Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rickey’s Fall Television Picks

Now that the major news media outlets have neglected to post spoiler alerts about the presidential election victory before their nightly coverage (SPOILER: Obama wins) Rickey has decided to turn his attention back to honest to goodness scripted dramas. Always on the lookout for yet more cultural whimsy to consume your time, we’ve compiled a list of Rickey tested and approved television shows for your betterment for you to enjoy and clog up your DVR with. We think you’ll find that several hours devoted weekly to these recommended shows will render you wittier, more plugged in, and twice as likely to complete the NY Times Sunday crossword.

Yes, Rickey knows, we’re halfway through the new fall season, so what good are these recommendations going to do for you? That’s where the free streaming goodness of Surf the Channel, comes into play (Surf the Channel: reducing television show DVD revenue since October, 2007). Proceed onwards for Rickey’s recommended viewing, and even if you opt not to give some of these shows a shot, at least familiarize yourself with them, because in our increasingly pop culture driven society, it’s crucial that you at least be able to talk about the zeitgeist shows out there, is it not?

Programs of Note:

The Life and Times of Tim. It’s Seinfeld, but for hipsters. Vulgar hipsters. This program reminds Rickey a lot of Dr. Katz: a funny show with an offbeat and decidedly low key tone. A nice restrained follow up to the bombastic male soap opera that is Entourage. It’s a sublimely witty half hour that will tide you over until “Flight of the Concords” and “Curb your Enthusiasm” return.

Mad Men. Because deep down, there’s a little bit of Don Draper in all of us, clawing to get out. This show, created by Sopranos alumn Matthew Weiner, shares a lot of things with the mobster drama: it’s a brooding study in the strange and bewildering minutia of human behavior, and it totally sticks with you. Also, it teaches Rickey the important lesson that smoking, drinking, and gorging yourself have absolutely no negative repercussions whatsoever, other than making one appear incredibly attractive to women.

Sons of Anarchy. So what if they broadcast “I, Robot” five times daily? Were you aware that FX also has a ton of solid television dramas? True story. This show, focusing on lives of a biker gang, is good solid entertainment. Think Sopranos meets Hamlet on motorcycles and you’re on the right track. And yes, Rickey, lacking a television critic’s formal training, will be comparing everything to The Sopranos from now on.

The Shield. In the absence of the reliably menacing Jack Bauer, Rickey hopped on the Vince Mackey bandwagon last season and hasn’t looked back since. Call us nuts, but the fellow seems like he’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. A tad of angina, if you will. And let’s be honest here, you need a gritty police procedural drama to offset your troubling fixation with Gossip Girls, don’t you?

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Hey kids, do you like frat guy humor? And Danny DevVito doing his very best Danny DeVito impression? Then do we have a show for you. The season started off somewhat flat with two overly shrill and tedious episodes, but it recently has ramped up the hilarity to new and exciting levels. Pour yourself a Rolling Rock and tune in to the one and only show to derive humor from the incredibly depressing realm of Philadelphia.

True Blood. We’ll be damned if Rickey has any idea where this show is going. There’s an awful lot going on in some backwater southern town involving vampires, romance, drugs, and murder. All Rickey knows is that before every episode, HBO broadcasts a warning about strong sexual content and every episode this show totally delivers. So Rickey continues to watch.

Fringe. This slick and snazzy sci-fi drama is easily the best new offering of the year, and for that reason, we’ll actually spend a bit of time discussing it. The basic premise behind the show is that science and technology have evolved to a point where mankind is unable to control them. In a recent episode, some poor sap has his personal electromagnetic field altered when he becomes angry, wrecks havoc, and unwittingly imprints his magnetic field on a cassette tape. The show’s lead characters lift the pattern off of the tape, stick some homing pigeons in a tube, and program the pigeons to track that signal to find the creep. Is this even remotely plausible? Fuck no. But the characters are fun, and unlike JJ Abrams’ other offering, Lost, you can watch an episode and still have a clue of what this show is actually about. Also the mad scientist character, Walter Bishop is one of the most enjoyable characters that Rickey’s has ever seen on tv. Also, you’ll be pleased to hear that this show provides incontrovertible evidence that Joshua Jackson is alive and well. Highly recommended.

Programs to Most Definitely Avoid:

Heroes. Remember way back in Season 1 when this show seemed promising? Well it’s turned into Rickey’s own personal Vietnam since then. Two options for fixing this mess: either come up with a concrete conclusion, or cancel it altogether, because Rickey just can’t take much more of the recycled storylines and bland characters. Life’s too damned short and there’s only 18% of free space on Rickey’s DVR hard drive.

Pushing Daisies. Cute, far too cute for its own good. Nauseatingly cute even. Yes, Rickey enjoys golden retrievers, colorful settings, and the copious use of alliteration, but what of it? Is that really enough to build an entire show around? Rickey thinks not. Rest assured, when they cancel this overly sweet and whimsical television show, Rickey will not be participating in any campaigns to send pies to ABC. And yet, Pushing Daisies’ virtually assured cancellation did not prevent ABC from refusing to bump this show for the Overlord Obama infomercial this Wednesday night. Odd…

Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Shows involving time travel and time paradoxes make Rickey’s heard hurt (Rickey already has one Lost, thank you very much). One question that has always bugged Rickey about the Terminator property: how is John Connor able to send his own father back in time to become his father? And what if John Connor ends up hooking up with his girlfriend on the show and ends up fathering Kyle Reese? Would that make John his own grandfather? If so, that would be terrific. Honestly, musings like these are really only one reason to continue to watch this show. Oh yes, and Summer Glau.

Hannity & Colmes. Who knew that mentally challenged lizards could wear suits?

[posted at Humor Blogs]

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CajoleJuice said...

Top-notch work.

But no 30 Rock?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Joshua Jackson is alive and well, its just that people do not pay much attention to him. They spent more time talking about Michelle and Katie.

Rickey Henderson said...

But no 30 Rock?

Yeah, Rickey's not on the bandwagon for this one. Sure, Tina Fey is cute and fun, Alec Baldwin is terrific, and at this point there's no doubt that Tracey Morgan is just playing Tracey Morgan. Problem is, it feels like a pretty generic sitcom and it's got a lot of that "Friends" style humor that Rickey avoids like the plague. Sorry, Rickey's more of an Office fan.

leigh said...

i'm just glad that the networks have realized that knightrider totally needed to be redone. now i'm just waiting for a remake of chips.

Smitty said...

So it's not too late for the Smitty family (well, me and Mrs. anyway) to start watching Fringe (X-Files II)? We were worried in that if you miss the first few crucial episodes you'd lose the whole show (see: Lost; Heroes).

CajoleJuice said...

"Problem is, it feels like a pretty generic sitcom and it's got a lot of that "Friends" style humor that Rickey avoids like the plague. Sorry, Rickey's more of an Office fan."

But the Office is more like Friends than 30 Rock!

Jeff said...

I never *got* Tracy Morgan in 30 Rock. He's about as one dimensional an actor as you can get. What's that? This post wasn't about 30 Rock? Huh.

Rickey Henderson said...

cajole: true, the Office has been a bit light on the humor and a bit heavy on the romance drama lately, but it's still a far cry from being Friends, thank you very much.

Alex L said...

I didnt watch the first season of heros, it just seemed like a poor mans xmen... not that the xmen movies were any good. I watch it now though, more because there is nothing else on though. At least its not as wooden as 'Prison break'. Hopefully we get more "Its always sunny" over here!

Mr Furious said...

Bah. Mr Furious bailed on regular television watching a couple years ago...

I'll sit down for the occasional DAily Show or Colbert Report, but anything else is just me along for a ride on the couch as Mrs F watches "Bones" (suprisingly good) or "Grey's Anatomy" (a show with a few really good characters and actors, and sucks me in to some medical aspect, but I hate every one of the relationships and most of the characters).