Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Nail/Coffin Spotlight: Take 1


Part 1:

Ever since moving from true blue Cali to dead red Florida I have a lot more free time on my hands. In turn, my insomnia has gotten much worse. Add to this the shiny DVR sitting atop my parents big screen TV in the living room, and one can conclude that I watch a lot more TV than I used to. So, I'd like to provide a bit of glimpse at what TV shows I consider to be the best on the air right now. Good TV is so the new indie film scene of the mid 90's.

Anyway, here's the top ten shows that are on MYtube.

10. How I Met Your Mother

Pretty much a single camera sitcom, but CBS seems a little scared to take away the laugh queues. So much for faith in the audience. HIMYM is a show that should be far too twee for any self-respecting elitist but ropes you in with an engaging enough premise and sharp comic timing. The ensemble is a goldmine, and their chemistry is off the map. We're talking Friends style perfect (not that I'm a huge fan of Friends, but the cast worked). The thesis stated in the title is always stuck on the windshield, but you mainly watch for the peripheral journeys . But are they really peripheral? Watch and find out!

09. Scrubs

The goofiest show on network TV, but with the biggest heart. The life lessons are hokey, the metaphors are simplistic, and the comedy is slapstick at best and cartoonish at top speed. And I love it. Scrubs makes you care with its attention to character growth and development. It's a glossy look at the world, even when waxing emo through the V.O. but it's a world you wish you could visit and have as much fun as these wonderful people.

08. The Shield

I am a relatively new fan to this show. I normally found myself turned off by F/X and their claims at being an envelope pushing network and all that. I still sort of am. But that doesn't mean they can't spot quality shows. The Shield is always firing on all cylinders. It can be both its greatest strength and greatest weakness . Its gritty take on the lines between moralism and pragmatism has always been its leg to stand on. That's all well and good, but the show is so intensely watchable because it mixes the world of the crime procedural with that of a vicious character study. The way the writers juggle each episode with such an even hand is really something to watch.

07. 24

Still implausible after all these years! The Power Hour, now in its fifth season, can still kick you in the nuts like nobody's business. They've taken to using every catastrophe at their disposal, but compelling TV is compelling TV. It's not so much suspended disbelief as it is the ultimate macho fantasy (with bi-partisan politics to boot) but who wouldn't want to see Die Hard played out over a full 24 hour period??! Kiefer continues to do his strongest work to date on this show every week. Best type-cast ever?

06. Rescue Me

I never really had a term for what I now call "Misery Porn" until Todd pointed me to it. It's basically what Six Feet Under became as time progressed. Supposed profound meaning deriving from putting characters through random pain and misery. For shows that tend to employ it, it sometimes works, it sometimes doesn't. On Rescue Me, when it works, it REALLY works. The painful and perfect performances carry with them scripts gnawing religious musings, work politics, and straddling the railing of the dead-pan and the existential. Leary deserves two Emmys by my count. This is a show that will run out of steam very quickly, but as of now it is the best show on F/X. However, I wouldn't suggest viewing with a loaded gun in the house.

Part 2 tomorrow. Try to contain yourself!


Todd VanDerWerff said...

You're very right about the new indie film scene thing. We'll know TV is "over" when Sylvester Stallone becomes a regular on a middling HBO series about a corrupt cop.

And link to my survey!

Teresa said...

Willow AND Dougie?? I'm in.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

I DO miss you.

I also miss part two.