Tuesday, August 22, 2006

1,2,3 Summer Cable Craziness!

What I've been watching besides Cartoon Network

Oh those long months of summer reruns. Sure, there's plenty of hours every day to do those things you're supposed to do during the summer, like:

  1. Walk outside.
  2. Read outside.
  3. Bike outside.
  4. Sleep outside.
  5. Get nose burns outside.
  6. Get shoulder burns outside.
  7. Watch the Latino kids play soccer outside.
  8. Watch the Indian kids play cricket outside.
  9. Watch fighter pilots play pretend war outside.
  10. Refuse to, under any circumstances, run outside.
But those things can only fill up so many hours every day, leaving one with little to do during those lazy summer nights between 7-10pm (8-11 Eastern). And that's where the cable TV comes in. Summer is the time when many cable stations will air new episodes of their original programs. And because I'm blogging about TV all of the sudden, I thought I'd let ya'll know which of those shows I've enjoyed most.

1) Psych -- Relentlessly light and unabashedly fluffy, Psych is a Crime-Lite program in the vein of Monk, where the actual murder is really of secondary importance to the main characters. Sure, there's a crime to be solved in every episode, but the entertainment value of the show comes from interaction between Sean, a fake-psychic detective, and his friend Gus, the straight man of the comedy pair (played by old favorite Dule Hill of the West Wing). It's pure summer fun, never too serious for its own good. Crime's get solved, laughs ensue, sometimes there is singing. That's good enough for me.

2) Veronica Mars -- Okay, you're right. It's not cable and it's all reruns, but I've been watching it all summer regardless. I missed all 21 episodes of VM following the season premiere last September, and decided to make up for lost time by catching two episodes every Tuesday night as best I could. If you've never seen or heard of the show, it's basically Nancy Drew for the Gen-Y set -- Veronica Mars, teenage private investigator, who takes on cases for fellow students ranging from stolen laptop files to murdered pets, while assisting her PI dad on the bigger cases that crop up from time to time.

The show is tightly written and plotted out, with just the right blend of humor and whodunnit. While the bus crash mystery of season two is a bit hard to follow, it's still been a helluva good time sifting through suspects, witnesses and red herrings. Show creator Rob Thomas (no, not THAT Rob Thomas) has promised smaller story arcs for season three, giving new viewers more chances to jump on board the ol' VM train. And did I mention that Kristen Bell is about the cutest thing on TV ever? It's true.

3) Life on Mars -- From the fine folks at the BBC, Life on Mars tells the story of a modern day Brit cop, Sam Tyler, who suffers an accident and wakes up in 1973. Having no way of knowing if what he's experiencing is dream or reality, he finds himself living his life as a cop during a very different time -- when David Bowie was more than just that creepy guy with a glass eye.

It's funny that all of my favs this summer are detective shows, seeing as how I pretty much hate police procedurals. Life on Mars is the only one whose main character is a cop, but it's done in such a fun way that I can ignore that fact. The show doesn't explain what has happened to Sam -- if it's all a rather elaborate illusion, or if he's really living in the past -- and there are surreal moments when people from 2006, like his mother or his doctor, talk to him through his television set or in his dreams. The show revolves around how Sam's 21st century detective techniques, like his forensic skills and refusal to take money from local crime bosses, clash with the inspectors of 1973 Manchester. And the music is pretty much boss. Yeah, I said boss.

Honorable mentions:
  • Kyle XY -- A diverting little, family drama about a young man with no knowledge of his past who's taken in by a suburban family.
  • Smallville -- Catching up on reruns of a network show that I haven't watched in four years.
  • Eureka -- A quirky Sci-Fi Channel show about a US Marshall who finds himself the sheriff of an idyllic town of scientific geniuses.
  • Phil of the Future -- Basically the best kids show on TV. It takes the manic, kiddie-energy of Lizzie McGuire and adds the kind of comedy you might find Arrested Development or Family Guy -- albeit completely Disneyfied, of course.
Dishonorable mentions:
  • Blade -- Sacrifices all the fun of the movie in order to make it a more serious horror-adventure show. It's on Spike, so I guess I should have expected general suckiness.
  • Late Night with Conan O'Brien -- Too many reruns, dangit! Find a guest host already, Conan. Preferably someone named Andy Richter, cutting off pudgy, pretty-boy Carson Daly's hopes of taking over when Conan leaves for the Tonight Show in 2009.
Okay, that's enough TV talk. Until tomorrow when I'll probably write about the excitement of so many shows to choose from this fall! Ooooooh, I just shivered!!

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