Monday, October 09, 2006

A Golden Age?

Television gets a lot of deserved criticism. Lots of new shows come out that seem like ripoffs or variations of old shows. How many new cop dramas, legal dramas, medical dramas do we really need?

Maybe it was the sudden surge in quality cable programming, or maybe Hollywood producer types have finally started to see the light, but these past couple of years have had about as good amount of quality shows as any time period I can remember. When people are having arguments about whether "Lost" or "Grey's Anatomy" or "Battlestar Galactica" or new shows like "Studio 60" and "Ugly Betty" is the best, you know you've got a lot of strong competition.

Honestly, there isn't an empty hour for me on every night except Saturdays. Shows I was only going to give a cursory look because of this blog, like "Ugly Betty" and "Friday Night Lights," are compelling enough to make me tune in every week. New shows like "Studio 60" and "The Nine" have met the expectations I've had for them. Even shows that miss in the ratings, like "Kidnapped," aren't doing so because of a lack of quality, but rather not finding the right audience.

That's not to say every new series has been great. We've gotten our usual share of stinkers, like Fox's "Kidnapped," which likely won't be around much longer. But the ratio of two or three good shows to one bad one is a ratio I'll take any day.

Tonight brings the third episode of "Heroes" and the fourth of "Studio 60." "Heroes" is the first new show of the season to get a full order by a network, which makes me happy because I think it's my favorite new show. The writers are hitting the right notes in terms of pacing and exposition, and have managed to introduce a plot twist each week that knocks your socks off. And the twists themselves aren't gimmicky; each week, if you reflect back, you can see the little clues the writers left to tip you off.

TV NEWS: CBS' "Smith" has gotten yanked from the lineup. The crime drama, starring Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen, wasn't bad, but failed to bring in any sort of consistent viewership.

"House," on Fox, will move back to its traditional timeslot of 9 p.m. on Tuesdays once it returns after the World Series.

Don't forget, "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 8 p.m.) is moving up a half-hour, flip-flopping with "The Class." Also, CBS gave "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) a full-season order.

MONDAY'S BEST BET: Yet another plug for "Heroes." (NBC, 9 p.m.) The final shot in the final scene will be one of TV's most indelible images for years to come. If you missed last week's episode, Sci-Fi always repeats them on Fridays at 7 p.m. and is repeating it tonight at 7 p.m. as well.

Who is your favorite of the "Heroes," or even your favorite superhero? If you could have one set of powers, which would it be? (Hiro is my favorite on the show, but I'd have a working Green Lantern ring.) Post your replies on the Comments board.


Zodin2008 said...

I think my favorite pilot (so far) is "The Nine" really intrigued me. But "Heroes" is really, really close. I love the show, love the concept, and have high hopes. Another victory for genre Television on a network is truly a feat.

As for the "Golden Age", yes, I agree how many shows I watch is more then ever...but it still stings when something I like ("The Nine" or "Studio 60") doesn't get the ratings and is potentially in danger. I am hopeful that those 2 shows have network support and have a chance to grow its audience.

ABC maybe moving "The Nine" to another night (how about Thursdays and cut that horrible "Six Degrees"?) could help. But then again, after 37 years, "ER" somehow manages to still get an audience.

Zodin2008 said...

Oh...I love Hiro on "Heroes", but I can already tell my favorite character is going to be Greg Grunberg's cop. I am also just a huge, huge Grunberg fan as Weiss on "Alias".

Phillip Ramati said...

I don't know about moving The Nine just yet. Even with the big dropoff, it's still getting big numbers from the Lost lead-in.

I was also talking about the quality of programs, not ratings.

I should have also mentioned how much cable has added to the mix, with shows like The Sopranos, The Shield and Rescue Me, which brings up the quality of level of drama everywhere.

Zodin2008 said...

Without question, the quality of those 3 cable shows you mentioned kicked everything up a notch on networks.