Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Saved by DVD

Hey, remember when I used to write a column for a newspaper? Feels like a long time ago (last Monday, actually), but here's a new one:

Forigve me for not having more to say about this summer TV season, but I've been having trouble mustering en thusiasm for "Hell's Kitchen" season three, the Brandy-less version of "America's Got Talent," or even HBO's post-"Sopranos" lineup (save "Flight of the Conchords").

To get over my summertime TV blues, I hit the local multiplex to catch Judd Apatow's "Knocked Up," and was so in awe of most of it that I went home and immediately started rewatching my DVDs of Apatow's brilliant but canceled NBC series "Freaks and Geeks." And as I was reconnecting with these characters who hadn't been on my television since the year 2000, I had a moment of clarity:

Why sit through mediocre summer TV product when so many great old shows are out there on DVD to be discovered or rediscovered? Why set the DVR to record Paula Abdul's new reality show when "Cheers" episodes are only a few Netflix clicks away?

Since most of the best TV shows are currently on hiatus, I thought I would suggest some shows that will in some way remind people of their current favorites.
To read the full story, click here.

14 comments:

Homertojeebus said...

Great idea for a column, Alan! But why no stand-in for "According to Jim"?
Seriously, though, for CSI, why no love for "Quincy, M.E."? Too much Klugman for one list?

Toby said...

I've switched my Netflix queue over to all TV series - much easier to watch at work than full movies. (Um... don't tell the boss....)

Finished the 1985 version of 'Bleak House' and have the Tony Curtis/Roger Moore series 'The Persuaders' up next. Hammy, dated, silly, but mindless fun and I love the theme song.

I believe after that is the 2005 version of 'Bleak House' for a comparison, and to see Carey Mulligan again, most recently in the 'Doctor Who' episode "Blink". (Best episode of TV, no matter what genre, so far this year!)

k said...

Just read it in the paper, great column. And since you are mentioning a fair amount of British TV...Do you ever write on Mystery? Maybe you have mentioned this in the past and I missed it. Anyway my favorites series Foyle's War is on right now...I wouldn't jump right in if you haven't watched it but definitely ADD it to your Netflix. Michael Kitchen is in it and he is awesome.

bebe said...

We are so twins, Alan. After watching two episodes of Lost for the first time back when it was newish, my initial reaction was "it's like the whole series is a really long episode of the Twilight Zone." I had no idea it was going to be so surreal--I thought it was just a show about survivors on a desert island.

RP said...

A good precursor to "House" might also be "Chicago Hope," especially the first season, with Mandy Patinkin laying down the template.

floretbroccoli said...

I'm sure that "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" was a precursor to, not a reunion of, "Jeeves and Wooster."

Marty McKee said...

I don't really understand your caveat that shows like TWILIGHT ZONE and THE WHITE SHADOW don't "hold up well." Are you kidding? Those two series along present drama that's more thoughtful and mature than any other four contemporary shows you mention.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Watch the best episode of "The White Shadow" back-to-back with your average episode of "Friday Night Lights" and get back to me, Marty. I recently caught a rerun of the episode where a player on the team dies on the eve of Carver High playing in the championship game, a show that's considered by many to be the series' high-water mark, and it does not stack up well at all to your average "FNL." (The performances are mostly lacking, the pace is sluggish and the script doesn't hit nearly as many of the important emotional points you would expect from this kind of story in a 21st century drama.) I'm not saying it's a bad show; just that its spiritual descendants got to build on and improve the foundation it created.

Marty McKee said...

Bad performances, sluggish pace, superficial scripting...no, you're not saying it's a bad show. WHITE SHADOW covered mature topics like gambling, teen pregnancy, segregation, poverty, VD, gambling, sex between a student and teacher, narcotics addiction, alcoholism, child abuse, xenophobia... I'm not saying FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS isn't a good show, but, let's face it, it's a teen soap opera about pretty people that treads lightly over real-life issues. I know FNL touched on 'roids and racism, but not with any great maturity. Of course, WHITE SHADOW sounds like a message-of-the-week show, and I guess it was in many ways. I don't think that's a bad thing. At least it was a show about something. Are there really any contemporary network dramas that are about something?

Alan Sepinwall said...

When's the last time you watched a White Shadow episode, Marty? For the late '70s, it was a great, groundbreaking show, but go back and look at it now and it dealt with all those issues you mentioned in no greater depth than, say "Friday Night Lights" handled racism or steroid abuse. It was the fact that they were willing to address those topics at all that made it so memorable, not how well their treatment of said topics holds up decades later.

Jenn said...

Really enjoyed this article, Alan. Just updated my Netflix queue. Thanks for helping to chase away the summertime TV blues.

Marty McKee said...

I reckon we'll agree to disagree on this one. THE WHITE SHADOW is on DVD, by the way (at least the first two seasons are; Season 3 is not as good anyway), so check it out if you get a chance. Hey, at least give me that WHITE SHADOW has a better theme! :)

vonkrum said...

oh MacGyver you tease me so..

"like MacGyver turning a bunch of pine cones into hand grenades, or turning a racing bicycle into a blowtorch"

You could check out some fine Hugh Laurie work thats a tad House-esque in 'Sense and Sensibility'.

Sister T said...

Excellent List! To the Hugh Laurie recommended watching, I would add the first season of MI-5/Spooks in which Laurie guest stars as a so-mean-he's-funny MI-6 agent. It's almost the same character as House.

Also, MI-5 is a good alternative to 24.