Covered so far in last Blog Post
Sit Down, Shut Up, Fox
Burn Notice, USA
Important Things with Demitri Martin, Comedy Central
30 Rock, NBC
The Root of All Evil, Comedy Central
Other TV shows I've very much enjoyed watching this past year:
The Office, NBC-The Office certainly raised the bar with the introduction of three new characters on the sidelines and one massive reinvention of the existing dynamic:
-The introduction of Holly. The very sight of a female with as cringeworthy sense of humor was positively shocking.
-The introduction of Charles, who is truly Toby-like in that he represents the exact opposite of everything Michael stands for only he actually has power. Charles didn't just add an odd element into the office which raised the humor. Charles was genuinely scary and created a feeling of suspense. In other words, The Office was no longer just a comedy but a drama. You could have added psuedo action film music whenver Charles and Michael were in a confrontation and it would have fit together decently
-The introduction of Kelly "Erin" Hannon brought a reinvention of the Pam-Jim scenario in the form of Andy & Dwight-Erin, only with far less competent people in the art of romance doing the wooing. Jim and Pam were getting old anyway. I like how the writers on the Office had the audacity to give two characters the same name (I had long been wondering what might happen if a sitcom would ever get two characters with the same name) and then use it as grounds for a joke.
And the reinvention: Michael, Ryan and Pam formed an unlikely trio and all got closer to each other through an episode arc that tore the very safe confines of the show's premise apart. Michael quitting was not just one of the biggest things to happen on the show but it was clearly one of the biggest things to happen in the lives of the characters and the gravity shown through.
It goes to show that the writers of the Office are truly talented because they can move past that intiial spark of lightning to infuse something now.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia-FX
Big Bang Theory, CBS
My Name is Earl, NBC
Parks and Recreation-NBC-Parks and Recreation is an interesting show with potential and it's got some talented people in it. Rashida Jones serves as a great counterpoint to the zany characters in the Parks and Recreation department. Tom is an underdeveloped character who could be taken by Azziz Azziznari (don't have enough internet capacity to open up another window and see if I spelt that name right, sorry folks) in so many wonderful directions and having seen Audrey Plaza on the Jeannie Tate show (a web series), you can't wait to see how April's extreme brand will clash with Leslie's manic level of enthusiasm. On the dissapointing end, Amy Poehler has shown on her time with SNL that she can do dozens of characters well but Leslie Knopp isn't one of them. It's worth giving her a chance to develop it, but she's already defined her along such unbelievably buffoonis edges. Was Michael Scott really this bad in his first season at the Office? I'm tempted to say yes, so this is worth a chance too. The other problem with the show is there isn't much of a sense of place. An AV Club review of an episode of Glee noted that shows create a unique sense of place that we go back to week after week. This is highly ironic since Parks and Recreation is about local government, an organization who's existence and vitality is entirely tied to a sense of place. Yet, I know nothing about Pawnee, Indiana. Is it a charming small town? A medium-sized rust belt city? a suburb to something else? A growing yuppie community? The setting effectively serves as the star character in some films and especially TV shows (think futurama, northern exposure, e.r., dawson's creek, etc).
South Park, Comedy Central-This show is something where you take the good and the bad. It's crude and its producers still are stubborn about keeping unneccessary bathroom humor and cheap shots as their trademark even as the rest of their tastes and instincts have matured to points where they're the most effective satirists on TV.
Royal Pains, FX-The show stars TV sitcom regular Mark Feuerstein as Hank, a doctor who had his medical license revoked because he made a triage decision to save a kid against an adult. His brother talks him into taking a trip to the Hamptons and due to a strange paradox that causes medical emergencies to constantly occur in Hank's immediate vicinity (see the TV show Monk for another example of this), it doesn't take long for Hank to show off his mind-blowingly awesome medical skills when a girl at a happening Hamptons' party goes into cardillac arrest. Go Hank! Word gets out so fast about Hank's skills, that be weekend's end he is convinced by his shallow brother (Paolo Costanzo) and an aspiring medical practitioner (Indian actress Reshma Shelly) to open up his own business to cater to the rich clientelle as a "concierge doctor." The show reminds me of Las Vegas or many other shows I haven't seen in that it showcases a world of wealth and blong and we're supposed to be living a fantasy through the characters as they experience this glamorous world. I think Royal Pains doesn't fall into that trap because through the main character, the wealth and consumerism is saterized.
There are a million shows about doctors out there but this is the only one I really like watching. It's one of the few that even interested me enough to want to tune in in the first place and there was a lot to keep me going, once that happened. In the same way that something like Touched by an Angel and Joan of Arcadia serves as entertainment that reaffirms our faith in the world, there's something in Royal Pains that does that too in a very topical way. In the midst of this health care debate, Hank symbolizes what we all need: A doctor who is fully committed to doing good and is willing to put his career on the line for it. Hank is insistent on treating people whether they can pay for it or not despite the musings of his accountant brother who is concerned about the bottom line.