The Three Strike Rule: Year-End Rants by Scott and Shaun

Written by Television, The Three Strike Rule

Well hey there. In case you didn’t know, this is the last week of The Three Strike Rule until the new year. Hey, don’t get mad at me, take it up with the Editor in Chief. Anyway, it’s been a pleasure writing about the boob tube over the coarse of the year; we’ve had some fun. To wrap things up, my compadre, Shaun Hamid, has joined me in giving you our two cents’ worth what 2007 brought us in television. Until next year, aloha.

BEST SHOW

Scott: Friday Night Lights (NBC/DirecTV) The small-town football series’ 2nd season ended on a high note last winter as we watched it regain its form after stumbling with a soap opera-ish murder plot. Still, NBC ran the final episodes with little fanfare, despite the fact that there was little original programming on the air due to the writers’ strike. The network redeemed itself by striking a deal with DirecTV to co-produce a third season. Since October, the satellite provider has been airing these new episodes and come January, those same episodes will air on the peacock network.

The third season has been everything fans of the show love, in particular the study of a working marriage between two of the finest actors on television, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Coach and Mrs./Principal Taylor. They are the heart of the show. If you haven’t watched this show yet, what the hell is your problem? More than any other series on TV, FNL approaches each week with intelligence, humor and heart. At a time when the country is in turmoil, here is a quality show that taps into everything that is great about the America and reminds us of what we can be. Procedurals and medical dramas are a dime a dozen, and aren’t we all bored to shit with the woes of filthy rich people? I said it back in January, and now I’ll repeat myself: WATCH THIS SHOW!

Shaun: Mad Men (AMC) In spite of the remarkable amount of attention this show has gotten critically and awards-wise, it still feels unheralded to me. This show consistently elevates itself above much other dramatic fare. No network, NBC to HBO, has a show nearing its quality and innovation currently. While it can be irritating in its few failures, I think that is a testament to a show that a viewer expects so much from. If you have not seen this show yet, and judging by the ratings that may be a good bet, take the leap. It would be unfortunate for it to meet the fate of another similar luminary in another genre: Arrested Development.

BEST NEW SHOW

Scott: Privileged (CW) If you’d told me that this cliche sounding premise (college grad returns to her Florida hometown to tutor spoiled rich girls, falls for the hunky rich neighbor and has to deal with the ghosts of her past), I would have yawned and moved on. But Privileged is spunky, funny, intelligently written and one of the few shows that depicts people as human beings and not just caricatures (I’m talking to you Grey’s Anatomy).

The success of the show has to be credited to two women: Star JoAnna Garcia, who brings depth and soul to her character and isn’t afraid to come off as a total jerk, show creator, Rina Mimoun, who has carried the heart and drama she did on Everwood to the sunny land of Palm Beach. Let’s hope the CW shows some patience and keeps the show on the air because this series has the potential of becoming the next Gilmore Girls.

Shaun: Life on Mars (ABC) The U.S. version of the BBC cult series Life on Mars gets my vote here. In spite of its uneven nature, there is enough in the source material to see that this show has tremendous appeal and potential. The show has settled down and seems to be getting more and more comfortable with itself as the season progresses. While I am not entirely happy with the show yet, I see quality and strength in the cast and the storylines. I am gratified to know that ABC has the same faith and picked the show up for a full season run. I credit my interest to Gretchen Mol, who is an actress that just has not gotten her due so far. I remain interested in seeing just how this show distinguishes itself from the original and defines itself as its own entity.

SHOW THAT TOOK THE BIGGEST DUMP

Scott: Without a doubt, Heroes (NBC). It’s not just Entertainment Weekly or TV Guide that noticed, EVERYONE did. Man, does this show suck. I was such a fan of Heroes during the first season that I watched each episode standing up in anticipation of what would happen next. Then the second season came and went in horrible fashion. I was willing to write it off as a sophomore slump because creator Tim Kring promised… no really, he swore up and down that the third season would fix the problems and blow our socks off. He lied, or was delusional.

This third season has been so dreadful that during the first few episodes, I would walk away from the TV and not really care what happened. Then, I just stopped watching. I haven’t seen an episode since the 5th and I don’t care. You’d have to pay me to watch Heroes again. What an utter waste of time.

Shaun: Well, we definitely agree, Heroes has more than earned this dubious honor. Never a remarkably nuanced show in the first place, Heroes was at least once an amazingly fun show to watch. Since its rather uninspired season-ender to conclude the first run, the show has been on a very steady downhill path. The show is, with each passing week, proving that the contrived plotlines and weak character and story structure are the norm, and the first season was the fluke. I have not jumped off the ship yet, but I do not HAVE to see this show anymore. I sense that I might not be alone in that. Like you, Scott, a lot of people have stopped watching all together. I might not be far behind.

NICEST SURPRISE

Scott: The biggest surprise to me this year was that the most compelling television was not a scripted drama or laugh a minute sitcom, nor was it one of the many reality based programs. The most compelling television came in the form of a mixed-race man from Chicago running against a decorated war veteran for the presidency of the United States. Whether it was Jeremiah Wright, the economy or that governor from Alaska, each week, hell, each DAY there was something incredible happening and something that had people talking at the water cooler. That the country took such a great interest in this important campaign gives me hope that people still care about the direction of their country. What’s more, this campaign season also saw the rise of two new stars in news television: Campbell Brown and Rachel Maddow. Both of these women (on CNN and MSNBC respectively) out shined the men in their fields by cutting through the bullshit of politics and delivering even handed news. Bravo.

Shaun: Hulu.com The internet as a primary television watching outlet has been discussed for years but never actually achieved. With its unobtrusive commercials and its ease of use, Hulu has achieved it. It has become a primary use site for me in finding and watching shows that I may not have bothered with before. It has changed my viewing habits all-around, and I find myself returning to the site to chase away boredom and just generally pass the time. It is a neater and more efficient evolution of the Youtube model. It amazes me how often I fall back on this site. I am hard-pressed to truly find a fault with it, which is unexpected. I hope that the other networks follow suit with similar projects soon. I might possibly never watch a show in primetime again.