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Best and Worst of 2006: Brett's List

by Brett Love, posted Jan 8th 2007 10:02AM
Matthew Perry, Colin Ferguson, Jesse Plemons2006 was a good year for television, but then all years are good years for television. Nostalgia often makes us think that things were better way back when, but I wouldn't trade my hundreds of channels of digital cable for the three networks on the rabbit ears for anything. Even the somewhat obscure channels like The-N (South of Nowhere), GSN (High Stakes Poker), and IFC (Henry Rollins Show) manage to bring some good stuff to the table. Of course, things are never all rosey, but we'll get to that later. First, some of the best things about TV this past year.

NBC's handling of Studio 60 and Friday Night Lights - Many of us, myself included, are quick to jump on the networks when they dump a show just a few episodes in. So it's worth acknowledging that the network has been more than patient with these two shows. Many shows that have come before them have been blown right off the schedule for generating similar ratings. Studio 60 kicked off their season with ratings that declined week after week and, honestly, Friday Night Lights just never had any ratings to begin with. I really hope their patience pays off and audiences find these shows. They both deserve to see a second season.

Eureka - This one came out of nowhere for me. I had heard about it, and seen the previews, but I completely underestimated how good it would be. Fun plots, a good cast, and it never took itself too seriously. Sci Fi was quick to order up a second season after the show became their highest rated program of 2006.

More Choices - As I mentioned before, I love the digital cable. Along with all of those channels, Comcast has been doing a good job growing their OnDemand service. The interface is a little clunky, and made more so once you incorporate a DVR, but the content just keeps getting better and better. They are starting to get more network shows that are available at your convenience, and with the huge collection of free movies, there really is never a time when there is nothing on.

Landrey, Trouty, and Kenneth - The stars of the shows get most of the press, and most of the screen time, but these three are my favorite sideline characters. From Friday Night Lights, My Boys, and 30 Rock, respectively, all of them add so much to their shows. Matt Saracen's story wouldn't be nearly as fun if we didn't have Landry to drop his pearls of wisdom in from time to time. Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy is fantastic, but Kenneth steals every scene the two share. And I don't even know where to start with Trouty. He's just so... Trouty. He made the last half of the My Boys season.

And now, some of the bad from 2006 TV

Taye DiggsABC's handling of Day Break - As much as I appreciate what NBC has done with Studio 60 and FNL, I'm at a loss to figure out what the hell ABC is up to. I'm not going to hammer them for pulling Day Break from the Wednesday at 9 slot. The ratings were dreadful, and getting worse by the week. However, it's kind of like my favorite sports talk host Mitch in the Morning says when someone calls in wanting to fire a coach. "Who are you going to replace him with?" And that is where ABC dropped the first ball. It's fine to juggle the schedule and, yes, take off shows that are not getting the ratings. But if you don't have any sort of plan for what you are going to do, you're better off not making a change. And replacing Day Break with reruns of According to Jim and George Lopez is a big freaking neon sign flashing "We have no plan!"

But wait... there's more. As bad as it was to pull the show with nothing to replace it with, they manage to further bungle things. Originally the word was that the remaining episodes would be shown online. That would have been a reasonable compromise, so fans could see the end of the series. Then, mysteriously, the next episode didn't show up and there were reports of "music clearance issues." And looking now, none of the episodes are available online, and Day Break has been removed from the ABC website. I suppose there is hope for a DVD, but with all of this ABC deserves to be the 4th place network on Wednesday night, just like they are.

My Bare Lady - Not all of those fun choices on the digital cable are good ones. I get Fox Reality, and My Bare Lady is one of their original programs. The idea behind the show isn't inherently bad, but the execution was. I think a good show could have been made if the idea had been to look at the girls that star in porn films in a different way. As with any walk of life, the people you bump into differ in many and varied ways. Rather than that though, they went for the cheap joke any time they could get it. Rather than try and show something new, what I saw of the show amounted to trying to see how many innuendos and double entendres they could work in to the voice over script. They weren't laughing with the girls, they were laughing at them.

The introduction of Niki and Paolo - That ABC Wednesday night is just troubled, man. But I say the "introduction" because I'm not ready to write off Niki and Paolo as a mistake just yet. There might be a good story to tell with those two characters yet. Even giving them the benefit of the doubt on that though, how they brought these two in was some of the most ham-handed writing/directing/producing on any show. Not only did it annoy a large segment of viewers, but it undercut the future plans for the characters. Niki and Paolo are both, though Paolo more than Niki I think, now fighting an uphill battle. Many viewers are already predisposed to loathe them.

Pinks and the cop-out ending - I've mentioned before that I watch a lot of racing. As part of that, I also end up watching a lot of programming on Speed, including most of the episodes of Pinks. It's a great idea for a show, with a great tag line. "Lose the race, lose your ride." The problem is that all too often, that's not the case. Off the top of my head, there was the time when the losing team only gave up a helmet. And the time when neither of the two motorcycle racers were willing to actually race for their bikes, so they went halves on a bike that was about an eighth of the value and raced for that. And we can't forget the time they just called it a draw and went home. I always hated ties in hockey, and I hate them in drag racing too. Then there was the time that after the race the winner gave the loser his car back. And if that doesn't make you at least consider pre-show conspiracy, you need to watch more X-Files reruns. The hook is racing for pink slips. It's right there in the title. When you let that go, it's just a so-so drag race show.

Now I need to go make a note so I remember Armed and Famous for next year's list...Happy New Year!

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Linda Savage

"It ain't broke....don't fix it!" Studio 60 is a gem. It is engrossing, witty, fast paced and very well written. My husband, who is of the Simpson's, (Seinfeld) and Meet the Press clique says the timing and character development is fine. I am of the Friday Night Lights and Meredith Viera bunch and I appreciate the slick styling of the show. We both love 24 and this is only the second TV show in the history of our marriage that we share and watch religiously.

On the negative side, the title is cumbersome. Drop the Sunset Strip. This show needs time. It would be a mistake if you choose not to renew the contract for 2007-2008.

January 19 2007 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Brady

One show I'm not seeing mentioned anywhere on TV Squad is Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel. The dry humor, the (oft-times silly) situations, the natural but crazy characters he meets, and even some "So that's how they do that!" moments make this show a must-Season-Pass on our Tivo.

For a many similar reasons I'd also mention Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel. His show from Beirut, filmed in the middle of July 2006 as war flared up was a fascinating and saddening picture of war from the ground level. That episode is surely worthy of some kind of award.

January 09 2007 at 9:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TVaholic

I have to totally agree with you on giving NBC some credit for keeping both Studio 60 and Friday Night Lights on the air given their lackluster ratings. I really like both of them, especially Lights and Landry is one of the best side characters on the tube right now.

Also, ABC's handling of Day Break is downright pathetic. Promising that you would know everything after just 13 weeks and then canceling the show after six is unbelievably bad. Each time a network does this, another bunch of people vow to not watch another of these types of series because they don't want to become invested, only to have the show pulled out from under them. This makes the group willing to watch the next show even smaller, which makes the show more likely to be pulled early, which makes another group of people take the vow. This is quite the downward spiral the networks have created and thus their present dwindling audience.

Lastly, Comcast onDemand is outstanding for the most part. The interface isn't the greatest but the content and having access to it whenever you want is.

On a side note, I never get to hear Mitch in the Morning much. I tend to be listening to the radio more around the time Groz with Gas is on.

January 09 2007 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SeanTubbs

I agree with your top best, definitely. Though, I will happy to see one complete season of Studio 60. With FNL, I think maybe it may be a well-remembered complete one-season, which fits so much nicer on a DVD. A complete season is a hit, watchable in a weekend. I've not seen it, though, but will sample it at some point before NBC's free preview on nbc.com ends.

As for ABC, yeah, I want so much to be done with Lost, but it's hard, considering that the preview for it looks so good. But, you can already sense they are going to distribute only a little bit of plot information over the next 16 weeks. Lost needs to be wrapped up quickly, or we'll be getting Cousin Oliver revealed as one of the background castaways.

January 08 2007 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jDub

He's talking about Lost and he's right. For two such attractive people, it is hard to believe how much I hope we don't see them again. They just don't fit in. They weren't given a back story and it's as if the creators just want us to play along that they've been there the whole time. I would have noticed Paolo, trust me.

January 08 2007 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brett Love

Sorry about that TomB. Nicki and Paolo are two new characters on Lost, that we are to believe have been there all along.

January 08 2007 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tammy

I'm still mad about Day Break. I queued up the DVD on Netflix but I bet the DVD doesn't happen. I couldn't bring myself to cancel the season pass on my Tivo just yet. They promised they would give it a full run so what's wrong with Sat night? I would even take ABC Family at 1 am or something. I have to know what happens to Hopper.

January 08 2007 at 3:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TomB

Who the heck are Niki and Paolo? What show are you talking about? You didn't mention it.

January 08 2007 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jeff smith

Eureka is the best show in Sci-Fi (sorry BSG fans show has become to preachy and not enough action). Great cast and storylines mixed in with some fantastic writing.

January 08 2007 at 1:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anthony Lynch

Someone mentioned Eureka.
That was just a great show.
Kyle XY is suddenly coming into my head as another unmentioned top show.

January 08 2007 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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