NBC's and CBS's Fall 2005-2006 Television Seasons:
What Worked and What Sucked
by Justine Manzano
Hello again, everybody out in TV world! Last week, we discussed in detail what worked and what sucked in the last season of TV that ABC produced for us. Now, we move on to the wonderful worlds of CBS or the Central Broadcasting Station and NBC, the National Broadcasting Company, to see what had us cheering and groaning last season. Yep, in these hot summer months, a TV recap is just what we need to cool off. Ahhh….remember the Fall when you could only just imagine these shows? What a beautiful thing….
DISCLAIMER: There are, of course, some shows that I haven’t seen that I am sure rocked…but I didn’t see them, so I can’t say anything about them. This article is only about my experience with TV this season. If I missed something, and you want it added to the G-POP annals, send us your article at email@example.com and let your word be heard.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS): At first, this new CBS comedy sounded like a riddle that went: What do you get if you take Doogie Howser, M.D. all grown up, Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer without her witchy powers, and a bunch of unknown actors and throw them on a show like Friends? And at first glance, you would think…um…crappy formulaic television! But How I Met Your Mother is anything but that. Yes, it does star the aforementioned Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan, and yes the story centers around a group of 5 people in their early twenties who are close friends, but that is where the formula ends. The story is told from the future by Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) who is telling his children the very long, very detailed story of how he met their mother. The story begins when Ted’s best friends Marshall and Lilly (Jason Segel and Hannigan) get engaged. Ted realizes he needs to find his one and only, and when his womanizing and eccentric friend Barney (played delightfully well by Harris, who steals the show), randomly introduces him to Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) Ted instantly falls in love with her, despite the fact that by the end of the first episode, we know she’s not the woman he ends up with. The strange thing about this series, the thing that makes it interesting and unique, is that we are actively watching a romance we know will end up in disaster, and the audience loves it anyway. Add to that the fact that the acting is right on the mark, the comedy is strange and quirky but hilarious, and that the stories of Marshall, Lily and Barney are equally exciting, and you get the sitcom I am now toting as the next Friends. I guarantee, this show is pure comedy genius.
Close to Home (CBS): I don’t know what is wrong with me, but this latest wave of procedural dramas have reeled me in. Close to Home stars Jennifer Finnigan as Annabeth Chase, a lawyer for the District Attorney’s Office in Illinois. Having just had a baby, Annabeth is torn between the home life with her baby and loving husband (Christian Kane—one of the major villains of Angel does a good job as a regular guy here) and life as a successful and amazing prosecutor. There are most definitely some flaws in this show. Annabeth and her DA office has a tendency to solve the cases for the police, which I’m pretty sure isn’t quite right. Also, for a show that is supposed to be about a prosecutor that is torn between her home life and her work world, her family is practically non-existent except for five minutes each episode. This has seemingly taken a turn for the worse as in the season finale, Annabeth’s husband managed to die in a car accident. It remains to be seen whether this will really continue to be a good show next season, but from what I’ve seen, I have enough faith in the writers to hope it will.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC): When I was living at home with my mother, she used to watch every single thing that graced a TV screen religiously. What that meant for me was that I was exposed to shows my natural instinct would be to ignore. That was how I initially got exposed to the original Law & Order. When I moved in with my husband, we only seemed to watch shows that were in our mainstream interest—anything just a little offbeat. Then, one day, for no reason that I can remember, we watched an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and from that point on, I was hooked. The cases are engaging, the characters have great chemistry and sound like people who have really been out in the world, seeing all of this grit and just trying to stay above it. I spent most of the season peeking over at USA and trying to find old ones I hadn’t seen yet—I still don’t think I’ve caught up, but I’m sure enjoying trying.
The Office (NBC): I caught a couple of episodes of this show in its 1st season and knew that, come season 2, I would be watching it religiously. This being the first full season of The Office that I have seen, I enjoyed every hilarious second. The show follows the Scranton, PA office of Dunder-Mifflin, a paper company, as though it is doing a documentary about the office. Michael Scott (Steve Carrell), the director of the office, constantly misbehaves and has absolutely no idea what he is doing—his goal is to make everybody working with him love him. Despite this, the office rat, Dwight (Rainn Wilson) continues to follow him blindly. But the real interest can be found between co-workers Jim (John Krasinsky) and Pam (Jenna Fischer), who are brewing a serious (albeit un-consummated) office romance despite her engagement. This show would be funny to anyone, but it’s funnier to me because I sadly work with these people every day. At least now, I know that others feel my pain.
Ghost Whisperer (CBS): I know nothing about this show and have never seen an episode and it might be mighty good. All I know is that it sounds quite a lot like a cross between Medium and the Robert Redford film The Horse Whisperer and the mere thought of it made me angry. So for that reason alone, I’m almost positive it sucked. Feel free to argue.
Las Vegas (NBC): I remember when this show was decent. From the very beginning it was outlandish and strange, but I had been trying to like new shows, so I had given it a chance. It became a “Hey! I have actual time to watch TV!!!” treat for me. By the time the second season hit, I was SO over it and by this season, the mere previews merited the show’s placement in this section. It is cheesy, it is extravagant, the investigations that this casino’s security conduct require tremendous leaps of imagination. The show is a nighttime soap opera, but one that doesn’t have the chops of even the slightly campy Desperate Housewives. It amazes me that this show still exists.
My Name Is Earl (NBC): This show is critically acclaimed and I can’t imagine why. Earl (Jason Lee—who I honestly expected more of) had a near death experience and immediately decided that he must make up for all of the horrible things he has done in his life. His list is long and filled with terrible acts and we immediately lose all sympathy for a character we are supposed to happily follow through many seasons of non-existent laughs. Earl is not likeable even when he’s trying to be good and the jokes just don’t ring. I gave up on the show after episode two. I absolutely DO NOT GET IT!
Joey (NBC): Sadly, this show wasn’t all that good to start with, but I watched it simply out of loyalty to Friends which I absolutely loved with all my heart. Also, I love Drea de Matteo. So, I figured I’d stick with it. The show was bad, but it was bad in a sort of cute way. I kept trying, but it got even worse this season. The addition of Miguel A. Nunez as Zack only seemed to serve the purpose of adding racial jokes to the menu and the relationship between Joey and his once-married neighbor got tedious as it simply became the same old story about a woman trying to cover up that she’s in love with her friend—and I don’t think we needed a Friends spin-off to see that story again.
Well, stay tuned for another edition of this series next week, where I will take on FOX and possibly The WB! Until then, keep your eyes peeled. We live in the land of the Summer series now, so who knows what new and great season will start this summer only to be canceled! Enjoy!