Saturday, June 2, 2012

What You Should Have Watched #17

My Final Thoughts 
on the 2011-2012 Season

If you want a quick refresher, here were my plans at the beginning of the regular TV season that just ended, and here are my thoughts about how it started.

So, what changed between last August and now? Out of the 50 shows I had listed (which didn’t include Mad Men or any of the premium cable shows like Game of Thrones, Californication, etc.), I either dropped or totally ignored 11 of them. A couple (Glee, Burn Notice) were shows I had watched for a while but lost interest in by the end of the season’s premiere. Some (Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Ringer) had me deleting the show before the series premiere was halfway done. Alcatraz is still on my DVR. All of it. I don’t have the heart to delete it without watching the first episode, but I find myself not caring about it, especially since it was cancelled.

Most of the old stuff was solid this year. Shows like Family Guy, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, and The Office were reliable. Some good episodes, some bad, but nothing earth-shatteringly great or awful.

Some shows, however, were incredible each and every week. Fringe and Castle didn’t let me down at all. I loved the way Fringe successfully did somewhat of a soft reboot of the show. I loved how the will-they/won’t-they interplay between Olivia and Peter had to be revisited. I loved Walter. I can totally understand why this show isn’t a ratings hit, because it’s not something that you can really casually watch. I am happy that the show is getting a final (albeit shortened) season in order to wrap everything up.

The worst thing Castle had going for it was the introduction of the new Captain, Penny Johnson as Victoria Gates. She wasn’t bad, it’s just that I didn’t much care for her character. Everybody else was consistently great, though. I started watching the show because of Nathan Fillion, but I stayed because of the entire cast and their characters. Again we’ve got the will-they/won’t-they, but it’s much more urgent this season. I don’t know how much to say about the finale without totally spoiling everything. My biggest hope about the next season is that they don’t sweep everything under the rug, that it doesn’t start a few months after the finale with…well, everything back to status quo. I have faith in the writer’s, though, that more good stories will come out of it.

There were some great comedies that I found it difficult to NOT watch the night they aired, despite whatever time I was able to relax in the evening. The best new comedy of the season, and quite possibly my favorite overall comedy of the season, was New Girl. As with a lot of the shows I enjoy, the main character is not the draw. Well, she got me there, but Jess’s roommates, especially Max Greenfield’s Schmidt, kept me around and gave me many cackling, laugh-out-loud moments. Lump in New Girl with great shows like Happy Endings, Cougar Town, Suburgatory, Community, Parks and Recreation, Big Bang Theory, The League, Louie, Archer, and Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23, this was a great time to be a fan of smart and wonderfully written situation comedies.

The biggest surprise for me was my first real foray into reality television. I tend to shun any and all reality shows. They all just come across as creepy. Watching people attempt and more than likely fail at their dreams, or watching so-called celebrities “live” their “lives,” it’s too tawdry for me. I can’t even get into educational shows on Discovery or The History Channel because, well, when I watch TV, I’m relaxing. I don’t want to learn. I don’t want to work. Then I found out about Drinking Made Easy, and my embargo on reality shows was lifted. It’s a fun show that follows host Zane Lamprey and bearded sidekick Steve McKenna as they travel the country and sample local brews, spirits, and cocktails. It’s two guys getting paid to get drunk. Awesome.

My biggest disappointment this season was Supernatural. It wasn’t bad, but it was probably the weakest season they’ve had. Season 6’s overall storyline was weak, but it had some great episodes. This season, though, was weak on all fronts. They got rid of Castiel in the first episode and waited too long to bring him back. They got rid of Bobby. Not enough Crowley. Too much Meg. The Leviathan as villains didn’t seem quite so…immediate. Although I liked the way James Patrick Stuart played Dick Roman, I just didn’t feel the urgency that I’ve felt in past seasons to defeat the Big Bad. The highlights of the season had to do with the guest stars, three women who are on or who have spent time on “The List”: Jewel Staite, Charisma Carpenter, and Felicia Day. I’m single, ladies! Call me! Day’s character is still alive, so I’m hoping she’ll show up again next season. Oh! And James Marsters was there, too!

I realize I’ve not mentioned any offerings from Showtime, Starz, or HBO. Quickly, then. Dexter was awful this season. The Deb/Dexter stuff was creepy, and not in a good way, and I groaned, sometimes out load, whenever Colin Hanks came on screen. He is not a good actor. Most of the other stuff that I watched (Californication, Shameless, Spartacus) was solid. Nothing great, but always enjoyable. HBO debuted Girls and Veep, and I’m really enjoying Veep. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays somewhat of a combination of Elaine and Old Christine, and that’s comedy gold when you put the character as next in line to the presidency of the United States. Girls, though, is harder to get behind. It comes off a lot like a hipster version of Sex and the City, and I hated Sex and the City. The four main women were all awful people in some way, and I felt incredibly bad for the men that fell for them. With Girls, the main characters are a bit more likeable and the men slightly less likeable than their SatC counterparts. I’m still watching it, though. I heard Donald Glover will be on next season, so that right there is a way to keep me around.

And we’ll end with HBO’s Game of Thrones, which airs its season finale this Sunday. Holy crap. This season has been phenomenal. There’s just not enough room to talk about how awesome Tyrion and Arya are, or how much I hate Joffrey and Theon. I read the first book when the first season ended, and that was going to be my plan with the other seasons and books. I’ve since decided that I can’t wait, and I’ll be doing my best to catch up on the rest of the series this summer.

Now that the main season is over, I’ll be cleaning out my DVR. I’ve got some Mad Men, Magic City, Shameless, and Alcatraz that I need to get through. After that, unless AT&T brings my monthly bill down back to where they said it would be, I’m getting rid of cable all together. I’ll be reliant on Netflix, Hulu+, and Amazon Prime. I’m pretty sure the only way this’ll affect me is that I won’t be able to watch the premium stuff as it airs or stuff on CBS. The premium stuff I’ll be able to watch on Netflix, but CBS kind of pisses me off. The other major networks are great about offering their shows online, but CBS is really hit-or-miss, and for the shows I watch (Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest) it’s miss. I’ll even be able to watch Supernatural by hooking my netbook up to my TV. Yay!

Also, in case you've forgotten: When I can remember to add this to the bottom of my posts, I’m going to whore myself out with an impassioned plea: click on the ads. PLEASE click on the ads. I don’t care if you exit out of it immediately or actually look around. This isn’t some professional blog where I believe in the products I’m shilling. These are automatic ads placed by Google. But when you click ads, I get a little bit of money, and as a single father of three, every penny from every source helps. So I’m going to keep this tiny bit of begging at the bottom of my posts, and I hope you’ll take an extra 10 seconds after reading my blog to click on an ad. The only thing it costs you is time. :) Thanks so much!

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