Sunday, March 15, 2009

Forget Cable! Part two: Elaborating on TV the Devastate Boredom Way

Ok -- the other day I posted a very extensive list of all the TV programs that meet my criteria of excellence in entertainment. But I kept wanting to actually talk about them, especially some of the ones that I've started watching more recently and have a lot of enthusiasm for.

So here's a quick review run-down of nine of my new favorites. Hurray!


Dollhouse: I had high hopes and deep-rooted skepticism regarding this one, and it's actually really good so far. Showcasing an evil corporation that leases out programmable human "Actives" who shed and assume personalities at the touch of a button, it's maintained momentum with fast-paced well-written narratives pretty well so far. This cohesive action and sympathy is achieved despite having a heroine, Echo, whose whole identity changes completely with each new episode; something that seems to be accomplished by the ongoing outside perspectives of her almost-fatherly "handler," who squirms against his role as a member of the organization that enslaves her, and the FBI agent who is determined to track her down and put an end to the Dollhouse, despite having no real proof that it even exists. In the last two episodes the writers have begun to hint that Echo is indeed retaining some memories of her past identities, and starting to exert free-will despite the programing, but as of yet it is still nebulous what direction the show will take. Regardless, this is any sci-fi lover's new favorite show.

Lost: Err.. I've already said a lot about this one. It's a heady addiction this season, but I will admit that some of the earlier seasons were nowhere near as compelling. As long as you're willing to overlook the Deus ex machina propensity of the writers, you'll love it too. And really, they've done a lot better in keeping all their lose ends untangled this season, so it's actually feasible that eventually we might come to a satisfying conclusion...

Leverage: This show is like having a new installment of Ocean's 11 every week. Seriously. It really is that clever, endearing, and backhandedly illicit. However, the goal here is to steal/lie/con for the sake of good, with the team working beneath the law to solve crimes and right wrongs that would otherwise go unaddressed. This is probably my newest favorite show.

Bones: Oh David Boreanaz, after Buffy, I'd watch even crappy shows, as long as they had your name on them. Luckily for us both, this one is amazing. Bones manages to take crime scene investigation to an impressive level of sophistication, while maintaining golden chemistry between (charismatic) FBI agent Booth and (socially oblivious) forensic scientist Temperance Brennen. The host of lively, temperamental geniuses that surrounds them is an added plus, ensuring that there is never a dull moment. Amusing, intellectual, and warm, this show has easily commandeered my loyalty.

Burn Notice: Ex-spy takes on villains and The Man at once, as "blacklisted" undercover agent Michael Westin tackles crime in Miami while seeking to clear his name with the US government. I have a love/hate relationship with this show. The love is inspired by the clever voice-over narration, amusing off-handed jokes, and impressive cons... the hate is mostly due to my overwhelming desire to go make a bunch of sandwiches and stuff them down Fiona's throat. Fiona is Michael's emaciated, horribly unhealthy-looking Irish bomber girlfriend, who specializes in spectacular explosions and pretending to be people she's not (also, I could probably add "distracting the bad guys and increasing male viewership by wearing as little clothing as possible." But who's bitter?). Also this season the writers have spontaneously generated a Soft Side for Fiona, which actually has succeeded in making me like her better, now that I've stopped being incredibly startled and dubious every time she pulls it out. This is a fun one, and probably the only USA program I've seen that manages to not have that brightly polished, fluffy sheen to it (for example, my boyfriend resents that I don't like Psych. I think it's just too color-coordinated for me to take seriously...) so it gets extra points for that.

The Medium: I only started watching this show a few weeks ago, and my big observation so far is that this poor couple never gets an uninterrupted night's sleep. This show is more about a woman who has nighttime visions than a woman who communicates with ghosts, and when Allison is on hand to assist the police as a 'consultant,' the bad guy always gets what he deserves. They have some intriguing plot lines though, and I like the DuBois family... though Allison doesn't actually interact with them much that we see, beyond discussing her latest case with her husband and rushing her daughters through breakfast. That might just be a recent trend though.

30 Rock: I'll just say that I've been known to wax lyrical about this show in the past... It's funny, and clever, and each character is a gem. Plus, all of Liz Lemon's Star Wars references make me ridiculously happy. I've seen a few episodes from the current season, but mostly have been watching old ones via Netflix. This is one of those shows that I don't want to rush to catch up on; it deserves to be savored slowly.

The Twilight Zone: This show originally set the standard for the eerie and unexpected, and despite the lack of color and CGI it's still an ample source of thrills and chills. There are also some fun guest appearances by everyone from Robert Redford to Carol Burnet.

The Hitchcock Hour:
Everyone knows that Hitchcock is the unparalleled master of suspense, but who knew that he was also delightfully sardonic, and vehemently hated commercial breaks? With appearances from Hitchcock sandwiching each episode of his show, here is a wealth of bite-sized spine-tingles and amusing, revealing glimpses into the mind of a film legend. The companion program is Hitchcock Presents.

Lastly, I can't link to them directly, but the Sci-Fi Drive-In is a positive goldmine for a fantasy lover. You can find everything from old Battlestar Galactica, to Buck Rodgers, to The Attack of the Killer Leeches, in what is really a brilliant collection of cheesy fantasy. Nerds of the galaxy, unite!!

Note: I'll probably edit this list to ten, once I've seen the premeres of Castle and Kings, which star Mal from Firefly, and have an interesting premise, respectively, but this is good for now. Also (disclaimer) I really do have a life... but with an office job that involves a good bit of mindless work like mass mailings etc, I actually work more steadily if I'm watching TV or listening to a book on tape. That's my defense, and I'm sticking to it... :P

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So what do you think? Really! Whether you relate, or have encouragement/advice, or disagree completely, I want to hear. :) Comment please... it will make my day!

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