Appointment Television – The Best Shows Worth Watching

October 27, 2008

As any of you who’ve read my blog know, I watch a lot of television and I mean a lot.  But what most of you might not realize is that I have a husband, three-year old twins, a full-time job and hopes for some semblance of a social life.

My other obligations mean that a lot of my television shows have to be DVRed for viewing at a later time.  But a handful of shows rank as must sees for me.  I will go out of my way to watch these shows live and am gravely disappointed when I can’t.

So without further ado here is my list of appointment shows – television shows I schedule time to watch:

Chuck

Chuck - Season 2 Cast - Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker, Adam Baldwin as Major John Casey, Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski, Sarah Lancaster as Ellie Bartowski, Ryan McPartlin as Capt. Awesome, Joshua Gomez as Morgan Grimes courtesy Mitchell Haaseth/NBC Photo

Chuck - Season 2 Cast - Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker, Adam Baldwin as Major John Casey, Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski, Sarah Lancaster as Ellie Bartowski, Ryan McPartlin as Capt. Awesome, Joshua Gomez as Morgan Grimes courtesy Mitchell Haaseth/NBC Photo

It’s nice to start out the week with a little humor.  That’s why I watch Chuck.  And what’s funnier that a Buy More slacker turned super spy with Adam Baldwin as his take-no-prisoners handler? 

Chuck was happily not living up to his potential when he suddenly acquired a brain full of encrypted government secrets when the computer housing them was destroyed.  Now he balances his day job as part of the Nerd Herd with his secret life – a life where the girl he has a crush on – CIA Agent Sarah Walker – and NSA Agent John Casey (Baldwin) protect him while helping him to unravel the secrets in his head.

I already outlined my Top 10 reasons for watching the show so I won’t bore you with that again.  But if you are looking for a little lighter fare to add to your TV repertoire, then I highly recommend Chuck.

Chuck airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Fringe

Michael Lavine/FOX

FRINGE: When an unlikely trio uncovers a deadly mystery that involves a series of unbelievable events, they discover it may be part of a larger, more disturbing pattern that blurs the line between science fiction and technology on FRINGE airing Tuesdays (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) this fall on FOX. Pictured L-R: Lance Reddick, John Noble, Blair Brown, Kirk Acevedo, Anna Torv, Mark Valley, Joshua Jackson and Jasika Nicole ©2008 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Lavine/FOX

Out of all the new shows, Fringe is my favorite.  Who doesn’t love a show where a cow has a recurring role?  Seriously, the mystery is high in this high-tech X-Files-like show.

With the help of lovable “mad scientist” Walter Bishop and his brilliant, but loner son Peter, FBI Agent Olivia Dunham sets out to unlock the mysteries behind The Pattern.  But Olivia has a few secrets of her own including a dead boyfriend who haunts her.  But she’s not the only enigma – Peter, Walter, the Observer and Nina all have a mystery or two of their own.

I tune in every week for the weekly case, as much as for the overall intrigue.  What is the Pattern?  Who’s behind it?  And what are they trying to do?

Fringe airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.  The next new episode airs on November 11.

Bones

Kwaku Alston/FOX

BONES: L-R: TJ Thyne, Michaela Conlin, Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Tamara Taylor and Eric Millegan. ©2007 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Kwaku Alston/FOX

I followed Angel’s David Boreanaz to Bones four years ago, but stayed because I fell in love with the team of squints let by Dr. Brennan.  Together the team of brilliant misfits solves murders based on a pile of bones.

Booth (Boreanaz) is a former sniper turned FBI agent who always gets his man.  But this single dad also has a soft spot for Brennan and her team, and of course, his son.  Brennan is his forensic anthropologist partner – brilliant, but socially inept.  And that’s just the leadership of this team.

The cases are intriguing – after all where else do you see a case solved from nothing more than a femur — but the dynamics of the team are what keep me coming back for more.

Bones airs on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox.  The next new episode airs November 5.  You can catch reruns of this season on Mondays at 11 p.m. on TNT.

Supernatural

Supernatural - Season 4 - Jensen Ackles as Dean, Jared Padalecki as Sam courtesy Brian Bowen Smith/Warner Bros. Television Entertainment

Supernatural - Season 4 - Jensen Ackles as Dean, Jared Padalecki as Sam courtesy Brian Bowen Smith/Warner Bros. Television Entertainment

I wait all week for this show.  And if I only get to watch one show a week – Supernatural is it.  In its fourth season, this sci fi series stars a beautiful 67 Impala and two demon hunting brothers – Jensen Ackles and Jared Paledecki as Dean and Sam Winchester – that are more than easy on the eyes.  Need I say more!

Okay, if you need more than pretty faces and a hot car to sell you, I’ll continue.  The show is about an epic battle between good and evil without being preachy.  In fact the show does an excellent job of combining the spooky with excellent dialogue, super music, wit and lots of great pop culture references. 

And the story itself is top-notch (in my opinion).  Dean and Sam were raised by their late father to be hunters after their mother was killed by the powerful yellow-eyed demon Azazel.  This season Dean has been pulled from the bowels of Hell by the angel Castiel to help prevent Armageddon and to keep Sam from being sway to the dark side through the use of his psychic powers – powers he acquired because Azazel dropped demon blood into his mouth when he was a child.

Supernatural airs on the CW on Thursdays at 9 p.m.

That pretty much wraps up a week for me.  I spend the rest of the time catching up on my DVR.

What shows do you find yourself scheduling time in front of the tube for?  What are your must see shows?

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Will ‘New Amsterdam’ Find Success with Immortality?

March 5, 2008

Fox is relying on America’s fascination with immortality to make New Amsterdam a hit, but will the new drama be lost in the sea of reality shows.

New AmsterdamIn the ‘80s I was introduced to Conner MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and the concept of the immortal hero.  The movie spawned a 20+ year franchise that included a Highlander TV series.

(Just for the record, I’m sure other immortals in television and film existed before the ‘80s, but I’m going to claim that I’m too young to remember them as an excuse for not including them.)

A decade after Highlander hit the big screen, I started watching a show about another immortal – one who had a questionable past.  Cursed with a soul by gypsies, the vampire known as Angel (David Boreanaz) patrolled the streets of first Sunnydale, then Los Angeles helping people in an effort to make reparations for all the evil he’d done.

And now, before adding New Amsterdam to the list, I am watching two more shows with leads that cannot die – Moonlight and TorchwoodMoonlight is about another vampire that doubles as a detective while Torchwood features Dr. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), a time traveler from the future who is unable to die after an adventure with The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston/David Tennant of Doctor Who).

After watching the premiere of New Amsterdam last night I think the drama has potential.  After all it has all the ingredients for a successful immortal.

Immortality Brought on My Death

Like others before him, John Amsterdam (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) had died and lived to tell about it.  In fact in the pilot, John dies twice – once in the flashback where he received his immortality from an Indian shaman (Carla Rae Holland) and once in the opening sequence (I won’t spoil the why here).

Of course, both Angel and Nick St. John (Alex O’Laughlin) died to become vampires.  Captain Jack was brought back to life when Rose (Billie Piper) saved him from The Bad Wolf.  And Conner found out about his immortality after being mortally wounded in battle.

A Quest

John’s quest is unlike like other immortals, but it’s a quest nonetheless.  Angel seeks to redeem himself.  Nick is search for a cure.  Conner battled for The Prize and Jack is trying to save Earth.  But John’s quest is more personal.  He’s looking for love, not any love, but his one true love.  When he finds it, he can finally grow old.

A Hero complex

With immortality comes responsibility.  Conner fights evil immortals.  Jack protects the earth from aliens.  Angel and Nick are both private detectives.  And John partners with fellow cop Eva Marquez (Zuleikha Robinson) to fight crime, although he hasn’t always worked a cop.

Wear a Long Coat

The long coat must be part of the hero fashion statement, because all the immortals are wearing one, each for their own purpose.  Jack’s dates back to his World War I days.  Conner used it to hide his sword.  The long coat looks really cool flapping in the breeze like wings when Angel and Nick leap from tall buildings.  I’m not sure what John’s purpose for his coat is yet (a throwback from his past?), but I’m willing to stick around to find out.

Loners with a Confidant

Since immortals can outlive everyone they know, it’s no surprise that they are all loners.  But that doesn’t mean they are totally alone – they have confidants.  Jack has his Torchwood staff.  Nick has fellow vamp Josef (Jason Dohring).  Angel had Doyle (Glenn Quinn) and then Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter).  Conner had Juan Sanchz Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery).

John has Omar (Stephen Henderson).  We met the 65-year-old jazz club owner in the pilot.  He was in trouble with some bookies and John helps him out.  He returns the favor by keeping John’s secrets.  But maybe that’s not the only reason.  According to TV Guide, Omar is John’s son (one of many children his fathered over the years).

Achilles’ Heel

Immortality does come without some downsides.  Each of these immortals has a mortal weakness – something that can kill them immediately.  Conner must be beheaded to die.  Beheading, fire, sunlight and stakes are all lethal to Angel, while beheading, fire and extreme sunlight are the only things that can put an end to Nick’s life.  I don’t want to give away Jack’s secret, I’ll just say tune into Doctor Who’s third season.

But what can kill John?  Ironically, it’s the same thing that he searches for – true love.  Once his soul is wed to that of his one true love, he can grow old and die.

Women

Some might argue that women in and of themselves are man’s Achilles’ heel.  I’ll save that debate for another day.  But I did notice that all the immortals have their fair share of women around.

Conner had Heather (Beatie Edney).  Nick has Beth (Sophia Myles), the girl he loves, and Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon), the wife that turned him.  Angel has a couple ladies on his list – his sire Darla (Julie Benz), his true love Buffy (Sarah Michelle Geller) and Cordelia.  The unconventional Jack has a slew of people – both men and women – that he shares chemistry with including Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd), Gwen (Eve Myles) and Captain John Hart (James Marsters).

Who keeps John company?  Over the years he’s had several wives, but as he told us in the pilot only one at a time.  Currently, in addition to his partner Eve, John has crossed paths with Dr. Sara Dillane (Alexie Gilmore).  Is she is one true love?  Only time will tell.

Living under the Radar

In order to avoid someone noticing that they are living forever, immortals must fly under the radar.  Angel lives in the shadows.  Nick pretends that he’s his own son.  And Conner moved around.  I have no idea how Jack has remained undetected.

John changes names and careers.  In the pilot, we heard at least two other names he used, one being Charlie and the other the name of an artist he once was.  The constant mystery of the person that he was should provide an intriguing backdrop for the show.  And the random why he throws out tidbits – that he knows no one will believe – suggesting his real age adds a touch of humor to the show.

Flashbacks in History

The great thing about living for hundreds of years is the unfolding history.  And a good show about immortals explores that history through flashbacks (or in Jack’s case flash forwards since he’s from the future).

New Amsterdam promises to follow in the footsteps of other shows about immortals giving us glimpses into John’s past lives.  In the pilot, we saw how John became immortal as a Dutch soldier in 1642.  The flashbacks are possibly the part I’m looking forward to the most.  I like the idea of peeking into someone’s past to learn more about them and I enjoy historical stories, so bring on the flashbacks.

Overall, I think that Fox has the makings of a hit on their hands.  But I’m worried that New Amsterdam will be lost among the reality show swamp the network has become.  So far the network is not doing the show any favors by moving the show around its schedule – it premiered on a Tuesday night, the next episode is on Thursday, followed by an episode on Monday.

If Fox can secure a decent place in the schedule for the show, New Amsterdam might live a long life – even if it’s not immortal.


My Top 15 Cult Shows

July 3, 2007

On Friday, TVguide.com released an updated list of its Top 30 Cult Shows ever.  In honor of the list, I’ve compiled my own Top 15 cult shows — these are the top cult shows that I’ve personally flipped out for.

I didn’t feel like I could include LostHeroes or Bones on this list because they seemed too mainstream for me. 

Here’s my Top 15 list:

15. Star Trek — I grew up on the original series.  Scotty was always my favorite character.  I’ve seen all the subsequent series and all the movies. 

14.  Torchwood — Who doesn’t love Captain Jack Harkness?  I was so happy when they gave him his own series.

13.  Doctor Who — I don’t remember the older versions of this franchise, but the latest rendition is absolutely great.

12.  Psych — Dule Hill and James Roday keep me in stitches with their fake psychic business and buddy friendship.

11.  Monk — The escapades of USA’s favorite obsessive-compulsive detective are enough to make anyone feel normal by comparison.

10. Quantum Leap — I had a little crush on Scott Bakula and wouldn’t miss an episode of his time traveling adventures.

9.  Friday Night Lights — You don’t have to love football to fall for the witty dialogue and great stories in this drama.

8.  How I Met Your Mother — One word.  Barney.  He makes this show.

7.  Eureka — You’ve just got to love this quirky little town of the brightest minds.

6.  Battlestar Galactica — I barely remember the original, but the current version has me on the edge of my seat.

5.  X-Files — My husband introduced this series to me when we were dating.  We spent many Friday nights during our courtship curled up on the couch watch Scully and Mulder unravel a case.  For that reason, this series will always have a special place in my heart. 

4.  Firefly — Joss Whedon has me begging for more exploits of Mal and the crew of the Serenity.  A single season of this space cowboy adventure was not enough.  Thank goodness for the movie and the comics. 

3.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Joss Whedon’s original television series kept me hooked all seven seasons and further if you count the comics.   I loved to tune in each week to watch Buffy and the Scooby Gang save the world.

2.  Angel — David Boreanaz is very easy on the eyes.  I loved to watch the brooding vampire with a soul team up with Cordelia, Wes, Gunn and others to save the innocent.  I even have the puppet Angel from “Smile Time.”

1.  Supernatural — Currently my favorite show, I love to watch the good-looking brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padelecki) battle urban legends and things that go bump in the night while driving the beautiful 1967 black Chevy Impala. 

So now it’s your turn.  What’s on your list?