If you read only one blog full of ranting and raving about sports (local and otherwise), movies, TV shows, miscellaneous pop culture, life and other assorted flotsam and jetsam, make it this one!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Week In TV - 9/28/14

Remember how I used to post about which comic books I bought every week, with comments about each book (or comics in general, or whatever else I decided was sort of related to them)? Well, I don't buy nearly as many comics as I used to (go back and read about my issues with the DC comics reboot that led to Superman's using his baby blanket as a cape). So, I thought I'd try something new: commentary on the TV shows I watch each week.

This is in part inspired by what a big week this was for my personal TV viewing, which I will get to. First, though, this won't be about my regular Monday-through-Friday shows -- consisting of the brilliant Keith Olbermann on ESPN2 and, of course, TMZ -- unless something in particular during those shows that I think needs attention. Nor will this be about telecasts of sporting events, again unless I feel it's warranted. So we'll start with the programs that aired between September 21 and 28. (I didn't necessarily watch them in their time slot. I usually DVR everything and skip through the commercials. Also, I hope future posts won't be as long as this one is turning out to be.)

Last Monday started with, thanks to the magic of DVR, two episodes of The Big Bang Theory on CBS, the two-hour third-season finale of Dallas on TNT and the premiere of the new series Gotham on Fox.

Big Bang has been on so long now that I'm sort of waiting for the dropoff in quality. Not sure it's happened yet, because they've been able to have the characters grow out of their established personas. It's very slow, but just enough (such as Raj finally being able to talk to women without alcohol) to keep them interesting. So we'll see. (Note: it's on Monday for a few weeks due to CBS showing some NFL games on Thursdays.)

The Dallas reboot has been surprising since the start. Although ostensibly starring the sons of J.R. and Bobby Ewing, so much of the show has featured the old cast, and killing off J.R. (necessitated as it was by Larry Hagman's passing) led to some of the best television of 2013. Season three ended with a shocking death, although the shock was lessened by the fact that it happened at the very end of the episode and was hyped by TNT: "One...Ewing...Will...Die." Better to kill the character in the middle so it's truly unexpected.

I had tremendous expectations for Gotham, the Batman series without Batman.
A little like Smallville in that  the hero won't become the hero until the series ends, this series begins with his parents' murder and the introduction of young Gotham City police detective Jim Gordon and other cops, as well as the infamous villains in their early years -- before Selina Kyle becomes Catwoman, Oswald Cobblepot becomes the Penguin, etc. But watching the premiere was disappointing. I like some of the premise of seeing these people turn into the monsters they're destined to become, and seeing how they guide Bruce Wayne on his journey from boyhood to Bat-hood, but the writing needs a lot of work. It was very clich├ęd, very boilerplate. And the acting wasn't as good as I would have expected. I'm tuning in for a second week but I need to see improvement.

Tuesday brought the start of season two of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I was close to dropping this ABC show, but it rebooted itself into a much different series midway through season one (thanks to the story ties to the second Captain America film's big plot twist), and that kept me with it. One episode in, I'm still with it, although I was disappointed by the fact that Lucy Lawless won't be seen again...unless, of course, there are flashbacks.

Wednesday has nothing until the CW brings back Arrow and the new season of American Horror Story arrives on FX.

Thursday started with Bones on Fox, beginning its tenth season. And like Big Bang Theory, there's enough character development for now. but this is more repetitive. The premiere followed up on Season 9's cliffhanger, and they killed off someone as well, but once they wrap this up it seems like they'll go back into the wacky-murder-of-the-week that they always feature. It may be time to let go.

After that comes the two-three Shonda Rhimes punch on ABC. (Well, it's a one-two-three punch but I don't watch Grey's Anatomy.) Both Scandal, entering its fourth season, and the new How to Get Away with Murder, are utterly preposterous. But Scandal feels like it has a chance of being slightly realistic. The strange doings of our nation's capital in real life make the show not as much of a stretch as you might think, and it's highly entertaining. On the other hand, ...Murder feels too over-the-top. I don't see it as being remotely possible for a lawyer to defend a client while teaching a criminal law class and having her students run around finding evidence in the case, most (if not all) of them, including the professor herself, using underhanded methods. And while I appreciate a gay sex scene (such as they can get away with on network TV), a possibly gay character (I say possibly because I'm not sure he's really gay or just willing to screw a guy to get info) isn't enough for me to stay in. And having a weekly case along with two ongoing mysteries is just too much.

And here we fast-forward to Sunday, which was quite the day in my household. The 26th(!!!!!!!!!!!!)-season premiere of The Simpsons and, a half-hour after that, the one-hour Family Guy season premiere, in which the Griffins find themselves stranded in Springfield. Not the one in Missouri. Not Kentucky. Not even Pennsylvania. Yep, the Springfield in the State That Must Not Be Named. The one where the Simpsons live.

The Simpsons premiere was hyped because they revealed that a character would die in the episode, one whose voice actor won an Emmy for the role. The Internet ran with that and decided that a major character was a goner. I figured it wasn't going to be that big a deal, and once the episode's title was revealed -- "Clown in the Dumps" -- it was obvious that the dead character was going to be Krusty's father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky, voiced by Jackie Mason. (Well, obvious except to the morons who figured it would be Krusty himself.) Like most Simpsons episodes these days, it's hit-or-miss. Individual lines and sight gags are better than the plots themselves. Also, when I tried to watch it live the picture kept freezing, totally ruining that half-hour. I had to watch On Demand the next day to see it in full from start to finish. Judging from my search on Twitter it was a local issue; whether it was Fox29 or Comcast Xfinity having the technical problems is unknown, but I hate them both, so...

As for "The Simpsons Guy," the great Simpsons-Family Guy crossover that had me totally geeked for weeks, especially after a five-minute sampling hit the Interwebs, was...pretty good. It really was a Family Guy episode featuring the Simpsons. So much of the humor didn't quite mesh. The Family Guy writers did treat the Simpson family and friends well, for the most part, but there was quite a bit of meta commentary on the Simpsons' longevity, of Family Guy's being accused of being a louder, dumber copy of the Simpsons, on TV crossovers themselves, etc. So while I enjoyed it, what I think I'm really looking forward to is the crossover between Matt Groening's two creations. The Simpsons and the now-defunct Futurama meet in November!

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