Might Not Be Time Yet to Give Up on TV

Although I certainly understand what Jim was talking about. Almost all the shows are done with new episodes for the foreseable future.

Yet, I’d like to draw your attention to a phenomenon which has been under the radar. When you think of the TV landscape you may think of your favorite reality shows–American Idol, Survivor, Dancing With the Stars . . . whichever–but odds are you believe that this is another Golden Age of television drama. And you would be right.

We’re getting shows which are hits often without one big star, because they combine talented ensembles with excellent writing.

Crime dramas: Without a Trace, Life, Criminal Minds and Law and Order times three. Forensic crime shows: Cold Case, NCIS, Numbers and CSI times three. Medical dramas: ER, Grey’s Anatomy and House. SF/Fantasy: Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Pushing Daisies and Medium. Anti-terrorism: 24 and The Unit.

I don’t know if TV Guide still picks a “Best Show You’re Probably Not Watching,” but this year’s is Friday Night Lights.
And that’s a category unto itself. It’s unfortunate a show this rich, layered and complex about the problems of high school and football in Texas has been relegated to the wasteland of Friday nights.

And that’s not even mentioning some of the basic cable shows, like The Shield, The Closer, Damages or The Riches (my personal choice for the show that can replace the Sopranos–more on that later). Cable outlets like FX, USA, TNT, TBS, AMC, Sci-Fi and A&E have all provided a home for adventurous, well-written television.

So, what’s the stealth phenomenon? Slowly, quietly, this has become a real Golden Age for comedies, as well. Yeah, Friends is gone, and so are Raymond, Tim Allen, Roseanne, Fraser and Cheers. For each of those traditional sit-coms, there is one probably equally good, if you think about it. My Name Is Earl, Scrubs, Back to You, Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men.

Jim was right, Neil Patrick Harris is in the zone amongst the other (really good) cast members in How I Met Your Mother. And there are the non-traditional comedies, The Office, Entourage, Ugly Betty, The Simpsons, Desperate Housewives, Extras, Family Guy, Weeds. The Emmy for best comedy went to 30 Rock, which, the more I watch, think may have actually deserved it.

So, I suggest you use the time you are not watching reruns, to go on line and catch episodes of some of these shows you may have missed. I especially recommend Big Bang Theory and Back to You, because they are new and need some love. but you must see all of the 30 Rocks. Even if you think Alec Baldwin is an asshole, that just makes him funnier. And Tina Fey is my future ex-wife.

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