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The Great Reality Escape September 14, 2017

Posted by Ted in : 24, 24: Legacy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CW, Designated Survivor, FOX, General, Ghosted, Heroes, Inspirational, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, Kevin Can Wait, NBC, Parks and Recreation, Reviews, Siberia, Sleepy Hollow, Smallville, Supergirl, Supernatural, The Exorcist, The Gifted, The Good Place, The Office, The Orville, The X-Files, Will and Grace , add a comment

Well, it’s my favorite time of year again, late summer. The kids are starting a new year of school, football has returned, baseball is approaching it’s wondrous post-season, and the first hint of autumn is in the air. All of this signals the best thing of all, the start of the new television line-up. It’s a time for us to forget the divisive politics, monster hurricanes, and impending doom of our dystopian age and completely escape from reality. Care to join me?

Returning Favorites

The good news, for starters, is that my two favorite shows from last season, The Good Place and The Exorcist are back. These two shows, one about heaven and the other about demons, are the yin-yang of the current broadcast TV landscape. Dark and light. Oceans and deserts. Sneakers and shoelaces. Donuts and coffee. You can’t have one without the other, as the learned among us will tell you. One show is dark but cheesy, the other lighthearted and campy. Questions abound. Will Eleanor and Chidi figure out the heaven they live in is just a twisted version of hell? Will Angela Rance, played with finesse by Geena Davis, return to her semi-peaceful family life or be plagued further by the dark forces of the underworld? Will Fathers Ortega and Keane start charging a fee for their exorcisms in order to support themselves or find side jobs delivering pizzas or something. Tune in and be enlightened.

 

Somehow, you made it to the good place.

 

My research of the upcoming season has surprised and delighted me in several ways. First of all, I was stunned to learn that one of my all time favorites, Supernatural, is still airing with new episodes on the CW. I had assumed, for some reason, that it ended around season 10 or so and never bothered to check back. Turns out it is alive and well and entering lucky season 13. I’ll definitely be checking in on Sam and Dean this fall, but I’m a little nervous about what state they’ll be in after having faced every conceivable non-human creature and entity in existence for 12 years. I’m guessing at this phase they have permanently jumped the shark into the waters of self-parody, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At its best, the show managed to channel Buffy’s vibe of irreverent humor infused with metaphorical and metaphysical storytelling.

I was also unaware that Sleepy Hollow, although cancelled in May of this year, had lasted four seasons. I watched a couple of episodes of this in the first season and it was not the greatest, but still kind of lighthearted and fun. This series may be a candidate for future DVD viewings here in the crawlspace. Kudos, as usual, to FOX for sticking by their shows and giving them a chance. One thing that made me an enemy of NBC was their fondness for killing great shows like Siberia and 666 Park Avenue before the first seasons were even finished. I understand that you NBC executives want to see big money fast so you can continue to provide your mistresses with sports cars and luxury vacations, but that’s not a great way to treat your viewers.

 

 

Every basement-dweller’s favorite show, The X-files, is returning yet again this fall to bring joy to our hearts with all things supernatural, extraterrestrial, and conspiratorial. This time we’re getting 10 episodes instead of 6, which means they’ve been giving the aging David Duchovny power smoothies or something for breakfast. He had been somewhat ambivalent in interviews toward doing full seasons of the show again. But this is only half a season, so he and Gillian are probably safe and won’t be expiring of exhaustion any time soon. The truth is still out there!

Probably the biggest news of the season is that the classic sitcom Will and Grace, perhaps emboldened by the resurrection of The X-files, is returning with its original cast to Thursday nights on NBC. This was one of the first sitcoms to feature openly gay characters when it debuted back in 1998. Even though I’m a straight guy, the first several seasons of Will and Grace made me laugh like a drunk hyena. In later years, the humor got to be a little predictable, but I’m still looking forward to seeing this old bunch again.

Two new shows from last season that I thought I would like until I watched them are also returning. After viewing half of the first episode of 24: Legacy, I lost interest, probably because of the absence of Kiefer Sutherland, who played my close personal friend Jack Bauer in the original 24 series. Kiefer moved on to a new show, Designated Survivor, which is a 24 meets The West Wing kind of thing. Instead of working for the president, this time Sutherland gets to be the president. The premiere episode that I watched last year seemed like a promotional video for the Washington political establishment, and was somewhat lacking in the cloak-and-dagger edginess that made 24 so great. It just honestly left a bad taste in my mouth, but I’ll probably give both of these shows another shot because you can’t always judge a show by the pilot episode.

New Shows

With all the great returning shows, there’s not much room in my schedule for watching new ones. Thankfully, there’s only a small handful of newbies that interest me this time around, including:

The Orville – The first episode of this live action sci-fi parody is about what you would expect from producer Seth McFarlane (who also plays the lead role of starship captain), except that he holds his bawdy tendencies in check a little more than in his cartoon shows, making The Orville almost appropriate viewing for the whole family. But not quite. As always, McFarlane’s saving grace is the merciless socio-political commentary that he blends into all of his shows.

Ghosted – Another FOX comedy about two paranormal investigators, played by Craig Robinson (of The Office) and Adam Scott (of  Parks and Recreation). Hopefully the greatness of their former sitcoms will be transfused into this new show. Ghosts and humor sounds like a winning formula to me. It certainly worked for the Ghostbusters movies.

The Gifted – As you can see, FOX seems to have all the shows I want to watch these days. This one, loosely connected to Marvel’s X-Men franchise, is about a family of mutants with superpowers. The premise seems derivative of Heroes, but then again the X-Men came first, so this is kind of like if Rick James made a comeback rap album after MC Hammer sampled his classic tune “Superfreak.” Except in this case Rick James is a huge media corporation.

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World – Last season gave us Kevin Can Wait, the new sitcom with Kevin James (from King of Queens) that I still intend to watch when I get a chance. Now he is joined in TV-land by this other Kevin who is on a mission from God to save the world in this ABC dramedy. What does this duplicity of Kevins signify, exactly? Is it an omen of some kind? Most importantly, will he save the world or wait until later? Consult your astrologer.

 

Comments on My Son’s Previous Post November 10, 2012

Posted by Mary in : CW, Fringe, General, NBC, Parks and Recreation, Reviews, Revolution, Sci-Fi, Skeet Ulrich, Smallville, Supernatural, Terra Nova, The Mentalist, The Office, The River, Uncategorized , 2comments

Hi. Mary here, Ted’s mother, and owner of the spacious basement that my son refers to as his “crawlspace.” I would imagine that if you have read his previous post, you probably have a lot of questions about me. You’re probably wondering, “Did Mary’s Skeet Ulrich Fan Club really get piss-faced drunk at Appleby’s, and have a six hour stand-off with the police?” and, “Is her fan club a terrorist group?” and, “Who bailed her and her friends out of jail?” You might also be wondering what my boss, co-workers, and friends had to say about those developments.

Thankfully, Ted has allowed me to co-author this blog post in order to set the record straight about my alleged recent arrest, which is kind of him, considering that I have taken away his computer. His Acer desktop is currently locked in the upstairs closet, where it will remain until Ted understands that he shouldn’t spread malicious lies about his mom. Now, that may seem like an extreme measure for a mother to take with her 38-year-old son, but my goal is not to punish him. I just think Ted needs a break from his internet fantasy world. He needs to get out into the real world for a while and do things like find a better job and spend more time with his girlfriend Sierra, who I think is adorable, by the way.

That being said, I need to clear up the questions Ted raised about me and my friends in his last post. First of all, nobody bailed us out of jail because we didn’t go to jail. We didn’t go to jail because we were never arrested, and we weren’t arrested because that whole “fan club” incident at Applebee’s never took place. That’s right. Ted made it all up. And for the record, I don’t go out binge drinking with my friends on the weekends. I just turned 60, for crying out loud! If you thought I was a little too old to be behaving that way, you’re absolutely right! Because I don’t! I didn’t even party like that in my college days. I’ll admit that I have a glass of wine every now and then, but that’s the extent of my alcohol consumption. Even doctors say a little wine is healthy for you, so get off my case, Ted! You were pretty hung over last New Year’s Day, if I remember correctly.

And last but not least, THERE IS NO SKEET ULRICH FAN CLUB! My friends and I don’t sit around screaming about some television star like teenage girls! How stupid can you get? All of these things were fabricated in Ted’s imagination. I would say that 90% what he has written about me on his blog is a complete and total lie. I also don’t have a bookcase full of crime drama DVDs as he suggested. Maybe 10 at the most. I never even liked Law and Order, where did he get that idea from? What an awful show that is.

As you may have guessed by now, Ted has always had a hard time discerning fantasy from reality. This is why I try to cut him some slack and not take these things personally. It gets to be almost debilitating for him at times. For example, when he was seven he dressed like Luke Skywalker for Halloween. I made him a costume to wear and got him one of those glowing light sabers. He had a great time trick-or-treating with some other kids in the neighborhood, but then after Halloween something weird happened. He started to believe he was Luke Skywalker. He kept wearing his costume all the time, even to school, and demanded that people call him Luke. On Thanksgiving, when his grandmother asked him for a hug, he yelled, “I’ll never join the dark side!” and jabbed her with his plastic light saber. This went on for several weeks until his costume got “accidentally” thrown into the laundry with a load of brights and turned pink. The shock of seeing his costume like that seemed to snap him back out of his fantasy and, thankfully, he became Ted again.

And, of course, I probably don’t have to tell you that his blog posts about visiting Lost Island and playing video games with 24‘s Jack Bauer are also products of his overactive imagination. I’m not sure if he really believes all these things are real. I just know that the line separating fantasy and reality for him is not as distinct and clear as it is for most people. Sometimes it seems pretty solid, sometimes it’s blurry, and other times it disappears altogether.

Well, I think that sets the record straight. I have asked my son to stop posting things about me on his blog in the future, and hopefully he will comply with my wishes. He has handed me a yellow legal pad with his handwritten comments about the 2012 television season, which I will include as the second part of this post.

————————————————————-

Well, my fellow TV fans, Fall 2012 has turned out to be a pretty bleak and dreary television season. Old shows I liked are disappearing and there are very few good new shows to replace them. Three of my favorite new programs from last year, The River, Terra Nova, and Ringer, were axed by their respective networks after only one season. In addition to that, two of my long-time favorites, Fringe and The Office are in their final year. In trying times like these, all a devoted couch dweller like myself can do is try to have faith that the TV circle of life will eventually produce some better shows to replace the classics that are leaving. Based on the new offerings this season, however, the circle of life has a lot of catching up to do.

Revolution – I was looking forward to this show, with its premise of a future without any electricity, but it appears that NBC has delivered yet another stinker. Aside from the bland characters and the paint-by-numbers plot (righteous rebels versus an evil ruling militia), there are weird political undertones that didn’t sit well with my left-of-center ideological tilt. Revolution could be a sort of dystopic tea party vision of what the world will look like after the 2nd Obama term. People in this oppressed future aren’t allowed by the evil militia to have guns or American flags. One scene in the first episode depicts a group of people who are pulling a large piece of machinery through the woods with ropes — no easy task, to be sure. They are former citizens of the US who have been taken prisoner by the militia. One character reveals that “their only crime was not paying their taxes.” The extended fight scenes, the ridiculous amount of alcohol consumption, and the hostility of the characters toward each other seem like pretty obvious stylistic footprints of producer Eric Kripke, creator of the CW hit show Supernatural. Unfortunately, Revolution lacks the cleverness and wit of Supernatural, and plays as more of a grim post-apocalyptic adventure in the tradition of Mad Max. The dialogue is unconvincing; the characters are painfully serious and humorless. NBC’s recent promos for the show have claimed that Revolution is the “most watched new show on television,” which, I suppose, proves once again how out of touch I am with the pulse of the nation.

666 Park Avenue – I rediscovered the ABC network last year, and lately they seem to have a knack for coming up with imaginative shows in the fantasy genre. The supernatural-themed thriller The River was my favorite new show last year, but they inexplicably pulled the plug on it after one go-round. The network has redeemed itself this year with the surprisingly good 666 Park Avenue. For me, this serial drama, which documents the spooky goings-on in an upscale Manhattan apartment building, is really the only bright spot in the 2012 television season. It has a great cast, including Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams, and a surreal atmosphere which is hard to put into words. In addition to the plush surroundings, your stay at the Drake will include such things as precognitive pickpockets, ghosts that live in old suitcases, and elevators that eat people. Top that off with Faustian bargains aplenty wherein characters experience the consequences of getting the things they think they want. If Mr. Doran makes you an offer you can’t refuse, you might want to head for the exit. That is, if you can find your way out of that never-ending hallway.

Fringe – In its fifth season, Fringe has taken a bold leap into a future where the Earth has been taken over by the Observers and the Fringe team are desperately seeking video tapes which contain Walter’s plan for defeating them. The writers smartly choose to focus on the relationship between Peter and Olivia, which gives us an emotional anchor amid all the sci-fi wackiness. I also like the more coherent and functional version of Walter. This final season will consist of only 13 episodes, ending in January. It’s been a fun ride.

The Office – This has been somewhat hit-or-miss without Steve Carell, but I will still miss this classic when it’s gone. Lots of questions to be answered in the final season. Will Jim and Pam finally experience some marital discord? Will Andy and Erin go splitsville? Will we find out who Angela’s baby-daddy is? Will Creed ever get his own storyline? I’m predicting there will be a “very special” episode at some point (probably around Christmas) in which Michael Scott returns with Holly and at least one baby in tow. Hopefully the producers can wrap things up without getting too overly-sentimental and sappy. I would actually prefer an ending that’s a little bit dark and serious and semi-tragic.

Parks and Recreation – I’ve been trying hard to remember why I liked this show lately. They’ve been running on creative fumes this season, and scraping the bottom of the humor barrel on a regular basis. Recent shenanigans include Jerry having a fart attack and Leslie conducting sex education classes for the elderly. Leslie Knope seems shallow and less likable than in previous seasons. Maybe the upcoming Joe Biden episode will help to bring some respectability back to the proceedings.

Supernatural – It will be interesting to see if this show can continue to deliver the goods in its eighth season. After stopping the Apocalypse, going to hell and then purgatory, hanging out with angels, meeting such big cosmic players as God and Death, and fighting all manner of freaks, monsters, and demons, you’ve got to wonder if there could be anything left on the Winchester brothers’ to-do list. I would guess that lead actors Jensen Ackles and Jarod Padalecki are itching for greener pastures. Bobby the Cranky Ghost seems to have dropped out of the picture, and for reasons I can’t explain, watching the show on Wednesday nights hasn’t been as much fun as watching on Friday nights. All of that being said, I will keep watching this show until the end, which hopefully won’t be for at least a couple of more seasons.

Arrow – Do we really need a show about Green Arrow? This DC-comic-based drama is not a Smallville spinoff, as one might have hoped, but a complete reboot with a different actor playing Oliver Queen. I haven’t bothered to watch it yet, so it could possibly be alright. The CW has had me worried for the last few years. I used to love the network, but they haven’t come up with anything I really liked since Supernatural. Hard to believe; that was eight years ago. Come on guys, give me something — anything! The teen soaps and chickafied vampire dramas just aren’t cutting it with yours truly.

The Mentalist – I find this laid-back crime drama to be strangely relaxing, not unlike the tea that lead character Patrick Jane drinks. It doesn’t change much from season to season, and it doesn’t need to. Jane is still not much closer to catching the notorious killer Red John, and his romantic attraction to Agent Lisbon remains vague and unrealized. If the rest of the viewers are like me, those things don’t matter that much anyway.

 

Holiday Visitors Pt.2 February 24, 2012

Posted by Ted in : Crime Dramas, Holiday Posts, Smallville , add a comment

OK, this is going to be a really long post, but the story about what happened to me last Christmas is just too weird not to finish.

Back in December, I started to wonder if my previous post had put the jinx on things with my new sometimes-girlfriend Sierra. It was almost Christmas and I hadn’t heard from her in a couple of weeks. After leaving her several voicemail messages, she finally called me and said she would come over on Christmas Eve. I was looking forward to that night, and hoped for a little cuddle time, but she failed to materialize or even call, and I was left to drink my eggnog alone and stare at the lights on my little Christmas tree.

A few days after that disappointment, she finally called and apologized for the no-show. Sierra said she found out at the last minute that she had to go to Pittsburgh to visit some relatives with her sister. She was going to call me the day before Christmas and fill me in on the situation, but the battery in her cell phone went dead. She lost track of time, and after that was too embarrassed to call because she thought I would be upset.

It’s true that I was pretty sore with her up until that belated call, but man-oh-man did she make up for it on New Year’s Eve. We hit just about every bar in Louisville that night, said hello to some friends — mostly hers — and what came after that is kind of a blur, except that there was lots of drunken dancing and sloppy kisses around midnight.

We’ve had a couple of dates since then, but it appears that Sierra has gone back into hiding just in time for Valentine’s Day. I’m still not sure what the status of our relationship is, or even where she lives, for that matter.

Anyway, for the reasons I just outlined, it was not such a great Christmas here in the crawlspace, and Santa Claus might have found my body lying cold and still on the floor that night if it hadn’t been for a weird distraction that made me forget about my girlfriend situation for a while.

It was around 10:00 p.m. when it started to sink in that Sierra wasn’t going show up. I was alone in the house for the evening; mom had gone to visit her parents in Chicago, and wasn’t due back until the following afternoon. So, I turned on the TV and watched the middle of It’s a Wonderful Life for what was probably the tenth time, and drifted off to sleep on the couch.

Around midnight I was woken up by a series of loud bumps from upstairs. I turned off the TV and sat listening for a minute. There was another short burst of footsteps, followed by silence. Somebody, or something, was up there. It was possible that Mom had returned early from her trip, but just to be on the safe side I grabbed my canister of pepper spray and went to investigate.

I snuck quietly up the basement stairs and opened the door, half expecting to see jolly old St. Nick with his bag of toys. The lights in the dining room and kitchen were all still turned off. I called out, “Mom?” but got no reply. Then I walked into the living room, and saw a man crouching behind Mom’s Christmas tree. His sweaty, grimacing face was illuminated by the colorful lights.

Before I could react, he leapt forward like a wild man, knocking down the tree and then tripping over it. He came crashing down on the floor, and growled with inhuman rage as he wrestled around with the fallen tree. Finally, he stopped struggling and got up off the floor. It was Jack Bauer.

“What the hell are you doing here?!” I demanded to know.

“I should ask you the same thing, Crawlspace! Although it doesn’t really surprise me to find you cavorting in the home of a known terrorist!”

“Known terrorist? This is my mother’s house, and you’re trespassing! I should call the police!”

He grinned psychotically. “Go ahead. You think they can stop me? I’m Jack freakin’ Bauer!”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Your hands are registered weapons and all that stuff. We’ll see how dangerous you are with a face full of pepper spray.”

Jack eyed my can of spray with a look of apprehension. His tone became more conciliatory.

“Look, I know you’re still ticked off because I roughed you up a little at our interview a couple of years ago, and I don’t blame you for that. I was pretty drunk, and I got carried away.”

“Yeah, the waterboarding was a little over the top. So, you’re back for more? You thought you would drop by and ruin my Christmas again?”

“Nah, I’m not after you this time. You’re small potatoes compared to this Mary Crawford character. Uh… did you just say she’s your mother?”

“Yes, I did, and there’s no way she’s a terrorist. She’s a well respected person in this community and she’s lived in this house for 20 years. She despises all forms of crime and terror, and she’s even a member of the local Neighborhood Watch group. And look at this…”

I directed Jack’s attention to Mom’s extensive crime-drama DVD collection which filled up about half of a wall-sized bookcase. He gazed with interest at the various seasons of Law and Order, CSI, Bones, NCIS, NYPD Blue, and about a dozen other shows. He pulled out the first season of 24 and held it reverently in his hands for a minute.

“You know, I see what you mean about your mother. She seems like a very smart, responsible lady. I guess it’s possible that I’ve obtained faulty information.”

He apologized for breaking in, and for knocking over the tree. We got the tree set back up with all the lights and ornaments in place, and I invited him down to the basement for some eggnog. We went downstairs and Bauer started to explain how he had obtained my mother’s name in relation to an international terror plot.

He revealed that he had recently started a private defense organization called World Alliance of Heroes (WAH) along with an old friend named Mickey Stern, who was a former Air Force pilot. They obtained funding from several wealthy donors who were concerned about global security and were familiar with Bauer’s get-it-done reputation as a covert operation specialist.

In addition to Mickey, Jack also recruited Antoine Le Sueur, a martial arts expert with a fondness for spandex tights, which he wanted to be the official WAH uniform, but was vetoed by Jack and Mickey.

“So who’s your tech person?” I asked. “Is Chloe O’Brian part of the team?”

“No, I couldn’t get in touch with her,” Jack replied. “The last I heard, she left CTU for a job as programming consultant for a company called Zynga. Takes home several million a year. She doesn’t even return my calls anymore.”

“I know how that is,” I interjected. “So what did you do?”

“We got the next best thing: Chloe Sullivan, long time friend of Clark Kent.”

“Wow! How’d you pull that off?”

“We contacted her because we wanted to use Superman’s old headquarters, known as The Watchtower. She rented it to us at a rate that’s less outrageous than you would think. The place is decked out in state-of-the-art computer technology, which only Sullivan knows how to operate. She was nostalgic for her days of working with superheroes, so she signed on as our computer expert.”

Jack paused and said, “I’ve got something out in the car that might improve this eggnog a little bit.” He went out through the basement door and returned a couple of minutes later with a fifth of Canadian Mist. He continued his story as he topped off his eggnog glass with whiskey and then did the same to mine.

After receiving a request from his WAH patrons to gather intelligence in the South American region, Bauer parachuted into the Amazon jungle with his trusty HK416 assault rifle and a backpack full of survival gear. He spent a couple of weeks there, getting information from the natives and honing his survival skills.

He hitched a ride to Rio de Janeiro in the back of a banana truck after getting a tip about a crime operation there, and started working undercover at a casino. One night at the roulette table, he met a beautiful Russian double agent who called herself Tasha Babinski. During their brief romantic entanglement, she told him about an international terrorist plot against the United States which involved the governments of Russia, Iran, Finland, Luxembourg, Mozambique, Tajikistan, and swaths of Micronesia, along with several Mexican drug cartels and a couple of radical professors at Berkeley.

Tasha then helped him to stow away on a Russian submarine which was setting out on a trans-Atlantic ocean voyage to the Middle East. He got onboard and hid in the supply closet for a couple of weeks, occasionally kicking butt whenever a crew member discovered him there. Bauer snuck into the captain’s quarters one day and found a suspicious database of names on his laptop computer, which Jack copied to a thumb drive.

That database, he explained, contained my mother’s name, which caught his attention because he had already heard her name mentioned by a couple of other underground sources.

Bauer was eventually discovered and subdued by several crew members, after which they brought the submarine to the surface and threw Jack overboard. He swam for a distant coastline for a couple of hours, and was near exhaustion when he was rescued by some very casually-dressed men in a fishing boat who turned out to be Somali pirates.

Upon learning their identity, Jack feared that he would spend the rest of his life in a Mogadishu prison, but the Somalis recognized him from his TV show and agreed to let him go if he posed with them for some photographs.

Then Mickey picked him up in his plane, and they flew back home to the US, where Jack did a little research to find the whereabouts of Mary Crawford, which finally led him to my mother’s house.

He reiterated that he thought my mother was either the wrong Mary Crawford, or somebody involved with the terrorist plot was using her name.

“So,” I said, “here you are working on Christmas Eve, huh?

“Yeah, or I was, but now I guess it’s back to the old drawing board.”

The conversation came to a lull, so I asked if he was up for a little Super Nintendo, and then put in the Mario Kart cartridge at his request. It was apparently his favorite game, and he beat me in every match except one.

Around the time I started sipping my fifth specially-mixed eggnog, I could feel myself sinking back on the couch and into unconsciousness. Bauer didn’t even seem to notice that I had dropped my controller. He was still laughing maniacally, thoroughly engrossed in the game.

When I awoke it was Christmas morning, and Bauer was gone. He had left one of his WAH business cards on the coffee table. On the back he had scribbled the words, “Thanks for the hospitality. I’ll keep you posted on any new developments.”

 

Midseason 2009 TV Explosion! January 6, 2009

Posted by Ted in : 24, 30 Rock, Amazing Race, American Idol, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Fringe, General, Hell's Kitchen, Heroes, Holiday Posts, Kath & Kim, Lost, Midseason, My Name is Earl, Reality TV, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Smallville, Terminator: tSCC, The Office , 8comments

 January is here. The festivities and laziness of the holiday season are behind us. It’s time for everyone to once again get serious about things, get back to work, and face up to the hard cold reality of life. Right?

Wrong! January is the time of year we TV watchers plunge head first into some serious escapist entertainment, and here at TV Crawlspace the only reality we’ll be facing is reality television. In just a few days, a massive wave of midseason premieres will hit like a tsunami, carrying us helplessly out into the television ocean, hopefully never to return again.

For TV Guide’s complete schedule of midseason premieres, click here.

Here’s a rundown of shows I’m looking forward to (and a couple I’m not looking forward to) in chronological order:

13 Fear is Real – (starts Wed., Jan. 7 on CW 8/7c)
This is a spooky themed reality show that might be amusing, something along the lines of Survivor meets Blair Witch Project. I hope there’s something more going on here than guys in masks jumping out and scaring contestants.

NBC comedy night done (halfway) right – (all four shows resume on Thur., Jan. 8 on NBC 8/7c)
My Name is Earl – This has been a little bit better this season, with a half hearted attempt to return to the theme of redemption (Earl’s list) that made the show so appealing in the first season.
Kath & Kim – I watched this show just to see how bad it was, and to my surprise I liked it. Slightly demented but well written, it’s sort of a kinder, gentler version of John Waters. Everybody on this show apparently works in a mall. How cool is that?
The Office – This has been brilliant as usual. I especially liked the episode where Jim and Pam had their first disagreement. I hope this is a foreshadowing of things to come. I think I like them better as enemies than lovers. Is it just me, or are all the female characters on this show mean and vindictive?
30 Rock – As a fan of Tina Fey during her SNL days, I wanted to like this overhyped show, but the cutesy self-satisfied tone of it left me cold. The jokes aren’t funny, and the endless parade of guest stars can’t make up for the show’s lack of direction. The emperor has no clothes!

Howie Do It – (starts Fri. Jan. 9 on ABC 8/7c)
This appears to be a hidden camera prank type show with Howie Mandel. I may watch the one episode that is aired before the show is cancelled.

24 – (starts Sun. Jan. 11 on FOX 8/7c)
What I always liked about 24 was its sci-fi elements, like the spacey soundtrack, and the high tech gadgetry. This season Janeane Garofalo plays the new computer guru, Janis Gold. According to TV Guide, “Mid-season run-ins with Chloe should make for hot geek-on-geek action.”

American Idol – (starts Tue. Jan. 13 on FOX 8/7c)
It is what it is.

Smallville – (returns Thur. Jan. 15 on CW 8/7c)
I’ve gotten hooked on this show again after sitting out for a couple of seasons. It seems unfair that Smallville’s best season ever may be its last, although I don’t know if that’s been made official yet.

Supernatural – (returns Thur. Jan. 15 on CW 9/8c)
Another CW show that I’ve rediscovered. It seems to have improved a lot since its first season. CW deserves credit for giving shows like this and Smallville a chance, and not axing them at the drop of a hat.

Fringe – (returns Tue. Jan. 20 on FOX 9/8c)
This sci-fi drama from the co-creator of Lost is my favorite new show of the year. Run and tell your friends.

Lost – (starts Wed. Jan. 21 on ABC 9/8c)
There are few television pleasures that compare with getting lost in Lost. It’s pretty amazing that a show this weird could stay on the air for five years, but it’s been reported that season 6 in 2010 will be the last.

Hell’s Kitchen – (starts Thur. Jan. 29 on FOX 9/8c)
Not a great time slot for Chef Ramsey this time around. He’s going up against The Office and the ratings powerhouse Supernatural.

Heroes – (returns Mon. Feb. 2 on NBC 9/8c)
This quality of this show has fallen faster than Nathan Petrelli during an eclipse. The storylines seem to be wandering aimlessly. Too many characters to keep up with is part of the problem. Some have suggested it could be the show’s last season if the ratings don’t improve.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – (returns Fri. Feb. 13 on FOX 8/7c)
FOX is moving this to Fridays, where it will be paired up with Dollhouse.

Dollhouse – (starts Fri. Feb. 13 on FOX 9/8c)
This is the one that everyone’s waiting for, the new show from Buffy/Angel mastermind Joss Whedon, but there have reportedly been problems in production and FOX has now relegated the show to the dreaded Friday night time slot (set to debut on Friday the 13th, no less). Of course, the X-files thrived on Fridays, so there’s still hope.

The Amazing Race – (starts Sun. Feb. 15 on CBS 8/7c)
My favorite reality show will feature less airports this season, according to TV Guide.

Somebody Save Smallville! November 23, 2008

Posted by Ted in : Heroes, My Name is Earl, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Smallville , 2comments

 

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(Editor’s note: I was two episodes behind when I wrote this post, so it does not reflect the most recent developments of the show. I just watched the last amazing episode before the mid-season break, and it contains lots of new developments. So, even though I’m a little out of date on this post, I like to think of it as marking a specific moment in time.)

Attention all readers: It’s time for us to jump in the phone booth, put on our tights, and save Smallville, the WB’s long running saga of Superman. “Who me?”, you ask. “I’m just a shoeshine boy, how on earth do I save the most powerful hero in DC comics?” Well, it’s not as hard at it seems. Just watch the WB on Thurdsay nights. After enjoying several episodes of what has been hinted to be Smallville’s FINAL SEASON, I can say with certainty that this show needs to be saved! I would even argue that it beats the current season of Heroes. Gasp!

I admit I had gone splitsville from Smallville for the last couple of seasons. The storylines seemed like retreads of the same old territory: meteor-powered villian captures Chloe, Lana, or Lois. After being temporarily debilitated by the kryptonite studs on the villian’s sneakers, Clark bounces back just in time to save the damsel or dude in distress. I started to wonder if the writers were running out of ideas, or had just stopped caring. I found it hard to warm up to some of the new characters like Oliver Queen (a.k.a. the Green Arrow) and Kara (Supergirl). Most of all, the romantic entanglements were making the show unwatchable. The Lex and Lana debacle drove me to watch My Name is Earl instead. Even the show’s original producers finally lost interest and called it quits.

This time around I decided to give the show some unconditional love and return for its eighth and possibly final season, for which I was amply rewarded. With the ever-brooding Lex and the eternally conflicted Lana out of the picture, the show has a newfound spring in its step and a shine on its shoes. After seven seasons chronicling Clark Kent’s youth, the show has finally reached several pivotal moments in the Superman mythology, such as Clark beginning his job at the Daily Planet, and contemplating his role as a superhero.

The best part of this season has been the lively banter between Lois and Clark. The two characters seem more real than ever before. Kent’s chemistry with his friend-turned-coworker is off the charts. In earlier seasons they sparred like sibling rivals, but their friendship has evolved into something much spicier. They still seem to be in denial about their feelings for each other, although rumors say that could change later in the season. In keeping with the comic book tradition, Lois still doesn’t know about Clark’s superpowers, even though he’s saved her life several times.

The other vital character on the show is, of course, Chloe Sullivan, Clark’s best friend and all purpose computer guru and rogue journalist. A lot of us reclusive, aging Smallville fans like to think that Chloe is a real person. When we’re writing our blogs we ask ourselves, “What would Chloe write?” She has now made it onto her own hypothetical wall of weird and developed meteor-based mega intelligence. As a result of the upgrade, she has turbocharged hacking skills, super memory, and can multitask like nobody’s business. I’m not so crazy about this development. First of all, it makes her a target. She has already been captured by Luthercorp, who sought to exploit her ablilities for their own devious purposes. Even worse, in recent episodes we have seen signs of impending villianhood for Miss Sullivan. When she used her brain to hot wire the Kryptonian thingamajig, her eyes went white and she became super strong. Also, she killed somebody. This will not do. I want the old Chloe back. She was smart enough without the super powers. They should donate her extra intelligence to somebody who really needs it, like Earl’s annoying brother Randy.

Aside from this minor complaint, Smallville is better than ever this season. If you’ve never seen it, now is the time. Together we can boost the ratings and save this great show. The citizens of Metropolis are depending on you.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...