Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Summer 2010's TV Supplement

There are only a handful of shows worth watching during the summer (a recap of those will arrive once True Blood and the other HBO shows wrap up). Compound that with the fact that other than Inception and Iron Man 2, I had zero interest in the cinema these past few months, I embarked on a massive TV binge this year, catching up on loads of shows I'd been recommended by friends and acquaintances, or just plain wanted to check out. Behold.
Being Human
(Series 2, BBC)
This show continued to show great balance between horror, drama and humor wrapped into a well-crafted universe of the supernatural, and provided another strong season. For those of you who are not familiar, Being Human revolves around the lives of a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who live together in a flat (hey, it's British), and deal with everyday problems of existence in modern society in realistic, yet interesting ways relative to the show's context. They gave us a very nice cliffhanger this season, and series 3 is amongst the shows I'm most looking forward to return. In addition, there's an American version on the horizon via SyFy at some point, although I'm sure they'll find a way to f it up.

Charlie Jade
(Season 1, Canadian Space Channel)
A parallel universe jumping version of Blade Runner? While it certainly gave off that vibe in the early episodes, Charlie Jade didn't quite live up to my initial lofty expectations. Revolving through a trio of universes, this sci-fi tale had all the grand hallmarks of modern noir, while simultaneously warning of the dangers of big-brother commerce. Making its premiere the same year that brought us LOST (2004), this joint project from Canadian and South African companies probably was a bit ahead of its time in terms of widespread audience acceptance.Also, its inconsistent level of engaging stories during the middle portion of its lone season wouldn't have helped its changes of success much. However, it ended rather triumphantly, and had some nice little tales in spots. I wish the second season, which was written, had been produced. There was a lot of potential in those three universes, not to mention all the others they could've explored and exploited down the line.

(Season 1, NBC)
As you'll see later on in this column, this was a very good year for new comedies, as Community joined the ranks of my favorites this year. I always enjoyed Joel McHale on The Soup, but he's even better in this format. Add in a rejuvenated Chevy Chase, Pittsburgh's own Gillian Jacobs (who I dare you not to develop a TV crush on), and Ken Jeong's Senor Chang who all highlight the cast, but certainly don't overshadow the ones I haven't taken the time to list, and I'm constantly laughing out loud. Easily graduated to must-watch status for me.
After the jump, I liked some of what I saw from the highly recommend list of Dexter, Modern Family, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Arrested Development. But not all of them.

(Seasons 1-4, Showtime)
Wow. Talk about overrated. I absolutely do NOT understand the amount of love this show gets. That isn't to say it has no merit, but I certainly expected more from a show that gets the amount of critical love and rash of recommendations I'd received from personal friends. The only conclusion I can come to is Dexter constantly reminds us how much of an outsider he is, which must tap into many people's own feelings of not fitting the norm. Plus, I found each season's biggest plotline dragged unnecessarily when it could have easily been reached sooner. Instead, the show decides to flesh out the supporting cast, many of whom are not particularly interesting or important to that larger story. That said, I've always been a giant fan of Julie Benz because of her turn as Darla on Buffy/Angel and because she and I share a high school alma mater, so it was great for me to see her in a more consistently prominent role here. It'll be interesting how the next season unfolds with two of my three favorite characters unlikely to return (my favorite has been gone for multiple seasons), as I feel the show was already on shaky ground. Like I said earlier, it has merit and I've now added it to my stable of shows, but I feel no urgency, no anticipation for it to begin again.

Modern Family
(Season 1, ABC)
Glorious. Start watching ASAP. I'm proud of everyone who told me to start watching in the winter, which included ultra-conservative coworkers, mom and pop, and some of my favorite drinking buddies. Based on that wide audience, clearly there's at least a something for each of us to fall in love with on Modern Family. Along with Community, I think at least a slice of network TV comedy will be in good hands for the next few years.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
(Seasons 1, Cartoon Network)
 When it was initially airing, I was keeping up with The Clone Wars. I even went to see the "movie" in the theater (I'd say Lucas duped me for the last time with that one, but we all know that's not true). But eventually, I became bored and gave up on it. However, surprise of all surprises came trickling to me that it actually improved to the point where it was legitimately watchable. So I finally gave the latter half of the first season a looksee. And it had gotten better... after I trolled through a couple of blah eps. The real winner amongst these was the season finale, which introduced a classically nefarious bounty hunter, kind of a Man With No Name shrouded in blue skin and leering with buglike eyes. I'm a long way off from polishing off the follow-up season, but this bounty hunter returns and fouls things up for the Jedi good and proper. This show seems to have evolved into a weekly dose of quality space opera, after trudging through too many installments of heavy-handed preachiness. I expect the rest of season 2 to be a treat.

Arrested Development
(Season 1, Fox)
And here may your ire truly strike down upon me. Maybe I waited too many years to start watching this, but I don't see what all the fuss was about. Sure, it's humorous, but I laughed out loud more at the Community pilot than this entire season. Tell me, does it get better during the next two seasons? Or just more of the same? Will the fanatics allow me to go without watching the remaining episodes in my queue? I suppose I'll finish it eventually, but I'm not really in hurry to do so.


My Ever-Lasting List of Shows I STILL Haven't Gotten Around To:
Band of Brothers, Batman Beyond 3, Brotherhood 2 and beyond, Damages, Foyle's War, Freaks and Geeks, Hustle, Jekyll, Karen SiscoKings, Parks and Recreation, Rescue Me, The Sandbaggers, The Shield 3 and beyond, Six Feet Under, Spooks 5 and beyond, Star Trek: The Next Generation 3 and beyond, Twin Peaks 2, The West Wing 2 and beyond

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