A Slice of Fried Gold

Television: An FDA approved drug

Sunday, October 7, 2007
First off, before I start my first official post vacation blog, here is a link to my video I took of Spoon performing Back to the Life at the Crystal Ballroom at Musicfest NW. Additionally, this will get you to the rest of my videos I took from Bumbershoot and Musicfest NW, although there are only about 7 total. Plus, due to the fact that I was taking this video on a tiny digital camera and that Google Video nukes the resolution of uploaded videos, they may be more on the not so good side. However, do check them out, as I sacrificed my body and potential well being to take those videos so they should be respected at the very least.

Now enough with that. As some of you may know, I have become an addict to television to a certain degree. I essentially craft my evenings around what TV shows are playing that night at this point, and generally believe that Television is producing far better overall product than movies at this point. It's not that there is something that TV is inherently doing better than movies, it's just due to the wide scope of possibilities that the medium provides writers - the scope simply allows them to take the shows to greater lengths than movie screenwriters can possibly do.

Example: Let's say you compare Mark Verheiden (a chief writer for my favorite show Battlestar Galactica) and someone like William Monahan (Academy Award winner for Adapted Screenplay for the Departed). Is Verheiden a better writer because I prefer Battlestar to the Departed? No, of course not. But because Monahan has to deal with the constraints of movies (namely the fact that they typically must be around 2 hours or they will be cut to smithereens so the general populus can handle them) while Verheiden deals with a serialized television show, one that is going onto its' 4th season and its approximately 40th hour of existence. Given the sheer amount of exposure to the characters and overall storyline, Monahan simply has no chance to compete against the medium of television for my love. Hence, why TV rocks my socks these days - Serials have developed to become the name of the game for TV anymore, many rooted in genre origins (Genre in this case meaning Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Space, etc.), which many of you will also know is right up my alley.

Another reason for TV overcoming movies in my opinion, besides the change in focus of TV shows topics and the overall improvement in writing, is the sheer fact that it is simply producing better shows than it ever has before. Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Veronica Mars, the Office, 30 Rock, etc. fit firmly into some of the best shows ever debate in my opinion. That doesn't even include the multitudes of high quality shows that do not necessarily fit in there quite yet and all of the others that are extremely well loved that I do not watch (like the Wire and Friday Night Lights). Even with long time powerhouse the Sopranos going away, the level of content being put out on a week to week basis by the industry is astounding.

The point I was trying to make (and feel as if I may have successfully done at this point) is that I really like TV. It sort of rocks. Another thing that rocks is we are just passing pilot season, with some shows already on their way to cancellation and other shows on their way to maybe joining the Mount Rushmore of Television shows. How do you tell one from the other? What should you be watching as a budding television watcher in your own right? Well here are my three can't miss recommendations, although odds are you are already watching them if you are a big time TV viewer.

Best new show of the Fall: Pushing Daisies

Wait...you're kidding me. My favorite new show of the Fall is Pushing Daisies? How can this be? A show that was created by TV god Bryan Fuller (creator of other awesome shows Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me and former writer for Heroes)...that stars brother extraordinare from Wonderfalls Lee Pace, the cute as a button Anna Friel, the charming and amusing Chi McBride, bizarrely awesome Swoosie Kurtz, and the voice of Harry Potter books Jim Dale...that had its "Pie-lette" directed by movie man Barry Sonnenfield (of Men in Black fame)...AND is ridiculously quirky (always a big plus in my book)...is my favorite new show? I can't believe it! Shocker of all shockers.

With all that said, I've only seen one episode so far so this could change of course, not to mention the fact that I really honestly liked this and the second place show as much as each other, but the overall production value of Pushing Daisies and the somewhat repetitive feel after two episodes of the second place finisher put Daisies over the top. Possibly more exciting than the fact that it is most excellent? It did great in the ratings, far contrary to Fuller's traditional "success" with TV. He normally has his shows cancelled fairly fast, but this one may be built to last.

Number two with a bullet: Reaper

What does the bullet represent in this case? The bullet represents the fact that at any given week it may ascend past Pushing Daisies as the best new show of the season. Reaper through two episodes has been remarkably amusing, displaying sharp wit, tons of quirk (gotta have it!), amazing rapport amongst the cast, and the always great sight of Spanish from Old School in a primary role. Who doesn't love Spanish?

The show stars Bret Harrison as Sam, a normal slacker type guy who after his 21st birthday has to become a bounty hunter for Hell because his parents sold the soul of their first born to the Devil. Sounds pretty bizarre right? It very much is, and it is extremely funny mainly due to the awesome Ray Wise as Satan himself and the rapport between Sam and his best friend "Sock" (Tyler Labine). The main concern with the show as of right now is the fact that it has had two episodes so far that have had very similar structures and plots. Sam finds out about new escaped soul. Sam grows concerned over his ability to do the job. Sam confronts concerns and takes down the escaped soul. Profit. Lather, rinse, repeat. Not a big deal so far, as it is early, but if they keep up the structure repetitiveness, it could greatly harm the show in the long run.

Regardless of the repetition, it still has been great fun to this point and I fully recommend it.

Third best new show of the season: Chuck

As my friend Kim pointed out, Chuck and Reaper are remarkably similar shows. Both are about a slacker in his early twenties who is working a nowhere job when something comes out of nowhere to take his life in a drastically different direction. Both star pseudo outcasts who have ridiculously cute girls in their lives. Both have sidekicks who fit the necessary comic relief niche. Both have scary men in their lives (one only because of reputation - Satan - the other because he's hulking and violent - the always awesome Adam Baldwin).

Sure they are similar, but this tech support guy turned secret agent show does not suffer for it. It succeeds both in its putting of Chuck himself into dangerous situations, but also in its taking two traditional hardcases and putting them into decidedly low key jobs. Putting people in fish out of water situations is perpetually amusing, but having two cases of it in the show leads to extra hilarity.

The cast is extremely able, with Zachary Levi being a great lead (who claims to be a big dork himself, being a big gamer and comic guy - can I get a hell yes?), Baldwin as the amusing hardcase NSA guy, and Yvonne Strzechowski pulling off the uncommon feat of being gorgeous, funny, and believably badass (but seriously, have a more intense name - I dare you). Paired up with Heroes, this show will certainly succeed ratings wise (or it better at least), and it deserves it as well. It's a fine show, and I am looking forward to the exploits of Chuck and his friends for the remainder of the season.

So those are my favorite shows of the newbies. What else am I currently watching from the new crop? Of all the new shows, I am currently watching Dirty Sexy Money, Journeyman, and Bionic Woman. Dirty Sexy Money is the best of the three, with Peter Krause leading a fantastic cast, while Journeyman so far has been good with potential for greatness and Bionic Woman has been...kind of boring. It definitely has potential, so I figure I'll give it 4 or 5 episodes before calling it quits, plus it gets a grace period because it was created by Battlestar exec-producer David Eick and frequently features appearances by Bstar folks like Katee Sackhoff and Aaron Douglas (Starbuck and Chief Tyrol respectively).

This is where it gets really sad, as I will list what I am currently watching and you can see how much my life is owned by TV.

Sunday: Dexter
Monday: Prison Break, Chuck, Heroes, Journeyman.
Tuesday: Reaper (coming in February is Lost)
Wednesday: Pushing Daisies, Bionic Woman, Dirty Sexy Money.
Thursday: My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, the Office, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (x2) (Scrubs coming...someday).

Yeah, so it owns my life, but that's cool. That's why DVR's were invented...so I can have something to do in between conference calls on Saturday. Hurrah!


Patty said...

The verdict is still out on Pushing Daisies.

Post a Comment