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October 15, 2007 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | October 15, 2007 |

Several weeks into the new season, I thought it would be worthwhile revisiting my earlier column about the shows I was planning to watch this fall, to see which ones have been tossed aside like last night’s trash. I should note that I’ve had shows on a much tighter leash this year, and have been giving them far less leeway than I usually do. This is partially because I’m already a little behind on several shows, but more due to the fact that: (a) I’m about to make a cross-country move, which is going to put me even more behind; and (b) I’m going to be starting a new job, post-move, which is going to cut into my viewing time. So winnow down the Season Pass list I must.

Thankfully (from the winnowing down standpoint, anyway), this new fall season has been pretty lackluster, and it hasn’t been too tough to thin the herd. One show that I haven’t actually cut just yet, but which is being put on a tight leash, is “Chuck.” Yes, I originally gave the show a relatively positive review. But now, three episodes in, I’m finding myself a bit bored and distracted with it. There are still some good bits here and there and in years past, this would’ve been enough for me to keep the show in permanent rotation. But this year, those good bits are just going to buy a bit of patience. Too much of the show is feeling a little repetitive, or cliché, or just plain dull. And it’s those things that are going to need to improve over the next few weeks for “Chuck” to remain on my Season Pass when I arrive at the Left Coast.

One show that has long since been removed from any mention on my TiVos and DVRs, however, is “Big Sucks Shots.” Wow does this show blow. I knew going in that it was likely to be bad, but I went in anyway largely because there wasn’t much else on against it. Plus, Rob Thomas had been brought onboard as a producer, and “Veronica Mars” (plus vague memories of “Cupid”) have earned Thomas a fair amount of trust. However, his contributions to the show won’t likely be felt until around episode five or six, I’d imagine, and (i) the show very well may not be on the air that long, and (ii) there’s just no way I could stay with the show that long (it was a struggle just to get through the one episode I did manage to watch). Because the writing, oh the writing, is terrible with a capital T that rhymes with D that stands for doggerel. Bad dialogue made even worse by stupid, uninteresting plotlines (oh these poor rich powerful men and their big, bad problems — suck me). So unless Rob Thomas was to step in and start writing the show in its entirety, I don’t see any way that this thing gets righted.

And to be fair, since I killed a show about men, I figured I should also kill one about kids, which is why I’ve quit “Kid Nation.” Truthfully, this is a show which is simply a casualty of my new viewing regime. It’s a perfectly adequate mid-day, background-noise diversion and in years past, I would’ve stuck with it just because. But this year, “just because” just ain’t enough. Illegal child labor issues aside, I kinda dig the idea behind this show. And it’s relatively well cast, with some kids you like and some you hate (or at least find terribly annoying). But I find the producers’ hands a bit too heavy, such as in the bit where the kids were basically directed to lop off some chicken heads, and the show ends up feeling a bit too forced as a result. I don’t want the silly competitions, and the book of secrets leading the kids in certain directions. I want kids dumped in a ghost town with the necessary supplies and left entirely on their own. Sadly, that’s not what “Kid Nation” gives us. Again, I didn’t particularly hate the show — the three episodes I sat through were fine. But I certainly wouldn’t give up valuable prime-time hours to watch this show. Nor would I give it some of my now more limited watch-while-working time. Which leaves it nowhere to go but to the ghost town populated with all the shows I just don’t have the time to watch.

Speaking of nowhere to go, is it just me or does it feel like “Heroes” has nowhere to go? Or at least, that it’s not trying very hard to get anywhere. I mean, sure, there’s been some plot development with this new season, but god damn has it been slow and dull. Now I have not quit the show yet, but I have, to borrow Steven Colbert’s big board, put the show on notice. Granted, I’m not likely to drop the show without giving it at least half the season, but the fact remains that the thought has crossed my mind more than once. For one thing, I’m not too keen on the new quasi-Wonder Twins, particularly as we see the same damn thing almost every week (brother and sister get separated; sister freaks out; sister bleeds “X-Files” black oil and kills folks, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not; brother comes back; sometimes he fixes things, sometimes not). And I’m really not feeling either of the season long plotlines (the virus and the “death to old heroes” bit), both of which are even more derivative than last season’s story arch. In fact, the only storyline I’m intrigued by at all right now is whatever we’ve got going on with Sylar having some power-use issues. But I still can’t give the show up yet because (a) I have to see my lovely Kristen Bell when she finally rolls onto the scene, (b) I’m still kinda interested in the potential of certain aspects of the show, and (c) it’s still too much in the public conscience for me to stone cold quit. But those could all change if there’s not at least a bit of excitement in the coming weeks.

And in light of those complaints, maybe it’s odd that I quickly quit “Gossip Girl.” I mean, during the first episode, some shit did happen. And it was the type of shit I usually like in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. It was insipid and mindless, but not in a wanting-to-bang-my-head-against-the-wall way. And yet, 10 minutes into the second episode, I suddenly found my hand on the remote, pushing the buttons to delete the show. I think the problem is that I wanted the show to be fun. A show from Josh Schwartz about spoiled NYC rich kids? The fun should’ve been a no-brainer. But it’s neither fun nor campy, which is what I wanted out of it. As I said in my fall preview column, I know I’m not the target demo for this show, so I’m not slamming it for choosing to take the more “dramatic,” soapy route. I was just hoping for something more akin to what most of the first season of “The O.C.” gave us. And since that’s not what we got, I’m out. (Congrats to the show, however, for being the first freshman to be given a full season order.)

And then there’s mother fucking Fox and its mother fucking ruination of “Kitchen Nightmares.” God damn it did I want to like this show, based on how much I love the British original. But I suspected Fox would fuck this up ten ways from Sunday, and fuck if I wasn’t right. Fox and the fucking Hollywood Machine have stomped out all of the goodness from the original show, and replaced it with good ol’ fucking American crap. This show is, not to mince words, an abomination. Gordon Ramsay’s surprisingly good voiceovers have been replaced with a voiceover from Cheesy and Generic Fox Announcer Dude. And half of those voiceovers consist of nothing more than telling us what we’ve just seen and what we’re about to see. As for the show itself, fucking Fox and the fucking producers have Americanized the hell out of it (i.e., they’ve dumbed it the fuck down). As I sadly expected, they’ve pushed Ramsay into full “Hell’s Kitchen” mode, and he screams and yells and drops the F-bombs more than I have in this fucking paragraph. And it mostly feels like he’s yelling just for the sake of yelling which, to me at least, simply ain’t entertaining. Worse yet, the changes implemented in restaurants are far more superficial than in the British version, and it seems like this is simply because the producers wanted to, again, dumb things down. Rather than really getting into why the kitchen is dysfunctional, why the menu is failing, why the business and finances are being mishandled, Ramsay just has a brand new kitchen installed, gives folks a new menu of his own design and yells at some folks. And presto, chango, everything is all honky dory. Fucking Fox.

And then there was “Private Practice.” Oy. Vey. I pretty much hated last spring’s so-called backdoor pilot for this show, but figured I’d give it a chance anyway, which just means that ABC’s bad became my bad. Maybe a part of me hoped that this show, removing us from the confines of a super serious and dramatic hospital, would give us some of the lighthearted fun that the first season of “Grey’s Anatomy” had. Instead, it’s cloying in its sentimentality. It’s not funny, it’s not terribly well written, and it feels demeaning to its own cast and the actors’ potential. Yet, I actually gave a passing thought to watching the show’s second episode, until the little TV Angel on my shoulder said “dude, don’t even bother watching it.” And after all, the Dude abides.

A show that I did not think about giving a second shot was “Back to You.” Unlike many, I think there is still a place on TV for a well done “standard” sitcom comedy, despite the fact that all the recent great comedies have been of the single-camera variety. But the key here is “well done.” And “Back to You” feels no better than competent, at best. The first episode wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t pull any true laughs from me either — a chuckle or too at most. Worse, it used a plot point which was also used in the premiere episode of last year’s turd, “October Road.” And that was pretty much game, set, match for me, Kelsey Grammer or no Kelsey Grammer.

I have no segue to the next show I dropped, HBO’s “Tell Me You Love Me.” When I reviewed this show a month ago, I said that I wasn’t likely to watch it on Sundays, but that I would record it for mid-week while-I-work viewings. And that’s what I tried to do. Trouble is, while I’m working, I really shouldn’t watch things which have a tendency to put me to sleep. And this show felt more and more boring with each passing episode, as the couples had the same damn arguments over and over again. Again, the show’s goal to treat relationship realistically is admirable, but I’m simply going to have to admire it from afar.

Which brings us to the last show I’ve watched and dropped. A show that has the fine distinction of being the only one where I couldn’t even get through the first episode. Ladies and gentlemen, “Moonlight” is absolutely terrible. Bad writing. Bad acting. Bad plots. Bad everything. Despite my love of vampires and supernatural stuff, this episode had me pleading for someone to bite my neck. And no relief coming, I had to take measures into my own hands about thirty-five minutes into the episode. I really hate quitting on a show without giving it at least one full episode, if not two or three, but there you go.

Of course, there are still a ton of shows I’m sticking with for now, for one reason or another. I know several of you want a review of one such show, “Dirty Sexy Money,” but I’m not sure that I’ll have the time in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say, the show is by no means great, but it’s not terrible either, and it’s giving me enough of the insipid fun I wanted from “Gossip Girls” (coupled with a great cast) that I’m sticking with it for now. Other shows I’m sticking with, though not in love with, include “Journeyman,” “Reaper” (but I haven’t seen last week’s episode yet, and it could soon find itself on a “Chuck”-like leash), “Cane” and “Bionic Woman” (it’s also about one episode away from being put on notice). The only new show I’ve truly dug is “Pushing Daisies”, but again, I haven’t seen last week’s episode yet, so I’m basing this statement just off the premiere. I hope the show lives up to that premiere’s promise because, otherwise, it might be impossible to dub any new show “the best new show of the year.” God bless mediocrity.

Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television editor. If anyone would like to volunteer to act as his chauffeur while driving across the country, so that he can just sit in the passenger seat and watch TV, he is now accepting applications.

Tossed to the Curb

Shows I've Quit / The TV Whore
Oct. 15, 2007

TV | October 15, 2007 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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