Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fall 2008 TV season a total bust

Maybe it was the disruption caused by the writer’s strike, but this fall’s network television season has failed to produce a single worthwhile new show. I’ve even lost interest in a few returning shows.

The brightest prospect, Fox’s sci-fi thriller “Fringe,” fizzled early. It invited comparisons to much better shows like “The X-Files” and “Lost.” I lasted three or four episodes before giving up.

The writers burdened the show with too much mythology, too many unanswered questions, too early. All the bizarre cases the investigators looked into tied back to a phenomenon ominously called “the Pattern.” Too much tease and not enough reveal. We’ve been down this path before with the show’s co-creator J.J. Abrams and the ride wasn’t enjoyable enough to stick it out.

ABC’s “Life on Mars” was a poor remake of a marvelous British series that ran for just two seasons and 16 episodes on the BBC. The U.S. version should have been more of a reinvention of the British show, much like NBC did with its take on the BBC comedy “The Office.”

It didn’t help that ABC’s show was poorly written and acted. The reaction of lead character N.Y. cop Sam Tyler to being thrown back in time 35 years after a car accident didn’t ring true. Plus, the hyper editing and camera work were distracting. I didn’t even finish the pilot episode before turning it off in disgust.

The romantic comedy “The Ex-List” on CBS had a promising premise, but quickly grew tiresome. It might have worked as a limited-run series, but not as an open-ended series.

Maybe I’m getting pickier with how I spend my TV watching time, but also dumped “Prison Break,” “Chuck” and “Eureka” this season. They didn’t keep my interest.

The last hope for this season is “Dollhouse” – the new show from Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly.” That sci-fi drama is set to premiere in February 2009 on Fox. Fingers crossed.

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