It’s about time to call out some of the high and lows of this now-waning TV season. Last year at this time I was blubbering to anyone who’d listen about how much I was going to miss ABC’s Lost.
But while I maintain that, just like sex and pizza, even a disappointing Lost is better than no Lost (and most scripted dramas for that matter), I’m ready to let it go. Instead of focusing on the core characters and really answering the unsolved mysteries in this final season, we have a new focus this season, “flash sideways,” and a seemingly endless conga line of confusion.
We now know, of course, that Locke, who is not really Locke, is the smoke monster. We know that Jacob, who has something to do with the numbers, is dead. We know that Locke’s mother was meshugah, and are certain that Sun and Jin are destined to find each other, right? But with so many yet-to-be resolved mysteries and only seven episodes left, I am frustrated to no end that I really have no idea what is going on. Do you?
Moving on, I was among many against Ellen DeGeneres joining American Idol as a judge. Now, as the show is narrowed to the top 10, I can safely say my concerns were valid. DeGeneres has brought absolutely nothing new to the table, and the caliber of talent this season is subpar. I really should give up on American Idol, but it’s a jones that I give into every season. I’m weak, I admit it.
I was also disappointed with the fall edition of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. There were just too many C-listers competing. But now that it’s been pared down from 16 to 11 and I have someone to really root for (go Pamela Anderson!), I’m optimistic about this current spring edition. Too bad, there’s still not a Brady in the bunch. Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy: Why don’t you put on your groovy dance shoes and bell bottoms and bust a move already? I’d even be happy if Florence Henderson hit the floor. Mama (you can’t really call Mrs. Brady “Shawty”) got low, low, low.
Another reality favorite of mine that got off on the wrong foot was NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice. While I understand why Cyndi Lauper would make a better reality contestant than the more level-headed Carol Leifer, Lauper’s inability to choose two women to bring to the boardroom in the season premiere meant she should have been given the ax. Come on, Donald Trump…let’s be fair here.
One scripted show that I’m just about done with is long-running CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, which seems to be getting a lift in ratings thanks to all the recent Charlie Sheen headlines. What was once a funny, cutting-edge look at two brothers (reminiscent of Oscar and Felix on The Odd Couple) has become increasingly gross and hard to digest. I mean, do we really need to see Ducky (aka Jon Cryer) in his skivvies?
On the flip side, one comedy that continues to reel me in week after week is Two and a Half Men lead-out The Big Bang Theory, which I think is the best live-action sitcom since Everybody Loves Raymond. Since I always have to worry about something, I am concerned that Jim Parsons as over-the-top Sheldon could morph into that ultimate TV nerd, Steve Urkel. But, at present, I continue to revel in Sheldon’s rapid-paced dialogue and twitchy mannerisms. If I were smarter, that could actually be me. Earlier on Monday evenings on CBS, I think recent returnee Rules of Engagement has actually found its groove.
Also getting raves from Mr. TV in the sitcom department are two freshman entries from ABC: Modern Family and The Middle. Modern Family, of course, has the critics buzzing—and rightfully so—thanks to the stellar cast and its ability to tap into the all-too-real quirks of this totally relatable family. But lead-in The Middle also deserves some ink for these very same reasons.
Finally, since I always step up to eat a plate of crow when I’m wrong, The Marriage Ref, which I was dark on because of Jerry Seinfeld’s participation, is actually a hoot. Thankfully for me, Seinfeld is not on every week, and any unscripted series than can rope in Madonna for a guest shot deserves some eyeballs too.
For more of Marc’s TV insight, listen to his daily podcast here.