Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall TV Scorecard

First, an announcement: If you're in North Texas and for whatever reason have felt horribly bereft because I haven't had too many public appearances this year, you have one last chance Saturday. Saturday at 2 I'll be speaking at the Valley Ranch branch of the Irving Public Library, which is located at MacArthur Blvd. and Cimmaron Trail (if you're coming north on MacArthur, I'd recommend passing Cimmaron Trail and making the next right into the shopping center where the library is). I'm not sure what I'll be talking about, as I suspect it will be a free-form, winging it discussion, assuming anyone shows up. And if no one does, I have books to return, anyway. This will be the last time this year I go into "author" mode. Then I'll really be retreating into the "writer" side of my life.

Speaking of which, I'm up to 7,000 words in the new book, though I've realized I'll need to do some reworking on the last scene in order to make it do what I really want it to do. I "met" my villain for the first time yesterday, and I think I love her. She's going to be a blast and a half to write. I've found the perfect conduit for the usually suppressed bitchy side of my personality.

Now that most of the fall TV season has started, I've got my preliminary TV score card. Before I get to that, though, I have to rant a bit. Most of my local network stations last night, for some odd reason, decided to show all their widescreen series that should have been letterboxed as full screen. I have a widescreen TV, and yet no matter what screen format I tried, it was still all out of proportion, with the sides cut off. It was extremely irritating because in any shot where a character was near the edge of the screen, either the face was cut in half or cut off entirely. There'd be this nice close-up of someone off to the side, and that person would be talking, but we'd just see his ear. I know it wasn't the way these things were meant to be shown because the network logo in the bottom corner of the screen was cut in half, and the commercials were all shown in the same proportion -- but with the commercials, they were still enlarging them even if they weren't letterboxed, so pretty much any print on the screen was missing the first and last letters. I thought for a while that maybe it was my cable company, but The Office was shown in proper widescreen format. Is anyone else having this happen?

So, now, going by days of the week (and speaking vaguely enough to avoid spoilers):
Monday: I may be alone in this, as the episode got plenty of raves, but I kind of hated the House premiere. I thought it came across as pretentious and calculated. I may watch through the fall, since nothing else is on and it makes good background noise for writing medical radio scripts, but when Chuck returns in the spring I will have no dilemmas about which to watch unless things change dramatically in a way that I like, and it's possible that I might be tempted even now by a favorite NCIS rerun on USA.

Tuesday: Speaking of NCIS, I don't have that much to say, as I think I have to withhold judgment on how the opener handled things set up at the end of last season until I see how they deal with the long-term impact. I must say, though, that they managed to show serious depression from the inside out in a way that was both heartbreaking and hilarious.

I'm very glad that Warehouse 13 has already been renewed because that would have been an EVIL way to end a series. I'm mildly worried by the success of the show, though. It was one thing when it was just a quirky summer series, but now that it's the most successful Sci Fi Channel (I refuse to acknowledge the name change) series ever, that tends to get the network suits involved, and that seldom goes well.

I haven't watched the NCIS spin-off. That's something I'll probably catch OnDemand if I get bored.

Wednesday: I was on the verge of giving up Glee, but they got me with this week's episode. I guess I'm a sucker for football stories involving unlikely heroes, and adding music is a bonus. That episode also actually included a song I know (the West Side Story stuff). Although I'm a nut for musical numbers, after the premiere, the music has focused on music I don't know or like, so I'm sure I'm missing all the irony of using this music in show choir. And next week, there's Kristin Chenoweth!

Thursday: I'm iffy about Flashforward. I love Robert J. Sawyer's books, and this is a great cast, but I've got a feeling this will suffer from Lost-itis, but with the flashforwards used as a substitute for real characterization instead of the flashbacks, and with so much focus on the flashes that nothing much actually happens in the present. It also could suffer from the same problem as Heroes, with such a huge cast and so many disconnected stories going on that there's very little forward momentum in each episode. However, this one does seem to have a central character who will serve to tie it all together, and that character is played by Joseph Fiennes and His Amazing Eyelashes, which could make it all worthwhile. It's also possible that I was turned off by the fact that midway through the episode they suddenly blew the picture out into full-screen, so it became irritating and disconcerting to watch. I'll give it another shot, but it's already on probation, and if they keep doing the weird full-screen thing, I may have to break out my rolodex and use the phone number that gets beyond the main switchboard at that station to complain.

I don't know about Supernatural this year. This was another show that suffered from the full-screen thing last night, and they really use the widescreen format, so it was hard to get excited about watching Dean's left ear emote in the darkness. I finally had to just do crossword puzzles while listening because watching was too irritating. I have to admit I'm not too crazy about this season's storyline.

The Office seems to have returned to its initial subject matter of focusing on how soul destroying it is to work in an office with an idiot boss whose numbers are too good for him to be fired, no matter how bad a jerk he is, after a few seasons that seemed to go more into the personal lives of the characters or else go a bit over the top. Not that I disliked that, but it is fun to get back to more of a focus on the office.

There are a few other things I may try to catch OnDemand, but that's about it for my TV viewing right now. I am finding that I'm getting pickier, that I prefer a good dose of humor instead of straight drama, and that I'm getting a bit fed up with all the darkness, doom and gloom.

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