Thursday, June 02, 2005

Today's Movie/TV Review: The 2004-2005 TELEVISION SEASON

Memorial Day weekend is often called the "Unofficial Beginning of Summer". It could also be called the "Unofficial End of the Television Season". With the May Sweeps over and every series finale having been shown it's time to look back on the Good and Bad that the Networks tossed at us this year.

This Week, What was GOOD in '04-'05:

Television viewers have had to put up with a lot of CRAP these past years as the networks passed off cheaply made "reality" shows as so-called entertainment. But thanks to some interesting premises and creative writing, it was actually worth turning on the set this year.

1.) Lost: Without a doubt, the best new show of the year. Much like Fox's 24 from a few years ago we're given a unique set-up. This time it's a plane crash onto a remote Pacific isle, stranding 40+ survivors to seek answers, fend off invisible monsters and to wonder if they truly are alone.

This show is greatly addictive, as I mentioned waay back here. I love the way the writers slowly revealed not only the secrets of the island but of the survivors themselves, by use of clever flashbacks that often left you question what you just saw. There haven't been many Network TV shows of late, that actually have you anxiously anticipate next week's show, but this is most assuredly one of them.

2.) House: A medical drama? I'd usually respond with a big yawn, but not this show. As I wrote back in February, House accomplishes what no other American Drama has been able to do before. Build a show around an abrasive, unsentimental, unsympathetic Doctor and not only make it work, but get millions to watch. And they did.

The cast is strong, the bizarre medical mysteries sharp and the body close-up visuals are startling. If they don't make the mistake and try to soften Dr. House, I'll be sure to tune in again next year.

3.)24: After a disappointing Season Three, Fox's exciting 24 hour/24 episode drama could only be better, especially since they dumped Jack's ridiculous daughter from the cast this year.

Also a plus was Fox holding off the season until January so that they could televise 20 straight weeks (book ending the season with double episodes) so the flow of the show wouldn't be disrupted. Add a couple nuclear bomb threats, nasty terrorists, a mortally wounded President and an equally ineffectual one and you got one hell of a roller coaster season.

Oh, and of course Mr. bad ass himself, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland, gravitas!)

4.)The West Wing: Whatever you thought about last season, if you missed the primaries and presidential race this past season, you missed a lot. I've always felt that a dramatic series like this, that centers on the presidentcy could be a series that could last a long time, especially when the cast can be turned over every four our eight years.

5.)Arrested Development: Hands down the funniest sit-com on American TV. Clever, biting satire, awesome characters and unpredictable story lines. How do I know that this is a great comedy? The mass TV audience won't watch it. Hell, According to Jim gets higher ratings!

6.)The Simpsons: There's no way that this show could be as strong as it was in seasons 3 through 8, but then NO show could claim that. When The Simpsons is "on", there's nothing better. After 15 seasons and 300+ episodes though, this year was a step in the right direction. The writers still find ways to make this show work. Hell, I'm ready for 15 more years!

7.)Countdown with Keith Olbermann: The best News Show on TV. Every evening for an hour on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann presents the important (and not so important) stories of the day with wit, sarcasm and obscure references that makes this nightly news report addictive viewing. (and they don't have to "claim" to be fair and balanced.)

8.)Rescue Me: FX's drama about the men and women of the NYFD starring Dennis Leary. It's a compelling show with raw, complicated characters that tells their stories with a stark outlook and dark humor.

9.) (all four) Law & Order shows: I've been an L&O fan and viewer since it's first year. And whether you watch the original or any of it's three spin-offs you assured of an hour of great drama, solid characters and a twist ending. (R.I.P. Jerry Orbach)

Next Tuesday I'll present the WORST of the 2004-2005 TV Season.
(that should be fun!)

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