New Television

Posted in Arts, Television

The amount of television I’ve been watching over the last week or so is substantial. It’s more than a crapload; I’d describe it as a “royal” crapload, or perhaps even a “crap megaton.” Furthermore, I’ve managed to watch this crapload of programming without ever glancing at live TV: everything I’ve watched has been TiVo’d, purchased on DVD, or downloaded and streamed. Let’s begin.

  • Veronica Mars. I’d barely heard of this show before about two weeks ago — it airs on UPN, for christ’s sake. I have digital cable and I honestly can’t say whether I even receive UPN. But I started hearing about it more and more as the TV season wound down, so I found a Season 1 torrent and hopped on it.

    I proceeded to watch every episode within the span of roughly 48 hours. Damn, this show is addictive. Great backstory, great characters, great dialogue. Kristen Bell, playing the titular lead, gets most of the attention, but especially kick‐ass are Enrico Colatoni (what an underrated character actor) as Veronica’s dad and Jason Dohring as the rich wise‐asshole.

    It’s as if the creators got together and said, “Let’s make a show set in high school and full of hot teenagers. But, hey, just to be different, let’s make it not suck.” (Buffy fans, put down your pitchforks. Even though I could never get into it, I’m excluding this show from consideration for the sake of argument.) The basic idea that drives the show is so very clever: the skills that make you a good private investigator are also the skills needed to survive and fight social warfare as an ostracized high school student. Now I have to wait until the fall for season two — which, knowing UPN, will probably be the final season.

  • Ed. Always liked this show a lot, but I’m awful at remembering to watch a show every week, so I saw only a dozen or so episodes back when it was on. Now TBS is showing it every weekday at 11am — when I’m usually at work. Good thing I own a TiVo.

    TBS started showing Ed in January and just finished an entire run‐through. When they started over from the beginning, I resolved to archive every episode for posterity. This is an elaborate process that involves downloading the shows from my TiVo (with TiVoToGo), using VirtualPC to strip the DRM (because I own no Windows PCs right now), removing the commercials from the MPEG‐2 stream, and transcoding the resulting file to DivX. It takes a while, but it’s worth it.

  • Scrubs (Season 1). Just bought the DVD. God, this show used to be so much better than it is now. I think they just ran out of plotlines that had something to do with medicine, so they fell back on silly, nonsense drama bullshit (OMG I LOVE ELLIOT WAIT NO I DON’T LOVE ELLIOT WAIT LET ME SABOTAGE HER RELATIONSHIP THEN I’LL KNOW FOR SURE) and gimmick guest stars.

  • The Job. The DVDs arrived in the mail yesterday. One day, when laugh tracks have gone the way of slap bracelets, we’ll look back on Sports Night and The Job as seminal experiments in single‐camera half‐hour comedies.

Also in the hopper: Season 1 of House, M.D. and Jack and Bobby.