[attrition] jericho's guide to TV

security curmudgeon 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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