Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall TV season summary: ‘Vampire Diaries’ a pleasant surprise, ‘Jay Leno’ a flop

One month into the fall TV season, “The Vampire Diaries” has been the most pleasant surprise. Meanwhile, NBC’s experiment with “The Jay Leno Show” has gone awry.

‘The Vampire Diaries’

The series premiere of “The Vampire Diaries” on the CW was a little shaky. Early episodes dragged. Pacing was slow. The writing and directing were on the level of your average teen drama.
Since then, the makers of the show have amped up the action, added depth to the characters and thrown in some neat plot twists. “The Vampire Diaries” has become an epic, southern gothic “Dark Shadows.”
The show is about two vampire brothers who compete for the affections of the same young woman and cause turmoil in a small town.
The show is by no means perfect. It lacks realism (a town with that many strange deaths is going to attract outside attention) and its writing can be pretty bad (please, let’s lose the diary motif and narration). But “The Vampire Diaries” is still a compelling show.


ABC’s “FlashForward” is not as good as I’d hoped it would be, but its central mystery is so fascinating that I’m hooked for now.
The sci-fi drama suffers from occasionally cheesy dialog and hammy acting. But the big plot turns, such as tonight’s ambush of the Mosaic team members by unknown assailants, are thrilling.
“FlashForward” is about the aftermath of a worldwide disaster in which the human race loses consciousness for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. While unconscious, people see a vision of their lives six months into the future. What or who caused the blackout? Was there a reason why it occurred? Can people change the future in their visions? All intriguing questions.

Returning favorites: ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Dollhouse’

“Supernatural” is my favorite show on network TV right now. The CW show about two brothers who hunt down demons, ghosts and ghouls is now in its fifth and last season. And it’s a doozy.
Lucifer has been released from hell and Armageddon has broken out. And it’s up to Sam and Dean Winchester, played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, to try to stop the end of the world.
Joss Whedon’s trippy “Dollhouse” on Fox continues to deliver the goods. But unfortunately it looks like a candidate for cancelation with ratings dipping in its second season. (See article at

‘The Jay Leno Show’ a missed opportunity

A lot of people hate Jay Leno. They find his jokes lame and his shows pedestrian. NBC’s five-nights-a-week primetime experiment just gives them more fodder.
I happen to like Jay Leno. He’s an affable guy and can be a sharp interviewer. But his new show is a stinker.
To turn things around, he’s going to have to play up the variety aspects of the show. It shouldn’t all be about Jay. He should be introducing talented new comedians and musicians to a nationwide audience. Leno should quickly dump the bits that aren’t working, such as “10 at 10.” His show should strive to have one good bit a night that can go viral online to promote the show.
There’s still time to retool the show to make it work. But Jay’s going to have to rely on others to help carry the show.
On the horizon, I’m still looking forward to watching “V” on ABC and “Day One” on NBC.

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