2010-2011 TV Talk: Part 1, Hour-Long Shows

 I get a little sad at the end of the TV season.  It feels like a bunch of my friends are all going away for the summer and now is the time for me to look back on each and decide how our "relationship" is going.  I tend to have an all-or-nothing approach to hour-long shows — either I watch each and every episode obsessively or I don’t watch at all.  Here’s where I stand with my current shows:

Shows I Still Love:

Fringe –  took the first two seasons to build its own world with each freak-of-the-week type procedural case adding up to the much bigger war between two universes and even more characters for me to love. In season three, the show got to leap full-on into its world and play in it.  That was a lot of fun!  The finale set up an even more interesting situation for next season.

The Good Wife –  has become a full-fledged dense legal world with a case of the week that dovetails nicely with the personal character arcs and the political happenings of Chicago.  The finale set up some interesting plots for season three.

Being Erica–  manages to up the ante for its main character each season, changing the dynamics of the show in such a way that its story world expands each season and yet manages to stay just as fun and breezy and true to telling Erica Strange’s story.  I love the way the finale set things up for season four.

Shows I’m Cautiously Hopeful About:

Nikita –  is a bit of a puzzle for me. Whenever I’m ready to dismiss it as just a shallow CW action show, the writers do something to surprise me and hint that its storytelling has more potential than I’m giving it credit for.  So far, the storyline and acting hasn’t completely lived up to that potential, but the last few episodes surprised me again and upped the ante for next season.

Shows I Can’t Believe I Might Break-up With:

Castle –  is a lot like eating a box of Twinkies. The first couple are excellent and hit the spot.  After that, I can’t help but notice the limitations of this chemically processed dessert. I love shows that do the lightweight murder-mystery with panache.  But having the main characters flirt in a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship gives the show an expiration date for fun. I felt this way about Bones too. That show hit its expiration date, for me, somewhere around season 3 or 4 and I’m starting to feel the same way about Castle

Castle’s premise — where a writer gets to go on case after case with an NYPD detective– was never very realistic in the first place, but I was more than willing to suspend my belief for clever cases and lots of banter between the leads.  The flirtatious relationship feels stale to me now though. It’s no longer believable that the leads would still work together, yet not be romantically involved or go their separate ways by this point.

Like Bones, the more dramatically serious plots aren’t created with as much care as I think they need to be.  If  one of the characters I love is going to betray the team, I’m going to need a strong, believable storyline that’s been slowly simmering over the course of the season, not some quickly pasted together reason.  I  enjoy shows like Bones and Castle best when they stick to what they’re good at — clever, light murder-mysteries and likable ties between their characters.  Sadly, that type of set up seems to have a shelf-life of three or four seasons.

Supernatural –  is a another show that’s overstayed its creative premise, for me. While I liked the direction the finale took things, the premise of Sam, Dean, and Bobby against the world really has no where to go at this point. The show has made it clear that these three aren’t allowed any ties outside of their tight little world, which means they can never have a relationship or lasting friendships or anything but saving the world, dying, angsting, and coming back to life and saving the world and ansting some more.  That only intrigues me for about four seasons.  By then everyone’s died a couple times and I no longer care –even if they are really really pretty.

I Don’t Know Why We Stayed Together So Long But We Really Have to Break-up:

Glee – has become a hot mess for me.  I love Lauren, Britney, and Santana, but the rest of the kids seem to change personality based on what the plot needs.  To contrast that, the adults each seem stuck in the same plot loop that repeats over and over again. While I liked a lot of Kurt’s plot, it often felt like he’d gone from being a real boy to the patron-saint-of-bullied-gay boys and I’m awfully tired of the plots where they just repeat over and over that Mercedes is more than a sassy-black-girl without actually showing her as a real person.  (The end hinted that they may be seeing the light on Mercedes. I hope so.)

The Event – I watched it to the bitter end because I liked a lot of the actors and was intrigued by the aliens at the beginning.  It’s amazing how dull an action-packed tale about aliens can be– that’s certainly a special type of talent. 

What about you?  What shows did you love?  Any you’re breaking up with?

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