Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Television Update 8: Fall Finales '11

This is a bit later than I usually do this, but... what, do you want your money back?

American Dad! - I haven't been into this season as much as I have been in previous years, though I did watch the three-part hurricane crossover with the other two Seth MacFarlane shows, and it confirmed that Dad is still easily the best of the bunch. Maybe it's relying a bit too much on violence and shock value these days, though.

Chuck - NBC has had no qualms about burning off this show's remaining episodes and putting it out of its misery, airing two episodes during the holiday period when there is basically never anything actually on television. The show's the same as it's been the last couple years - charming, silly, and occasionally infuriating. They do seem to be heading towards a respectable conclusion though, possible.

Community - Unfortunately, the show won't be back in the Spring, and we don't know when we'll see it again. The only hope right now that it avoids cancellation rests in NBC's complete inability to put together a compelling lineup. Season three wasn't as strong out of the gate as the show was last year, but there were at least two truly outstanding episodes to remind me why I love it. And even the weaker stuff is still totally fine.

Fringe - I kind of don't like how this season has hit a big reset button and erased a bunch of character development just for the sake of yet another slightly tweaked alternate universe. I do think things picked up though when Peter came back, and I hope once they really get things going it will be as crazy as ever. For now though, still pretty much early-season Fringe.

How I Met Your Mother - This show hasn't been amazing or terribly original for a while, but it's still a consistently entertaining, comfortable watch every week. I've given up on hoping for consistent development in the overall plot, though time is running out on doing what it needs to do without stretching into unbelievability. If you just accept it as a sitcom, it's hard not to like it, and the cast is still great.

Modern Family - I feel like the Modern Family backlash is starting to kick into full gear, especially after another big batch of awards. Personally, I still think the show is usually pretty funny, the problems being the same as they've always been - it's secretly a heinously unoriginal show. If anything's gotten worse, it's just that the stereotypes all the characters fit into are getting harder to hide. But it still makes me laugh so I'll keep watching.

The Office - I've gotten a few chuckles out of this season, but the show really lacks a direction without Steve Carrell. James Spader is good, but he's a bit too toned down from his appearance last season to really be exciting, and while I was right in guessing that Andy would slip easily to Michael's shoes, the transition was just a bit too easy, and it seems like we're just doing all the same things over again. The show's definitely close to losing me after this year.

Parks and Recreation - Probably my favorite show on this list right now. I love the continued expansion and development of Pawnee as a fictional place, I love the cast about as much as any ensemble a sitcom has had, and I love the way the story is balancing comedy, romance, and small-town politics. It's very rare for me to watch a new episode without smiling the entire time.

The Walking Dead - The brief first season was very inconsistent, and the second is much the same so far. I like when the show just exists as a depiction of life in a very different world, where death is always a constant threat and people struggle to deal with it. I hate when the drama gets too forced or stupid and the writers struggle to justify what any of the characters are doing. I had a poor gut reaction to the twist in the midseason finale, but if it leads to a series with much clearer stakes and less pointless squabbling, it might have been worth it. I just worry that the budget cuts were too harsh for the show to ever gain real momentum, though. Spending this much time in one place is hard to justify when there's so little happening.

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