Normally, around this time of year, I'd write the second half of my "What I'm Watching" TV-recommendation post. In September, I like to give a summary of my possible TV schedule for the season; when winter hiatus ends, I follow up with what made the cut and why. The "What I'm Watching" thing is, however, obviously problematic this year. Striking writers, and all. In terms of current non-reality shows, I'm watching very little at all.
Which doesn't mean I haven't made good use of the time. I miss my shows, and I'm so, so smad for the writers and the non-writer folks who aren't working because "we don't know if the internet's gonna make any money," but I'd be lying if I said my TV was gathering dust. This is like a weirdly placed summer break. All this time to catch up on all the shows I've ignored over the years? It's not ideal, but it sure does cut down on the "things I should have watched but haven't" list. And so I present What I'm Watching: Strike! Edition.
Friday Night Lights
I'm not sure what NBC would have to do to get people to watch Friday Night Lights (make it look less like a football-themed teen drama?), but I feel like personally going to everybody I know, looking deep into their eyes, and saying with great gravitas, "You must watch this show." I don't care who you are: young, old, single, married, into TV, not into TV, whatever. If you like stories about people, and if you have a heart pumping blood through your body, I dare you to watch the first disc of the first season and not fall crazily in love with Dillon, TX. This show is spectacularly written and spectacularly acted, but those are only the means to a funny, sad, real, heart-breaking, head-nodding, "that's so true!"-inducing end. "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," indeed. (Bonus: First season: $20 at full price! Unheard-of! Watch it today!)
I've often said that The Office is a groundbreaking show, the kind of TV that will change the medium. I still think that. But I have to give props: before there was The Office, there was Arrested Development. My brother gave me the complete series (three seasons) for Christmas, and this show has been a weird, hilarious bright spot in early 2008: a half-hour comedy with an ongoing plot and jokes that build on themselves for whole seasons at a time. For the uninitiated, it's about "a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son that had no choice but to keep them all together" (It's in the theme song). Other than that, there's really nothing to explain, except that Will Arnett doing his Mexican chicken dance will never not reduce me to tears. Just...helpless, sometimes guilty, laughter. So, so funny.
I was saving LOST for a rainy day, and that day came when I visited Maggie in Phoenix and she sent me home with her first-season DVDs. Now, can we face facts for a moment? This show is CRAZY. Tropical-island-with-polar-bears-and-monsters-and-underground-faux-Cold-War-Buddhist-bunkers crazy. But I love it. I love the first season for making me care (mostly) about an almost infinite number of character relationships (14 factorial!), and I think I love the second season even more, for having an actual plot and for creeping the heck out of me on a regular basis ("I'm Henry Gale. I'm from Minnesota." Ack!), and for having Sawyer show up, drunk, in everyone's backstory. Heh. It's weird and intense, but also deeply rooted in character--it has to be, to make us care deeply about that many fictional people--and full of nice little moments. It's ambitious and sometimes silly, but rarely boring. Bonus: Season 4 starts January 31! New TV for this wasteland of a season! Totally worth it.
So that's the current roster. But, really (and don't tell the AMPTP this or we'll be TV-less for a lot longer), I could go for awhile. I have the first season of Six Feet Under burning a hole in my DVD shelf, and Battlestar Galactica, Bleak House, the second season of Weeds, and Dead Like Me sitting on my Netflix queue. And Masterpiece Theatre's doing the complete Jane Austen on Sundays. And if we're stuck long-term, I can always break out the big guns: Buffy and Angel, which is a combined...what, eleven seasons? Don't think I won't, guys. I'm just looking for a reason (besides pregnancy bed rest and bunion surgery, which have been my go-to Buffy/Angel watchwords). I'm here for the long haul. (But please, can we have our TV back?)