Here’s what we set the TiVo to capture:
- Criminal Minds – here’s my favorite almost too-gory and too-dark show about a FBI team investigating horrific crimes. Criminal Minds is one of the two shows on TV that I just call downright smart – the leads are intelligent, their motivations are complex, their victims are portrayed as actual people. I can only contrast it against the various CSI shows, in which corpses are almost universally young and hot, and lovingly panned over during science!montages! (I’m looking at YOU in particular, Miami). In Criminal Minds, the crimes are painful and horrible and the victims are not idiots. Thomas Gibson plays a spectacular team lead; don’t be turned off by all those years of Dharma and Greg.
- Mad Men – this is the show I’m measuring everything else against these days. Fantastic writing, fantastic acting. Season 3 was all style and no substance until this past episode (I think all I have to say is “the lawnmower one”), and now everything is in chaos, and I in no way know where the show is going next. How great is that, to still be surprised by dramatic TV? Special props to my favorite actors/portrayals on the show: Jon Hamm’s Don, Elisabeth Moss’s Peggy, Christina Hendrick’s Joan. If you haven’t been watching this, give it a try. It’s what TV sets are for.
- Glee – of course! None of the episodes have reached the dizzying fun of the pilot, but if the show just wants to highlight Jane Lynch and Stephen Tobolowsky forever, I’m good with that. It’s eminently quotable, the song choices so far are a hoot, and if they’re lip-synching, so what? It’s actual TV-fiction, not even “reality” TV-fiction. I’m looking forward to learning more about the rest of the squad, especially the as-yet unexplored Tina and Artie (“You’re not trying hard enough.” “At what?” “Walking!”). It’s not perfect – it can be far too broad and far too talky, and I wish the character of Will’s wife Terri wasn’t so utterly Evil with an E – but it’s still a great weekly dose of goofy musical theater.
- Fringe – okay, give it a chance. Yes, the first half of the first season draaagged, and lead agent Olivia Dunham was a shell-shocked victim careening from one supernatural event to another. But then there was a winter break, and when the show returned, Anna Torv’s Olivia grabbed those supernatural events and kicked their asses. John Noble (Denethor!) chews up the screen as the literally mad scientist, and Joshua Jackson (as the scientist’s handler/son) is good enough that I have almost stopped thinking of him as Pacey. Don’t go in thinking hard about the science. Don’t think about the science at all, actually. But watch it for Torv’s death glare, and for the one or two audacious moments per episode that take your breath away.
- Leverage – pure pulp goofiness. The showrunner, John Rogers, maintains his own blog here in which he answers viewer questions. Every week. That’s the kind of show this is: chatty, completely unrepentant about catering to fans, cheerful as all get-out. There will never be nuanced, shades-of-grey villains on the show; Rogers says so! There will instead be – every single week! – a caper plot, lots of witty banter, at least one fist-fight (no guns!), and an accent change by Gina Bellman (who is off having a baby right now, but hopefully will be back for season 3!). This one, I might wait a few days before catching on TiVo, since it’s up against Criminal Minds, but it’s always great fun to watch.
- Bones – forensic hijinks, and Angel is much better as a jock than an emopire.
- FlashForward – give us your actors, Britain!
- Top Chef – despite the jerky contestants, I really enjoy reality shows in which competence is key.
- Project Runway – see above.
- So You Think You Can Dance – see above, though the emphasis on contemporary dance and head judge Nigel’s perviness are dropping this from my list quickly.
And, these are the things the TiVo thinks I should be watching, but I don’t:
- Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee – fingernails down a chalkboard.
- Burn Notice – Gretchen, you like this one, right?
- Eight gabillion Iron Chef reruns, most of which I do break down and watch, who am I kidding. Sea urchin battle!