Mid-Season Hiatus? Ha!

Well, November sweeps is behind us, and the holiday season is here. One would think that this time of hiatus would allow me more time to reflect on the TV season so far. Ha! Not only did I start the season off by recording 8 prime-time shows (Being Erica, Terra Nova, Castle, Ringer, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Dexter), I soon added 2 more (Hell on Wheels and American Horror Story). Sigh! With all this on my plate, in addition to work, family, life etc, I managed to completely miss out on this year’s BUZZ show, Revenge.  Although it sounds like something I would enjoy, I had to draw a line. There is too much TV, not enough time.  I still have not caught up to all my recorded programs. Some of the above mentioned shows are not to be missed, whereas others lack a sense of urgency. No title has been abandoned, as of yet. Thankfully, some have ended their short seasons.

I started the season off wary of the sustainability of Being Erica. It is a show that I caught on to late. I had downloaded the pilot as an iTunes freebie when it debuted and it took me 18 months to get around to watching it. I had heard some positive buzz & was impressed that this unashamedly Canadian production was warmly received internationally. But I was busy when it debuted and reluctant to start a new show. Then months later, I saw seasons 1 & 2  on sale. I thought “why not check out the pilot?” The pilot hooked me from the get go; I bought the 2 seasons on DVD and devoured them in time to catch season 3as it aired on broadcast TV. Insert sound of vinyl record scratch here. Season 3 was kind of ” meh.”

For those unfamiliar with Being Erica, the premise is that Erica Strange is a 30 something single woman who is floundering in her life/career/ romantic endeavors. After a near death experience (allergic reaction), she is given a rare opportunity. Upon meeting Dr. Tom, she embarks on a unique form of therapy. Using her list of life’s regrets as a springboard, Erica travels through time to relive and rethink her past decisions. Who wouldn’t love to try that? This process allows Erica to learn about herself. I find her to be real, flawed and relatable. I was given the rare treat of watching a character grow and as hokey as it sounds, it works! However, season 3 seemed to meander too far from what made Being Erica charming and fun. Erica enters group therapy. I wanted more Erica, less group, thank you very much. Thankfully, season 4 refocuses on Erica. I really enjoyed season 4’s stories enough to almost forgive it the crime of the most egregiously clumsy use of product placement that I ever witnessed. If the stories were as off as those in Season 3, it would have been a goner, for sure. And I would have been relieved to have less to watch. But gosh darn it, Season 4 was well written (except around the product placement) and poignant at times. Erica is like many people I know. I learn about myself as I watch her navigate her relationships. The 11 episode series came to a satisfying conclusion and I look forward to Season 5 next fall. Yay, let’s hear it for short TV seasons.

Ringer is a show that is a pleasant surprise. I probably would not have started it if it weren’t for Sarah Michelle Gellar in the starring role. This show is nowhere near Buffy with respect to dialogue; the writing is not as witty but the acting is good. The plots are twisty and not too contrived, so far.  It has already been renewed for season 2. It will be interesting to see how it sustains itself. SMG plays twin sisters, one has skipped town after faking her death and the other is impersonating her. This of course gets complicated and nothing is what it seems. The audience knows more than the characters, which can be tricky to sustain viewer interest. I am enjoying the plot as it unfolds, but wonder how it will hold up over multiple seasons.

Dexter has concluded its 6th season and it left me underwhelmed. I found that Dexter, the character, has been behaving in ways that seem pretty inconsistent from season to season. His actions seem to serve the plot and don’t ring true to past seasons. The words “As If” were muttered on too many occasions as my husband and I watched with disbelief. Dexter started as a really dark tale with clever plotting, but over time one would expect some logical character development. Instead, we get random behavior. He violates his “code” and takes unnecessary risks and develops bizarre obsessions. Relating to Dexter, a vigilante serial killer has always been a bit of a stretch and each new season brings villains that become less plausible. From the outset, the success of the season relies on accepting Dexter and his heinous acts. This leap of faith gets stretched beyond reason when these acts seem random rather than within the realm of his established “code.” But the biggest thing against Dexter is that it doesn’t hold up well against my favorite dark show.

Breaking Bad (currently on hiatus) is just as dark, if not darker. There is amazing character development, tight yet twisty plotting, and we get to travel down into the abyss with the main characters. Walter White starts out like a typical guy who has hit  a patch of bad luck with his health and the viewer can sympathize as he contemplates his cross over to the dark side. Each step beyond that line is an incremental rationalization that is almost justifiable. And 4 seasons later, those steps are way over the line; hence the title.

Terra Nova has burned off its 12 episodes and may not get a renewal. The ratings were good but not good enough to justify its costliness. I won’t miss it if it is gone. American Horror Story is seriously twisted horror, if you like that kind of thing. I am curious to know if there will be answers by the end of the 1st season. If there aren’t, I will probably call it quits. Hell on Wheels has been a disappointment. I will give it until the end of the season; thankfully it is only 10 episodes long. Who knows, the writers might pull it out of the fire. Vampire Diaries and Supernatural stay excellent as always with no filler episodes. The Walking Dead continues to intrigue in its post-apocalyptic struggles. I seriously doubt that I could be a survivor of a zombie apocalypse; I can’t stand camping, forget foraging for food.

Well, with 3 shows completed and 2 soon to be; one would think that relief is in sight. Nope, January brings new seasons of Merlin, Being Human (US), Downton Abbey and Spartacus: Vengeance. I can barely wait.

BTW, I have nothing against product placement as a concept, if it is done with finesse and is brief and does not hijack the story-telling. I prefer it to commercial interruption. In Being Erica, at times, it was like watching a product commercial. Whether for Tetley products or some car, the product placement was jarring and catapulted me out of the narrative flow. There is an entire scene (several minutes long) where Erica is test-driving a car that could have been edited out with no loss to the story. Horrible! It was like watching a commercial and with 3 PVR’s on the go, I do not do that anymore.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kira
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 07:36:37

    And now you need to add Shameless to that list! 🙂

    Reply

  2. Daniela
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:43:52

    Hi Ann,
    Happy New Year! Just found your blog. Love it.
    Have you heard anything about a show called Lost Girl? I just watched the first two episodes of season 1 and I wanted your opinion on it?

    Say ‘Hi’ to ‘Fred’ and ‘George’ from Aunt Dani.

    Reply

    • annhall
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 22:36:28

      Hi Dani,
      Thanks for your kind words. Lost girl is a show that has slipped through my grasp. I have read some positive reviews and the premise sounds interesting. But I haven’t watched any episodes due to lack of time. I guess I will have to rely on your recommendation. Keep me posted.

      Ann

      Reply

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