Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 TV in Review

This was a good year for TV. Too good. I had to upgrage from a normal 40-hour TiVo to a dual-tuner 80-hour TiVo. Now that I've started watching Scrubs, I have my first 3-way scheduling conflict (new episodes of Scrubs are on at the same time as Grey's Anatomy and The O.C.). In a way, I almost hope some stuff gets cancelled in 2007 so that I can actually stop watching TV. For now though, it's all just too good. Here are more 2006-in-reviews lists:

Top 5 Returning Shows

[1] Prison Break: The tension-building first season ended with eight inmates breaking out of Fox River, and the second season followed up with the nail-biting adventures of the eight on the run and often the victim of the political conspiracy that would see the escapees dead rather than re-captured. Often far-fecthed or even downright preposterous, I can forgive all the coincidences and instances of convenient timing for the pure suspense and intrigue of it all. This is a show that doesn't let up or slow down.
[2] House: I started watching this show late but enjoyed catching up. It's second season finale was not as good as the previous episodes but led to a season three premiere that had House walking without the cane or the Vicodin. His cure was temporary though, and House's attitude and addiction would lead to the provocation of his greatest adversary yet, a detective named Tritter who will stop at nothing to see House prosecuted for practicing medicine while addicted to narcotics. The last episode before the Christmas hiatus almost left House in danger of going to jail.
[3] Lost: While the six-episode arc of the third season is not that great so far, the last half of the second season was full of mystery & surprises, including the death of Ana-Lucia & Libby at Michael's hands, the revelation of what caused the crash of flight 815, and the capture of Jack, Sawyer, and Kate by the Others.
[4] Grey's Anatomy: While I'm not as thrilled with this series as most people are, the post-Super Bowl two-parter and the three-part season finale were forces to be reckoned with. The third season so far is not as spectacular but is holding steady.
[5] Battlestar Galactica: After the intense Pegasus/Cain story arc, several episodes of the season two's second half were duds, but they made up for it with the massive New Caprica story arc that took up the season two finale and the first four episodes of season three.

Top 5 New Fall Shows

[1] Heroes: Despite my skepticism that a show about people with superpowers would catch on, much less grab critical acclaim (including a Golden Globe nomination), this seems to be the hot new show of the season and helped revive NBC (or at least their Monday night line-up).
[2] Men In Trees: Despite the lack of positive hype, this show is a pleasant surprise. Getting moved from 9:00 on Fridays to 10:00 on Thursdays (after Grey's Anatomy) may help this quirky, romantic dramedy find the attention it deserves.
[3] Jericho: Another unexpected surprise is the quality of storytelling in this apacolyptic drama about a small Kansas town surviving and dealing with the nuking of dozens of major U.S. cities. With a sprawling cast, an interesting look into survival, and the obligatory conspiracy group, this show has lots of directions it can take.
[4] Ugly Betty: This dramedy makes fun of cliches in the world of fashion and celebrities and avoids some other cliches you would expect them to make. This show has great performances and good character interaction. The fashion stuff is a little annoying though.
[5] Standoff: This show has a nice combination of police-style drama, humor, sexiness, and action. While the last few episodes have not been as impressive, this show leaped out of the gate with a lot of potential.

Top 5 Comebacks

[1] The West Wing: I had all been given up on this show when the intriguing storyline about the competition to replace Bartlett heated up. The presidential campaigns and election gave a lot of opportunity for new story directions.
[2] Survivor: The winter/spring season was a major disappointment, but the fall season was one of the best yet. With the racial diversity, ethnically divided teams, surprising admissions of admiration to Candice by Billy, the Candice mutiny, the Jonathon flip-flopping, the larger jury, the first time with a final three (instead of final two), and the most enjoyable and watchable alliances (Yul/Becky/Ozzie/Sundra) ever, this show regained my respect.
[3] The O.C.: After a dismal season three, they finally killed off Marissa (THANK YOU). Despite the continued focus on the Marissa death aftermath in the first few episodes of season four, the show took a positive direction with the hooking-up of Ryan and Taylor, a very odd couple that's becoming the main reason to watch.
[4] Gilmore Girls: After a dismal season six and a forehead-smacking season finale, as well as the departure of creator/exec-producer Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writer/director husband Dan, the show made the best of what it had to work with under new leader David Rosenthal. While the Lorelai-Christopher marriage is going too far the other direction, Luke's newfound daughter April and Rory's long-distance boyfriend Logan are both becoming easier to stomach. It's not back to the superb quality of the first five seasons, but recovering from season six was a challenge I wasn't sure the show could achieve.
[5] Desperate Housewives: Out of all dismal seasons, I think DH's second year was the worst. It's still not great and will probably never return to its freshman year greatness, but DH's season three has become far more watchable. That's still not saying a lot, and I still debate whether it's a lost cause or not.

Most Disappointing Cancellation

Commander-in-Chief: Probably already forgotten by many, this was one of my favorite shows in the 2005-2006 season. The show being about a female president was not the problem. Behind-the-scenes turmoil saw the executive producer replaced--twice. Eventually, the show became too much trouble, somehow slipped off the radar, and was cancelled. In terms of writing, acting, and overall story quality, it still deserved a second season.

Shows That Deserve More Credit Than Given

Stargate: SG-1
Stargate: Atlantis
The Nine
Six Degrees

Best Show I Haven't Been Watching But Will Start Watching Now


Best Show That's Still Good But Dropped Off the Radar

Boston Legal

Good Shows That Aren't As Good As Some People Say They Are

Brothers & Sisters
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Show I'm This [ ] Close to Giving Up On

Desperate Housewives

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Just made a comment about this in response to what you wrote on my video blog entry, but here goes again: TV is the one big U.S. entertainment business that is really developing into something good. I'd even go so far to say that for the first time in its history, it's finally turning into a true art form. Shows like Lost and 24 and Heroes are stories that demand attention from the viewer to really be appreciated, instead of going for the "don't have to think about it" thing that caters to the least common denominator. This kind of arc storytelling is something we only first really saw with Babylon 5 ten years ago. Before that, I guess it could be argued that shows like Twin Peaks laid the foundation for what we have now: shows that were way ahead of their time when they first ran.

I can't help but wonder what would have happened if a show like Police Squad had come out today instead of twenty years ago...

Good list :-)