It’s been a couple weeks since I last posted a review, but that doesn’t mean that the TV season is all here yet. We’re still waiting on Fox to get past their World Series coverage and launch their new series. The most visible damage caused by Fox’s delay is the lack of a Simpsons Halloween episode this year. Still, with more than a decade’s worth of Halloween specials, it is clear that the little yellow family still owns that holiday. We’re also waiting on the premieres of 24, The Tick, and The Bernie Mack Show, all of which will surface in the coming month. Still, we’re more than a month into the new season, and it’s time to reflect some on it.
This season has not set the world ablaze, to put it mildly. There is no big standout hit. The highest rated show of the new season, Inside Schwartz, is being put on hiatus during the November sweeps period, and that’s bad. (It is, however, unsurprising — as I noted in my review of that lackluster program, it is “situated in the deadly 8:30 Thursday NBC slot. When you get that slot, you know you’re going to get the highest ratings of any show cancelled that year.”) The second-highest rated show is The Guardian, and yet there seems to be little enthusiasm behind the
viewings. Perhaps today will prove me wrong, but I doubt I’ll see many trick-or-treaters today in The Guardian costumes. In terms of aroused
enthusiasm, about the only show that qualifies is Smallville.
Danny is gone, Wolf Lake is on hiatus, Emeril is visiting Wolf Lake… no great losses among that bunch.
The creators of The Education of Max Bickford have abandoned ship, and only time will tell if that will improve
this desperately-wants-to-be-a-little-better-than-it-is show.
I’ve taken some looks back into some of the shows I panned, and have felt no need to revise my opinions. (But damn, I wish
someone would edit Citizen Baines down to just the parts with the title character, dropping out all
the incompetent nincompoopery of the daughters. It would only be 10 minutes long, but it would be worth watching.)
Even returning shows I like have suffered; Ed has lost its rhythm and become merely whiny, Frasier has
raised its touchy-feely-to-humor ratio (although I have no complaints about having Peri Gilpin spend an entire episode
in a Wonder Woman costume!), and even Buffy has lost a bit of context, sliding from being about a group that
saves the world to being about a group that saves themselves (although this week’s was a bit better.)
But that’s not to say that there are no bright spots. Scrubs lives up to its early promise. I’ve come to
realize that while other shows made the mistake of swiping Malcolm in the Middle‘s concept, Scrubs
has borrowed some of its visual style, and mixed it with strong writing to bring on something good. Pasadena
is still watchably trashy. The Ellen Show can still be saved.
A couple tips:
- Buffy was being rerun one episode per night on the cable network FX, and now it’s upped to two episodes per night. As good as watching that
series is normally, it’s even better when you can glut yourself on it, totally submerging yourself
into the series by watching 5 to 10 sequential hours of it per week. Yes, I’m finding some small inconsistancies I hadn’t
noticed before, but I’m also uncovering richness and small references that went past me. It’s interesting seeing
how frequently Jonathan appeared before being important, for example.
- The most aggressively discussed show of the season, 24, is scheduled on Tuesday — a night already
overflowing with TV worth watching (Buffy, Gilmour Girls, Undecided, Frasier, Scrubs, Smallville.) However, each
week’s episode will be rerun on FX network the following Monday, an otherwise-dead TV night. While I’m going to watch the first episode “live”
(so I can review it), I expect I’ll watch the rest of them on these instant reruns.