So, Sunday night pretty much summed up the state of affairs as far television goes these days. Now mind you all of this is mitigated by the writer’s strike, but really, it wouldn’t be all that much better with them (harsh, I know). We basically got exposed to the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – I know you are all going "Sci-fi, maybe not", but honestly it is quite good. And entertaining too. It picks up 2 years after the events of T2, but pretty much for the most part ignores T3 (which frankly is a good thing…everyone should have ignored it). Sarah (Lena Headley of 300 fame) is trying to keep her now 15 yr-old future-resistance-leader & humankind-saviour son John safe, when the terminators show up again. We have a new terminator buddy for John played by Summer Glau (The 4400, Firefly) & she basically goes about kicking arse with perfect hair. Unlike another female cyborg reincarnation from this fall’s TV lineup (namely the abysmal Bionic Woman), this show actually has a heart. Her name is Sarah Connor. Lena Headley steps into the very big shoes left by Linda Hamilton, & does a great job. Sarah loves her son, but knows she can never let her guard down, nor allow him too. Ratings dropped off on the second night (Monday) of the two-night premiere, but with very little other competition it certainly has a chance. It also has the good fortune of being on FOX which seems to be the only major network not hurting from the strike. May have something to do with a little show called American Idol (returning for its 7th season tonight). Maybe you’ve heard of it?
Masterpiece Theatre: The Complete Jane Austen – Between now & the beginning of April, Masterpiece Theatre (which has been re-christened just Masterpiece…a bit edgier, no?!?) is broadcasting the entire works of one Ms. Jane Austen, plus a dramatization of her own life. It really speaks volumes about her writing, & for female writers in general, that we are still to this day so captivated by her words. Sunday night’s offering was a new version of Persuasion starring Sally Hawkins & the, frankly, dreamy (I know…dreamy?!? But go check him for yourself) Rupert Penry-Jones. I find this to be one of Ms. Austen’s most straightforward stories, with not a lot of back story or extraneous characters to keep track of. Basically, Anne Elliott is the 27-year old (egads, throw her off a bridge, she must be useless), unmarried, middle daughter of Sir Walter Elliott, who was convinced 8 years previous to decline the offer of marriage to a young naval officer, Frederick Wentworth. Anne & Captain Wentworth’s paths cross again when, with her family on the brink of financial ruin (due to her father & elder sister’s outlandish lifestyles), his sister & her husband rent out the Elliott family estate. In true Austen fashion, Anne & Wentworth are placed in a series of awkward situations in which only they know their true history together. This is probably one of the most sombre of Austen’s novels, a bit telling in that it was her last. The movie is done entirely in gray tones (did the sun actually shine in Austen’s England?) to reflect the mood, as such Anne’s father & elder sister end up looking that much more foolish (Anthony Head of Buffy fame, does a particularly great job as Anne’s father). Of course, we get our happy ending, as well as the longest lead up to a kiss that you will probably ever see (yet so much sexier than a lot of the "in-your-face" stuff that we are used to today). If you have a chance to catch this adaptation, please do, it is 90 min & not a minute wasted. Next up for Masterpiece is a new adaptation of Northanger Abbey (Sun Jan 20, 9pm). Masterpiece itself has received a bit of a makeover with a new host (Gillian Anderson), new set, & new scheduling which will split the year into Masterpiece Classic, Masterpiece Mystery & Masterpiece Contemporary. No doubt all of the changes are to attract a younger audience, & frankly they will have a good shot if the writer’s strike keeps the network shows shut down much longer.
Maybe bad is a little harsh, let’s say mediocre. Basically re-runs & reality programs. CBS trotted out a new episode of The Amazing Race, which although I’ve heard good things about in the past, I just can’t get into, & a TV movie called Commanche Moon (prequel to Lonesome Dove). Honestly, does CBS think that this is what the public is demanding? Who’s running the programming over there, Bo & Luke Duke?!? ABC delivered 2 straight hours (1 new, 1 re-run) of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition & then the last new episode of Brother’s & Sister’s, which has become extremely tedious in its sophomore season. The only tiny bright spot for ABC was America’s Funniest Home Videos. And yes I know it is totally infantile of me to get a chuckle out of this show, but it gets me every time I watch. The hubby & I always say that there is only one thing funnier than kids falling down…old people falling down! Hysterical!!
Do you even need a guess? If you are like me (foolish & stupid I guess would be the proper terms) this is what you watched Sunday Night (actually that would be the official press conference, I watched some sort of drivel that NBC tried to pass off as a press conference). The debacle that was The Golden Globe Awards, illustrated everything wrong with TV today. After the show had to be canceled (due to actors refusing to cross the writer’s picket lines), NBC decided to go on with an exclusive press conference announcement of the winners, no doubt in a last ditch effort to retain a small amount of viewers & keep an even more minute amount of their ad revenue. Enter the Hollywood Foreign Press who say, "no way, you don’t get exclusive rights to the press conference", so there is NBC holding their own press conference with Billy Bush & whats-her-name (oh ya, Nancy O’Dell) trying to stretch what turned out to be a 30 min press conference into the full hour they had slated.
Okay, so look, it’s not like The Golden Globes had a whole bunch of cred anyway. Let’s be honest, what did I tune in for year after year? Dresses & drunks. Most entertaining part, bar none, is watching those last few winners come up to the stage knowing they are just plowed. What are they going to say? Are they even going to be coherent at this point? Pure TV bliss. This press conference was trying to pass off this crazy awards show as legitimate. Do you know how many members there are in the Hollywood Foreign Press? About 85. 85??? Really, 85 people, who don’t even have to write for a major foreign news source (heck they only have to write 4 times a year to qualify), decide who gets these awards. And a little aside here, am I the only one who thinks that the actual award bears a striking resemblance to an honourable-mention award at a 7th grade science fair?!? Contrast that with the some 6000 people who vote for the Oscars. So when NBC tries to trot this press conference out like it is a major award, it seems disingenuous at best, & probably more just like a slap in the face. If you can’t deliver my dresses & drunks, then don’t bother. And no, Mary Hart doesn’t count as either. If you want a full run-down of the winners, Ali did a fabu job over at the Juice.
There is a bright shining light on the horizon though. All of those mid-season replacements, have all of a sudden become the only thing new out there. Lost, Medium, Battlestar Galactica, Law & Order, Jericho & (much to my chagrin) even Survivor & American Idol all return, some with shortened seasons (only 8 episodes of Lost…why oh why?!?). New shows like Cashmere Mafia, Eli Stone, Welcome to the Captain & Lipstick Jungle, all look to fair better now that the competition is slim. The only one of the new shows I have seen is Cashmere Mafia & it’s awful. If you want a show with every tired old stereotype of career-women, then this one is for you. I find it insulting myself. So, there are a few new things out there to peak your interest, you just may really have to search for them.
Better yet, solve the strike. Someone. Anyone. Start by sitting down at a table together. Sing Kumbaya or whatever you guys need to do to get in a peaceful mood & get it done. Otherwise you may lose us to, egads, books or something like that. Now where are my old copies of Jane Austen?