May 1, 2006

A TV Viewer's Diary: Prison Break Tops The War a Home

It's been a few weeks since I've done one of these. I apologize to those few of you who actually enjoy reading this. I'm not sure what has kept me back, what I do know is that this column needs some revamping. This leads me to a call for help, if anyone has any thoughts on how I can improve this column, please let me know. I do know I need to try and be a little more selective in what I watch, but sometimes I am helpless in the grip of the cathode ray.

Best of the Week: Prison Break
Worst of the Week: The War at Home

Sunday 4/23.

  • Malcolm in the Middle (Fox 7pm). The final season is moving in death throes. What happened to this series? The early years for so good, it has just become a sad shell of its former glory. This week has Malcolm organizing an anti-prom, a smart girl buying a date with Reese, and Dewey leading his parents on a chase through town. Nothing really connected, it feels like they are just throwing as much stuff at the screen and hoping that something sticks. I will say, and have said, Bryan Cranston as Hal is great, and the only real reason to give this show the time of day. *.5
  • King of the Hill (Fox 7:30). Why do I do this to myself? I really need to be a bit more selective. I've never really been a fan of this series, although I love the supporting animations. This week Hank's boss gets banned from the strip club and goes back to work, where he wants to make everything more "fun." Of course, his ideas don't do much to better the business, it falls to Hank to get Buck back in the strip club and out of the office. Yeah, fun, sure. *.5
  • The Simpsons (Fox 8pm). They have this for a few more seasons? They're making a movie? Help us all. This series lost its funny years ago, and fools like me keep watching. This week features a trio of sea based tales as the clan waits for their food at a seafood restaurant. Nothing funny happens. The tales are the Pilgrims trip on the Mayflower, the Mutiny on the Bounty, and teh Poseidon Adventure. What a waste of time. *.5
  • The War at Home (Fox 8:30). Like I said, why do I do this to myself? I stopped for awhile, I knew I shouldn't have relapsed. I thought maybe it would have gotten better, but that was not the case. This show was as annoying as it ever was. The characters are dumb, the dialogue is dumb. How can stuff like this still be on? Mom and Dad act aloof, try to discipline the kids, the kids rebel, stupidity ensues, show over. *
  • Family Guy (Fox 9pm). Finally, a funny show on Fox Sunday Night. They may fall prey to the random humor, as they were accused of on South Park last week, but I still find the show to be hilarious. Quagmire takes the guys to an adult store, a visit which inspires Peter to write his own erotica. He sells it, with his father in law as publisher, and it inadvertantly causes an accident. This leads to a lawsuit which bankrupts Daddy dearest. Now he must get help from Peter to earn money. The description may not sound all that funny, and it may not have been their best episode, but it is still darn funny. ***
  • American Dad (Fox 9:30). Stan heads off to an old friend's bachelor party, but things do not go as planned, including a stowaway. Roger shows up with Stan, and the two share an "intimate" moment, ala Brokeback Mountain, which forever changes their relationship. It was funny, but I think the Brokeback Dad overtones were a bit too strong. ***

Monday 4/24.

  • WWE: Raw (USA 9pm). Don't want to miss my wrestling! This week furthered the feud between the McMahon's and HBK and his partner "God." HBK is better than this, and Vince is no wrestler. There is some nice T&A with a diva bikini contest, which the best looking lady did not win. The main event pitted Triple H (who is a face now?), John Cena, and Edge against the tag champions, The Spirit Squad, all 5 of them. Overall it was an OK show.
  • Prison Break (Fox 8pm). What an excellent series. I wasn't sure at first, but there are great characters, and plenty of twists and turns to keep it interesting. This week sees the return of Peter Stormare's character, Richie, who was thought to have been killed by T-Bag. The Tweener catches wind of the escape plans and turns the info over to the boss. Lincoln gets spring by his father who knows a lot more about what is going on than anyone else. Michael may have stepped over the line with the doctor. Next week is the escape, but can they make it? I am sure that at least one of them will not make it. I cannot wait until next week! ****
  • 24 (Fox 9pm). And the perfect companion to Prison Break is...... you guessed it, 24. Jack successfully fends off Henderson's men, but fails to retain the voice recording. The president is trying to make sure that Bauer and the recording are dealt with, while being at the mercy of another group of shadowy figures. Aaron gets reassigned in the middle of the night, before he can learn anything. Chloe teams up with Buchanan to try and help Jack. The woman in charge at CTU realizes she may have made a mistake. SoD Heller makes the ultimate sacrifice for his country. This is crazy stuff, I am not sure this is better than last year, but the series is still incredibly strong. ****

Tuesday 4/25.

  • Scrubs (NBC 9pm). Cox and JD are at the middle of a firestorm, three patients are in need of organ transplants. While discussing the plans, they happen across a former suicide victim, who is having problems. Of course they try to ignore her until she ends up as the unwitting organ donor. The comedy leads to tragedy as the patients die, one by one, essentially driving Cox from the hospital, and perhaps from the profession. Meanwhile, there is speculation that The Todd may be gay. Now that leads to some hilarity. ***.5
  • Teachers (NBC 9:30). This series is nothing special, and I would probably not miss it if it were gone. Still, it makes a nice pairing with Scrubs. This week's issue is standardized testing. Some hot shot comes in to lecture on how to teach for it, and if you fail at it, cheat. The ragtag group of teachers decide that they know how to teach better than this. Moderately funny, but nothing special. From the looks of it, 5/2 could be the final episode of the series. **.5
  • House (Fox 9pm). House takes on God. A patient comes in who tests House's patience. This show has been on a roll all season, great characters, great acting, and very good writing. It may seem a tad formulaic at times, but the acting really lifts it to the next level. A teen who speaks to God has a strange ailment, House and his team are stumped, but determined to disprove the God talk. It doesn't help that Wilson's cancer patient sees some improvement after talking to him. But in the end, in his inimitable manner, House comes through and breaks through the layers of BS to the truth. Wonderful show. ***.5

Wednesday 4/26.

  • Alias (ABC 8pm). I will be sad to see this go, I think that the constant schedule juggling has helped accelerate its demise. I will enjoy what is left. This week features the return of Will Tippin and Ana Espinosa. Both feature in a plot to obtain Syd's DNA. Sloane is definitely hiding something, and is sure to figure in the finale. I do have to say that Will fell for a reall y dumb trick, he should have known better. There was also a funny sequence where Jack sends over a couple of agents for babysitting duty, it was hilarious how straitlaced and serious they were. Anyway, we do get the return of the prophecy. Looking forward to how this plays out. ***.5
  • Invasion (ABC 10pm). As moderately interesting as this has been, I haven't found myself all that wrapped up in it. The secret is now out, a good portion of the town is aware of the hybrids. The hybrids are all stocking up, another storm is coming, and this could be something big for the town. So, it looks like they may try to get out of town before the inevitable. I don't have strong feelings on this show, but I somehow feel drawn to it. **.5 Funny note, this was the second show tonight to feature the Doors "Riders on the Storm," Alias had a techno version earlier, while the original is here.
  • Bones (Fox 8 pm). Booth and Bones discover that a bone graft used on his boss's daughter was cancerous, and is killing her. Wanting to help, they do all they can to find a way to get it under the jurisdiction of the FBI. They succeed, finding numerous other victims. This eshow had a lot of heart, and was probably one of the more touching stories they've had this year. This show has been picked for a second season, so we have more to look forward to. ***
  • South Park (10pm). Featuring Al Gore. The former VP comes to South Park on a serious matter, he is there to spread the word about Manbearpig, whom he also wishes to kill. His hunt brings in the boys, who feel sorry for him. This gets them trapped in a cave, where Cartman finds, and eats, what he believesis treasure. Funny stuff. I never would have thought that this series would have lasted this long. ***
  • Mind of Mencia (10:30). Does anyone else think he is as funny as I think he is? This show is just absolutely hilarious! If you aren't watching it, you should. If you are, keep it up. ****

Thursday 4/27.

  • That 70's Show (Fox 8pm). The final season is winding down, and none too soon. While it has been better than last season, it is suffering the loss of two leads, plus that new guy is awful. This week has two episodes centering on Red retiring, and making a nuisance of himself around the house. Well, that and Jackie discovering she likes Fez. I'll be glad when its over. Is anyone else surprised that it has lasted this long? **.5
  • My Name is Earl (NBC 9pm). I think I have slightly cooled in this series over the season, I still get a kick out of it, and think it is one of the better sitcoms going, but the novelty has worn off somewhat. The show is finding its way through characters and attempts at cleverness with the concept. Earl and the gang find a badge that he had stolen in the past, and sets out to return it, which isn't exactly easy to do. ***
  • The Office (NBC 9:30). Dwight is on a rampage, questioning everyone in the office with trick questions after finding a joint in the parking lot. He is relentless in his pursuit of justice. Funny, I know people just like him. Anyway, Michael is trying to downplay, due to his apparent guilt. This show is so reminiescent of offices I have worked in, that's probably why I enjoy it so much. ***.5
  • ER (NBC 10pm). This series does not have the same spark it once had, it is still pretty good, but my desire to watch has been slipping. A number of threads are weaved together, but none of them really take charge. Morris has a new suit, Kerry has a new hip, Abby has an odd Grandmother/daughter pair, and Pratt lands in Africa. Ratings are still good, so it will probably stick around for awhile yet, but it may find its way to my chopping block. **.5
  • Smallville (WB 8pm). The romance heats up between Lana and Lex, while Clark gets more and more upset about it. Plus, there is an assassin in town, who has the ability of making himself invisible, and he turns his sights on Clark, Lana, and Lex, while courting Lois. The show may not be true to the comic origins, but it has really come into its own, forging a new path. Word has it that this may be it's last season, but I wouldn't mind seeing it show up on The CW. ***
  • Supernatural (WB 9pm). Here is a show that I truly surprised me at the beginning of the season, and even more surprised that it has survived the season. I would like to see it come back next season. But I am getting ahead of myself, they still have a couple of episodes left this season. This episode picks up with the story about the Colt. The demon Meg, who has had a few appearances this year, is back and demands the gun. This happens just as the father and sons team has found the demon that killed the boys' mother. Of course, things go bad as Daddy gets caught, and the demon gets away. Next week the action heats up. This show has been surprisingly entertaining, like a lightweight mix of Buffy and X-Files. ***

Friday 4/28.

  • Las Vegas (NBC 9pm). When Ed's away, problems always seem to crop up. This time a high roller comes in wanting to bet a million a hand on blackjack, this makes Sam jumpy and Danny under the gun. Meanwhile, there is a woman soliciting donations while seeing a Saint in a pool waterfall. I find it funny, there is nothing special about this show, but I enjoy the heck out of it. ***
  • Doctor Who (Sci-Fi 9pm). I've never watched much Who, but I have really enjoyed this series. Rose wants to meet her father, who died when she was young. The Doctor takes her back to see him before his death, but what she finds is not what she expected. In addition to what she learns, she makes the mistake of stopping his death, causing a paradox and threatening the rest of humanity. It was a great episode which features more character development for Rose than has been previously seen. I don't look forward to Eccleston leaves the series. ***.5

Saturday 4/29.

  • WWE: Smackdown (UPN 8pm). We got to see the Great Khali back in action, the guy may be slow in the ring, but man is he impressive, the guy is absolutely massive. The highlight of the show was the main even pitting Kurt Angle against Rey Mysterio for the title, that is, until the worthless Mark Henry showed up. That resulted in Kurt angle getting hurt legitimately. ***
  • Justice League: Unlimited (Cartoon Network 10:30). This series is winding down. This episode has a shadowy character trying to get Hawkman and Hawkgirl together by taking Green Lantern out of the picture. I like the series, but this episode didn't really hold my attention that well. **
  • TNA: Impact (Spike 11pm). If you want to see some good wrestling action, watch this show. This week featured an excellent X-Division tag match featuring Team Japan against Team America. There is also a pretty good match between Jay Lethal and the amazing, and undefeated, Samoa Joe. The end of the show had Sting giving Jeff Jarrett a choice of who he will tag with, but Jarrett refused to play. We'll see what happens next week. ***.5

Looking back on these columns that I have done, it is amazing just how much time I spend with the television. It is also a little sad, in a way. I must get this under control and pare down what I watch. I have tried, and failed to manage my viewing, I just get attached to some shows and it is tough to get away. I sometimes secretly hope that show gets cancelled or ends its run, or something that gets it off for a while. Although, I never wish it on my favorites. Perhaps, rather than talking about everything, I should just pick my favorite show of each night? Perhaps I should do it as a daily? Not sure I could write enough for that. I am, however, open for suggestions.


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