If you missed my Mid-Sweeps Network Report Card, CLICK HERE.
Six networks, 25 shows and a stocked TiVo’s worth of snark ahead of us. Let’s jump right into the network grades and show recaps, and I’ll see you at the bottom for a few Official TheJay.com 2006 TV Season Awards.
- Boston Legal– Too many guest stars, too many cast members, not nearly enough Bergen on Shatner action. And yet even though BL has turned into the new Will & Grace whore king of Cameoville, I cannot in good conscience hate on Spader, Shatner, Bergen or Bowen. And watching James Spader and Parker Posey go at it in the season finale was like geek candy, I could never get enough. Speaking of Posey, her race with Bowen in the finale was just about the funniest piece of physical comedy I’ve seen in years.
- Commander in Chief– How can a show this bad continue to get chances? ABC loves it, then puts it on hiatus, brings it back with a full press barrage, then yanks it after one episode and cancels it. And just when we thought we would never have to think about Charlie Baltimore as our President, ABC decides to bring it back as a two hour movie in the Fall. The show was never that good. It nearly killed Steven Bocho (And in only a couple months. Cop Rock couldn’t even do that!). And the ratings were terrible. At a certain point, say when C-in-C was getting crushed by House, American Idol AND Veronica Mars, you gotta just cut your losses. For the love of God, just cut your losses.
- Desperate Housewives– I just want to say for the record that I called the sophomore slump on this one. Any show that centers on catty women will always do well on initial release (heck, even Charmed was once a hit), and then slowly degrade into nothingness. It also doesn’t help that the show added too many characters too soon, separated the girls for too long and too often, and was never able to capitalize on the buzz or goodwill it generated last year (Also, simmer down Teri. We don’t need to see you in your panties on the cover of Vanity Fair talking about getting molested. Tacky, much?). I give it one more year before ABC pulls the show of Sundays and buries it on Friday nights at ten.
- Grey’s Anatomy– Katherine Heigl owned that finale, despite the storyline being the very definition of ludicrous. Meredith gets more annoying, selfish and unwatchable by the episode. And Patrick Dempsey has become the unofficial “biggest asshole on TV”, right ahead of Jack from Lost, Leah Remini and Simon Cowell. And despite all of that, the show still brings it well. The writing is crisp and unique, the acting is uniformly excellent (led by the amazing Isaiah Washington), and it makes my Lady cry once a week. Basically, it’s a great show.
- Lost– Terrible for most of the year, downright unwatchable for any episode geared around Charlie, Claire or Ana Lucia, but really REALLY good by season’s end. The finale was the best episode all season, and maybe the best since the beginning of the first season. It was both wildly overhyped (Sure J.J., that really was the best season finale EVER in the history of television EVER! Just like MI:3 was the best spy movie ever. Same thing.), yet oddly satisfying, it that it finally gave us answers to questions we’ve had since Day One, and gave us a brand new set of questions to ponder. They finally admitted they screwed up with the Tailies, and kicked off the trouble girls; they settled the conspiracies behind the button, the plane crash, they showed us more of the Island (a foot statue? WTF, mate?) and best of all, they destroyed the goddamn hatch. For that alone I gotta praise the show.
ABC’s Overall Network Grade: B-
- Two and a Half Men– In the face of a nasty divorce, tabloid thrashing, online sex scandals and general public unrest, Ma-Sheen still takes care of business, making this show the number one comedy on ALL of television. Which basically means one thing… nothing can kill the Ma-Sheen.
- How I Met Your Mother– A surprisingly young, funny CBS sitcom that is perfect to have on either in the background, or watch in closed captions at the gym while you’re on the treadmill. So essentially it’s a funny show as long as you don’t pay too much attention to it. Which is a step up for CBS, so mazel tov to the eye network!
- Ghost Whisperer– They killed off Aisha Tyler! How you gonna go and do that to a former Talk Soup host? What’s next, Queer as Folk giving Hal Sparks AIDS and the TV Guide Channel canning John Henson? Pray for Joel McHale people, pray for him.
- CSI:Miami– What do you think the over/under is on how many times this season David Caruso ripped off his sunglasses for dramatic effect? 100? 175? He probably has arthritis up and down his arm, after wearing down his “Sunglass Rip-off Bone”. That’s a medical term, by the way.
CBS’s Overall Network Grade: C+
- 24– RIP Pedro Cerrano. Even though you only batted .091 against the curve, you were still the best fictional president since Jed Bartlett, and that goes a long way in my book.
- American Idol– Dude, freaking Prince showed up. That owns! Even though the hated Soul Patrol won, and my McPhee-ver has finally broken, at least I got to see Prince do his thing. As Dave Chappelle would say, “Game, blouses!”
- House– I’ll admit I missed more than half the season (it was on opposite Scrubs and I don’t have TiVo), but what I did see, I loved. I liked that Cameron finally moved on from House, I liked Sela Ward coming in and screwing with House, and I always like to see Lisa Edelstein get screen time. My favorite aspect of the show is seeing actors I’ve liked in other places (John Cho, for example) come on and look like crap for a full hour. There’s no better role on television that playing House’s patient of the week. You get a big sickness scene, one big emotional confession, and seven scenes of you looking ungodly bad. Makes for a nice career boost.
- The O.C.– My thoughts on this show have already been well documented, so I’ll use this space to list the five things I used to love about The O.C.
1. Bilson in the Wonder Woman costume.
2. Ben McKenzie challenging Ian Ziering as the oldest looking high school student in entertainment history.
3. Waiting for the camera to explode after trying and failing to fit both of Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows in frame.
4. “Welcome to the OC, bitch!”
5. Marissa Cooper dying in a fiery car crash. What? That was awesome, and I’m going to miss seeing it every week.
- Prison Break– Can you really call your show “Prison Break” if all the characters break out of the prison? Don’t you then have to change it to, I don’t know, “Not Prison Break” or “The Fugitive Rip-off”?
FOX’s Overall Network Grade: B
- The Office– I gotta throw some love The Office’s way because they cast my old acting coach, Melora Hardin, as Steve Carell’s love interest. Also, it’s a show full of geeks about people acting geeky. How can I hate on that? NBC better not screw this one up, or let Carell go.
- My Name is Earl– The show lost some steam after a WAAAAY too over-hyped series premiere. I don’t think it’s strong enough to anchor a night yet, and there’s a better than average chance it gets lost in the Thursday shuffle of CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, The OC next year. But one thing remains the same: seeing Jason Lee act every week is a pleasure. One I have no intention of giving up.
- Scrubs– OK, so maybe Zach Braff does want to be there. But for a while he looked more bored than me during my second viewing of Magnolia. And as much as I laughed my ass of at the season finale (Zoom, zoom, zoom!), the show went back to its stupid, futile gimmick of hooking JD up with a guest star. We know Elizabeth Banks isn’t coming on as a series regular, so why should I invest in her character or in their relationship? It didn’t work with Heather Graham, Amy Smart or Mandy Moore, three actresses I dig, so it’s most definitely not going to work here, with an actress I’m indifferent too.
- The West Wing– Here’s what I was happy with: CJ ending up with Danny Concannon, Will going to run for Congress, Charlie getting into Georgetown, Sotckard Channing finally getting her season one haircut back. Here’s what I didn’t like: A wasted penultimate episode of Santos and Vinick, no resolution for Toby and no scenes between Sam and Toby. Here’s what I hated: No resolution to Josh and Donna, Sam getting ad-pimped by The Powers That Be and then getting wasted with three scenes over two episodes, and most of all, that I’ll never get to watch a brand new episode of this show ever again. Oh well, at least there’s Studio 60 in the fall.
NBC’s Overall Network Grade: B-
- Gilmore Girls– Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care, Hate Lauren Graham, don’t care. I wish The CW hadn’t decided to bring it back, because without series creator Amy Sherman Palladino, the show’s going down the tubes. Also, did I mention I hate Lauren Graham? (One of these days I really have to write a column about all the hateful celebrities who yelled at me while I was an extra.)
- Smallville– Lex hooked up with Lana? Spike came in as Braniac? Aquaman didn’t get picked up? They killed Bo Duke? Brandon Routh made Tom Welling irrelevant? Lionel Luther is banging Ma Kent? Erica Durance got another FHM cover? Can I stop asking questions now? Did I even watch this show this season? The answer to the last one is “no”.
- Supernatural– I’m sure I’ll start watching this show again eventually, but since The WB decided not to market ANY of their shows this season, cut their losses and just lame duck it until the Fall, I decided not to help their final ratings. Also, screw you guys for canceling Everwood. You pissed off my Moms, and you took Treat Williams off of network TV. The man was the Substitute, for god sakes! Show some respect.
The WB’s Overall Network Grade: D
(Automatic half grade drop due to The CW stupidly deciding to renew 7th Heaven AFTER they had aired the season finale. You can only say goodbye once, jackasses.)
- Veronica Mars– Uh oh… another question barrage coming… can’t stop it…. Here we go! Veronica was raped again? Cordelia was laundering what now? Wallace has a police daddy? Enrico Colantoni can kick people’s asses? Lisa Rinna shot herself on a freeway? Steve Guttenberg is still alive? Series killer Paula Marshall is Veronica’s friend now? Iceman from X-Men got it on with Veronica? Is this the weirdest how on television? Do I need to rewatch the entire season just to make sense of it all? Is Veronica Mars maybe a bit too confusing for it’s own good? The answer to the last one is “yes”.
- Everybody Hates Chris– The CW decided to bury this awesome show on Sundays at 7pm, why now? Do they have that much other content that’s better than this? Did we really need a 37th cycle of America’s Next Top Model? Did Beauty and the Geek need to get re-aired four times? What was it that made them think this show wasn’t good enough for true primetime? Was it the awesome critical reception? Was it the star power of series creator Chris Rock? Was it the fact that it was one of the funniest new shows of the season? Probably all of the above. Way to go, CW. I see you have more UPN in you than I originally thought.
UPN’s Overall Network Grade: B
(Automatic one grade drop because these are only two shows on the entire network worth watching at all.)
So here’s how the final network report card looks: ABC dropped hard with a sophomore dramatic slump, NBC stayed solid with their slew of quality comedies and look to have the most promising fall lineup (Sorkin’s back, Tina Fey’s on the way and the NFL is finally back on NBC). CBS is still old but is trying to get younger, FOX made some traditional bonehead moves (I still can’t believe they canceled Arrested Development), but they did some good to (They renewed The Loop, just like I said they should.). And UPN and The WB got married, killed some of their kids (RIP Everwood), resurrected a beast (You suck, 7th Heaven!) and decided that it was easier to suck as one network, then it would be as two.
I’m awarding the 2005-2006 Network TV Season to FOX, for 24, House, Idol, Family Guy and The Loop. Congratulations to FOX; I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Fall. And now for some meaningless awards.
The “Official” 2006 TheJay.com TV Season Awards:
Biggest Shocker of the Season: Did they just kick off Chris Daughtry? You mean I get more McPhee? Suh-WEET! Peace out, bald guy! Go have fun fronting Creed.
Worst Shocker of the Season: Oh wait, you mean Henry Gale really WAS an Other? You’re kidding me!
Best New Show: My Name is Earl
Worst New Show: The Book of Daniel
Best Returning Show: Scrubs
Worst Returning Show: Desperate Housewives
Best Reason To Watch TV This Season: Watching Kiefer Sutherland yell at people. “WHERE IS THE FILE?” “TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW?” “DID YOU LIKE ME IN FLATLINERS?” TELL ME NOW!!!!”
Final Word on the Season: Wait, tell me again why that statue had four toes?