My semi-annual TV rant

Now that the TV season is mostly over I thought I’d post one of my self-indulgent rants on the various television shows I watched and how I’m still a slave to the tube. So, even though everything is over and everyone who was going to watch has watched, there will be spoilers. Click through to read on.

The longer the TV season drags on, and the closer to spring and summer it gets, I really start resenting the amount of time I lose to the TV, and it’s always a relief when the shows are finally over. For the most part, the last couple of years I’ve been gradually cutting out shows, and between that effort and the number of shows that ended last year and this year (“NYPD Blue,” “Enterprise,” “Frasier” etc.), my consumption is going down.

There’s still a fair amount I watch, though, no matter how loud I complain. So, on to the rundown. The order I’m listing shows are what we watch through the week, starting on Monday. I’m not writing about every show I watch… I’m not that sad, yet.


The problem with “24” is that it is exactly what I resent about watching TV: if you want to have any hope of knowing what’s going on, you have to watch every single episode in order. That having been said, I really liked the “non-stop” season they did this year, starting in January, because nothing’s more annoying that having a four-week hiatus right in the middle of a critical storyline or cliffhanger (the exception to this rule, of course, being the season-ending cliffhanger).

This season’s “24” was far, far better than last season, though I still think I like the second season best. This fourth season was be a rehash of the second season: Islamic terrorists trying to trigger a nuclear disaster of some sort. The problem? The unfair stereotypical portrayal of all Arabs as terrorists, for one thing. Another was the observation I read on somebody’s blog (I forget who) that there are a ludicrously large number of well-equipped and well-organized villains and henchmen who can be called upon at a moment’s notice.

This is also the first season that I can think of where CTU and the various good guys actually acted intelligently—I mean, if an elite counter terrorist operation functioned as poorly or had so many leaks and inside agents in the real world as CTU has had, well, it wouldn’t last very long. Not that they were smart the entire season; the first third or so suffered from the Inside Agent Cliché and of course they had to have the Abrasive Boss who clashed with Jack Bauer until she finally wised up. No, the good examples I’m thinking of are Tony purposefully cutting his foot on broken glass to leave a trail of blood for the good guys to follow as he was a hostage, and Michelle actually not succumbing the the terrorists hostage demands and trusting the agency she works for to deal with the situation (wow, there’s a novel idea!). Come to think of it, I could start a website that just lists and comments on all the various internal clichés that have popped up season after season.

I might be getting burned out on “24” though, after four seasons it’s hard to imagine what they can do next without rehashing the plots. I think the promo for next season summed it up best: “First Jack Bauer saved the President. Then he saved the city. After that he saved the country, and this season he saved the world! If you think you know what’s next, well, you don’t know Jack.” Yeah, well, I know enough that he’ll pull some other pointless and outrageous stunt to advance the storyline, like put on a ski mask and stage a robbery of a convenience store to keep a suspect from getting away, or instigating a pointless prison break last season.

Uh-huh. I already have an idea of how I would do the fifth season: the first third would be without Kiefer Sutherland at all, instead focusing on Tony or one of the other characters they’ve built up over the years filling the Jack role. Then, at some critical point, Jack would show up and save the day, and the rest of the season would escalate from there. Okay, so that’s a very broad outline, but you get the idea.

One final thought: At the end of the season finale, with identity-less Jack walking into obscurity down the train tracks, did anyone else flash back to the old “Incredible Hulk” TV show where David Banner was always ending an episode hitting the road, alone?


Nothing much to say here, other than I think “Scrubs” is consistently the funniest show on TV these days.

American Idol

Yeah, I’m ashamed to say I get repeatedly sucked in to this reality show. I justify it by noting that it’s a lot more wholesome, enjoyable, and even-handed than most of the reality tripe out there; I mean, music and singing and no over-the-top melodrama, what’s not to like?

I am disappointed that Bo Bice didn’t win, however. Week after week he was consistently the best singer and performer, and while Carrie Underwood is very good in her own right, there was just no way she should have won. Whatever, I predict we’ll hear a lot more from Bo than we ever will from Carrie.

The problem with American Idol? The fact that they expect me to waste another half-hour to an hour of my life with their doofy result shows the following night… hence, my wife just looks up who got the boot on the internet and we don’t bother watching the result show.


Okay, this is one show that I don’t mind watching, at all. It’s the best new show on TV, I think, and I’m enjoying it immensely. And I almost didn’t even start watching it—my wife made me watch the premier (which we’d taped) and I was hooked from that point.

This show just stands out from a storytelling standpoint: it’s original, unusual, and hard to predict. There are some series where I’ll be frustrated from show to show based on the dragging out of plotlines and surprises—like “24”—but “Lost” is not like that at all. Why is that? I think it’s because I’m enjoying how they’re spinning out the story and giving the viewers plenty to think about—without having to think too hard about it because it’s also deceptively simple.

The characters, too, are compelling, and well played. At first I had a hard time seeing Dominic Monaghan as anything but a Hobbit, but that wore off after the first couple of episodes. And of course, a good part of the fun is learning these characters backstories and figuring out how they relate to everyone else to end up on the island.

I do wish they hadn’t killed off the high school science teacher, though (although blowing him up with the dynamite after he’d been ranting about how dangerous it was sure caught me off guard); he made a great Scully to the rest of the castaways in the two or three episodes he showed up.

I totally called Boone’s death, however. My wife visits the spoiler sites for the show and read that a main character was going to die, and right away I said it would be Boone. Why? Frankly, he didn’t contribute much to the show other than being Locke’s little buddy, and that was annoying.


Yeah, this was a carry-over from “Friends,” we were sucked in as much by inertia as anything. It has some very funny moments, but in general it’s just not as good as “Friends,” and come one, who couldn’t have seen Joey and his neighbor hooking up from the start? I’m a little surprised they dragged it out as long as they did, but you know what would have been better? Defying viewer expectations and not having them sleep together!

Overall, it’s on the bland side. I wouldn’t miss it if I stopped watching it.


Yes, of course, I’m a Star Trek geek and I couldn’t let a TV show rant go by without mentioning “Enterprise.” Why? For starters, they ended it just as it hit its groove and was really good this season. What’s up with that?

It was really getting good, too; they finally had a writing team who was doing storylines that tied cleverly into the original Star Trek series. And the two-part Mirror Universe episodes were great, a hell of a lot of fun to watch. So it’s finally getting good and what does UPN do? Cancel it, of course.


The other best show on TV… oh wait, it’s not TV, it’s HBO. :)

It’s hard to explain the appeal of this show to someone who doesn’t watch it… either you love it or you don’t. And let’s face facts, it’s the rawest, most brutal, most vulgar, possibly most violent show on television, with questionably too-modern language for the period piece it’s supposed to be, and yet for all that—maybe because of all that—it’s some of the most compelling stuff I’ve watched.

This is the other show I don’t mind to watch at all. I look forward to it, in fact. The only thing I regret is that there’s only 12 episodes per season, and the seasons are a year apart. That’s a long time to wait! Maybe I’ll look into the DVDs…


Nah… this is a just a convenient spot to end my venting. If you’ve actually bothered to read this far, well, then, my hat’s off to you.