A glut of television!

With the major networks starting their seasons in earnest this week, it’s as good a time as any to review what I’m watching.
The Simpsons. This is the 19th season? That means that the series has been around in its years of decline now longer than its prime years. While the last couple of seasons haven’t been bad, the recent episodes are still more cartoon-like than the episodes were during the show’s prime years. Even though it’s long past its prime, The Simpsons is still better than most. And the animation in the season premier is a step up– on par with Futurama and The Simpsons movie.
Family Guy. While often funnier than The Simpsons, Family Guy has never had the emotional depth of its yellow predecessor. When freed from the need to deal with character and plot– like in the retelling of Star Wars that opened this season– it succeeds in bringing the funny.
Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s pure, unfiltered uncomfortable. And funny.
How I Met Your Mother. Legend– wait for it– ary? Perhaps not. It’s not all that groundbreaking or unique, but it’s relatable, funny and clever. Plus, Alyson Hannigan. And Ted’s mutton chops.
Heroes. Meh. This series has a tremendous amount of buzz for a show that had 2 good episodes in its first season. Although the finale was not a good hour of television (more on that later, hopefully), it deserves a shot. Hopefully this season is less repetitive and features fewer horrible voiceovers. This first episode seems to have picked up the pace a lot. Unfortunately, in this episode, HRG/Claire and Hiro/Ando/Sulu are still more interesting and/or entertaining than any of the other disparate elements.
House. Hugh Laurie is wonderfully entertaining as House. The show has been trying to walk a fine line between being a completely episodic procedural and having actual character development. Unfortunately, this means that while the main characters engage in major life events, the reset button still gets pushed every so often and it’s hard to believe that everyone still gets back to the same place. The new season is going to start off with actual change in the status quo and hopefully, it will give the characters some new life.
The Office. Perhaps the finest comedy on TV. Admittedly, the competition isn’t all that stiff, but the show is awkward, uncomfortable and funny. This season looks to shuffle the characters around enough to keep things fresh.
30 Rock. Perhaps the funniest show on TV. It’s not as compelling of a show as The Office, but as a farce and a direct commentary on culture and media, it’s a keeper.
South Park. More relevant than ever.
Friday Night Lights. I’m only on episode 3 of the first season on DVD, but so far, it’s very compelling, human and engrossing. And it looks wonderfl.
Summer Holdovers
The Daily Show/The Colbert Report. The most relevant and important television.
Doctor Who. Blink was one of the finest hours of television in recent memory. It’s get a few more episodes in the third series on SciFi.
Top Gear. The BBC auto show is like a mix of car reviews and Junkyard Wars, and demonstrates the value of real public funding. An advertiser supported show could not be as honest or as interesting. It is tremendously inventive and creative and great entertainment, even if you’re not that interested in motoring. If you are, seeing the differences between UK and US car culture is especially fascinating.
Mythbusters. They blow things up for science. That’s great television.
New Shows of Interest
Bionic Woman. Is it good that the thing I was most excited about was hearing Earl Greyhound’s “S.O.S.” as background music? Aside from Katee Sackhoff, Earl Greyhound on TV was by far the best thing about the pilot. The rest of it didn’t fit together well. There’s some good stuff in here and it could come together for a good series, but if the characters continue to act without any coherent motivations, this will devolve quickly into an unwatchable mess. It’s not far from being an unwatchable mess.
Chuck. In the pilots of both Chuck and Bionic Woman, the titular character ends telling shady government characters that the title character will work for the government on his/her own terms. Chuck, however, has gone through enough of a journey in the first hour for that confrontation to make sense. Plus, it’s funny and cleverly written. If the series has more of Chuck’s handlers and less of his annoying friend/co-worker, it could be a winner.
Dirty Sexy Money.
Pushing Daisies.
Returning Eventually.
Lost. The third season started off very weak, but rebounded to a wonderful finale. Hopefully a fixed end date will do wonders for keeping the plot moving along.
Battlestar Galactica. The third season finale could pay off to be amazing or awful. I’m hoping for amazing. Like Lost, hopefully, a fixed number of episodes will lead to consistently high quality.
The Amazing Race. While it may feel like it’s formulaic and/or stale, it’s still a phenomenal achievement to produce the Race, and the show is still entertaining.
I’m scared to think of how much time per week of television this actually translates into. And how much lower than the average American watches television per week.