Posts Tagged ‘ mentalist ’

The Upfronts 2015: CBS

cbsCBS continues to have an impressively stable, although increasingly aged line up, not leaving much space for new shows. They do seem to be trying to go in a different direction with their new series, but they feel very out of place when surrounded by so many established procedurals.

Cancelled or finished
csiAfter 15 series, 335 episodes, CSI is finally being put out to pasture. The mothership that spawned dozens of wannabes and spent 10 years in the top 10 watched shows has seen its ratings decline steadily in the last few years and now it can’t compete with its own descendants. I’ve been a loyal watcher throughout and while it’s rarely been a favourite show, it’s always been a reassuring presence and I will actually miss it. There’ll be a final two hour TV movie, featuring the return of Grissom and Catherine.

mentalistI stuck with Stalker the whole season and I’m not entirely sure why, the setup wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, the stories weren’t particularly original and the characters weren’t that charismatic. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t outstanding. I’m not sure I’d’ve bothered with season 2 even if it had been picked up and I’m not really mourning its passing. Likewise I’m not that disappointed The Mentalist wound up after seven seasons. I made it through the first two seasons but found it frustratingly inconsistent in tone. Two and a Half Men finally completely and utterly died after 12 seasons. I’m guessing Jon Cryer mourned that and wished his cast mates hadn’t screwed everything up for him.
Also cancelled: Battle Creek and The McCarthys were new series, The Millers was cancelled after its second season. None of which I have any memory of hearing about.

Renewed
NCISCBS remains the home of the procedurals and even without Grand-pa CSI there’s a bevy of relations: CSI: Navy (NCIS – Season 13), CSI: Navy + Sunshine (NCIS: Los Angeles – season 7), CSI: Navy + Jazz (NCIS: New Orleans – season 2), CSI: Surfs Up (Hawaii Five-O – season 6), CSI: Serial Killers (Criminal Minds – season 11), CSI: Sherlock (Elementary – season 4), CSI: Pre-Crime (Person of Interest – season 5), CSI: Online (Scorpion – season 2) oh and CSI: Cyber (an actual proper CSI spin off going into season 2). Blue Bloods is more NYPD Blue 2010 than a CSI spin off and Tom Selleck’s moustache only held my attention for 3 seasons, but apparently other people have more commitment to it because it will be back for season 6 next year.

goodwifeOther dramas that are renewed are the critically acclaimed but ratings challenged The Good Wife, although season 6 hasn’t been as good as previously. Madam Secretary has some potential, but is disappointingly light when I was hoping for something more politically hefty. I watched a few episodes of Extant but got bored with the conspiracy stuff, I thought it was a one off so am a bit surprised to see it renewed for season 2. Under the Dome returns for season 3 but lost me with the utterly ridiculous bisected cow in the first episode.

The Big Bang TheoryThe unlikely juggernaut that is The Big Bang Theory continues with huge ratings and last year was given a three-year renewal which carries it through to next season. Mike and Molly and 2 Broke Girls return for seasons 6 and 5 respectively, Mom will be back for season 3 and Matthew Perry has finally broken his curse of first season cancellations as his remake of The Odd Couple is renewed!

New this autumn

Angel From Hell: Jane Lynch is either a stalker or a guardian angel. Jane Lynch is kind of fantastic and with a slightly more subtle character and better writing (in the trailer at least) than she got lumbered with on Glee, this could be great.


Code Black: It’s ER moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. I’m a sucker for this stuff and this looked pretty well done.


Life in Pieces: Hey, dating is tricky, precocious children are hilarious, parenting is hard and old people are whacky but look how uplifting it can all be when we come together as a family. Sod off. Colin Hanks deserves better.


Limitless: Based on the film, one pill makes you super smart and effectively a superhero. It inevitably gets complicated. The film was ok and I guess it’s a good set up but the supreme close up of Bradley Cooper asking if I can remember what it’s like to be in my mother’s womb is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.


Supergirl: Basically… Superman’s cousin. The trailer is pretty much the whole pilot boiled down so you may want to skip it. It doesn’t look bad, but it’s an extremely strange choice for CBS. This would infinitely more at home on The CW and I think it’s going to struggle to get the ratings that CBS want.

New later in the year
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders – another attempt to land a Criminal Minds spin off, this time starring Gary Sinise and taking the show on an international tour. The planted pilot wasn’t bad (although Anna Gunn has apparently departed the series) and the added complexity of dealing with international law has some potential. Sinise needs to make sure he’s not just recreating his character from CSI New York though.

Rush Hour – Buddy Cop drama based on the films.

End of year report card

The start and end points for the television year is pretty fuzzy. Given that I watch mostly US shows, I tend to go by their year which runs roughly from September rather than the calendar year. So I decided that I’d count the start of the year as 1st September (and I go by American air dates, not the UK). BUT life isn’t that simple, because what do I do with shows that start in one year but end in another. For example Mad Men season 3 ran August-November 2009, running one year to the next. Then I looked at what the Emmys do and it turns out they run June 1st 2009-May 31st 2010. BUT they don’t strictly speaking pay attention to show seasons, it’s just whichever episodes ran in that time frame, which means from what I can tell – the last two episodes of the season of Glee weren’t eligible for entry as they aired in June 2010.

So after all that, I decided to hell with it and I’d count what I felt fit within 2009-2010 and be pretty much arbitrary about it.

Bones – Season 5
Brothers & Sisters – S4
Caprica – S1
Criminal Minds – S5
CSI – S10
CSI:NY – S6
Defying Gravity – S1
Dollhouse – S1
Doctor Who – 2010
FlashForward – S1
Friday Night Lights – S4
Fringe – S2
The Good Wife – S1
Glee – S1
Grey’s Anatomy – S6
House – S6
Leverage – S2
Lie to Me – S2
Mad Men – S3
The Mentalist – S2
Merlin – S2
NCIS: Los Angeles – S1
NCIS – S7
Outnumbered – S3
Sons of Anarchy – S2
Stargate Universe – S1
Supernatural – S5
Trauma – S1
Warehouse 13 – S1
White Collar – S1
V – S1

Top of the Class – Best Drama

  • Mad Men: For once, I’m in absolute agreement with the Emmys. Season 3 (season 4 has just started on BBC4) was a work of near perfection. The pacing, the way everything had been so carefully and subtly built up until the final episode which was one of the most satisfying hours of television I’ve ever seen. The detail of this show is incredible, it’s a slow burn, but it’s really worth it.
  • Friday Night Lights – I have a guilty relationship with this show, because despite the fact I have it ‘available’, I haven’t managed to bring myself to watch the second half of the season. This season has felt like really hard going, everybody’s’ lives really seem to suck and it’s just hard to watch. But that doesn’t make it any less superb or any less worthy of its position in the number 2 slot in the drama category.
  • Sons of Anarchy – There’s just something about this bunch of gun running, murdering, hells angels that just makes you forgive them everything they do. The closest thing I can think of to this show is Brothers & Sisters, it’s got the same sense of families fighting amongst themselves, but ultimately doing anything for each other – just with more Nazis.
  • Trauma – Maybe this show wouldn’t have made the cut if I didn’t feel bad for it being cancelled, but I really do think it was one of the better shows of the year. It’s not perfectly refined like Mad Men, but the heart and soul of it are true, the characters and relationships are interesting and different and I enjoyed every episode.
  • The Good Wife – Proving that ‘legal procedural’ doesn’t have to mean Law and Order or wanting to kill all the characters. The ensemble cast is amazing and contains some of my favourite actors, and seeing them together creating such complex characters is immensely satisfying.

Head Boy – Best Male Actor/Character (you don’t get to be a great actor without a well crafted/written character and great characters don’t survive great actors)

  • Tim Roth (Cal Lightman, Lie to Me) – I don’t understand why Tim Roth and Lie to Me don’t get more attention. In a world of dark, sober, troubled and angsty television detectives, Tim Roth lights up the room. He’s manipulative and arrogant, but he’s also a brilliant father, a caring friend and of all the investigators on television, he’s the one I’d want in my corner the most.
  • Matt Smith (The Doctor, Doctor Who) – I had my doubts, not because he was young or unknown or anything like that, but just because I thought David Tennant had created an un-equalable character. Matt Smith blew me away with his charm, his goofiness, his terrifying speeches and his ability to make a fez look cool.
  • Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights) – This man seems to do less acting than anyone else on television, he hardly says anything, sometimes he barely moves, but somehow you understand every single thing the character is thinking.
  • Jenson Ackles (Dean Winchester, Supernatural) – I was a bit disappointed by the season of Supernatural, but I was never disappointed with either of the lead performances. Part of what frustrated me about the season was that it was all over the range from slapstick to suicidal angst, via homicidal range and utter psychosis. Jenson Ackles nailed each of the emotions and how stubborn, but over-his-head Dean would approach each one.
  • Hugh Laurie (Dr House, House) – I didn’t like this series of House much, as per usual I think it spent too long coasting through the middle of the season and then made some dubious relationship choices. But Hugh Laurie was consistently great throughout, except for the bookending episodes, where he was absolutely amazing.

Head Girl – Best Female Actor/Character (is actress politically incorrect?)

  • Julianna Margulies (Alicia Florrick,The Good Wife) – A breath of fresh air on network television, a woman with kids, a career, issues and most importantly a personality of her own. I loved when she got drunk with Kalinda, or acted as a big sister to Cary, or didn’t quite know how to interact with Diane. But mostly I loved the way she fell back to being a college student falling for her friend and not knowing what to do about it.
  • Katey Segal (Gemma Taylor-Morrow, Sons of Anarchy) – Gemma had the epitome of a bad year on Sons of Anarchy, but through it all she was their Queen, she loves all the members of her family and fights to protect them, whether with a gun, her fists, or just by keeping a secret. Katey Segal was amazing.
  • Connie Britton (Tammy Taylor, Friday Night Lights) – The other half of the best couple on television, Tammy’s not had a great year either. But like her husband, she doesn’t have to say anything for you to understand the multiple faces the character presents to everyone, including herself. When she steals her little victories wherever she can, and fights for her kids (the whole school load of them) it makes me want to hug her.
  • Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy) – Meredith grew up and got happy and made me love her. Last year I put her on this list partially out of pity, this year she’s there on merit, actually taking her position as ‘lead’ actress more than just being a ‘prominent female member of the ensemble’. She’s completely settled into her position as the mother of the group – her reaction to her marriage and the loss of her friends was really mature. Whiny Meredith is hopefully gone for good.
  • Sally Field (Nora Walker, Brothers and Sisters) – When Sally Field cries, I cry. When she screams, I hid under a cushion. Whether herding her unruly brood, or causing chaos all by herself, I love her to pieces.

Prefects: Boys (Supporting actors)

  • John Noble (Walter Bishop, Fringe) – Walter is crazy. Utterly and completely, self-medicatingly, one-too-many-magic-mushrooms, bucket loads of crazy. But then in alternate world Walter is utterly sane and calm and scary and slimy. Noble bounces around between Walters multiple personalities and bodies with amazing talent.
  • Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel, Glee) – The best thing in Glee. He’s completely over the top and ridiculous to the point you almost want to throw him in a dumpster yourself, but then he does something heartbreaking. Also, he can belt out a tune like the best divas out there.
  • David Blue (Eli Wallace, Stargate Universe) – He’s exactly what the stereotypical Stargate fan would be like if they found themselves inside a Stargate series. He’s got no clue about the military, or really people at all. He’s a massive geek who breaks tension by making Star Wars jokes. He brings a bit of reality to the otherwise slightly highly strung Stargate team.
  • Cliff Curtis (Rabbit Palchuk, Trauma) – Cliff Curtis became one of my favourite actors this year playing the deeply troubled, but utterly charming Rabbit. A really fascinating character and a slightly unlikely leading man, but he was the heart of this show.
  • Enver Gjokaj (Victor, Dollhouse) – I ummed and erred between Victor and Fran Kranz’s Topher, but eventually the Doll edged out the geek because he got to play a different role (and accent) every week and nailed them all, even managing to play Topher to perfection.

Prefects: Girls (Supporting Actresses)

  • Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey, Grey’s Anatomy) – She wasn’t even nominated for an Emmy this year, which I was so astonished by I had to check multiple times. Bailey follows the Sally Field rules – she cries I cry, she shouts, I actually cheer out loud. Her final scene of the final episode just destroyed me.
  • Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson, Mad Men) – “I’m Peggy Olson. And I want to smoke some marijuana” and “Beg me? You didn’t even ASK me”. Nuff said.
  • Christine Baranski (Diane Lockheart, The Good Wife) – Although her colleague Archie Panjabi (Kalinda) got the Emmy, I think Christine Baranski was far superior if for no other reason than she seemed to be having so much FUN with the role. Not afraid to flirt with a colleague or laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of a situation.
  • Allison Scagliotti (Claudia, Warehouse 13) – like Eli in Stargate, Claudia is the voice of the fan. She’s a geek who loves a gadget and points out the idiocy of all the plans. She, and her ever changing hair colours, brings life to the show.
  • Linda Hunt (Hetty Lange, NCIS:LA) – A breath of fresh air, a bizarre mix of motherly and drill sergent that manages to make even LL Cool J quake in his boots.

Team Players (Best pairings/ensembles)

  • Callen and Hanna (NCIS:Los Angeles) – A perfect yin and yang thing of hot headedness and cool, all bundled up in a caring (but not out loud!) partnership. Who’d’ve thought it.
  • Team Free Will, Supernatural
    “This is it… Team Free Will. One ex-blood-junkie, one drop-out with six bucks to his name and Mr Comatose over there. Awesome.”
    “It’s not funny”
    “I’m not laughing”
  • Christina and Meredith (Grey’s Anatomy) – When Meredith revealed the plans for her and Derek’s dream house and pointed out Christina’s Room I burst into tears yet again. I love these two sisters.
  • The Walker Clan (Brothers and Sisters) – You can’t really break this group up. They squabble and occasionally even fight, but the group of them together and the complex relationships between all of them are amazing.

Points for effort – The home of the things that are solidly doing their job, are entertaining, and occasionally verging into brilliant, but are generally just really solidly plugging away doing what they do.

  • CSI:Original had a really solid season, settling down after the changes of recent years and just turning in an entertaining, reliable and interesting season, there’s not many shows that can say that moving in to their 11th season they’ve still got some spark.
  • Grey’s Anatomy deserves a lot of praise for bouncing back from the previous terrible season, I nearly gave up on the show, but I’m glad I didn’t.
  • Brothers & Sisters – cheesy, melodramatic, sappy and utterly sentimental – it embraces these things with such enthusiasm and does them so well, it’s hard not to love.
  • Glee – If only the quality of the plots were more consistent, this would be worthy of considerably more praise. As it is, I enjoyed most of the episodes, but ended up frustrated that it wasn’t just slightly better.

Must Try Harder

  • The Mentalist – A nice idea, a charismatic lead character… but ultimately the character development isn’t, ‘mysteries’ aren’t, and the novelty wore off.
  • Outnumbered – It was still funny, but it just wasn’t as good as previous seasons. Not least because it seemed to spontaneously stop dead, to such an extent that I completely failed to note it had finished and never got round to writing a review.
  • Science fiction – it’s not been a good year for science fiction imho. V, Caprica and Flashforward were all disappointing.
  • NCIS – Still flipflopping all over the place with a lack of consistency and character development. Maybe it’s time for this one to retire.
  • Criminal Minds – I praised the show for finally having the team come together and having an impressive group of strong female characters… then they sacked two of them.

The Mentalist: Season 2

Without the aid of an episode guide I’m struggling to remember what filled twenty odd episodes of the Mentalist. The cases are about as disposable as procedurals get these days, yet there is also very little interesting going on with the characters, leaving me pretty unsatisfied with my 18ish hours of viewing.

The eponymous Mentalist, was an intriguing enough character to carry the first season, but apparently not enough to carry the second. His little tricks, misdirections and manipulations are now all a bit old and far too predictable. The character should be one of the most complex on television. Jayne is constantly putting on a performance to cover the fact that he’s consumed with guilt about taunting a serial killer, Red John, who then went on to murder Jayne’s wife and child. He is supposedly working as a consultant on investigations only to get access to information about Red John so he can take his revenge. But the writing is not up to dealing with such a character, or maybe that’s just not the kind of character that can be a star of a primetime drama. Because 95% of the time the care-free performance is so good, there’s not even the slightest hint of everything else. The other 5% of the time it feels too much as if the writers are suddenly remembering there was something they were supposed to do and throw something together in heavy handed fashion.

If they’d gone for the purely light-hearted approach I think the show would be better (although even more obviously related to rival show Psych than it already seems). Jayne’s playful approach to the puzzle solving side of investigations is a lot of fun, and the collection of sidekicks support it nicely. Each character reacts to Jayne’s antics differently and with a good mix of humour, acceptance, eye rolling and awe. Cho’s deadpan humour and complete unflappability are particularly entertaining. Even the office romance between Rigsby and Van Pelt was handled in a surprisingly satisfying way.

Likewise if they’d gone for a more dark approach it would have been interesting. How much of Jayne’s apparent callousness towards victims and families is self-hatred? How can someone possibly be considered stable enough to work on cases when he sleeps under the smiling face his family’s murderer drew using their own blood? How can his partner keep allowing him to investigate that case when he’s repeatedly declared that when he finds Red John he will kill him? It’s heading into Criminal Minds territory with the thoughtful approach to psychology and the consideration of the long term effects violence has on people’s lives.

I guess the writers were aiming for contrast, but what they ended up with was contradiction. With my ever increasingly packed television schedule, I don’t think I’ll be returning to The Mentalist next season unless I hear it’s found a happier balance.

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.

2008-2009 Television

I decided this year that rather than do a summary of my tv watching at the start of the year, it made more sense to do it in the middle, once all the ‘current’ seasons of stuff have wrapped for the year. It means almost all the US shows (which make the bulk of my watching) have completed their seasons and can be reviewed as a whole. Also, I basically failed to get round to doing this in January and after a while this excuse seemed valid.

A quick add up shows that I’ve watched approximately 400 episodes of television this year. That’s about 300 hours and it’s not including the stuff I’ve watched that wasn’t new this year or random stuff like Top Gear and documentaries, probably about half as much again. Just imagine the useful things I could have got done in that time!

So, here’s the list of this year’s shows I’ve watched:

  • Battlestar Galactica – Season 4
  • Being Human – Season 1
  • Bones – season 5
  • Brothers and Sisters – season 3
  • Castle – season 1
  • Criminal Minds – season 4
  • CSI – Season 9 (about halfway)
  • CSI:NY – season 6
  • Dollhouse – Season 1
  • Friday Night Lights – season 3
  • Gossip Girl – Season 2
  • Grey’s Anatomy – season 5
  • Heroes – Season 3 (Up to episode 14)
  • House – season 5 (Up to episode 21)
  • Lie to Me – Season 1
  • Mad Men – Season 2
  • Merlin – Season 1
  • NCIS – season 6
  • Primeval- Season 3
  • Pushing Daisies – Season 2
  • Stargate Atlantis – Season 5
  • Supernatural – Season 4
  • The Mentalist – Season 1
  • Torchwood – Children of Earth/Season 3
  • Warehouse 13 – season 1 (Up to episode 10)

This year’s new additions
This year’s new shows were either instant hits for me or instant misses, I started with ten, dropped three within a few episodes but will watch season 2 of the remaining seven. The Mentalist, Castle and Lie to Me are all fairly standard procedural type things, extremely watchable thanks to very strong leads (all male, where are the female leads?). Each of the shows has the danger of becoming too formulaic if the writers aren’t careful, but the first seasons were all very fun to watch.

Warehouse 13 (which is a midseason show, so only about 8 episodes in), Being Human and Merlin are an interesting triangle. Warehouse 13 is a fun concept that disappointingly looks and feels very cheap – the CGI is bloody awful, the writing is clumsy and dumb and the only saving grace is some enthusiastic actors who are doing more with the scripts than they deserve. Being Human meanwhile is a great concept that is charming and fun pushes the limitations of its budget and scope as far as humanly (or otherwise) possible and was much better than I expected. Merlin meanwhile was pretty much exactly as I expected, cheesy and ridiculous but an entertaining way to spend an hour on a Saturday night.

The final new show I’ve stuck with is Dollhouse, which got off to an extremely bumpy start but eventually kicked into gear and got very interesting in the second half of the season, finishing with a superb ‘finale’ that was actually never aired in the US. The blatant network interference to give more action and sex made a real dent in the interesting concepts that Whedon was trying to investigate through his customary quirky, fun and occasionally traumatising style. I’d also like to praise the casting, with Whedon extending his growing family of actors with some wonderful and non-standard additions.

Shows I gave up on this year include The Unusuals – a ‘quirky’ procedural that wasn’t nearly quirky enough. I watched the pilot of Fringe but didn’t get on with it, I might give it another try at some point though. Knight Rider gave itself away as painfully awful when about 5 minutes into the pilot they came up with the dumbest excuse ever to get their characters to strip to their underwear, and just continued to get dumber.

Tune in tomorrow for cops and robbers and medical mysteries.

The Mentalist: Season 1

This is the only new season show I picked up during the 2008-9 season and it’s a healthy addition to my collection of procedurals. It’s a lot like NCIS in tone, with smart dialogue, intelligent characters and a lightness and freedom from rules that isn’t often found in CSIs. The fun that Jayne has investigating crimes is contagious and it’s interesting to see the different levels of acceptance the surrounding characters have of his actions. It’s not really an ensemble show at all and Simon Baker carries the show admirably, playing the different personas nicely.

The only point the show falls down is in the supposed darker undertones. The lead character is supposed to have lost his wife and young child to a seriel killer whom he’s vowed to take his revenge on. To be honest I found that bit difficult to believe, early episodes make more references to his troubled sleeping and time in a mental institution, but he just generally seems too happy and too playful with the investigations to be seem like a vengeful obsessed bereaved father. It felt a little too much like two characters switching back and forth and didn’t sit well with the otherwise bright and cheerful sense of the show.