January 16, 2009

Break Out Your TiVo!

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Around this time last year, I was unbelievably sad. No, not because the semester was starting back up again, but because my usual favorite thing about late January, new and returning mid-season shows, would not come to pass because of that horrible period you might recall as The Writer’s Strike (though I prefer the name “Oh Hello, Boredom! Yes, please, come, hang out with us for three months, seven days and some-odd hours.”)
Thankfully, that’s long gone, and therefore I can happily guide you in all the good and bad returning and new shows of mid-season 2009, (or what I’d rather call, “Tata, Boredom! It’s been swell — NOT. Don’t let the door hit you on your monotonous behind on the way out.” Am I being silly? Yes, I am, but that’s the-return-of-TV joy for you.

The Good
Gossip Girl is already back. You probably already know this, and are probably even as excited as I am. Excited for the Chuck/Blair tailspins into disaster, of course. Except you want to know what isn’t exciting? Storylines about (spoiler if you haven’t been watching) long lost children given up for adoption. Even Gossip Girl, which manages to make all clichéd, soap operatic storylines intriguing with character depth and Leighton Meester’s sheer awesome talentedness, can’t save this one. And this whole kinda incest thing going on? Gross. Mondays at 8 p.m. on the CW.
I actually stopped watching Lost a year and a half ago because I got really bored and stopped caring. But whatever magic the show lost (see how I did that?) in its third season it retrieved again in its fourth, and I know nobody can wait until Wednesday. So many questions! Most of you, for instance, want to know how the hell Ben moved the island, or why they have to go back. But if you’re like me, you are probably just dying to know: Who the hell convinced Jack that that beard was a good idea? The fifth and final season premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

The Absolutely Amazing
Battlestar Galactica returns tonight for its final, spectacular spectacular season. The problem, however, with writing about Battlestar Galactica is that there is no way to avoid seeming like a sci-fi geek, which may be one of the reasons why the show wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe, and is your only excuse for never having seen it. BSG (see, there we go already) is the remake of the 1980s campy sci-fi show, and is the brainchild of Ron Moore ’81. Using the background story of a world where technology has advanced to produce a race of sentient robots called Cylons (which is probably where I lost you) … Basically, in that brilliant way writers like Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury knew how, BSG serves as an allegory for the war on terrorism, religious ideology and the resulting McCarthy-like fanaticism by looking inside the life of the military (yes, in space) and asking the question: what happens after you lose? If that doesn’t seem like enough to make you get over your sci-fi willies, first: you watch Lost, and second: it is by far one of the most well written, performed and directed shows on TV, now or ever. The final season returns tonight, with the fleet having making temporary peace, finding a nuked and destroyed Earth, and the question – who is the final Cylon? (I can’t win.) Since it’s Friday, and therefore you’ll be out enjoying your last bids at freedom (or at least can’t admit that you’re staying in to watch it) … well, that is what Tivo is for. Tonight, on SciFi at 10 p.m.

The To Be Determined …
Scrubs premiered two weeks ago on its new network ABC, and I still haven’t made my verdict. Yes, it is still funny, with a lot of clever asides (including JD pointing at the little ABC logo in the corner and observing, “That’s new.”). And yes, I feel better now that Courtney Cox is gone. But what with a new batch of boring interns, JD and (spoiler!) Elliot getting back together … again, and really nowhere else for their storylines to go, I’m kinda meh about the whole thing. Which doesn’t mean I won’t watch it, or you won’t, which is what ABC is banking on, which is why they will make major bank from picking up the show after NBC’s noble decision to dump it. Tuesdays on ABC at 9 p.m.
I’m really torn about Joss Whedon’s new show Dollhouse. It’s actually is a sort of math equation:
Is Joss Whedon + interesting concept that crosses spies with robots (ie: super hot super spies who are programmed and have no personality other than their aliases) <, >, or = to the also super hot but personality lacking Eliza Dushku?
Then again …
The show premieres on Fox, Feb. 13 at 9 p.m.
I really wanted to like Fringe, and sometimes I do (you can’t not at least kind of like it: it’s JJ). In fact, I can’t wait for its return in February, mostly because I’m hoping when Agent Olivia Dunham (played by beyond wooden actress Anna Torv) is rescued from her kidnapping, she is found in an entirely different body, with a different mind, played by a different actress, who actually does have chemistry with Joshua Jackson. Which is good because it’s impossible to not have chemistry with Joshua Jackson, because an eraser, or a chrome Cylon, or Eliza Dushku (see above) would have chemistry with Joshua Jackson. (As a side note, the previously believed to be impossible lack of chemistry with Joshua Jackson may just fit into the show’s whole theme of really impossible and horrifying things happening.) Returns on Fox, Jan. 20 at 9.

The God-Awful
It’s almost funny that two years ago when I was writing these mid-season previews, I was mocking Grey’s Anatomy because of the implausible romance between Katherine Heigl’s Izzie and her best friend George. In case you were mistaken that writers, storylines and people should learn from past mistakes and improve, Grey’s Anatomy is back, with the implausible romance between Izzie and her dead fiancé Denny’s ghost. Ya huh. Nice improvements, Shonda. With no other interesting storylines, except for (happy spoiler!) Melissa George thankfully leaving the show, and the cute friendship between McSteamy and Callie, why is this show still on the air? If you’re like me, however, and just can’t force yourself to look away, no matter how bad it gets, the train wreck continues on ABC, Thursday nights at 9 (followed by the beyond blah Private Practice).