Tube talk: 2008-09 TV season report card

How I Met Your MotherHow I Met Your Mother – Despite the lacking of any new slaps, season four was a good one.  The plot twists were by and large pretty clever, although I still have a hard time giving a crap whether or not Ted ever finds his true love.  My favorite bits from the year almost always involved Barney – Barney pwning all the little kids at Lazer Tag was sweet, as was Barney’s Video Resume.

What separates HIMYM from the typical half-hour sitcom is not necessarily the writing, although it’s quite good, but the sheer craft and attention to detail.  Like a comedic version of Lost, lines and references from earlier seasons pay off way down the road, and the abundance of meta-humor and real-life connections (think about all the websites that tie in) make this a show that rewards regular viewership.  Not to metion all the lists, flashbacks, flash forwards, and other production gimmicks that keep things nice and snappy.  Final grade: B+

Lie to MeLie to MeI declared back in January that I wanted to get out in front of what looked like a promising new show.  And now?  While the payoff wasn’t as huge as I expected I’m still glad I started watching.  This is still very much a show finding its way, and as soon as they lose some of the trappings of a new show involving a gimmick I think things will take off (in other words, I don’t need to be beaten over the head every time Lightman spots someone lying.  I know that’s what he does).  The last few episodes bode well for the future of Lie to Me; I just hope they can maintain that momentum in the face of a tepid endorsement from Fox (only a 13-episode order for next season).  Final grade: B-

Little People, Big World – Even without the benefit of a drinking game, I still enjoy the exploits of the Roloffs.  I just wonder how the hell they find time to take all those vacations.  Watching the twins mature has been an interesting experience, although it’s equally frustrating watching Jacob act like a turd.

There were a lot of big events this year, including the completion of the Roloffs’ house remodel, Matt’s humanitarian trip to Iraq, and the season-ending documentation of the family’s biggest pumpkin season yet.  But the biggest event was the death of family friend Mike Detjen.  Watching the ways different family members dealt with their grief reminded me that despite all the wackiness and pettiness that is often on display, Little People, Big World is ultimately a pretty good show about people and relationships.  Final grade: B

The OfficeThe Office – Pound for pound, still the best comedy on television.  The whole Michael Scott Paper Company shakeup was awesome, although I wouldn’t have minded seeing it go on a little longer.  I’m not totally sold on Jim and Pam’s relationship taking so much of the spotlight, but I can deal with it for now.  What did make for excellent viewing was Michael and Holly’s blossoming relationship.  The two have some legitimate on-screen chemistry and watching Michael act like a real human being was very refreshing – which makes their current geographical separation all the more poignant.

Over the years The Office has strayed more and more from examining the excruciating boredom and triviality of office life, which is a loss.  Watching bits like the office engrossed in a DVD screen saver or Jim playing stupid office pranks on Dwight may be simple pleasures but they never get old.  I guess at this point it’s safe to say that the Dunder-Mifflin Scranton branch is really more of an excuse to keep the characters together now than it is the source of material.  Final grade: A

Psych - Shawn and GusPsych – Before there was The Mentalist, there was Psych.  Sure the two shows differ in a lot of ways, but the basic idea is the same.  The thing is, Psych would get obliterated on a network schedule but suits the USA Network just fine.  The third season started to shape up much like the first two – the same wackiness, the same incompetence on the part of the villains and the Santa Barbara PD, and the same glibness from Shawn and Gus.  All well and good for a summer show, really.  But then they went and mixed things up toward the end of the season with a pair of surprisingly weighty episodes.

The two episodes in question (“Tuesday the 17th” and “An Evening With Mr. Yang”) introduced a depth and darkness previously unknown in the Psych universe.  I’m taking a total leap here, but I’m guessing that since these episodes were directed and co-written by James Roday (Shawn), it may be a signal that they understand the need to move the show into new creative ground or risk stagnating.  While I’m not wishing for Psych to turn into a heavy drama, some more episodes like this (you know, where something is actually at stake for the characters) would be most welcome.  Final grade: B-

ScrubsScrubs Regular readers of this site are familiar with my love-hate relationship with Scrubs, particularly over the last three difficult seasons.  So here’s the bottom line on season eight – it wasn’t too bad.  It was entertaining for the most part, and had a handful of really good moments.  At the very least it helped remove some of the bad taste left in my mouth by seasons six and seven.

And hey, guess what?  Like the Rasputin of the comedy world, Scrubs refuses to die.  That’s right, it looks like season nine is in the cards.  yippee.

I don’t know…isn’t it time to just end it already?  At least it seems like they are going to finally make the transistion from the old gang to a new one – one that was already hinted at in season eight.  I don’t really want to watch, but I know I will.  Final grade: C+

Venture BrosThe Venture Bros. – Ah, The Venture Bros.  If you want to know how I feel about this particular televised program, there is ample documentation in the form of my weekly episode capsules.  I haven’t taken the time to go through the season again to take more a wide-angle view, but I suspect I need to because if any season was meant to be digested as a whole it was this one.  Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer dove deep into the mythology of the show, with fairly mixed results.  The instant gratification and lol moments were fewer than before, but the show was certainly the richer for it from a story writing standpoint.

Despite the feeling that much of this past season was a setup for something grander, it’s still my favorite show and I won’t even try to deny my love.  I eagerly await the return of the Venture clan, the Monarch, Dr. Orpheus, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, and all the rest.  November can’t get here soon enough.  Final grade: A

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11 Comments

  1. Enh, George Huff was good, but he was basically a backup singer…

    I have to say that I’ll never understand how so many people got into Grey’s Anatomy. Lisa and I watched some of the first couple episodes and thought it was crap. And then everybody was talking about it. House simply fell by the wayside once we had less time for TV (and couldn’t care enough to follow the new team).

  2. Enh, George Huff was good, but he was basically a backup singer…

    I have to say that I’ll never understand how so many people got into Grey’s Anatomy. Lisa and I watched some of the first couple episodes and thought it was crap. And then everybody was talking about it. House simply fell by the wayside once we had less time for TV (and couldn’t care enough to follow the new team).

  3. Scrubs coming back is just a big fucking waste. I don’t even know why they’re bothering.

    House and Grey’s Anatomy were removed from my DVR. There’s only so much irritation I can tolerate in a week, and between the ghost sex and being told to post my condolences for Kumar on FOX’s homepage, I’ve had it. I’m tired of directors forming unhealthy attachments to pretty people they want to fuck, and then shoving them down my throat through their shows. It’s at the point where I never want to see Olivia Wilde, Omar Epps, Katherine Heigl, or Jeffrey Dean Morgan ever again.

    HIMYM and The Office are holding steady as the only sitcoms I can tolerate, though HIMYM needs to lose the laugh track immediately.

    American Dad is so much better than Family Guy these days. Roger taking a bigger role in every episode has helped tremendously, because there will never be a time when an alien Paul Lynde is not funny.

    Right now I’m addicted to the hilariously craptacular Harper’s Island. It’s like a bad murder mystery novel on tv, and it promises to be done forever in 13 episodes. What’s not to like?

    GO TEAM VENTURE!

    BTW, did you catch KISS and Queen on AI last night? I’m curious what you, of all people, thought about it.

    1. I haven’t watched AI since they booted George Huff off in season 3. I’ve never forgiven them for that. What Queen and Kiss was done?

  4. Scrubs coming back is just a big fucking waste. I don’t even know why they’re bothering.

    House and Grey’s Anatomy were removed from my DVR. There’s only so much irritation I can tolerate in a week, and between the ghost sex and being told to post my condolences for Kumar on FOX’s homepage, I’ve had it. I’m tired of directors forming unhealthy attachments to pretty people they want to fuck, and then shoving them down my throat through their shows. It’s at the point where I never want to see Olivia Wilde, Omar Epps, Katherine Heigl, or Jeffrey Dean Morgan ever again.

    HIMYM and The Office are holding steady as the only sitcoms I can tolerate, though HIMYM needs to lose the laugh track immediately.

    American Dad is so much better than Family Guy these days. Roger taking a bigger role in every episode has helped tremendously, because there will never be a time when an alien Paul Lynde is not funny.

    Right now I’m addicted to the hilariously craptacular Harper’s Island. It’s like a bad murder mystery novel on tv, and it promises to be done forever in 13 episodes. What’s not to like?

    GO TEAM VENTURE!

    BTW, did you catch KISS and Queen on AI last night? I’m curious what you, of all people, thought about it.

  5. I just got season 2 of Eureka – I’m very far behind.

    At this point I’d say that HIMYM is the best comedy on TV (with Better Off Ted likely to overtake it if they actually renew it… holy cow, they did!), but I could never get past the first episode of The Office. Scrubs could work if they transition to the new set of interns and they’re actually good. Dramas that last this long tend to go through lots of cast changes, but for some reason that’s frowned on with sitcoms.

    And I have to admit that The Big Bang Theory got really good. I thought it would be a terrible show, but they’ve done a good job with the geek humor. I finally added it to my DVR.

  6. I just got season 2 of Eureka – I’m very far behind.

    At this point I’d say that HIMYM is the best comedy on TV (with Better Off Ted likely to overtake it if they actually renew it… holy cow, they did!), but I could never get past the first episode of The Office. Scrubs could work if they transition to the new set of interns and they’re actually good. Dramas that last this long tend to go through lots of cast changes, but for some reason that’s frowned on with sitcoms.

    And I have to admit that The Big Bang Theory got really good. I thought it would be a terrible show, but they’ve done a good job with the geek humor. I finally added it to my DVR.

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