Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A X-Mas Lump Of Coal (Or 2)

Humbug! Humbug, I say!

TV delivered a huge sack of coal in 2007, and the following were among the lowlights:

10. Tell Me You Love Me (HBO): Way to make graphic sense completely dull and unsexy, Cynthia Mort.

9. John From Cincinnati (HBO): I really don't know how bad this show was. I only made it through the first 15 minutes of the first episode.

8. The Riches (FX): This deserves a caveat, because I think Eddie Izzard turned in an Emmy-nomination worthy performance as the patriarch of a clan of con men. But everything else, especially Minnie Driver, was just awful. It wasn't the worst thing on FX, though, because...

7. Dirt (FX): ... FX also gave us this piece of, well, dirt. As bad as the main storyline, the whole psycho-photographer thing just made it unwatchable.

6. Big Bang Theory (CBS): How this show is one of the best new series of the season ratings-wise is beyond me. I've known my share of geeks through the years (and counted myself among them) and no one was ever this obtuse. This is as unfunny as sitcoms get.

5. Caveman/Carpoolers (ABC): I stand corrected. This is as unfunny as sitcoms get. These shows deserved to be lumped together, considering how awful they are. ABC was really hit-or-miss with its new stuff this season.

4. The View (ABC): Can't live with Rosie, can't live without her. Obviously, any time you get rid of the shrill Rosie O'Donnell and her blithering nonsense, it's a step in the right direction. But boy, the show sure is boring without her.

3. The Apprentice (NBC): It was bad enough Trump got rid of George and Caroline in favor of his sycophantic kids, but making the losing team sleep outside in tents? Keeping the same project managers week in and week out? Desperation moves that backfired, big-time. And with the so-called celebrity version that is about to be foisted upon us in a couple of weeks, the handwriting is on the wall for this franchise.

2. Viva Laughlin (CBS): Why is this not the worst show of the year? Because CBS deserves at least a bit of credit for trying to do something that was original. The fact that it was so poorly executed that it lasted only two episodes probably means that CBS will never make that mistake again. "CSI: Peoria," anyone?

1. Big Shots (ABC): Last and certainly least. If it came down to watching this again and a night's worth of diarrhea, well at least they make Pepto Bismal. How the same network that gave us stuff like "Lost" and "Pushing Daisies" could give us this drivel is beyond me. That ABC won't even aired the three new episodes it has on the shelf during a writers' strike tells you how bad this is.

And, five shows that I liked that got ended prematurely:

1. Journeyman (NBC): Yes, this show was complicated to follow, but that was the point. It was building a nice little mythology, but we'll never really know how it was supposed to play out.

2. Veronica Mars (CW): The CW yanks VM but keeps "One Tree Hill," which will use the same plot device of advancing the series four years into the future. Go figure. At least, Miss Kristen Bell landed on "Heroes."

3. Andy Barker, PI (NBC): One day, Andy Richter will find the perfect comedy vehicle that people will actually watch. Unfortunately, this little gem of a show wasn't it.

4. The Dresden Files (Sci-Fi): I really was starting to get into this quirky little series, but apparently, no one else was.

5. The Nine (ABC): ABC didn't do this show any favors by yanking it before the major plot twist - that the bank manager (Chi McBride) was apparently supposed to be in on the robbery. The show was a bit meandering and probably too ambitious, but it was decent TV.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: My Christmas present comes courtesy of BBC America, which gives us an all-new "Life On Mars" tonight at 9 p.m. Everything else is a rerun.

72 comments:

skorda said...

If you had watched beyond fifteen minutes of "John From Cincinnati" you may have discovered that this show had a great deal to offer its viewing audience- great writing, complex characters and an uplifting message.How can you begin to form an opinion about a show that you admittedly have not watched?

Phillip Ramati said...

I exaggerated slightly for effect. I did make it through most of the pilot, but couldn't get through it all.

I found the pacing plodding and the themes rather dense.

If the show got better after the pilot, then it's my loss, I suppose, though the vast majority of TV critics seem to be on my side about this show.

Hey, if we all loved and hated the same shows, it'd make for a very boring TV landscape.

Phillip Ramati said...

To further my point that I wasn't the lone critic who hated this series, I invite you to check out this link from Aint It Cool News, which dutifully listed the critiques from some of the biggest media outlets around. While some of them saw the series as visionary, most others viewed it as too dense and confusing for its own good.

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/32944

And, hey, I'm a David Milch fan normally, and even attended a lecture by him, and since I tend to gravitate toward weird stuff, I really wanted to give this series a chance.

Anonymous said...

This is a comment on your comment,
Mr.Ramati.
"I really wanted to give this series a chance" you say? Of all the 15 minutes, no, my apologies, a pilot!
Hmmm.
Regarding your link, please, we have a lot more links to share with you, every article or mention about JFC is cataloged and recorded by us, friends of the show on HBO Bulletin Boards. So are many more interesting cultural parallels, scientific and religious references and inspiring series continuation still being written by our writers - all of it as an aftershock of "John". Come and read some of it.
We invite you to look into the show anew, let's say, as a New Year resolution of giving yourself a second chance to appreciate this unique artform, latest creation of David Milch, especially if you are, as you say, his "fan nortmally".
May be you will enjoy the flight with John second time around.
Try it!

Phillip Ramati said...

I'm sure there are plenty of pro-JFC comments out there, and some were even in the link I posted, though I expect the fan site devoted to JFC to be a tad skewed in the show's favor.

But perhaps I will see if I can track down some episodes of the show and see if I was mistaken.

But I must say, rare is the reaction I've had to a show than the one I had with JFC. At least I'll say it wasn't as bad as Big Shots!

zodin2008 said...

Oh my god, could not disagree with you more about Andy Richter. The reason his shows don't get ANY ratings is because he's not funny. He's downright annoying and creepy asnd anytime he shows up anywhere, I am miffed.

I agree with most of your "lump of coal" list.

"John from Cinncinati" and "The Riches" were both horrible, and I would add the dull and confusing "Damages" as well. But even shows I like were down from "Resuce Me" to "Heroes". "24" was more defensible but had a horrible year.

Only a few shows really showed true greatness from "Mad Men" to "Friday Night Lights" to "Lost".

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, I might have included 24 on the list, but then I'd get accused of being anti-24.

If you don't like the comic ingenuity that is Andy Richter, than I'm not going to be able to explain it to you, so there's no point in arguing.

But tell me another show that gives you a car chase AND has the driver in the chase explain tax deductions to his client at the same time. :-)

brothag said...

Back on the subject of John From Cincinnati, I'm curious whether you watched the original "pilot" or the first episode that aired (since they re-shot almost all of it)

Anyways, whichever, I wish you'd made it to the end of the first episode, because the sequence with Kasabian's "Sun Rise Light Flies" I think is something special, and might draw you in.

I totally agree that to expect different people to all like the same TV is silly, but that IMHO makes the whole notion of a TV critic rather strange! Well fair enough if your job is to tell us what you like, but most critics seem to think they should tell us what WE should like.

Kudos to you to some extent for pointing out you hadn't watched more than one episode, but many have included it in their "worst of 2007" lists only having watched that much. There was a lot of bad TV this year, you may not have liked JFC's first episode, but I don't think anyone could reasonably argue it was amongst the worst of 2007.

I'm not trying to change your mind, I just suggest that everyone at least try JFC, because it is so genre/demographic defying, you'll either hate it or absolutely love it. and many many people do love it.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, Bro, I do try to champion the shows that are a bit "out there." I watched the JFC pilot that everyone else watched on HBO (this was one of the few series HBO didn't send me an advance screener for).

As a critic, it's hard to say, "Well, I hated this show but you should watch it." It's a bit contradictory. What I try to do is say "Here's a show I liked/hated, and here's why" and leave it up to you the viewer as to whether you want to follow my advice. There are plenty of shows here I've praised and enjoyed that I'm certain people didn't watch, so it's a two-way street.

As I posted earlier, I did watch a bit more than 15 minutes but couldn't make it through to the end of the episode, which is saying a lot for me because I almost always slog it out to the end no matter how miserable I am.

Because JFC had such a good cast with a lot of actors I usually like, plus the work of David Milch, I suppose my standards were a bit higher for this series than something else, so I may have been a bit tougher on it, but I'm not the only critic either who put it among some of the worst TV of the year.

As I said at the beginning of the week, these lists weren't so much Best/Worst as my personal Favorite/Least Favorite things.

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