State of the TV Union

Despite the fact that The West Wing has gone waaay downhill since Aaron Sorkin stopped writing it, I still watch it, but it's sort of like seeing that hot girl you had a crush on in high school is now 60 pounds heavier and a chain smoker... Anyway, I actually like Janeane Garafolo's character, which was introduced last night, but I still can't see Jimmy Smits as the next President...

Anyone watching that "other" President show? Yeah, me neither.

So far, this TV season hasn't brought me anything new or great but here's what I found that I like, and what I didn't from the few new shows I've tried:

Rome (HBO's new show) is pretty good, and I love the Titus Pullo and Vorenus characters, and Attia is pretty good too.

Extras (also on HBO) about made me piss my pants laughing during the first episode. Ricky Gervais absolutely slays me.

My Name is Earl (NBC) is sort of funny, I'm kind of on the fence. I'm a Jason Lee fan, despite him being a wretched Scientologist, but the show goes for the low-brow easy joke a little too readily. I'd like to see them work on the irony more, and dwell less on the white trashiness.

Ghost Whisperer (CBS) I couldn't even make it through the first ten minutes of this, no matter how many low-cut dresses Jennifer Love Hewitt wears. It also doesn't help that my local CBS station (KGAN) can't get their audio in sync on their HD channel, so it's really distracting to watch anything on it.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS) This one got me by having a Freaks and Geeks actor, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor, plus Doogie Howser all in the cast. It's not fantastic, but it's not quite the drivel that most sitcoms are, so I'll probably keep watching it, despite the bad lip sync.

Returning favorites:

Curb Your Enthusiasm Survivor: Guatemala (Now with heatstroke!) The Amazing Race: Family Edition (Now with even more bickering!) The Office (I laugh as hard at this one as I did at the UK version, surprisingly.) ER (My guilty pleasure) The West Wing The Simpsons The Family Guy (another show that can make you roll off the couch laughing)

But, after all that, there really isn't a drama that I'm drawn into this year. The amazing finish to Six Feet Under left a big void, and nothing has stepped forward to fill it. I'm looking forward to the next season of The Sopranos later this winter, and Rome has been interesting, but I'm never dying to see the next episode.

And, before someone suggests Lost, this is why I don't watch it. I watched the first few episodes last year before I gave up. I didn't give up because the quality was bad, as it's really a pretty good show, but I just know that it's screwing with me, which I don't like. I first fell for that when I watched The X-Files. I tried to piece together the "Mythology" of the show, figuring that there was a master storyline that was being carefully revealed, so that eventually the truth about Mulder's sister, his father, the Cigarette Smoking Man, etc. would all be revealed. But, it eventually became completely obvious that there was no story, there was just a collection of screwy episodes that had no connection with each other, other than that they sold another hour of advertising.

Next came Alias. I watched about two seasons of it before I saw the same things start to emerge, and at the start of last year's season it became laughably obvious. The show actually gave a terrorist his own secret branch of the CIA, and then jumped through about 20 other ridiculous hoops just to make it feel like the first season all over again. No thanks.

So, with Lost, which is from the same guy as Alias, I don't think there's any story there. They're just coming up with 22 ways a year to sell another week's worth of ads. There's no story, no mythology, nothing to discover. The emperor has no clothes.

I could be proven wrong by Lost, but I doubt I will be.

Oh, and the same goes for 24. I watched the first episode, which was pretty interesting, until the point where they kidnapped Jack's daughter, then I completely lost interest, as the plot went from plausible, to improbable, to ridiculous over the course of one episode. I don't need the drama hyped up that much.

There are a few shows I'd like to try, but haven't yet. Desperate Housewives and Rescue Me are two of them. I also watched the first couple seasons of The Shield before I lost track of it.

As for crime shows, after you've watched Homicide: Life on The Streets and The Wire, everything else pales in comparison.