A couple of weeks ago I did a wrap-up of my opinions of some of the TV I watched this past season. I held back on two shows because they hadn’t yet ended their seasons or their runs and others were cut because the column was getting too blamed long. So I’m going to try to finish up and include some shows that finished their “seasons” a while back but are about to start new seasons this summer. Looking back is a way of looking forward. First, however, a quick look at two shows among my faves and that are linked.
The Daily Show/The Colbert Report. These two almost have to be discussed together. The “fake news show” and the fake news commentary show. I have to admit I watch the Daily Show more often than The Colbert Report. While I admire the latter, Colbert’s persona – a terrific send-up of right wing on air demagogues – gets a little hard for me to watch at times. It’s right on the money.
What I love about The Daily Show is there is a sense of moral outrage and while a lot of it is aimed at the Bush Administration – justifiably – a lot also goes right at the media itself. It’s a serious show that makes use of comedy and makes me laugh out loud more often than not. Jon Stewart is brilliant on a consistent basis and his gang of reporters – while not overall the best the series has had – has some truly shameless members like Samantha Bee.
Stephen Colbert was the “star reporter” for a long time on The Daily Show until they launched his spin-off show, The Colbert Report, a send-up of Bill O’Reilly and all the other right-wing, self-important blowhards doing commentary on TV and radio. I admire the show tremendously; so much of it falls on Colbert. Given the nature of the show, there isn’t a cast of “reporters” that he can fall back on. And there are truly gonzo moments that pop up, such as Colbert’s guitar showdown or the green screen challenge that featured Stephen with a lightsaber and invited viewers to finish it and submit their offerings. George Lucas himself came on the show as one of the two finalists – and lost. It’s just that some nights I’m just not in the mood. It’s me, Stephen, not you.
Doctor Who. This is no-brainer for me. I’m a long time fan and the new series brought me right in again. Christopher Eccleston did a fabulous job in Season One and now David Tennant is just as good in a different way as the latest incarnation of our time/space traveling hero. It’s not that every episode is brilliant or that every concept is the best; that was never the attraction. But for all the fact that the Doctor is a Time Lord from an alien planet, the show remains one of the most human of S/F shows and consistently celebrates humanity. I love it.
Eureka. I also love this show. The concept is that there is this small town in the Pacific Northwest which is the home for some of the most brilliant scientific minds in the country who live and work in a safe, supportive, small town environment. Rural weirdness ensues. Think The X-Files meets Mayberry RFD. The local garage mechanic also happens to be a genius-grade engineer. The new town sheriff is a regular guy, a U.S. Marshall who happened to come on the town and helped with one of their problems. The fact that he is just a normal Joe with no more scientific background than the rest of us makes him the perfect alter-ego for the audience who are also new to the place and, probably, not world class brains (I’m not). Colin Ferguson plays Sheriff Jack Carter; he has a deft comedic timing, along with being a good looking guy, that makes him not only a great lead but a solid anchor for the weirdness that goes on around him. The show combines humor, well thought out science fiction ideas, characterizations that take surprising twists and is, overall, terrifically well written. It attracted more viewers than anything other series on SciFi and the new season starts in July.