In this week’s edition of the 850 Words of RELEVANT newsletter, we took a look at television shows that survived the “Blood Monday” mass-cancellation fallout and remembered shows that weren’t so lucky. But as May sweeps comes upon us and primetime lineups are changing faster than the Yankees’ bullpen, we’ve decided to examine more of TV’s best offerings.
The Wedding Bells (Fox)
Even David E. Kelley’s writing and producing credits from Boston Legal, The Practice and Ally McBeal couldn’t save this comedy about a group of wedding planners. After a mere six episodes, this show was over almost as soon as it started.
The OC (Fox)
Internet stories of write-in campaigns abound, but the fact is that few of these campaigns work—and in this case, I’m not going to shed any tears. This melodramatic series about privileged Californians ended with an episode aptly titled “The End’s Not Near, It’s Here.” No loss there.
The Office (NBC)
“That’s what she said.” How can a show breathe new life into such a lame attempt at humor? I don’t know … but The Office manages to pull it off. And it manages to almost make my cubicle-based job seem slightly more awesome. Almost. This is the funniest show on TV right now. No, don’t even argue with me. Centuries from now, when humor has been narrowed down to an exact science, researchers will single out The Office as the funniest show of the early aughts on TV.
After five seasons of nuclear weapon scares, poison gas, moles, terrorists and one really frightening cougar, 24 still walks the fine line of reinventing itself—and its hero Jack Bauer—and falling into the same old plot moves. But with entertaining writing, incredibly high production value and gutsy story lines, the real time action adventure continues to be one of the most entertaining hours on TV.
The Real Wedding Crashers (NBC)
Produced by the creators of The Wedding Crashers and the man behind Punk’d, this reality show replaces The Black Donnellys as NBC’s primetime hopeful. If the movie was any indication, the series has some potential for dumb humor, though its arrival begs the question: Do we really need yet another reality show?
Hidden Palms (CW)
In theory, this coming-of-age drama will premiere in May (it was originally slated for a March release). The plot already sounds maudlin: a rebellious teenager moves into a gated Palm Springs community and discovers dark secrets that will forever change the world around him. Written by the creator of Dawson’s Creek, it’s dubious whether the series will move beyond typical teenage fare—and in all likelihood, the network will cancel after the first few episodes (Runaway, a drama picked up at a similar point in the year, was canceled after just three airings).
Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi)
While it may air on the Sci-Fi Channel, you don’t have to love science fiction as a genre to enjoy BSG. The series is an intelligent re-imagining of the campy 1970s show and wholly its own creation—while robots (Cylons) and spaceships abound, the drama thrives on character-driven stories. This is science fiction at its best, using a futuristic world as a metaphor for understanding the present and easily one of the best-produced shows on the air. With few mishaps, the writing is tight, the direction is solid, and plotlines continue from episode to episode, making for addictive viewing (curl up with a season’s worth of DVDs, and you’ll see what I mean). There’s also a spiritual dimension to the show that is rare on television: one of the most interesting moments in the second season is literally a conversion scene starring the man who betrayed the human race.
This American Life (Showtime)
The first incarnation of Ira Glass’ radio documentary series debuted more than 10 years ago and developed a loyal following of fans that tuned in weekly on public radio syndicates to hear the eclectic blend of human interest stories. Now Showtime has used the unique format to bring the real-life stories to television with a visually stunning, at times funny/at times moving, documentary series that is already receiving rave reviews. The only question now is, “Will video kill the radio star?”