Saturday, 24 October 2009

Of The New Television Season 2009

Yup it's back and it's very late. This time however I get the added benefit of being able to look at more than one show before I rank it. I will also be updating this list with Fringe, Modern Family, V, Dexter and Cougar Town at a some point down the line due to not having seen enough yet of these shows. 30 Rock despite only airing two episodes will however be included because it's just that damn funny. So here go in rank order from best to worst the shows of the new television season!

First off a split between returning and new shows.

New Shows:

Hands down the best new show of the season. Glee is just a lot of fun. It's everything High School Musical should be but can't due to it's Disney stamp. It's absolutely hilarious (biggest honours go to Jane Lynch who sadly will not be back for Party Down Season 2). Then there's the fact that the music is really well done. Whilst I'm not the biggest fan of modern popular music, even I'll admit I enjoyed the bit where all the football players danced to "Single Ladies". If the show can continue in this campy over the top soap opera like way but still be as winky and hilarious as it is now, I may have a new contender for funnest show on television (especially due to the current lack of Chuck).

After a brilliant first couple of episodes, Community has sadly put out several lackluster episodes in a row. The show still has a ton of potential but sadly isn't quite reaching it at the moment. Abed is brilliant and Joel McHale shines through with an absolutely winning and great performance. Sadly the characters a just a little bit too one dimensional and Chevy Chase hasn't been as funny as he could be (especially after the brilliant classroom scene a few episodes back). The show really needs to bring Joel McHale to the forefront more, give us more Abed and develop the characters stat. I have faith we'll get another brilliant episode soon, plus the full season pick up should give the writers time to figure out what works and what doesn't

The show with the most compelling concept of the new season. Sadly it still isn't quite pushing all the right buttons. For a show billed as the next Lost it is nowhere near as interesting as Lost was by this stage. By episode 5 of Lost we already the truly stunning 2 hour pilot (something Flashfoward should have had) and the absolutely sublime Walkabout, one of the greatest hours of television ever. It was also a multi-layered character drama with some really compelling characters who wanted to follow and find out more about. Even the complete dicks became compelling. Sadly Flashforward doesn't make us want to do this. I don't love any of the characters (although I am really enjoying John Cho and the promise of Dominic Monaghan joining the show is interesting). Plus the actually event of Flashforward seems to be of secondary nature to the mystery. There has been very little visual fallout to the actually event, something which could have been exceedingly compelling. Watching what people become after a massive cataclysm? Awesome. All we got was the main character running through the streets. By the end of the day everything was seemingly back to normal. No traffic jams, no overtime at the hospital. Our characters came back to their house just in time to add pieces to the (admittedly quite cool) mystery. Lost had the characters moments and human nature to back up them mystery. However you can't just have a show based on a mystery. It might be what gives a show a rabid fan base but it doesn't build one. If Locke, Ben, Hurely, Desmond, Sawyer, Jack, Daniel hadn't been in Lost the show just wouldn't feel the same and probably wouldn't have the furor it currently possesses. Hopefully Flashforward can pull it together because it is a compelling concept, sadly the current execution is lacking.

Returning Shows:

Mad Men
I've raved about this show enough and will be raving even more in my review of Season 3 in a few weeks and (SPOILERS!!!) when it tops the year end list of best television shows of 2009 after Christmas. Just know it's the best show on television and if you're not watching it you're retarded

Caught up over Summer and I'm glad I did. It's fun and epic. The Apocalypse story is only getting better and it keeps churning out fantastic episodes week after week. Plus two of the upcoming episodes look to be absolutely superb (the return of The Trickster and a mid-season finale which sounds epic). Another show which if you're not watching you're an idiot.

Whilst Dexter Season 3 certainly wasn't as balls to the walls fantastic as Season 2, it still gave us Michael C. Hall's riveting performance as one of the finest characters on television. The same can be said of Jimmy Smitts as Miguel Prado, but sadly he hasn't returned for Season 4 for obvious reasons. But we still get Michael C. Hall and the quest for a new serial killer stalking Miami. Obviously the show won't be as tense as it was in Season 2 (at least until maybe the final season) but we still get a master class in how to do a compromised crime series with the very definition of anti-hero at the centre. Season 4 has been great so far focusing on the real life issues of Dexter's life, juxtaposed with the serial killer nature as well as the very enjoyable looking of this seasons Big Bad, The Trinity Killer, who so far is probably the most fucked in the head killer the show has had and I can't wait to see where the rest of this story goes.

How I Met Your Mother

Funniest show on television with a lot of heart, crazy time bending stories and the one and only Neil Patrick Harris as the superb Barney Stinson. Really that's the only reason you need. The show is just as great and creative as ever (although the episode two weeks was seriously weak)

30 Rock + The Office
I'm putting these two shows together just because. Both seriously funny and a very tight and enjoyable duo of comedies. Nothing more to say apart from them both being seriously funny and definite must watches for fans of good comedy. The writing and acting are of their normal top notch but really you shouldn't come to expect anything less from two of the best all round comedies on television. (As a note the premiere of 30 Rock was absolutely stunning and probably the singly funniest thing I've seen all season from any show including HIMYM and Glee)

This is mostly for the latest episode which was crazy good. Whilst the show still suffers from the same flaws as Season 1, the second season has gone a long way to repair some of them and is definitely building to crazy good stuff, especially with the introduction of Summer Glau in the next episode (which sadly won't be on until December). However the latest episode was just superb (I may even do an entire blog post devoted to it). Whilst stuff like the episode where Echo became a mother weren't brilliant they were at least decent. Sadly the show still continues to fluctuate between god-awful, decent and brilliant a lot. I just hope the current run of brilliance will continue into the next few episodes (a two-parter) and hopefully we get more on the Epitaph One world we saw at the end of Season 1 (especially as those scenes were shot for the premiere)

Parks and Recreation
The show has seen massive improvements from it's first season and now makes me laugh a lot more frequently. The characters gel better and some have gone from being painfully dull to downright hilarious. This show is getting better with every episode, so I expect to see this climbing higher as it goes on.

South Park
South Park is mostly this low down due to potential. The current batches of episodes have been very good with great material, South Park is definitely one of the best comedies on television but at the moment it definitely isn't as perfect as it was in Season 10 or 11. Whilst not as awful as some moments in Season 12 this season rests somewhere in the middle. Whilst still being hilarious (as South Park is most of the time) I just wish we could something of the genius level as 'Cartoon Wars', 'Make Love Not Warcraft', 'With Apologies to Jesse Jackson' or 'Fantastic Easter Special'

Whilst it might seem I'm bashing Heroes again, I'm actually not. Whilst it's at the bottom of this list again it's not because it's bad. In fact it's actually good. It's just not as good as any of the other returning shows. However every single returning show this season has been great and Heroes has been a real surprise considering the dip in quality. It really does feel like Bryan Fuller's all too brief return had an amazing effect because the show has had a drastic improvement in quality. We've got some decent character drama, interesting developments and whilst some of the show is still lacking (Hiro should stop being comic relief, he works well in dramatic situations, see latest episode as proof) the show has come on by leaps and bounds. Hopefully the show will continue on this streak with compelling stories (hell Sylar is part of two of the seasons best stories and that's ignoring Peter's story entirely) we might yet achieve a season to rival the brilliant (if now sullied Season 1). Sadly it also looks like Mohinder will be back next month which is never a good sign (particularly in now Bryan Fuller-less world). Just as long as we keep a limited number of stories per episode (we don't need everyone, the show has been working so much better with 2 or 3 stories an episode) Heroes might become more enjoyable yet!

That should be it, remember to check back for updates or if you have any questions on any of the shows (particularly the ones with limited briefs) then comment away and I'll get back to you.

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