18 September 2009

Busting the Hymen: The Start of the 2009-10 Television Season

When I was a small child my teacher gave my class a writing assignment. We were to think carefully about each season of the year and write down something we liked about each one, then present it to the class.

The pertinacious scholar that I was, I presented the following: "I like Fall because the new Television season starts, there's always good season premieres. I like the Winter because usually there are really good Christmas specials on. I like the Spring because that is season finale time and there's good shows on then too. Finally I like Summer because it's repeat time and we get to do it all over again!"

I'm not that good at much in this world. I can't really do a lot of sports or math or music or anything. I am, however, an exceptionally adept Television watcher. Thus this time of year is always dear to my heart. It's Fall. Time for some Season Premieres.

Now, I've just barely wet my appetite, although to be honest there's only a handful of shows that I watch on a regular basis (ie every week with no exceptions). Four of these come on on Thursday nights, which I will quickly highlight here:

Parks and Recreation (NBC): I wrote a tiny review after watching one episode at the end of this insane diatribe but now that I'm a little more comfortable knowing the characters I will admittedly say this started off as a straight "The Office" clone but has grown into something a bit more special. I don't know a single person who has discovered this show yet which is a shame because I'd love to talk to any living human about it sometime, while it's also a very worthwhile show. Out of everything I saw last night I ended up thinking of this episode the most- you know that means a lot in my TV-inundated world.

Anyway, the first episode this year consisted of an accidental marriage of two gay penguins, which threatens Leslie Knope's (Amy Poehler) attempt at not taking a political side working in the Parks and Recreation department of the Pawnee, IN local government. Regardless to say, hilarity ensues as Knope defends her right to be cute in the face of amassing gay rights vs. family values controversy. Oh ho ho.

The Office (NBC): I also chatted for a while here about my undying love for "The Office" but a masterful show like this could always use some more lubrication before the deep plunge. Last night's episode concerned rumours and gossip spread around the Scranton office of Dunder-Mifflin. It was nice after a lot of "big" storylines last year involving job loss, transitions and far-reaching struggles to return to ridiculing basic office politics, which is what makes this show work in the first place. Also Andy Bernard's (Ed Helms) quest to discover if he is gay or not was superb. Hmm. A lot of gay stuff so far. Let's continue.

Community (NBC):
Can you tell I like NBC yet? Out of the handful of shows I watch for my own personal amusement and not just to figure out zeitgeist, I'd say roughly 60% come from this channel. They're one of the only major networks who strives for high quality and critical claim from its shows in addition to popular response. It's also one of the few networks that will go out on a limb for a show, give it time to digest into the people's consciousness and support it if the ratings are poorer but the acclaim is good (The reason for this is simple, look at the history of "Seinfeld"). This is unlike Fox, for instance, which will go out for outside-of-the-box shows, then switch them around every week, go on hiatus for weeks on end and then cancel their goofy show before the first season ends. Of course after that you've got CBS who just goes after every broad demographic they can grab and ABC which essentially has just all shit all the time (except for LOST).

Ok. Now that I've got that awkward rant out of the way, let's talk about "Community." I fucking hate Joel McHale. He's Seacrest-Lite (which they awesomely acknowledged in the episode actually) hosting "The Soup" on E! and in general nearly an Affleck-caliber douchebag. In this show though, he works, which is making me shift my entire perceptions of reality and judgment. It was a solid premiere with some weird dialogue that went no where for some reason, but a good amount of laughs and a promising premise.

One thing cool about NBC is how they unquestioningly adhere to the single-camera "real" world set up pioneered by "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Arrested Development." It's such a seamless, natural feel that they've implemented with "Parks and Recreation" and "Community," that really should be the sitcom style of the late-2000s and hopefully more mainstream in the next decade. I'm too used it, frankly. I personally can't stand "Big Bang Theory" and "How I Met Your Mother" on CBS anymore because of their painfully dated audience and camera set ups. It's so limiting and removed from reality these days, I can't believe those formats are still popular. Of course these shows get huge support for some reason that escapes me.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (F/X): There's only a handful of cable shows I watch, most of them on F/X and Comedy Central (I love denouncing broad-taste favouring CBS in favour of more intelligent NBC shows, then subsequently admitting an avid viewership of F/X). I really should have written more about "Rescue Me" this summer which was an incredible series, including one of the best Season Finales I've seen in decades, but I digress. Let's go down to Phillie.

As far as episodes go, I thought this one was a little weak. I love when shows make fun of their own format, which the cast did marvelously at the beginning of the episode, trying to side with either a story about buying a house or Sweet Dee getting preggers, but after that I think it went downhill a bit. I think the show needs to liven up a bit instead of pitting the Gang against real-world humans, which it has done excellently in the past (and did excellently in this episode) but this repeated idea I believe is getting stale. Anywho, I laughed a shitload so maybe that's all that matters.

Concluding Thoughts:

I'm pretty pumped for this year, my dear readers. I follow about ten shows pretty regularly, but I'm pretty sure I can't pound out ten entries in addition to my usual...two per week. C'mon, that's a tall order here. If I see something I like, though, I'm going to ramble about it. That, my friends, you may look forward to.

Happy Clicking!

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