Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What I'm Watching: The End (For Now)

It’s always strange to get to the end of the TV year.  May sweeps ends today, at which point everyone will know what they can charge people of advertising.
So now, a wrap-up.  Of sorts.
The Walking Dead:
The season ended.  It was slow, but it held a few surprises back and went for the season-ending shocks, and next year they’ll bring in two of the most iconic, well-loved characters from the comic, along with the prison.
People keep hoping for more from this show, but AMC would rather put the big money into other things.  That’s fine.  Next season will also be the same combination of fun and boring that this one was.  People will watch, and if the show improves, they’ll hang around a few more years.
But if next year is boring, I suspect we’ll see the ratings start to erode, and quickly, as the prison is kind of the last bit people have been waiting for.  (At least, from what I’ve seen.)
Hands down my favorite show on right now.  Great writing, surprises that are actually surprising, really well-done action.  If the show has a flaw, it’s that the CGI is going to age very badly.  I don’t care.  If you can handle a show that’s very R rated, you need to check this out now.  Right now.
Game of Thrones:
My wife nailed this one.  Inevitably, we’ll get to the end of every 55 minute episode and go, “What?  That’s it?  It’s over?”
Apparently it’s the most expensive show on TV, and HBO sunk of bunch of extra money into a big upcoming battle. 
All that said, even with a massive budget, it isn’t a movie budget, and sometimes the seams are going to show.
Well, okay.  I’m good with it.  This is almost certainly the best possible version of these stories we’re ever going to get onscreen, and I’m really enjoying myself.
I wrote a huge essay (actually, two) about all the problems with Glee, and, well, here we are, and it’s the end of the third season. 
The show has wandered to a lot of places I think we’d rather all forget by now, but it nailed a lot of solid emotional moments in its finale.  It even had the guts to (turn away if you don’t wanna know) take a hammer to the Kurt/Finn/Rachel trio, in the best and worst possible way.
I wish there was a way to start an anti-write-in campaign.  The season ended beautifully, with only a little plot thread stupidity, and Rachel walking into New York City was an image that would have ended the show in the perfect way.
Next year, the show will come back, and all the issues will still be in place, plus new ones created by the fact that the show just can’t let Rachel walk off into that final image.  Ah well.
American Idol:
Eh.  Today, either Jessica or Phillip will win.  Jessica’s song was eh, and Phillip reminded me of a cross between Willy Porter and Rich Mullins, both of who create okay albums that contain three or four sparkling, perfect gems.
Actually, I just want Phillip to win so I can hear his song a second time.  That would be nice.
Modern Family:
Still funny.  Still a strong show, though you can tell when the writers are really trying and when they just need to get another episode out.
Pretty sure it’ll make it seven years.  Maybe ten.  Can’t say I’m looking forward to the “unexpected pregnancy” plotline that’ll happen around year five or six, when they’re dying for new plotlines.
The Big Bang Theory:
Still a show that’s about “nerds” that contains mostly easy nerd jokes.  They broke 100 episodes this season, and the show continues to pull huge ratings, even as it exits its fourth year.
I sometimes feel a sense of ambivalence about this show.  And yet I watch because every once in a while they nail a joke so hard I have to stop the show so I can laugh.  This one will run ten years, I’m sure.
Parks and Rec:
Thanks to Idol and Big Bang and The Vampire Diaries and Parks and Rec all being on all being on at the exact same time, I’m just now starting this season.
Four episodes in, and I’m just so very happy to have it back.  It gets everything right that Big Bang gets wrong, from creating a true ensemble cast to using brilliant political satire without drawing attention to itself.
Maybe next year I’ll try to find a way to roll Big Bang off the DVR and watch it over the summer instead.
Or perhaps not.  This is a show that’s fun to gulp.
The Vampire Diaries:
The other day, I wrote and deleted 1500 words talking about the various flaws Diaries has slowly introduced over the last half-season.  It’s always been a lightning fast show, telling everyone where they shouldn’t go, and then going there two episodes later.
It’s still doing that now, but it’s rapidly running out of shocks and cast members.  I started writing about it, planning to put together a series of thoughts and complaints and praises, and then I realized it was 1500 words long and I was nowhere near an ending and I erased it.
Look: The show is going into a loop now.  They spent a season building up The Originals, and a second season fighting them, and now we’re going to blunder right into a third season that will involve fighting them some more.
They’ve now dragged out the whole “the girl must choose between the two brothers” thing for three seasons now, and that’s also going to get stale pretty quick.
Also, the show is approaching supernatural critical mass.  We’re down to one frequently used character (Matt) who isn’t supernatural or in possession of a Supernatural ability.   And if they’re going to take Elena in the direction it looks like they’re taking her, she is probably going to get even more mope-y.
In other words, this is now a very, very tall house of cards.  In the past, they’ve managed to reinforce and keep on stacking the cards.  But soon, and possibly very soon, they’re going to either need to blow it all up and start over with something cooler, or watch it hit an unbreakable wall, and then the cards will start to slip and it’s not going to be fun or pretty.
The Secret Circle:
Circle was cancelled at the end of the year, and I’m still not sure whether they made the right call on that one.
Part of the reason I’m not sure is that I’m behind on the show.  We let it stack up for a long time while we watched other things, and then came the depths of winter, when nothing else is on, and we caught up.  Then everything else returned and it sat there and sat there, and now we’ve got most of the back half of the season to watch.
Will it be worth it?  I dunno.  There were some really good episodes in there, but no great ones.  I’ve read that there are some very good episodes yet to come, but I’m guessing we’ll watch it to the end and delete the last episode with no regrets.
Somewhere around season five this was my favorite show.  Six was good.  Seven was better.  As my friend Avi says, a lot of good episodes, some very good, and no bad.  Every new season is a gift.
Sometimes you can really see the budget cuts these days.  The final fight was three guys, and it lasted about sixty seconds.  Outside, someone fought an “army” of three people.
But still.  A good season with fun subtext (Americans are fat and lazy!) and a fun cliffhanger.  It’s coming back next year, and according to a friend of mine it’ll probably come back for another year after that. 
Much like Diaries, this has lost some of its appointment TV luster, and it’s no longer my Very Favorite Show, but it’s an incredibly fun way to spend 45 minutes, and I’m happy it’s coming back again.

No comments:

Post a Comment