TV or Not TV for 2010

On Automatic Pilots

By: - Sep 27, 2010


Don’t you just hate it when friends brag about not owning a TV. Or limiting their time in front of the tube.

Gently you probe. Just what do you do between supper and bedtime?

Read. How very one-upmanship. Split firewood and stack it for the winter. Too much work. Sew, knit, darn socks. Productive. Crossword puzzles, chess,  cards. Can preserves. Think. Have sex. E mail. Drink or smoke. Take long walks. Sit and soak. Scratch your ass. Brush your teeth.  Pray. Make art. Practice the piano. Call mom. Or the kids.

Anything that is but TV.

Guess that makes me a couch potato. Minus the beer and chips. Most nights an apple or orange. Or a ration from our stash of chocolate.

Truth is I'm just starved for TV.

Coming off the insane Berkshire summer where we are out on average five nights a week covering the arts. Usually catching the network news when we get home followed by a rerun of House.

There’s not that much to watch during the summer anyway. Although more and more there are series that have summer runs. Usually from the alternative networks. Like AMC which trumps the fall season by starting the  fabulous Emmy winning drama Mad Men well before the glut. There were some decent summer shows but by now I can’t remember. Have to clear the palate for fall viewing.

For the past two weeks got to pig out on pilots.

Like blind dates they start out with hope and promise. Well, you know how most blind dates end. A cynical friend of mine, who has done a lot of dating for the past couple of years, describes dates as like buses. There’s a new one every fifteen minutes.

Thanks to Tivo I get to bookmark shows to watch later zapping through the ads. Why would anyone still sit through ads. Like yesterday, I started watching the Patriots about an hour after kickoff. But there was a glitch in the last minute. The Tivo slot lapsed. When it went live they were showing another game. I had to surf the net to get the end result. They won.

Tivoing 60 Minutes during football season gets complicated. They always start late. So I Tivo The Amazing Race which follows. It’s one of those reality shows I truly despise. But that’s how you get the other half of 60 Minutes. Last night, the season premiere, had Lara Logan embedded in Afghanistan as bullets were flying. Tough chick.

After a couple of weeks with a nightly diet of pilots it was great to welcome back some proven winners. It seems that Dr. House is finally getting it on with Dr. Cutty. It’s driving Wilson nuts. While 13 has disappeared. Astrid was glad I have slotted in another season of Brothers and Sisters. But I refuse to sit through it. She will have to watch it during afternoon tea. I can't stand the sappy Sally Fields and her enervating clan of morons. Astrid claims it’s no worse than Desperate Housewives which returned last night with enough plot twists to spin us through another season. The surgeons were all in turmoil on Grey’s Anatomy this week recovering from the slaughter that ended last season. The Good Wife, one of my favorites, so smart, starts up on Thursday.

The media reports that the best new show is Boardwalk Empire with Steve Buscomi and Michael Pitt Sunday nights on HBO. I cancelled HBO and all other premium channels last year. Why pay for nothing. Without Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Rome, or the Sopranos, well, fugggeddahbouit. Better to spend the surcharge on Netflix. We love The Tudors but is that enough reason to subscribe to Showtime? The last season is in our Netflix queue.

After a steady diet of pilots I can see why so many folks toss the tube, excuse me, flat screen, out the window and start reading. Yikes but did I ever see a ton of crap this week.

Please understand the rules. I never, no never, look at comedy pilots. Only get around to the proven winners like 30 Rock when they start earning Emmys. Tina Fey is  brilliant. But I hate situation comedies. I would rather have a root canal.

But I’m a sucker for drama, thrillers, some cop shows, and the occasional courtroom drama. There have been lots of wannabes.

The best thriller on TV is MI-5 the BBC series on PBS. I get my fix on Thursday nights. It is so smart, plausible and exciting. With superb acting.

Compared to which the new Undercovers,  and its sexpionage on Wednesday, is just about the most annoyingly stupid piece of crap imaginable. Something about a gorgeous African American couple, former employees of the Company, now lured back into the game. They run a catering business as a cover. A close second for most sucks is the lame Catch on Monday.  It’s about a blonde US Marshall who always gets her man in more ways than one. Nikita has gotten mostly bad reviews but I am hanging in at least for now on Thursdays. Maggie Q. sure can’t act but she’s gorgeous and packs mean heat.

There is a wait and see, so so, category. The first episode of Lone Star with perennial Jon Voight as Pater Familas is promising. His daughter is hitched to a bigamist con artist James Wolk. Another old timer Tom Selleck is back as a top cop presiding over a law and order brood in Blue Bloods. He looks old as Methuselah if you remember him from Magnum.

Speaking of which Hawaii Five-o is back in a kind of muddled remake. The critics like it but I never really was a fan in the first place. Too much surfing and macadamia nuts.

When the networks find a formula they run it into the ground. Like all those look alike, sound alike CSI’s. NYPD Blue which helped to define an era is back. Only this time it’s Detroit 1-8-7. This bore with all predictable patter from Michael Imperiole reminds me why NYPD Blue finally went off the air. Speaking of which Jimi Smits who has died on a few shows since then is back with Outlaw on Wednesday. See it fast before its cancelled.

They finally stuck a fork in Law and Order which just went on forever and ever. But TV executive have a horror vacui. The Good Wife was such a success last season, rightly so, that is has spawned predictable copy cats. The Globe gave The Whole Truth on Wednesday’s a B-. For me this enervating mediocrity is more like a C of C-. At least in this case I don’t have to deal with a lazy student complaining about a grade. On the other hand the Globe handed The Defenders a C. Just on the basis of the considerable comic skill of Jim Belushi I am pushing it up to a B.

There are probably a few more turkeys I have forgotten to mention. Doesn’t matter. By now they are probably cancelled.

Guess I’m pretty sick of thinking about TV. So I’ll take the rest of the day off and read. Knit. Or bake brownies. Know what I mean? Wonder what's on TV?