What Worked and What Sucked:
CBS’s and The CW’s 2006-2007 Fall Season Edition
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
Hello again, everybody out in TV world! Last time, 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 and the new CW, formerly known as UPN and The WB 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and let your word be heard.
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How I Met Your Mother (CBS): What’s better than a brand new series about five twenty-somethings trying to find love in the big city? SEASON TWO, that’s what. How I Met Your Mother, which follows Ted (Josh Radnor), a young architect who believes he has found his true love in Robin (Cobie Smulders)—despite the fact that we know, from Ted himself who is telling this story from the future, that Robin is not the woman he will marry. Last season ended with Robin and Ted getting together as well as the separation of the shows “perfect” couple, Lily (Alyson Hannigan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Pie) and Marshall (Jason Segel, Knocked Up). Meanwhile Barney (Neil Patrick Harris, ya’ll know who he is) remained as single as ever. This season, we went through many adventures, including the long road back to the reunion and marriage of Lily and Marshall, the building of the closeness of the relationship between Robin and Ted and to the eventual break-up, and we met Barney’s brother (Wayne Brady) and thought we may have met Barney’s dad, if you believed what Barney did – that his father was Bob Barker of The Price is Right fame. But, the classic episode of all this season was “Slap Bet,” in which Marshall and Barney make a bet in which one will get the opportunity to slap the other if he is proved right…of course, complications arise making this episode quite possibly the funniest half hour of television in a long time. The season went out on a bittersweet note, with Marshall and Lily finally married, Ted and Robin finally breaking up, and Barney, of course, remaining exactly the same. Will this mean that next season Ted might actually meet the future mother of his children? I can barely wait through the summer to find out!
Supernatural (The CW): The end of the first season of Supernatural practically left us in pain. Just after winning a huge battle against the yellow-eyed demon that killed their mother, Dean and Sam Winchester (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) and their father, John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), were in a colossal truck accident that could have very well killed them all. When we began the series’ sophomore season, we discovered that the closest one to death was Dean. As Dean struggled to bargain with Death, Sam and John tried to find a way to save him, which eventually meant John making a deal with a demon to save Dean, and take him. This was just the beginning of an action packed season that was a roller coaster of emotions. Starting with the death of their father, Sam and Dean faced a tough season, complete with Dean learning that his father feared Sam’s connection to the yellow-eyed demon, Sam discovering more and more about his visions and those other people that have similar powers, Dean downward spiraling and joining a ruthless hunter bent on revenge, Sam falling in love with a werewolf just to have to kill her, Dean having the opportunity to live a life in which his mother never died, Sam’s death and resurrection, and what we think is the final battle with the yellow-eyed demon. The series even gave us an idea of where next season would go, even with so many storylines tied up – Sam looked a little crazed shortly after his revival, Dean had sold his soul away in a year, and the yellow-eyed demon had opened up a gate to hell. All in all, it was a mega-emotional year for the Winchester boys, and I loved every minute of it. Can’t wait ‘till Season 3.
The Class (CBS): I loved this show but, I have to admit, I saw it coming. The Class was a comedy series about a guy named Ethan (Jason Ritter, Joan of Arcadia), who wishes to propose to his girlfriend in front of all the people who had class with them when they met – in 3rd grade. So, he assembles a motley crew of old classmates. There’s Lina Warbler (Heather Goldenhersh, The School of Rock), an innocent girl who is unlucky in love, her sister, Kat (Lizzy Caplan, Related), a much more hard-boiled, tough, and sarcastic chick, Nicole (Andrea Anders, of last years ill-fated Friends spin-off, Joey), a sweet girl who was looking for true love when she married her sweet but oafish football star husband, her high-school sweetheart, Duncan (Jon Bernthal, World Trade Center), who hasn’t stopped loving her, Holly (Lucy Punch, Ella Enchanted), the television reporter who is reunited with her high school sweetheart, Kyle (Sean Maguire, Off Centre) for the first time since her prom, where he left her for a man, and, finally, Richie (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who was about to commit suicide before he received the phone call inviting him to the party – and who stopped because he wanted to go. All of these wacky characters come together in a sort of chain. Yes, the six degrees of separation theme was popular this year and it even worked its way into this series, with, say, Ethan and Kyle making friends, and Kyle and Holly making friends, but Ethan and Holly never really hanging out. The format of the series was interesting, although it wasn’t hard to see that it was doomed at about midway through the season, when Holly disappeared. It is never a good thing when a series gets retooled in the middle of its first season. Despite this, the series was hysterical from the very first episode and the season finale left its viewers gasping! Unfortunately, much like last seasons Lizzy Kaplan drama, Related, the series was allowed to finish its season and then put to rest. It’s a shame. There are only two other comedy series on TV that make me laugh like that – How I Met Your Mother and The Office. Thankfully, they are still successful…until the network decides to chop stuff needlessly again…
Close to Home (CBS): Originally starting last year on CBS as a family oriented legal drama, Close to Home underwent quite a lot of changes in the switch to a more legal centered drama in its second season. The first thing to go was the husband, Christian Kane (Angel), of main character Annabeth Chase (Jennifer Finnigan, Committed, Crossing Jordan), who was killed in a drunk driving-related car accident in the first season. The new season started with Annabeth returning after a period of mourning to find that the District Attorney’s office has changed completely – the DA from the first season has moved on, and New York shark James Conlon (David James Elliott, JAG) has replaced him. There have also been two detectives hired to work for the office – Ed Williams (Cress Williams, Grey’s Anatomy) and Ray Blackwell (Jon Seda, Homicide: Life on the Street, Selena). The new way that the DA’s office is handled is intriguing, and the new characters were enjoyable, but I missed the home based stuff of the first season. The added political intrigue of Conlon running for Attorney General was a nice addition. However, the series was never as exciting as its last three part story arc, in which Annabeth and her fellow and possibly stronger ADA Maureen Scofield (Kimberly Elise, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, John Q) take down a tower of crime and corruption involving a corrupt cop, (Eric Stoltz, The Butterfly Effect, Mask), a youth shelter, a crime boss and Conlon’s political advisor (Finnigan’s fiancée, Jonathan Silverman – they were so good at looking like they hated each other it was that much more fun to watch!). With the help of a homicide detective (Jeffrey Pierce, The Nine) who helps Annabeth rediscover her emotions, they work to take down this criminal hierarchy – but not without the loss of one of their own. Maureen, the main supporting character for both seasons, doesn’t make it past the finale’s opening credits and the last episode involves putting her killer behind bars. It’s all a very grand exit, but involves the death of another favorite character and, thought there was no idea of cancellation when it was filmed, wraps the show up in a nice neat little bow. Though I will miss Close to Home, perhaps it’s end is for the best…so no other great characters will have to die!
Runaway (The CW): God, who even remembers this show? Premiering with the new CW Network as one of it’s only original shows, Runaway was about an every-man, Paul Rader (Donnie Wahlberg, Boomtown), who is falsely accused of murdering his mistress. His wife, Lilly (Leslie Hope, Commander in Chief) refuses to let him pay for a crime he didn’t commit, believes he has been framed, and whisks him and their three kids into hiding. Perhaps I should call her St. Lilly, since she doesn’t seem to really care that much that she has discovered her husband had a mistress. Anyway, they go on the run, fugitive style, re-naming themselves and struggling to hide while a bevy of FBI agents hunt them down. Sounds like an interesting plot? Well, yeah, that’s why I watched it. But, I had seen so much of it – The Fugitive, Nowhere Man – and they just barely got away with it. I couldn’t help but wonder how likely it would be for an entire family to do so, especially when the children did nothing but bitch and moan about their situation. Add that to the fact that drama was added where there was none (Oh my goodness! Our youngest didn’t answer to his new name in class! Could it be that he was day dreaming? No way! Now everyone is going to KNOW!!!...Oh wait, the teacher just thinks he was daydreaming. Hee Hee! I guess I panicked for no reason…*sigh*), and the complete unlikable nature of every character, from adulterous hubby to whining, lovelorn teen, and I knew there was no chance this could last. That’s why I stopped watching. And that’s why it was canceled. Nonsense crisis averted.
Smallville (The CW): Ahhh…yes, I graded this series this way last year, and it’s back, and I’m still watching it. What can I say? I seem to be a sucker for this crap. The truth is, Smallville roped me in early in the season and kept me coming back with one story line: Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley, Passions) AKA Green Arrow. Not only is he infinitely gorgeous, but his storyline, which involved Lois (Erica Durance) falling in love with him while simultaneously hating and hunting the Green Arrow was a fun little romp. Add that to the climax of the story, in which he and some of the other Superheroes who have already graced the series, and Clark (Tom Wellin), with Chloe (Allison Mack) serving as their Watchtower, worked to take down the army of SuperVillains Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) was building. This was a nice little story, but unfortunately it ended there, thus ruining my fun. After that, it was a lot of the same shameless whining; shameless bed hopping, shameless comic storyline twisting that has always existed in the series – complete with a soapy wedding and pregnancy. Not cool! Not to mention the fact that Chloe and Lana both looked dead at the end, but only one has actually died, as reports circulating are saying that only one character has been written off the show. Sad to say, it was clear that Lana did not actually blow up in her car because we never actually saw her get in the car – a truck was blocking Lionel’s view. Now, earlier in the season we discovered that Chloe had a meteor rock related power. Then, Lois gets stabbed, and Chloe comes to investigate it…Lois is dead until Chloe cries on her and then Chloe is dead and Lois is fine. So I’m guessing that Lois is fine now and Chloe is the character that was killed off the show. And to that I say…WHAT THE @$&#? Her meteor power was to DIE? What the @#$* kinda wacked out shit is that? And anti-climactic too! That’s almost as bad as staff writer Ismael’s mutant power to clot his own blood!!!!!! I mean SERIOUSLY! Some powers you’d just never want…and some powers you would. For instance, I would really like the power to be strong enough to erase Smallville from my DVR because no matter how difficult the episodes are to endure, I just can’t do it. Although, I’m pretty sure that if they don’t fix this Chloe thing next season, I’ll find it much easier.
Jericho (CBS): If this is not a real uplifting television story, I don’t know what is! Jericho was a series about a small town that survives a nuclear attack on The States. This town, devastated by the loss of their country and the family they have outside of the town, now must struggle to survive despite radiation issues, a lack of supplies, and the growing violence that is occurring now that the country no longer has a government. The central character of this series is Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich, Scream), the prodigal son who has just recently returned to his family after five years doing something that was clearly mysterious, as we can tell by his abundance of survival instincts. After all this time, he returns to the town he grew up in, just in time to survive the nuclear attack. This series is equal parts the story of the return of Jake to his family and his father, the town’s mayor (Gerald McCraney, Major Dad) and his wife (Pamela Reed, Kindergarten Cop) trying to lead the town in the best way he can. Joining Jake and his father in taking lead roles in the crisis are Robert Hawkins (Lennie James), a man with a mysterious past, who has moved his family to Jericho days before the explosions – and paid for his house in cash, Gray Anderson (Michael Gaston, Blind Justice) who is itching to replace the mayor, and Heather (Sprague Grayden, Joan of Arcadia), a schoolteacher who knows a thing or two about fixing things. While attempting to save the town, Jake must also deal with his emotional connections, like the brother (Kenneth Mitchell) and best friend (Brad Beyer, Third Watch) he left behind, not to mention the presence of the love of his life (Ashley Scott, Birds of Prey), whose fiancé (SO not Jake, although he would like it to be) may have died in the explosions. The impending war between Jericho and its nearest town was the most interesting storyline of the season. In the season finale, when asked to surrender Jake, who was now leading the war after the loss of his father, replies with the WWII form of “Go To Hell” that his Grandfather taught him long ago – “Nuts!” That moment was the cheering moment for any viewer of the series. The thing about this show is that it had just the right mix. It was hard hitting and realistic, and scary as hell. The mystery of the explosions and the drama of the town’s relationships as they all pulled together to make the town work, was what made the show work! Every week, I eagerly tuned in, and many others did as well – when the series started, Jericho had tremendous ratings. However, in recent network television form, brought on by short-shot series such as reality television, CBS put Jericho on hiatus, and killed its ratings. However, this series is a true testament to why Nielsen needs to re-think its ratings system – a system solely based on standard television ratings when viewers can get series in many other ways – DVR, the network’s website, legal download and (gasp! Dare I say it?) illegal download. Something has to be done with the rating system to compensate for the (at least the legal) alternative forms of watching television. Thankfully, Jericho fans refused to give up. Taking their cue from the above mentioned quote at the end of the season, fans sent CBS millions of peanuts in protest. And, for once, the network listened. On Thursday, June 7th, as I was typing the beginning of this article, I received word that CBS had caved – Jericho will be returning at some point during the next season. Not in the Fall, but it’s something and that’s all that counts. CBS warns that we must rally more viewers for the series if we want it to surpass that order. My only fear is that there aren’t any viewers for conventional TV viewing. Everyone is internet based. CBS must listen.
But, in the meantime we are happy for the best victory for a series renewal since The Sci-Fi Channel told us that Farscape had no female audience – and we all sent our bras to the station, winning a miniseries finale that was the best any fan could wish for. Fans, enjoy your second season of Jericho and wear it well. Tell everyone to watch. We may just win a third. So, stay tuned for next week when I review Fox’s and Sci Fi’s television seasons. Until then, enjoy your victory – AND TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW ABOUT JERICHO!