<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d16149408\x26blogName\x3dThe+Blogulator\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://chrisandqualler.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://chrisandqualler.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d7090024357285529333', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

« Home | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next »

Cable Television Rundown: Broadcast TV Is Playing Catch-up

Looks like our broadcast networks are starting to get the picture -- people who watch TV like watching good shows! Not crappy shows! As a result, ABC, NBC and Fox have done what was unthinkable for the past few years: renew shows with low, low ratings but devoted fan bases. Just in the past week, we have seen the three networks renew three shows that would have most definitely gone the way of Freaks and Geeks just a few years ago: Better Off Ted, Chuck, and Dollhouse. That goes without mentioning the admittedly innovative deal that NBC reached with DirecTV to keep the perennially low-rated but consistently highly praised Friday Night Lights going. It's as if the big networks are actually, you know, taking some slight risks, in the hope that they will be rewarded in the long run, whether by higher ratings, brand loyalty, or what have you. Of course, it probably has a lot more to do with the continued fragmentation of the television audience. As more and more people get things like cable/satellite, Netflix, TV on DVD, Hulu, DVRs, etc., people just aren't going to be making weeky appointments at 9:00 pm on Thursdays to watch their fave programs.

Regardless, we, the viewers, are reaping the benefits of an unprecedented wealth of good crap on the "boob tube" these days. In fact, my Facebook profile is filled embarrassingly to the brim with TV shows that I feel passionately enough about to call them "favorites". There used to be a time when I was cooler and would instead seek out musical acts. This is not that time. Needless to say, here's the stuff that's been on TV that I've enjoyed lately.

Rescue Me (FX, Tuesdays @ 9 pm CST)
Unbelievably, this show has just gotten better and better in its newest season, season five. Where the show seemed to start to stagnate somewhere in the midst of season two (and then really stagnated when the whole uncomfortable/misogynistic Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) rapes his wife casually thing happened), it has picked up some major steam in the new season. I have really appreciated how it slowly brought us into the drama, making it all the more effective when it really happens. Perhaps the biggest revelation thus far has been Callie Thorne as Shiela, the widowed wife of Tommy's firefighting cousin who died at the World Trade Center Jimmy. While I've always respected Thorne's acting resume (Elena McNulty, Jimmy McNulty's ex-wife in The Wire, a number of seasons of Homocide: Life on the Street), I don't think I've ever given her enough cred until this new season of Rescue Me. While the first few episodes of the season seemed to indicate her character would have no relevence but to throw her in with some slightly uncomforable humor, episode five, "Jimmy", gave her character (as well as Thorne) some meaty stuff to chew on; the poignant look on her face when she found some previously unseen video of her husband on that fateful day, followed by some amazingly sharp commentary on why she's been such a mess all the years after her husband died. It's as if somebody finally told Denis Leary and co-showrunner Peter Tolan that they could make a really freaking great show if they put the focus back on the drama and let the wackiness continue to play but in the background.

That goes without mentioning Michael J. Fox's guest role as Tommy's ex-wife Janet's new paraplegic boyfriend. Let's just say that if you've ever wanted to see Michael J. Fox slam beers while driving about 60 miles an hour through Manhattan, then this show is for you. He represents the creative infusion that the show has received. Now if only someone at FX could tell Ryan Murphy to get his crap together when he finally finishes up Nip/Tuck some time next year, I'd be very pleased. But I'm not holding my breath...

See Michael J. Fox below:


In Treatment (HBO, Sundays and Mondays @ 8 pm CST)
Hey, remember when I said that season three of HBO's Big Love was going to be hands down the best show of 2009? I was wrong! Turns out, the second season of HBO's slow burn In Treatment blows a great season of Big Love out of the water. By effectively eliminating the weak parts of the first season, partially by moving Byrne's Dr. Paul Weston to Brooklyn for season two, partially by the writers figuring out what works and what doesn't work, season two has been a flourish of emotional honesty that would make Chris Carraba jealous.

The new season has also tackled the subject of death far more effectively and gracefully than any season of HBO's other emotinally honest drama Six Feet Under. Whether it's Paul treating the twenty-something April (played by the illuminating Allison Pill, one of my May Faves on the sidebar) coming to terms with cancer, or Paul dealing with his own family and illnesses, the writers and actors are fully committed to giving their characters room to talk, pause, reconsider, talk again, and reveal themselves. The first season's occasional awkwardness is supplanted by an all-out fantastic slate of patients (it seems redundant, but Hope Davis' Mia, Aaron Shaw's Oliver, and John Mahoney's Walter are all just as fantastic as Allison Pill's Alison). And as Brigitte pointed out, Dianne Wiest's Gina has perhaps the most soothing voice in all of television / film, so when Weston hashes out his week of events in his deep Irish drawl with Gina's soothing voice, it's as if we went to therapy with Dr. Weston and feel a sense of calm over our bodies. Rare is the television show that has that effect on a person. Two more weeks of this show until the season wraps up, and it is far and away the best show of the year.


Upcoming stuff…
Just a few quick hits on things that are coming soon..June 14: Season two of the truly eclectic True Blood begins, and I'm excited that there's at least new, easy to digest television on this Summer on HBO, regardless of my fairly mixed opinion of the show. Seems like they're gonna crank up the dark factor a bit. I love / hate / love Alan Ball's recent take on the show: True Blood is about "the terrors of intimacy." Uh....I thought it was about vampires with bad accents? Check out the truly ridiculous season two trailer, shades of the Six Feet Under promos where Nate Fischer sees himself in a rearview mirror and there are birds that symbolize death and crap (don't worry, it doesn't really spoil anything from season one):

June 28: A new comedy series premieres on HBO, Hung. Starring Thomas Jane, a bunch of other "Hey, it's that person" people like Jane Adams (Niles' one-time fiancee Mel on Frasier) and developed by Dmitry Lipkin (late of FX's short-lived but highly acclaimed The Riches), based on the trailer its vibe looks very Weeds-like, in a good way. While the premise is a little shaky on paper (a man with a mid-life crisis becomes a male prostitute), it could work out. Trailer below!


August 16: SEASON THREE OF MAD MEN ON AMC!!!!!!!!!!! 'Nuff said.

Labels: , ,

  1. Blogger chris | 2:20 PM |  

    I'm so psyched Dollhouse got renewed!

    Hung looks great!

    I gotta get back on the Rescue Me train!

    I will but In Treatment Season 1 as soon as I find a cheap copy on Amazon!

    TV is yummy!

  2. Blogger qualler | 2:25 PM |  

    Yay TV! Finish True Blood first -- season one is on DVD TOMORROW! $32.99 on Amazon.com! Or just Nerdflix the last couple discs since you've seen half of the first season!

leave a response