End of Season Report Card 2009-2010: Part III
The evidence that I watch far too much television continues, as I present the third part of my End of Season Report Card. I have been going through the list of shows that I watched this season, alphabetically, and grading and reviewing the season as a whole. If you want to read my reports for shows from 90210 through Cougar Town, check out End of Season Report Card: Part I. To read my thoughts on shows from Dollhouse to How I Met Your Mother, check out End of Season Report Card: Part II. Otherwise, read on for my evaluation of Life Unexpected, Lost, Melrose Place, Modern Family, One Tree Hill, and Parenthood. If you are wondering why Mad Men isn’t on this list, that’s because the season had already ended when I wrote up my Midseason Report Card: Part II back in January. Also, my thoughts on Make It Or Break It can be found at that link, as I have not been able to keep up with the show since then. I hope to catch up soon. Keep in mind, these reports do contain some key plot details from the past season, so if you aren’t caught up on one of the shows, just skip that section. Also, I make no claims to having the only right opinion, and my reviews are subjective and based solely on my own enjoyment of these shows.
LIFE UNEXPECTED: B+
Life Unexpected was definitely my favorite pilot of the season. I was over the moon about the show after watching its premiere, and you can read my thoughts about that here. I love love loved it, and was so excited for what was to come. However, the show did not really live up to that potential. The quirky but sweet tone was not really maintained, and so many clichés and missteps prevented the show from really boasting a spectacular first season. Time constraints prevented me from recapping the show regularly, but I checked in on episode 3, “Rent Uncollected,” and then on “Family Therapized,” where I posted my thoughts on the season so far. The difference between my thoughts in the 10th episode and the 3rd was pretty clear.
It’s funny, because I read SB’s recaps over at Off-Color TV throughout the season (which you should totally go read, because they are hilarious and awesome), and while I got such out a kick out of her take, I remember feeling a bit defensive of the show. At first, I didn’t get all the hate towards Cate and Lux by various critics and commentators. And I didn’t get some of the dissatisfaction with the plot lines. Looking back, I think I had pilot goggles on (like beer goggles, except less alcohol is involved). By episode 10, I finally started to see what was so frustrating about the show, and by the end of the finale, I was just rolling my eyes ad nauseam. Really, you’re going to pull an interrupted wedding, show? Really? The love-triangle is just not what I wanted this show to be, and now that Cate and Ryan are married, any continued love-triangle plot-lines will just be icky. My problem is not so much annoyance at any particular character (other than the ridiculous Bug), but more the storylines in general. The writing is just inconsistent, and while I think Liz Tigelaar has really created some fabulous characters and a great premise, the execution has faltered. I will definitely tune in next season, however, as I still think that the show continues to have so much potential, and I have really come to care about Cate, Lux, Baze, and Ryan. One thing that LUX has really done well is present the emotional punch. Let’s hope that when the show returns, it has a more solid footing.
Wow. It’s hard to believe that Lost is actually over. I can’t say that the sixth season was my favorite, but it has been quite a ride. The awesomeness of the finale did a lot to make up for my disappointment with the season, at least on an emotional level, and you can read all my thoughts about “The End” here and here. I also sporadically recapped the season, beginning with “LA X”, so you can find all my Lost posts here.
I really don’t think that there is more to add at this point, other than to explain my grade. I am still pretty ambivalent about a lot of stuff that happened at the end of last season and throughout this season. All that fuss about the bomb, and all it did was put them back in the right time. Seems like there could have been other ways to do that. Donkey wheel, anyone? Stupid bomb. And I’m still annoyed with the suckiness of Kate’s character, though she did have redemption in the finale, what with her shooting the Man in Black. Still, I will reiterate my disappointment in the treatment of the female characters on this show–so inconsistent and frustrating. The same goes for anyone who is not a white male. Sigh.
Ultimately, however, this show has always been intelligent, and it always seemed to be trying and taking risks. I can’t tell you how many times in my academic career that I have been sitting in lecture and the professor’s words brought to mind Lost. This year, in particular, I was a T.A. for World History, covering the period from 1500-1900, and I felt like everything made me think of Lost. From Machiavelli and Locke’s views on human nature, to the scientific discoveries of the Enlightenment, my mind kept making connections between school and … a television show. That is not normal. There are just so many literary and historical allusions/ parallels/ references in the show, that it really makes you think. I don’t know about you, but that’s my favorite type of television–the type that makes me reflect on my own life and the world around me. The questions that this show provoked were ultimately where the value of this show lies, for me. The answers, on the other hand? Not so much.
MELROSE PLACE: C/ Incomplete
Like I said back in January, this show has been a big disappointment for me. As a fan of the original, this reimagined Melrose is missing all the soapy fun of the original. Normally, I like a good crazy chick storyline—especially a crazy red head (I miss you, crazy Kimberly!). But Ashlee Simpson was absolutely unwatchable as Violet. Ugh. It was nice seeing Sydney, Michael, Jo, and Amanda again (not so much Jane—who wants to see her again?), but nostalgia wasn’t enough to keep me watching. However, nostalgia did keep me around long enough to see Amanda’s introduction, which was a little disappointing. I think that I watched one more episode after that, and then I tuned out. Not so much because the show was so bad or unwatchable (other than Violet), but because it just wasn’t good enough to keep my interest. I mean, it was on Tuesday nights, and Lost was back. Priorities! And the show just wasn’t compelling enough to inspire me to catch up online in any type of hurry (plus, I really have to want to watch a show in order to brave CW’s annoying video player). Since the show has not been renewed, that was probably a good choice, though I am somewhat curious as to how it all ended. The main highlight for me was Katie Cassidy as Ella, and I will probably try to finish the series at some point, and enjoy her scenes and those of the veterans. As for the rest? Meh.
MODERN FAMILY: B
Okay, so if you’re one of those people who worship at the altar of Modern Family, you may want to stop reading. The critical acclaim for the ABC comedy is so overhyped that it just baffles me. Yes, it is a good show and fairly funny, but I just don’t get all the LOVE for it. I guess that this could be more a reflection of my tastes than the quality of the show. I never understood the hullabaloo about The Office and 30 Rock either. I’m just not that into comedies in general. The only current comedies that I love are The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother (but that one is really testing my loyalty), and Cougar Town. The rest of the shows that I watch are mostly dramas. I like my TV dark and angsty, for the most part. Also, comedy is very subjective. What one person finds funny is not necessarily the same thing that amuses another. Sometimes I worry that maybe I have an underdeveloped sense of humor, or something, but then I remember how easily amused I am by life, by everything. Hmmm. Anyway, I like Modern Family, and enjoy watching it on Hulu on a weekend afternoon, but it’s not must-see TV for me.
My favorite part of the show is Gloria. Sofia Vergara is fabulous. The more the show focuses on her and her son Manny, the more I enjoy it. Gloria and Manny just have such a great rapport, and I find them the most compelling of the extended family. The other characters are likeable, and have had their moments, but often I find myself just wondering: “This is the best show on TV, according to some people? Really?” The show has just never crossed over from like to love territory. That said, it did boast one of the best quotes of this television season: “Excuse me, Meryl Streep could play Batman and be the right choice.” Hee.
ONE TREE HILL: C+
Yes, I watch One Tree Hill. Shut up. At the end of last season, Peyton and Lucas left with their baby, presumably for a happily ever after. Of course, they’re probably being stalked by psycho half-brothers and nannies in another small town. To take their place, we got a whole bunch of new characters: Haley’s sister, Quinn; Alex, a horrible human being who is also an actress and model; Nathan’s manager/agent/whatever, Clay; Alexander, a male designer hired for Clothes over Bros; Miranda, an all-business producer from Red Bedroom’s parent label; and loveable bartender/ musician, Grubbs. And if you thought that was overkill, a bunch of recurring characters from the past returned, including, Rachel, Chase, Mia, and Victoria (Brooke’s mom). Hayley’s mom (played by Angela Chase’s mom!) and other sister, Taylor (you remember her—Nathan’s first), also made guest appearances. And then, of course, there was the requisite psycho of the season: a doppelgänger of Clay’s deceased wife. So, in some ways, this was a weird season, but in others, it was just business as usual.
I have never been a big fan of Lucas or Peyton, so I was optimistic about the show existing without them. However, adding this many characters did not really improve the show, at all. First of all, I loathe and detest Alex. Ugh! It was almost unbearable to watch her on screen. Soooo annoying. As for Quinn and Clay, they were pretty much meh. Take ‘em or leave ‘em. The most fun part of Quinn’s storyline was when Taylor came to town, and the three sisters just exploded. It was like a car wreck—you couldn’t look away. Chase, Mia, Miranda, and Grubbs’s storylines all seemed tacked on and unimportant. I guess that we were supposed to care about them, but I really didn’t.
Who did I care about? Nathan, Haley, and Jamie. I really enjoyed seeing this little family together, though the “cheating” storyline was a bit annoying. Still, it gave Dan a rare opportunity to help his son … which reminds me … Dan married Rachel!!! I totally had a jaw dropping moment when that was revealed. Hehe. But back to our one stable and healthy relationship on the show—I love Nathan and Haley. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Moving on.
Brooke is, of course, my favorite. However, her storyline was very frustrating and disappointing this season. It pretty much consisted of Brooke being constantly jealous of Alex and Julian. Sophia Bush deserves better material. Also, apparently Julian is now Brooke’s soul-mate? Sorry, I’m just not invested in them as a couple. I mean, I want Brooke to be happy, but I could not care less about Julian. Apparently they are together in real life, but on screen their chemistry is somewhat lackluster.
Millicent’s character has been pretty much ruined. I used to love her, but it is amazing how quickly the show made her completely unlikeable and unsympathetic. Good work, writers. (Pssst, sarcasm.) Yes, Millie went to the dark side, which in OTH world is being a fashion model. Remember when Brooke went to New York and went out on the town with that young model, back when she was still in high school? Well, apparently things have not changed in the fashion world. Oh, those city girls grow up too fast, and models are corrupt and do drugs. It is the dark side of the Force, I tell you! *eye-roll*
Overall, this season was pretty ridiculous, so quality wise I have to give it a C+. However, it was also a really fun guilty pleasure. My guiltiest of pleasures, and I’m addicted. Inexplicably, the CW has renewed it for another season, so One Tree Hill will be back for an eighth season. Yes, that’s right: 8 seasons! I’m shocked that this little show has lasted so long. It seems like just yesterday when I first pretended not to watch it. Ah, how the years go by.
When I first heard about this show, I wasn’t sure if I would watch. Then Lauren Graham was cast, so I had to tune in … and it definitely exceeded my expectations. I should not have been surprised though, as Parenthood was developed and executive produced by Jason Katims, one of the people behind Friday Night Lights. While the two shows are very different, there is a similar strand of authenticity. Like Friday Night Lights, Parenthood’s strength lies in the small moments between characters. As you grow to learn who these characters are, you increasingly care for them. This show is a slow burn of awesomeness, rather than crazy plot twisty, and I love that. I feel like it feels a real hole in my television schedule—it’s not high concept, like pretty much everything else I watch. It’s just a very well done show about a family who loves each other. It has a simple premise–family–but it is all in the details and execution.
My favorite episode of the season was probably episode 5, “The Situation.” Adam becoming a father-figure for Drew has just been such a sweet arc throughout this season, and the two are so good together. It was just heartbreaking when Adam didn’t show up for their scheduled baseball practice, and Drew was left alone at the field, waiting. Sarah’s reaction to this was so perfect and sad, and you could identify with all sides. Then, we had a happy ending of sorts, when Adam, Max, and Drew meet up on the baseball field and play together. I was a puddle. A puddle, I tell you! I am just the sort of sappy person that this show caters too. More, please.
Another relationship that I have really enjoyed on the show has been between Adam (Peter Krause) and Sarah (Lauren Graham). The two just have great chemistry, and I love their sibling relationship. Sarah also has fabulous chemistry with her daughter, Amber (Mae Whitman), and I love how imperfect, but also loveable, the two are. Flawed characters are just so much more interesting, and they are just so believable as mother and daughter. Really, I could go on and on, because all the family relationships on this show are so realistic and well-done. The weakest links are probably Julia (or Swimfan as I call her) and Joel, but even their storyline has its strengths, particularly with their relationship with their daughter. Bottom line: I’m so glad that Parenthood got renewed, and I will definitely be tuning in next season.
Further random thoughts on Parenthood:
- All of the children are ridiculously adorable on this show–especially Jabbar. In fact, Jabbar may possibly be the cutest kid on television.
- On that note, Jabbar’s mother, Jasmine, may possibly be the most gorgeous woman on television. The actress who plays her, Joy Bryant, is just beautiful.
- The only characters that I’m not really too attached to yet are the parents: Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) and Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) Braverman. Their storyline about their separation has not grabbed me.
- Amber and Haddie’s relationship has been so interesting to watch. The cousins went from strangers to confidants to enemies to family. I hope that the two girls are able to get past their boy problems and remain close–it certainly looked that way in the finale. Both girls are complex and interesting to watch on screen, providing different models of teenage girls than what seems to be normally portrayed on television.
- I never thought that I would ever be able to stand Dax Shepard, let alone like him, but this show has performed a miracle: I kind of love Crosby. His character has really grown a lot, with the news that he is a father, and his efforts to build a relationship with his son. I am also somewhat invested in his relationship with Jasmine, and hope that they keep her around next season.
- Kristina’s hair is soooo platinum blonde that it is distracting. Monica Potter is a great actress, and has just really done a phenomenal job bringing Kristina to life, but I can’t help but fixate on her white hair. I think just a shade darker, or some golden highlights would really do wonders for her coloring. (I know, this is a weird thing to fixate on.)
- Sarah and Adam questioning Steve’s parents, and then confronting Steve, in the finale, was one of my favorite scenes of the television season. I just love how the two siblings banded together to find Amber, but when Adam saw Steve, all he could think of was Haddie. And Sarah, of course, gave Steve a piece of her mind on Amber’s behalf. Just gold.
Okay, that’s all for now. I’ll post Part IV soon, covering Smallville, Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, The Vampire Diaries, and V. I welcome your comments below, as always.