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for Thursday, October 1, 2009

Old TV Set

The new fall TV season has launched and I have a hankering to share a few thoughts on what I've been watching of late. We'll go more or less day-by-day.

Monday through Thursday, I watch The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. The current politics of the day, the revolting actions of the Republicans, and the cowardly response of the Democrats have me so angry that I can only get my news through comedy's filter. Besides, I trust Stewart's insights more than those of any other news commentators and marvel nightly at how well Colbert makes his points while performing the part of a ridiculous right-wing pundit.

I've start watching Two and a Half Men again. There's still an over reliance on the sex jokes, but there are other story elements in play as well. The acting remains first-rate.

It took over two seasons of friends telling me I had to watch The Big Bang Theory, but now I'm hooked. Great characters, clever writing, comic-book references, they all feel right to me. I put the first two seasons on my Amazon wish list.

My veteran readers know I love my cop shows. In its sophomore season, Castle remains highly entertaining. Nathan Fillion is brilliant as mystery writer Richard Castle, as are Stana Katic as Detective Kate Beckett and Molly Quinn as Castle's daughter. I love the characters so much that I can excuse all the coincidences and genre illogic that accompany the murders of the week.

All three of the C.S.I. shows got off to somewhat rocky starts. The season premiere of C.S.I. Miami showed how the unit began, but the 1997 looks of the characters was often comical. What saved the episode was the conflict between the cops/prosecutor who wanted the easy win and Horatio Caine wanting the just outcome. The second episode had me rolling my eyes with its absurd "Dad has to go away for a while" attempt at a happy ending. Whatever Dad's motives, he committed so many crimes - including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and more - that his young son will be in his thirties or forties by the time Dad gets out of prison. Are those sunglasses or blinders?

C.S.I.: NY [Wednesday nights] fared worse. In the wake of the murder of one of their own and the crippling of another, the characters are going through rough times. But the unexplained, unrealistic hook up of two characters had a serious "ewww" factor while the introduction of a new recurring character gave me another case of severe eye roll.

The original C.S.I. [Thursday] had fine character stuff and some outstanding camera work in its season premiere. I could toss a few quibbles in the direction of the murders of the week and subsequent related crimes, but it was a fun episode.

I wish some network would move a show I actually want to watch to Tuesday. Thanks to the new schedules, Wednesday and Thursday have gotten ridiculous.

My love of cop shows likely stems from my desire to see proper justice served in an hour. On that score, the season premieres of both Law and Order: Special Victims Unit [Wednesday] and the original Law and Order [Friday] disappointed me. The former had one of the most depressing endings ever while the latter served to remind how gutless President Obama and Congress have been when it comes to investigating and prosecuting the clear crimes of the Bush administration. Grim as the world of these series often is, I still want to see justice triumph. And, if their producers are taking requests, how about a quick departure for Christine Lahti as the most obnoxious, least helpful, and clearly incompetent ADA ever to appear on Special Victims Unit.

The season premiere of Criminal Minds was solid, most notable for how well the characters of Paget Brewster and Matthew Gray Gubler stepped up to the plate...and the seriously creepy sub-plot involving Aaron Hotchner [played by Thomas Gibson]. Brewster and Gubler are just knocking their roles out of the park...and I'm not sure the show has revealed the extent of what the Reaper did to Hotch. I mean, the Reaper does know where Hotch's ex-wife and only child live (or did live before relocation) and he did taunt Hotch about the theory that some serial killers are impotent. This show delivers frequent goose bumps.

It was a last-minute decision to watch Cougar Town on a night when I was in need of some laughs. Courtney Cox surprised me with a raucous and sexy performance that provided those laughs. As her son, Dan Byrd was terrific as conveying both embarrassment at his mother's antics and his obvious love for her. I don't know if this series has legs, but I'll keep watching it for a couple more weeks to find out.

The pilot of Glee was one of the best shows I've seen this year, but I found myself, well, not in the mood to watch this series on a weekly basis. It's on my "watch on DVD" list with the superlative Dexter - I don't have HBO - and Heroes, which, considering I never even got through the first season, will probably move to my "don't bother" list.

That takes us through Wednesday. Thanks for spending part of your day with me.

I'll be back tomorrow with the rest of my thoughts on the new TV season.

Tony Isabella

<< 09/30/2009 | 10/01/2009 | 10/02/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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