[attrition] jericho's guide to TV
jericho at attrition.org
Sat Mar 11 07:27:42 EST 2006
Since I don't have a blog on attrition.org, and don't feel like this is a
news update, i'll spam all on the list! For years, I didn't watch TV at
all really. I'd watch movies.. lots of them.. sometimes many times because
they were that good or great background noise. The last couple of years, I
have rediscovered TV after what I perceived to be a major slump in show
content. For the last five years, I made a point to watch a couple of
shows that I enjoyed for one reason or another. Once I discovered the
ability to watch shows on my time tables (kind of like tivo), I could
actually watch a lot more while I worked on other things. This has allowed
me to actually watch more shows, find some great content, and eventually
lead to this mail.
The following are my opinions and comments on TV shows playing these days.
Take them however you want, and remember that it all boils down to
individual tastes and expectations. I may break the order and group up
shows in some cases. Like movies, we often get two new TV shows that share
a lot of attributes in common, always from different networks. So
comparing them side by side seems right. If you want the cliff notes,
search this mail for ** to see the good stuff.
Skim, digest, ponder, ignore or reply as you please.
24 - I didn't watch this show past the first few episodes originally. In
the last two weeks, I have watched all of season 1 and 2 in a matter of
days. To enjoy this, you must suspend disbelief a lot more than you may
expect. Not only do you have contrived plot twists and teasers, you have
someone that can take more abuse than an attrition volunteer. If you can
get past the shitty technical lingo, past the body count, past the abuse
of protocol or rules, and then you have to deal with a president that you
could actually respect! Mildly entertaining, but you can watch the first
and last two episodes of a season and get the satisfaction.
Alias - Check out the first and second season, good stuff. Suspend
disbelief right away, as everything takes place one step out of our realm
of thinking (which adds a lot of the interest). The double crosses and
return of 'dead' people get old by the third or fourth season. The fifth
(and reportedly last) season is limp.
BattleStar Galactica ** - Forget any negative thing you may have heard or
whipped up in your own mind. This show *rocks* in so many ways it can't be
stated enough. It is nothing like a star trek ripoff, nothing like any
other sci-fi show you have seen, and a far cry from the original series.
Superb casting, excellent direction, a great story line, deeply flawed
characters and raw anger that you have to wait 7 days for the next
episode. They actually tackle a lot of today's political issues in a
fairly subtle but in your face kind of way (ie: they do it just right).
Blind Justice - Oh another cop drama, but with a gimmick. The cop is
blind. If it makes it to a second season, it better evolve fast.
Bones - Entertaining. Think CSI with a little more focused scientific
angle (forensic anthropology), a really lame law enforcement angle, and a
style more suited for the mainstream who can't wrap their heads around
Boston Legal - The Practice spinoff, with Spader moving to a new form and
working with Shatner. Overall, this show is has some great humor and is
always light and amusing. They tackle today's political issues in the
court room between the humor, and hopefully make people consider the
Commander In Chief - West Wing with a gimmick! The president is a femme,
the show is more mainstream for those who can't wrap their heads around
WW. We have to wonder, when is the episode where she has to make decisions
while dealing with raging PMS? (Oh hush, it had to be asked!)
The Closer - I saw the previews for this and it promised to be different,
showing the brutal side of criminal interrogations. The commercials had
real life people that were on the wrong side of a table during such
interrogations, telling about how intense and brutal it was, oh my! Then
the show aired and I wondered what drugs they were passing around
hollywood. L&O Criminal Intent has a LOT better 'closers', much more
interesting interrogations, and a lot better feel. I watched all thirteen
episodes like a bad car wreck, and saw a single interesting
Cold Case - It wins awards, gets high praise, and I can understand that.
Hard to put my finger on why exactly.. the characters aren't developed
very well, but the cases they solve are interesting. I have a feeling that
the older you are, the more you will appreciate the show since the cases
date back well into the past sometimes.
Criminal Minds - The FBI Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) flies around the
country solving serial murder cases. Entertaining, and if the facts they
rattle off about today's crime are real, good stuff.
Killer Instinct - Two cops in San Fran get to solve 'deviant' crimes! Oh
let the stereotypes begin. Add in one male and one female cop partners for
sexual tension, the stereotypical angry black man boss/lt, and you have a
recipe for suck.
The Inside - Yes, another criminal behavior show! You haven't heard of
this one (i'm guessing) because it plays off off-season. After the spring
series are put to rest, this one comes on. Last year they aired seven
episodes, and the eighth just popped up tonight. The FBI again, but an
oddball leading a group that investigates hand picked cases, this has a
se7en type feel to it. Worth a look.
CSI ** - The original, that takes place in Las Vegas. This show rocks, and
continues to set the precedent for shows like it. If you are going to
watch any CSI franchise, this is the one to watch.
CSI Miami - David Caruso is a shallow gimp and should shoot himself to
save us from the misery of this show. Right after that, the pop tart
blonde needs to off herself since she is another shallow and boring
character. After that, the guy who plays 'Ryan' needs to off himself
because he got boring after the second episode he was in. That leaves
'Delco' which is one character with any interest. The fact that these
losers only pull high profile cases, or flashy rich people crimes, or high
dollar drug dealer crimes.. gets boring. But hey, it's Miami and they have
to show how flashy and hip it is!@#$! Cancel this piece of crap.
CSI New York - Unlike Miami, they learn from their mistakes! Season one
was 'too NY' .. too dirty, too gritty, too scummy. Season two got new
wardrobe, new offices, and a little brighter outlook. To counter Miami's
flashy crimes, this crew deals with the darker side of crime. Overall,
decent show, more akin to the original, and a very promising cast.
Deadwood ** - HBO original, how the west really was! Well, that is what I
assume and probably read somewhere. Incredible cast, great acting and
directing, intense character development. This is well worth watching.
E-ring - Before any military action in the world can happen, it has to be
planned and approved by the e-ring! And our entire military special forces
consist of the same 2 or 3 people. The real show stealer for this (acting
wise) is Aunjanue Ellis, not Dennis Hopper or Benjamin Bratt. Overall,
entertaining, but good luck lasting another 10 episodes without leaning
more heavily on the special ops, less on the pentagon politics.
My Name is Earl - Great new comedy, sick humor, all around good time.
While Jason Lee plays his part well, Ethan Suplee (his brother in the
show) and Eddie Steeples (hey Crab Man!) stand out and really help make
the show. Well worth watching.
Eyes - An overly flashy and hip private eye company solve cases. Mildly
entertaining is about the best I could muster for this show. Ranks up
there with a car wreck, and I watch it since I do so while being
productive on the other computer.
House - After enough friends harassed me about how good the show was, I
finally broke down and watched it. Over thirty episodes in a couple of
days, and i'm hooked. Yes, the show is overly formulaic and that may hurt
it in the long run. In the short term, you have one character that steals
the show (Dr House, duh!), a routine supporting cast, and millions of
viewers who would feed me to a wood chipper to be as big a jerk as he gets
to be. Since we're not all doctors, the medicine and terms used are
typically irrelevant past "complications" (part of the formula), but Hugh
Laurie's character steals the show.
Hustle ** - What, never heard of it? A shame. This is a quirky series from
the UK and one that should be pumped into our country for sure. Each
season is only six episodes (but a full hour of show w/o commercials), but
they all shine through. A team of five long con operators and the scams
the pull. The show is brilliant.
Invasion - New this season, what happens during after a hurricane hits
florida, when there are strange lights in the water and people start
acting different? Until the last couple of episodes, they held back too
much, dishing out nothing to satisfy our curiosity. It's the type of thing
that can drive hundreds of thousands away from the show overnight. Good
cast, interesting plot.. if they can just keep up the pace each episode,
it has some potential.
Surface - New this season, what happens when we discover a new specifes of
life that could threaten mankind? Sounds odd, but it's a really well done
show. They keep up the pace where Invasion fails to.
Threshold - new this season, and already canned, what happens when an
alien 'presence' 'infects' some people so they become human-alien hybrids
and begin to carry out 'their plan'. Sadly, this show had some real
potential but apparently didn't appeal to the masses. Brent Spiner (yes,
Data from ST:TNG) had a great role and continued to demonstrate his acting
Law & Order - If you watch any of these, check out SVU. By far the best.
Las Vegas - Best viewed when under the influence, as background noise, or
if your IQ is less than 80. Entertaining to a degree but one has to
question if they have jumped the shark, or about to any episode now.
Vanessa Marcil is certainly good eye candy.
Lost ** - I don't think I need to cover it. Eighty trillian jillian
Americans watch this, why aren't you? (They are watching it for a reason!
But you need to watch it from the first episode to really grok it)
NCIS - A mix of CSI and other law enforcement shows. Light on the CSI/tech
side, more on characters. Fairly light and entertaining, quite a stretch
on just how many terrorists the navy can stop (season 1)! They finally
moved on to more classic crime like regular murder and such.
Numb3rs - FBI meets math geeks, crimes solved. Yeah, sounds cheezy and it
is, but if the math *concept* and *theory* is real, seeing how it *could
be* applied to crime is actually neat. Don't mind that this one math
professor is able to wrangle extensive data sets and somehow manage
impossible amounts of records in seemingly no time.
Penn and Teller's Bullshit ** - Showtime original series. Our favorite
comedians Penn and Teller tackle various topics that range from urban
legends to fundamental truths that we live by, and prove them to be ..
drumroll please .. bullshit. This show should be mandatory viewing by
Prison Break ** - New series, and phenominal! Breaking out of prison is
one thing.. but what about getting sent to prison (on purpose), to then
break out (with your wrongly convicted brother who resides in solitary)?
Government coverup looms but doesn't overshadow, prison life is risky, and
the breakout scheme would make the best of hackers proud. Watch this
series, but make sure you watch from episode one.
Rescue Me - Great drama with the normal Dennis Leary influence. While I
will no doubt be called an insensitive asshole, hopefully they can move on
and lose the 9/11 crutch.
Rome - Another HBO original, centered around Julius Caesar (and friends)
in Rome. Again, I think the gist of this show is that it aims to be a bit
more real than other portrayals, and if so, the politics, drama and
backstabbing shows great precedent for our own political system.
[Wow, this list is taking longer than I thought it would..]
The Shield ** - Forget everything you know about TV police drama. Go out
and rent the first four seasons of this show.. watch and enjoy. Michael
Chiklis won three (?) Emmy's, CCH Pounder won two, the show won at least
one for best television series drama .. and was nominated for a dozen
others. FOR A REASON.
Spooks - aka MI5, another show from the UK that we don't get to see here.
Are you tired of US shows about government agencies that are all flash,
gunfire, body counts, impossible technology and everything else? Tune in
to Spooks, a show about spy agencies done right. While the feel and style
seems a lot closer to reality, the show also teaches us that the average
life of a field agent is about 2.8 seasons. If they could improve on the
turnover rate, it might help. On the other hand.. fresh blood may be why
the show stays interesting.
Wanted - Another law enforcement show, with a gimmick! Enter 'Wanted', a
show based on a special team of cops assigned to track down the top 100
most wanted in Los Angeles. Sounds interesting right? Yah, I should I be
working for these shows, I know. Instead of keeping it simple and focused,
the show went entirely overboard on the 'special team' part. You have an
FBI agent, DEA agent, NCIS profiler and others on this UBER SPECIAL JOINT
TASK FORCE. Excuse me, if you are going to highlight the different agency
angle, make it relevant? Eight seconds every four episodes of "use your
DEA contacts to see if Joe is a drug dealer" doesn't cut it. This show
will be lucky to see a second season.
Weeds ** - A Showtime original. No review or summary will do this show
justice, because the plot is no more important than the cast and writers
for the show. Middle income widow finds herself in a hard time and has to
make ends meet. To do so, she turns to selling weed so that she can pay
for the house and take care of her kids. Sounds odd, but show shines
through in quality original humor. Mary-Louise Parker won a Golden Globe,
beating out the highly overated Desperate Housewives (never seen it, the
media hype alone is a turn off), which speaks volumes. This show rocks.
The Wire - Another HBO original, about the Baltimore Police and crime.
Before you dismiss it, the show has everything you want in a drama, mainly
realism. The characters feel real, the crimes they work on, the hurdles
they deal with, and the end result is serious. Great cast and character
development, real crime, and likely the way it all works out in the end.
Without a Trace - The FBI missing persons squad in NY. Overall a good
series.. some ups and downs, sometimes focus a bit too much on the agent's
lives (or it just isn't that interesting). Some episodes shine through and
really hit home.
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