Rants & Raves: Lots of television talk to come!

Posted by: Paul Little  //  December 7, 2010 @ 1:03pm

Filed under: TV Rants & Raves

Today, I'm bringing back the ShowbizMonkeys.com feature TV Rants & Raves, which has mostly been stagnant over the last few years (besides the odd post here and there). It began originally as a column for one of our first contributors after our re-launch in the fall of 2007, Antalya de Bayram Tatili, but unfortunately it didn't last long. Its purpose was to talk about a variety of happenings in the world of television -- a healthy mix of rants and raves -- without having to specifically talk about one show (like with recaps).

As we increase our original content on ShowbizMonkeys.com by adding more regular columns and editorials (to go along with the contests, TV and movie listings, TV recaps/reviews, movie reviews, and occasional festival coverage), it felt like a good time to bring this new section back to life. You see, besides running all the behind-the-scenes action for ShowbizMonkeys.com and occasionally posting content, designing websites as a "day job", and leading what I like to think of as an active social life, I also watch a lot of television. And I want to talk about it. You may also be astounded by the fact that, upon recent count, I've regularly watched a total of 56 (that's FIFTY SIX, for those who prefer their numbers written out) television shows during the 2010 calendar year.

Now, some of these shows have had short cable runs, so something like HBO's Bored to Death has only taken up a few hours of my time. Others, like Survivor, produce an average of 40 hours of television each year (between two cycles of the series and 3-hour finales). And then there's the many late night talk shows, which air four or five shows every week. But added all up, only one thing can really be said: I watch a lot of frickin' television.

Besides watching (and mostly enjoying) all these shows, I also tend to keep up with what's going on behind the scenes in the industry, from spoilers to ratings (and thus renewal chances) to production difficulties and everything in between. So while this column won't always be about the same thing -- sometimes it might be about my thoughts on a specific show, other times I might go on a rant about the direction of television as a whole, and I may even pass along some spoilers that I've found out about (giving full credit to their sources, of course). Hopefully I'll be able to keep things funny and entertaining for you all, too!

Today is, of course, just an introduction to what you're going to see in TV Rants & Raves. And, just for the hell of it, I'll give you a list of all the shows that I've watched with some degree of regularity over the past nearly 12 months. That way, you'll know what I'm passionate about and what I follow, because something else I'm hoping to do with this column is answer some questions you may have. Please make full use of the comments section to ask me ANYTHING you'd like about television, and I'll do my best to try and answer it in my next post.

Anyway, below is the list, broken down by network (plus my brief opinion on each show, and an explanation for those shows no longer with us).

ABC

  • Lost (ended last spring -- one of the best shows in modern TV history)
  • Castle (very fun, underrated show -- might be the one I most look forward to watching when sorting through everything on my PVR)
  • Cougar Town (Bill Lawrence, who created Scrubs, has done it again with this gem that combines weird comedy with warm, poignant moments)
  • Rookie Blue (originating on Global in Canada -- dramatic, sometimes soapy cop show that worked fine as summer entertainment)
  • No Ordinary Family (at times frustrating to watch, but pretty fun... unfortunately, season 2 doesn't look good)
  • FlashForward (cancelled last spring -- I enjoyed it, but it probably deserved its cancellation)
  • Grey's Anatomy (not even a guilty pleasure -- more of a "sadly got hooked and keep watching despite being frustrated constantly)
  • Private Practice (show's still going, but I cut it off as of this fall -- sorry Kate Walsh, I still love you, but the show was just too hard to watch)

NBC

  • Community (possibly the best show on television right now!)
  • Parks & Recreation (returns January 20th, and I can't wait)
  • Parenthood (a very well-written, well-acted ensemble)
  • Chuck (still somehow fun after all this time, and somehow still sticking around)
  • 30 Rock (while it may not always be perfect, they haven't made a bad episode yet)
  • Undercovers (cancelled, airing last few episodes -- I am a sucker for spy shows, but unfortunately nobody watched this one)
  • The Office (this season, Steve Carrell's last, is better than last year, but certainly nothing like it was in the first few seasons)
  • Saturday Night Live (loving some of the new blood on the show this year, and The Lonely Island still kill it with the digital shorts)
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (not perfect, but funnier than it's been given credit for)
  • The Event (frustrating but engaging... a long break until new episodes may kill the show, though)
  • Heroes (cancelled last spring -- actually ended well despite a couple bad seasons behind it)

FOX

  • Fringe (best drama on television, and hopefully a move to Fridays in 2011 won't lead to cancellation)
  • The Good Guys (essentially cancelled, airing last few episodes -- which is so sad for this incredibly fun cop show)
  • Raising Hope (best new comedy of 2010)
  • Human Target (glad it came back, though this will probably be it for the really fun action show)
  • House (not nearly what it was even a couple seasons ago, but still a good hour of television)
  • Running Wilde (cancelled, airing last few episodes -- took too long to find its legs, which it did after everyone stopped watching)
  • Bones (dragging a bit, as well, but always entertaining)
  • The Simpsons (still pulls out the odd spectacular episode after, what, 23 seasons now?)

CBS

  • Survivor (this current cycle has mostly sucked, but after 21 seasons, it's still pretty damn fun)
  • The Mentalist (enjoyable to watch, even though it is extremely "mainstream" and originally a bit of a Psych rip-off)
  • How I Met Your Mother (many friends say it's dropped in quality... I totally disagree!)
  • The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (I may not watch Craig every night, but he's so good at what he does)
  • Flashpoint (originates on CTV in Canada -- better than it should be, but the acting is incredibly strong)
  • The Big Bang Theory (I have friends that like this show way more than I do -- more often than not, it has some strong jokes and comedic acting mixed with really poor sitcom-y premises and lazy writing)
  • Hawaii Five-0 (serviceable action show that people seem to enjoy watching)
  • CSI: NY (still watch it, but could stop anytime and it wouldn't affect me in the least)
  • CSI (same thing goes for NY's big brother)
  • Numb3rs (cancelled last spring -- nice mix of family, science, and cop stuff, but had probably done all it could do)

THE CW

  • Life Unexpected (likely to be cancelled before this season is through, which I'm okay with -- it started as a Gilmore Girls-esque peak into small town and family life, but it's become so melodramatic and soapy I can hardly stand to watch it)

CBC

  • Being Erica (incredibly underrated show set in Toronto, dealing with personal and professional drama, and of course time travel therapy)
  • Republic of Doyle (fun as hell P.I. show filmed and set in St. John's, Newfoundland)
  • Men with Brooms (this very Canadian sitcom is way funnier than it should be, but I find myself enjoying it every Monday night)
  • George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (an even better interviewer than Ferguson, but not nearly as funny -- though he's not supposed to be)

USA NETWORK

  • Psych (still possibly my favourite show to watch each week -- last week's Twin Peaks tribute episode was superb!)
  • White Collar (another very fun USA Network show about a con man now working with the FBI)
  • Covert Affairs (as I said, spy shows get me everytime)
  • Royal Pains (an acceptable summer show with a cast who are better than the material)

COMEDY NETWORK

  • The Daily Show (continues to be smart, funny, and sometimes brilliant)
  • The Colbert Report (not always great, but when Stephen brings his 'A' game, he's funnier and more pointed than pretty much anyone)
  • Important Things with Demetri Martin (Demetri Martin is one of the funniest people on the planet)

BBC

  • Sherlock (brilliant sort-of-miniseries that will have at least 6 further episodes made)
  • QI (watch this wonderful show comedy/quiz show hybrid, hosted by the wonderful Stephen Fry, if you have the chance -- hint: if you're in North America, you can find every episode on YouTube)

HBO/HBO CANADA

  • Bored to Death (once they put all 3 main characters -- Schwartzmann, Galifianakis, and Danson -- together, it hit its stride)
  • Less Than Kind (woefully underrated Winnipeg filmed-and-set sitcom that tackles dark dramatic moments with great humour)

F/X

  • Louie (written by, edited by, filmed by, and starring the best working comic today, Louis CK, this show was essentially an artfully-crafted short film each week -- one of the best things on television ever)

TNT

  • Men of a Certain Age (just returned for its second season last night -- really interesting drama about middle age and its struggles)
  • Rizzoli & Isles (the perfect summer cop show, with Boston serving as a great location)

TBS

  • Conan (what can I say -- my favourite person in comedy history is back on the air, with most of his previous staff in tact, and it's been wonderful)

So do you have any questions about any of the above shows? Or even another show that you wish I was watching (like some of those great cable gems: Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, The Walking Dead)? Do you have any specific topics you'd like me to cover? Chime in below, wonderful visitors of ShowbizMonkeys.com!

Tags: Rants & Raves, television, spoilers

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Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)

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