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Blog: TV Watchers
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If a show has the word "wire" in the title, it has to be good, part 2
Posted by Tom Coombe at 07:22:15 PM on October 25, 2006
Total Comments: 0

Two things:

1. My first post was supposed to be about two quality shows, "Wire In the Blood" on BBC America, and HBO's "The Wire." Anyone who's read anything about TV in the last few months probably knows that TV critics can't say enough good things about "The Wire," the story of cops, drug dealers, drug addicts, and politicians in Baltimore. Unlike "Wire in the Blood," it's not something I can tell you to run out and start watching. I tried to picking it up at the beginning of season 2, and gave up after the first half-hour. I can't imagine how confusing it would be starting midway through season 4. It's the most complex TV show ever. Compared to "The Wire," "Lost" (still my favorite) is as straightforward as "Dragnet."

Trust me, it's worth getting yourself sucked in. Go to the video store, or to Netflix, find season one, and start there. Each season has a theme: the war on drugs, the decline of the working class, politics, and education. Season 4 plays out against that latest backdrop, following four eighth-grade boys in a bordering-on-out-of-control middle school. It's an example of how good "The Wire" is that the scenes involving these kids are as compelling as those featuring the local drug king pin, the mayor's race, and the homicide detectives.

But that's for later, unless you can watch seasons one through three and then catch up on season four through On Demand. Track down the first season, and get hooked.

2. A few weeks ago, Tucker wrote here about the "the vomit-inducing gigglefest of teenage girls discussing the show" during "Veronica Mars" on the CW. "Amen," I remember thinking. It appears we weren't the only ones, seeing as how the network hasn't shown the girls since then. Frankly, it would be great "Veronica Mars" aired on a different network. ABC could dump "Dancing With the Stars" (why is that even a show?) and put "Veronica" before "Lost."

Tom Coombe

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If a show has the word "wire" in the title, it has to be good...
Posted by Tom Coombe at 03:56:34 PM on October 23, 2006
Total Comments: 0

This is my first post on the TV Watchers blog. Normally, you'll find me writing for the Morning Call's Easton bureau, but as anyone who knows me can tell you, I watch a lot of TV. Combining writing and TV is an opportunity too good to ignore.

First up, let's talk about "Wire in the Blood," which airs tonight (Monday) at 9 p.m. on BBC America. If your cable company carries BBC America, and you like intelligent, suspenseful, and well-acted crime dramas, make sure to tune in. With a few exceptions, American crime dramas pale in comparison to their British counterparts. (Compare "Wire in the Blood" to CBS' sloppy, pedestrian "Criminal Minds.") "Wire in the Blood" follows Tony Hill, a psychologist who helps the police get inside the heads of serial killers. It's darker than a cockroach dipped in ink, and often fairly gory. But the violence is never too over-the-top, and Hill, played by Robson Green, is is funny, likable, and sympathetic.

Tonight's episode is the last in a series of four, but you might be able to find older episodes at the library or (if your cable company has it) the "On Demand" network. You could also try netflix.com, a must-have for any hardcore TV watcher.

Tom Coombe

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Polarizing Lost Fans Again
Posted by Tucker Hottes at 03:02:35 PM on October 19, 2006
Total Comments: 0

I didn't get a chance to watch last night's Lost live because I was out of my apartment until almost 10 p.m. No matter, my trusty DVR was warm and ready to go (and taping The Nine so I can catch up on that this weekend).  Before I got to fire up the episode, a message came in from one of my other Lost-watching friends: "Wow, that was a terrible episode. One of the worst of all three seasons," he said.  He was also convinced our other friend, who tends to be on the "this show is turning to crap" side of things, would hate it and cite this as the "last straw" episode, ending his Lost-watching forever.

Well, I resolved to keep an open mind and pushed play. As the episode wore on and my finger got increasingly tired of hitting "fast-forward," I started liking it more and more.  It was a great episode.  A quick chat with my on-the-fence friend confirmed this was one of his higher-ranked episodes as well.  Online buzz seems to be about the same.

Typically, there are three kinds of people in the world:

-people who don't watch Lost
-people who obsessively watch and love it all
-people who obsessively watch and bitch about how much the show sucks "now"

The "show sucks 'now'" people usually pinpoint specific turing points: the earliest started complaining when the hatch was introduced, others only started relatively recently.  It's surprising to me that people in both Lost-watching camps seem divided, if not ready to jump to the other side over last night's show.

If nothing else, it proves the writers are good at getting people talking.  Even the "show sucks 'now'" people are still watching - I don't know of anybody who's actually followed through on their "that's it, I'm not watching this crap anymore" claims.

I'll sit here happily in my "love it and eat up every minute" camp. It's more fun on our side anyway.

    -Tucker

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That Was The Sound Of Lost Viewers
Posted by Tucker Hottes at 12:39:57 PM on October 17, 2006
Total Comments: 0

First of all, I have to say I really like Heroes. It's a good show that definitely fills the nerd quotient but also has some mainstream appeal. I want to get that out in the open right away so what I say now doesn't get taken the wrong way.  The end of last night's episode probably lost a lot of viewers.

Heroes has been really good at the last-minute bomb-drop. Each show so far has had a cliffhanger ending that does well at keeping people interested and very much enhances the comic book feel.  Last night, though, with a Highlander-looking future Hiro swooping in to deliver Peter a message, might have been a little too much for more casual viewers. That was confirmed when I got a call from my mom, who'd been loving the show, saying "I think I might be done with Heroes."

Why is that too much?  Well, it's a very fine line to begin with.  I mean, after all we are talking about comic book-style characters. But at the same time, the show works on a broader level because it's so much more "everyday people/situations" than most comics or sci-fi shows.  Hiro can bend time and space, but he's just an office worker who kind of goofs into using his powers.  When the show starts throwing in these future versions of people and Star Wars/Highlander style imagery and allusion, "normal" people start to get wary.

Hopefully this will all work itself out, and I'll definitely continue to watch the show, but I'm afraid if it gets too outlandish the major audience will evaporate and they'll pull the show. Or maybe I'm just too gun shy because of what happened to my beloved Invasion.

    -Tucker

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'Deal'ing More Than Cash
Posted by Mergedigital.com - at 12:15:24 PM on October 17, 2006
Total Comments: 0

Deal Or No Deal is the kind of TV game show that can lose luster quickly since it's always the same. The only thing that constantly changes are the dresses on the models and those even have a general format (short, low-cut and shiney). I've even got the offer methods down (or close enough) so that I already know what the "banker" is going to offer before Howie announces it. But the producers know that so they've started dealing more in non-monetary values. Just about every show now has a twist with either a dream package as part of the offer or a surprise visit from far-and-away family members. It's all very touching but that will only keep me watching for so long - even special surprises can become predictable after a while. Someone better win $1,000,000 here soon or I think I might lose faith in the whole game.

That doesn't mean I'll watch  1 vs 100 instead - that show got boring after half of one episode. How SOME PEOPLE can keep giving it a chance is beyond me.

- Judianne

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1 Vs. 100
Posted by Tucker Hottes at 11:04:58 AM on October 16, 2006
Total Comments: 0

I was kind of looking forward to checking out this new gameshow on NBC (looks like it'll be Fridays at 8 or 9-ish).  I talked about the basic premise earlier, so I won't bore you with the details again.

The show was decent - not something I'll really go out of my way to watch, but I'd be much more inclined to tune in to it rather than Deal or No Deal or Millionare. 1 vs. 100 has the same basic problems as other trivia shows - the early questions are too easy, they waste too much time dragging things out, etc.

I do like the dynamic of the contestant competing against the 'mob,' and there's a lot of potential for some interesting situations.  In Friday's episode, the first guy used his help options early on, but the mob getting questions wrong left and right, so by the time he opted to quit when the questions started getting hard he had quite a bit of money. The second contestant, however, had very little money as the questions got tough because the mob wasn't getting very many wrong.

Once the show settles into a more solid formula I think it'll be worth watching, which is more than I can say for most gameshows.

    -Tucker

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Office/Earl Mix Things Up Well
Posted by Tucker Hottes at 11:17:59 AM on October 13, 2006
Total Comments: 10

My Name Is Earl and The Office are both maturing very well.  Both shows started out with a bang in their debuts (I'm considering the short first season as part of the whole series debut), but it was questionable how they'd maintain momentum.

Well this season both shows have introduced some new elements into the mix to keep things fresh.  In My Name Is Earl, the formula has changed to have more ongoing plots and less slavery to the list. Last night's episode even acknowledged this, with Earl realizing he'd been putting off list items for too long.

The Office has Jim working at another branch, and I think it's gone a long way in keeping the show interesting. The show has always been good at poking at certain office stereotypes, and now we get to have a whole new set.  It will be interesting to see how all the relationships develop.

It's nice to see shows taking a bit of a risk rather than sticking to the same old formula. Characters are allowed to mature every once in a while, writers need to realize audiences want to see a little growth every now and then.

Still loving my Thursday TV.  On a side note, Grey's was ok again - it looks like they've got me sticking around. For now.

    -Tucker

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Megg - Rock On Somewhere Else
Posted by Mergedigital.com - at 11:51:56 AM on October 12, 2006
Total Comments: 0

Oh - you didn't think just because I watched the new shows on NBC last night that I dared to miss the final few minutes of "America's Next Top Model" - that's just crazy talk.

Megg was the next to go and thank goodness. Her "rock and roll" attitude and Kate Hudson look-alike appearance was really starting to bother me.

The competition isn't that stiff this season so I don't think the next few weeks will be all that exciting. The only things I'll want to see is when one of the twins get the boot and the other one decides to stay or not, and when Melrose finally gets trashed.

Oh... and if A.J. doesn't win, I'm going to stop watching. Got that, Tyra!?!?

- Judianne

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NBC Wednesdays
Posted by Mergedigital.com - at 11:43:40 AM on October 12, 2006
Total Comments: 0

Last night was a good one for NBC. The premiere of "30 Rock" and then the premiere of "Twenty Good Years." Both were funny and both had interesting beginnings.

As much as you all know I love watching "America's Next Top Model," I might have to sacrifice some time for a couple of comedy sitcoms instead. Sorry, but reality TV always gets second place in my book no matter how into the show I get. If there is something even slightly better and it's non-reality, I'm switching.

Tina Fey really pulled it off with the new "30 Rock" and bringing Alec Baldwin along for the ride was pure genious (but what else is new from Lorne Michaels, right). I even enjoyed Tracy Morgan who didn't really do it for me on SNL. There's a lot of possibility with this show so I'm hooked. It's funny but not stupid (well not totally stupid anyway). Like any new show, most of the first episode was spent introducting characters and setting them up in the plot. I give it a top rating as far as new shows go.

"Twenty Good Years" wasn't AS good but it also has potential. Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow are  guarantee at the funny part and I was pleasantly surprised at their on-screen chemistry. The first episode was a little too Odd Couple for me but hopefully it will spin into something a little more creative than that typical situation comedy crap. I have faith so I'll keep watching... for now. But NBC beware, ANTM is waiting in the wings to reclaim my Wednesday nights.

- Judianne

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Moment Of Truth For The Nine
Posted by Tucker Hottes at 01:48:20 PM on October 11, 2006
Total Comments: 0

Tonight I'm pumped for Lost. That goes without saying. Something else important is happening tonight - the make-it-or-break-it episode of The Nine. I watched last week and was not impressed at all. It just barely held my attention, but I decided I'd give it one more shot.

If things really pick up tonight, I'll stick with it, but otherwise I could use the extra hour for more important things like doing dishes or something.  It's not like I'm desperate for TV to watch.

    -Tucker

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