What Worked and What Sucked:
NBC’s 2006-2007 Fall Season Edition
Reviewed 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 Fox and The Sci-Fi Channel produced for us. Now, we move on to the wonderful world of 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.
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Heroes: From the first time I heard about this show, I knew I was going to love it. I just figured that, just like every other slightly unconventional show that I like that appears on one of the main networks, it would go the way of the dinosaur rather quickly. What I didn’t expect was for everyone else to love it as much as me – and for it to be the hit of the season! What luck! The world is sharing my taste – this NEVER happens! This show, about a group of people whose genes have evolved special powers has met with great appreciation. Critics and viewers alike are loving this series. I feel like you, the reader, probably already know everything there is for you to know about the series, since it has been exposed. Either way, the acting is great, the comic book-like style gives the series a different, appealing flavor, the mysteries and the surprise endings give this show a unique blend – and America loves it. Genre television – welcome to the mainstream!
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC): For a while there, I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten into with this season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) was undercover working some anti-terrorism angle with the FBI and so, wasn’t shown prominently for many episodes – she, of course, is one of my favorite characters on the show. The first half of the season just sort of ambled along. However, when the season started moving, it REALLY started moving. We had her meet her brother, son of the man who raped her mother, we had her and Elliot (Christopher Meloni, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Oz) dealing with the issues of their close friendship in relation to their ability to effectively perform their job as well as his marital troubles, and Fin (Ice-T) dealing with family issues that leaves him arresting his son’s half brother (Rapper Ludacris) for murder. The season finale left us all very shocked, as Ludacris popped back up, this time on trial for murder, with his attorney (Steven Weber, of the below mentioned Studio 60…which we will discuss later). Luda’s character was very clever, however, and took down most of SVU: with corruption revealed, the Captain (Dann Florek) was forced to step down, Elliot’s daughter, who he had once rescued from a DUI charge was now forced to go to jail, Fin’s honesty was called into question when it was discovered that, long ago, he hadn’t turned in evidence at the proper time after a drug sting, and Olivia was forced to admit that she helped her brother jump bail on a rape charge – one he wasn’t actually guilty of – but she didn’t know that at the time. All in all, Luda left us all wondering just who would be returning next season. With a cast like these fine actors, let’s hope they all come back.
The Office (NBC): One of the funniest comedies on television took a new turn this season. At the end of last season, Jim (John Krasinski, License to Wed) left the Scranton branch of the paper company to work for the Stamford branch and to get as far away from Pam (Jenna Fischer), who rejected him in the final episode, when he finally shared his feelings with her. Despite this change, usual hijinx continue as Jim finds new people to torture with his pranks, and Michael (Steve Carrell, Evan Almighty) continues to be completely inappropriate. With the finale containing a battle for a corporate position in New York as well as the possibility of a reunion between Jim and Pam, one couldn’t help to be just giddy – and also wonder who was coming back to this show next season. A load of fun once again, I can’t wait to see some more.
30 Rock: I’m almost afraid to write about this one. I’m worried that my boss may kill me. And I have my reasons. Apparently, 30 Rock has met with critical acclaim and the good reviews of my usually quite tentative boss. However, after watching only a couple of episodes of this show, I have to say, I just don’t get it. Whenever I have seen them anywhere else, Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, and Tracey Morgan, the three stars of this show, are hysterical. Somehow, here, when all thrown together in the way that they are, it becomes the picture of camp, the characters become so outlandish they are completely unrecognizable, and the series becomes something that nobody who likes realistic characters would want to spend their time on. All in all, 30 Rock is a dud.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: This one pissed me off royally. NBC promoted this show to the high heavens upon its release, and promptly dogged for the very things that earned it the promotion it received. Studio 60 was outspoken about free speech in television and how that was hampered by the politics of ad sales and sponsors. Studio 60 was outspoken on the issue of mass mobilization of Christian Groups that assemble for the sole purpose of getting things off the air when they could simply change the channel. Studio 60 discussed the lack of programming that reflects integrity and mocked the persistent use of reality programming to boost network advertising revenue. Based on the running of a certain NBC nighttime variety show (*cough* Saturday Night Live *cough*) the series follows the producers of the show, Danny Tripp and Matt Albie (Bradley Whitford, The West Wing and Matthew Perry, Friends) as they struggle with the President of the Network, Jack Rudolph (Steven Weber, Wings), the VP of programming Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet, A Lot Like Love, The Whole Nine Yards) and their big three actors, Simon Stiles (D.L. Hughley), Tom Jeter (Nathan Corddry), and Matt’s on-again-off-again love Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson, American Gothic) – every character on this show was well-developed and their relationships were real. Despite this, most shows do get canceled for a reason, and I think I sadly know what they are in this case. For one, for a series about a comedy sketch show, the sketches they showed weren’t all that funny. But that’s minor. Another fatal flaw would have to be the repetition of the plot. Throughout each episode the writers, who seemed to think that either the viewers were too stupid to keep up with the plot or were too stupid not to join the show in the middle, would include a pointless plot recap in the form of a conversation which always seemed forced and ridiculous. Nobody repeats a list of their circumstances that often. The other issue would have to be what I’m going to call “Soap-Box-itis.” The characters would sometimes be speaking solely for the writers, simply rattling out the controversial topic of the day without much emotion on the character’s part. Despite these things, the show was smart and the religious and patriotic controversy was still very interesting. I liked the characters, I liked the story – the politics didn’t really matter that much when lined up against that. Still, Studio 60 couldn’t seem to stand up to the criticism. Thankfully, they gave us a season finale that could easily be the end of the series and not a cliffhanger – well done!
The Black Donnellys: Ironically enough, this series filled the Studio 60 spot when it was cancelled awhile back. However, this series didn’t last too long either. Following the troubled Donnelly family, this mob series about the rivalry between the Irish and the Italians on the streets had a heart of gold. One couldn’t help but feel terrible for Tommy (Jonathan Tucker), the good brother in a string of ne’er-do-well brothers. In an effort to defend one of his own, Tommy tanks his own life, getting him into plenty of street trouble with just one act – one act that makes itself worse and worse with every move he makes. There were good things about this show – the grittyness, the surprising hotness of Tucker without his shirt on, and the unreliable voice-overs of Donnelly family friend Joey Ice Cream (Keith Nobbs) were all parts of this show’s likeability factor. However, it seemed that the show was murdered by it’s own problem of the week method of handling things – after the pilot, the episodes generally fit this format: Tommy realizes that he isn’t quite out of the woods yet, he struggles to find a way out, his brothers make things worse, Tommy figures out how to fix things, but only by selling his soul a little bit more, episode ends with the bittersweet feeling of Tommy surviving by becoming a little more like his brothers. While this is an interesting episode summary, it is not really an interesting PLOT summary, and in the end, this is what sent this series to the chopping block.
Well, that’s it, out summer recap of what rocked and what sucked in this past television season. The summer season has begun, so keep your eyes peeled in case any gems come along. And stay tuned for an all new television season of first impressions in the Fall. ‘Till then, have your fill of what G-Pop has to offer! Despite how it feels sometimes, there is still life when your TiVo isn’t full. Ciao!