Poor writing the highlight of
the 1999-2000 TV season
It's no surprise that most shows that debut this season will fail. What is surprising is how bad the writing is in a world in which quality writing is recognized as a must for any series to survive.
I wrote those words back in September 1999. Now I realize tv has solved the problem of bad writing. It's producing unscripted shows. With WWTBAM, Survivor, Greed, Winning Lines, Twenty One already out there (and with a success rate of 40% way more successful than scripted shows) and with Big Brother, Survivor II and who knows what else to come we have seen the future and it is bleak for writers.
New This Year
- Angel - The much anticipated spin off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer has had a lot of positive press. And given the problems involved in presenting a new series and bringing new viewers uptodate on an already developed character, I'd say the premiere episode was a success. It had the mix of action, angst, and humour its parent series is famous for. And it looks to have some pretty solid ideas for the coming season. See my Angel Reviews for more details.
Midseason: So far, I'd say Angel has been pretty mixed. Some good episodes and some pretty lame ones. The loss of Doyle and the arrival of Wesley might be seen as some emergency surgery to move the show to the same level as Buffy. Season's end: I was really impressed with the last few episodes (and I write this with only one episode left to air). Some great ideas have been explored, great villains presented, and Angel might actually be slightly better than Buffy this season.
- Beggars and Choosers - A tv show about the tv industry. While I enjoyed the two parter which kicked off this series, I have to wonder whether it will be able to sustain itself. It's largely a one joke series: tv networks are full of people who care about everything except the quality of the programming they produce. At some point, that stops being funny and starts being the truth. For me that point was episode three. I've stopped watching.
- Cleopatra 2525 - A couple of scantily clad women doing back flips while engaging in hitech combat with shape changing robots who have conquered the surface of the Earth and driven humanity underground unfreeze the equally scantily clad Cleopatra - a stripper who has been frozen since a breast enhancement operation went bad. She joins them in their battle to return the surface of the Earth to humanity. Just to make this more fun, there are also some oversexed mutants and a mysterious voice. What's not to like? Obviously, no one, especially the producers, are taking this show seriously. But at least they play it seriously. The fx are decent and the actresses look like they are having fun in what is a semi serious semi camp action/adventure series. I've seen one episode, not been bored, and will be back. Season's end: I made it through the season and still want more. This is a really silly show, but it's a show you can enjoy.
- Daddio - I've seen parts of two episodes of this show and am not eager to see more. It appears to have been cobbled together from parts of every family sitcom of the last 50 years. The jokes are obvious (like the father's anger over discovering that as a stay at home husband he isn't worth insuring) and the characters less than endearing.
- Grapevine - A fast paced show with the moves of Sex and the City. I really didn't expect to like this show, but based on the first episode, I loved it. Basically, it gives you a condensed view of the lives of a group of single and not loving it people in Miami. It's funny, stylish, and moves so rapidly you're really surprised when it's over. Kristy Swanson, who I didn't much care for in the film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and liked even less last year on Early Edition, really redeems herself as Susan in Grapevine. Season end - Well, I guess I was unusual in liking this show. It seems to be gone from the schedule for good.
- Greed - Well, I guess Who Wants To Be A Millionaire has a lot to answer for, not least of which is this cut rate imitation which manages to do everything wrong which WWTBAM does right. WWTBAM has Regis, the most liked of tv personalities who actually convinces his audience he cares for them. Greed has Chuck, the sleaziest of game show hosts who we all know only cares about cashing his next pay cheque. WWTBAM is a noncompetitive show where (except for the fastest finger round) the other contestants are rooting for you just as much as everyone else is. You've got a whole bunch of people basically being nice. Greed has an entry round in which pretty well everyone makes it to the big game, but then turns team members against each other. It's about everyone being a jerk. WWTBAM is about walking away when you don't know the answer and being a winner. Greed is about greed, enticing people to keep going until they lose it all. WWTBAM starts off with small dollar values, numbers that mean something to us as average joes and builds to huge sums. Greed starts with large sums which mean nothing to us and so never really develops any tension. Despite what the movie said, Greed is bad. Season's end: Winning Lines and Twenty One both bit the dirt, but Greed is just in limbo. While not on the lineup for next season, it's being held as a midseason replacement for the inevitable failures. So Greed will be back. But I won't be watching.
- G vs E - I've only seen two episodes of this already cancelled series, but I liked it. It takes a comedic view of a theme handled dramatically in Brimstone, my favourite series of last season. This is no Brimstone, but it's not bad. Midseason - Now renamed Good vs Evil, but with the same cast, this show seems to have found a second life and continues to be solid entertainment. Season's end: Unfortunately, this is a good show which couldn't find an audience and is cancelled.
- Harsh Realm - Along with Angel, this was surely the most highly anticipated new series of the season. And, I think, most people were prepared for a big disappointment. What we got was a moderately good show with a few interesting ideas. I don't know if it can survive opposite the surprise hit Now and Again, but I'll be watching it regularly. See my Harsh Realm Reviews for more details. Much to my surprise, this series was canceled by the time the third episode aired and with only eight episodes filmed.
- Iron Chef - Undoubtedly, the most bizarre show I have ever seen. This airs on the Food Network and is imported from Japan. Played dead serious, it is set in Kitchen Stadium where the Iron Chefs (three masters of cuisine selected by the chairman of the academy) face off against a contender chef. The contender gets to pick which of the three Iron Chefs he will face. Then the chairman unveils the theme ingredient of the evening. Each is given one hour to create at least four dishes using the theme ingredient. A panel of judges will rate them on the quality of the dishes and their elaboration of the theme. The chefs take the contest very seriously, the show is mostly dubbed with a few subtitles, and there is play-by-play and colour commentary that would be quite at home in a hockey game. The show moves at a furious pace and they actually succeed in making cooking exciting and hysterically funny. A cult classic not to be missed. Midseason - This show has been cancelled in Japan, apparently at the height of its popularity, and it is still growing in North America. In late June 2000, the New York City contest will be broadcast pitting an Iron Chef against a Food TV Network chef. With special episodes still being filmed and with a backlog of several years worth of shows not yet seen in North America, I don't see an end in sight for this show yet.
- Jack of All Trades - I like Bruce Campbell who stars in this series and I was looking forward to it. I thought it would be like Wild, Wild West. Boy, was I wrong. This series is so banal, I never made it past the second commercial. Okay, I had the flu and was tired, but still that's pathetic. Campbell as Jack does the anachronistic camp shtick that worked for Hercules and Xena and seems to just fall flat in this series. Maybe because nobody else seems in on the joke. They are all in character - acting and talking like people in Napoleonic times. Jack is acting like a modern American. This just doesn't work. I probably should give it another shot, but I doubt I will.
- Junkyard Wars - The Learning Channel carries this British import, entitled Scrapheap there. In Britain, the idea is to attract young people into the fields of engineering and science but here it's played more as a contest. Basically, you get two teams who get 10 hours to build a specified device out of what they find in a junkyard (admittedly a specially seeded junkyard). I've seen episodes in which they built cannons, amphibious vehicles, tractors, and unpowered aircraft. The show is cleverly put together with some really interesting discussion of the technology. And the contests at the end are hugely entertaining. Like Iron Chef, this is a cult water cooler show and one you are sure to be hooked on. Rumour has it TLC will be producing an American version of the show, I just hope they keep showing the British one as well.
- Law and Order: Special Victims Unit - The idea of a series based on violent sex crimes didn't exactly appeal to me. This is just more weekly depression than I can take. So I didn't tune in until a few weeks into the season. And I only watched because I really like all the actors - Meloni, Hargitay, and Belzer. All have done great jobs on other shows (Meloni on guest stints on NYPD Blue and Homicide, Hargitay as a recurring character on ER, and Belzer as a regular on Homicide). And there's nothing wrong with their performance here. What is wrong is the writing. This is by the numbers plotting with a storyline so obvious I had it figured out before the opening credits. Dick Wolf lifts his stories from newspaper headlines, but he lifts his scripts from a far less impressive source. Midseason: I see that the series is being moved to Friday at 10:00, a far better time slot for material like this. It may allow Wolf to use better, more adult oriented scripts. Or it may just make the show look better against weaker competition.
- Malcolm in the Middle - I watched bits and pieces of this show and liked it. So I decided to watch a complete episode. What a mistake. A show which seemed innovative and genuinely funny, turned out to be just another rehash of sitcom standards. Maybe I just picked the wrong episode to watch, but I don't think I'll be tuning in again for awhile.
- Now and Again - Take the movie Seconds cross it with the tv series The Six Million Dollar Man, and you've got Now and Again. A series I expect most people will keep confusing with the dreadful Once and Again. But while Once and Again is a poorly written midlife angst series, this is a pretty wittily written SF series. I liked the basic premise, a middle aged insurance executive dies and his brain is transplanted into a body manufactured by a secret government agency in a daring experiment. The dead man misses his family, who are struggling to get his insurance paid. The agency doesn't want the dead man to have any contact with his past. And there is this mysterious terrorist. There is a strong supporting cast here, but I'm doubtful Eric Close can carry it as the lead. Midseason: I still don't like Close, but I still really like this show. It has an excellent cast with the exception of Close and while the plots are lame, the stories are actually good - if that makes any sense. Ratings have been pretty decent, but the show keeps getting preempted and that's not a good sign. Season's end: This series really picked up in the last few episodes of the season. The finale was really excellent, but months of weak ratings took their toll. It's off the schedule and the cliff hanger ending will likely never be resolved.
- Once and Again - Are relationship stories really dull. Are divorced people really needy? Is every teenage kid learning impaired or anorexic. Based on the premiere episode of this series, the answer to all those questions is yes. I won't be watching again and I will jealously cherish that extra hour of life. ABC has opted to keep this show in the NYPD Blue timeslot until January, making that long time hit the last series to have its season debut. But ratings have been dropping every week and you have to wonder if ABC made the smart move. Midseason: Ratings continue to drop for this show but it did get a Golden Globe nomination which probably has the network happy.
- The Others - I was really looking forward to this show. It sounded like a mix of The Sixth Sense and X-Files. Instead I got something closer to Felicity meets Chicago Hope. Okay, all I've seen is the pilot episode (about bathtub dwelling ghosts and husbands who don't trust banks). One episode doesn't mean much and this could turn into a great show. But so far all I see are a bunch of people spouting new age mysticism with psychic powers they apparently believe in and use but never really think much about. I mean, why would an empath choose to be a doctor where he is guaranteed to be surrounded by people in pain all the time. Season's end: I grew to like this show, but it never really came close to reaching its potential. Apparently, NBC had even less faith than I and cancelled it.
- Relic Hunter - I had real hope for this series. I was hoping for a female Indiana Jones with the spirit of Xena. What I got was a show without interesting characters or ideas. I had to struggle to stay awake through the first episode and I'm doubtful I'll bother watching another. Midseason: I lied. I haven't missed an episode. But the writing is terrible and the historical segments are done by somebody who failed history. Plus, we are getting a lot more shots of scantily clad beautiful women to compensate for the absence of a script. But the show is interesting for some bizarre reason. I know I'll keep watching. Season's end: The story lines get sillier, but you've just got to like this show and it has been renewed.
- Roswell - I tuned in to the pilot episode expecting the worst. I didn't get it. I did get Dawson Creek with aliens, but it was a fairly interesting version of that. I don't think the writers have really thought all that much about the alien premise, other than it's being cool, but they have made some attempt at developing characters. I'll give this a second viewing. Midseason: I don't like the X-Files type atmosphere the show is evoking, but I do like the show. Especially the interaction between the supporting cast characters. Season's end: I dislike the new Tess character and have some problems with the direction the show is taking. But I'm still watching. And, somewhat surprisingly, the show has been renewed. Post season news indicates a new producer for the show and likely some pretty significant change in direction. Frankly, I'm pessimistic about the next season.
- Snoops - I never thought I'd say this about a David Kelley series, but this show is poorly written. There is absolutely no chemistry between the leads and the only performance worth mentioning in the premiere episode was John Glover as a guest villain. The storyline was weak and obvious. The jokes were pathetic. And there was no real drama. None of these characters seem interesting. I'm predicting an early death for Snoops. Midseason: First the show got picked up for the season, proving me wrong. Then it got preempted for Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Then it got moved to another time slot. Then one of the stars (Paula Marshall) quit. Then it got canceled (in a joint move by the network and Kelley). So I was wrong and right. And the world is a better place for Snoops being off the air.
- Stark Raving Mad - I finally caught an episode of this sitcom and I doubt I'll be coming back. I like the leads, but the concept and the delivery seem really weak. Other than being in a good time slot, this show doesn't have much going for it.
- Survivor - I never thought this show would succeed and I certainly never thought I would watch it. But it's fascinating viewing and has captured a huge audience with great demographics. Some call it voyeurism, but I think it's a chance to watch a microcosm of society and how people interpret the actions and words of others.
- Twenty One - Exactly where is the excitement in a game that consists of answering two questions or maybe three? It's nowhere. I watching someone win over a million dollars on this show and I felt less excitement than when I saw someone go home with $1000 from Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Season's end: A little to my surprise, this show is off the air.
- Winning Lines - There are some basic rules to successful games. The most basic of all is that they have to be easy for everyone to understand. This show is so complicated that even the contestants don't seem sure of the rules. There are questions and numbers and a big wall with pit stops and strikes and passes. Even if you understand the game, keeping track of who is winning is close to impossible. And there is just no suspense here. Nothing builds up the way it should in a successful game show. And when you add in the fact that Clark is completely incompetent as host - something that really shocked me - you've got all the makings for a dismal failure. And the early ratings seem to confirm that.
- Wonderland - I remember the first episode of ER. I tuned in by accident and just couldn't change the channel. I didn't know any of the actors, didn't really like medical dramas, but was captivated. Well, ER made me a fan of the medical drama. Michelle Forbes and Martin Donovan (two of the stars of Wonderland) are amongst my favourite actors. But it took an effort of will to sit through the pilot episode of this much ballyhooed series. There is a pretense at originality and intensity here, but all we really get is the same stuff we've seen before (on pretty well every drama that has come out in the last five years) with faster editing and a new sound track. Forbes and Donovan are constrained by their material, as is every other actor on the show. The dialogue is artificial - these people don't talk, they spout and pontificate. The plot is pathetic - the promiscuous doctor whose girlfriend trashes his place when she discovers he cheated on her while he treats a guy who attempted suicide because his wife left him. The expecting couple where the wife is stabbed with a hypodermic (in a room full of cops why was she struggling with the mysteriously unrestrained murderer/patient). And can a needle really penetrate so deeply into the well protected fetus? And on this same day the head of the department is being quizzed on his viability as a father as part of a custody battle. A show with ideas would have taken a season to explore these events. Wonderland plops them into your lap in the first episode hoping all the action will disguise the lack of an idea. Peter Berg is responsible for one of the worst movies of the 90s or any other decade - Very Bad Things. He's the 'genius' behind Wonderland and to give him credit he has learnt something. But I'm not sure if he's learnt enough. Apparently, tv viewers agree with me. Two weeks were enough and the show is gone. Unfortunately, the promised Jeremy Piven episode, the one episode I was really looking forward to, will not air.
- Ally McBeal - I was ready not to like this season. The advance press has been bad and David Kelley seems stretched very thin. Along with The Practice and the very disappointing Snoops, we have Ally, the half hour rip off of Ally McBeal. And I'd seen some pretty negative reviews of this first episode. But I was surprised. The season premiere seemed to have all the good Ally stuff going for it. A bizarre plot, a great Richard in court moment, some terrific fantasy scenes including one where Ally looks daggers at John, and some very fun John/Nelle moments with a guest appearance by Barry White. When you've got the Barry going for you, how can you lose? I've got to keep watching. Midseason: I actually think the show has improved this season. And each episode seems better than the last. I like the role reversal which has Ally become the sane person and Billy the crazy guy who definitely needs help. And their Christmas special, with Elaine finding a baby, was fantastic. I note that Ally McBeal regularly comes within a point or two of Monday Night Football in the ratings and that the demographics for the show are actually better than Monday Night Football (apparently more young males watch it). So young American men prefer seeing two women kissing to two gangs of burly guys jumping on each other. What a surprise. Season's end: It seems each week I read the summary in TV Guide, expect to hate the episode, and end up really enjoying it. I still think this is an excellent series, although not perhaps as good as in its first season. But I have a lot of faith in Kelley's ability to pull off miracles.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Back for a fourth season, Buffy leaves high school and heads off to university. But the vampires are still there as is the witty writing and the strong characters. Not to mention the dark and complex plots. The season premiere was hardly the best of Buffy, but it was decent enough and gave no reason to fear for the series' future. For more details, see my Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reviews. Midseason: This show just keeps getting better. The writing is superb and introducing Spike as a regular cast member was a great idea. The preChristmas silent episode was brilliant. Nothing to complain about here. Season's end: I don't think any episode has equalled Hush, but I still really enjoy this series. It has declined, but only slightly. And that's amazing considered the creative energies that have had to be channelled into Angel and the move from high school to university.
- Charmed - Sometimes tv surprises. It did last year with Charmed, which I expected to be a bit of tv fluff relying heavily on the beauty of its stars. Instead I got a reasonably well written fantasy themed show which actually expected its beautiful stars to act. And they actually could act. My expectations for the second season premiere were not high. I expected the traditional second season slump. Instead, I got a quality episode with a solid mix of action and character development. It did a good job of introducing new viewers to the series, reprising the high points of the previous season, and introducing the new characters. I'm really looking forward to what's coming. For more details, see my Charmed Reviews. Midseason: Perhaps I spoke too soon. About 5 episodes into the season, the show seems to have lost steam. The Piper/Dan romance, and the Piper/Leo conflict, are beginning to bore me. And there seems less substance to each episode. I'm beginning to regret reviewing this series.
- Da Vinci's Inquest - This was a show which grew on me last year and which seems much improved this year. With characters already established, it used its season opener to start a multipart story on serial killers and prostitutes. This is sweeps week type content but in a show with solid drama credentials. Midseason: Even the bad episodes of Inquest are better than 90% of what's on tv. Unfortunately, as with most Canadian drama, it will have a short season. It deserves better.
- Early Edition - Every season, I expect this series to crash and burn. Instead, it keep surprising me. With the annoying kid gone, they can focus again on Gary and the paper. And that's what they did in the season premiere. A pretty solid episode that actually raises a lot of the questions we've all had about Gary, the paper, and how he could use it. Midseason: Getting rid of the kid and opening Gary up to some additional romantic interest has worked well. I've liked every episode this season. Unfortunately, the series is scheduled for a long gameshow induced hiatus. And who knows if it will actually return. Season's end: Early Edition came back early and came back strong. But a few good episodes weren't enough to draw back fans or to revitalize the show. It's cancelled, but it ended well.
- ER - You know a show is in trouble when your favourite characters don't include any of the leads. With Hathaway reduced to being the pregnant character, Greene the perpetually politically stupid doctor, Weaver the bitch, and Carter the guy who keeps picking doomed relationships; we've got nothing but a bunch of stereotypes sitting around waiting for the writers to recycle their lines. I like Romano and the new doctors look promising, but it's more an effort than a joy to watch ER. Midseason: I think even the most dedicated ER fans are getting tired. It's hard to tell if you are watching a new episode or a rerun since the storylines seem to be recycled. This is one show running on inertia. Season's end: Carol is gone, is there really a reason to keep watching. I'm tired of Mark having every possible disaster happen to him (divorce, getting beaten up, malpractice suits, a succession of nutty girlfriends culminating with crazy stalker lady, death of his mother, and now death of his father). I'm tired of Benton turning from the bitter intense guy to the happy family man. I'm tired of Carter, whose major characteristic was strength of character, being turned into a wimp unable to deal with problems in his life. I'm tired of scripts which have turned the minor characters (like Malik and Jerry and Randi) into nonentities. I'm almost sad they renewed this show.
- Felicity - She's in her second year of university, but she still doesn't have a clue as to how to deal with her boyfriend, her exboyfriend, her roommate, and her boyfriend's exgirlfriend. She has no friends and as a selfish and selfcentered person, that should come as no surprise. But Javier is back and that will keep me watching the show. I just wish they would get rid of Felicity whose constant angst is boring and just focus on the supporting cast, who are actually interesting most of the time. Midseason: Nothing really changes on Felicity, especially her inability to decide who she wants to date. I wish they would move ahead with some of the minor characters and get away from the Felicity storylines. Season's end: There is nothing wrong with this show getting rid of Felicity won't solve. I really like the Sean/Julie and Noel/Ruby storylines. I really like Javier and hope he does go to university next year. I even like Meghan. So dump Felicity, bring back Teri Polo for Ben, and we might have a show worth watching.
- Friends - I loved this series last season and I loved the season opener, especially the great Arquette credits. The Chandler/Monica chemistry continues to be strong. Ross has changed, he was never quite this crazy before, but having two failed marriages in one year can do strange things to you. This is still must see tv. Midseason: I'm still laughing every week. This is still the funniest show on tv. Season's end: Nothing has changed except the stars' salaries. And they deserve every penny. And it was nice to see a season finale which didn't involve a cliff hanger or Ross getting married.
- Futurama - I didn't much care for this series last year and I don't think much of this season either. It lacks the biting satirical wit which has made the Simpsons a hit.
- Jesse - They dumped the father, the brothers, and the bar. But this is still a weak series. The perils of the single mother are pretty cliche and this series does nothing to make them seem new. Midseason: A little to my surprise, I've dropped this series from my viewing habits.
- King of Queens - I've seen bits of a few episodes and most of two episodes. And I've actually really enjoyed myself. This isn't my kind of show and it comes on at a bad time for me. But I have a feeling I may be catching up on it during the summer reruns.
- Lexx - I can't really explain why I like this show. The acting isn't great, the writing ranges from terrific to juvenile, and the fx are definitely on the cheap side. But I get an enormous enjoyment from watching it. Possibly because this is an SF series which doesn't take itself seriously and which camps up the conventions of the genre. It's wildly imaginative and just plain fun to watch. The four two hour movies which constituted the first season were well structured and pretty much equally interesting. The second season was irregular, with arc and nonarc stories which ranged from terrific to terrible. The third season has started reasonably well. Not a wonderful episode, but far from a dreadful one. I like the character of Prince, I like the situation the Lexx and its crew have been dropped in to, and I like the promise of a strong story arc in a short season. I've waiting a long time for Lexx to return and my hopes for an exciting third season haven't been dashed by the premiere. Midseason - I have not been let down by this season. The decision to stick with a single story arc and to stay in one place has really paid off. It has resulted in more interesting and better developed villains and an overall more interesting series. I really hope this series gets renewed for another season.
- Martial Law - I never made it past the opening credits. Once I saw Arsenio Hall's name at the same level of the opening credits as Sammo Hung, I knew this series was doomed. I'm afraid comedy will replace action. I won't be around to watch it happen. Season's end: I guess many others shared my opinion. This show is history.
- NYPD Blue - Months late and nasty squabble between the network and the producers behind it, Blue is back. Andy is thinner, but pretty much everything else is the same. This wasn't a stunning start to the season, I've seen lots of episodes of Blue better than this. But it was solid. I don't know how long Blue can stay on the air, but this no rerun season will certainly be an interesting experiment. Given the story arcs which dominate this show, you'd expect a rerun free season to generate higher ratings and more fan loyalty. If it does, then I think the nature of tv may just change. If it doesn't, then Blue won't be back next year. Season's end: Ratings were good if not spectacular and NYPD Blue will be back, again debuting in January and running without reruns. And WB is picking up on this idea splitting the fall and winter seasons with all original episodes of Popular and Felicity.
- Sex and the City - I've just started watching this show and I have to admit to really liking it. And the general quality of the writing seems to have held up through the seasons. There are some great guest shots on this show and some humourous insights into how people really think and feel. Midseason: Not as funny as Friends, but probably the best adult comedy on tv. I still haven't seen an episode that bored me. I'm now seeing the reruns of the first season and am really impressed at how the writing has held up. This series seems to have had a strong sense of itself and where it is going right from the beginning.
- The Simpsons - I'm beginning to think the best, and only, satire on US television is losing its edge. The wit isn't as biting as it once was and the storylines this season seem pretty weak. I'm not ready to write the show off, but every show does come to an end.
- Who Wants to be a Millionaire - There is a British show called mastermind. People compete for a crystal decanter probably worth a few hundred dollars. Each contestant is asked about 40 questions, 20 on a agreed upon topic and 20 on general knowledge. If I get one question right, I feel I'm doing well. On Who Wants to be a Millionaire, there are 15 questions to win a million - although no one has done that yet. Usually, if I get one question wrong during the show I feel like a dummy. But despite the easy questions, the sometimes surprisingly ignorant contestants, the often annoying Regis, and the always grating music, this is a pretty good game show. Midseason: Ok, someone won a million between the last time I reviewed the show and its return as a regular season series. And people are still watching it in ever growing numbers. And, though I hate to say this, I like it too. Season's end: I realize what the real fun element of this show is. It's watching people flail about desperately trying to answer a $300 question (one geared for the 5 year olds watching at home) and burning up all their lifelines. That's the kind of stuff that leads to water cooler conversations the next day.
- Will & Grace - I tuned into the second week of this returning show intending to spend some time laughing. I did laugh, at the commercials. The show itself never rose above the mundane. The jokes were obvious and the script seemed cobbled together from old I Love Lucy episodes. What happened to the witty writing that characterized this show in its first season? Midseason: Another show I've dropped.
- X-Files - I was very disappointed in last season, but the season premiere this year left me totally confused. I have no idea what's going on and I think for the X-Files, that's good. I think the strong plotting that has made this show work might be back. I'll be watching with more interest than I have for the last couple of years. Midseason: So they delay the debut until November and they put it on Christmas hiatus in midDecember. Are they actually planning on airing any episodes of X-Files? I still think it's worth watching, but I wonder if the network shares my feelings. Season's end: Well, FOX has decided it can't live without X-Files, renewing the series before they even signed Duchovny and then giving him a rich deal for only 11 episodes. Even better, rumour has it they are moving production back to Vancouver.