What I'm watching this summer: Joel's list
But when I really thought about it, that's not even close to being true. Despite the fact that it's summer, there's more than enough quality programming that I'm sure I'll get sucked into some weekly habits at some point. So, after the jump, here's what I plan on watching:
Fall pilots: Rough-cut versions of the fall pilots have been streaming into TV Squad HQ, and I've watched about 80% of them. Overall, I'd say that the standard established last year was maintained, but the premises of the plots are just not as interesting as the ones I saw in 2006. I mean, do we really need two shows about a group of powerful female friends dealing with their imperfect lives (Lipstick Jungle, Cashmere Mafia) and a show about a group of powerful male friends dealing with their imperfect lives (Big Shots)? Are more gory, crime procedurals really necessary? There have been a few gems in the mix -- The IT Crowd, Pushing Daisies, Miss/Guided, Reaper -- but much of it seems like we've seen it all before.
Anyway, come August, we'll start to get the final versions of all the pilots, and the viewing cycle will start all over again. Hey, it's better than watching America's Got Talent....
Last Comic Standing: Every year I tell myself I'm not going to watch this mess of a reality show, but my love of stand-up comedy keeps me coming back. Even though I know that none of the people they're picking are truly "unknowns," and that comedians are often chosen for the final round for reasons that have nothing to do with how funny they are, I still like watching the stand-up on the show, especially as it gets to the later stages. And, with our resident stand-ups, Paul Goebel and Jay Black, reviewing the show this year, I'll be eager to see their inside dope on a) the process of how this show is put together, and b) on the stand-up business in general.
Monk: I haven't watched this show on a regular basis for quite a while. But this past winter, I followed around show creator Andy Breckman for a couple of days as part of an upcoming magazine profile I wrote about him. During that time, I sat in with the show's writers and saw their process of breaking down a story into an outline that would form the basis for an episode's script. So I'm curious to see how the episodes I watched the writers work on finally turned out.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: When the 2006-07 season ended, I swore I wouldn't do episode reviews until the new season started in the fall. But then I remembered that It's Always Sunny was coming back for a third season later this summer. Talk about perfect summer fare; there's nothing to think about or mull over. All there is to do is sit back and laugh at the boys (and girl) from Paddy's Pub acting like idiots. Danny DeVito is coming back for another go as Frank, the erstwhile father to Dennis and Dee (and real father to Charlie). Jonathan has been generous enough to split the episode reviews with me, and I can't wait.
Rescue Me episodes with Artie Lange: Because I listen to Howard Stern's Sirius show, I've been hearing about Lange's recurring role on Denis Leary's FX dramedy for quite a long time. I'm curious to see if Artie -- who's great at playing characters that are variations of himself, but that's about it -- can handle the swing from dark comedy to even darker drama that Rescue Me is known for.
My ever-neglected Netflix queue: I have mostly movies on my Netflix queue, and it's been taking me a while to slog through the list, mainly because of all the great TV that's been on this season. Even though I knocked my subscription down to the lowest level, I'm still a profit center for the Netflix folks, as I hung on to Borat for two months and am currently on my third week of seeing Idiocracy sitting unwatched on my bookshelf. Next on the queue? Beer League, Maxed Out, Casino Royale, Venus, The Pursuit of Happyness, Little Children, Notes on a Scandal, Stranger Than Fiction, Thank You for Smoking, and Freedom Writers. At the pace I'm going now, I hope to get to through that list just in time for the opening ceremonies of Beijing Olympics.
Baseball: The beautiful thing about summer to me is that, no matter what day it is, there is almost always a baseball game on somewhere. I won't sit there and concentrate on the game for three hours straight, but give me a Yankee game (or a Met game, if the Yanks are off) to put on in the background while I do other things, and I'm set. It's such an everyday thing that when the season's over in the fall, it takes me a few weeks to get used to the fact that I won't have a default viewing choice in case nothing else is on..
Well, that was much more than I ever expected to write on this topic. What are you folks watching this summer?