My 2010 Midseason Fives

It is a well-documented fact that I watch far, far too much television. DVDs and the ability to watch shows online has not helped with my entertainment time management. Most shows typically premiere in the Fall, take a break for the holidays, and return around the second week of January. An increasing trend is for many series to hold their premiere until the start of the calendar year. So the whole structure of everything is changing.

Today I'm going to list both My Five most-anticipated season or series premiering shows, and five shows that have been airing since the Fall and are returning from their holiday break. It's two fives in one! This is the only way I could narrow down the 20 or 30 shows on my horizon.

Returning Shows:

1) Smallville:
Hey, I'm just as surprised as you to see this on here. And after 7 increasingly crappy and formulaic seasons, I'm fighting an uphill battle when I tell people that season 8 was actually good and the current 9th season is even better. The show starts airing new episodes again on January 22nd, but it's the two-hour special airing on February 5th that I'm excited about. Featuring various classic heroes from the Justice Society, including Michael Shanks as Hawkman, there's a lot of hype surround this two-part episode written by current popular writer Geoff Johns, and I hope it lives up to it.

2) Fringe:
It's all about resident mad scientist Walter Bishop for me, and John Noble consistently steals the show from his fellow cast members. Recent episodes have not only dealt with the fact that Walter may have replaced his dead son with the child's alternate universe doppleganger, but the true reason why he ended up in a mental institution and is now a gentle shell of the man he was in his youth. With Leonard Nimoy making appearances as Walter's former partner, more appearances by the show's version of Watchers, and the threat of interdimensional war on the horizon, the sophomore season of J.J. Abrams answer to The X-Files is just getting warmed up. Fringe returns on January 11th.

3) FlashForward:
Easily the best new show of the 2009-2010 season, this series in which the entire world is given a glimpse of their future offered a great cast of characters, a promising concept, and something to fill the void in my brain when LOST goes off the air. The show moved in approximate real time, and as people pieced together their fate the question was raised whether the future they all saw was coming true because they saw it, if any events would have happened the same way if they didn't have that knowledge before hand. It took one noble sacrifice to throw in a game changer and show that the future was a potential, probable future that wasn't fixed. Just when it was getting really good, the show inexplicably took a break until March 4th, which seems so far away. The world within the show's reality all saw a specific date in April, so when new episodes resume they'll all be a lot closer to seeing if the future they saw came true. 10 episodes left me wanting more, but it wasn't as bad as this next one on my list...

4) V:
Four episodes was barely enough time to introduce and establish new characters, while updating a classic series in which aliens arrive on Earth under the pretense of friendship, while hiding a dark secret. We met all the players, got the premise, and learned how everyone was connected. We even got a few appearances from Alan Tudyk, which is never a bad thing, and LOST's Elizabeth Mitchell, after years of supporting roles, was proving more than capable as a lead. The fourth episode ended on a huge and ominous note, and then we were hit with the news that the show would return in March, after the Winter Olympics. I guess I can understand the scheduling conflicts, but I wish the show had started sooner so we got more than four episodes before such a huge break. I hope people remember to tune back in; I'll certainly remind them.

5) Dollhouse:
The return of Dollhouse will be bittersweet, because it's coming back to say goodbye. Hampered early on by standalone episodes that were, at times, boring, it still had strong actors and characters and a promising premise. Once the network shackles relaxed and Whedon was allowed to delve into the mythology more and shake up the status quo, the show really blew up. I once read somewhere that he approached every season of Buffy as though it were the last, and it showed. Rather than drag things out, plot seeds grew quickly, and anything could happen. A main character could suddenly die; no one was safe. So all bets were off and it wasn't a big surprise when Dollhouse was canceled, but it's sad because it had gotten so good. Finally allowing his protagonist to have a personality by retaining bits of every personality that was ever imprinted on her brain gave the show a center, a focused heroine for others to gather around and rally behind. If only that had happened sooner, but I suppose I understand why it couldn't. The first of the final three episodes airs tonight, January 8th.

Season and Series Premieres:

1) LOST:
Five years have been building to this sixth and final season, especially a few seasons back when they decided on a finite number of seasons so they could plan everything out. Usually, if a show is popular, they need to drag things out and the story suffers. Sometimes, a show has a following but not ratings, and we might be left unsatisfied with no true conclusion. So here's a chance to wrap up all the mysteries, to resolve the histories of all these interesting and complex characters, and find out once and for all what the deal is with that weird island and its mysterious magnetic energy source, time anomalies, and black smoke monster. Of course, last season ended with a character detonating a nuke with a rock while trapped back in the 1970s, so I have no clue what will happen next. There was a pretty big cliffhanger in the present, but if setting off a bomb in the past changes history, does that timeline get wiped out? Or is it a reset in which all of our main characters remember living through the events of the past five seasons? Or will only certain characters who were touched by the mysterious Jacob retain their memories? It's not even February 2nd yet and my brain already hurts! I just hope it doesn't get preempted by Chatty McGee....

2) Chuck:
I think what I said about Whedon and Buffy applies here, and with the threat of the second season being the last for our unlikely hero with a brain full of government secrets, the writers pulled out all the stops and the pacing was insane, with revelation upon revelation, while working in great jokes like the infamous ”Sam Kinison and an Indian Lesbian” scene. And the finale managed to visit a comic book style plot in which an unlikely hero, freed of the burden of his powers once gained accidentally, now makes a conscious choice to take them back on. Our hero gets an insane upgrade in the process, which made the third season very promising. It almost didn't happen, and then it wasn't supposed to happen until March, and then they listened to the fans and ordered more episodes, so now we get a two-hour premiere this Sunday, January 11th. I hope this season has more geek rock like their use of The Touch...

3) 24:
When last we saw Jack Bauer, he was on the verge of death, but when has that ever stopped him before? It's hard to believe one man could be up to his eighth bad day, but then we only see one day of Jack's life at a time, so he probably goes through even more when we're not watching. With a season that brought back a dead friend as a live one pretending to be a friend pretending to be a villain but who was actually a villain(TWIST!), who knows what day 8 has in store....I'll be there on January 17th to find out, though.

4) Human Target:
Here's what you need to know: Fringe alumnus Mark Valley stars as a very unusual bodyguard who protects his clients by taking their place and putting himself in the path of their would-be killers. It's based on a DC comic book character and was briefly made into a television series once before, starring Rick Springfield. I don't even remember the original, which only had about 8 episodes, but then I was pretty busy preparing for and starting college when they aired back in 1992. The previews look good, and include Chi McBride as a series regular and Tricia Helfer as the client in the pilot, so I'm there. The show starts on January 17th, and whether or not it lasts, I hope it puts Valley in consideration for the role of Captain America, because that dude dead-up looks like Steve Rogers.

5) True Blood:
The racy vampire series airs its seasons in the Summer, so just when I'm all done and caught up with my other shows, I still have something new to watch. As usual, just when everything seemed tied up in a neat little bow, they threw us a huge development in the final minutes of the season finale. Who abducted Vampire Bill, wrapping a silver chain around his neck, and why? Was it his psycho-ex maker? Was it the vampire queen? The timing is suspicious since Sookie was just about to accept his marriage proposal, so one wonders if the devious Eric, who has designs on Sookie, had anything to do with it. All (or some) will be revealed...in June. That seems so far away now, but I suspect time will fly. I certainly have enough to watch between now and then.



Blogger Lorna said...

Except for Smallville, which was spoiled for me by the infinitely better fan version online, Television without pity, these are all shows which I love and watch. I was wondering how to make up the shows I missed on Dollhouse, but I've decided to wait and buy the DVD(s) when they come out. Hardly anyone I know watches Chuck and I always think that's such a pity. I started watching it for the Baldwin guy, but it was just so smart and funny, I got totally caught up in it.

1/09/2010 1:05 AM  

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