A vastly entertaining wasteland.

Thanks to my odd work schedule, I don’t always get to watch a lot of TV, but I did get to check out some of the brand spanking new TV season last week, and here are some quick thoughts (there may be some spoilers, so, you know, look out):

The Amazing Race – Still the best reality show around, because A.) It’s an actual honest-to-God competition, so the schemes and machinations of the players both seem more real and make more sense, since they don’t seem like they’re specifically trying to scam more camera time so much as they actually want to cross the finish line first; and B.) it’s as much a travelogue as a game show, and they tend to visit some interesting places. So far, I only dislike two teams: the Single Moms, because they’re bitchy, and the Coal Miners, because their grey teeth frighten and confuse me. I hope the team from Rhode Island does well.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – I enjoyed A Few Good Men and what little I saw of Sports Night (I really need to Netflix that). I accept that Aaron Sorkin is a scriptwriting genius. I never watched The West Wing, though, as good as it was always said to be. Presidential politics bore me. Behind-the-scenes looks at TV comedies don’t. I represent a lot of what’s wrong with America today. Sorry. Anyway, great start here: a huge and talented cast of interesting characters who say witty and intelligent things mixed with all of the backstage dealings that made “Live from New York” by James A. Miller and Tom Shales such an interesting read. Even if the rest of the season is only half as good as the pilot, I’ll be with this one for a while.

How I Met Your Mother – I expected nothing from this show last year, and it turned out to be one of the best. A good start for this season, too, though I think a title change to “How I Conspired to Bang the Woman You Kids Know As ‘Aunt Robin’” might be in order, at least for the time being. And yeah, telling the story of your love life to your kids in that much detail can be a little creepy, but if you just think about the narration parts as being told by the Bob Saget we’ve seen in Half-Baked, Entourage, and/or The Aristocrats as opposed to the older version of the Ted character, it does make a little more sense.

CSI: The Good One – Hey, Louise Lombard’s character Sofia Curtis is a regular now. Good for her. I always like it when recurring characters get bumped up to getting into the opening credits. Anyway, more of the same here… you either like this show or you don’t. I do, and I’m legitimately curious to see where this Grissom & Sara storyline goes. But I’m annoyed that The Committee to Get Marg Helgenberger an Emmy began its campaign so early this year… it’s usually at least mid-season before Catherine’s annual tragedy befalls her. This year (and here’s a BIG OL’ SPOILER) someone slips her a roofie in a club and she’s probably raped as a result, and it’s just as lazy an attempt at “serious character development” here as it is has been in your favorite DC and Marvel comic books for the last few years. But then again, CSI writers have a history of doling out severe consequences for anyone engaging in anything but strictly monogamous sexual relations between married men and women, so in their eyes, she’s probably had it coming for awhile. For a show set in Vegas, it’s almost disturbingly Puritanical at times.

Legion of Super Heroes – I was wary about this one, since the LSH is one of my favorite comic books and there are easily as many ways to do this concept – teenage super heroes from the future… in OUTER SPAAAAAACE! – wrong as there are to do it right. Also, this has to replace both Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans in my viewing routine, so the bar is set pretty high. If the first episode is any indication, though, this may fit bill nicely. I think the basic idea of the show – a young Superman being shown the ropes by people inspired by his legend – is a fresh approach, which is kind of funny, when you think about it. In the comics, the Legion provided a place for Superboy to hang out with people similar to himself; here, there’s still that aspect, but they’re also role models to their role model, since thanks to history, they know more about what he’s capable of than he does himself. Neat. And as for the changes to the characters – Bouncing Boy’s increased malleability, Brainiac 5’s transforming abilities – I think those are mostly cosmetic changes designed to give the characters something else to do besides bouncing and being really smart, respectively. It’ll anger the purists, but it’ll give the writers more leeway down the road, so I think it’s a fair trade.

Now here are a few shows I'm still looking forward to:

Doctor Who – New season kicks off Friday. Woot! And besides the 5 minute Children in Need clip, I have yet to see any of the David Tennant episodes (I don’t know where you people find all this stuff on the internet), so this will all be brand new to me. And Sci-Fi wised up and is actually starting off with The Christmas Invasion (back to back with New Earth), so we get to see the season from its actual beginning. That sort of thing’s important to a nerd like me.

Heroes – I like the idea of everyone slowly developing their powers over time, though if it pulls a Lost – moving at a snail’s pace and only saving the important plot points for sweeps week stunts – it may lose me fast. I’m optimistic, though.

Smallville – Never been a big fan of the show – I need more Superman in my Superman shows – but I have sort of been following along with what’s been happening, and this whole thing with Green Arrow starting to show up in an attempt to join the various super characters that have appeared on the show so far into a proto-JLA sounds kind of interesting, so maybe I’ll give it another shot.

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