Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fall TV Squeeeee!

TV hasn't played a huge role in my life. Saturday morning cartoons, Must-See TV with The Cosby Show, and Superbowls are significant more for the people I watched them with and the times of my life they highlighted than for the shows themselves. There was always something else to do--read books, study, play Chase, work...and then AOL chat rooms and Internet surfing and kids came along.

Since my marriage began, there have always been a few shows my husband and I watched together. Usually we taped them and watched on Friday night. Our schedule was never dictated by the idiot box. Which, in fact, became an apt name around the turn of the century. John Doe was pretty good. Firefly was awesome but a victim of network idiocy. Friends was a habit. I took pride in telling people if I'd asked show A or X that I never watched TV. I even skipped over the Must Watch pages in Entertainment Weekly.

Ah, but then came Lord of the Rings.

I know that was a book, but it was also a pretty f-in fantastic trilogy of movies, and it was my first full-blown obsession. I was following everyone involved--not just the cast, but even the effects people and costumers!--into their follow-up projects. Yes, now you know where I'm going. Dominic Monaghan, one of my five favorite hobbits, was going to be on this interesting new show about a plane crash. I thought I'd check it out. And of course, it was FAN. TASTIC.

Alias was on after Lost, and I'd had a mild interest in that show since I write heroines like Sydney Bristow. So I started watching that, too, with season 1 simultaneously on DVD.

And oooh, how wicked that DVD/Netflix thing is. Watching several episodes of a show in a row is addictive, so I've done a few other shows on DVD since then. Shows I didn't get on TV (Smallville, Entourage) and shows I refused to allow to carve into my writing time (Arrested Development, How I Married Your Mother). I managed to balance the TV thing with the writing thing last year, doing the writing first, then staying up too late to do the TV. But now, I write during the day. My evenings are my own.

I've struggled recently--and by recently, I mean my entire adult life and much of my childhood--with a lesson I was taught by example from the women in my family and from society: A woman, especially a mother, should not do something for herself unless it also benefits others.

I say struggle because if I ever hear a woman say she can't do something because her family won't allow it or because it's just for pleasure, I will fiercely defend her right to it. But I have trouble doing it myself. The guilt causes constant justification. Case in point: The only reason it's okay for me to take the time to exercise every morning is because being fat and out of shape is a bad example for my kids and harms my sex life. I can only justify reading for pleasure instead of doing chores if the others in the household are also reading or watching TV or whatever. It's a disease.

So this TV thing is difficult for me. My husband doesn't watch with me anymore. He plays City of Heroes almost every single night. The one night he doesn't, he's playing City of Villains. But he makes fun of me when I turn on the TV. And I get annoyed because that prods the guilt over which I'm always laying sawdust, in an attempt to absorb it and sweep it out forever.

Anyway. Since that first 2004 season of Lost, TV has gotten better. Comedy is still trying to find new footing, but drama and dramedy are flourishing, with good writing (justification! I'm studying the craft!) and good acting. I have created...*deep breath*...I admit it, I have created a spreadsheet of the shows I want to record in the fall season. Some of them will drop off pretty quickly, I'm sure. I won't watch something just to watch it. It has to really GRAB me. But here's my list:

Red shows are ones I already watch from previous seasons.
Green shows are new ones.
Underlined are shows I'm skeptical about, but have them on the list for a specific reason.

Prison Break
I started watching this because Dominic Purcell was so hot and smart on John Doe, Wentworth Miller is also hot and smart, and the show's premise was intriguing. The show turned out to be, as well. I never dreamed I'd root so hard for such horrible criminals. It's less good this season, but still watchable.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
I like all the cast members, and reports have been saying it's going to be a really good show. Aaron Sorkin did West Wing, which I never watched but would have enjoyed.

Six Degrees
One of my favorite things about Lost is the backstories, and how all the people on the island seem to be connected in both tenuous and solid ways. This show uses that premise, but I have no idea how well it will do it. It's a JJ Abrams show, though, and he rarely missteps.

I don't like cop dramas. But this show had MATH. And Rob Morrow. And though it stretches my suspension of disbelief that the same FBI unit would investigate such a wide range of crimes, the writing, acting, and suspense come together to keep me interested. It's a good end-of-the-week show. Now if Don would only get a girl...

I'm writing a book on superheroes. I love X-Men. That's enough to get me to watch the pilot. Varying reports on this show, though, so we'll see how it goes.

Ugly Betty
This wasn't on my list at the beginning, but it's getting enough good press that I'm gonna try the first show. There really aren't enough good comedies out there, and the loss of Arrested Development made me feel bad for not watching it.

Tom Welling and Allison Mack rock. So does the portrayal of Clark, which stays true enough to the core of the character that I don't mind all the messing with canon. In fact, I LOVE the messing with canon. It's fun! In previous seasons, Lex Luthor was the most complex, intriguing character on the show. He's less so now that he's more evil, but I have one request: Now that he's Zod, can he please kill off Lana Lang? Or at least scare her back to Paris and off the show? Pretty pretty please?

A friend's report and Jensen Ackles, who was delish on Smallville, are causing me to give this one a try.

The Nine
This had echoes of Lost, as well, though as time goes on I'm less intrigued by the story idea. I loved Tim Daly in Eyes, and was really mad that show didn't get a chance, so we'll see how this one goes.

I'll be with this one until the end. Which could be this season, actually. All the stupid whiners last season--"why do we have to many reeeee-peats?"--have caused the network to premiere the show late (Oct. 4), go for about 8 weeks, then go on a three-month hiatus and run it to May, non-stop. I hate stupid whiners. They're stupid because Lost had NO MORE reruns than any other show. And I don't want ANOTHER three-month gap just when I'm getting into it again. But we'll see how THIS goes, too. Maybe it will work, and I'll be the stupid whiner. :)

Twenty Good Years
I saw a preview. Jonathan Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor are both about as funny as you can get. If they get good material, this could be one of the rare comedies that makes it.

30 Rock
I want Tina Fey to make it. There are plenty of successful women in television, but still not nearly enough. And for some reason, the spotlight is on her big time. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't watch this.

This is one of those shows that has an intriguing premise that will probably fail in the execution, like Blind Justice. But reports so far are good, and Taye Diggs is hot. Djimon Hounsou is hotter, but he doesn't have a TV show right now. In fact, Djimon Hounsou is doing far too little. Two movies this year is barely enough to whet the appetite.

So there's my list. What are you looking forward to this season?


Karmela said...

I'm not gonna watch any TV this fall. I swear.

Okay, you caught me. On your list, I have two: Supernatural and Numb3rs. And the third: NCIS. Love the two Bombshell women they have there: Abby and Ziva.

But that's it. I swear. I've even given up Lost. Really.

Victoria said...

I usually don't watch TV in the evenings. Hubby has the remote and before school started again, that was my writing time.
The thing is, I'm with you on the guilt. If I sit down to watch something, I'll start listing the other things I should be doing. But you know what? The heck with that!
I love Ghosthunters.
It's research. Really.
Prison Break.
I'm keeping my list small because you know how bad I am at keeping up with shows. We have no TiVo and I haven't signed up for NetFlix yet. I'm doomed to be an outsider on these show discussions this season! :)

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Karmela, you don't sound very convincing. :) Shall I tell you about the stuff in EW last week, about the new season, and all the REALLY COOL STUFF THAT'S GONNA HAPPEN ON LOST?

Vicki, I promise I'll try not to leave you out of the discussions by talking about TV. You're the more noble of the two of us. :)

Typing Slave said...

What do you mean the cool stuff on LOST? Thought you were unspoiled!

Unlike the steaks in the fridge, I suspect.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

When did I say I was unspoiled?

I know a few minor things. Season focus, Desmond's fate, nothing concrete.

I haven't been doing the Lost Experience, either, though someone bought me Bad Twin and I read the Hanso ads in the magazines.

MJFredrick said...

I'm looking forward to The Nine, too. And Supernatural is next in my blockbuster queue - Denny from Grey's came in at the end!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I read about that, Mary. Clever casting. I bet they pull a lot of those devoted Grey's fans who were so upset when Denny died. :)

He's on the beginning of this season, too, I *think*. Don't hold me to that.