Bryan Cranston winning an Emmy for best actor hasn’t been the only reason september has been good (well deserved, though I think Hugh Laurie is tragically overdue).
September brings new episodes for many beloved series and a handful of new shows, making it a month full of joy. If you love good television like I do, this is very important.
Though occasionally it is also a month that makes people like me loose all hope. So I’d like to stress the importance of being selective, because a tv monitor only becomes the proverbial idiot box when people indiscriminately watch whatever is on without emotionally or intellectually engaging with what’s being watched.
So here are my thoughts of what September has brought for us so far.
But first, the partially departed…
BURN NOTICE: In most cases, when a show has a brilliant first season, a bad or at least shaky second season should be expected, as was the case with the fun but lightweight Ugly Betty, Heroes, and Regenesis (a show I loved with intense passion that ended last May after four beautiful seasons). There are some exceptions, like the superb Battlestar Galactica and Dexter. And Burn Notice is proving to be one of those exceptions with a great first half of its second season that still makes MacGyver look like a pansy. The second half of the season will air next year, which is good and bad, because although we don’t have to wait almost a whole year to see new episodes, we’ve been left with an incomplete season. All that’s left to do is be very patient.
Of all the new releases, only two shows have caught my attention for their premise and the people behind it. And in my opinion they’ve delivered. For someone in the middle of a major mental block who’s a complete sucker for the dark and the very very weird, inspiration comes in the form of True Blood and Fringe.
TRUE BLOOD: One should expect excellence and quirkiness from Allan Ball, and that’s what this show is all about. It has also filled a void left by the lack of quality vampire shows (Moonlight could have achieved brilliance if made a little darker and given a second season. Oh well…). The idea of vampires becoming an active part of society instead of hiding in the shadows hadn’t been dealt with before and the first three episodes of True Blood have set this up quite nicely without being too expositional. With a cast headed by Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer (who briefly played a vampire in the brilliant, fantastically grim, very short and very english Ultraviolet), this is the show I’ll be following religiously. Microscopic highlight of the pilot: a quick pan over a tabloid magazine with the heading “Angelina Jolie adopts vampire baby”. Oh sweet irony!
FRINGE: Coming from J.J. Abrams and associates, this show’s cast is headed by a strong, independent, and competent female character. Fortunately, Fringe’s Olivia Dunham is all those things without being as annoyingly self-righteous as Alias’ Sidney Bristow or as recklessly annoying as Lost’s Kate. In general terms, Fringe has filled a void left by The X Files, presenting compelling cases of biotechnology gone terribly wrong and the typical yet interesting conspiracy arc that we’re only beginning to learn about as “The Pattern”. The scene stealers of the show are John Noble, the brilliant Australian actor playing mad genius Walter Bishop, and Joshua Jackson, who plays Bishop’s son. Also worth mentioning is Kirk Acevedo, a Band of Brothers alumn, playing agent Francis. If Rick Gomez, another Band of Brothers alumn and former star of the short lived What About Brian (another JJ Abrams creation), were to make an appearance on this show, my casting dreams would come true.
As for the oldies but goldies, some shows have returned with a bang. And there are others that still need to find their footing.
HOUSE: There’s just not a bad thing I can say about this show. The interaction between House,
THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: As much as I like this show, I felt there was something off about it in the first season. Unfortunately, I feel the same way about the second season. And unfortunately I can’t figure out what it is. Shirley Manson as the creepy terminator boss is a lovely addition to the cast, and Sarah’s paranoia regarding her impending lymphoma is being well played. My only hope is that John Connor’s newly found determination from the first episode doesn’t transform into typical teenage rebelliousness.
HEROES: I’ve only seen the first episode of the third season. I must say it seems as shaky as the beginning of the second season. The structure seemed convoluted and rushed. Although there were some nice twists like seeing Sylar finally getting into Claire’s brain, and the truth about who shot Nathan, offsetting the balance between normal humas and those with abilities by giving powers to Mohinder and to Ando (in the future) is a bit worrying. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. After all, the second season had a great conclusion after finally finding its footing, so there’s still hope for this show.
Missing from this entry are Dexter and Californication (airing next week), but I have extremely high hopes for these two shows and I’m almost sure I won’t be disappointed. Or at least I hope I won’t be.
I do watch a lot of tele, don’t I?
Behold the beauty of not having a social life! Ha!