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Cable Television Rundown: Trueblood vs. True Blood, Dexter vs. Jimmy Smits, HBO's Future Programming Slate vs. Incredulousness

It's difficult to watch the Minnesota Vikings these days--what with their boring offense and general mediocrity. But yesterday, the Vikes played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and, lo and behold, there was a dude whose last name was Trueblood. Yes, it's true -- there's an NFL player named Jeremy Trueblood. This just boggles my mind. The good news is that it reminded me that HBO's new series of the same name was on last night, too. Somehow, the world of dramatic television just makes everything a little bit better, especially on a Sunday facing a Monday and another week of work. Sure, we might be months away from a new season of Mad Men, but the shows that are on now should carry me for a little while longer. This week on Qualler's "Cable Television Rundown", I take a peek at snob TV -- premium channels! Y'know, what the richies are watching.

True Blood
Next week brings the season finale of HBO's most up-and-down series ever, True Blood. Man, does time fly! It seems like just days ago that I was blogging about the series' innovative / irritating "viral" marketing campaign. For the most part, the first season has been underwhelming, but I'm starting to think that's only because of the heaps of expectation one gets when thinking "HBO Original Programming". (Brigitte just said it herself while watching Sex and the City -- "HBO is just better than other channels.") From a fantasy / personal I'm-a-nerd-whose-actual-favorite-books-ever-are-by-Stephen King level, though, the series mostly succeeds.
From about episode five to the end, the series stops its ridiculous tone-shifting (from awkward "Hey I'm loud and offensive!" comedy scenes to awkwardly "sexy" vampires who give no real appearance of why one would find them appealing at all) and begins dispensing its mythology in a more satisfying way. Not surprisingly, the series stopped being all over the map when Alan Ball stopped writing the episodes himself! I'm assuming season one will end with some kind of big gotcha cliffhanger, since the series has already been renewed for season two and is scheduled to air already in Summer 2009. And last night's ep, featuring Michelle Forbes (aka GABRIEL BYRNE's wife on In Treatment!) as a totally way-too-good-to-not-really-be-a-vampire character brought an extra level of creepy. It might not be enough for those who watch the show for a few minutes and wonder why everybody on the show isn't a vampire, and it definitely does no justice to the eloquence of a show like Deadwood, but it'll do as a solid Sunday night viewing option, while we wait for season three of Big Love and Flight of the Conchords (first new season promos were on last night!!!). Till then, I'll be taking the "Are you a Nicki?" personality test. (Qualler family tidbit -- Brigitte's a Barb!)
Dexter
It's becoming more and more obvious as season three of Dexter continues that the scenes with Dexter in them are great, and the scenes without Dexter are not so great. It's a thin line between Dexter's psychological world and the rest of the cast's CSI: Miami style adventures. And somehow, adding Jimmy Smits to the cast and putting him alongside Michael C. Hall in just about every scene of the new season heightens that uneasy feeling. Although their plot has picked up steam as the season has progressed, something about Smits hammy acting style just seems a little bit out of place. And something seems just a little too convenient that Smits' character, proscecutor Miguel Prado, has no other friends other than Dexter, knows a lot about Dex's extracurricular activities and doesn't have any qualms about them, has an unpredictable temper, etc. I'm guessing there will be some big payoff, though, because thinking back to seasons one and two, the last four/five episodes of those two seasons were over-the-top jam-packed with awesomeness. I do still love this show, but it's inevitable that there would be a bit of a letdown after the "explosive" season two finale (spoiler pun!) The good news is last night's episode mos def set things in motion that should give us some major payoff.

HBO's Future Programming Slate vs. Incredulousness
Behind the scenes, HBO has been frantically developing new pilots, all of varying "Really?!" levels. Allow me to rate the levels for some of the more notable new projects you:
Bored to Death -- starring Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson, the comedy series follows Schwartzman as he pretends he is a detective in a Raymond Chandler novel to numb the pain of his breakup. Schwartzman usually makes stuff hilarious, and faux-film noir seems like a great match for his talents. Plus, Ted Danson's hair is really, really white.
"Really?!" level: Seems to be A-OK.
Americatown -- developed by Tom Fontana (Oz and Homocide!!!), Barry Levinson (director of Wag the Dog and also Sphere), Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy (SPIELBERG'S PARTNERS IN CRIME?!), the drama's premise is "an imagined U.S. exodus for foreign shores as people flee a country where they cannot make a living anymore and must deal as immigrants seeking work." Supposedly also kind of futuristic / nihlistic. Hmmm...
"Really?!" level: (Pulls nervously at collar, hoping it's more like Children of Men and less like War of the Worlds.)
Anthony Kiedes Untiltled Autobiographical Comedy Series -- Something-something based on his memoir Scar Tissue and about his life addicted to drugs, comedic-something, not really following how in the WORLD a show about the STUPID STUPID RAPPER SINGER GUY FROM RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS could POSSIBLY be the BASIS for a REAL TV SHOW when THERE ARE OTHER MORE INTERESTING THINGS THAT COULD BE on TV, but that's just me...
"Really?!" level: To the extreme.

I think this picture speaks for itself.

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  1. Blogger Brigitte | 12:13 PM |  

    I can't believe his name was Trueblood. we should totally change our name to Trueblood.

  2. Blogger Brigitte | 12:15 PM |  

    also...i cannot WAIT for the new season of Big Love. also...i'm a little bit embarrassed about being a Barb. :-/ though...i don't know which character i'd want to be...

  3. Anonymous Drew | 12:36 PM |  

    I like what they've done with Dexter and Miguel's relationship. To me, it seems like it'll bring about more longevity in the story line, but a longevity that works versus the relationship with Deb and Anton (sp?). Thankfully, something finally happened to Anton because it was getting old waiting for his character to do something/have something happen to him.

    I'll admit, I may be a little hungover with Jimmy Smits since I just finished up watching the final season of The West Wing, and I really enjoyed Matt Santos (to which an eerie similarity has to be seen between the Santos' and Obamas right down to their consideration of sending their kids to public schools).

    Dexter is about the only show that has been good all season long. It really seems like every other show has sucked since the post-writer's strike era has been upon us.

  4. Blogger qualler | 12:44 PM |  

    I agree Drew -- it's nice to see some payoff in Dexter and Miguel's relationship, especially with last night's episode. The Deb and Anton thing is annoying to me mostly because Deb seems to be so totally incompetent as a detective. Anton just seems like John Mayer + Miami + A Whole Bunch More Weed to me.

  5. Blogger qualler | 12:46 PM |  

    I'm hoping the time off has given Flight of the Conchords some extra time to write some good songs -- their new season starts in January. Same goes for Big Love. Meanwhile, I just got burned DVDs for Lost seasons 1-3 -- let's see how many Brigitte and I can get through before that new season starts as well.

  6. Blogger chris | 5:46 PM |  

    YES LOST. ONE OF US. ONE OF US.

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