The Fall 2005 Television Season begins in earnest. Is this a heyday for quality programming or what? Prime Time is back. Consider last Sunday’s opener – you could enjoy true quality television non-stop from 8 to 11 pm:
- West Wing, NBC, 8-9 pm
- Desperate Housewives, ABC, 9-10 pm
- Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO, 10-10:30 pm
- Extras, HBO, 10:30-11:00 pm
Naturally, we record Rome on HBO during the Housewives spot, and tend to it later. It requires so much attention, so much concentration, and usually repeat viewing to appreciate all the narrative and production detail.
West Wing opened with a vexing “Three Years Later” sequence prior to the show open, offering us a tantalizing glimpse at the awkward reunion of the Bartlett cabinet at his library dedication ceremony. Apparently, CJ marries her reporter beau (the dude from Thirtysomething) sans ankle bracelet. I’ll need to review this scene again on the DVR to pull out the rest of the details of where they all end up. When Josh arrives, we wonder if he’s the new chief of staff, suggesting a Santos win. But, maybe he’s just being Josh. It’s ambivalent. Just as the new president steps out of the limo, the horns and flag graphic cuts in. After the break, we get a “Three Years Earlier” and we’re brought back into narrative current time. Will the season drag out the election for 15 episodes? Will we get the split ticket we crave?
Desperate Housewives probably doesn’t merit much discussion here. It’s the guilty pleasure of the evening, I suppose. Perhaps what’s more telling than anything: The term “desperate” is currently the top seed on zeitgeist-o-meter Google and guess where it links?
Curb Your Enthusiam promises delicious giggles, despite the bad breath of a whitefish, sable, caper and onion sandwich.
Extras, a joint venture by HBO and the BBC, offers up the next Ricky Gervais comedy from the makers of The Office. Certainly, he’s the same character. I guess we’re to imagine that he left the paper company to aspire to Hollywood stardom? The winning formula of this show isn’t so much the schadenfreude of watching Gervais’ social ‘flailure.’ Instead, it’s watching the guest stars who interact with the extras on set, revealing their surprising ascerbic off-camera idiocy. Kate Winslet’s unabashed Oscar obessions and foul-mouthed dirty-talk advice make Ricky Gervais’s oafishness seem warm and kind in comparison. And next week, I guess the idea is that Ben Stiller will take the brinksmanship of idiocy to levels not yet seen, even opposite oafsters like a Wilson brother. Wait a minute. Wasn’t Ben Stiller a total dick on his special appearance against Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiam
Amazing Race Family Edition runs on top of NBC’s promising My Name is Earl and The Office, while ABC serves up Commander In Chief during the same slot. Only two are recordable/viewable. Something has to go, and when we imagine watching a reality show in real-time, the answer is clear. Perhaps we should wait until the woman president concept goes reality tv too on CNN starring Hil?