OK, first, I’m not going to lie. I grew up in the ’80s. I have watched, and liked, my share of bad TV. I think that as we get older our tastes mature and we gain enough understanding to be able to look at some things they put on TV and say, “that was the stupidest thing I ever saw,” rather than, “Whoa! Cool!” Plus, the art changes and often gets better. For instance, special effects have come a long way, and with the advent of the internet and much more information much more easily accessible, the general populace, I hope, has less of a chance of being completely snookered by some screenwriter who was too lazy to do his research. I hope.
That being said…
I have heard from some sources (mostly media, not people I know) that the quality of television shows has increased dramatically the last few years. If the number of “big name” stars now acting in television shows is an indicator, that may be true. But most of the shows I see listed by these sources as signs of the growing quality of television, I don’t watch. For one thing, most of them seem to be on premium cable channels, which I have no interest in subscribing to. And most of the ones I have heard mentioned, I wouldn’t watch anyway, because they’re smutty. Full of sex and violence and language and other “cutting edge entertainment.” Somehow, I guess, that makes them ‘daring,’ though daring to me indicates being brave and going against the trends, and since sex, violence, and language is so trendy in Hollywood, how can it possibly be daring? Not to mention that sex, violence, and language have been around forever, so they just seem sort of plebeian to me. That, and I hate zombies.
With those eliminated, I find that there is a huge dichotomy in over-the-air programming. Well, in the stuff that I watch, anyway. The very awesome and the very stupid. Was there really this much stupid television in the ’80s? (Don’t answer that!)
Let’s get to the shows.
First, what I’m not watching anymore: Sleepy Hollow. Though I do miss Tom Mison (siiiiiighhh), it was just too dumb. Occasionally I will read some snarky synopsis on io9 or something just for some schadenfreude (OK, and to see pics of Tom Mison, I admit it.), but I haven’t watched it for over a year.
And I’m already sad that The Mentalist is gone. The last season was kind of awesome. It was like, “hey, we are going away so we’re going to make you forget how ‘meh’ the last year or two have been and make you MISS us when we’re gone!” That’s just mean. It was a good ending, though.
Now, going from the priority order of the Season Passes on my TiVo:
1. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Personally, I think it’s really weird when I like a show so much that I start having dreams of dating the fifty-something star with thin hair. But Agent/Director Coulson is AWESOME. And hoo boy, they know how to write characters and twists and turns! And the way everything ties into all the Marvel movies…oh man my brain is going to explode. Now, I stopped reading comics over 20 years ago. Mostly because it became clear to me that no one ever really got older, or died (permanently, that is), or progressed in their lives, and the stories had to become more and more contrived and convoluted because they had to follow all these rules while still trying to ‘shock’ and ‘surprise’ every month. And as the readers wanted more, they would give them more, to the extent that they violate every natural law in existence, including all that pesky space-time-continuum stuff. I mean, how many comics can Spider-Man be in at one time?! And, yeah, the shallow way they draw women doesn’t appeal to me, either. BUT…the movies & TV shows can’t work that way. Though they do have sequels, and tie-ins, and some convoluted contrivances, they are much more finite. They don’t have to fill a book every month forever and ever, amen. They don’t have the luxury of “oh, that happened over 27 years ago, no one but the uber-geeks are going to remember that, so let’s forget it happened.” And they are reaching a MUCH wider audience. So, to me, they make more sense and are more enjoyable. And cap that off with excellent writing and acting…and well, you have THIS nerd hooked, at least.
Well, for this one, they had me at Ioan Gruffudd. But add the fact that it’s a crime drama (my greatest weakness) with a supernatural element…mmm, boy! I really love a lot of the characters in this one, and how they really seem to break some molds. And some of the very human elements they explore through the supernatural twist are awesome and very, very well done. It does have some weaknesses — the crimes aren’t always the best, and some of the ways they use ‘ongoing background mysteries’ in the show can get a little trite. But I love, love, love this show. It explores some very interesting philosophical (and practical) questions about the universal question, “what would it be like to live forever?” I have heard it doesn’t have the greatest ratings so I’m really afraid it might not be renewed for a second season. So go watch it. It’s on ABC on Tuesday nights. Please?
Still a favorite, still quirky and interesting, though I don’t always appreciate the ‘grittiness’ they give to this modern adaptation of my beloved Sherlock. The crimes are top-notch, and the way the characters interplay is very fun to watch. I do prefer Jonny Lee Miller in the 2009 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, but duh, that’s Jane Austen.
The only reason this show is #4 is because Jake really likes it so we like to watch it together. It’s entertaining, but any show that literally makes me yell, “THAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD!” every single week, well, I think they have some problems. The sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural element is fun & interesting. But they try too hard to explain it with pseudo-science, which makes it into something far, far, stupider than it would have been if they had just left it inexplicably out there. Plus, the plots are SO contrived and SO convoluted in an obvious attempt to create maximum tension that is timed exactly till the end of the episode or the end of the season or the end of the story arc, that it’s quite painful at times. But, like many things, sometimes the fun is in being able to MST3K the whole thing.
While Nathan Fillion will always be my one true love, I don’t get into this show as much as I used to. At the time I am writing this, I am eight episodes behind. EIGHT. I still like it. I do. It just…well, sometimes the tension (both comedic AND dramatic) is so high that it’s hard to watch. Probably because I really love the characters. Add that to the fact that Jake doesn’t like it, and boom. I end up eight episodes behind (though that does give me something to watch in the long, sad, summer months).
The only reason this is way down on #6 is because it only gives me 3-4 episodes every two years. CURSE YOU, BBC!!! Even at that low dose, if you rank shows by the number of delightful dreams that make me want to stay asleep forever, this one wins all the things. What, you think I’m even more brilliant than Irene Adler? Why, Sherlock, you flatter me…
7. Agent Carter
Yes, I know this was only an 8-episode run that is technically over, but I’m still 5 episodes behind. I really wanted to love this show. Really, really, really. I mean, Captain America is my favorite superhero, so I HAVE to love Agent Carter, right? But when you know what’s going to happen for the most part, and you know Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers can never be together and who lives and who dies and all the big things…well, that takes some of the fun out of it. And we don’t need to be pounded over the head with how sexist America was in the ’40s over and over and over. We get it already. It’s not a bad show. It’s just not as appealing to me as some.
8. The Flash
Have recorded every episode, haven’t watched one. Just like you are now glutted on reading this blog post, I am now glutted on TV. Maybe I’ll watch some in the summer, maybe I’ll end up deleting it. Don’t know.
9. The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon
I have never in my life gotten into watching late night talk shows. Until now. While the writing & jokes can be funny, and I often like the guests and games, my favorite thing is watching Jimmy crack himself up and distract himself with jokes about his jokes. ADD along with clapping and laughing like a toddler? It’s like he’s already family! I think one of my main goals in writing books is to get famous enough to be on this show with Jimmy Fallon so I can meet him and make him laugh. And show him what a great backseat gamer I am at Mario.
10. Battle Creek
When I saw the ad for this show, all I could think of was, “hey look, it’s that Mayhem guy from the Allstate ads and that cute guy from that one movie!” So I watched the first episode. (It’s a crime drama with a cute guy in it. It doesn’t take much.) It was funny, had some interesting characters, and hinted at hidden character traits/background that could be very interesting. So I like it so far. We’ll see how it goes.
Oh, and I still don’t know the character or actor names. It’s still Mayhem and the Cute Guy.
11. CSI: Cyber
This is now off the list, but I thought I should still put it on here since it’s what prompted me to write up this whole post in the first place.
How in the WORLD did CSI ever become popular? This is the worst show I have seen in FOREVER. All these slow, gimmicky camera shots. An extreme to the point of unbelievable crime/plotline. Over-the-top, dramatic rescue scenes. And, of course, some sort of ridiculously fancy and overfunded crime investigative unit which exists NOWHERE. The only marginally redeeming quality was the tech wasn’t quite as far-fetched as it often is in television and movies. Gah. I need to go wash my brain out with soap.