Monday, September 24, 2012

Chris Colley's Summer Cable Round Up

Beginning tomorrow, I will mostly be writing about the big 4 network TV season.  With that said, I've decided to do a post about what I watched this Summer.  I'll give my brief thoughts about each show, and my thoughts about whether I think each show will return for another season.  I'll first rank the shows I watched, and then I'll write a little bit about each show's Summer season.

The Best of the Best
The Closer (TNT)
Major Crimes (TNT)
Common Law (USA)
Rizzoli & Isles (TNT)
Burn Notice (USA)
Franklin & Bash (TNT)
Veep (HBO)

Honorable Mention
Suits (USA)
Alphas (Syfy) 
Perception (TNT)

Needs Improvement
The Newsroom (HBO)

Please Go Away
Necessary Roughness (USA)
Fairly Legal (USA)

The Closer (TNT)

Well, they finally wrapped up a great run of a very solid show.  I don't think this show was ever anywhere near network level, but it's as close as a basic cable TV show has likely ever gotten.  They plugged the leak in an unsatisfying way, and we had an unnecessary death in Brenda's family.  It was an uneven, but very good season.  The first true U.S. version of the U.K. version of Prime Suspect was a good representative.  I'll miss The Closer, but not that much, since Major Crimes has stepped in to fill the void.

Major Crimes (TNT)

There's a new mission and a new lead, Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell).  Major Crimes largely has the same cast as The Closer, minus Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, Detective Gabriel, and Chief Pope.  We also had the addition of the Detective Sykes character, and the wild card addition of a material witness named Rusty, who is currently in the care of Captain Raydor.

The new mission is that they want to leave the headaches Chief Johnson used to create behind, and they want every criminal to plead out.  This is decidedly different than The Closer, because Brenda was great at trapping people into confessing their crimes.  Later in the series, her tactics were heavily scrutinized, and even caused a rule in the LAPD to be named after her.  Lt. Provenza doesn't like the new ways, but he'll stick around.  I was only catching this week's episode out of the corner of my eye, but it appears he's finally beginning to warm up to the always last to the crime scene Captain Raydor, after he was passed up for the promotion he thought he would have upon Chief Johnson's departure.

The Rusty character is a disaster.  I don't know why Major Crimes added a hot headed "teenager" to the show, when this conflict is absolutely unnecessary.  His character was introduced in the series finale of The Closer, and most fans probably wish he would have stayed there.  He's the only negative about Major Crimes I've seen, so far.  If you liked The Closer, you should be watching this show...period.  This is a slam dunk renewal.

Common Law (USA)

This is the best show you probably missed this Summer.  It's a buddy cop action comedy, and was the show I looked most forward to each week, all Summer long.  It had okay ratings for a Friday night at 10pm, and I figured it was a lock for renewal.  However, the leads' options were allowed to expire, so I don't have much hope for the show's renewal.  This show was truly a bright spot in the TV police procedural landscape, and, if it had gotten to fully develop, I predict the show might have ended up being better than or very close to as good as Burn Notice.  That is high praise indeed.  Buddy cop shows aren't for everyone, and this show had a TON of slapstick in it, but if you like procedurals that don't take themselves seriously, this show would definitely have been for you.  If it doesn't come back, it will leave almost as much of a hole in my heart as the cancellation of its distant cousin, The Good Guys (FOX), did.  If you get a chance to watch the series, I highly recommend it.  Just don't expect a second season.

Rizzoli & Isles (TNT)

I don't think this season was as good as last season, but this is the most watchable basic cable show there is.  They decided to have a lot of conflict between Rizzoli and Isles, which I thought was unnecessary.  These two are at their best when they "love" fight, not real fight.  The show is still as solid as it gets, and somehow makes Angie Harmon watchable for me.  As I've said before, I couldn't stand her until this show.  I'm glad I got past my hang up.  This is also a slam dunk renewal.

Burn Notice (USA)

This show really had me worried in the November, 2011 season.  We had the character of Anson basically completely ruining the show.  Well, he was "dispatched", and the show got back on track.  They've left our favorite crew in a very bad situation, at the end of the Summer season, so it will be fascinating to see how they get out of this particularly sticky situation.  I absolutely can't stand the cliffhangers this show does, because they make me want to see what happens next NOW.  Oh well, I guess we'll have to wait until November.  It's a slam dunk renewal, folks.

Franklin & Bash (TNT)

You might find it surprising that I have this show in the best of the best.  It's not there because it's the most incredibly awesome show ever.  It's there because it managed to have as good of a season as the exceptionally fresh first season in its second.  This show could have gotten really cocky (see Suits), and ruined all of what made the show so fun in the first season.  But, it didn't.  It was just as fun, and that made me love the show even more.  This is not a serious show, and if you think it's ridiculous, you're right.  It's supposed to be, and that's just the way I like it.  The show's on the bubble line, but I expect it to be renewed.

Veep (HBO)

Veep's not technically a Summer show, but it ended during the Summer, so I'm gonna write about it.  I love this show.  It's crass and fun, and has probably my second favorite ensemble behind Parks and Recreation.  The show is well done on almost every level, and it was one of the true joys of the TV season for me.  It was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at the EMMYs, but it didn't win.  That's okay, it deserved the notice, and I never expected it to win.  It's already renewed.

Suits (USA)

Remember what I said about how Franklin & Bash managed to retain its jovial spirit in the second season?  Well, Suits did not.  It got cocky, which wasn't hard to do for a show that was so cocky to begin with.  Everything that was good about the first season of Suits was removed, and the vast majority of the second season was one giant soap opera.  I have jokingly called the show, "Suits: The Soap Opera".  The first couple of episodes of the season were just absolutely disastrous, and I was really worried about where the show would go.  It finally started fixing the issues in the third episode, and it was generally solid the rest of the season.  There is, however, a lot of dumb conflict in the show, and that gets stale really quickly.  Thankfully, they ended part of the power struggle this season, and hopefully we can get back to what made Suits a very good watch in its first season.  I think the Rachel/Mike storyline is among the absolute worst on TV, right now, so that really needs to go away.  It's the equivalent of the Justin/Kate relationship on Fairly Legal, except worse.  This is a slam dunk renewal.

Alphas (Syfy)

Make no mistake about it, season 2 is not nearly as good as season 1.  It's still been a very good watch, though, and I look forward to it every week.  There have been a ton of internal conflicts on the show, and that makes it a little unpleasant to watch.  I liked it a lot more when the "crew" was mostly getting along, while still having issues.  The story has taken a much darker turn, and it's not what I would call a "fun" watch anymore, even though it's always great to see what crazy and inappropriate things Gary will say, and we have had a few appearances of the minivan.  They're currently building up to a very big season finale, which is a good thing, as this show is most likely getting canceled.

Perception (TNT)

If you're looking for a solid, yet quirky, police procedural, here it is.  It stars the guy from Will and Grace, and the indie darling Rachael Leigh Cook.  As I said, it's a solid and enjoyable watch.  That's about it.  The issue with the Daniel character is that he is a diagnosed schizophrenic, who is off his meds (he routinely interacted with hallucinations that helped him solve the cases).  I said, last season, while Awake was on, that you couldn't have a "crazy" protagonist on big 4 network TV (that's why I refused to believe the theory that Britten was "crazy").  It's just too polarizing, especially if you really enjoy the character when he's not having an episode.  Well, this show went very deep into a very unstable protagonist's psyche, and it made me uncomfortable.  They had a two part season finale, and the first part was extremely depressing, as he descended into "madness".  It had a nice payoff for the second part, which will likely turn it into a much more traditional police procedural, but the show proves how hard it is to have a "crazy" protagonist as the lead, even on basic cable.  This show would have been dead meat on network TV, and never would have made it to air.  It had extremely low 18-49 ratings, all season long, but very high ratings outside of that demo (a little below 4 million viewers on average).  It's already been picked up for another season, but that will likely be its last, unless TNT just loves the show that much.

The Newsroom (HBO)

This show alternated between being some of the best TV on right now, and some of the worst.  Whenever the show took a serious look at the news and politics, in general, it was in its element.  Any time it explored relationships between people, it was a disaster.  The relationships, in EVERY single case, in this show, are unbearable.  As bad as the Rachel/Mike storyline is on Suits, the Maggie/Jim/Don triangle is the worst I have seen on TV in quite awhile, I mean just horrifically bad.  The show also has no real teeth for the "message" it's trying to send about correcting the way the news is done, but I'll still keep watching.  It's like digging for gold in the largest nose ever, but when you find it, it's usually worth it.  Aaron Sorkin has a bunch of issues he needs to work out, and I don't mean by filming them.  This show is an obvious renewal, if it hasn't been already.

Necessary Roughness (USA)

This is easily the worst show I watch with any regularity.  Callie Thorne must have put some kind of spell on me.  The ratings have fallen low enough that this show is definitely in danger of cancellation.  It's just a completely mediocre show, and it has shown no improvement.  In fact, the story, this season, had even more dumb conflict.  The Nico and Dani kiss at the end of the season was easily one of the most WTF! moments I have seen in a series in a long time.  That basically ruined two characters (Nico was hands down the best character in this series, but was just ruined most of the season) in one fell swoop, and there was absolutely zero motivation for it.  That's just awful writing, and the makers of the show should be ashamed of how little progress this show has made.  This show will probably get renewed, but it could honestly go either way.

Fairly Legal (USA)

I really enjoyed the first season of Fairly Legal, minus the Justin and Kate terrible relationship drama.  So, what do they do in the second season?  Well, they take the relationship that was completely over at the end of season 1, and completely re-kindle it.  W...T...F!?!?  Oh, and that's not all.  They also brought in a completely ridiculous love triangle by adding in the Ben character.  Oh ha ha ha, so amazing, that the biggest douche on probably any USA TV show (that's saying something) somehow almost gets together with the most wishy washy hot woman in the history of television.  No character who looks this good has ever had such low self esteem in the history of television.  It's truly ridiculous how they treated the character, and they just absolutely ruined a pretty good show.  Still, it's watchable.  However, I would prefer it to get canceled.  I think there's a damn fine chance of that happening.  If it comes back, and Common Law gets canceled, I...WILL...BE...SO...MEYAD! (SVU reference to those who get it)

Well, it's on to the big 4 networks now.  Thanks for reading.

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