2007-2008 TV Season Wrap-Up Part 1
OK, so the 07-08 season is beginning to come to a close. The time frame for the end of the season is pretty vague this year, thanks to the big chunk of time eaten from most shows by the writers strike. I’m going to do a paragraph for each series in these posts, which will continue for the next month or two, with a final post breaking down the overall opinions of the shows amongst each other. So, without further ado, here’s the first handful of entries, in no particular order.
Pushing Daisies (Season 1): The greatest new show of the year. Hands down. Without a doubt. It’s a wonderful combination of fantastic casting, magically bizarre writing, genius set design and visual effects. And the snarky quirkiness is spot-on. This has been the year of Lee Pace, from his fantastic lead role in this show to wonderful movie performances in Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day and the magnificent The Fall. Add to that the rest of the brilliant cast, and things couldn’t possibly fail. While this show only got 9 episodes produced before the writer strike cut it short, it made them count. I look forward to what the second season will bring.
Eli Stone (Season 1): My second favorite new series of the season. OK, so it’s another series that features fantasy pretty heavily, but not nearly to the level of Pushing Daisies. It’s great to see Johnny Lee Miller get a nice, high-profile role like this, cause he’s a very under appreciated actor. Add to him a cast featuring the likes of Victor Garber and Natasha Henstridge and you’ve got a winner. But the icing on the cake is easily Julie Gonzalo, who was a regular on the third and final season of Veronica Mars. She’s flat out flawless in her naive, idealistic sidekick role. As a mid-season series, I suppose the writer strike didn’t have much of an effect on the fact that the first season closed out with the initial 13 episode order. I definitely look forward to what the second season will be like. They took some big steps near the end of the first, so it’ll be interesting to see where they go with it.
The Dead Zone (Season 6): After appearing to cut as many corners as they could to produce this sixth and ultimately final season of the show, I will admit that despite all the production changes made they still managed to come through with a nice season. They also did a satisfying enough closing episode. Sure, they didn’t manage to wrap it all up, but the final one felt right, so it works. That final episode is certainly a series highlight episode, so one can forgive some of the other loose ends. As always, Anthony Michael Hall does a great job in the lead, and the wonderful Nicole DeBoer is equally fantastic. And this final season features pretty much just them as main title leads, with a couple other regulars mixed in here and there. The excellent Sean Patrick Flannery gets in some nice episodes. And the rest of the cast do a pretty good job making their occasional appearances work. All in all, another good USA Network show comes to a nice close after a respectible 6 season run. USA is one of those networks that in more recent years doesn’t know how to produce a bad series. They are the unsung heroes of the cable channel lineup.
House (Season 4): I cannot praise this fourth season of House enough. The series has never been afraid of doing big shake-ups in story, and have gotten a bit better at it with each passing season, but the big changes they made this fourth season paid off in every possible way. I won’t hesitate to easily call this the best season of the series so far. It’s absolutely a contender for best show of the season, either new or returning. This season had so many truly fantastic episodes, and not a lemon among them. The additions to the cast were brilliant, and the material they gave them through the “audition process” through to the “new team” dynamic was top-notch. I couldn’t have asked for better.
Medium (Season 4): Of all the shows that were “on the bubble” before the upfront presentations last month, the one I was rooting most for was Medium. As many critics like to point out, this is “the best show that you aren’t watching.” The best way I know to compliment the series is that it’s one that you can always count on to be great. No matter what the episode, they know how to make it work. And the series strikes a marvelous balance between stylistic fantasy and being grounded in reality. In fact, you’re not likely to find a series more grounded in the reality of day-to-day life than Medium. Nor are there many series that feature such a well rounded cast, from both child and adult actors alike. This fourth season saw them shaking things up a bit in the overall story department, and as always, they manage to make it all work so very well.
CSI (Season 8): The original remains king, despite a few missteps here and there – such as the well-intentioned, but flawed eighth episode, “You Kill Me.” However, the biggest mistake of the year is the handling of the Warrick character. While I’m a fan of this series and CSI: New York, I’ll be the first to admit that none of the CSI franchise shows are particularly good at writing the characters outside their work environment, or most any other running story arcs, for that matter. Their strong suit is what they are famous for, the procedural aspects. I kinda liked the way they handled writing out Sara, and her slow burn out. But they did Warrick every which way but right. And could they have telegraphed their big shocking ending any more? Still, beyond those problems, still a mostly enjoyable season.
CSI: New York (Season 4): I might as well follow up the original CSI with the New York variety. I’ve not hidden my contempt for the Miami spin-off, which I quit watching a number of years ago (after the third season, I think). The New York series is one I’m still happy to enjoy, though. A couple of the weaker episodes of this season include “Down The Rabbit Hole” about some less-than-interesting Second Life online VR stuff and “Playing With Matches” about a self-cleaning rest-room (which ironically, despite how it sounds, wasn’t the particular weak part of the episode). The one actually bad episode of the season without a doubt goes to the penultimate “Taxi” where almost everything was done wrong, banking heavily on the hit-and-miss “Cabbie Killer” running plot of the season. Like I said, CSI shows aren’t particularly talented at big running story arcs.