On Mars” annoyed me a great deal. Good shows aren’t given chances anymore ( Seinfeld would be cancelled now if it got the type of ratings the first season got). Bad shows aren’t given chances, either, but beggars, choosers, never the twain shall meet. The following five shows are currently on the air and are on the bubble. Four are shows I enjoy a great deal but could survive without if need be. The fifth is a show I would possibly go postal over if it was cancelled.

5. Mad Men ( AMC)

I am unaware of where the movie channel falls in the realm of American cable channels. But on my Canadian cable service, it’s included in the third tier standard cable pack and in the lower fifty channels. We watch the network a lot in my house ( hey, I got a thing for eighties schlock horror and bad war movies and constant Godfather marathons). But in this sadly lacking movies movie network is a surprisingly smart man who has taken up the mantle of what HBO used to. Bless the exec who grabbed Matthew Weiner’s  sixties era ad drama when HBO turned it away.

The series is pitch perfect in tone- it kinda feels like a sixties era drama in some way. It is deliberately paced, with impossibly beautiful people populating dark smoky rooms in expensive looking clothes. But it is also darkly subversive, hinting at the socio-political changes about to explode while still reacting to the strait-laced ideals of the fifties. It’s not an easy series to watch- it cuts straight to the heart of it’s characters. In fact, it’s not just a historical piece, it’s a pretty affecting psychological drama.

4. How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

I know, it’s been on for four year, and with syndication money coming up, it seems unlikely that the show will be cancelled ( not to mention there is talk of an eight year plan? Really?) But this and it’s preceding program, the much buzzed about “The Big Bang Theory”, are two really great sitcoms that bend the parameters of the classic multi-camera. Of the two, HIMYM is actually more genre bending. Yes, there is a laugh track, but I hardly noticed it for three seasons. They play with flashbacks, flash-forwards, and memory flaws. There are hints, red herrings, and the show has it’s own separate language. Damn it, this show brought the word “awesome” back to awesomeness. Even when the story telling becomes to goofy, to out there, there is something about this show that is surprisingly heart warming and gentle. 

3.  Flashpoint (CTV/CBS)

It’s not just national pride here. Do I like seeing a show about Canada, sounding like Canada, on TV? Of course. But the Canadiana is limited. It’s about the cops, their job, the impact.

The fact is, Flashpoint is a very different kind of cop show. Snipers have always been the cavalry that comes in in SWAT jackets and rifles and save the day. The life and emotions of these people have never really been dealt with on television. It’s a thrilling show to watch- it is a well produced cop show. But the strength actually lies within it’s cast- particularly Hugh Dillon, who has the ability to break hearts without saying a word. A strongly ACTED cop show is a rarity.

2. 30 Rock (NBC)

NBC has been getting a lot of flack. A LOT of flack. A lot of it from me. The former network series champion has suffered from a drastic turn of events the last five years to be fourth place. A lot of this comes from Fox having American Idol, 24, and House, three shows that dominated for a few years. Some of it has to do with CBS being able to re-brand itself with crime dramas and solid comedies. ABC has managed to stay a float with popular reality shows. NBC has been stuck. It hasn’t had a huge hit that doesn’t involve Howie Mandel and a suitcase in FIVE YEARS. Even when they get lucky ( the first season of Heroes), they manage to screw it up somehow. It’s flagship shows, the Law and Order triad, have gotten stale, old, and floundered ( the mothership has gained some strength in the last season due to recasting efforts, but it still comes off as comfort food viewing, and the ratings are way down from the glory years of the mid to late 90s). They even moved Criminal Intent to cable ( where, surprisingly, it thrived. Go figure.)

NBC has tried to keep up with what made it so fabulous in the 80s and 90s- Thursday night comedy. And the comedies are good. The three really good ones are all in the Scrubs vein- single camera oddball shows that have their own language and style. Earl and the Office both had a great hook when they started-  Earl had a new and interesting premise, the Office had a pedigree.

30 Rock has Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, two of the greatest things to happen to American comedy in the last ten years- and so few people are watching it. It boggles my mind. The show has always been hit or miss, but man- when it hits, it really hits. The show is never going to be joke- punchline. It’s smart comedy, subversive, shocking, fearless comedy.

Never mind, I think I just answered my question.

1.Chuck (NBC)

So I believe that NBC should rethink it’s programming  strategy- take the place of Fox as the network unafraid of being the place where shows can be experimental, fearless, and yes, even low rated. Be the new cult show network. Don’t be scared. Yes, ad revenue will be down. But cult TV fans are loyal and spend according to the cult they follow.

Which explains my strong desire, as a Chuck fan, for I Phones, Nerd Herd shirts, and $5 foot longs from Subway. I also want an Intersect. But I digress.

Chuck is probably one of the top three shows on the air right now. It is probably the greatest action comedy show in the history of television ( i am that bold). It’s another fiercely subversive show, a show in which technology, geeks, and science rule the world. Our everyman Chuck is a genius supercomputer with absolutely no implants or anything in his brain. He is just that smart. The show takes swipes at commercial culture as well ( the employees at Buy More are the laziest SOBs in the world). But mostly, it’s a cool show to watch. Zachary Levi is a charming, funny guy who deserves the success this show should bring him. Adam Baldwin is on this show, people, and Browncoats should be there to see his John Casey as one of the greatest creations right now on television 9 what does it tell you that the man has to be shot three times with a tranq gun to bring him down- and that little smile on his face and the little noise he makes when he falls over stoned? Priceless). The show also speaks volume about family and loyalty, which is really rare these days. It’s not a typical family- Chuck lives with his sister, sure, but both their parents took off when they were young, they raised themselves. They are close without coming off as needy and creepy. The family has extended to include Morgan and Devon, Sarah and yes, even John Casey. This is the family of geek culture, my friends.

Plus, how can you not love a spy comedy? The explosions, the gadgets, the constant Star Wars references ( ” Chuck, you’re my only hope” has popped up a few times with precise cadence without being cloying). The fact our hero has a super computer inside his head. The fact he has to live these two very different lives. The fact Devon’s nickname is Captain Awesome ( this is not even a cynical, sarcastic nickname- he really is that awesome). Everything is right about this show. Why aren’t you watching, people?

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Is anyone else giddy over Jon Hamm’s upcoming three episode arc on 30 Rock? Jon Hamm. Tina Fey. Come on, people, this is gold!

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