Tuesday, October 18, 2005

TV: Fall 2005 TV Season: The Final Wrap-Up

Wow, was that a chore. I don't see how real TV critics can do it -- review (almost) every single new show on the broadcast networks for the Fall season. Oh, wait -- they all get advance copies of the shows over the summer, so they can write their reviews in a timely fashion. And they don't have other jobs taking up valuable TV-watching time -- watching TV is their job. Those bastards have it easy. I'm so jealous I could spit.

Me, I'm burned out. And I'm relieved that I don't have to watch any more new shows. I still will watch some of them; there were a few keepers in the bunch. But overall, the quality of the Fall shows was alarmingly low. It's probably this bad every year; it just feels more so to me this year because I willingly exposed myself to dreck I normally would have had the sense to stay far, far away from. Like, say, Freddie.

So, what have I learned from my ordeal?

Lesson #1, of course, is never, never do this again. Not without a paycheck for it.

Lesson #2 is, no matter how stupid you may think network executives are, you're still giving them way too much credit. Anyone who would give Sex, Love & Secrets the green light should be panhandling on the freeway offramp.

Lesson #3 is that the home viewing audience isn't much better. Kitchen Confidential may not be the best comedy on TV, but it's certainly more deserving than its poor ratings indicate -- it's Fox's lowest rated new show. And its lead-in, Arrested Development -- which is the best comedy on TV -- is doing just as poorly. Meanwhile, Ghost Whisperer is a solid hit for CBS. Ugh.

And lesson #4: Lyle at Crocodile Caucus has done everything I've done here, only better, with actual research and, like, nifty charts and lists to back it up. Put it this way: even I look at his blog and say, "Damn, maybe that guy likes TV a little too much." It's great stuff, and it's made me happy to see I'm not the only one helplessly obsessed by the idiot box.

So! Here's a final rundown of my grades for the season's new entries. I already gave a halftime report card for the season. Here are my final grades for all the shows I reviewed, with commentary, and, for some of these shows, hopefully the last thing I will ever have to say about them for the rest of my natural life.

1: Why do you hate me, TV?
2-3: Won't ever watch this again
4-5: Borderline; might give it a second chance
6-7: I'll watch as long as it's not up against something better
8-9: Permanently on my viewing schedule
10: Battlestar Galactica, The Daily Show, Lost, Deadwood


Commander in Chief: 7
One of the three new dramas I'll be sticking with... for a while, at least. Good acting, good writing; it rises above what could've been a flimsy premise.
Emily's Reasons Why Not
Not on the schedule; presumably being held back as a mid-season replacement, but not yet confirmed as such.
Freddie: 1
The worst new shitcom I had to endure, and very nearly the worst show, period.
Hot Properties: 2
I tried watching a second episode, and my body rebelled against me and forced me to change the channel after five minutes. Such a sad waste of Nicole Sullivan and Evan Handler.
My least favorite of the alien shows. And apparently the most favorite of the home viewing audience. Whatever.
Night Stalker: 3
The only thing scary here is the writing.
What About Brian
Scheduled for a January debut.


Close to Home: 6
According to my grading breakdown above, a 6 means I should keep watching this show. I lied. It's of comparable quality to a 6, but as I said in my review, it's not for me.
Criminal Minds: ?
It's apparently another crime procedural hit for CBS, but I haven't seen it. The one show I gave myself a free pass on. (Aside from the ones I said I wouldn't be reviewing right from the start.)
Ghost Whisperer: Hatred
Eliminated before the season began due to moral objections. No, really.
How I Met Your Mother: 8
Kicked up a notch from the 7 I gave it on my midway report. In a tie for my favorite new series. I just wish it would lose the bookends with the kids in the future. The Bob Saget voiceover can stay, but the kids should go.
Out of Practice: 3
Apparently getting good ratings, so what the hell do I know?
Threshold: 5
A waste of a great cast.


Bones: 6
Another of the three dramas that will remain on my schedule for the foreseeable future. Love the two leads, especially Emily Deschanel (who makes me go like this: grrRR-R-R-RROWWwwl), but not wild about the actual crime-solving stuff.
Head Cases: 4
Already cancelled. And almost already forgotten.
Killer Instinct: 1
The worst new show of the year. Painfully, insultingly bad. Probably will run three seasons on Fox.
Kitchen Confidential: 7
One of my favorite new sitcoms -- seeing John Larroquette guest star was a real treat. Probably not long for this world.
The Loop
Scheduled for a January debut.
Prison Break: 7
Also kicked up a notch from my previous grade, from a 6. As outrageously illogical and absurd as it all is, I keep wanting more.
Reunion (Part 2): 2
High concept, low execution.
The War at Home: 3
It makes me sad this is doing better than Arrested Development did in the same timeslot.


The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
Eliminated before the season began. No reality shows!
E-Ring: 5
This might've had a slim chance of winning me over, but I haven't watched it since its first episode. And that's probably for the best.
Inconceivable: 4
Already cancelled.
My Name Is Earl: 8
Tied for my favorite new show. It hasn't slipped at all from its great debut.
Surface: 5
My favorite of the alien shows, by a slim margin, but still not good enough for me to go back for seconds.
Three Wishes
Another reality show eliminated before the season began.


Everybody Hates Chris: 7
Haven't been able to watch a second episode. Is UPN really going to try to duke it out on Thursday night? What is wrong with them?
Love, Inc.: 6
Another show I'd watch if only UPN gave me the opportunity. Stupid UPN!
Sex, Love & Secrets: 2
I give it one extra point for being unintentionally funny in its sheer awfulness. Production has halted, but UPN is still burning off episodes already filmed. That's sad.


Just Legal: 5
Already cancelled.
Related: 6
Like Close to Home, it's strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. No, wait, that's Secret anti-perspirant. I don't know what this is. It's good, but not for me.
Supernatural: 5
I'm not surprised this is a hit, especially on the WB.
Twins: 2
Narrowly saved from being the worst new sitcom by Freddie.

Worst slate of new progamming:

ABC. After last year's hits with Lost and Desperate Housewives, they only came up with one watchable program this year. Their sitcom development is unparalleled in its awfulness.

Best slate of new programming:

Fox. They've got three new shows I want to follow. But it is Fox, which has a reputation for creating quality shows, then killing them. Prison Break will be around for a while, as will Bones, most likely, but Kitchen Confidential is almost surely destined for early cancellation.

Worst self-sabotage:

UPN. They create two sitcoms I'd like to watch, which no other network was able to do, and they put them on during the most competitive hour of programming in the week. Sure, Chris is beating Joey (or it did in its debut, at least), but that's nothing to be proud of.

Final numbers:

31 new broadcast shows.
27 shows reviewed.
7 shows I probably would've checked out even if I hadn't forced myself to.
2 shows I probably wouldn't have checked out, but am glad I did (Commander in Chief, How I Met Your Mother).
4 shows already cancelled.
10 shows rated 3 or lower.
10 shows rated 6 or higher. (Hmm, maybe there was more of a balance between good and bad than I thought.)
6 shows I will actually continue to watch.
2 shows I'm truly, unreservedly enthusiastic about.
1 dude who needs to get a life.

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