Television is as American as Apple Pie. Many of us enjoy nothing more than plopping our lazy asses in front of the TV and basking in the glow of that heavenly little box as it washes over our collective senses. I know I do.
I’m familiar with how the Hollywood machine works. Some shows survive, some shows die quick and sometimes undeserved deaths. They never get a chance to find their audience, and are bounced around various days and timeslots, and the network never gets behind them. The most obvious of these types of shows is the tragically phenomenal Arrested Development, a 3 season TVgasm that the FOX network never seemed to know what they had. They bounced around the show from day to day, time to time, and the audience never got a chance to find it (though the show has really grown a nice audience thanks to DVD).
What I decided to do was take a look at some ratings, and point out some popular shows you’d be better off skipping, and some gems you should really start watching.
Watch: Modern Family (ABC)
Forget Community. This is the best new comedy (and best new show overall) to grace the airwaves this new season. It’s full of rich characters, none of which take away from the show as a whole, and all of whom add more layers to the show. It takes a mockumentray approach, strong writing, and the ability to not slap you in the face with overt, tacky sentimentality, and blends them all together into a hilarious, yet also very real comedy.
Watch: Parks and Recreation (NBC)
This is the most overlooked show on NBC’s Stellar Thursday night line-up. And, after 30 Rock, it’s actually the BEST show in that line-up. The ensemble cast is strong top to bottom, and the show never forgets to bring the funny (which sometimes The Office forgets to do these days and Community never does). The show boasts strong writing and has really evolved in its new season, and the addition of Louis CK as a regular cast member is ALWAYS a good thing. And unlike The Office, every cast member and character adds something fresh and fun to the show. They haven’t yet become caricatures of themselves.
Skip: Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
Now, I’m not and have never really been a reality TV junkie. I watched Survivor in it’s early seasons, and thought it made for some pretty tense and entertaining TV. With this latest juggernaut, however, I do not see the fascination that the 17+ million viewers see. It’s mostly a group of upper-C level celebs learning various styles of dancing. And, while not as annoying, pandering, or downright tacky as American Idol, I still can’t find the value of it.
Skip: The Jeff Dunham Show (Comedy Central)
Dunham’s puppet thing doesn’t appeal to me or my sense of humor, but it seems to make some people laugh. I appreciate the art of it, and I think it can be funny in the right hands. However, Dunham is just way too lowest common denominator for me. I understand that everyone has different tastes. I just can’t for the life of me understand why people think it’s so damn funny.
Watch: Tosh.0 (Comedy Central)
Here’s an example of a comedian having a unique premise and executing it as well as possible. I resisted watching the show at first because I hate finding shows I think are funny only to see them be canceled after 6 episodes, but Tosh has stuck around for a few months now. The show is funny, as he takes internet videos and basically is just a smarmy asshole commenting on them. It’s original, it’s funny, and it’s simple.
Watch: Californication (Showtime)
Talk about a show returning to its former glory. After a second season that felt very uneven and without much direction, the 3rd season has come back in and swept me off my feet like the first season did. We’ve got Hank teaching at a Prep School, and he’s involved in a Love Square involving his Ex-Wife, a Student, his T.A., and the Dean’s Wife. It takes characters who shouldn’t be likable and makes them real, rather than a show like Entourage that has unlikeable characters, and then just makes them all blatant douchebags.
With that all said, I guess it all boils down to personal taste. If you like Community, then by all means, watch it. Just stick around for a half-hour if you don’t already and give Parks and Recreation a shot. Maybe you enjoy watching celebrities dance outside their regular element. It’s mindless entertainment, and go ahead and sit back, relax, and enjoy it. Maybe you like hacky, gimmick-driven comedians who have to rely on puppets as characters because they personally can’t do anything funny or implore a certain trait called being subtle, and has to hit you over the head with these obvious, tacky character puppets who provide cliched humor for obvious quips who aren’t funny enough by themselves. If that’s your cup of tea, then go watch The Jeff Dunham Show, and I weap for your sense of humor.