the new tv season

Battlestar Galactica

    Still the best scifi I've ever seen on television. Pick up the DVDs if you haven't seen the whole thing. I thought the 4-episode intro "miniseries" was good but not great, but seasons 1 and 2 have been consistently awesome.


    Still enjoying this a lot, though as usual, it's taking a long time to reveal anything. Probably the second-best thing on tv at the moment.


    Pretty entertaining. It's basically just a soap opera, but it's got a few interesting characters. I'm slightly curious about how historically accurate it is, but on the other hand, if I actually cared, I'd already know.


    A story about a pot-dealing suburban mom. It's pretty funny so far, but I'm reserving judgement. I really liked Mary-Louise Parker when she was on the West Wing. (But what's up with her weirdly immobile face? Is that what Botox does?)

And of course, I've wasted a number of hours of my life watching shitty TV so that you don't have to:

Stargate SG-1

    Like I said in my last giant TV post, I thought SG-1 really took a nose-dive in the last 2-3 seasons, especially when they started focusing on the human-form replicators (which is the same catastrophic error Trek made with the Borg: utterly alien intelligences are scary. When you turn them into just another Snidely Whiplash, you've totally blown it.)

    Then the last season finale really stuck a fork in everything they'd been doing for the last ~6 years: the Goa'uld were crushed, the replicators were all dead, meaning the Asgard's war with them is over, meaning their weekly excuse for "why don't the Asgard just fix this for them?" is gone...

    So, they pretty much rebooted at the beginning of this season. The first half of the season was basically "Farscape Invades Stargate", and there's a new Big Bad. It's almost like they're doing a new "spinoff" show but keeping the same name. That works for me.

Stargate Atlantis

    I have upgraded Atlantis from "fucking sucks, I am only watching this because I am a pathetic fanboy" to "mediocre, with occasional pain". Which is to say, this season has been a lot better than last season.

    I despise half the characters, and don't recognise the rest. I cringe every time Vulcan Chick opens her mouth, I want to punch Whiny Scientist Guy every time he speaks, Moody Military Guy Who Is Always Right bores me to fucking tears (do they write him directly from the Cliffs Notes or what? Why is this cardboard cut-out the lead?) and I think the look of the Atlantis set has less charm than most of the cubicle farms I've worked in. I guess I don't mind Russian Scientist Sidekick, because he always has this air of "what the fuck is wrong with you people" about him that I also feel while watching the show. But New Moody Asskicker With The Dreads is kind of entertaining. And they have been keeping the stupid Albino Space Vampires mercifully far in the background lately.


    I guess this is just another fucking Invasion of the Body Snatchers clone, this time as a soap opera, but it's got such a slow build that I predict that we're not going to learn a thing about what's really going on for half the season, and frankly, I already don't care. The acting is deplorable. There is a precocious child.

    And -- mark my words -- there will be a Friendly Alien Invader With Second Thoughts. Oh yes.

Night Stalker

    Wow, I thought it couldn't get worse than Invasion. But yes. I may go so far as to say that this has some of the worst writing I've ever seen on TV. Take a drink any time someone says "you're the senior crime reporter!" The first episode had the same basic structure as the first episode of the X Files, so I guess they'll be following that pattern but with stupider ideas and no plausible justification for new-Scully's disbelief. It's smirky and insulting. Bleh.

    It also has just about nothing to do with the original Night Stalker series, which itself wasn't terribly good, but was probably better than this.


    Another X Files ripoff, this time with fratboys who listen to 70s rock. They're following their missing father's Bottomless Notebook of Clues while getting sidetracked into killing monsters and ghosts. Bleh.


    I guess this is "CSI 90210" or something. The guy from Angel is in it. It's stupid.


    I guess it's The Abyss as a family values ensemble piece? There's a plague of whales-with-legs coming up to eat people, and the feds are covering it up. Oh, also they shoot lighting and explode. Single Mom and Hick Who Must Know The Truth go on a road trip. Yawn.

American Dad

    Exactly like Family Guy but with less interesting characters. The talking dog is a gay alien, and the idiot father is a Republican who shoots people all the time. Bleh.
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71 Responses:

  1. baconmonkey says:

    Thank you for re-affirming my belief that TV is a soul-sucking wasteland.
    my lack of exposure to it for the past 3 years or so left me with thoughts that it might actually ever have some merrit.

    • nugget says:

      I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. Calista who? Am I supposed to have heard of her? I'm sorry, but I haven't.

    • spoonyfork says:

      Have you ever been told that you sound like this guy?

      Regardless of your reasons for not watching TV, you are correct that over 95% of it is a "soul-sucking wasteland". Any new sci-fi watches like the networks optioned all of the fanfic writers during the early 90s and here is the fruit of their looms. Bad writing has has begot bad writing. Aaron Sorkin is sorely missed.

      BSG is on my very short watchlist. Season one: awesome except one episode. Season two... not so much. :(

  2. rzr_grl says:

    - I am sad I can no longer watch Battlestar Galactica with you. What a great show!
    - I extended my treadmill time half an hour last week because Lost came on the gym's TV (TEE-vee). That is an endorsement if ever there were one.
    - Invasion is the one that's on after Lost, right? I agree: "yawn." And also: "OK, we get it already."
    - Holy shit, you watched Night Stalker?? Who are you?! I knew it was a festering turd from the first commercial.

    Thank you for suffering for the common good.

    • jwz says:

      I used to watch the original Night Stalker when I was like, nine or whatever. So I had to pick that scab. Also, you may have heard, my girlfriend isn't around to talk me out of these things.

  3. badger says:

    Rome has at least a couple of lines of gorgeous dialog perfectly delivered every episode, which is the main reason I keep watching it.

    Supernatural was best described by a friend as "Route 666 - Route 66 meets monster-of-the-week". Lame, IMO.

  4. elegantelbow says:

    I completely agree with your assessment of American Dad, though I think it's worth mentioning that Family Guy is a fresh knock-off of The Simpsons.

    May I recommend Six Feet Under. I think it just ended it's last season, but seasons one through four are available on DVD, and it's quite splendid (but pace yourself -- it's a bit wrenching).

    • jwz says:

      Family Guy seemed a lot funnier than The Simpsons ever was, but then, I stopped watching The Simpsons some time in the early 90s.

      I've seen a few episodes of Six Feet Under, and it didn't grab me.

      • elegantelbow says:


        Perhaps you would enjoy The Vicar of Dibley (which plays on many PBS stations, but I don't know if it's showing where you are).

        • krick says:

          The Vicar of Dibley is f*cking awesome.

          • sherbooke says:

            is less than awesome this side of the pond so I'm assuming you're being ironic right?

            • krick says:

              No, I'm being truthful. I really enjoy it a lot. I was sold when alice said...

              "Well, I can't believe I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and the stuff I can't believe is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter are not butter, and I believe that they both just might in fact be butter, but in cunning disguises, and in fact there's a lot more butter out there than we believe."

      • krick says:

        You have to have a vagina to like Six Feet Under.

        • Demonstrably untrue.

          Though after the first couple of seasons, 6FU's Unbearable Bleakness of Being does get a bit oppressive.

          • sherbooke says:

            6FU didn't do a lot for my panic attacks so I had to stop watching it. Caught a few repeats and it still seemed pretty good if, as you say, relentlessly bleak. Could've done with a few clowns in there if you ask me :-)

  5. bdu says:

    re: American Dad, I hear you, but I forgive it as it was conceived and begun before FG got the go-ahead to come back. The writing is nearly as good as FG, so that makes it worth at least tivo-ing to see if any given week is good. Last week's geek episode was up there with the better Family Guys.

  6. otterley says:

    American Dad: Exactly like Family Guy but with less interesting characters

    The saving grace to this show is that Patrick Stewart plays Agent Smith's boss, and the writers tend to give him the best lines. I almost died laughing after hearing him sing "Little Girls" by Oingo Boingo in his Shakespearean best.

    • krick says:

      Hearing Patrick Stewart say...

      "And when we do catch him, you bet we´ll make him pay. We´re talking weird stuff...butt stuff."

      ...was priceless.

  7. otterley says:

    Also: if you get BBC America (I assume you do, since you have DirecTV), be sure to check out Little Britain. Sue and I think it's one of the funniest skit shows ever created.

    Be advised you may need to use closed-captioning; the accents can be a little thick.

  8. Just curious is you have checked out Threshold?. Aliens from the Fourth Dimension and Brent Stiner is in it as a scientist. Anyways, their screen saver looks like a rip of ElectricSheep.

    • Err, it *is* electric sheep. Yessir, I am a tool.

    • jwz says:

      I haven't.

      You say "Brent Stiner is in it" in a way that suggests you think that would make me do anything other than run screaming in the other direction.

      • ywwg says:

        Brent is not horrible, especially because he's not trying to be funny. What should be a selling point is Peter Dinklage, who is funny not just because he's a dwarf. If you're willing to watch the other crappy invasion shows, you'll be able to watch this without a problem.

  9. inoshiro says:

    I get these channels (being in Canada, I'm not too far removed from US culture). When I head on over to to find out more about this series, I get this great page:


    We at Showtime Online express our apologies; however, these pages are intended for access only from within the United States."

    I'm glad the BBC doesn't block me!

  10. cygnus says:

    Someone got to this before I could, but you neglected to either watch or mention "Threshold". Carla Gugino (from the short-lived "Karen Sisco" show, and the lesbian parole officer from "Sin City"), Brent Spiner, and Peter Dinklage, the dwarf from "The Station Agent", and "Living in Oblivion", one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. The show is another Body Snatchers type, but it's rife with good one-liners, and hell, it's fun to see Spiner in something again.

    Also, if you get a chance... Showtime's "Dead Like Me" is one of the best shows I've ever seen. It's available on DVD, both seasons. I think SHO ditched it because of low viewership, but... damn, what a great show. Mandy Patinkin as a grim reaper; nuff said, I think.

    • jwz says:

      Dead Like Me was awesome. I miss it.

      There is nothing in the world that will make me change channels faster than seeing Data open his mouth, so telling me that Spiner's in something is very much not a selling point.

      • cygnus says:

        Fair enough; I'm just impressed that CBS cast a dwarf in a role that wasn't specifically geared for a dwarf, and Dinklage has always been amusing.

        I've heard rumors that DLM may be picked up by a regular network... which bothers me. It just doesn't seem like they'd be able to maintain the level of morbid humor if it went to non-PPV. But yeah, excellent show.

  11. sumppis says:

    You should check out "My name is Earl". White trash guy tries to do good. Hilarity ensues.

    • forthdude says:

      After witnessing the crap that is "Out of Practice" and "How I Met Your Mom" I was not expecting to find any decent sitcoms this season, but "My Name is Earl" was actually good: it was shot well, it had a clever story and it was funny as hell. Of course, this is all based on a single episode...

  12. I was surprised you didn't add Threshold to your list of new crappy sci fi shows.

    I actually enjoy Surface, mainly because it seems to take itself a bit less seriously than Threshold and Invasion do. Surface has all the stereotypes, but it realizes it does, too. And I think they do suspense pretty well, too.

    Prison Break is easily the most engrossing and addictive new show out there, but it didn't make your list. Why? It's got some obvious dorky plot devices, but they sure know how to build a cliff to dangle you off of.

  13. srattus says:

    damn. you watch a fearsome amount of bad television.

  14. bifrosty2k says:

    Strangely enough, I kinda like Bones, but I'm not sure why.
    Its not not nearly as good as the CSI franchise, but hey, its on Fox so what do you expect. I liked Crossing Jordan for whatever reason, so who knows

    I like American Dad quite a bit, the musical number at the start makes me sing along. The perverted german goldfish is my favorite character.

    The only other TV I really like is House, partially because I like Hugh Laurie from his BBC days, and its amusing to watch a brit speak with an american accent. That and the sarcasm is spread thick.

    New Night Stalker == SAD

    • I watched one episode of House and I liked him and the plot but disliked pretty much everything else.

    • deepakjois says:

      The only other TV I really like is House, partially because I like Hugh Laurie from his BBC days, and its amusing to watch a brit speak with an american accent. That and the sarcasm is spread thick.

      Second that. House is a show I really like. The newest season is not airing here in Singapore yet, but then thats what bittorrent is for :)

      • strfsh says:

        House and Scrubs are the only doctor shows I watch, probably b/c they're not straight-up doctor shows or soap operas. ER and Chicago Hope were good back in the day but, heavens, there is a limit to how many times you can make that fresh. House is at risk of getting a little soapy and the nature of the show (solve a puzzle) is formulaic but overall it's got good people and if you're going to watch a solve-a-puzzle-every-week show at least this one mixes it up a bit.

        Scrubs is the only sitcom I watch probably because it's not really a sitcom; most of my favorite episodes are when it's dealing with really serious issues (usually death since it's a hospital, sometimes friendship, other psychology) and trying to figure out how to make sense of the hard stuff. The sort of intense moments tend to hit you harder b/c the comedy has you off-balance.

        Bones, unlike the CSIs also says a sense of humor (hmm... I'm sensing a pattern), and I also feel like it has a right to exist because of the whole "based on a true story" angle. Of course I probably wouldn't watch it if it didn't have David Boreanaz in it, but Emily Deschanel pulls of her quirky character well and they have good on-screen chemistry (including but not limited to sexual tension; it's almost like a buddy comedy ...).

        • strfsh says:

          Lest on this scifi leaning blog, you think I like soap operas and formula tv, I got here because I also think Battlestar Galactica is the best show on television right now. Though they totally ripped their last episode from the early nineties best-scifi-show-on-tv-back-then Space:Above and Beyond. With Lost as a irresistable but somewhat distant second.

  15. doublejack says:

    Your criticism of SG1 doesn't apply to Battlestar Galactica because... (no, I know -- because BsG has great writers and makes it work.)

    I just got hooked on Deadwood last month...1st season was fantastic -- even better if you really like the word "cocksucker." Can't find a fast-enough torrent of the second season episodes, though.

    West Wing still isn't quite up to Aaron Sorkin levels (Wells seems to have dumbed down most of the characters, particularly Josh), but the new election story arc is riveting -- especially since I can't for the life of me feel confident predicting who will win. (O.k., I think it'll *have* to be Alan Alda... except, no, it'll probably be Jimmy Smits...unles...ah, crap.)

    I'd like to check out "My Name is Earl," but my ReplayTV is non-operatando for the time being.

    Otherwise, I either agree with you or thank you for helping me steer clear of the dreck.

    • netik says:

      Swerington (to the china man): cocksucker. I'm glad I taught you that word.

      I'm waiting for Season three so badly. It's going to be amazing. I think it starts in Janurary?

    • mightymu says:

      West Wing without Sorkin is simply not West Wing. It's some sad other show with vaguely-similar characters. I felt very bad when I turned off my TV mid-episode at the beginning of last season. :(

    • shawnj says:

      Can't find a fast-enough torrent of the second season episodes, though.

      If you thought Season one was fantastic, wait until you get about halfway through Season two.

    • batilda says:

      "my name is earl" is one of the funniest things i lately saw on TV! definitely worth checking out.
      as for the other stuff that is mentioned here, IMHO only BsG is really good (great soundtrack btw). "lost": i was pretty into it for about 2-3 first episodes. and then they lost it. if you wanna have some laughs, go to the site of "television without pity" and read their forums and recaps of "lost".
      i watch also "desperate housewives", "arrested development", and recently discovered "veronica mars", and i recommend all of these.

  16. jorm says:

    "Rome" is, at least, moderately accurate from the historical sense. Most of the "detail" events are obviously purely conjecture (esp. Attia's schemes and everything involving Titus Pollo and his grumpy pal), but the larger events (Caesar vs. Pompey, Kato's hatred of him, and even his affair with Servilia) are real events (though, the affair got outed in a totally different way than what was portrayed).

    Still good stuff. My favorite character is Octavian. I like the actor (who was in "Master and Commander" and was great there), and he manages to make me believe that he, a stripling kid, will become the first (and greatest) Emperor of Rome at the age of 19.

    Re: Battlestar: Holy Dammit Christmas. I don't know if it's possible to make me scream "AUGH! YOU CAN'T END THE SEASON LIKE THAT!" any louder. January won't come soon enough. This is consistently the best written sci-fi I've ever seen, if only because I'm always kept guessing: Ron Moore seems to have no compunctions about totally up-ending the status quo, unlike most shows. In any Star Trek, you know that by the end of the episode everyone will be back at their stations and be buddy buddy. Here, all bets are off.

  17. smokedamage says:

    thank you for your dangerous research

  18. netik says:

    I do have to admit when I saw Claudia Black and Ben Browder on Stargate that my GF and I squeeled with glee.

    It was almost like we got Farscape back, for a few episodes.

  19. marmoset says:

    I've been really happy to see DaVinci's Inquest (a CBC import) picked up and syndicated in the US, and I can't wait for the seventh season to start up on CBC. Awesome show -- great acting, snappy writing. It's a coroner/police procedural with characters far more interesting than the empty ciphers on "CSI".

  20. nth_order says:

    Galactica is not bad but it is too Melrose Place in space for me. The drunken CO, his manipulative wife and the pregnant Cylon. I'm also not sure how the humanized Cylons are any less of a letdown then the humanized borg or replicators.

    My real question is, given the Cylons advanced biotechnology, FTL and AI. Why are they still running around with machine guns and landmines? I have to admit though, I love the hand cannons the Galactica crew carries.

    • hwc says:

      "Why are they still running around with machine guns and landmines?"

      Because lasers make lousy weapons? What are you going to do, blind your enemies?

    • strfsh says:

      Not sure if you're talking about Cylon technology or Galactica's technology but with Galactica there's the whole backstory where the ship was about to be decommissioned so it's made old and Adama doesn't like networking b/c of vulnerability to computer (i.e. Cylon) hacking. Doesn't account for any lack of technology on Pegasus. Plus the show paying to tribute the original by being not just dissimilar to uber-futuristic Star Trek style, but also kind of retro gritty 70s.

      There's huge diff between borg and Cylons because as a rule borg don't look human so there's not infiltration aspect (right? next generation was kind of before my time). Luckily I missed that season of SG-1 so I don't know anything about replicators.

  21. nickharbour says:

    The historical setting for rome seems pretty accurate, but the costumes are a good bit off. This is mostly due to the fact that nobody ever won an emmy or an oscar for costume design by following history, and thus no show or movie has ever been accurate in this department.

  22. kzinti says:

    "The talking dog is a gay alien..."

    Not just any gay alien, but a gay alien who speaks with the voice of Paul Lynde. What more could you ask for in a talking dog?

  23. jason0x21 says:

    Nightstalker had me more or less going along with it until about 3/4 of the way through, when they uttered the phrase that even now haunts my dreams...

    "Chemical LoJack"

    Jesus people, it's a pilot. At least, you know, try not to write yourself into a corner.

  24. robcallahan says:

    BG could stand more frequent killer robot battles, but is still the best thing on television right now.

    I'm surprised Arrested Development didn't get a mention.

  25. roninspoon says:

    I'd find New Moody Asskicker With The Dreads a little more compelling if his name wasn't Ronan, and he wasn't just seething with bad boy loner heart of goldness. I mean, Ronan? Everyone pronounces the name Ronin. Who came up with that name? George Lucas?

  26. g_na says:

    We only made it through a handful of Stargate Voyager Atlantis episodes. I had to stop watching before I clawed my own eyes out. I almost stopped watching SG-1 after several episodes with that manipulative thinks-herself-so-beautiful girl. Luckily they sent her off and the show is now tolerable again.

    I think I'm ready to start watching SG-1 again from the beginning, to remember how good it used to be.

  27. jqmark says:

    Not sure if you can get back in the US but Trailer Park Boys is funniest fucking thing I have seen on a TV ever.
    I know they are wokring on a movie but it will probably suck. I am going to try and bring back the DVDs when i return.

    • There's been interesting articles about how it's way more popular in say, Toronto, than small town Nova Scotia. I never got into it, but haven't really given it a proper shot.

      • jqmark says:

        I jsut starting getting in to it. Took me a few minutes to get over the low quality but i got over that as soon as I realized that the characters where people I grew up with. I could see how it would be more popular with those that moved out of the trailer park though

  28. inkbot says:

    lost: we are all watching this. why are we not all watching this together? (i hear you thinking, "because we're not 19 anymore?!" good point.)

    fargate and stargate atlanthissss: totally agree, yet i keep watching!

    thought nothing could be worse than invasion...till i saw nightstalker. lestat 2 can't get nab another movie? and what's with the werechupacabras? totally lame.

    i'll have to catch up on battlestar. that train just kept going, and i couldn't jump on. will netflix if posseeblay.

  29. superlib says:

    Whatever you do... do not EVER EVER let someone fool you into observing a children's show called 'The Doodlebops'. My husband put it on just to show me what madness the TiVo had picked up. I still have nightmares.

  30. violentbloom says:

    Oh my god you haven't been watching House???
    hugh laurie! as a sarcastic witty mean doctor who more or less experiments on people to save their lives, though really it's more to see how people react. You have to watch at least one episode and see if you don't like it.

  31. sleepsheep says:

    BSG: OMG

    SG-1(etc): yawn.

    NightStalker: Kept thinking "This has got to become cool soon." nope.

    Rome: I like, but ever see I Claudius?

    Bones: Did anyone else think of that song: "Skully and Angel on the kitchen floor"?

  32. irma_vep says:

    I would take all those over the creepy serial killer and pedophile murder shows.

  33. cnoocy says:

    It's between seasons now, but since you'll need to download the episodes anyway, that doesn't matter so much. Some very good writing, and clever nods to the original series.