The return of television

So I’m giving $h*! My Dad Says a try. I’m not sure why… of course I am. It’s William Shatner. He cracks me up just being himself. Regardless, the son is already annoying me and the one-liners from Shatner just aren’t enough to carry it. About the midway point it’s time to switch the channel and see what’s on the DVR. Honestly, there haven’t been any new series that grabbed my attention, so it’s all leftovers:

The Big Bang Theory – Have I mentioned how in love with this show I am? Correction: we am? I only caught a few episodes the first season and found it funny but not very captivating. Sometime during the second season it popped back on my radar and it was clear they had really developed an understanding of geek humor. While Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper steals the show, all 4 of the guys hit on different nerd stereotypes that make me cringe with recognition. While I had initial doubts about Kaley Cuoco’s “normal girl” being anything but a pretty face and object of affection, her regular verbal sparing with Jim Parsons has become a real highlight. Even The Woman looks forward to new episodes. Oh yeah, Wil Wheaton as Sheldon’s nemesis? Possibly the greatest TV idea ever!

Community – IF YOU ARE NOT WATCHING THIS SHOW YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME. Sorry, but it had to be said. Not until we stumbled across an early season mini-marathon did I even know anything about this show. And now it’s like an obsession – honestly it reminds me a bit of Arrested Development. By using the study group as its central “location”, Community avoids the typical pitfall for ensemble casts in which many of the characters fall through cracks having almost no screen time for weeks (see 30 Rock). While not all of them are on equal footing (obviously McHale’s Jeff Winger is the main guy), they all have regular parts that keep the humor just enough off balance. And, of course, the meta-humor is stupendous – driven largely by Abed’s obsession with TV and movies. Heck, they made fun of $h*! My Dad Says before it even premiered.

30 Rock – Sure, it’s not as great as it was the first couple seasons (they really need to get the secondary cast members involved more), but a below average episode of 30 Rock is funnier than 80% of whatever else is on. And the addition of Matt Damon, even if only as an occasional guest star, was a great move.

Medium – This one’s mostly for The Woman, but I enjoy it, too. We’ve only watched it sporadically until last season. Now it gets the full DVR experience. It’s a kooky enough procedural show to take the place of the ones we liked that ended (Monk) or that we lost interest in (House).

Parenthood – I definitely did write about this one before, but my intended follow-up never happened. After a few episodes this quickly vaulted to the status of “must watch” – although the hour long format and 10PM time slot means that we take awhile catching up each week. The show settled down some after the initial torrid pace of crises and allowed each of the characters to grow in their roles of parents, spouses, and kids in different parts of their lives. From the “perfect family” now dealing with a teenage daughter who has become secretive and a son diagnosed with Asperger syndrome to the irresponsible, single brother figuring out how to become a dad to a child he didn’t know existed. It still sometimes feels like Erika Christensen’s character doesn’t belong in he family and that she, her husband and daughter are almost shoehorned in, but that’s probably the weakest point. The family dynamic really developed well over the course of the first season – the first 2 episodes of this season are still on the DVR.

That’s pretty much it for now. The rest of the DVR is filled with Miffy, Maisy and Arthur episode for the little one. Am I missing anything good? Any great premieres to check out?

‘Tis better to have loved Lost than…

So I used to watch this TV show about these people who crashed on a tropical island with polar bears, dead people, smoke monsters and lots of mangoes. There were all sorts of mysteries about the reason for the people being there, the origin of those already on the island, why the winning lottery numbers were evil, where the Egyptian statue with 4 toes came from and how a 10 year-old boy grew 6 inches in less than a month. It was called Misplaced or something like that… Lost! That was it. Lost.

Anyway, the audience grew frustrated because after a few years all we had learned was that polar bears don’t do well in Tunisia (although they are smarter than Sawyer), Jack has the world’s lamest tattoo (next to Megan Fox), DUIs will get you killed off the show, Cheech Marin is still the go to Hispanic filler actor  and Kate will screw up even the most fool-proofed plan. Maybe some more was revealed, but thanks to the writers’ strike episodes were spaced out months apart and everybody soon forgot what the show was even about. Rather then stretching the agony out over a few more generations and risking a “Heroic” drop in ratings, the mysterious guy in Jacob’s cabin decided to end the show after season six. That meant yesterday.

At this point you should have been able to figure out that I’m talking about the Lost series finale – an episode so hyped that it fell only 93 million viewers shy of MASH’s viewership record. Maybe some people are just planning to watch it at a different time when they can fast forward the 45 minutes of commercials…

You’ve probably heard about how the show polarized the audience much like a high-frequency sonar fence, with dedicated Losties on one side and a power-hungry evil smoke monster on the other. Personally I’m sick of everybody either hating or loving something – can’t anybody have a lukewarm reaction these days? Just stick me in the middle and fry my brain with those sonar beams, because the finale didn’t provoke me too much either way.

For starters I did, in fact, like the ending. Sorta. You see, I liked the explanation of the “sideways” timeline. I liked the gathering in the church. I liked the cyclical nature of the closing shot (I’m a sucker for cyclicals…). There were a lot of things to like. But I also feel that I just saw watched the finale for seasons 5 and 6 and am waiting for information regarding those pesky first 4 seasons. I’m certainly no hardcore Lostie – The Woman didn’t start us watching it till the show was halfway through its second season and we never really gave much thought to the Internet tie-ins – so there’s bound to be some “questions” I have that were “answered” in some form elsewhere. But that isn’t exactly my problem.

To some extent I guess I really just wanted some acknowledgment of it all. Speaking to a co-worker who liked the finale better than I, she suggested that just a little shoehorning of the DHARMA Initiative into the grand scheme of finality would have worked. Something along the lines of showing how they were one of many ways that civilizations had tried to understand the Island over the centuries. Right now it feels like 80% of the first 4 seasons was like Communism – merely a red herring.

Don’t think that I’m trying to convince anyone that they shouldn’t have enjoyed the episode or the series as a whole. Also don’t think that I’m fishing for explanations. I’m nearing 600 words into this post and don’t really feel like putting together a list of questions about the identity of the man in Jacob’s Cabin or how Walt was special or the origin of the statue or even why Aaron ended up in purgatory (bummer, man). Maybe it’s the fact that those questions were even asked at some point that’s bothering. It seems as though many of the “mysteries” were completely irrelevant – in a way it makes much of the series seem not as good in retrospect.

After all of the hype and whatnot I feel, as my sister said, “unfulfilled.” It was far from the lowest point the show hit, but didn’t hit the high point either. Oh well, it is… was… is just a show. And on the bright side I’ve already enjoyed excellent season finales from Community (the best show on TV), 30 Rock and Medium and look forward to more tonight with How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. Then I can enjoy life with an empty DVR.