Sunday, January 06, 2008

Best and Worst of 2007: Installment One

So since we have just started a new year, I figured it was time for me to recap my favorite tv, books, and movies of 2007. I am by no means an accomplished or dedicated tv watcher, reader, or movie-goer. But I like to do this so I can look back over what I enjoyed the past year.

The Best:

1) 30-Rock. ER gets knocked down from the top spot by, of all things, a sit-com. This is the only sit-com I watch regularly (though I sometimes tune into Scrubs, and Mike is slowly introducing me to How I Met Your Mother). When I saw the first few episodes of 30-Rock, I wasn't sold on it. It seemed too random. But over time, the show began to weave together seemingly unrelated story lines, creating a hilarious whole.

2) Chuck. This was a total dark horse. When I heard the premise (guy gets a super-spy computer downloaded into his head and then gets drawn into international intrigue), I was more than a bit skeptical. But surprisingly, the show isn't too hokey. The actors (including Adam Baldwin of Firefly fame) give simple yet effective performances, and the plots aren't too over-the-top. I like that Chuck, the guy with the computer brain, isn't a total loser. He's a smart guy who has never quite gotten his life together. Sometimes he jumps to conclusions and does stupid things, but other times he comes up with brilliant plans that save the day. NBC gave this one a full-season pick up.

3) ER. Some of this past year's episodes have been perfunctory, but overall I am still impressed with this show. The Abby/Luka wedding episode was a standout. It combined poignant joy, zany comedy, and sadness, all in the trademark ER style. The current season has been focusing on Abby's alcoholism relapse, and it has been both painful and wonderful to watch. I particularly liked how they spread that story over several episodes, letting the events unfold slowly.

4) The Closer. Although I don't think the third season was a strong as the second, it was still very good. The cases were less predictable, and the oddball interactions between the many characters in Brenda's squad continue to be fascinating. My one qualm is with the show's portrayal of Brenda. She throws her all into her work, very often to the detriment of her personal life. Her fiance Fritz has been much abused on this point. I find this conflict interesting, but after a while it makes Brenda a very unsympathetic character. I'm all for the portrayal of strong women in the workplace, but sometimes she ignores personal obligations to an extreme extent. I hope that we will see her learn to better balance work and family in the next season.

The Worst:

1) Heroes. I lost all interest in this show. The first several episodes just dragged on, and on, and on. . . . There was very little action, and they decided not to explain anything about the ending of the last season until several episodes into this one. Plus, the new characters weren't that compelling, though Kristen Bell put in a good effort. Eventually I just stopped watching, though I did catch the final episode of the "half-season."

2) Veronica Mars. The first half of the last season was good, but after that it was clear that the show had run out of money. There were several episodes that used very few actors and took place entirely on one or two sets. This really limited what used to be a much more exciting show. The disappointing results aren't really the fault of the show's creators, since they were put in a tough place by the CW. It's sad that the show was canceled, but it was clear that the network wasn't being supportive.

3) Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Eh. Aaron Sorkin has a lot of trouble writing compelling female characters. CJ was great on the West Wing, but I think that has more to do with the talent of Allison Janney than Sorkin's writing. That major weakness, combined with the indifferent plotting really sunk the show.

4) Big Shots. I only watched half an episode of this show, so it's really not fair for me to say much about it. Nevertheless, that thirty minutes was a horrible waste of my time.


Kate M said...

On the topic of Heroes, I saw an EW (I think) article in which he admitted that they totally botched the first story arc and weren't going to repeat those mistakes.

pins&needles said...

I'm a big 30 Rock and Heroes fan. Tina Fey came out with a great show that I didn't expect to get so big. After seeing the very first episode, I was hooked and loved it.

I think they heavily depended on the writers in Heroes coming out with a big-band episode to explain everything, but that didn't pull through cuz of the strike. But they did admit that they would've changed the story up in the beginning of the season so it had a really botched ending.

I'm still not a fan of Chuck (the show's passible but not for me) and I totally forgot about Studio 60. They had great actors in the show but it ended up nowhere.