Mike’s Prattle


What I’m Watching

Posted by Mike on October 20, 2006

The new season is now underway on the telly, so I thought I’d talk a little about what I’m watching. I’m of the opinion, generally, that dramas on TV have been generally improving over the last couple years, so there’s quite a bit to watch. Here’s what I’m checking out during the week:


The only show I’ve been watching on Monday’s is NBC’s new series Heroes, which also repeats on Friday nights on the Sci-Fi channel. Heroes is fairly intriguing, and I particularly like this sort of thing because I prefer longer arc shows to standalones and Heroes reels off chapter by chapter. Its premise is that ordinary people around the world (well, mostly the USA) are developing superpowers of a sort. What’s keeping me coming back week to week are the slowly revealed clues to the bigger picture, often revealed in the episodes’ cliffhangers. Right now many of the characters are separated so there’s not a lot of cohesion yet, but I’m particularly intrigued by Hiro, whose power seems to be to be able to teleport himself through space and time. His thread delivered something of a whopper of a cliffhanger last week, hinting at a much more complex plot than it seems at the moment. The negatives are some of the actors/actresses, whose acting can be fairly wooden at times, there’s no obvious chemistry going on with anyone yet.

Heroes, NBC, 9 PM, B-


The best show of the new year would be NBC’s Friday Night Lights, which I believe is moving to Monday at 10 next week as it has been suffering in the ratings, while conversely doing very well critically. It’s story, based on the book which also inspired a movie, is about a small town Texan high school football team, using that concept to spin stories about the town and how the team affects various people. I knew I was onto something special when at the end of the first episode, after a tragedy, the team prays on field together in Southern Baptist fashion without being at all offensive or cheesy. It’s since moved from strength to strength, the acting in general is fabulous. A show I’d hate to see cancelled.

Also on Tuesday’s is Veronica Mars, now in its third season. The highlights of this show are generally the good scripts and snappy dialogue, although I wouldn’t really put this one up in my favorites, I’m mostly still watching because the first season was so strong and the quality hasn’t totally dived. It’s pretty typical for WB/now CW sorts of shows, except quite a bit cleverer. Post Buffy if you will.

Friday Night Lights, NBC, Monday, 10 PM, A-
Veronica Mars, CW, Tuesday, 9 PM, C+


This is the biggest day of the week and at least for the next few weeks, I watch four programs. The first is the new post-nuclear war apocalyptic story “Jericho” on CBS at 7 PM. Again, this is not flawless television, but like “Heroes” it’s episodic in a very Lost sort of way and manages to reveal a couple new plot developments every week. I’m guessing what’s happening isn’t as straight as a post-Nuclear war situation and it ought to get fairly interesting as we learn more about the secretive characters.

I’ve started checking out new situation comedy 30 Rock on NBC, mostly because Tracy Morgan was the last SNL actor to make me laugh. Its premise is behind the scenes of a comedy show a la SNL. Two episodes have aired, this last week’s episode being extremely funny as Tina Fey tries to get her cast back in working order after being saddled with Morgan’s character Tracy Jordan. The show is tanking in the ratings now, however, so it may not last. Besides, the writing team never did it for me on SNL, so I’m wondering how fluke-y my appreciation is at the moment. I should probably mention the comedy that comes after this one with Jeffrey Tambour, except I can’t remember its name and I’m mostly watching it to fill the gap from 8 30 to 9. Fairly funny if a big reminder of comedies from the 80s and 90s, thus giving it a bit of a dated feel.

Season 3 of Lost is underway and it’s something of a mixed bag this year now that we’re half way through it’s initial 6 episodes (the story resumes next year after these are done). I generally like the show because a lot of weird, unexplained stuff happens and I probably differ with a lot of detractors who feel they don’t explain things fast enough. It gives me a Twilight Zone-ish vibe and has been a standard appointment ever since I came in to the show in the first season. It’s probably not as good as it was, though, and things are getting pretty scattered now.

One of the great joys of the new season is the return of South Park, which hasn’t been this funny the last couple years. Three episodes have aired, and both the first one (with the kids playing World of Warcraft) and last Wednesday’s episode about Ike’s Kindergarten teacher are two of the best (and sickest) eps I’ve seen from the show in a long while. It’s great to see it’s not tanking anymore as it has always been one of my favorites.

Jericho, CBS, 7 PM, B-
30 Rock, NBC, 8 PM, C+
Lost, ABC, 9 PM, C+
South Park, Comedy Central, 10 PM, A-


I’ve got two competing shows during the 8 PM hour that I like, although this is probably my least favorite night of the week. Been watching Smallville for a while and even if it’s not a show I’d particularly recommend, it’s occasionally entertaining, especially when the story is part of a larger arc rather than a standalone. Last night’s episode was probably the best of the season so far, involving the Green Arrow, although I still find that the dialogue and acting can be pretty clunky even now that we’re in Season 6. The other show, is the US version of The Office, that now that it’s in its third season is departing in many ways from the classic British version. The series’ fantastic premise, familiar to anyone who works in a similar situation, allows for lots of laughs even when the stories are absurd.

Smallville, CW, 8 PM, C-
The Office, NBC 8:30 PM, B-


One of my three favorite television shows (I’ll talk about the other two in a sec)  is now in its third season, the revamp of Battlestar Galactica. While I still feel like I’m in a holding pattern in terms of what I think of the new episodes, the first two seasons of this were A television and I own the DVDs, feeling I liked the show even better the second time through (this is not really a series you can come in easily in the middle). Similarly, it wouldn’t surprise me if a rewatch would improve my understanding of the New Caprica milieu.

I should also give a shout out to Doctor Who as well, although this is a show that I grew up with when I lived in Britian and is almost genetically hardwired into me now to the point where I enjoy it flaws and all. I’m actually up with the British schedule at the moment and waiting for the spinoff, adult series Torchwood to start this weekend, so I don’t always catch the Sci-Fi channel versions, but now it’s sandwiched between Heroes and BSG, I’m far more inclined to watch it again. Last week’s airing and tonight’s eps were my favorites of the season, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, tonight’s a good night.

Heroes (repeat), 7 PM, Sci-Fi
Doctor Who (US airing), 8 PM, Sci-Fi, B
Battlestar Galactica, 9 PM, Sci-Fi, A- (overall A)


I would have called Deadwood (HBO, A) my favorite show until the disappointing Season 3 climax. It’s about over now, though, with only two more movies being produced to finish the series, something of a grave disappointment (tempered by Season 3 naturally). That drop put it about even with FX’s The Shield (A), whose Season 5 early this year was probably the best full season of television I’ve ever seen. It’s been pushed back to return next March, something I can’t wait for especially after Forrest Whitaker’s amazing performances. 24 (B) starts next January and even though it has more plot holes than a swiss cheese, is usually a fun night of escapist television.

There’s a few other shows I’m interested in checking out, including The Nine, Eureka, and Ugly Betty, but things change when NBA season starts so I’m not trying to get overwhelmed.


One Response to “What I’m Watching”

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