Midseason Report Card 2009: Part II
If you missed Part I, you can check it out here: Midseason Report Card: Part I. As I previously noted, I haven’t been able to make time to blog about every show I watch, so this is a way to check in and share my reactions to the television season so far. So, here is Part II of my Midseason Report card, picking up where I left off, with shows listed in alphabetical order. Reminder: My judgments are subjective and based purely on my own enjoyment of these shows. Also, I am only grading seasons that premiered in Summer or Fall of 2009, and of course, only shows that I watch. Vague spoilers for previously-aired episodes of Friday Night Lights, Heroes, How I Met Your Mother, Mad Men, Make It Or Break It, Melrose Place, One Tree Hill, Smallville, Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, The Vampire Diaries, and True Blood to follow.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: A+
I egregiously left this stellar show out of Part I, where it rightly belonged in alphabetical order, so it will start of Part II. I have lost count of how many times this show has made me cry this season—and you all know how much I love shows that make me cry. However, it has also made me cheer, and feel inspired. I’m pulling for Coach Taylor and the Lions, and hope for their success. Of special note so far this season are Connie Britton and Zach Gilford’s performances. The character of Tami Taylor has faced a lot of opposition this season, and has dealt with it with such grace and tenacity that I adore her more and more each episode—and I already adored her quite a lot. And sweet Matt Saracen … sigh. Gilford has portrayed his role beautifully throughout the series, but his father’s death really brought his performance to an even higher level. My heart breaks for him. And of course the rest of our old favorites have been doing a fabulous job, though I miss Smash and Tyra. As for the new characters, I like most of them, with the notable exception of Becky. However, my suspicion is that we are supposed to be annoyed by Becky, so at least she’s fulfilling her purpose … to the max. P.S. Tim Riggins still makes my heart flutter.
Heroes is a touchy subject these days, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. At the start of this season, I was on the fence as to whether I would continue watching the show. I decided to stick with it, and I’m really glad that I did. The new villain (or antihero, if you prefer), Samuel, played to perfection by Robert Knepper, is probably the number one reason for this. Seriously, he is Magneto-level fascinating. While it’s not my favorite show on TV anymore, and hasn’t been for quite awhile, I do quite enjoy watching it on Hulu on Tuesday mornings, or catching up with it over the weekend. What can I say? I’m a sucker for super powers.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: B+
For any other season, I would give this show an A. Alas, this season has been extremely uneven, and has even angered me at times. Fat suit, people? Seriously? Ugh. I had been looking forward to Robin and Barney getting together ever since she became an honorary bro and suited up with him. Loved them together. However, the first half of the season has managed to make them unpalatable together, and break them up. It was just not handled well, for either character. Robin came off whiny and pathetic, and Barney … just no. Then there was that smoking episode. Ick. Still, there have been some highlights, particularly “Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap,” and “The Window.” Lots of good moments sprinkled throughout, plus characters that I love, means this show still rates well, despite my disappointment.
MAD MEN: A+
I think that this is the smartest show on television, and it is the one that makes me think the most. I adore it. It challenges me, while also being extremely entertaining. I also enjoy the clothing, makeup, and historical detail. I am in love with old movies. I have been watching the classics since I was a small child. His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, Casablanca, The Thin Man, Roman Holiday, Funny Face, Gentleman Prefer Blondes, etc.—those are my favorites. Thus, I would have been attracted to this show’s subject matter even if it wasn’t a work of genius. But it most certainly is. This season has really been the season of Betty, in many ways. January Jones has really shown us what she’s got, and Betty’s character has grown with leaps and bounds. When she found out about Don’s secret, and then confronted him about it, it was mind-blowing. I spent most of season three mad at Don Draper (yes, I get mad at fictional characters), but by the end of the season I remembered why I fell in love with his character to begin with. When Don told Peggy that if she turned him down he would spend the rest of his life trying to hire her, in the finale, I got teary-eyed, and it was my favorite moment of the series to date. Peggy also had a fascinating journey, and has really become quite the budding feminist. Love it. Another highlight was when Joan broke the vase over her jerk-husband’s head. My only complaint is that I miss Sal. I hope that the show figures out a way to bring him back. You can check out my recaps for season three here.
I really enjoyed the first half of the season, debuting in the summer. It’s a fun show, and I enjoy watching. Plus, those gymnast chicks are hard core. Seriously. It’s cool to see teen girl characters that are interested in more than finding boyfriends, and I hope that young girls who watch the show feel similarly inspired. It’s not perfect by any means, and sometimes displays some of the worst trends of teen soaps, but it is definitely worth watching for the girly set.
MELROSE PLACE: C+
This show has been a big disappointment for me. I recently got into watching the original series on dvd, and quite enjoyed it. The 90s version was a guilty delight. The new series doesn’t have the charm, attitude, or daytime-soap-ridiculousness of the original, and I increasingly doubt that it will find its feet. I have enjoyed the appearances by the original cast members, but nostalgia isn’t enough to keep the show interesting. The main highlight is Katie Cassidy as Ella—she is a joy to watch. As for the rest? Meh.
ONE TREE HILL: B-
Yes, I watch One Tree Hill. Shut up.
I love Smallville. I love love love it. Nothing would make me stop watching, except cancellation. And then, of course, I would still keep watching the dvds. However, this season has not been my favorite—it’s just not grabbing me. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I watch it on dvd. I have really been enjoying the chemistry between Lois and Clark this season—they are really heating things up. I have also liked to see the growth of Chloe, and her control of the situation—every situation. I still love Oliver, and I enjoy every scene in which Tess has a gun. Seriously, she is a bad ass. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, particularly the two part Justice League-esque episode: “Absolute Justice.” Who knows? By the end of the season, its grade may go up. Let’s just hope that by then Clark will stop wearing that metrosexual black jacket. That belongs on Angel, or some other brooding vampire, not Superman.
This one is among my favorites, and is a joy to watch. I love the humor especially, and episode 5×08, “Changing Channels,” was a comedic masterpiece. I love the tear-jerking moments even more, and this show has a lot of that too. It is smart and well-written, and nothing like one might expect. This season has been intense, as our heroes are still reeling from the events of the world-changing season four finale. I love all the angel-drama, and can’t wait to see how the rest of the season shapes up. I often describe it as the male-version of Buffy. My only complaint is that it is a little too testosterone filled. The female characters are either helpless damsels, or evil temptress demons. The two strong female characters that we did have, Ellen and Jo, were killed this season. Horror movie cliché much? Still, I love it, and can’t wait to find out how will it all end. Is it January 21st yet?
THE BIG BANG THEORY: A
This show has to be my favorite comedy of the year. Honestly, I don’t watch that many comedies—I prefer drama—but this one is can’t miss. I love it, and it just keeps getting better and better. I especially love any scene that Penny and Sheldon share. They work so well together, and provide the perfect complements to each other. Sheldon is definitely one of my favorite characters on television.
THE GOOD WIFE: B+
I had never planned to watch this show when I first heard about it. One: I’m not a fan of legal procedurals. Two: I generally avoid shows and movies with the word “wife” in them. However, iTunes had the pilot for free, so I went ahead and downloaded it. When some of my other shows were on hiatus, I checked it out, and I liked it. I really liked it. So I caught up online, and it became one of my favorite new shows of the season. It’s not perfect, and I am not compelled to watch it during its 10:00pm time-slot, but it is definitely a show that I enjoy. The guest stars are great, especially the judges, and they do a fabulous job of fitting into the show each week. Still, the character of Alicia feels like a bit of a mystery to me, and her motivation is often unclear. Like, what was that kiss for her estranged husband about? Also, I would like to see her relying a little more on her brain, and a little less on her feminine intuition, to win cases.
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: A
Yep, I’m giving it an A. Why? I love it. Honestly, it is the show that I look forward to most each week (or maybe tied with Dollhouse in that category). Enjoyment is the whole point of television, right? When I first heard about this show, and that it was based on a series of young adult books, I was determined to read the books before the show. I did so, and was so relieved to find that it was not Twilight, but rather featured a non-gag-inducing love story and strong female characters. By the end of the first four volumes of the series, I was committed to watching the show, and I have not been disappointed. The pilot was ok, but every episode since has just gotten better and better—the sign of a good show. The characters are compelling and becoming more so as the season has progressed. The introduction of Alaric had me swooning, and trust me, that is not as easy as you might think. Plus, I’ve fallen in love with Caroline, Matt, and Bonnie, and hope to see their storylines develop as time goes on. And oh yeah, that Damon guy is pretty entertaining. You can check out my recaps here: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: The story so far…
TRUE BLOOD: B+
Blood. Sex. Violence. More blood. More sex. More violence. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Still, I’m hooked. I will note, however, that I am among the minority that enjoys the books more than the show, mainly due to the depiction of Sookie in the respective mediums. On the show she comes off as a bit of a dumb blonde, which is not my type of heroine. Also, did I mention the constant deluge of blood, sex, and violence? I’d like to see some more subtlety. I would also like to see a spin-off featuring Pam, Eric, and Lafayette—the best characters on the show. I have discussed this on Twitter with @MediaObsessed, and we would like them to solve crimes together. It would be fabulous.
I was really looking forward to this show, and have enjoyed the preliminary offerings. However, it is hard to judge a series by only four episodes. In fact, I haven’t even gotten around to watching the fourth episode, since I know that I will have to wait so long for the remainder. From what little I’ve seen, however, the stuff with the Visitors is what interests me the most. I have so many questions, and can’t wait to learn more. However, I am a little gun-shy to get enveloped in this show, with all the scheduling changes. I don’t want my heart broken by another sci-fi show. The highlight so far, for me, has been Morena Baccarin’s portrayal of Anna. She is a perfect combination of enticing and threatening. I do love an evil alien queen.
So what have you thought of the TV season so far? Agree? Disagree? Was I too kind, or too harsh? I look forward to reading your comments below.