Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Useless Film Snob Talks Television (Somewhat Reluctantly)

I never talk about television much because simply, I don't watch that much television. I'm not one of those people that like to brag that they never watch television; the simple fact is that there isn't much that I find interesting. When I say this, I mean network television; there's always something to be found on cable that I would probably like. But there are other things that I do with my evening, mostly watching films, that are infinitely better than a good majority of television.

The main reason I'm writing about t.v. now is that one of the few shows I do happen to watch is ending after seven years. That show is Gilmore Girls, and yes, it took me a while, but I'm finally ready to admit that I watch Gilmore Girls. And I thoroughly enjoy it. I will admit that I started watching it after stumbling upon it during Season 2 for purely superficial reasons but I ended up getting sucked into the storylines, which were much more clever and better written than 99% of what was on. Over the years, it has been one of the few shows that I never miss and I will be sad to see it go. But the show had clearly been hit or miss for that last 2 or 3 seasons, not just this year. I will say that I was never a huge fan of Amy Sherman-Palladino's over-caffeinated, look-how-clever-I-am-referencing-so-many-hip-indie-references writing but she always put enough emotion with a connection to real world that always made it worth watching. I will be in the minority that says this season isn't that bad, especially the last few episodes, even though it looks like the series will end on the same tired cliches of marriage and birth that t.v. shows always lazily fall into (it's one of the main reasons I don't watch network t.v.). Even so, a good show will be going off the air, but unlike Arrested Development, Freaks & Geeks, or Undeclared, it had time to show that good t.v. is out there. And while I'm babbling about t.v., here's the short list of what I regularly watch:

Scrubs - Another show that's perpetually in danger of cancellation, it's another show whose, sadly, its best days are behind it. This show has fallen into the marriage/baby laziness for a while, but even so, I'm going out on a limb and saying that last week's episode was the best Scrubs episode maybe ever. There isn't a sitcom that mixes comedy and melancholy any better, and they even though it's a sitcom, it has more grounding to medical and emotional reality than trite garbage like Grey's Anatomy or House. I hope it comes back next year.

The Simpsons - Who are we kidding? It's been at least five years since this has been consistently funny. I never thought I would ever say this, but I think it's time that Matt Groening & co. hang it up. For the past couple of seasons, every episode has only one or two laugh out loud jokes. Man, I miss seasons 5 & 6. At least I have my DVDs.

Good Eats/No Reservations - Cooking can be interesting if you have more personality beyond yelling "Bam!". No Reservations is interesting because Anthony Bourdain is basically a dick, and the locales he visits but at times it feels too scripted. Good Eats works because it goes beyond cooking into science, which is surprising since I don't really like science. The problem is saturation overload; it's on too much.

Mythbusters - See Good Eats.

South Park/The Daily Show/The Colbert Report - When I remember it's on, I'll watch but it's not like I never not miss them. The first ten minutes of Stewart and Colbert are always the best.

Family Guy - The strangest thing: I don't think Family Guy is that funny and it's structure is pretty stupid and a cheap way to fall into jokes (see the South Park episode), but for some reason I never miss an episode. I'll even watch the repeats on Adult Swim. I don't know what's wrong with me.

The Office - Simply, the best show on television. Nothing is more consistently funny. It's amazing a network as inept as NBC didn't cancel it after season 1 and now it's it flagship show.

Side note: congratulations for Ithaca on naming today Grateful Dead Day in the city on the 30th anniversary of the band's epic show at Cornell University. If you're interested, it can be downloaded here. It's been called one of Bob Weir's best shows, but Jerry's on fire during 'Not Fade Away.' That's the difference between Ithaca and Binghamton: Ithaca has Grateful Dead day and Dark Star Orchestra re-creating the show (I wish I could go) while Binghamton gets Larry the Cable Guy and Ted Nugent. I hate this city.

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