Avast, Wasteland!: Fall ’09 TV schedule

I am perpetually behind on the TV shows I watch because I almost never begin watching one until people whose opinions I trust tell me that a show is truly worth my time.

Television, more than any other medium, provides iron-clad proof of Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crap.” My wife is so resistant to falling for the 90% trap that she lunges for the off button whenever a new show threatens to sneak past our barriers and suck us in with promises of “But my characters are sooo interesting” and “Baby, I promise I’ll be here for you forever.”

(You know how networks start their shows immediately on the heels of the previous program, without commercials, in order to get you hooked on the plot barb of some new episodic series? Yeah, my wife is like a media sniper for that trick. She keeps her finger on the trigger; immediately after the “scenes from next week’s show” and before the first word of the following program, she’s picked off the TV and silenced its siren song.)

I often rely on my former colleague Kat Achenbach to let me know the skinny on good TV. For this autumn, she clued me in to this constantly updating Entertainment Weekly scout report of the fate of current shows. More than just a useful dead-or-alive guide, it’s an interesting (and sometimes depressing) study of what networks and, in turn, we value. It ain’t always flattering.

“Kings” and “The Unusuals” already have one foot in the meat grinder? Really? The pretty, pretty “Dollhouse” not attractive enough? Ugh.  I wish I had stuck with this Joss Whedon show and championed it more, because it was certainly smart enough, and God knows TV could use more smarts strutting across its stage.

There's still time to give "Dollhouse" the love it deserves. Hulu it up and hulu.com!

There's still time to give "Dollhouse" the love it deserves. Hulu it up at hulu.com!

Kat is particularly despondent over the loss of “Life,” a smart cop show about a flatfoot who returns to the force after doing time in the joint for a deed he didn’t do. (As always, turn to Hulu to beat the networks at their own game, and find out for yourself what a good show “Life” is. Er, was.)

Segue, of course, to the lukewarm gruel that gets a pass: pseudo gameshows such as “Idol” and “Top Model” and “Bachelor”; law and crime procedurals as dry as cracked leather (“Law & Order” is still on the air? And “CSI: Wherever”?); teen soaps such as “Gossip Girls,” “90201” and “One Tree Hill”; noisome comedies like “Two and a Half Men” and “Family Guy.”

All this leaves me with a sort of jaded sigh about the things we reward with our love, and the things we kill with our neglect. And how my tastes almost never line up with everyone else’s. “Lost” is the only show at the moment that is both wildly innovative and wildly successful. Normally that kind of risk-taking, which excites me oh-so, is a one-way ticket to the ashcan.

I’ll leave you with this reflection from Kat, who loves TV more than I, and is still counting up the broken hearts she’s collected from shows that have wooed her before slipping off in the dead of night.

Stopping by Tivo on Pretty Much Any Evening

Whose show this is, I think I know,
It used to be lots better, though.
Will Nielsen see me stopping here
To watch this poorly-rated show?
The nets are fickle, rash, and cheap,
And I have loyalties to keep,
And hours to watch before I sleep,
And hours to watch before I sleep.

— Kat “Frost (Robert, not David)” Achenbach

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Avast, Wasteland!: Fall ’09 TV schedule

  1. Carol

    I, too, will miss “Life.” Have you ever watched “Chuck”? We are fans of the show. It’s humorous though, not much on intrigue and confusion like “Lost.”

    • jdrewscott

      Just wait for season 3, when Chuck visits a time-traveling cocktail party full of the reincarnated souls of people killed by his future self! Look out, everybody’s jumping on the “Lost” bandwagon. (I never got hooked on the “Chuck” juice, but someone sure joined you on it: It’s listed as a “sure thing” on EW’s list!)

      • Carol

        Yeah, EW! I was into “Lost” a couple of years ago but I needed more immediate gratification and resolution than they were willing to offer. But, I’m also a fan of the better police procedurals–resolution in an hour!!

      • jdrewscott

        That’s where our tastes diverge. I think I could get into, say, “CSI: Miami” if Horatio ever ended an episode saying, “Hunh. I’ll be damned if I know who murdered that stripper. We may never know!”

        And then Frank would be all like, “Actually, H, I did the deed, only you can’t tell anyone because of the Thin Blue Line thing us cops have.”

        And then H would totally honor that, saying, “OK, but when I need some debt collection for my ex-nun fight club, you need to be able to Gillooly some mothers superior when I say so, no questions asked.”

        And that chick from “News Radio” would be in some sparkling room listening to the whole exchange in her earpiece, and she’d say, “At last I’ll have my revenge…”

        Cue “The Who.” Roll credits.

        And then, Carol, we’d have us some television.

  2. Carol

    I said BETTER police procedurals. “CSI:Miami” is so ridiculous, Chuck watches it as a comedy and I’d rather do the dishes than watch it at all.

    BTW, in your scenario, H has to needlessly remove his sunglasses, make the Gillooly comment, pause for extra dramatic effect, then put his sunglasses back on his head.

    Speaking of police procedurals, have you seen Sesame Streets “Rhyme Scene Investigation” or “Law & Order: Special Letter Unit”? Resolution in under 5 minutes, baby!

    • jdrewscott

      Truly we live in an age of wonder. Sesame Street, you’ve done it again.

      p.s. — Don’t forget, for full effect, after H removes the sunglasses, he must lunge out the frame suddenly, as in:

      Horatio: “Freak accident? Maybe, Frank. Or maybe [glasses off] … a freak CAUSED the accident!” [Zip!]

      Roger Daltrey: “Whaaaaaaaaaaow!”

  3. Your Tivo/Frost parody is a hoot. The demise of Life and possible non-return of Dollhouse–not so much! Thanks for this!

  4. Pingback: Entertainment: TV & home « The Painful Nowning Process

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