Now that is what I call a comeback. When it debuted in 2004, Lost was the shit. After its amazing first season it then spent a season and a half pissing on the audience's goodwill and losing itself that all important definite article. Midway through season 3, things began to change and the show picked up a momentum it had been sorely lacking, before delivering the best season finale of last year.
And now, the shows fourth season. Minimally affected by the strike that felled so many shows this year, Lost only lost three episodes from its season order. Starting as it meant to go on, within moments of the opening episode, we were told that only six people make it off the island. As well as being 90% flash forwards this season, which finally started to fill in the gaps that even the Lost devotees had begun to wonder whether the writers just didn't know how to fill them, it also didn't pull its punches this year either (raise your hand if you thought they wouldn't shoot Ben's daughter. Yeah, me neither). It was a thrilling and gripping season, must see television in a way it hasn't been since it rode the zeitgeist into our brains back in 2004. The double episode season finale may have suffered slightly from the fact it didn't really tell us anything we hadn't already been able to work out, but it did set up a clear arc for the show's final two seasons and answered the "who's funeral?" question from last year into the bargain. February has never seemed so far away.
Yes yes, I know season 4 is about to start in the US and season 3 did actually finish here some weeks ago, but I somehow neglected to blog about it. While the show was airing in the US, a few friends who watched it were telling me how the first half of the season was just flat out terrible but it picked up towards the end. I don't agree. I thought the show's third season was fantastic from start to finish. Fantastic writing, stupendous performances, flawless direction and the best theme song ever, who could ask for anything more? Ok so some of the subplots were a little rushed (Andy's foray into porn for example) and some supporting characters weren't really given room to breathe properly (Maulik Pancholy) but these are fairly minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things. Now the show is moving out of Agrestic, it will be interesting to see where the 4th season goes and who it takes with it.
I have already blogged about my discontent of ITV and their insane decision to excise an episode from the premiere showing of this show. Apparently it wasn't annoying enough that this was already strike shortened down to just 9 episodes. Whatever. Undeniably the most original show to come along in many a year, this quirky show could have gone very badly wrong. Instead it went very right indeed, striking the right balance of humour and drama, with just one problem: that fucking voiceover. I don't mind a narrator, but I don't need said narrator to ham fistedly point out the emotional subtlety going on, when the actors are doing a perfectly good job of telling it themselves. If the show's second season cuts that back and also brings focus back around to Charlotte's story, then I won't have any complaints at all.
Another new show that has a premise which could have gone terribly, dreadfully wrong. And the very first few episodes were so uncertain in their tone that there was every possibility the show could spin of its axis into crapdom. Luckily for all concerned, the writers found their groove, the cast all settled in to their roles and everything worked out marvellously. Ray Wise as the Devil is utter genius in casting. Anyone who saw him as Leland Palmer has always been a little terrified of him anyway (or is that just me?) and so it was great to see him clearly having so much fun with this role. And any show that brings on two gay characters and has the three main straight male lead characters love hanging out with them and not have their sexuality be an issue is absolutely fine by me. Of course, they were also demons but they were good demons. Anyway, this was one show that was risking cancellation but has mercifully been renewed as a mid season replacement for 13 episodes. Here's hoping that season pulls it out of the hat and ups its viewing figures.
The Big Bang Theory
This show should not be funny. At best it should be mildly amusing, another take on a tired scenario (a guy has a crush on a girl miles out of his league). At worst this should have been flat out embarrassing to watch. Instead, it was the funniest sitcom I have seen in a long time. Jim Parsons can take an awful lot of that credit, his performance as Sheldon Cooper is comedy gold. The writing is so sharp and well observed but crucially it's never mean to the geeky quartet at its core. You're never really laughing AT them, you know? The high point of the show's debut season though simply has to be Laurie Metcalfe's appearance as Sheldon's no-nonsense mother. That episode alone provided me with more mirror quotes than most other shows can muster in a season. Bring on season 2.
I mentioned mirror quotes up there. My crazy roommate was given crayons that write on anything and wipe clean with no fuss no mess for her birthday a couple of years ago. We use them to write quotes from tv shows on the bathroom mirror that we find particularly amusing for one reason or another. Currently, the mirror quote is "A black girlfriend trumps a Nazi father" from Dirt's second season. Everything that was wrong about the show's first season was put to rights here. The ridiculous schizophrenia was dropped from Ian Hart's character for one thing. Unfortunately, the second season ran to just 7 episodes thanks to the fucking strike. Even more annoyingly, it would seem I am in a minority in thinking the second season was leaps and bounds better than the first. Viewers switched off in droves and FX have pulled the plug on it so there will be no season 3. Frustrating.
Dirty Sexy Money
Another brand new show whose debut season was halved by the writers strike. Peter Krause's first show since the end of Six Feet Under, and it's a corker. Full of characters you should hate but don't (or do hate but in the way you're narratively supposed to), this show also pushed the envelope with the transsexual storyline they included. It seems they may have lost their bottle with it though as said transsexual has been "disappeared" but who knows what season 2 will bring. I did find it confusing that both Elle Fanning and Brooke Smith were replaced by different actresses when their characters reappeared though.
Sweet CHRIST I watch a lot of television. There are at least three shows still running too.
Saturday, June 14, 2008