OK, you weak-minded fools, you love your T.V. You spend more time worshipping the boob tube than on your knees before your Maker. That’s O.K. — you are no different than the rest of America and the world. Better for you to be mesmerized by the phosphors than to be a total social outcast.
That being said, no amount of T.V.-watching will make you normal, unless you watch the right T.V. Being an fanboy of Antiques Roadshow and Charmed will get you neither into the Celestial Kingdom, nor the Great and Spacious Building. So, your friends at BCC have put together this friendly guide to the new Fall schedule, so that you may set your VCRs, program your TiVos and rearrange your Family Home Evenings as appropriate. This is a guide to prime time viewing on the major networks only — mormons are too cheap for HBO (though we discuss the best of HBO below).
We’ve tried to present three options for each time slot.The first option in a timeslot is what you ought to watch, as a cool member of society; the second is what you could watch, if offended by cool content; the third is what you must never watch, for fear of contracting social leprosy. Links are provided to each show’s homepage. Feel free to disagree with our picks to your hearts’ content, you knobs.
8:00 p.m. SpongeBob SquarePants/F.H.E./7th Heaven. Not much to merit watching this hour of television, sadly. 7th Heaven is a dark, evil addiction which grips my family. You can justify watching it, however, by virtue of the rumor that Aaron Spelling originally planned to make it about mormons. Just have F.H.E., and get yourself right with the Lord before 9:00.
9:00 p.m. Everwood/CBS comedies/Girlfriends. Everwood is class A WB stuff. Truly enjoyable writing, fine cast, and it’s filmed in Utah! The show is heartfelt, and deals with some interesting issues, at least occasionally. The other two options are horrible. Of course, come Jan. 10th, the truly awesome 24 begins in this timeslot, so 24 vs. Everwood should cause you to rush out and buy TiVo right now.
10:00 p.m. The Wire/local news/CSI Miami. Will David Caruso stop trying to seem like a Bad Dude? Come on, scrawny man! You’re not fooling anyone, and your show is even worse than the original CSI, if that’s possible. What a waste of Miami! At least Miami Vice involved Michael Mann and a Ferrari.
11:00 p.m., MONDAY-FRIDAY: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on Comedy Central. Really, this is the only ‘must-see T.V.’ that still exists. You could also stay up after and watch South Park, you perverts.
8:00 p.m. Gilmore Girls/scripture study/NOVA. GG is a great show: snappy writing, a weird, funny world, and involving characters. It has the fastest pace of dialogue of any show on television, and I’ve grown to really enjoy it. Don’t like the WB? Get over it. Watch PBS, you nerd.
9:00 p.m. Veronica Mars/Scrubs/Frontline. VM is the new, better written BtVS. What an amazing, soon-to-be-cancelled show, with a strong, smart woman and a thoughful writing style. It’s about the nosy daughter of a P.I., but it’s really much more interesting than its premise. Plus a really cool intro song — this is the best show ever on UPN, including when they stole Buffy. Scrubs will do in a pinch for dumb comedy. Not in the mood for great TV or mildly interesting comedy? Watch PBS again, you nerd.
10:00 p.m. local news/whichever Law & Order show is on, and ready yourself for Wednesday.
8:00 p.m. Lost/60 Minutes/Smallville. Lost is another JJ Abrams masterpiece, kind of an Alias meets Cast Away meets Land of the Lost. The premise? Crawl out from under your rock — people are lost on an island somewhere weird. Interesting, suspenseful, well-executed T.V., that ranks up there with Veronica Mars for best new show. 60 Minutes is always fun to watch, but try to avoid Smallville, which takes a great superhero franchise and reduces it to creature-of-the-week T.V. Awful, made more so by its potential.
9:00 p.m. Another FHE/Spike TV/West Wing. Not much on at 9:00 p.m. Wednesdays, and don’t give me West Wing, ’cause this season sucks rocks compared to years past. It’ll be gone next year, I guarantee. I put in Spike TV because tonight they’re showing Dog Day Afternoon, which puts them up a couple of notches in my book.
10:00 p.m. See Tuesday.
8:00 p.m. The O.C./Joey/Journal writing. Mock if you must, but The O.C. is great, pulpy T.V. at its best. It has soap opera-y storylines, to be sure, but it’s snappy & fun, great to look at, and gets you hooked pretty quickly. It has some good James Dean moments, believe it or not. And that Adam Brody is dreamy! Joey is there for you if you really miss Friends, I suppose, but it’s fairly forgettable.
9:00 p.m. CSI/The Apprentice/Organizing food storage. This is a good hour to just keep the T.V. off. CSI is awful stuff, the worst ham-fisted writing in the world. But it’s Bruckheimer-produced, so if you liked Bad Boys then this may keep you drooling. The Apprentice is included so that you can keep up with the water-cooler talk the next day, but Trump is a moron.
10:00 p.m. Late night temple session?
8:00 p.m. Complete Savages/Joan of Arcadia/Dateline NBC. Complete Savages is a sitcom produced by Mel Gibson, that has a real Chuck Jones-style comedy angle. It’s fairly dumb, but has moments of hilarity, and is the best on-screen depiction of an all-male household I’ve ever seen. Joan of Arcadia is basically a smarter teen version of Touched by an Angel, but it still sucks, despite its emmy nods. Datel
ine NBC represents the worst of “news” journalism.
9:00 p.m. PPIs/Reba/JAG. This is the time of night you regret having a T.V. If you have an Xbox, Gamecube, or Atari, break it out. Otherwise you’ll face the worst cheese of middle America. Sumer really likes Reba, because she hails from Texas and “it’s not ridiculous.” You be the judge. Reba is a single mom, working hard to keep her family together. *yawn* As for JAG, Catherine Bell ceased to be a sex symbol years ago, and Bellisario (the producer) hasn’t made an interesting show since Airwolf‘s 2nd season.
10:00 p.m. Get a life! Get out of the house, potato! Go clubbing!
Saturday (are you really watching T.V. on a Saturday night? Loser!)
Not much of note comes on Saturday night. But I must divulge one of my many secret pleasures, Cops. Man alive, there’s something deeply satisfying about seeing the darker side of humanity.
Sunday has a host of funny and intersting shows. Here are the highlights, but you may as well just program your T.V. to swap automatically between ABC and FOX. Otherwise, feel free to watch American Dreams, Cold Case or British House of Commons on C-SPAN to your heart’s content — just don’t expect anyone to want to hang out with you, ever.
7:00 p.m. America’s Funniest Home Videos. Sure, it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. But you never get tired of someone taking a golf ball to the crotch, people! To me, AFV is a microcosm of America itself; it shows our vices, our pleasures, our failures. Well, more accurately, yours (O Canada…)
8:00 p.m. The Simpsons. The best animated series on television, and arguably the best ever, depending upon how many Futurama fanboys you talk to. Those who think The Simpsons are in poor taste obviously haven’t seen a lot of South Park (must be the same people who think T&S is a liberal blog *snicker*).
8:30 p.m. Arrested Development. AD is by a mile the best comedy on T.V., and certainly the best show Jason Bateman’s ever been a part of. Produced by Ron Howard, and starring some of the best comedic talent available (including Mr. Show‘s David Cross), AD is the ultimate tongue-in-cheek family sitcom. If you haven’t watched it, you owe it to yourself to upgrade from the shlock that normally passes for comedy, such as Everybody Loves Raymond.
9:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives or Alias (starting in January)/Law & Order – Criminal Intent/Masterpiece Theatre. Desperate Housewives is listed as a shout-out to Gigi Parke, who is addicted to the show (as a mirror of her own life, perhaps?). But it’s highly regarded and has an interesting ongoing series of plots. My only objection is that it’s a little too racy than it needs to be, and is sometimes a little obvious with its themes. The same could be said for the other show ABC slots at this time, Alias. But somehow, Jennifer Garner kicking butt as a super-spy seems more harmless. Last season’s Alias was terrible compared to its spectacular first season, but rumor has it that JJ Abrams is back on track — if Lost is any indication. I’ve included L&O – CI as an option here because Vincent D’Onofrio is really good at being a creepy detective, but there’s not too much else that distinguishes it. Again, you want class? Watch PBS, nerd.
10:00 p.m. Go to bed!/News/Boston Legal. Can you really consider watching Boston Legal? Just because William Shatner and James Spader star doesn’t make it worthwhile — cast isn’t everything (tell that BTW to the dorks behind Dr. Vegas!).
Soon to come: cable shows, HBO and others. Please feel free to snark away should you disagree. We will cruelly mock you. For those who deeply care about T.V. (and you all should), behold an invaluable resource: Television Without Pity. This is the internet’s best recapping and review site, where the reviews are often better than the shows themselves (esp. for 7th Heaven).
Go forth and watch, my children!