The Fall 2009 TV Season

I’m trying to keep this blog rolling after having actually updated it on a semi-regular basis beginning last week. Today, I wanted to give some thoughts on the fall television schedule and go over the shows I’ve been watching this season starting with Mondays.

There is the potential for spoilers in the course of this article (predominantly for Smallville). Keep that in mind.

How I Met Your Mother – CBS Mondays 8:00 to 8:30

I’ve liked this show for quite a long time. As far as the sitcom format is concerned, it’s a pretty pure structure. The key is that the show is allowed some wiggle room in its humor, and tends to go for a lot of non sequitur that usually works without being too completely over the top. One thing I can say is the show is somewhat in danger of overstaying its welcome. There were definitely parts of season four that dragged, and while there have been individual moments in season five thus far that have been greatly enjoyable, I’m noticing much more of a lack of direction here. It’s a little odd to see a sitcom that is in its own way pretty heavily serialized, and I think it’s beginning to suffer from the sort of Lost syndrome, in that it does not have an end date and they seem to be artificially extending the core storyline without any sense of forward momentum. I still like the show, and it’s still scripted strongly, but it’s not at the top of the heap like it has been in recent years.

The Big Bang Theory – CBS Mondays 9:30 to 10:00

When The Big Bang Theory first started, it seemed very much to be a heavily clichéd show. Look! Geeks! And they live across the hall from a hot girl! Who they can’t interact with because they’re socially awkward geeks! Shenanigans! Of course, there are moments like that in almost every episode. But what matters here, and what makes the show the best half hour comedy on television right now is twofold. First of all, all the characters have levels, are treated with respect, and rise above their clichéd origins. These are obviously caricatures of personality types, but they’re fully realized and feel like real people. Secondly, the writers have made sure that they know what they’re doing. They get the references to science, sci-fi and comic books right. This reinforces the feeling that the show is genuine, which helps immensely.

It should be noted that I am also recording House, but have not finished the latter episodes of the previous season, and as such have not begun watching the new season.

WWE Monday Night Raw – USA Mondays 9:00 to 11:08 (or so)

I’m reaching the point that if I don’t care about the guest host of Raw, I’m just not going to watch it now. I recorded last night’s because I wanted to see if they would actually pull off setting up the theme of the Bragging Rights Pay Per View in two weeks, but Nancy O’Dell isn’t going to make me watch a show full of wrestlers that are either annoyingly overexposed (DX, to some extent Randy Orton and Legacy, John Cena), annoyingly bad at what they do (John Cena again, Hornswoggle, anything involving the Divas) or annoyingly not given enough time to do their thing (Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, basically everyone on the midcard). The only saving grace right now is the team-up of Chris Jericho and the Big Show. But that’s usually not worth two hours of television unless the guest host is perceived to be possibly entertaining.

The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights – Spike TV Wednesdays 10:00 to 11:00

Oh, Ultimate Fighter. You’re so ridiculous this season. From the constant war of words between Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans to the undeniable appeal of guys like Marcus Jones to the obvious draw of Kimbo Slice and Roy Nelson, it’s certainly one of the more interesting seasons of the show. It’s a good thing that the off cage politics are so damned enjoyable to watch, because these big boys CAN’T FIGHT TO SAVE THEIR LIVES. Sure, a lot of the fights on Ultimate Fighter shows in the past have been lousy, but not to this point. Wes Shivers literally doubled over, both hands on his knees sucking in air like it’s going out of style, and James McSweeney (supposedly one of the better fighters on the show) couldn’t finish him? Even the Madsen/Wagner fight from episode one, which was notable because it featured arguably the worst gash I’ve ever seen in UFC history, sucked. It’s a hell of an entertaining show, but if you’re only interested in the fights themselves, you might want to stay away.

Smallville – The CW Fridays 8:00 to 9:00

Over the past three weeks or so, I’ve managed to watch all of seasons seven and eight of Smallville, as well as the first two episodes of season nine to get myself practically caught up to the show as it airs. It’s gotten immensely better. Seasons five and six were pretty rough. Seasons seven and eight were very much mythos seasons, with a lot of emphasis on Krypton, and its connected properties (Doomsday, the Houses of El and Zod, Supergirl, etc.), as well as the added wrinkle of Veritas and The Traveler, which was really the highlight of season seven, and added a nice mystique to the daily goings on. Season nine has been decent. I really liked the design on Metallo, and the beginnings of the Major Zod story arc look to pay dividends down the line (and hey, any geek worth his salt is going to go nuts for a “Kneel before Zod” line). It’s looking to continue the positive movement of the last two seasons, and I’m proud to say I watch Smallville again.

Dollhouse – Fox Fridays 9:00 to 10:00

Oh, Dollhouse. You’re quite the schizophrenic show, aren’t you? So many flashes of brilliance in a short period make you think the show is destined for greatness (“Man on the Street” and the two-part finale from season one, “Epitaph One,” and moments from the season two premiere),  and yet there are still parts of it that just don’t click. “Epitaph One” was quite the gamble, and while it was an abjectly brilliant episode, I’m not all that sure it was such a good idea considering the series was eventually picked up to continue.  Amy Acker, who was by all degrees the best part of the show, has the best moment of the season two premiere and then proceeds to leave the show. It’s moving without a rudder. It’s trying to decide if it’s going to be a procedural or a mythos show, and it needs to decide fast or it might lose me.

Friday Night Smackdown! – MyNetwork TV Fridays 8:00 to 10:00

Ah, good wrestlers. I remember you. It’s really the only watchable pro wrestling show on TV I have access to (Sorry, Ring of Honor, I no longer get HD Net). CM Punk is the man. Morrison and Ziggler are great. You’ve got more Chris Jericho/Big Show love. The better wrestlers combined with storylines that have some semblance of sense makes this the only pro wrestling show worth watching.

Saturday Night Live – NBC Saturday 11:30 to 1:00

Wow, SNL is not off to a good start. We’re going on three straight nigh unwatchable episodes. The writing is not up to par. The guest hosts have been used badly. There has been one decent digital short. Bill Hader remains a bright spot, but things are not looking good for SNL considering its start.

Dexter – Showtime Sunday 9:00 to 10:00

I go back and forth on Dexter a lot. The main storyline is almost always enjoyable, especially with the added wrinkle of John Lithgow playing the baddie. But the subplots, which have bored me to tears since the show started, continue to bore me to tears. I don’t care about a single character on that show other than Dexter and the villain he tracks. This has been the case every season. And while I’ll still enjoy the show and watch it for the immediate future, I can’t actually say that the show itself is actually good per se, because it has such glaring flaws. It’s an odd dichotomy.

Overall, I would say this TV season has been decent edging toward mildly disappointing. There are some top shelf shows that I know I will always enjoy, and that list should grow when Chuck and Lost return to the airwaves, but a lot of the shows I’ve liked in previous seasons are on a bit of a decline.

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This post was written to the tune of Sponge’s Wax Ecstatic


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One response to “The Fall 2009 TV Season

  1. I mostly agree with you on all counts. How I Met Your Mother while still one of my favorite shows, would benefit from introducing the mother soon instead of continuing to stall on that front. I’ve really enjoyed Dollhouse so far this year, especially last week. My only complaint is that they kind of misused Apollo’s guest spot a couple weeks ago. Dexter is a really good show that has a tendency to feel like it’s repeating itself. Still something done well that feels familiar to previous seasons is better than something new that’s awful. I’ve also been watching Flash Forward which is one of those shows that isn’t bad but feels like it should be better than it is.

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