Posts Tagged ‘ heroes ’

The Upfronts 2016: NBC

nbc network logoI don’t watch anything from NBC, actually I’m beginning to realise I don’t watch much network TV at all! NBC are rapidly just filling their schedules with cheesy procedurals tied together by being set in Chicago. Their drama line up isn’t particularly inspiring and their comedies have basically all been cancelled, mostly after less than a whole season. It’s not looking particularly good for them, and the lack of trailers for their new shows isn’t really indicating a lot of confidence either.

Cancelled
heroesrebornHow many times can Heroes get cancelled? Well at least twice according to current evidence. I didn’t make it past the first episode of the resurrection, either because it wasn’t very good or because actually Heroes was always smug and not that good and I didn’t notice at the time. Mysteries of Laura starred Deborah Messing in some of the worst casting I’ve ever seen, but surprisingly made it through the second season before being bumped off. Sitcom Undateable’s third season was apparently entirely live episodes, but that wasn’t exciting enough to get it renewed again.

Cancelled in the middle of their first seasons were: Crowded, a comedy about a re-filled empty nest; Game of Silence a drama I’d never heard of; Heartbeat a medical drama starring Melissa George as the world’s least likely transplant specialist; The Player, action about gambling/crime organisation; and utterly generic sitcom Truth be Told. Comedies You, Me and the Apocalypse, a Sky/NBC joint effort and Telenovela, set behind the scenes of a Spanish soap opera, are winners relatively speaking because they at least made it all the way through their first seasons before being cancelled.

Oh and variety show, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, (based on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway!) was apparently misnamed and won’t be back either.

Renewed
blacklistNBC is basically now powered by Chicago’s emergency services – Fire (renewed for fifth season), PD (third) and Med (second) will all return. The Blacklist got a long way for me just on the watchability of James Spader, but I eventually lost interest. My lack of viewing hasn’t sopped its renewal for season four though. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit continues ever onwards into season 18, one of the few procedurals that I’ve never actually watched. Every year when it’s renewed, this time for a sixth season, I think I should have a look at Grimm again, and every year I forget 5 minutes after posting the article.

Only three of the freshman shows got pick-ups for a second series, which with the six cancellations doesn’t make a terribly good year for NBC. Blindspot was a ratings hit, I did watch the pilot but was utterly uninspired by it. Shades of Blue is the Jennifer Lopez cop drama which doesn’t seem to be getting much press but is picked up anyway, and the above mentioned Chicago Med makes the third

nightshiftSummer shows are out of sync on renewals so their upcoming seasons were actually all announced last year. The Night Shift is a somewhat mediocre medical drama that I rather liked the first season for the actors in it and the occasional quirkiness, but I no longer get the channel it airs on and I’ve not seen the second season; the third season starts in June. The first season Aquarius wasn’t quite what it could have been, but with David Duchovny leading, it’s very watchable and the second season starts soon.

New/Resurrected
The Good Place – Kristen Bell is accidentally sent to heaven where she doesn’t quite fit in with the no swearing, no drinking, always nice crowd. I love Kristen Bell, and Ted Danson back in comedy land is something to be celebrated, but the trailer didn’t make me want to watch any more.

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This is Us – a dramedy about people born on the same day. It looks like a collection of made for TV movies. Nothing interesting at all.

Timeless – a time travelling criminal is trying to destroy America and a historian, a scientist and a soldier are trying to stop him. Created by Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural) I had high hopes for this, but the trailer didn’t do much for me.

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Chicago Justice – We’ve run out of emergency services (I don’t think the landscape necessstates Coast Guard or Mountain Rescue) so this is set in the State’s Attorney office. Presumably in 2020 I’ll be making snide remarks about Chicago Refuse Collection or Chicago Tax Auditors.

The Blacklist: Redemption – Given that the only reason to watch the original was James Spader a spin-off doesn’t seem like a particularly inspiring idea, one centred around Liz’s annoying pretend-husband Tom seems even less ideal.

Emerald City – NBC attempting to muscle in on the ‘magic’ of Once Upon a Time with a character list including Dorothy, The Wizard (Vincent D’Onofrio – now that’s good casting!), Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the East. Doesn’t seem to be much more information on how it fits in with the books, but there’s plenty of material.

Trial and Error – “fish out of water” comedy with a New York lawyer in a small town in the South. There’s lots of “quirky” characters and the press release genuinely says “Making a Murderer can be funny”.

Marlon – “loosely inspired by the real life of star Marlon Wayans”, who I’ve never heard of. Usual blather about a bloke trying to be a father despite being the biggest kid of all. Because that stereotype never gets old.

Midnight, Texas – Base on the book series by Charlene Harris (True Blood), it seems to be a murder mystery set in a tiny Texas town full of paranormal people – witches, psychics. Sounds interesting enough.

Powerless – set in the DC Comic Universe, but based in a normal office of an insurance company who have to deal with life in a world of superheroes. It’s a fun idea, and stars Danny Pudi (Community) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) which has potential, but it could just be a painful Office wannabe.

Taken – oh god, it’s a prequel series to the Liam Neeson film series. As if those weren’t repetitive and awful enough by themselves!

The Wall – oh my god, is this the same as the Hole in the Wall that was on the BBC? If it is, apparently Chris Hardwick (The Talking Dead) is the new Dale Winton!

Resurrections: X-Files and Heroes

The moral seems to be, don’t bring back old shows. Or maybe don’t bring back old shows that weren’t that good or popular by the time they went off air. It’s one thing to reboot/reimagine shows, that can work well to use core concepts and ideas but fix problems or make them relevant to today’s audience. But just pulling the old series off the shelf and starting it again just doesn’t seem to work.

The X-Files: Season 10
xfilesWas The X-Files always this cheesy and obvious? I adored the first few seasons, in the way only an obsessive fifteen year old can, but drifted away from the series when the more convoluted conspiracy based seasons coincided with going to university and not being able to watch regularly. It just seemed to lose the fun and become way too complicated. But I’ve remained a fan of the idea of the series, and the talents of David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson continue to draw me to their offerings (respectively pretty much the only reasons I watched Aquarius and The Fall). So despite missing about 4 seasons of plot, I figured I’d give the resurrection a try.

The first episode started out ok. I liked the way that time had clearly passed and both characters and the world had moved on. Mulder was lured out of reclusion by the potential for a massive government conspiracy about aliens and Scully was… well I’m not sure why she was suddenly involved again. I expected the insane conspiracy to be debunked with just enough cryptic hints left to support the possibility. Instead it was left completely open. Sounding utterly nuts, but left floating like it’s actually a possibility.

Then the second episode seemed to jump straight back to season 2. Mulder and Scully are back to being regular FBI agents investigating are they/aren’t they weird mysteries while engaging in are they/aren’t they in a relationship meaningful looks. The awkward shoehorning in of references to their son, with a disjointed explanation for those of us that weren’t caught up with the backstory, and cheesy flashbacks was just amateur.

Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be bothering with the rest of the series. It made me nostalgic for the original early episodes, but just reminded me of why I stopped watching. To top it off, it just wasn’t very well produced and looked quite cheap. Maybe quality and expectations for television series have gone up in the intervening decade, but this felt unpolished and old.

Heroes Reborn
heroesrebornWas Heroes always this smug? I think the answer is probably yes. It did rely heavily on throwing lots of ideas, characters and styles at the screen and just let them all fend for themselves. The audience is left to just sort of perk up when something they’re interested in goes by and then drift off in the other sections, and if you drifted out for something that the writers later decide was important, well tough luck on you.

The reason that Heroes managed ok for the first season or so was that the characters were interesting enough that you didn’t drift off too often. But no one in the first episode of Heroes reborn grabbed me at all. It looks like a lot has happened in the gap between the series (although I now can’t even remember whether I made it through all the episodes or not) with (I think) the heroes becoming public and accepted and then (at the start of the new episode) them being… I don’t actually know. They seemed to be the target of an attack and yet then vilified as the terrorists? I didn’t understand. And I didn’t actually care.

I think some of the original characters are going to cameo in later episodes, but for now the only character really returning is Noah (Claire’s dad, the glasses man) and he was hardly the most exciting thing from the original series. The new characters, well I don’t really know what they can do, who they are or, to be honest, have that much interest in finding out.

The Upfronts 2015: NBC

nbc network logoOuch, 11 cancellations at NBC, with renewals of only 7 series (well, 8 if you count the resurrection of Heroes. Their new offerings almost universally tanked, the only one picked up was Mysteries of Laura which isn’t exactly topping anyone’s “must-watch” list. I don’t have a great deal of enthusiasm for their upcoming things either and NBC, like Fox are putting a lot of hope in resurrecting old series.

What’s Finished or Cancelled
Woohoo – nothing I watch at NBC was cancelled.
Parks and Recreation has been on my to-watch list for a long time and I’m gradually making my way through season 1 having been promised it gets better. Parenthood was one I also wanted to see but never managed to catch it. Both series at least were aware that these would be their last seasons (7 and 6 respectively) so got to wrap up properly.
New series that were cancelled were Marry Me, One Big Happy, Allegiance, State of Affairs, Constantine, The Slap, A to Z and Bad Judge (after 5 episodes), so relatively speaking About a Boy was a big success given it got to season 2.

What’s Returning
blacklistThe Blacklist season 2 is currently backing up on my Sky Box, even the overwhelming charm of James Spader isn’t drawing me into the plodding conspiracy stories. Chicago Fire is renewed for a fourth season; season 1 was a guilty pleasure, but not pleasurable enough for me to bother with season 2, or the spin off Chicago PD, (renewed for season 3) and Chicago Med will add to the family (I guess next year we’ll get Chicago Coast Guard? Mountain Rescue?). I’m more likely to catch up on The Night Shift, which is a little more fun and gets renewed for season 3. Also renewed: Law and Order: SVU will be back for season 17, The Mysteries of Laura (2), Grimm (5). Undateable is renewed for an all live third season.
Hannibal season 3 starts in June, as does the Charles Manson drama Aquarias so they are out of sync with upfront announcements.

New this Autumn

Blindspot: a woman is found naked in Times Square, covered in tattoos and missing her memories. One of the tattoos names an FBI agent who is equally clueless about what’s going on. They investigate and I would imagine things continue to be complicated. Interesting idea, but I got a bit tired thinking about how it would play out with continual one-step-forward-cliffhanger-one-step-back regularity.


Heartbreaker: Based on the real life heart transplant surgeon Dr Kathy Maliato (Melissa George), she’s a fantastic doctor with a “racy” personal life. Good grief NBC who wrote this crap? Anyway, yet another attempt to make a new Grey’s Anatomy, but utterly lacking the talent of Shonda Rhimes.


The Player: A former military operative is a security expert drawn into a game where people gamble on whether he can stop crimes. He tries to fight them from the inside, and there’s also a dead wife to be avenged. The trailer is well put together and has some nicely shot action, but I didn’t get a great deal of personality coming through. I’ll give it a try.


People are Talking: two sets of couples, both neighbours and friends are a “wildly outspoken foursome”. Heaven help us all. The laugh track on the trailer alone is reason to never go near this.

Heroes: Reborn, like X-Files at Fox this isn’t exactly new and didn’t exactly go out on a critical high. Unlike X-Files it’s mostly a new cast, but nostalgia will likely drag me back for a bit.

New Midseason

Chicago Med: Chicago Fire and Chicago PD worked, so apply the same recipe to medicine and you’ve got a solid but utterly unremarkable procedural I’d imagine. Oh hang on, Oliver Platt is in it!

Coach: Coach was a sitcom that ran from 1989-1997 about a college football team, it’s now being resurrected, focussing on the original Coach’s son. Craig T. Nelson will return to his Emmy winning role and I guess if it worked then, it will probably work now.

Crowded: Having briefly emptying their nest, Mike and Martine are not thrilled when their two daughters and Mike’s parents all decide to move in with them. It stars Carrie Preston, who is hilarious in The Good Wife (Elspeth!), but sitcoms rarely work out well for either me or NBC as a whole.

Game of Silence: A successful attorney is suddenly confronted with secrets from his childhood he thought were buried. Sounds awful.

Hot and Bothered: Behind the scenes at a latino soap opera. Stars Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) but sounds awful.

Shades of Blue: Jennifer Lopez is a “sexy New York detective (and single mother)” who “fell in” with dirty cops, got caught by the FBI and now has to secretly work for them to catch the others. Really Mr NBC press release writer, we really had to know that she’s “sexy”, is that a core element of the plot. For pities sake.

Superstore: a family of employees at a super-sized megastore have hi-larious hijinks. Stars America Ferrara (Ugly Betty) who deserves better than this sounds.

You, Me and the End of the World: a one-hour comedy drama with a great cast It’s got a great sounding cast (Rob Lowe, Jenna Fischer and Megan Mullally) but the blurb makes me want to root for the end of the world:
“The news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course with Earth sets in motion the most hilariously unexpected chain of events imaginable.. the story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways. When we say eclectic, we mean a rebellious priest, an unhinged white supremacist, a mild-mannered bank manager, a germ-phobic cyber-terrorist and an American five-star general. Some of these misfits are destined to make it to a bunker deep beneath the English suburbs of Slough and, as a result, will become the hugely unlikely (and totally unsuitable) future of mankind. Wouldn’t that be a disaster!”.
Still, not every day you see Slough referenced in an American television series.

The Upfronts 2014: NBC

nbc network logoIt’s upfront time once again, it does come around fast! For those that are unaware, upfront week is when each of the five major US networks announce their schedules for next year, thereby confirming which shows are renewed, which ones are axed and which new shows will be arriving. What that mean for me is that I watch a large number of terrible trailers, read some awful press releases and get generally despondent about the whole thing. It usually takes me until Wednesday to lose the will, this year I started off pretty far gone.

What’s Dead?
CommunityGiven that it has been on the bubble every single year, it’s more of a surprise that Community got the five seasons it did, I think it’s actually to NBCs credit that they supported it that long, five seasons is extremely respectable. Slightly less impressive are the two seasons that Revolution managed, although to be honest I’m a bit surprised it lasted that long.

Four underwhelming new dramas, Believe, Crisis, Dracula and Ironside didn’t see out the year, the first three at least got most of the way through their (admittedly short) seasons before it was announced at the upfronts they wouldn’t be back, Ironside was abruptly pulled from the schedules after just three terrible episodes. New sitcoms didn’t do much better, Growing Up Fisher, a sitcom I have no memory of hearing about got the plug pulled. The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World were both cancelled mid-season and Welcome to the Family equals Ironside and was killed after just three episodes too.

What’s Survived?
Chicago FireOnly three new shows received pickups (3 out of 10), About a Boy based on the book and film of the same name and doesn’t seem to have been drawing a huge amount of attention. On the other extreme The Blacklist has been something of a smash, led by a hugely entertaining performance from the always reliable James Spader. The third pick up is for Chicago PD, which does numbers just about comparable with its parent show Chicago Fire, which is picked up for season 3.

Parks and Recreation and Parenthood have both been given shortened final seasons (7th and 6th respectively), both of which (like Community) lasted far longer than their ratings necessarily justified. NBC also renewed Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for season 16, making it the longest running primetime show on air at the moment, and closing in on Law and Order’s 20 season run. Grimm and Hannibal also get pickups for seasons 4 and 3 respectively.

What’s on this summer?
Crossbones (trailer): Blackbeard (John Malkovich) is a pirate. He does pirate things and is slightly insane. There’s something about him trying to decrypt a code or something, and he abducts some bloke to help him. The trailer starts out with appealing sea battles and ends up with tedious Da Vinci Code cyphers and lots of loaded dialogue. Not exactly blown away.

The Night Shift (trailer): The Night Shift in the Emergency Room is made up of a gaggle of quirky medics with an overabundance of issues. The trailer appears to be from at least two different series, one a budget version of Scrubs with cringey jokes and the other a cheap knock-off of ER with overdone sincerity and mediocre acting. Eesh.

Taxi Brooklyn (trailer): An “action-comedy” New York cop ends up with a French taxi driver as a partner. Bizarely I can only find the trailer in badly dubbed French, which means I don’t think I can watch the show without remembering that and finding it ridiculous.

Undateable (trailer): A group of ‘undateable’ men are taught how to play “the game of love” by some bloke who thinks he’s all that.

Welcome to Sweden (trailer): A celebrity accountant moves to Sweden to be with his girlfriend, cultural hilarity ensues. Or doesn’t.

Working the Engels (No trailer): Sitcom about a widow struggling to try and keep her husband’s law firm running to support the kids, despite her not actually being a lawyer. I’ve heard weaker premises, but it’s not much to go on.

What’s New?
Constantine (trailer): Yup, THAT Constantine, demon hunter and somewhat reluctant fighter against all things evil and weird is brought back in to the fight to save the daughter of an old friend who’s got the ability to see supernatural stuff. It’s a strong story, that’s why it’s been done so many times, and it sits nicely alongside Grimm on NBC’s schedule. I’m not sure the balance of dry humour and biblical epicness is quite right in the trailer, but it may even out in the show.

State of Affairs (trailer): Charlie Tucker (Katherine Heigl) is a CIA agent, she was also dating the President’s (Alfre Woodard) son when he was killed. Now the two of them appear to be on a crusade to kill whoever’s responsible, which I suspect will turn out to be more convoluted than just killing terrorists. It looks extremely Zero Dark Thirty, which may or may not be a good thing, but with the exception of some stunningly bad romantic comedies, Heigl is always watchable and Woodard brings significant class. However it does feature the painful line (in text) in the trailer – “All the Presidents men are nothing compared to her”.

The Mysteries of Laura (trailer): Debra Messing is the least believable homicide detective ever seen on television, she’s better as a single mother clinging to the edge balancing everything, but every time she holds a gun or tries to act tough I want to die a bit. She deserves better.

A to Z (trailer): Andrew likes Liam Neeson movies and Celine Dion, and Zelda likes cocktail parties and apparently having less back story than the guy. They apparently caught a fleeting glance of each other 2 years ago and now, like it’s destiny, they’re reunited. It’s not offensively bad, but I didn’t laugh either.

Bad Judge (trailer): Kate Walsh (Private Practice) is a judge, a slightly unorthodox one who is a drummer in a band, drinks too much and hasn’t exactly settled down, then she gets a phone call from a kid whose parents she put in jail and now needs some help. I always liked Walsh in Grey’s Anatomy and this could be a good vehicle for her, and I did actually laugh a couple of times!

Marry Me (trailer): Jake attempts to propose to Annie, but she has a meltdown. Then she proposes to him and accidentally gets him fired. Based on the 2 minute trailer, she’s a hateful person, he should avoid her like the plague.

Aquarius (mid season): In 1967 an LA police officer is investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl, the trail leads to a cult led by someone by the name of Charles Manson. Yup, THAT Charles Manson. The series will apparently follow what happens over the next couple of years, “ultimately ending with the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders”. That sounds like they’re pretty confident about how long the series will be, I sense frustration. Duchovny is a draw though.

Odyssey (mid season): A lawyer, a soldier and a political activist, three strangers, are pulled into an international conspiracy about a huge corporation that’s secretly funding Jihadists. There’s an awful lot of terrorists and secret agents on NBC this year and without a trailer to go on it’s impossible to know what the tone of this will be and if it’s going to have some interesting character stuff, or just dull conspiracy wrangling.

Allegiance (mid season): Mark and Katya are Russian spies that have been sleeping in the US for decades. Now Russia is trying to bring down America and they’ve been reactivated and told their son must become a spy for Russia, a bit of a problem, because he works for the CIA. It’s like The Americans: The Next Generation. Frankly it sounds pretty ridiculous, are they really doing a show set in the present day about the Kremlin trying to overthrow America?

Heroes: Reborn (mid season): Tim Kring restarts the hit series of 2006 and flop of 2007 with a new miniseries with new ‘heroes’ just discovering their powers. Did the world really need this? Can NBC not find anything original, or at least old but popular!

Mission Control (Mid season): Dr Mary Kendricks attempts to break into the boy’s club of NASA mission control in the 1960s. The blurb incudes “Houston, we have a problem!” and “They all want… to get a man on the moon. It might just take a woman to get him there”. I predict we are about to lose the battle of the sexes.

Mr Robinson (Mid season): struggling musician takes job as substitute teacher, gets crush on English teacher, clashes with uptight head teacher. Not sure whether it’s actually School of Rock or just stealing everything from it, but Craig Robinson is gonna have his work cut out being Jack Black.

One Big Happy (Mid season): Lizzy is gay, Luke is straight, they’ve been friends since childhood and they decide to platonically start a family together. Then Luke falls in love with Prudence, they get married, Lizzy is pregnant and “a different kind of family is born”. It’s an unsurprising but solid enough setup, will need a trailer to actually make a real assessment.

The upfronts: NBC

What’s Out
Heroes – not really a big surprise to anyone. The ratings have been on a steady decline as they tried to stretch what was clearly a one-season-wonder out with generally increasing shoddiness. There’s some talk of a final few episodes to allow them to tie up any lose ends, but I for one won’t miss the show as I gave up on it a season and a half ago.

The bigger surprise was the cancellation of Law & Order, the longest-running TV show in history (depending on who you ask) will not be returning for a 21st season. It’s helped launch hundreds of careers, several spin-offs and many would say an entire genre. I’ve never watched it so don’t mourn it personally, but more as a slightly sad end to an institution.

Of 2009-10’s freshmen, Mercy and Trauma both got the axe. I didn’t bother with Mercy after I judged the pilot to be Grey’s Anatomy Light. The cancellation of Trauma was pretty inevitable given the expensive price tag and low ratings, but I’m still confused why it wasn’t more popular and I’ll miss the characters.

What’s Back
Turns out NBC is full of shows I have barely even heard of let alone watch. The only freshman to survive was Parenthood, the pilot of which I thought was ok, but didn’t make me rush out to watch the rest of the series. Chuck is also back, despite not great ratings it somehow survived the cut yet again to the great delight of its obsessed fans. 30 Rock, Law & Order: SVU, The Office and Parks and Recreation all return but I don’t watch any of them. The only other thing I do watch that’s kind of on NBC is (best show on television?) Friday Night Lights through it’s special deal which sees it air on cable months ahead of running on NBC.

What’s New
It’s apparently the year of the lawyer and the love-seeking sap.

  • OutlawJimmy Smits is a Supreme Court Justice who resigns so that he can go back to helping individual people. You had me at Jimmy Smits.
  • Harry’s LawKathy Bates stars in David E. Kelley’s new legal thing. You had me at Kathy Bates.
  • Law & Order: Los Angeles – They may as well have called this show Same Old Plot: Same Old City. Does the world really need a third new legal drama and yet another show set in LA.
  • Undercovers – Two retired, married CIA agents are reactivated. J.J. Abrams takes on Mr & Mrs Smith and if the trailer is anything to go by, he’s trying too hard.
  • ChaseJerry Bruckheimer brings his usual budget, explosions, running and shooting this time to US Marshals. I was uninspired by the trailer.
  • The Event – It’s about some kind of giant government conspiracy, with interweaving plots and threads, some of which do look interesting. But is coming just as FlashForward and Heroes are cancelled a little bit risky?
  • The Cape – A cop is forced to become a vigilante, taking on the disguise of his son’s favourite comic hero. I quite like the look of this one, it’s a pretty old school super-hero type thing, a nice balance between overdone cheese and actually looking like it might have some heart.
  • Love Bites – The lives of a whole collection of characters as they look for love. The trailer simultaneously managed to have too many plots and not enough of them. Looked like a horrible muddle of irritating people.
  • Friends With Benefits – This didn’t look too bad actually, but rather bizarrely they’re recasting a couple of the roles, so I guess they think it has problems but potential.
  • The Paul Reiser Show – The guy from Mad About You got old and seems to have written a semi-autobiographical show. I struggle to get past the ego issues, but I did quite like the trailer.
  • Perfect Couples – three couples working their way through blah blah, finding together blah blah. The trailer seems to indicate they’re horrible and hate each other, but I guess that might appeal to some people.
  • Outsourced – An Indian call centre, an American manager. Racial stereotyping hilarity ensues. Kill me now.

NBC upfront coverage at TVSquad, Ausiello Files and The Futon Critic

2008-09 – The Glittering Awards Show

It’s been a while since I’ve had much respect for the people who have power over the likes of Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. The last couple of years in particular have frustrated me with the same shows and people getting nominated over and over with very worthy candidates overlooked in a way that even critics don’t seem to understand. This year is no exception. So here’s a shamelessly long list of my favourites from the year.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Hugh Laurie (House) – the show might be mediocre, but the character and acting is superb. He’s got a fourth Emmy nomination and maybe this will be the year he actually wins
  • Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) – his character is extremely private trying to keep his emotions hidden, and yet you always know exactly what he’s thinking through subtle and careful acting
  • Edward Olmos (Battlestar Galactica) – another very strong season in Battlestar Galactica, portraying a man who is tired, and old and very close to being overcome, yet still has so much pride.
  • Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) – I doubt he’d appear on anyone else’s list, but if not for the fact he’s in a show about ghosties and it’s on The CW I think he’d get a lot of attention. His character has a hell of a lot of stuff thrown at him this season (literally) and he does everything from pratt-falls to full on emotional breakdown impressively.
  • Simon Baker (The Mentalist) – I originally sniffed at his Emmy nomination, but to fill out the category he’s not a bad choice. It’s an interesting character and pulls it off with charm and grace and occasional scary darkness, but I suspect if I’d seen this season of Dexter, Michael C. Hall would have taken this place.

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
It’s tough taking this down to just five people, so I cheated a bit!

  • James Callis (Baltar, Battlestar Galactica) – the character and actor steal every scene they’re in
  • Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt, Grey’s Anatomy) – a really great addition to the cast, bringing both strength and vulnerability and instantly slotting into the ensemble.
  • Zachary Quinto (Sylar, Heroes) – about the only stand out thing in Heroes at the moment, his character has developed depth this season but he’s still utterly chilling.
  • Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen), Taylor Kitsch (Tim Riggins) and Gaius Charles (Smash Williams) – I couldn’t just pick one of the guys from Friday Night Lights. Each had a superb season as their characters really grow up.
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men) – Despite the fact that the Emmy’s put him in the lead actor category, I think he actually belongs in here more. Lead actors should carry the show, Mad Men could easily continue without him. That said he is extremely good.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
I actually struggled to find 5 actresses I consider ‘leads’!

  • Sally Field (Nora, Brothers and Sisters) – a well deserved nomination. Whether she’s being the matriarch to the unruly siblings, or getting a storyline of her own about continuing to live your life at 60+, she is wonderful.
  • Mary McDonald (Laura Rosslyn, Battlestar Galactica) – she brought such dignity and passion to her final episodes as the ailing president it was heartbreaking. The relationship with Adama was perfectly played.
  • Connie Britton (Tammy Taylor, Friday Night Lights) – a character which could so easily be swept into the background in the testosterone driven town, Tammy stands up for both her own kids and those she represents as school principal while still maintaining her relationship with the Coach.
  • Emily Deschenal (Brennan, Bones) – the character of Brennan hovers at the edge of ridiculous, but with talented acting (and great chemistry with her partner) manages to stay just on the right side.
  • Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy) – this is partly a pity vote to be honest, I feel bad that she’s always overlooked for awards, but actually she’s doing a really superb job. I might not like the character much, but whether she’s using her excellent comic timing or wide eyed teariness, Pompeo always nails it.

Supporting Actress in a Drama

  • Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey, Grey’s Anatomy) – I want to have “What Would Bailey Do?” embroidered on cushions! I adore her character and like Pompeo she does a great job whether shouting or crying. Hopefully with her fourth Emmy nomination she’ll finally win.
  • Katherine Heigl (Izzie Stevens, Grey’s Anatomy) – Heigl was never going to get an Emmy nomination this year thanks to some dubious outbursts to the press, but she did excellent work with a difficult (and occasionally ridiculous) storyline.
  • Tricia Helfer (Six, Battlestar Galactica) – I’m not sure it’s fair that someone so pretty is so talented, but each of the multitude of characters she played on Battlestar was amazing.
  • Adrianne Palicki (Tyra, Friday Night Lights) – the writers didn’t do her character any favours this season with some wildly flip flopping choices, but Palicki was excellent throughout.
  • Taylor Momsen (Jenny Humphrey) and Leighton Meester (Blair Waldorf), Gossip Girl – Both young actresses managed to make their characters more than just bitchy little drama queens. Ok they’re mostly still drama queens, but they were funny and passionate ones.

Outstanding Drama

  • Friday Night Lights – hands down the best overall show on television at the moment, it’s consistently superb throughout the season with exceptional acting and stylish direction
  • Battlestar Galactica – I’ll be the first to admit I thought ‘reimagining’ the 70s series was a stupid idea, doomed to fail. While it occasionally faltered, what this show managed to do was extraordinary. I’m so glad it got to tell its whole story.
  • Mad Men – This isn’t a show that I get really passionate about, but it is one that impresses me a great deal with its consistent quality and polish
  • Torchwood – Maybe at just five episodes it’s not a proper series, but it was so good I couldn’t leave it out.
  • Supernatural – this show is my latest obsession, but after three seasons of enjoyable fun I was really impressed at the way everything was taken to the next level for the fourth season. Characters, writing, directing and plots all shift up a gear.

Best Ensemble
A good ensemble is not just about having a group of individually talented actors and a couple of good relationships between them. It’s about being able to put any two characters from the ensemble on screen together and having it work. For all the many faults of Grey’s Anatomy, it doesn’t matter which characters end up on screen together they always have a spark. Brothers and Sisters also manages an impressive ensemble with the siblings and their extended family wonderful in just about any combination.

Best Pairings
On screen chemistry is far from easy to come by, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes in the same show. One of the big mistakes of House this year was trying to push House and Cuddy together, a couple with no chemistry and no sensible reason to be together. But at the same time the show succeeds brilliantly with the relationship between House and Wilson! Likewise, Booth and Brennan on Bones make a wonderful platonic partnership and a truly awful romantic one. Tammy and Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights make a such a lovely and believable couple because they make sense both in a relationship and as friends.

WTF?
The most startling moment of “you what now?” came not onscreen, but over the internet with the news that Fox had renewed a Joss Whedon show. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the fans or Joss himself.

Shark Jumping for Beginners
Supernatural made me laugh a lot by having an episode breaking one of the cardinal rules of shark jumping and then calling the episode “Jumping the Shark”. That’s the way you do it.
The way you don’t do it is have a character have sex with a ghost (Grey’s Anatomy) or have your main characters sleep together and then declare it all to be a dream (House, Bones).

“I only get 3 lines an episode but I really nail them”
I missed T.R. Knight on Grey’s Anatomy this season! Jesse Spencer (Chase) on House hasn’t had much to do (including cut his hair) all season and then when he and Cameron finally had a storyline he completely blew me away. I’ve got a soft spot for Scotty on Brothers and Sisters, possibly the only character who always talks sense, even if it’s only one scene every three episodes.

Most anticipated returning show
There are a number of cliffhangers that I’m eagerly awaiting the resolve of –Criminal Minds, Supernatural, NCIS and CSI:NY all ended with a bang. I’m looking forward to seeing what Dollhouse, Lie to Me and The Mentalist do with their second seasons, if they go somewhere or just bumble along. It’s an important season for Friday Night Lights, with lots of the original cast graduating and a new team to introduce. And I’m really hoping that Supernatural manages to pull off it’s potentially final season and everything its been building to.

Least anticipated returning shows
I’m not sure I’m going to bother with Grey’s Anatomy, knowing what happens in the first episode back I’m not sure I can bring myself to watch it. I’m still struggling towards the end of Heroes and am not sure I’ll bother with that unless someone tells me it gets a lot better. Ditto for House.

Most anticipated new shows
There’s some interesting scifi heading to the air this year, I’m really hoping V will manage to follow in Battlestar Galactica’s footsteps, Flash Forward will succeed where Lost failed and that Stargate Universe manages to walk the narrow line of fitting in with the franchise while still bringing something new. Eastwick has a good cast (including Paul Gross from Due South!) and will hopefully fall in the guilty pleasure category, while NCIS:Los Angeles has a good pedigree and line up staring Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J. The wildcard of everything is Glee which could be cheesy fantastic fun, or cringe inducing awfulness.

All things weird and wonderful all creatures good and bad

A mixed year for science fiction, but the fact that there’s enough shows out there to have a range is good news. Whether you call it sci-fi, SF, ‘genre’ or SyFy (although I’d really rather you didn’t) it’s now an enthusiastic part of the schedule. The slightly daft fact for me is that I’m not actually watching the two “most popular” sci-fi shows on US network television. I gave up on Lost back in season 3 when I lost faith that the writers knew what they were doing. I’ve heard that the most recent season is back on form, but I’m going to wait until the series finishes to make the call as to whether to go back and watch the whole thing again. As I mentioned a couple of days ago I watched the pilot of Fringe and didn’t get on with it. However I do plan to pick it up at some point.

Even without Doctor Who British sci-fi had a pretty strong year in terms of quantity, if not necessarily quality. I’ve already mentioned the really excellent Being Human, on the flip side we have the spectacularly disappointing final season of Primeval – a show which I started watching because of the fun idea of dinosaurs tromping through modern shopping centres. Then they introduced a complex and interesting timetravel-esque storyline which made me think there was more to it than just the cgi dinosaurs. But in season 3 the cleverness disappeared, several of the original actors disappeared and my will to care disappeared along with. The resolution of the big threat was absolutely ridiculous and made the previous two seasons seem a bit of a waste.

Then there’s Torchwood. I’m always faintly nervous watching Torchwood as for some reason I really like it, despite the fact that season 1 was pretty rubbish. However season two had really picked up in quality and I was intrigued by the new formula of 5 episodes in 5 nights although vaguely of the opinion that there was no way it could possibly pull it off. By the end of the first episode I was watching with my mouth open, astounded at the quality of writing, acting and story. It reminded me a lot of Battlestar in the way that I thought it was absolutely superb, but I’m not sure I want to watch it anymore. If it comes back it’s a completely different show and that makes me a bit sad. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the ‘resolution’ of the main plot was pretty bloody stupid, but that didn’t seem to matter as much to me as it maybe should of, so I’m shoving the point in brackets.)

Two big SF shows came to an end this year. I can’t say much more about Stargate Atlantis than it was a fun way to spend 45 minutes. That’s not a bad thing, a little bit of froth was definitely needed to balance out the weight of Battlestar Galactica. It seemed to take them an extraordinarily long time to get through just 70 odd episodes of Battlestar, although any faster and my brain might have exploded. The final season continued to excel and managed a mostly satisfying resolution to all the stories and mysteries (the final cylon was absolutely inspired – I never saw it coming), although I found the character resolutions less than satisfying. There were (as always) a few decisions and directions that didn’t really seem consistent to me, but I’m willing to put up with those for the otherwise superbness of the show and the fact that it did at least End.

Speaking of things that should maybe just end… Heroes continues to struggle along. I adored this show in its first season but it’s been going downhill ever since. I didn’t hate season 2 as much as some, more disappointed at the decrease in quality than actively thinking it bad, but the first volume of season 3 may have edged into that category. The writing was sloppy and all over the place with holes you could drive a truck through. Almost everything about the show now just irritates me, from wildly flip-flopping character choices to the over use of lip gloss! I’m a couple of episodes into the next volume and I’m hating it. I watched episode 15 with a housemate last night and we spent nearly twice as long bitching about it afterwards as we had watching it. I’ll stick it out until the end of the season for the sake of completeness, but unless there’s a dramatic turnaround, I don’t think I’ll be watching the next season.

My favourite new discovery of the year is Supernatural, I picked up season 1 for just eight quid on dvd and in less than two weeks I’d burnt my way through the whole four seasons. It starts off as a fun series with cool ideas and great characters, but the fourth season takes it to a whole new level which the writers pull off with style, skill and humour. I’m really looking forward to the fifth season, the show was apparently always planned to be five years and the pacing has been perfect for it, although I’d be sorry to say goodbye to the characters at the end of the year.