Friday, December 01, 2006

Must See TV

I thought I'd take a break from Deep Thoughts (with a nod to my brother Joey, who is probably right when he said "You think too much") and instead tell you about a few television shows you ought to be watching, but probably aren't. The image next to each will take you to that show's home page so you can check it out yourself.

Heroes (NBC, Mondays 9/8c): Definitely my favorite show of the year, "Heroes" features an ensemble cast of characters who are awakening to the fact that they have somehow gained superhuman powers. One of them can fly, another can stop time, another has incredible healing powers, and so on, but they all share one thing in common -- their new powers are as much a curse as a blessing.

This is a network super-human drama that is much more about the "human" than the "super". You won't find any spandex underwear or silly capes, but you will see realistic people trying their best to deal with major upheavals in their lives. A very mature (in the non-sexy sense of the word), moving series that will sometimes leave you gasping at the screen in disbelief, saying "Holy Shit, I can't believe that just happened!"

Daybreak (ABC, Wednesdays 9/8c): Think "Groundhog Day" the movie, but with an LA cop instead of a funny weatherman, and you have some idea of what this show is about. Taye Diggs plays detective Brett Hopper, a good cop who wakes up one day to find he has been framed for murder, his girlfriend is going to be shot, his sister is being abused, his partner is involved in drug deals and is selling him out, and an LA gang is trying to have him killed. To make things worse, he is doomed to repeat this same day, starting over at 6:19 am, knowing everything that happened to him during the previous incarnation of that day.

(How come none of these "never ending day" guys get to relive, say, that night in Vegas where they won ten thousand dollars at poker, got in to the Playboy Mansion, and woke up with three Bunnies the next morning? But I digress.)

What separates this show from the likes of a "Groundhog Day" or a traditional cop show is, first, the superb writing and acting. I really buy everyone in the series as authentic. They also have taken the "repeating day" concept a step forward -- when Hopper is hurt, he wakes up the next day and still has the injury. That's something new in the genre. There are actually several different crises he has to solve before, hopefully, he'll be able to return to a normal life, and that keeps it interesting as well.

If you thought a show about a guy living the same day over and over would get repetitive, rest assured that it surely does not. "Daybreak" has held my interest so far and doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. A distinctly unusual, and thought-provoking, program.

Friday Night Lights (NBC, Tuesdays 8/7c): At heart this is a nighttime soap opera about the lives of a pressure-filled, successful Texas high school football team. Since I'm not terribly interested in Texas high school football, or high school kids in general, or sports drama, I didn't start watching this show right away. But what the hell, it was on after "Heroes", so I figured I'd give it a chance.

I'm glad I did.

The acting and writing are superb, making for a cast of realistic, believable characters you quickly come to care for. An occasional stereotype rears its ugly head (particularly the "I'm going to the NFL" obnoxious black rapper), but overall I think they do a great job of keeping everything fresh and grounded. I particularly like the relationship between the head coach and his counselor wife, although honestly he's home a lot more often than I think most football coaches can manage.

To give you an idea of the show's range, in the first episode the incredibly successful, talented, good looking starting quarterback suffers a paralyzing injury during a game. He's having to figure out how to live his life in a wheelchair after having been a virtual god in his town. And that's just one of many intriguing story lines. Definitely worth a watch, and don't let the jittery, hand-held, single-camera filming style throw you off too much. It's irritating to me, but I got over it after a couple of episodes.

Mythbusters (Discovery Channel, Wednesdays 9/8c): I'm a Johnny-come-lately to this show, but I love it. Two special effects gurus tackle a set of "myths" every week to find out if they're real or not. Maybe it's just the skeptic in me, but I love it when ideas that have a hold of the public consciousness are put to the test. Plus, they regularly blow stuff up, which is always a big, big plus.

The two main hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, are fun to watch and easy to understand. Their good-natured ribbing adds a lot of warm familiarity to the show, and the nuts-and-bolts approach to building crap that works is a blast. They shoot rubber dummies with high-powered rifles to test Viet Nam sniper stories, drop Mentos into bottles of Diet Coke to test those TV commercials, slap postage stamps on helicopter blades to see if that will really make them crash, on and on and on, always with a maximum of flash and substance combined.

Plus, the way Jamie Hyneman talks reminds me of my friend Trey. And that's always a good thing.

Now you might have noticed that some of these shows are on at the same time, which would in turn cause you to wonder how in the world I watch them all. It's just one more example of why TiVo is the Greatest Invention Ever.

Anyway, if you get a chance, I highly recommend you start watching any of these shows, they all have something unique and special to offer that you just don't find every day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One day, the two geeks filled a sheep's bladder with beer to see if the myth -- drink too much beer and your bladder will bust -- is true. All I can say is, pop open a brewski, bro, and drink up!!!