I have now watched at least one episode of every show I planned on watching this year. So, without further ado, I will give my takes on them, and what I see in their future. I am sure the execs at the major networks are nervous. I am doing this list in alphabetical order -- NOT in the order of what I think of the shows. (NOTE: I wanted to try some other shows like Six Degrees, Shark, House, Battlestar Galactica, and Vanished - but I had to draw the line somewhere.)
30 Rock - Behind the scences of a SNL-style show starring Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski - Only one episode of this one has shown. Here's the biggest problem with it - it isn't funny. I guess that helps it establish its realism - since the show it mimics isn't funny either (don't want to spoil that review, though). Some of the Tracy Morgan scenes are funny, but Alec Baldwin is pretty much playing his typical smarmy, clueless businessman role that has popped up in varying degrees for decades (Glengarry Glen Ross, The Cooler, Friends, SNL). And Jane Krakowski, who NBC forced Tina Fey to add at the last minute because she's prettier than Rachel Dratch (true story), flat out sucks. She isn't funny, she isn't pretty enough to make her worth the switch, and she just seems out of her league. - Prognosis: Not Good, maybe it will last the year.
Heroes - A huge comic book on screen featuring Ali Larter, Adrian Pasdar, and a ton of others - We love the show, but almost pulled the plug on it. The 2nd episode was so violent we shut it off. But we gave it another try and really got hooked on it. The stories are twisty turny like Lost, and are definitely influenced by comic books. And just like a good comice, it gives you tons of "wow" moments, and then leaves you wanting to buy the next issue. They do this better than Lost, in my opinion. Heroes (by the same team as Lost) gives satisfying answers each week, and then those answers make you more intrigued as to what they mean. The superpowers the people have are cool too. And the last two minutes of the 10/16 episode were about the most awesome I have seen in a looong time. - Prognosis: With the ratings it has, and the buzz, this one will last for a while.
How I Met Your Mother - A man tells his kids about, well the title; starring Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, and some other people - This show was one of our weekly shows last year, pretty much moving into our top five with Lost, 24, Scrubs, and American Idol. Then they ended the year by putting two star-crossed characters (Ted & Robin) together and splitting the two "meant-for-each-other" characters (Marshall & Lily) apart. And the show lost its mojo. There are still some funny moments (usually from Harris' Barney - an incredibly funny, crass, egomaniacal guy) and the story telling is done well. But the rhythm is off. The show needs to reunite the split Marshall and Lily. And we already know that Ted doesn't marry Robin (told in the very first episode). It is still a fun show, but just is starting to veer into uncool territory. - Prognosis: They best be careful or we'll never find out how Ted meets his wife.
Jericho - America has been hit with nukes, and the residents of Jericho, Kansas are trying to figure out what's up. Starring Skeet Ulrich, Gerald McRaney. I hate nuclear war movies. I could only stomach the Terminator films because the "future wasn't set." I grew up as Prez. Reagan was spending the USSR into oblivion, and the threat of nuclear war was very real. I was so freaked out by the concept, I have avoided that genre. Heather wanted to watch this show, and I opted out -- until I watched parts of some episodes. Now I sit in there "not watching." The unknown drives the show: who attacked, what's all the mysterious pasts of the characters, how bad is the damage, why did the enemy attack Denver. And it is good television without unnecessary emotional yanking or gore. We'll see how the show goes as more info is unveiled - or as it refuses to clear up the mystery. - Prognosis: take a clue from Heroes and reveal while mystifying. If it tries to be Lost, it will not last.
Justice - CSI meets the courtroom; starring Victor Garber, Eammon Walker - We really like this show. It shows a high priced lawfirm as they deal with cases from start to finish - including high tech forensics and recreations. Garber's law firm owner is a pip - totally self absorbed and supremely confident. All the lawyers seem sure they know more than everyone - and so far they do. Prognosis: Not sure. Baseball hiatus didn't help, and it isn't offering anything so different that it stands out.
Lost - The third season of the castaways; starring Matt Fox, Evangeline Lilly, lots of Others - Last season seemed very claustrophobic and usually didn't shed much light on the mystery. In my opinion, they have revealed more stuff in the two episodes this season than most of last year. It seems like the people running the series have listened to viewers and are trying to reveal good nuggets each week - and start to draw some lines between the mysteries. Probably our favorite show. Prognosis: At least another couple years.
Monday Night Football - New network, new broadcast team - I have tuned in most weeks so far to catch the football game. I will say this, ESPN will never be accused of being subtle. Everything about them screams. Their broadcast team, their pregame team, their postgame team. Everyone is yelling or singing loud or causing a huge ruckus - even the graphics are loud. And Joe Theisman is an idiot - he rambles and is one of the worst broadcasters. But then little quiet Tony Kornheiser will speak up and you can hear an intelligent, well thought out comment. He's good, and the only part that needs to be louder. Prognosis: What? You think they'll ever get rid of football?
My Name is Earl - Dumb & lucky white trash tries to make up for past wrongs; starring Jason Lee, Jamie Pressley - I watched every episode last year and found it hillarious. This year hasn't been any different. Earl has been crossing fewer things off of his list this year and they are still crossing the line, and that has helped to allow stories to be even more developed, which is fine by me. This is one show I wish would be an hour long because it is that funny. Prognosis: It's funny, people are watching, good news all around.
Saturday Night Live - Late night sketch show: Starring Who the Crap Cares - This show is one that makes me wonder who is running things in the network world. It just flat out stinks. What a horrible horrible show. I have popped in and out from time to time, but it is the worst show on television. That makes it even funnier that two shows are about it. Prognosis: This year will be the test of what kind of blackmail Lorne Michaels has on the brass at NBC.
Smith - Slick theives; starring Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Amy Smart - Does it matter? I thought the show was great - kind of like a more intense Oceans Eleven - showing the gang on more than one heist. But it already got cancelled. And SNL is still on tv. Grrrrr.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Behind the scenes of a late night sketch show; starring Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet, lots and lots of others - We like it. It is undeniable that there is a severe liberal bent to it. And their is a lot of Christian bashing - which is uncomfortable. But the most interesting character is Sarah Paulson's Christian Harriet. Unlike 30 Rock, this show has come great acting, writing, and delivery. And unlike SNL, it is fun and worth watching. But no one is. Prognosis: I bet it will get cancelled at the end of the year.
Sunday Night Football - NBC's broadcast of the NFL; starring Al Michaels and John Madden - Basically, it is the same as Monday night, except without the noise (Stuart Scott) and the idiot (Michael Irvin) and the moron (Joe Theisman). This is a classy and intelligent broadcast - and has the best broadcast and studio team. But it has games waaaay worse than Monday nights.
The Class - A guy reunites his 3rd grade class; Starring Jason Ritter - This show is pretty uneven, and there are a lot of weird people in it. I'm not really sure where they are going with it. But we watch it every week, hoping that it gets better. And there are some funny moments. Prognosis: Trigger happy CBS? No chance.
The Nine - A group of bank robbery hostages, the aftermath, and the flashbacks; starring Tim Daly, Kim Raver - We really like how this show has started. There is a lot of mystery about what happened in the bank, if there is something else bigger going on, all that jazz. And the characters are pretty cool. I hope that it keeps it up. Prognosis: pretty fair, since it is following Lost and holding its own.
The Office - The lackeys at a paper company; starring Steve Carrell, Jenna Fisher - This show has really grown on me. At first, I didn't watch it or get it. Now, it probably has the most laughs per episode of any show on television. Plus, Steve Carrell's Michael is just sheer brilliance in his idiocy. Prognosis: sure bet, man.
'Til Death - Old married couple and new married couple live next door and clash; starring Brad Garrett - There is a theory that people who star in long-running comedies cannot do well in there next show (Seinfeld, Raymond). Brad Garrett is not going to disprove this theory. This show is horrible and stupid, and already got taken off of our DVR recordings. Prognosis: As bad as the show.