Monday, December 08, 2008

Festivus still isn't over until you pin your father!

Now, in addition to soliciting suggestions for the best-of list, it's time to also ask for your assistance in coming up with my other annual rankings. If you've been reading me a while, you know that I don't do a traditional worst-of list, but instead do a Festivus list, inspired by the old "Seinfeld" alterna-holiday where Frank Costanza would gather his loved ones together to explain how they had disappointed him in the past year.

In theory, people and shows on the list -- here's last year's -- have to be capable of disappointing me, which means I had to have expectations in the first place. So the "Knight Rider" remake wouldn't qualify, but season five of "House" would, for instance.

Who's going to be standing around your own alumnium pole this December 23rd?


Matt said...

The biggest and most obvious one has got to be Grey's Anatomy, or at least the Denny/Izzie plotline thereof (Mary McDonnell may also qualify). Other competitors:

"Fringe" (though it's regained some goodwill recently--maybe they can win it all back by killing off Anna Torv)

"30 Rock" for squandering most of its non-Baldwin/Fey/Morgan cast so far this season.

"House" for not telling Olivia Wilde to shut up.

The American Public for failing to watch good stuff like "Pushing Daisies," "Dirty Sexy Money," and "The Ex List."

Dan Mac said...

I was disappointed by the second seasons of both The Riches and Dirt (more disappointed by the former than the latter). Their sophomore slumps (strike casualties?) failed to deliver on the promises of strong freshman years, and while F/X hasn't suffered from losing these series, I was still disappointed to see the new cable gold standard's stable reduced by their cancellations, and fine actors out of regular work.

Anonymous said...

Heroes for vowing to fix things and then screwing them up even worse.

Rev/Views said...

Ah, the airing of grievances.

It's not that difficult this year.

Suspects are honestly pretty obvious this year.

House M.D. for concentrating on the least likable cast member episode after episode.

Heroes for promising an improvement but actually managing to give us something worse than last season. Which I thought wasn't possible.

ABC for cancelling Pushing Daisies.

Deadset for copping out and using running zombies.

The Wire for not going onto a 6th season (joking-ish). for that spoiler over Dexter's plot ruining any tension over this season's direction at all.

Dexter as well for being exceptionally sluggish to get going.

Last of all, Fringe.

Anonymous said...

Grey's Anatomy, for starting off strong, giving us hope of a return to the good old soapy fun days, and then without warning plunging to new levels of stupidity, banality, and offensiveness.

And, I hate to say it, but HIMYM has been disappointing so far this season. Aside from the "Naked Man" episode and the humor mined from Barney's crush on Robin, the show seems off step. I also don't love the recent "single life always sucks and is totally unfulfilling" theme. (Now that I've posted this, tonight's episode will probably be awesome.)

W said...

I've got to say... Pushing Daisies for the drop off in quality. Especially since it'll probably be gone before they explain this new recurring plot line with Chuck and Ned's dads. It's the only thing that has interested me this season and it's going to be left hanging.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the only thing that could keep Heroes off this list is the fact that it was already on it last year. Yet, we were duped into thinking it could get better.

Entourage actually may have gotten better from last year, but it was still a disappointment.

Survivor's Fans vs Favorites concept was a flop, pitting star-struck fans vs unlikeable returning players.

And True Blood was such a waste of an interesting concept, and a disappointment coming from Alan Ball.

Anonymous said...

The Izzy/Denny storyline might be the worst idea in the history of television.

I have never seen something so ridiculous and annoying in my life.

TL said...

HBO, for not coming up with any heirs apparent for their retired shows. (And also for not putting the new Sopranos, Deadwood, and Wire DVD mega-sets out on Blu-ray.)

Anonymous said...

Seconding/Thirding/Fourthing/Whatever for "Heroes," "True Blood" and its wandering accents, ABC for canceling "Pushing Daisies," "House" for its fascination with Thirteen, and the second season of "The Riches."

Also nominating last week's episode of "The Simpsons." It was so bad, I can't even remember what it was about.

Nominating Fox for not giving "King of the Hill" the respect it deserves, I tell you what. The show's been solid and consistent its entire run, yet gets no fanfare.

RSR said...

ABC for canceling Pushing Daisies and not giving the show a chance to build up an audience again after a broken season after the writers strike. Worst decision ever.

Shonda Rhimes (unfortunately again as I saw she got two last year) for having thinking that Denny and Izzie together again would be a good story line even despite any reason they may come up with.

Heroes for still being awful despite the hope they inspired, and for killing off the only reason I was watching the show (Kristen Bell). And Tim Kring for thinking that insulting his audience would help the ratings of the show.

And this is total speculation but, the Fox network for placing Dollhouse in a timeslot where the show was inevitably sent there to die without even being given a chance. Could be totally wrong on that one though, we shall see.

Happy Festivus!

Anonymous said...

Heroes - sure, they vowed to fix things, but my hopes were raised even more when I saw that they added multiple Wire alums to the show...and then proceeded to underuse these great actors.

HBO - I agree that they didn't come up with anything great this year, but my hopes are high for next year now that they are making the pilot for A Game of Thrones

Anonymous said...

I think both The Office and Entourage have been aimless this season. While the Office is still funny, there doesn't seem to be any flow to this season. Also, I think the writers/creators/whoever is pulling the strings have been pushing the short-term funny gags (most of Michael's adventures) at the expense of long-term character development. The show has been becoming too broad for years now, and someone should mention it.

And Entourage, while last season was horrible, at least there was an overarching theme to the season. This season was just a mess, with none of the fun fantasy stuff that used to accompany episodes (hot women, lavish spending) that made you forget the poor writing.

Antid Oto said...

The Return of Jezebel James, by far. Amy Sherman-Palladino writes a show starring Lauren Ambrose and Parker Posey? As a fan of Gilmore Girls, Six Feet Under, and Parker Posey in just about anything, I was excited, more so because Sherman-Palladino had been run off of Gilmore Girls, leaving that show's last season to wither up and die, leaving a foul smell. I planned a watching evening with a fellow Gilmore Girls fan, and then--my god was it awful. We just sat there, stunned at the unbelievable badness of it. We had to watch Kicking and Screaming immediately to wash it from our minds.

Anonymous said...

Not already mentioned:
In Plain Sight

Also, though you don't watch them:
Dirty Sexy Money
(Both never got their tone right; DSM was a writers strike casualty in my opinion)

In contra-Festivus tone (others can gripe about programming decisions) I'll at least be thankful to:
Family Channel for giving The Middleman a shot (cancelled)
ABC for giving Pushing Daisies a shot (cancelled)
AMC for giving Breaking Bad a shot (not cancelled!)

Eric said...

Dirty Sexy Money for lobotomizing the characters this season, to the point where I only watched this week because it's been canceled so I might as well stick it out.

ABC Family for not figuring out how to promote The MiddleMan or where else to show it.

The Sheinhardt Wig Company for not firing (Kathy Geiss) Ben Silverman.

The Sci-Fi Channel for making me wait for BSG, and for otherwise not being very interested in Sci-Fi.

Anonymous said...

One more: the absolute train wreck that was the reality show hosted Emmy Awards ceremony (the actual awards, however, were pretty good).

Anonymous said...

This season of the Amazing Race - rather than cheering on teams you thought were great competitors, it was more about cheering for the least ridiculous team.

Also the Jim/Pam there's-trouble-brewing-oh-wait-just-kidding storyline from this season.

Anonymous said...

I second andythesaint's comment.

You mentioned last year how bad Ryan Seacrest was as host at the Emmys, but this year...well...there are no words.

And just to shake things up, you should say "The Wire," for having the audacity to end its run. How dare they.

Anonymous said...

Well, Heroes, of course. They keep leading me to believe it's going to get better, and I keep watching, waiting for them to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but the hat is always empty.

And I think W has a point about Pushing Daisies. Unlike W, I've been satisfied with the quality, but I agree that they disappointed me by setting up a story arc that they will not be able to complete. They knew that they had only a 13-show order to prove themselves. They should have gotten to the meat of the arc ASAP instead of putzing around in the convent. They spent, what, four weeks just trying to explain Chuck's relationship to her supposed aunts. They should have planned the arc to complete within the 13 episodes: faster progress might have sparked more interest in the show and ratings that would have supported renewal, and even if it didn't get renewed, we would have a satisfying ending.

Zach said...

One more: the absolute train wreck that was the reality show hosted Emmy Awards ceremony (the actual awards, however, were pretty good).

Maybe I shouldn't speak for Alan, but I'm not sure anyone actually had any expectations that the telecast would be good in the first place.

Anonymous said...

"Heroes"--for doing the unthinkable: causing me to delete the series pass on my DVR. The show has gone from appointment TV to unwatchable.

ABC--for cancelling "Pushing Daisies".

All the critics who touted Anna Torv on "Fringe" as the second coming of Keri Russell or Jennifer Garner. Whatever. The show is improving, but she'll always have a hard time living up to the expectations that were set for her.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

I award one to the viewers who seem to really think that the Thirteen storyline on HOUSE is worse than such past winners as "Let's all enable a rogue cop with an incomprehensible vendetta against House to the point of giving him his own office in the hospital" or the Chase-Cameron "Oi'm ginna til ya 'ow much Oi lives ya ev'ry Tizday 'til ya lives m' beck!" tedium.

Another to MY NAME IS EARL, whose horrible extended sitcom dream sequence finally got me to stop watching: Thanks for the push, but, man was that terrible viewing.

A third to SCRUBS for getting lost in its own navel.

CSI gets one for not giving William Petersen a giant pile of money to stick around, and a second for casting Laurel Lee Smith, who I forget is on the show every time she is not on screen.

L&O: CI gets one for not keeping Alicia Witt in the cast. As does every show that does not have Alicia Witt in its cast.

Unknown said...

Good point on House. I'll take Thirteen's drama over Tritter any day of the week. That's Johnny Harper level bad, perhaps worse because there was nothing good to balance it out.

Still, the show's continued insistence on Thirteen as opposed to playing out the ramifications of the House/Wilson/Amber saga is pretty frustrating. As is their odd handling of House and Cuddy (I don't hate the handling, but something's irritating me about it, and I can't figure out what it is). The writers refuse to let the characters change in any meaningful way, and that's frustrating.

The Office has to win, though, as season five has gone off the rails in an unimaginable way. They've learned nothing from past mistakes -- too broad Michael (and everything), too heavy drama, too many trips outside of the office -- and continue to make new ones. Even two of the potentially best episodes of the season -- Frame Toby and The Surplus were marred by nonsensical plots that were just entirely too far over-the-top. And it's amazing how unlikable some of the characters -- namely Jan, Angela, and Dwight -- have become.

Rick said...

Is "Weeds" still capable of disappointing you? 'Cause it sure did me, so much so that I still have about eight episodes stacked up and don't much care if I ever watch them.

KrisMrsBBradley said...

Definitely the "House" obsession with 13.

How about "Dexter" for waiting until the last possible moment to get interesting...and then being done with it too quickly?

Anonymous said...

I will also chime in with "The Office" but specifically with the character of Pam. Last season, she was so strong with her proclamation that she wasn't going to be the quiet type anymore. Great...

What happens next? She goes to art school for 3 months. Great...except for the fact that she fails her class, and nothing on screen ever suggests that she takes any steps to rectify the situation.

She comes back to Scranton, and resumes her receptionist life with nothing on screen indicating growth from the experience, or realization that she needs to move on from D-M.


David J. Loehr said...

The amazing thing about Knight Rider for me is that it didn't even live up to the low, low expectations I'd had for it. That's impressive in and of itself.

One I'd add to the good collection of suggestions here is Showtime's programs, for the most part. They all seem to have suffered a precipitous drop in quality to varying degrees this year. Are any of them must-see shows now? Seems like they went south faster than HBO shows do...

Anonymous said...

heroes heroes heroes

ripvanruben said...

BTW Festivus is coming to the our state Capitol in Olympia, Washington! A festivus display is going up next to the nativity scene and atheist statement that has caused a great deal of ire on Fox News. There better be an aluminum pole!

Anonymous said...

A lot of people are (jokingly) nominating The Wire for daring to end the series. How about going a different route and nominating "Directors who can't direct the wonderful actors immediately after they performed in the Wire"?

I'm thinking mainly of: Tristan Wilds (Michael) in 90210 and
Domenick Lombardozzi (Herc) reprising his role in Entourage

I don't watch Law & Order CI (Carver), Fringe (Lt. Daniels), or Heroes (Bubbles and Marlo), but I can't imagine those shows directors are getting as much out of those actors as Simon & Co. did.

I would also include Dominic West (McNulty) for having to play the bad guy in that atrocious new Punisher movie (which also stars two of my favorite actors from two other show: Ray Stevenson of "Rome" and Colin Salmon "Keen Eddie").

I don't have time to go through the whole cast (and admittedly don't watch some of the shows they're on like Life on Mars) so I'll let others who are more informed decide if there really has been a drop off in the quality of Wire actors in other projects.

One exception is, of course, Amy Ryan's stint on the Office.

Can't anyone else direct anymore?

Anonymous said...

The American public for forcing NBC to give DirectTV the rights to Friday Night Lights.

The Emmy voters for not showing love to Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton

Michael 8-) said...

*L* I think I'd second just about every comment above. And it's not often so many commenters all agree on here!

With one exception: I really thought The Return of Jezebel James was killed by network folks who insisted on using a laugh track. Ugh! Why can't they ever believe that there are intelligent fans who don't need to be cued when to laugh in a comedy?

Imagine how this would destroy some of our current favorite shows if they called out each subtle joke that we sometimes only catch on repeat viewings?

Anonymous said...

I would say 99% of NBC's programming has been disappointing. Alan, any thoughts on the news they're probably going to limit the hours of programming on their station?

Nicole said...

I have network issues as opposed to specific shows.

I'm disappointed in Sci-Fi for splitting the BSG final season even though there was no real reason for it other than they have no other good shows to air.

I'm also disappointed in the CBC for airing the fourth season of Doctor Who months after it aired on BBC and Sci-Fi, especially when it co-produces the show and has nothing else on worth watching except for the Mercer Report. They are just asking for viewers to find alternative ways to watch this show.

Finally, I'm disappointed in CBS, NBC and ABC for not giving good scripted dramas and comedies a chance and relying on garbage reality shows. NBC is the biggest disappointment because at one time most shows I would watch would be that network, and now there are only four : Chuck, Life, 30 Rock and the Office.

michael said...

"Saving Grace"
What started as a creative look at a woman's relationship with God has become just another cop show. My Christmas wish is "Saving Grace" find some writers who know what to do with Earl.

Anonymous said...

ABC/Grey's for firing Dr. Hahn.

The producers of 90210 for bringing back an old hit just to make it boring.

Anonymous said...

The networks, for short changing the writers leading to the strike that continued on into 2008 (of which the effects are still being felt).

Heroes, because as if season 2 wasn't bad enough (and that while I complained and complained, I still watched it), it was this season that lead me to actively hate it and now ignore its existence. This season is abysmal.

House, for not getting over the strike and its cast shake up.

Pushing Daisies cancellation.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Grey's, there are strong rumblings of more drama backstage today. I won't spoil it here, but the info is widely available online. That show's a hot mess, onscreen and off.

Anonymous said...

How about Project Runway? - for an uninspiring season, one that everyone involved with the show phoned in. The legal troubles for PR really seem to have caused this one-time favorite to have jumped the shark.

afoglia said...

I don't know, I don't have a good memory for this stuff. But "Good Morning America" has really started to annoy me. It's not the stupid stories, or the silly sweep stunts, it's that stupid, silly, self-absorbed stunts where the hosts spend a week looking back on previous stupid silly stunts, or digging through their belongings. Anyone who's that interested in Sam Champion needs a life.

Anonymous said...

Networks like ABC and NBC for not airing some of last fall's best sophomore shows (Pushing Daisies, Chuck, Eli) right after the strike. Hence the low ratings and cancelation to some...

Anonymous said...

I'm tempted to say networks like NBC and ABC for keeping shows like "Chuck" and "Pushing Daisies" off the air after the strike and relaunching them this fall to even lower ratings. But to be honest, my main grip is with these Nielsen viewers who always chose whatever is on CBS over the shows I like.

Anonymous said...

The Pushing Daisies cancellation is at the top of my list. I'd like to put the Dirty, Sexy Money cancellation in second place, but I'll save that for the DSM writers for turning Nick into a jealous, wife-bullying ass; and for making Karen entirely unsympathetic. Patrick completely dissing his father and, inexplicably, his brother isn't helping either.

The first season had just enough of a soapy element to make it fun. Now it's just a big bubble bath, and I mean that in a bad way.

Are the low ratings/cancellation of Journeyman eligible for this year? I'm still annoyed about that.

The Return of Jezebel James, by far. Amy Sherman-Palladino writes a show starring Lauren Ambrose and Parker Posey?

Kudos to you for having faith and giving it a try. There was so much bad press before it was aired I didn't even do that. After season 6 of Gilmore Girls, it was painfully obvious to me that ASP actually is capable of putting out horrendous material.

Anonymous said...

I'd second all those series that squander their The Wire actors (though I was elated to see the IASIP guys cast Chad Coleman, and were seemingly aware of who he'd played, and what as astounding performance he gave).

And I'll whatever (third? fifth?) True Blood with its characters who speak like they want me to play their race in the knock-off RPG, and its overall idiocy.

Elisa Day said...

Festivus complaints to the following:
* Kath & Kim for wasting the talents of Molly Shannon and Selma Blair.
* House for the cameo appearances of Chase and Cameron.
* The Office for introducing us to Holly and then NOT KEEPING HER AROUND, and for bringing back Ryan
* CW for butchering the 90210 remake and its unlikable characters
* Ghost Whisperer for killing off Jim and then having him inhabit the body of someone else, wasting the revelations of last season, and replacing Jay Mohr with Jamie Kennedy
* Grey's Anatomy for becoming rediculous, absolutely rediculous. There are plenty of things in the medical world that can provide drama, we don't need interns operating on themselves or Izzie seeing dead people...
* SNL for becoming dead space, again (save for the presidential race coverage - that was golden). It used to at least balance its raunchy/bawdy humor with some smart comedy, no more. Sketches run too long and can be really vulgar.

neglectarino said...

To NBC for not running reruns of Life over the off season. It's how I first found the show (& the final episodes at that) & I'd love to fill in gaps (I'm a dinosaur: no DVR, TiVo, or prior season DVD to watch).

A mild razz to Life for not being as good as it was last season (still a great show, though).

Boo to ABC for canceling Pushing Daisies, with a nod to Tracey here for noting that the story arc could have been moved along at a faster pace to at least give us all peace of mind.

To Tom Brokaw & Gwen Ifil (excluding the adored Bob Schieffer) who didn't put pressure on the candidates who provided no logical responses during the Presidential & Vice Presidential debates.

To the PBS stations for running those seemingly endlessly repeated & regurgitated financial & health seminars (aka "I've got a book to promote!") & concerts of limited interest ("I've got a career to revive!") during the pledge drive weeks, especially when they preempt the kids' shows (the natives get restless!)

scottatl said...

1) All networks who cant come up with a GREAT cop drama now that The Shield (which didn't dissapoint) is gone

2) Ditto to the guy who nominated casting directors who dont hire the actors off THe Wire....How about the guy who played Senator Clay Davis....incredible

It is scary out there

Virgil said...

Mad Men, for such a short season.


Anonymous said...

Survivor and The Amazing Race both disappointed me with poor casting choices. Survivor also disappointed by having too many twists, and Race disappointed in choosing tasks and locations. Both shows can be so much better than they were in 2008.

Big Love disappointed me by not airing any new episodes all year.

All of TV disappointed me this summer by having almost nothing good on any channel at any time. I know it was due to the writers strike but it was a really rough couple of months.