2009 in Preview

It’s almost here: 2009!  After a short drought of nothing new but NBC holiday specials rehashing other shows or showing a mixed bag of holiday videos, it’s finally time for 2009 television season to kick off.  I decided I wanted to put together a list of shows I’m looking forward to in 2009 (that I know about so far). I think the best way to look ahead to 2009 is chronologically, so here goes…

Sunday January 4thThe Unit – I don’t talk about The Unit much on the blog (if I have ever), but my wife and I have gotten into this season, which I hear is the last.  For now, we’re just enjoying the ride, and after it’s all over we’ll have to go back and catch up.  We both enjoy the action, and I just wish there were less scenes with the wives getting themselves into preposterous situations.  The only one this season I’ve found plausible/somewhat enjoyable was Jonas’s wife’s stress when their daughter was  captured in the Middle East.  I can’t wait to see how they wrap this season up.  Hopefully with a very large bang.

Sunday and Monday January 11th and 12th –24 – Jack Bauer makes his return over two days and four hours.  I expect good things from the opening, since last season’s 2-day 4-hour extravaganza involved a nuke going off in California.  It’s everything afterwards that I”m worried about.  The real task this year for 24, in my opinion, is to freshen up the characters and the formula.  We’ve seen the same 24 for a while now.  A different threat each year isn’t good enough anymore, we need something else.  And please, keep the same focus the whole season, don’t wrap one up and then switch everything up during the last 8 episodes like last season.

Friday January 16th – Battlestar Galactica – I’ll be the first to admit that I was a late-comer to this show as well.  I didn’t start watching until just into season 3 after catching with Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD.  I was drawn to this show due to the fact that it’s sci-fi.  I’m still here because the action is good, the plots are intriguing, and most importantly, the characters are amazing.  The ensemble cast puts out excellent performances, and I’m always left wondering what’s going to happen next.  Additionally, you feel like everything they struggle with within the fleet would be a realistic struggle in a society with it’s civilization ripped out from under them.  Plus, while you like many of the main characters, there’s at least one episode for each of them where you absolutely despise them.  In my opinion, that’s good writing.  Hopefully the last half of season 4 is a deserving end for this great show.

Monday January 19th – House – The general consensus seems to be, even at my place, that House is not quite what it once was.  My wife usually mentions her desire for the old three doctors to come back.  I have to admit that I like the new doctors as characters, but I know where my wife is coming from.  There’s no real chemistry or good back-and-forth with the new guys.  However, there is one excellent reason to keep watching every week: Hugh Laurie.  The real tragedy for House during the new year is that it’s been moved from Tuesday to Monday (a night already packed with good shows) due to American Idol.  I hope Fox uses its HD channels to air some of it’s better shows for those of us who can’t stand A.I.

Tuesday January 20th – Fringe – I didn’t actually expect a midseason cliffhanger on this one, but that’s what I got.  It definitely has me looking forward to the return of the latest J.J. Abrahms brain-child.  The interaction between Walter and Peter Bishop makes the show worth watching alone, and the creepy sci-fi science engages me even more.  I just hope this show keeps going strong and then knows when to wrap it up, as opposed to what happened to The X-Files.

Wednesday January 21st – Lost – This show was the reason it was necessary for us to have a TV after I graduated from college and got married.  I didn’t watch any TV to speak of during college and reality tv had basically made me lose all hope that good television would ever return.  Then one summer, I sat down at my parents’ and watched  a rerun of Lost.  I was hooked.  And while it’s had it’s ups and downs, last season was a triumphant return for the show.  It knows where it’s going and how it ends, and the rest of us have to wait in suspense to find out.

Thursday January 22nd – Burn Notice – This show is one of USA’s hidden gems.  There’s no cable at my place, so I started watching this one on Hulu, and it’s been more than worth it.  The action is fun, the MacGuyver-like aspects put  a smile on your face, and the writing is awesome.  The underlying storyline is good, but it’s well balanced with each weeks job for Michael.  You can watch both seasons on Hulu here.

Monday February 4th – Heroes – I’ll be honest.  There’s still some work to be done here.  I was apparently one of the few that thought that conflicted Sylar was cool.  At least it allowed the actor to do something besides be angry and smile evilly.  Other than that, it was an odd season with people getting powers, losing powers, getting them back (or not), dying, and sometimes being useful for a total of one episode.  The one thing I liked was making story arc a half season.  The downside to Season 1 was how much filler there was.

Chuck – The real reason to watch TV on Monday night is Chuck.  Maybe if they’d used Chuck as a lead-in for My Own Worst Enemy, it’d still be on.  Or maybe DVRs have just made lead-ins useless.  Regardless, Chuck has clever writing, lots of geek, and Adam Baldwin.  Chuck may be the funny geek who gets the girl, but John Casey is the man who has Ronald Reagan in a frame in his apartment.

Well that’s the look at 2009.  There’s a lot of shows to be watching.  If I had a DVR, this would be a whole lot easier.

So what are you looking forward to in 2009?  Anything I’m missing?  Anything I listed that you can’t stand?  Let me know in the comments.

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You didn’t really think he was leaving…

When they announced 5 years ago that in 2009, Leno would be leaving the Tonight Show and replaced by Conan O’Brien, I thought, “Well, that’s interesting.”  Despite my enjoyment of Conan, as it gets near to May of 2009, I keep finding myself thinking, “Man, I’m going to miss Jay.” But the contract was signed, so what do you do?

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one; the NBC execs felt the same way.  In what I can only describe as an original move, NBC is going to put Leno in prime-time.  Conan will still take over the Tonight Show, but Leno is moving to the 1-hour slot before local news.  In my neck of the woods that 9-10pm.

Of course this also means that there won’t be dramas on NBC during those times.  ER ends this season, My Own Worst Enemy and Lipstick Jungle are being cancelled, and the Law and Orders can be easily moved with no problems.

The first question I come to is, what do I watch now that would conflict with it? Well, Monday’s are pretty much out, only because I’m watching DVRed episodes of Heroes and Chuck, plus 24 when it returns, and then squeezing in BSG as we can for the end of it’s wonderful run.

Tuesdays are House and Fringe, which ends by 9.  I don’t watch anything on Wednesday’s really, or Thursday except The Office and 30 Rock, both NBC shows.  Friday is the other actual conflict with Numb3rs on CBS.  The Unit on Sundays doesn’t count because, well, it’s Sunday.

So Jay, even though I enjoy your comedy, it sounds like at least 2 and maybe 3 nights a week, I just won’t be able to make it.  I wish you the best, but unless I inherit enough money to build a DVR, you’re on your own on those days.

So what do you think?  Will a Jay Leno format work for an hour before local news?  And more importantly, will you watch it?

Social Networks

A weird thought struck me today:  lately when it comes to my entertainment choices of video games and TV, watching TV tends to be the more social of the two.  I have to admit this strikes me as odd.  One of the reasons I enjoy video games is due to the social nature of many of them.

Part of the reason for this may be that the current game I’m invested in is single player only: there is no other interaction with a human being.  Another big part of the reason is a new baby in the house.  At the end of the day, watching TV is the easiest thing to do to relax.

But I think it’s more than both of those things.  Instead, due in part to the internet and in part to quality programs, TV has become something we can commonly connect about.  You don’t need to cable (though soon you’ll need a converter box) to watch Lost, Heroes, 24, Chuck, and a number of other shows.  And if you don’t have cable, you can catch shows like Burn Notice and Battlestar Galactica online through the network’s websites of Hulu.

That’s one way in which the internet has been responsible for the connection through TV: television is moving off of our televisions.  I don’t even need a DVR to catch up on shows I missed for the week. (Though in the case of House it would be nice since episodes don’t go online until the next episode airs.  Fox, this is very annoying in the case of two part season finales!)  Plus in comment sections beneath those shows, blogs like this one, and message boards, we can share our thoughts.

Pair that up with quality programming.  It seems to me there are a lot of shows on TV that require you to talk about them if you watch them.  If you can watch Lost without feeling the need to find someone else who watches and ask them what in the world they thought happened last week, I shed a tear for you.

All this to say I missed (but taped) House and Fringe last night.  My wife went out to hang out with a friend, and it’s our Tuesday night tradition to watch those shows together.  I suppose I could’ve watched them myself while taping them for her and just let her catch up later, but it’s just not the same.  It’s the same way that if I miss Monday night with the guys, I have a hard time watching Chuck and Heroes online.  It’s partially because I have other stuff I need to get done, but it’s also because it’s just not the same watching with the gang.

So what do you think?  Do you find TV to be a social experience or am I just crazy and we all just stare at the tube and go on with our lives?  And if you do find it to be a social experience, which show do you have the most discussion about?

The top of my discussion list is Lost.  If you haven’t seen this trailer/Fray music video, please enjoy.  And thanks to Kristin Dos Santos over at “Watch with Kristin” for posting it.