Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Best and Worst of 2006: Installment One

Yes, it's that time again! Time for Gloria to make pointless lists about what sort of books, tv, and movies she was into this past year. I know I'm running a bit late, but bear with me; I've been dealing with end of semester stuff.

Let's get the ball rolling with TV.

The Best:
1) ER. This has been at the top of my list now for two years in a row. This is probably because it is my favorite show ever. I realize that this makes me a little biased. However, this show has also been surprisingly successful for NBC during it's 13th (!) season, so much so that they decided not to put it on mid-season hiatus. Season 12 ended strongly, with a massive shoot-out in the ER and with Abby going into labor. Season 13 has been even tighter, with effective guest appearances by Sally Field and Forest Whitaker. But now Laura Innes is leaving! She made Dr. Weaver an interesting and compelling character for 11.5 seasons. Yet, I have faith in the show's continued strength. Even John Stamos is working for me (I got over the Full House connotations).

2) The Closer. This show just keeps getting better. The second season had more zany moments, which really endeared it to me. Even the mysteries are getting less stupid. Kyra Sedgwick is doing a wonderful job, and the entire cast meshes incredibly well. This is the series that will restore faith in the police procedural.

3) The West Wing. It's over! The show ended after 7 years. I was very impressed by their ability to rewrite things after the untimely death of John Spencer. They managed to honor his work while still carrying on with the plot. I'm still a little miffed at the way in which things ended for Toby, but at least he didn't go to prison. And Bradley Whitford finally got me to love Josh, despite the fact that he's a self-righteous bastard. Somehow I like John Wells' softer Josh better than Aaron Sorkin's crazy "I know what I'm doing so just do what I say" Josh. I know, that's blasphemy, but I respect John Wells and Aaron Sorkin. It was a fitting end to a great show.

4) Veronica Mars. I started in on this show just this season. Then Mike and I watched the DVDs of seasons 1 and 2 in about a week. Suffice it to say that I am now obsessed with this show. Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring are phenomenal. Plus the mysteries are compelling (if a little oddly plotted and paced--I hate how they sometimes drop things for episodes at a time). I do think that the Lily Kane case is the best arc the show will ever have, and that it suffers now because of it. But I'll still watch for the Logan and Veronica scenes alone. It seems unlikely that this show will get another season (they only got a 20 episode order for this one). I just hope Logan and Veronica end up together in some suitably happy relationship.

5) Heroes. This show creeps me out. The gore in the indestructible cheerleader scenes is a bit much for me. But so far it has been really well constructed, with tight cliffhangers. And it balances a lot of characters effectively. I've been a fan of Adrian Pasdar since he had a recurring role on Judging Amy, so I'm pleased to see him, even if he is playing a horrible person (though I am sure he will be redeemed somehow). It is also great to see Milo Ventimiglia and Greg Grunberg (of Gilmore Girls and Alias, respectively). Plus the Tim Sale artwork is beautiful, as always.

6) Scrubs and 30 Rock. All hail the return of Must See TV Thursdays! I am not normally a sitcom person, but these two are just too much fun to pass up. Plus, they're on right before ER, so it's no big deal to turn on the TV a little early. At first I was puzzled by 30 Rock, but Alec Baldwin kept me coming back. But now the show is genuinely hilarious. Scrubs has always been strong, and it is just rolling through what looks to be another great season (apparently its last, as Zack Braff is not coming back).

7) Gilmore Girls. It's weird without Amy Sherman Palladino, but Gilmore Girls is still trucking along. At first I was afraid that the dialogue was going to get just fake enough to become annoying (it's not as if it has ever been that natural). But the new show runners seem to have ironed that out. I really hope Lorelai can just settle down and be happy. Christopher is trying so hard to make their relationship work. The Rory/Logan storyline is getting a bit boring though. Somehow Rory is just not as cute as she used to be. I did love the knitting episode. Lorelai even had a shirt from Craftster!

8) Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. This show has SO much promise. Great cast, great director, great writer...but somehow it's not quite right yet. Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry are really working it, as are Amanda Peet and Steven Webber, but the plots and dialogue aren't really singing. Many of the situations feel stilted (after having watched West Wing and some Sports Night, I keep thinking, "...and here is where we get the patented Aaron Sorkin touchy feely scene...and here is the classic freak out scene...etc."). But Nevada Day was nice, and I still have faith that this many talented people will make something of this show.

Honorable mention to Without a Trace. There is just something about Anthony LaPaglia that is watchable.

The Worst:
1) Alias. Arrrrrrrgh! At least they brought Michael Vartan back. That and the fact that Victor Garber's Jack ended the show credibly are really the only saving graces. I would prefer to forget that seasons 4 and 5 ever existed.

2) CBS for canceling Smith after only a few episodes. I was very intrigued to see John Wells working on a show that had such unlikeable characters. And the first episode was so well made that I thought it could be a feature film. A good feature film. Ah well, better luck next time.


Tim King said...

Hi, Gloria. I discovered this blog post via a search on "Gilmore Girls."

I agree. GG is très weird this season. (I'm a hard-core GG fan.) I've also noticed some very boring scenes in the new episodes, something that has never happened ever in the history of the show.

BTW, are you upset Rory didn't go to Harvard?

Ditto to you on Scrubs and Heroes. I've also been enjoying Grey's Anatomy and Brothers & Sisters. This latter is shaping up to be a winner, and could sustain me after GG is canceled. You should check it out if you haven't already.


Gloria said...

Hi Tim! Thanks for visiting. You have a great GG site!

I've been watching GG for a few years now, plus I caught up on most of the earlier seasons when they were showing them on ABC family.

I still like the current season, but it's not as good as previous ones. I find that I'm more interested in the side story lines (Lane, Luke, etc) than in Rory and Lorelai.

I'm cool with Rory not being at Harvard. I'm glad that they were able to use her college search experience to good effect on the show. But it would have been cool to have some of the show set right where I live.

Grey's Anatomy is always something I figured I could get into, but my plate has just been too full. I'm not that familiar with Brothers and Sisters, but I have heard that they are featuring actors from other shows I have liked (Rob Lowe?), so maybe I'll check it out!



pinsandneedles said...

I enjoyed your review on the TV shows. I haven't seen most of those, because my roommate has an addiction to buying TV shows on DVD. So I wait until he gets them and we watch it then. But I did get into most of ER, 30 Rock, Scrubs, and Heroes. More on the Heroes, because it quite intriguing. Plus, I'm very glad that NBC has a very good Thursday night line up. I can actually sit down and watch the whole thing (from My Name is Earl to ER).

Thanks for the info on Scrubs. That may explain why the storyline seems so lame compared to the other seasons.

Sorry, not a Gilmore Girls fan, but I can see how anyone can enjoy it. I did miss the knitting episode and found out the day after it aired. It kind of upset me because its rare to seen a not-an-elderly person knitting on TV.

Tim King said...

Hi, Gloria. Thanks for the kind words. I do understand not having enough time! At least it's better having too much stuff to watch that I enjoy, rather than not enough. And then during the lean times, I can go back and watch reruns or DVDs of shows I always thought I would've liked. Recently, for example, I've been working my way through Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It's really been helping me with my winter depression.

Yeah, the college search was a major part of the story the first 3 seasons, the glory years. Although...

I kinda took a break from watching GG since the last new episode. And yesterday, I re-watched "The Long Morrow." And ya know, it wasn't that bad. I have a feeling that the 7'th season may turn out to be like the 4'th. I thought it was bad when I first saw it. But then when it came out in reruns, I noticed how many great episodes were in the 4'th season.


Becca said...

I agree with your assessment for the most part....I'd like to add Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty into the Mix for ABC and The Office for NBC...They have been my favs this year too!!!

Also agree with both the VM comments and GG. VM will never be as good as the first season, but I still enjoy it and think it could live on (although doubt it will get picked up too).

GG has been a little boting and just not all there! Rory's part in the show has become a boring backstory....she needs to get back with Jess....too bad he's an awesome character on Hero's right now....guess that won't be happening!!

Anyway just wanted to put in my two cents and let you know I agree with you for the most part!!

Gloria said...

I just heard that Zach Braff may return for another season on Scrubs.

Hi Becca,
I have watched the Office, and I found it to be very well made but not my cup of tea. It's really funny, but in a way where the characters on the show are not in on the joke, which just doesn't sit well with me. But that is exactly the type of comedy they are going for, and it is a high quality show.

As for Grey's and Ugly Betty, I haven't had the chance to watch these. It's just a matter of there being too many interesting things on TV. I have to bargain with my BF for TV time, so my "TV budget," if you will, is a little strained right now. But I'm hoping to catch DVDs of these eventually.

Thanks for stopping by!