One year ago, I had only just joined the Zap2it team. Veronica Mars was still around, Lost seemed like a lost cause and the idea of year-round television was iffy enough that I started plotting the Great American Novel. As for the fall season, well gosh, good thing we had the writers merrily crafting established blockbusters to make up for what would surely be a crop of weak new offerings.
Okay, sure, "boy were we in for a surprise" is an overused trope, but it’s entirely applicable to 2007.
For one thing, the wrong show came back. If you’ve watched season three of Veronica Mars on DVD, you saw the mini-episode from season four: Veronica, now an FBI agent, helps catch a pedophiliac principal and then stumbles onto a serial bomber’s true identity. Too bad we never got to see more. While I’m happy for all of those fans of Jericho, their beloved show is inferior and destined to fail again. Veronica Mars, on the other hand, would’ve received a nice creative kick by getting away from the scholastic setting. Enough, I believe, to draw in viewers who previously wrote it off as a teen drama.
The right shows stepped away from the abyss. Remember when watching Lost became a chore? Probably not, because you’re too busy arguing over who’s in the coffin or what Jack meant when he said his father was upstairs or why Ben didn’t want to call the freighter. In one flashed-forward stroke, the show went from grind to genius.
The same goes for Heroes. The fall season got bogged down in Peter’s amnesia and Sylar’s new friends and Mohinder’s continuing super-ability to place absolute faith in the wrong people. Tim Kring listened to the complaints and served up a nice midseason finale that, aside from Sylar’s groan-inducing return to the ranks of the special, cut off the weaker plots and got us looking forward to volume three.
At the risk of sounding devoted to sci-fi, I’m including Battlestar Galactica here. The show lost more than a little momentum with the mysterious death of Starbuck and one-shot diversions about racism and labor unions. Then the remaining Cylons were unmasked and Starbuck came back with a MapQuest printout to our little blue marble. I cannot wait to see where that leads in the show’s final season.
My Great American Novel wasn’t all that great. At no point in my life can I remember watching as much summer television, not just for work but voluntarily. You had your reality television, which was to be expected, but also great fun shows — as soon as possible, Burn Notice will be nestled between Brisco County Jr. and Firefly on my DVD shelf — and a top-name star on a twisty thriller (Glenn Close on Damages, y’all). Summer can’t again be written off as a dumping ground.
The fall season wasn’t as bad as people said. I’m bewildered by the meme that interprets the lack of a huge breakout show this fall as failures for all of them. Some of the fall’s offerings are better than expected. Hell, I wrote off Chuck as a Jake 2.0 retread, early and often. My sincerest apologies, Zach Levi & Co., because you’ve replaced Jake in my heart.
Also, I’m going to backhand the next person who claims Pushing Daisies is too twee. If you think that, it’s time to either watch more than five minutes or get your dark matter detector checked. Daisies has depth of pain and despair and adult themes like sexuality — yes, you have Chi McBride’s asides and Kristin Chenoweth’s singing, but even those are often gallows humor. I don’t want to make the show sound like a Cure concert, because the love story between Ned and Chuck has tons of heart.
In all, it’s been a pretty damn good year for television. I’m thrilled to have been aboard for it, and I can’t wait to sit down with you when the 2008 spring season hits television.