Tuesday, October 05, 2010

3-Sentence Reviews: September 2010 Television (part 2)

Continued from part 1...

The Big Bang Theory is the only conventional laugh-track sitcom I've liked since Seinfeld, and it's one that anybody who went to a tech-oriented school or had a lot of science-major friends will be able to appreciate.  Its fourth season is as strong as ever, and the show is on a definite upswing now that it's gotten the Leonard/Penny romance out of its system.  We're still ever closer to getting "The Sheldon Show," where everyone else is basically a supporting character, but that almost doesn't matter given how good Jim Parsons is.

I have a strange criticism of $#*! My Dad Says (pronounced "bleep my dad says"), and it has nothing to do with its unorthodox inspiration.   Instead, I don't like this show because it's nowhere near offensive enough.  The entire entertainment from the Twitter feed was the titular dad's vulgarity, bigotry, self-righteousness, and iconoclasm; at 8:30 pm on broadcast television (instead of a later timeslot or a cable channel), it can't feel anything but watered down.

While it really should have ended a year or two ago, The Office really better end after this season when Steve Carell departs.  The seventh season so far isn't as strong as the first three or four, but at least it has avoided the miserable drama of the most recent couple.  BJ Novak is still frustratingly underused, and the "Michael irrationally despises Toby" story/joke is not nearly as funny as the writers think it is, but new guy Gabe fits in perfectly, and the Dwight/Pam "we are stuck" moment was classic, hilarious, brilliant Office.

I probably would never have watched Outsourced had I not stumbled upon (and generally liked) the film of the same name (and inspiration for the television show).  This show illustrates how difficult the movie to television conversion is: the movie had about 100 interesting minutes, and when it had used them up, it ended; even though we're only on episode 2 of presumably 20-25, we've already seen 43 minutes of content from the show, and I honestly have no idea where the show might go after its fourth or fifth episode.  Still, I appreciate the change from love story to workplace comedy, and I like that the show isn't trying to make some grand statement on US/India relations, just pointing out that things one culture takes for granted are laughably bizarre to another.

In its last three seasons, The Mentalist has quietly emerged as the best procedural on television.  There's just enough House-esque snarkiness--but less abstract pontificating on the nature of lying and a whole lot less unnecessary drama with the eponymous character dating his by-the-book female boss.  Better yet, the series has finally hit its stride, including just enough Red John episodes to keep the overall arc moving forward but not so many that we get tired of it.

Alone among reality shows, The Amazing Race has redeeming value: the chance to be educated about all sorts of awesome things and places all over the world.  It's almost enough to make me want to do The Amazing Race... then I look at the ridiculous things the contestants are made to do, and I realize I really do not want to do The Amazing Race.  So far, I don't have a team I'm strongly rooting for--but then again I don't really hate many of the teams, so this season seems like it should be especially watchable.

Currently listening: "High Art, Local News", The New Pornographers

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