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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

 

Ten Observations About TV Today

1. The Sopranos has returned for its final episodes; despite its aging gentility, it's still one of the best hours ever on television. Bobby punching Tony's lights out? Brilliant. I can't help but feel a bittersweet sadness, though, with its series finale only seven episodes away. I'll miss it when it's gone...

2. ...but not too much, because I think I've already found a replacement. FX's new series The Riches, an unpredictable family drama starring the incredible Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, shares much in common with the Sopranos clan: a con man father trying to make his life better, a frustrated but complicit wife, and storylines that zero in on the most gripping elements of plot and character. But unlike Tony and Carmela, The Riches is so inventively odd and precociously surprising, it's like a little treasure every week.

3. The best drama on network TV, Friday Night Lights, has its season finale tomorrow; it promises to be a magnificent episode. It has struggled in the ratings (BrilliantButCanceled recently launched a campaign to save the show), but it deserves a second season...and your attention and viewership. Forget that it's about football (it's about football the same way M.A.S.H. was about the military). Give it a chance...if nothing else, you'll come away agreeing with me that, in a perfect world, Connie Britten would win the Emmy next fall.

4. Isn't it surprising how great Jericho is? Watching the pilot last fall, I thought the premise was too specious to sustain itself over 20 episodes...but it has exceeded my every expectation. Sure, it's a little over the top, like Alias in its best days. But in the era of The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll, what exactly does "over the top" mean?

5. I still haven't recovered from the Battlestar Galactica finale two weeks ago. I've watched it three times on TiVo.

6. Has Top Design been a massive disappointment or what? I can't believe how completely lifeless the series has been, from the poor judges to the unlikeable contestants to a totally dull Todd Oldham...and even worse, it's on Bravo, the masters of reality TV. (Top Design pales in comparison to HGTV's Design Star last summer; the winner of that show, super hunky David Bromstad, has his own show now called Color Splash. We watch it just to see if he takes his shirt off.) Let's hope Top Design was just a rare mistake, and hope for more from Shear Genius, which premieres on Wednesday; the preview and the first challenge look promising, and I love the contestants (which is always key in reality programming).

7. I love Entourage. Not completely sure why -- it's such a straight-boy thing, you know? -- but I do.

8. I often forget to praise what is probably my favorite show on television, because it's on so rarely: Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, on HBO late nights. Last week's season finale, which reunited the cast of 2004's Def Poetry on Broadway, was stunning in its creativity, intensity, and political insight. If there were more shows like this one -- and more people watched -- I'm convinced that Def Poetry could save the world.

9. Heroes is back in mere weeks. Can. Not. Wait.

10. Sanjaya sux. But you knew that. (This entry dedicated to Nathaniel, with love.)

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