Monday, June 1, 2009

The 2008 - 2009 TV Season Wrap-Up

It's been awhile since I've blogged about television, so I thought it'd be a good time to take a look back at the 2008 - 2009 season and share a few thoughts. There were plenty of good shows once again, and sadly some of them didn't make the cut. Stupid network executives.

Still the best show on TV, it was tragically cancelled last week when the CW announced its horrifically shallow fall line-up. Reaper, if you didn't know, told the story of the son of the Devil, sold out by his parents at birth, who is forced to hunt down escaped souls on Earth. Sharp writing and stellar cast chemistry made Reaper a unique and special treat every week. There's a slight hope that this show may survive in syndication, and if it does, I'll be watching it once again.

Life On Mars
First there was Journeyman, and at the same time, the BBC had on a show called Life On Mars, after the David Bowie song. It was about a modern-day police detective who, after being hit by a car, wakes up as a police detective in 1973. It was touted by some TV critic at the time as "a smarter Journeyman", although the two shows were very different.

So, ABC decided last fall to make an American version of Life On Mars, this time with New York police detectives, and scored Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli for the cast. This show kicked total ass. Each week was a detective story of its own, usually, and the overarching story of how the main character found himself back in 1973 was also there. Its ratings stunk, so the network cancelled it, but gave it the chance to finish out the season with an absolutely mind-blowing series finale. Life On Mars was, by far, the best new show of the year.

Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica wrapped up its final season in grand style this spring with an awesome, epic ending. Overall the shows pace picked up in the second half of its two-year-stretched-out final season, and all actually was revealed, I think. It finishes remembered as one of the best sci-fi shows to ever grace our television screens, and will hopefully inspire future makers of such shows to remember that while spaceships and explosions are indeed cool, its the characters that make it all a good story. Farewell, Battlestar Galactica, you will be missed. The spinoff movie (or possible miniseries), Caprica, airs this fall, I think.

Heroes had grown very stagnant during the first half of its season, but the episodes that aired in the winter and spring showed some promise. The problems I have with the show are the endless "there's some terrible future that we have to stop" plotlines, and the fact that it's totally unrealistic, given the prevalence of cell phone cameras and other such devices in modern times, for someone, somewhere, to NOT have posted a YouTube movie of someone flying, or shooting lightning, or SOMETHING. Basically, after all this time, the whole damn world should know that there are super-powered people running around.

Heroes returns this fall, and while the characters are interesting enough to keep me watching, I'm hoping for some dramatic new stories or some new direction to make me glad I tune in.

Chuck consistenly proved entertaining throughout the year, with the same elements that made its first season so much fun : a great cast, cool stories, and evolving characters. Guest stars at the end of the season included Chevy Chase and Scott Bakula, and it wrapped up with an ending that could make season three very interesting. This show barely got renewed for a half-season, starting next March, and with a smaller budget, so hopefully it will still be good.

Terminator : The Sarah Connor Chronicles
It's hard to feel too upset about the cancellation of this show. It wasn't all that bad, really. It had a second season that just got bogged down with too many characters and too slow of a plot. I fell asleep a lot when trying to watch it. But they were trying - too hard, I think - to make this a smart and complex show. The problem was that it's Terminator, and when you veer this far from the established continuity of the movies and then add a bunch of extra stuff, it's hard to really get into it.

The fourth movie, which I saw a few weeks back in the theater, is pretty good. Why they makers of both the TV show and the new flick didn't get together and use the show to build up for the movie is one of those things I'll never understand. I think they call it "synergy" or something.

Jack Bauer was back, this time kicking terrorist ass in Washington, D.C., and it was actually a really good season. Some of the old characters were back, and were good to see again, and the plot that unfolded genuinely kept me guessing until the last episode. They even - briefly - hinted at a larger plot that has been going on over the entire show's run, which kind of made sense. But it was a brief hint - will the writers remember it next year and expand on it, or let it go and just start a whole new thing?

They did fall back on some of their old story crutches that I had hoped I'd seen the last of. There was a - gasp - MOLE at the FBI office! Wow, never saw that one coming. And, once again, Jack's daughter is threatened by his enemies and used as leverage against him. At least THIS TIME she acquits herself well in that situation and kicks some ass of her own. Hopefully the writers will read this and not put those two things in the next season of 24.

The XTacles
This excellent and hilarious spin-off of Frisky Dingo only aired two episodes as a experiment, and after that it was cancelled, and so was Frisky Dingo. Both shows were just plain funny, and very original, and will be sorely missed.

All Those Cartoons
The Venture Brothers had a great third season last summer, and is slated to return in November of this year. As is the Boondocks.

The usual Fox Sunday night line-up was consistently funny - The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, and American Dad all provided sporadically - scheduled laughs. Joining them late in the season was a new cartoon from the creators of Arrested Development called Sit Down Shut Up, and it was a pretty decent addition to the lineup.

King of the Hill, sadly, has enjoyed its 13th and final full season and has been (somewhat) cancelled, as far as I can tell. There are two to six new episodes to air, but when and where they will air has yet to be determined. In its slot this fall will be The Cleveland Show, a Family Guy spin-off, which I'm sure will be funny as hell.

South Park as well continued to be over-the-top and hilarious in its thirteenth season. And although it looks like Code Monkeys won't be returning for a third season, overall it's never been better for animated comedy on television.

And there we go. Tune in next year for another annual TV season wrap-up, and find out what you should have watched.


ReaperDMV said...

Reaper's not canceled yet. Industry insiders confirm Hollywood Reporter's article that ABC Studios is actively trying to sell Reaper. Syndication is a very real possiblity right now, but EVERYONE is recommending writing your affiliates! Help out! All details here: or visit for the most up-to-date information.

Ruffie said...

Thanks for your efforts to save this show. I did indeed email my local affiliate here in Columbus, and am hoping that they add to a chorus of stations calling for Reaper to return.