Several friends recommended Detroit 1-8-7 as one of the best new television shows out this season, so I downloaded Season One thus far and will start watching it while wrapping Christmas presents this week. It’s an ABC show, and I think I avoided it when it started because I rarely watch network TV anymore. Castle (ABC) is my guilty pleasure, and Law and Order SVU (NBC) has been a long-time favorite. But looking at my iTunes directory, there are no other network shows. I grew quickly bored with Criminal Minds, stopped watching CSI years ago, and NBC ticked me off when they cancelled LIFE after two incredible seasons. As far as I’m concerned, network TV is no better–and often worse–than cable television. The pluses are that when they are good, they have the money to really produce a top show–with solid writing and great actors and no skimping on the budget. But unless I hear from people I trust–like I did about Detroit–I won’t invest the time or money in network TV.
FOX launched in 1986, and brought with it some innovative programming. The WB and UPN were merged into The CW a few years ago, but the WB in particular had some great shows. X-Files came from FOX and one of my favorite shows (SUPERNATURAL) is on the CW. The formerly small networks are now competing with the big guys and I think it’s to the advantage of television fans to keep the creative competition thriving.
Enter cable TV. It used to be, at least for many people, that cable television was blah–unless you had paid premium cable like HBO and Showtime. To me, ten years ago cable television was all boring documentaries and some good kids programming (like Nickelodeon.) But over the last few years, I’ve found that cable is bringing me my favorite new shows. And while in the past cable networks weren’t widespread or you had to buy specific packages, now there’s more universal cable programming. And even better for people like me, if you don’t subscribe to premium programming, you can still buy many of the shows on iTunes to watch only a few hours after they air. But it’s still the basic cable programming that is really shining for me.
Take F/X. JUSTIFIED is my new favorite show of 2010–and I’m thrilled Season Two is starting in two short months–sometime in February. It’s edgy, fun, witty, dark, with some of the best characters on television today. US Marshal Raylan Givens is based on an Elmore Leonard character, and Leonard is involved in the show.
And I’ve been enjoying THE GLADES (A&E) and am glad it’s returning for a second season. The show works because of the protagonist, Chicago transplant to South Florida Det. Jim Longworth played by Matt Passmore, and his best friend, the forensic pathologist Dr. Carlos Sanchez (Carlos Gomez.) It’s not JUSTIFIED, but few shows are. But it’s fun, and Longworth is a great character.
And I’m still watching SUPERNATURAL, now in Season 6, on the CW. The show is about two brothers battling supernatural forces–the standard demons and vampires and ghosts, as well as less common creatures like the djinn, tricksters, and ghouls. I was skeptical that it would survive without its creator, the amazing Eric Kripke, and when the season started my first thought was, “Damn, they should have ended on a high note.” Kripke had a five season story arc for the show, and it was pitch perfect. But still, I continued on, until two weeks ago when they aired “Appointment in Samarra” and I thought, “It’s back.” In summary? Dean, the older brother, agrees to be the Horseman Death for a day if Death will get Sam (the younger brother’s) soul out of Hell where it’s trapped with Lucifer and Michael. If they keep up this storytelling, SUPERNATURAL will return to being one of my top two shows. I’m only disappointed that it took them half a season to regain their footing.
And then there’s FRINGE, a FOX program. Season one? Terrific. Season two? Awful. I don’t know why, but I really didn’t like it at all. It just didn’t click for me. But so far, Season three is fantastic. I hope they keep it up.
To me, there’s sort of a realignment going on in television–and possibly all media. The big guns are no longer the big guns per se, but when they get it right they do it right. But the cable networks — even with small budgets and shorter seasons — are creating some amazing new programming, focusing largely on quality character development as well as edgy storylines, without being unbelievable. So while I’m looking forward to ABC’s DETROIT because my friends tell me it’s amazing, I’m truly looking forward to seeing what cable comes up with next. Another fun thing about cable shows is that they often launch mid-seasons, with fewer episodes but original programming when so many other station are putting up re-runs.
Now, there’s no new trailers for JUSTIFIED, but I found this on YouTube and I thought those who love the show would enjoy the minute of clips from Season o ne, and those who haven’t seen it will get a taste of a terrific program.
What mid-season premiere are you most looking forward to returning? Here about anything new coming up that sounds like great television?