Mike’s Prattle


TV through the summer

Posted by Mike on September 3, 2008

Starting this week and through September, there are many returning quality television shows, but the summer wasn’t quite as kind. But here’s a short round up of what I’m watching bringing things current to last night. (All times PST)

Weeds / Showtime / Monday 10 PM (B-) – Having Showtime I’ve managed to keep up with this show although I watched the seasons out of order. This season (#4 I think) has seen the Botwin family moved by necessity to a Southern California town on the border of Mexico, with Nancy becoming further entangled in drug running and crime, to the point where she becomes romantically entangled with an important Mexican politician who’s running a great deal of drug traffic. Nancy’s put as a front in a store whose storehouse hides an illegal tunnel under the border, although it doesn’t strike me that this tunnel is long enough to stretch from a mall store underneath the border past customs and all that. Weeds has more or less gone of in a different direction and continues to be mildly amusing, particularly Nancy ‘s ayahuasca trip which looks to be a game changer.

Secret Diary of a Call Girl / Showtime / Series 1 concluded (C) – Having watched Billie Piper through season 2 of the new Doctor Who, I never got quite used to her playing the part of a prostitute, and while the show was starting to get intriguing by the end of the run, it never really struck me as being all that interesting or enlightening about the trade. I found the entry of her best friend into a couples situation towards the end to be some of the better character-driven plotting, but overall I’m very lukewam about this one, and not particularly likely to check out Season 2 when it airs.

Generation Kill / HBO / Miniseries concluded (incomplete) – I’ve still got the finale to On Demand when I get the requisite free time. I actually had Band of Brothers on DVD going at about the same time as this series which managed to mix me up a bit, given their similarities. My interest in this is mostly due to my love for the Wire whose creator (David Simon) made this the next project. It follows a young and typically misogynist front line marine unit into Iraq, transforming a bunch of young guys you’d never spend the time of day on to some fairly sympathetic characters. The problem here is the subject matter is so ugly it’s a difficult task to make it watchable, and the early episodes suffered from wishing they’d give the Rolling Stone writer some character depth so I had someone to root for. But like with the Wire there’s an uncomfortably sense of reality here not worth shying away from.

Psych / FX / Friday 10 PM (C+ so far) – The problem with a Friday 10 PM show is even if you’re around to watch it sometimes you’re really too distracted to do so, which might have a slight drag on my opinion of this buddy “fake psychic” show. I really loved Season 1 of this and to a lesser degree Season 2, but perhaps due to now watching it as it airs, I’m not quite as attentive as I used to be. I love the chemistry of the leads and the cast in general, but I enjoy the show more when Shawn has to use his abilities to get himself out of nasty personal snags, in fact the first arc of Season 1 where he’s trying to convince the cops he’s a psychic is still probably my favorite. But so far this year I haven’t been drawn in and kinda wish there were some larger arcs on this show, or at least more visible ones.

Mad Men / AMC / Sunday 10 PM (A- so far) – The first truly stupendously good show to air since Lost finished in May, Mad Men is improving on a considerably amazing (and potentially Emmy-award winning) first season. I love the way this show looks (the sets are lavish, with an amazing eye for period detail) and particularly love the way, like good literature, the show hints at the issues rather than spells them out. Flashbacks, time gaps and a storyline that advances through the decade of the 60s, everything about this show is top notch. Jon Hamm, up for a Best Actor Emmy for Season 1, has raised his game even more and I’m really enjoying the mysterious Don and Peggy subplot that shows that behind the adulterous facade, there’s quite a man in there.

Real Time with Bill Maher / HBO / 11 PM (incomplete) – Maher’s left wing political talk show started airing again last Friday with something of a flat panel, a disappointment given how much there is to talk about lately. No talk at all about his movie Religulous, which is half of why I really like Maher, less about his politics and more that he’s not afraid to go after religious absurdity. Not a popular position to take in this day and age, where facts mean “supports what I already believe.”

The Shield / FX / Monday 10 PM (incomplete) – Been waiting for this one to return, in its final season, to TV for well over a year now and the first episode was well worth the wait, an episode that ran over at least five minutes. Finally Vic Mackey and his guys look like they’re starting to unravel for the big final. One of the most gripping, intense and violent shows of the last few years, including the aftermath of a body dragged down a street and its remains, evocative of Dexter.

Watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report a lot, when they’re on they’re the funniest shows on television. Decided to catch up with the recent Fox marathon of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, only to regret it (the acting is generally very subpar, particularly the lead). Tonight the series premiere of Bones, and next week series/season premieres of True Blood, Entourage, Rachel Maddow’s show on MS-NBC, and Fringe.


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