Bottom of the Barrel TV Series


Halt and Catch Fire  
Based on the first season.

Having played and worked with computers most of my life, I was looking forward to a TV show that would bring to life the 80s revolution in home-computing, the garage companies, the geeky excitement, the rapid pace of innovation, the sheer luck and cut-throat business timing. And this show does manage to do a lot of that, portraying a fictitious company seemingly modeled after Compaq which created the first IBM-compatible home computer using a legal loophole, as well as the mobile computer. It pits together a hardware enthusiast with character flaws that cause tension both at work and with his family, a rogue and super-confident sales shark straight from Mad Men that left IBM to pursue other dreams, and a brilliant but eccentric and difficult old-school hacker to write the BIOS and operating system, all come together in an old Texas electronics company, forcing the company kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The race against the competition and the constant hardware challenges trying to bring a vision to life, the frantic business deals and the industrial espionage and copying of ideas are mixed with family tensions, all of which should make for quite an interesting show, especially for someone like me. But all of this is absolutely ruined, by political correctness. In all my decades, I have never met a single female that could be labelled a hacker in any proper sense of the term. This is a myth kept alive by Hollywood. Which is not to say that they don't exist, except that even if we assume the characters in this show managed to find one of these rare species, they completely broke suspension-of-disbelief by piling on the insulting impossibilities: First they make her out to know more about computers than a roomful of male engineers combined. Then they make her single-handedly invent a dozen of the important changes in the computer industry way ahead of her time. In addition, they portray her as a punk with an attitude straight out of that silly movie Hackers, who only hangs out and plays computer games, and never seems to be, you know, actually hacking and improving her skills and living in front of her computer like hackers actually do, except when they hire her of course. To top it off, they cast a gorgeous girl in the role with careful makeup and hairdo to make her look like a 'tomboy'. So how am I supposed to enjoy a show that is so far removed from reality and which keeps trying to shove its PC claws down my throat? They even pull out that canard of Ada Lovelace being the first programmer, when we know that Babbage not only designed, invented and built the first computer, he also wrote his own first computer programs, and she only collaborated with him on this famous program which she happened to publish. On top of all this, the men in this show keep getting stuck with their hardware challenges and have to be constantly saved by another woman, the brilliant wife of a limited male engineer. So, according to this show, the modern world was invented by women and we men are just along for the ride. That is if we're lucky enough not to be self-destructive like the men in this show. A potentially good show ruined by misandrist, fantasy history-rewriting political-correctness at its worst.



Sports Night  
Based on half of the first season.

Sorkin does to sports whats he did to politics in West Wing: Fast-paced, witty, well-written, intelligent dramedy. But, again, it feels like it's trying too hard to be clever, and the characters get almost no room to breathe and shine in between miles of snappy dialog. Most of the actors feel like mouth-pieces for Sorkin's writing instead of being real characters. Office politics, management, day-to-day work activities, crises and character interaction with a too-strong emphasis on dialog. Intelligent, but not interesting. It feels like we're listening to one guy talk through a dozen mouths rather than a dozen characters interacting in a drama.



Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip  
Based on half of the first season.

Sorkin is really stuck in a rut and repeating himself. Different setting, same show as the previous two. This time it's behind-the-scenes management of a TV sketch-show. Personal tensions amongst the staff, technical difficulties, office politics, lots of detailed daily difficulties flowing from the top of the hierarchy to the grunts and vice versa, and... lots of politics. Who would have thought there was so much politics in comedy. Once again, Sorkin doesn't write characters, he writes mouth-pieces with assigned agendas. He collects a bunch of actors that can deliver fast lines, and just gives them miles of snappy rapid-pace dialog and they often sound like they're giving a speech, and they all end up sounding like Sorkin instead of as people, except they each have different 'character flaws' or agendas. Sorkin injects conservative-bashing and religion-bashing, as well as random commentary on current politics whenever he can, and somehow this show becomes about terrorists and Afghanistan, as if he can't stop writing West Wing. This feeling is further enhanced by the fact that this isn't a comedy as the billing promises. The glimpses of the comedy sketches that finally emerge from all this management are quite bad, and just another soap box in a different format. It takes more than cleverness and opinions to bring a show to life, and when, in your mind, you can easily shuffle the actors and characters of a show without making an impact, it's not a good sign. The funny thing is, in one episode, a focus group criticized a sketch as 'too smart', and the managers interpreted that as 'too boring'.



Jane Eyre (2006)  

I had the advantage of watching this story through fresh eyes as I did not remember details of the classic novel and never watched an adaptation before. There are so many adaptations, each with its share of fans and detractors, but I approached this as a stand-alone mini-series. The acting and production is flawless and fascinating, and the characterizations and chemistry between the two leads feel strong and full of depth. But it's the story and secondary characters that I had problems with, although it's quite possible that the novel explained it better and with more depth. It starts melodramatically with an abused child by a cartoonishly sadistic foster family and school. Then she grows up and becomes a governess to a brooding Mr. Rochester's daughter. Rochester himself starts off impossibly brusque and rude, then develops a lot of character. His daughter, however, remains an air-headed French doll throughout the show. Mr. Rochester is obviously hiding some kind of mysterious secret in his huge mansion, some involving near-fatal mishaps, yet Jane inexplicably doesn't put in much effort to resolve the mystery, and falls for him instead. The final chapter features more melodrama and inexplicable desperate acts, and then, inconsistently, it all comes together for a pseudo-happy ending, except that, in this ending, Rochester is now a broken man and a shadow of himself, who she is only too happy to marry, and she makes some kind of feminist proclamation about equality that seems tacked on. In short, even without re-reading the novel, I feel something was lost in translation and that some of the awkward dialogue and developments were altered. I guess I will have to re-read the novel. After watching the 1983 adaptation however, this mini-series is put to shame.



Little Dorrit  

Despite the fact that this shares many of the team-members behind Bleak House, something seems to have gone terribly wrong with this one in the form of badly one-dimensional characterizations. It's another BBC production of a Dickens story, this one a very long and complex one, and therefore one that demands a lot of judicial editing and adapting. Except that here they seem to have butchered it: The two main protagonists of Amy and Arthur are pretty good, albeit a tad too saintly, but most of the rest of the characters seem to have wandered in from a children's version of the story, whittled down to cartoon characters. The omission of much detail is not the problem, but the simplified and rewritten dialogue is, as well as politically-correct casting stunts, and a screenplay that insists on constantly reducing the characters to quirks and single dimensions, and sometimes even silly caricatures. The story itself is sprawling, involving several intertwined families, proud fathers and grandmothers, and the ups and down of fate that can reduce one family to ruins or raise a suffering person to riches, tempting everyone with greed and desperate, materialistic, duplicitous behaviour. But to get this story delivered properly, you will have to look elsewhere.



Bit of Fry and Laurie, A  
Based on the first season.

A sketch show from the brilliant duet of Jeeves and Wooster. This one is very obscure, odd, eccentric, absurd and British. Sketches usually revolve around dense dialog with fast wordplay, whimsical oddities, silly satires and strange absurdities. It's just too eccentric to be funny though and is most definitely in its own niche of comedy.



House of Cards (US)  
Based on most of the first one and a half seasons.

The way I see it, if you are going to remake a superb TV series that needed no remake, then the show does not deserve to be rated on its own terms. And, by comparison, this show is quite inferior, and how could it not be, seeing as that show was so powerful and memorable and had Ian Richardson at the helm. I was only willing to try this remake since I respect Kevin Spacey's talents. But he seems a bit low on energy here and even Spacey at his best cannot hold a candle to the magnetism and charm of Richardson. So, although he is good here, he is not good enough. And the audacious tactic of breaking the fourth wall in the original that paid off only due to Richardson's tongue-in-cheek charm and firm grip of his audience, is here paid mere lip service by Spacey, who doesn't give it the cheekiness it needs, thus making it a tiresome and bad idea, as it usually is in most cases. In addition, the writers of this show took the original story as a skeleton to hang on their ideas. In other words, at least during the first two seasons, this covers the same ground, only with different details and extra padding. The good is that the extra complexity and detail of the manipulations and machinations are more difficult and therefore more realistic. However, the bad overrides the good: The padding includes a boring parallel plot-line with his wife's ruthless management of a non-profit organization just to give her more to do, as well as many more filler episodes containing yet another small political crisis handled by Frank and his aggressive tactics. The very bad is that they changed Frank's character, a man who is supposed to be a master tactician and someone who can control people with sheer magnetism, to be yet another man who is constantly emasculated and controlled by his wife. In short, skip this, watch the original, or even watch Boss instead.



Hannibal  
Based on most of the first season.

Interestingly, Fuller has gone from making quirky comedies about death to the other extreme: A celebration of gruesome killing with an unrelentingly dark atmosphere. Thomas Harris's books wallow in a circus of sick killers and criminals with a variety of psychotic disorders and obsessions, along with the desperate FBI agents on their trail that often use psychotic individuals to help them. This series creates a world with the same approach of serial killers with many exotic warped obsessions, targeted by other killers, or dangerously unstable shrinks and hardened agents on the brink of losing their sanity. It is based on characters from the Red Dragon book, featuring a man with a gift for empathizing with serial killers by studying crime scenes and putting himself into a focused empathic trance. Of course, this kind of career doesn't sit well with a stable state of mind or restful nights, and Hannibal the Cannibal, who is still unknown to the world except as a psychiatrist, is in just the right place to play his devious games with law enforcement, his various demented patients and the agents that hire him as a consultant. That is, when he isn't eating them. This is not the kind of world that normal people would enjoy binge-watching and, if it had points of interest, is best handled in individual books, episodes or movies. Unfortunately, this show is deeply flawed and never began to work for me for other reasons. First is the tone and ambient dark soundtrack that is so monotonous and unrelenting in its darkness that it becomes grating and dull. The show desperately needed breathers and a human angle instead of just diving in the deep-end of a psychotics mud-pool and staying there. But every dialogue is laden with ambient ominous sounds, every scene made heavy with a dark mood, which very soon becomes intolerably artificial. The only time the soundtrack shifts to pleasant classical music is in Hannibal's office, which just shows that Hannibal himself knows how to enjoy the finer things in life despite his obsessions, whereas this show only wants to wallow in mud. A disturbing thought. For another thing, Mikkelsen, despite being a subtle good actor, seems to have decided to play Hannibal as robotic and wooden, which is his interpretation of detached I presume. His heavy accent and the stiff pretentious dialogue doesn't help understand him, not does his unnatural English inflection help make his character interesting. The serial killers all seem to be artists, setting up gruesome killings as if they were preparing art-pieces for a bloodthirsty audience, which is what this show is actually about. And then there's the writing that just makes things so unrealistic: The fact that they have three shrinks working actively on cases doing the work of agents, that the profiling is always so exact and instantly productive, that he relives crime-scenes with flashy effects straight out of CSI, that he always hits the nail on the head with seemingly psychic abilities even though each killer seems to have very bizarre obsessions that no shrink has ever heard about, and that despite all his sensitivity to minutiae, he and the other shrinks can't see that Hannibal is reacting to all this death in unnatural ways. And so on. It's just a show that never gets off the ground for so many reasons.



Longmire  
Based on most of the first season.

Yet another cop-show with a very limited murder-mystery-of-the-week structure. It does have some unique points in its favor though: It takes place in the wide-open country of Wyoming, and features tense relations between the sheriff and the nearby Indian reservation with its own law-enforcement. It is also pretty much the opposite of CSI-like shows and their ilk: Clues are often somehow identified with an expert naked eye, there are almost no forensics and definitely no flashy effects, and procedure almost doesn't exist, as the strong & silent alpha sheriff uses old-fashioned willpower and experience to solve problems and mysteries. Needless to say, Miranda rights (as well as other rights) aren't too popular either. This is also a weakness, however, as it is difficult to accept such sloppy work and disregard of procedure in this day and age. But this show wants to be a modern Western in the vein of Justified, except it's not as interesting. The sheriff is getting over his dead wife, has a strained relationship with his daughter, and is competing against his own deputy in elections, but he handles all of this like he does his admiring female partner, by ignoring or repressing everything, and just doing his job. In short, the characters are not very interesting, the mystery solving isn't clever for the most part, and while the show is watchable and slightly different, there really isn't much of interest here.



Bosch  
Based on most of the first season.

Another cop/detective series, this one as bland as it gets. There is the usual mixture of personal drama, complicated love life, clashes with his boss, reporters and the law that all only seem to be after his badge, ongoing detective work, as well as a season-long mystery and cold case that seems to involve a serial killer. But it's all hackneyed. The experienced detective who sometimes takes the law into his own hands is an amalgam of common-denominator traits, the dialogue is dull, stiff and uninspired, the killer is unconvincing, and the detective work, although competent, doesn't stand out in any way. It doesn't help that all the people out to get him are dumb, with no rational agenda other than that they are supposed to be the bad guys. But they do manage to make him look smarter by comparison, except that he is only competent at best. Character and acting wise, it's all bland or wooden. To me the show felt like an episode of Law and Order stretched out to a whole season. It's watchable, but bland, and taking into account the competition, its very skippable.



Killing, The  
Based on most of the first season.

Danish crime and police procedural series featuring season-long mysteries that develop and expand throughout the season. But whereas Twin Peaks was more interested in the town's quirks and characters, and filled its episodes with strange developments, this one doesn't really have a good reason to justify this structure and feels very drawn-out. Actually, whereas most crime shows feature a mystery-of-the-week, this one feels like it's going for a suspect-of-the-week, and the result is a lot of tiresome red-herrings, and worse: The amount of secrets, lies, twisted characters, coincidences, and the huge network of people that turn out to be involved in the mystery in one way or another, simply cause the show to collapse under its own weight. In this sense, the show is reminiscent of 24, except it's not as thrilling. It also obviously stole other things from that show, having each episode take up exactly a day, and teasing the audience with cliff-hanger multi-character new developments at the end of each episode. So, although the show, at first, seems to be going for gritty realism and down-to-earth mystery-solving, this is much more 24 than The Wire. Add to this the fact that the characters are almost never compellingly interesting, and you have a frustratingly tedious watch despite the occasional interesting developments.

In the first season, the mystery is a murdered girl, and the time is split between the two detectives on the case (one who was on her way out of the country), the grieving family (a story line that takes ages to become interesting), and a slew of local politicians (a story line which almost never becomes interesting). The show tries too hard to give the detective Sarah an edge, making her leap intuitively to solutions and discoveries that frequently feel contrived or impossible, while the male detective is impulsive and rude. The rest of the team seem to skip painfully obvious procedures just so the writers will have their twist two episodes later, such as when the forensics team don't bother to check some blood on a mattress to make sure it matches the victim, just so that Sarah can make the intuitive leap on her own. In short, a vastly overrated show, and I definitely won't be bothering with the American remake which sounds like yet another useless carbon-copy without subtitles.



Generation War (AKA Our Mothers, Our Fathers)  

German 4.5 hour mini-series on WWII, telling the story of five German friends that were changed drastically by the war. Since this is a WWII drama from the point of view of the German soldiers, it was bound to cause controversy no matter what side it took or what statement it made, and it was watched and discussed extensively in Germany for obvious social reasons. While the movie is epic and extremely well-made, featuring strong war and dramatic scenes with historical detail and good acting, my problem with this movie is very simple: I found it impossible to watch a four hour movie that wants its audience to empathize with the humanity and breakdown of its characters, while these characters are actively participating in mass-murder. No possible propaganda or naivete could explain what these young people were doing conquering other countries and blazing a path of destruction and brutality just so that their fatherland could get more land. Obviously, Russians and Poles were not welcoming them as the Hitler machine may have led them to believe, and they were not being attacked either, so what were they thinking when they were killing millions for the glory of their fatherland? And this movie dishonestly skips that part and jumps straight to were they start losing the war in Russia and suffering, and where one soldier starts having second thoughts about killing Russian children, after most of the carnage has already been committed. Even the nurses, helping German soldiers get better so that they can kill more Russians, have explaining to do. Forget anti-semitism and the war against Jews which they may or may not have ignored from sheer naivete, what were they doing killing Poles and Russians? So I spent the vast majority of this movie hoping they would all get killed, while the movie tried hard to make me empathize with their trials and tribulations as they discover that the war that they helped create, is hell. That qualifies it as a failure. The fact that the movie portrays the Russians, Ukrainians and Poles as vicious people and anti-Semites as well, is not the problem, as some would have you believe, since that reflects reality, and the movie did not portray the rest of the Germans as any better than the rest. The only storyline that had any merit was the one about the Jew (one of the five German friends), who finds himself with anti-semitic partisans, and there are some elements and scenes with power, such as what happens to the Nazi in the end, and one honest scene about a morally-corrupt German nurse who gives up a Jew out of fear despite thinking of herself as a good person. But otherwise, unlike Das Boot which found an angle via its weary professional soldiers and a compelling story, this did not feel honest. How can one get into the drama of a war scene when you are hoping the protagonists in danger actually get shot in order to save lives? This is not a 'war movie'; It's a movie about mass-murder.



Honourable Woman, The  

Complex British thriller set in the thick of Israel/Palestine complexities that combines spy-craft, politics, business and heavy drama. A British-Israeli daughter inherits her father's arms business that helped Israel, and tries to use her power to help reconcile Israel and Palestine by helping business and technology grow on both sides, and by promoting only neutral sides. But, like everything in the Middle-East, there are secrets that emerge from the past that don't let her follow her idealistic path. Threats and conspiracies grow in complexity until even the conspirators are not sure who is pulling the strings. The story flirts with the border between challenging and convoluted, as well as between subtle and abstruse, and demands nothing but an intelligent audience's full attention. While I welcomed the challenge, the conspiracies did seem to lose sense and some parties did lose their motivation towards the end. Another bigger problem is that, while the show seemed to take pains to stay out of the debate and take no sides, it betrays its biased opinions often. This it does by portraying all violent Palestinians as being motivated by Israeli attacks, and somehow none are driven by religious ideology, nor do they ever initiate attacks according to this ideology, which is a far cry from reality, to say the least. It also lacks an understanding of how Israeli fanatics think (except that the Israeli terrorists in this show aren't exactly what they seem either). Another strange fantasy of this show is that somehow, in this world, women are in charge everywhere in every department of every country. And finally, Maggie Gyllenhaal simply isn't very good in the role and never seemed to get into the character. I liked the challenging style of writing though, as well as the risky topic.



Mentalist, The  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

Yet another episodic detective show with a mystery-of-the-week format, this one copying the concept from Psych, only in reverse. In Psych, an observant man pretended to be psychic, and the show failed in the implementation of this idea. Here, it's a fake psychic who was good at his job due to highly-observant people skills, who turns detective after his wife and kid are killed. This approach works better, but I could have done without the overused setup of a detective driven by the murder of his wife (Monk and many others). However, while the setup is better and more plausible, it's the writing that fails this show. The writers so desperately want to make him into such a genius, that they constantly make him jump to far-fetched conclusions without any solid clues, or with any way to rule out a dozen other possibilities, and he always turns out to be right. They even make him know everything in advance without any clues whatsoever, manipulate people who always behave the way he expects, or guess exactly what they're thinking, all of which could only work if he were really psychic. But we are supposed to accept it because he is a genius (sorry, 'mentalist'). So he must have seen something we didn't, right? This reminds me of the great Monk episode where someone was outdoing him in his detective work, and Monk kept repeating that he is cheating because he couldn't possibly reach his conclusions using clues and logic, and everyone accused him of being jealous and told him that what he did seemed like magic to them as well. But this show is all smoke and mirrors, and very obviously so. Which is a pity, because, despite being too smug, Patrick Jane is an interesting character, and his interactions with fellow officers and the people he is investigating are quite interesting. But, a good character and a better premise than Psych can't even begin to save a detective show with such poor detective skills. Can't audiences tell the difference between a show that uses its brain and one that is faking it?



Fall, The  
Based on the first season.

A poor, unfocused and uninspired serial-killer series. A mechanical Anderson acts as a Detective Superintendent brought in as an expert to review and handle a murder case that rapidly turns into a serial-killer case. She has no personality, and, along with the other women in this show, is given obnoxious feminist agendas, treating men as incompetent or worse while pouncing on any statement that could be pettily twisted into misogyny. The show even pulls out that old feminist fantasy of the matrilineal Mosuo society, repeating the same old distorted myths. The killer is just as bland and uninteresting, and is never convincing. The police-work ranges from moderately passable to downright ridiculous, jumping to unwarranted conclusions, even ruling out the whole female gender as possible killers without any evidence. Overlapping this case are a few other irrelevant plot-lines involving corruption, a police-shooting, and some family dramas, as if this show can't decide if to be a serial-killer procedural, or a cop-show drama like Homicide. Either way, these plot-lines are so unfocused, they quickly feel like padding. In short, it looks like it may become interesting at first, but this is no Prime Suspect. Happy Valley was miles better.



Big C, The  
Based on the first season.

A dramedy about a married woman that gets terminal cancer? OK, I'm game. Except that this fails not because of the subject matter and its attempt to make comedy out of it, but because of the despicable characters. Cathy reacts to her news by becoming a desperately irresponsible person, treating everyone like garbage, bulldozing through sensitive situations and messing things up, committing crimes on a whim, having affairs, indulging destructive or selfish whims and then preaching to everyone else about their choices, and so on and on, all in the name of 'living life to its fullest'. Except that this is more about destructing life and becoming a narcissist. At first I thought that it was understandable given the extreme situation and that it was just a phase, but then episode after episode it gets worse, and you realize they made a whole show around this 'phase'. If the minute you get cancer, you throw out everything you were and become a wrecking ball, then it's obvious that nothing you did was real or important, and that this is the real you. She also hides the fact that she has cancer from everyone, but this is understandable, except that she pulls out the cancer card only when it's to her advantage. The supporting characters include: A silly childish ex-husband, an over-the-top angry teenage son who is a complete jerk, and a very obnoxious environmentalist brother who only preaches constantly. The writers try to make it about her trying to fix her people before she goes using desperate devil-may-care whimsical techniques, except that its brainlessly destructive and they're all unbearably obnoxious. The only character of any interest is her old edgy neighbor, but guess what they do with her... In short, not a funny show, and as far as the drama goes, who cares, when all the characters are this self-obsessed?



Hatfields & McCoys  

So it was an infamous, bloody feud between families. But who claimed it to be interesting? According to this mini-series, at least, they were just a big bunch of hothead backwood hillbillies with barely an ounce of brain-matter between them. So why tell their story, and why tell it in a five-hour series? One senseless murder by a brainless murderer and some petty arguments escalate quickly into mass murder, the families brainlessly protect and avenge each other even after murder, and act surprised when their own are murdered in return, simply because they are stupid rednecks that enjoy the violence, and before you know it, it turns into a war. Nobody stops to think things through, and even Costner who is cast as the only relatively 'level-headed' guy, gets swept up by the violence, and the judges are completely ineffectual. The result is five hours of stupidity with mostly one-dimensional characters, all of which couldn't get killed fast enough for me. Hardly entertaining material. Throwing money, good production values and a good cast at it, doesn't change that.



Murdoch Mysteries  
Based on most of the first season.

Yet another murder-mystery, detective and forensic series with an episodic mystery-of-the-week structure, this one from Canada and with another gimmick: It takes place in the 1890s during the 'age of invention', and features a detective with a super-brain who uses science and every cutting-edge technological invention of the period to solve cases. This would be an interesting idea, except that they turned it into a fantasy, crediting a single man not only with practically every modern police procedure known to man, but also has him interact with famous people and scientists of the time and help them with their inventions as well. So not only does he solve 120 year crimes using the same procedures as today except with older technology, but they also have a female pathologist who, besides being a woman in 1890, also seems to know every modern technique in her field as well. This would be only one problem in an otherwise entertaining show, except that murder-mysteries are not well written. Clues are immediately solved by the detective in flashes of impossible insight, not allowing us to savor the mystery in our brain for a second, leading to yet another and another suspect with yet another motive, until the final clue and motive that are pulled out of left field at random for a solution. Hardly intellectually rewarding. Add to this a bland detective without much of a personality except that he is very upright, clean and logical, and you have one very easily-forgotten show. The only thing unique here is that he is both religious and very intelligent, which is not the way they usually do things nowadays.



Anger Management  
Based on the first season.

I don't know exactly what they did wrong in this one but Charlie Sheen's followup after Two and a Half Men is a really bland sitcom. Charlie is a therapist specializing in anger issues after an anger episode ruined his life. The comedy revolves around a private-session group of quirky patients, his purely sexual relationship with another therapist, his ex-wife and OCD daughter, and some therapy sessions in prison with some 'wacky' murderers. The writing and wit is mediocre and uninspired, although it does have some amusing moments, and the acting is weak by most of the cast, and even Charlie seems to have gotten his delivery and timing broken for some reason.



Veronica's Closet  
Based on some scattered episodes of the first season.

Not exactly a great followup to Dream On. This bland sitcom from Crane almost deserves its bad reputation. It checks off the sitcom requirements but ranges from kinda amusing to embarrassingly flat. Kirstie Alley is a neurotic woman trying to get over a bad marriage even though she is a 'romance expert', while running her lingerie company. A variety of quirky employees try to live with her various issues while her husband makes her life unbearable on his way out. There is a generally unnatural and forced feeling in the acting that is probably the cause of the failure.



Leverage  
Based on the first season.

If taken as a stand-alone show, I suppose this con-man/caper series is somewhat entertaining with its action and twists. But since it is a US copy (rip-off) of Hustle, it must be compared and suffers greatly as a result. Hustle had wit, style and panache oozing out of its pores and featured sharp writing and colorful characters with great dynamics. This is just cookie-cutter caper plots with passable but bland characters in comparison. Hustle focused heavily on the psychological aspects of the game, the con, the old-school charm, the joy of one-upmanship, and solutions and improvisations based on wit. Leverage, on the other hand, prefers flashy and very unrealistic computer hacking, a flashy home base that looks like a war room, lots of action with a sexy but one-dimensional babe in tight clothes performing impossibly perfect stunts, another action-man who seems to be as indestructible as Batman, and the twists usually aren't as clever as they think they are. The worst aspect is that this version decided to moralize the show by turning a team of criminals into do-gooder vigilantes, whereas Hustle was a little more subtle and allowed them to keep their criminal hobbies and pride, only they targeted bad people because they were easier to cheat due to exploitative motivations. In short, watch this only if you want your appreciation of Hustle to grow.



Kitchen Confidential  
Based on the single season.

Released during a bizarre trend that saw male chefs made popular amongst guys, this converts Anthony Bourdain's book about the nasty goings-on inside restaurants into a sitcom via Darren Star's (Sex & the City, Beverly Hills 90210) sensibilities. The result? A show that seems to be more interested in making the restaurant-business hip and all about hot youngsters having lots of wild sex flings while trying to control the chaos in a restaurant and look cool. Give me a break. Sometimes it just comes off like a braggart's memoirs who is only trying to glamorize and exaggerate it all. To be fair, the actors and writing are fast-moving and kinda fun, and the shenanigans revolving around the running of a restaurant by a bunch of fratboy-type petty criminals and misfits can get entertaining, but it's not something you will likely remember for long. Adventures include a feud with the competitive French restaurant across the street (including sleeping with each other's waitresses), convincing a hot angry vegan to eat meat and have sex (yeah right), various bickerings and teases amongst the pressured kitchen workers, run-ins with critics and old teachers as well as the bosses mistress, and so on. Somewhat entertaining, but even when it's at its best it's average, and is much more interested in sex than food. Maybe that's what created the trend in the first place.



Blacklist, The  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

This one is based on a silly premise that never even gets off the ground. There's a master international criminal who seems to know almost everyone in the international crime business personally, and this wide variety of criminals and terrorists often rely on him for help, provide him with information or he knows them so well he can predict their moves perfectly. This super-valuable crime-resource decides to turn himself in to the FBI with mysterious motives in order to help a brand new FBI chick... I mean agent. The FBI is portrayed as mostly ignorant and laughably incompetent, but the pretty rookie seems to hold up the whole FBI on her own backed by the ridiculously-omniscient Reddington. Thus the whole world suddenly revolves around this chick who is not only ridiculously implausible as an FBI agent, she is quite dull. As if that weren't enough, she is involved in a huge slow-moving conspiracy that involves everyone she ever knew and that keeps getting more convoluted every handful of episodes. Eventually it becomes so convoluted that it becomes boring, silly and self-contradictory. As I said, the premise is so ridiculous and unrealistic, the show doesn't even begin to work. Except they hired Spader in the role of the super-criminal Reddington, and he is good, as expected, except that he is wasted in a bad show. Also, the guest super-criminal of the week that Reddington delivers to the FBI is often colorful or interesting, but, once again, this is all wasted on a largely unwatchable show.



White Collar  
Based on most of the first season.

Yet another police procedural, this time merged with the con-man genre. Obviously inspired by Catch Me If You Can and 48 Hours, this one teams up an FBI agent in charge of white collar crimes involving high-profile theft, forgery, fraud and insider trading, with Neal, a criminal who happens to be an expert on all of these, except he got caught and needs to stay out of prison. The FBI agent was his nemesis who knows his moves, he is strapped with an ankle collar to discourage escaping, and there is also a convoluted story arc and conspiracy involving Neal's ex-girlfriend that keeps him involved with the FBI. Of course, they keep him occupied with endless episodic cases that require his seemingly endless talents. His omniscience and expertise about everything and anything without even researching is one obvious flaw, and so is his ability to pull off cons, thefts and setups without preparation. But the writers also add contrivances and coincidences, and the cons and police-work are just as frequently contrived or implausible as they are clever. In short, this is a show so in love with its own presumed cleverness and fast-pace that it doesn't bother with checking for plot holes, inconsistent details, and lack of real work and realism. The relationship of con-man and FBI agent as well the agent's wife and con-man's paranoid friend provides humor, but this is hardly original. So the constant insults to our intelligence override the entertainment value.



Mad Men  
Based on most of the first season.

Vastly overrated series about the 60s advertising industry, the men that ran it, and their women and wives. Much ado was made over this reproduction of the 60s, but the more you watch it, the more flaws you spot in the behaviour. They may have gotten the props, clothing, news, general zeitgeist and furniture right, but the sexist behaviour towards women seems more like a projection of modern men based on their imagination of what it would be like before the second wave of feminism, sexual harassment laws, and other related benefits to women. It's as if most men are constantly and automatically jerks without laws protecting women, and the manners, upbringing and social graces of the 60s were non-existent. There was plenty of sexism and racism then to be sure, but this show goes unsubtly over-the-top with its sexism, and the women are sometimes real considering the zeitgeist, and other times they are just air-headed doormats and toys lacking personality. Feminism and laws didn't give women their inner needs and personalities you know... it just changed them. And then there is the self-congratulatory advertising work where the writers let the top men get away with nonsense. For example, in the first episode, they 'invent' the Lucky Strike's slogan 'It's Toasted' to make people feel better about cigarette health scares, which makes no sense, especially considering the fact that by then, all their competitors were also toasted and that this slogan was actually invented 50 years before when competitors cooked their tobacco. Another example is when they had to advertise Israel, talking about how Israel blows up hotels (something that happened 15 years ago before the state even existed), and assume that it is a communist state just because it has a few kibbutzim. Whoever researches and comes up with this nonsense should have been fired. But then there is the biggest flaw of this show: The fact that it's not interesting. Watching people at work, having constant affairs, playing office politics, hiding secrets from their coworkers and wives, and creating bad advertising is not my idea of interesting. Especially when the actors are almost all very dull despite their competent acting. So, unless you are obsessed with 60s memorabilia or are fascinated by soap-opera drama with lots of flings, and with marketing themes on the side, avoid this one.



Black Donnellys, The  
Based on most of the single season.

Scorsese-style mob-crime, the teenage version. Actually, these four 'Irish' brothers look fresh out of college, but they may as well be in high-school, yet they kill both an Italian and Irish mob boss in the first episode and somehow mostly get away with it, and think they can outsmart everyone including cops without having connections or protection of their own. Yeah right. Their attitudes are way bigger than their britches, and it's like watching kids 'play' Goodfellas or Sopranos, except in real life these brats would have been put in their place or killed right from the start. There is a lot of rich story here with complex developments and the writing is not altogether bad, except its in the service of a fantasy. Although the Irish mob's brother comes after them, he is easily fooled, the Italians don't seem to mind at all that one of their own was killed, and the kids take over a bookie's business without anyone minding either. This is no Brotherhood. A waste of good writing and some strong supporting actors.



Brideshead Revisited  

I'm puzzled at the high ratings and the esteem with which this mini-series is held, since I found it largely a dull chore to sit through. This is a saga based on a classic novel (which I have not read) that takes place between the 20s and 40s. The protagonist is Charles (Irons), who I found to be quite a flat character and more of an empty canvas upon which the story takes place, although he provides the skeptical viewpoint for the story's heavy use of religion. Catholicism serves as a pivot for many events, blocking many choices and developments, or opening other doors, with a constant clash between characters of various beliefs and anti-beliefs. Half of the story involves his close friendship with Sebastian, a friendship which may or may not have been sexual. After the Oxford days, Sebastian deteriorates into deep alcoholism, leaving Charles helpless. Charles moves on to painting and travels, has a disastrous marriage, and tries to get together with Sebastian's sister in a complicated affair. There is a lot of eloquent gossip, navel-gazing and droning narrative, uneventful extended scenes of such light drama that it drifts into the air and disappears, an insufferably pompous gay character, several forgettable side-characters, flowery dialogue with an extended vocabulary, and lots of random references to theology. The only real color in this long series is provided by two actors, that show exactly how flat everything else is by comparison: Gielgud is Charles father who loves to play little, almost-cruel games with his son using words, social façades and hidden rules, and Olivier is Sebastian's father whose health deteriorates. Their moments are far and few between though.



Wives and Daughters  

A mini-series adaptation of a classic Elizabeth Gaskell novel. After watching North & South, however, this was severely disappointing. The story involves dozens of people, story-lines, motivations, families and personalities, but the central character is Molly and her doctor father who remarries, bringing into the household an overbearing, selfish step-mom and her headstrong daughter Cynthia. It's a Victorian chick flick, or soap opera. The characters may have class, but the story keeps churning out endless scenes of wanted and unwanted attentions, love, unrequited love, jilted love, whimsical love, secret engagements and marriages, and even one cad who attempts blackmail. In short, the drama may be sweeping, Victorian and an ensemble piece, and the acting and production are both superb, but the story is mostly insignificant, melodramatic, and estrogen heavy. Michael Gambon stands out as always as a fierce personality but even he can't escape the melodrama.



Roseanne  
Based on scattered episodes mostly from the first two seasons.

Like Married With Children, this was another response to the perfect family sitcom syndrome, this one (over)emphasizing the woman in charge who works, runs the house and knows best while leading the housebroken and inferior husband on a leash. This was touted as a feminist breakthrough but unfortunately resorts to cheery and subtle male-bashing. More interestingly, it portrayed real working-class American family issues (day-to-day problems, hard annoying jobs, bratty kids) and more realistic people and this brought popularity. However, Roseanne just isn't that likeable, has an annoying voice, bad comedic timing and weak acting chops. Nevertheless, it was still somewhat amusing with occasional good episodes, and it had charm mainly due to the down-to-earth approach, John Goodman, and the cheery chemistry. After the horrible first half season, it improves somewhat, but not enough.



Wilfred (US)  
Based on most of the first season.

A man (Elijah Wood) tries to commit suicide, and suddenly starts seeing his neighbor's dog as a grown man and develops a complex relationship with him/it. He talks and interacts with it as a very strange human/dog hybrid, while everyone else only sees him/it as a dog. The dog invades his life with recklessness, animal behaviour, dark urges and selfish drives, bestial lust, poop, urine, manipulations, and so on, or, alternatively, acts as his conscience. The man pines for his neighbor but she has a boyfriend. It's definitely unusual, but it also doesn't work on any level. For one thing, there is simply no making sense of what the dog is supposed to be. Some may call it unpredictable, while others may just conclude that it is inconsistent nonsense. For another thing, the dog is completely unlikeable and all he seems to do most of the time is convince the man to accept and go with his most basest and juvenile side of himself while the 'dog' is basically a very obnoxious jerk. This is in direct contrast with the opening quotes that end up as pretentious attempts at being meaningful, while the show is anything but. In addition, most of the humor is juvenile and it's not only the dog dragging down the man to toilet humor, it's also many of the supporting characters that are much more cartoonish than real. This is the kind of show that one watches for a while just to try to figure it out, until one's patience wears out and turns into disgust and exasperation.



How Not to Live Your Life  
Based on the first season.

This comedy is as if someone took a character from The Office and forced him into a sitcom. I.e. it depends on people behaving poorly, awkwardly and embarrassingly for its core comedy, except it's scripted and straps him with some silly sitcom characters. The main character is simply not funny most of the time, and does not have the comedic chops of say, Cleese as Fawlty, nor do the writers know what to do with such a character, assuming that his behaving like a jerk and his puerile foot-in-mouth behaviour is enough to make comedy. The writers also resort to interludes showing how the situation could have been 10 times worse if he had done even more ridiculously dumb things, except these are so dumb they aren't funny either. The supporting characters are so silly as to be completely removed from reality, and thus lose most of their comic appeal as well. There's a virginal do-gooder man who constantly appears in his house to take care of him for no reason whatsoever, a girl flat-mate who is unrealistically oblivious to his obvious attempts at getting her in bed, and a boyfriend who serves as a foil for his obnoxious behaviour, and a dead grandmother and her lawyer who only knew him as 'dick-head'. In short, besides a couple of chuckles here and there, this is weak, generally unfunny stuff.



Phoenix Nights  
Based on the first season.

A Northern British working-class comedy about a tacky, family-friendly and on-the-cheap night club opened in a small town. The comedy is down-to-earth, but somewhat reminiscent of the style in I Am Alan Partridge or The Office, i.e. mostly awkward little misadventures and incompetence with gritty pseudo-realism and realistic characters. The comedian Peter Kay acts in several colorful roles. Every episode, they have to deal with a catastrophe, or terrible local club acts falling apart or going horribly bad. A group of singers pull out a racist song, or a wild west show lets the horse loose in the club, while the bouncers argue over baldness and play silly games, ignoring the chaos until it's too late. Some chuckles here and there, but nothing hilarious, unless you're into this kind of show, or Northern humor, in which case you may find more to enjoy.



Psych  
Based on most of the first season.

Sorry USA network, but this isn't the new Monk despite its popularity. This is light entertainment blending comedy and amateur mystery solving. The concept is weak: A young guy who was brought up by his strict and challenging father to be hyper-aware and to notice and analyze every little detail, finds his calling when he starts giving tips to the local police department. Trouble is, his tips and insights are so uncanny, they think he is a criminal. So he re-invents himself as a psychic and sells his 'supernatural' abilities instead. This may have worked once or twice, but to keep this going for years? The writers are not up to the task: The police have him performing actual detective work like interrogating people, which is convenient for him to gather clues, but illogical when you think about how they see him. The 'little details' that he notices are sometimes impressively Sherlockian, but most often are either obvious, convenient, or too weak and inconclusive to lead to his conclusions. But the rest of the characters are under the writers' control, so they make them too stupid to figure it out, and even the forensics don't notice obvious details, case after case after case. In the meantime, he gets to chew the scenery acting out 'psychic visions' in the most obnoxious and obviously fake way possible, making the whole thing completely unbelievable. The humor is light and fun at times, but the writing is too often insultingly dumb.



Mind Your Language  
Based on scattered episodes of the first two seasons.

Really silly and notoriously politically-incorrect British sitcom in the vein of shows like 'Allo 'Allo' and 'Are you Being Served'. A group of awkward foreigners, one from each country, are taking night-school English lessons from an idealistic and young teacher with an exacting battle-axe of a principal: Miss Courtney. The politically incorrect stereotyping of the students is not the problem, but the fact that they made them all so cartoonishly dumb with extremely broadly drawn personalities, is. For every amusing joke about misunderstandings between cultures and languages, and entertainingly botched use of English words and grammar, there are five really silly jokes about how dumb they are and can't grasp what any 5 year old child would. And then it gets increasingly more silly and broadly drawn as it goes with repetitive catch-phrases and character-quirks.



Community  
Based on most of the first season.

Obviously NBC is attempting to resurrect Scrubs with this one, this time in the context of a community college. But the result is more like a bunch of 14 year old girls auditioning for a sitcom after five cups of coffee and being told to be as funny as they can be. In other words, it's so forced, cutesy, silly and over-the-top that it's not funny most of the time. It's not like a puppy that wants to be loved, but like an awkward old dalmatian that is pretending to be a puppy. Sometimes it's funny, and then I remember that it was made by adults. This sitcom is about a group of people enrolled in community college, most of them losers in one form or another and of various ages, who form a study group and become friends. They don't do much studying though, and it's all about their quirky personalities, friendships and sexual tensions. Abed is a Palestinian with a cutesy form of Aspergers who lives life through comparisons to movies and TV shows, and his constant pointing out of similarities to other sitcoms only serve as reminders of how unoriginal this is. He is a good actor though with comedic timing. Chevy Chase is wasted in a loser role with no wit, and the rest don't really register as anything other than Scrubs replacements. At least Scrubs balanced out its silly teenage syndrome with McGinley, Kelso and the Janitor, but this is just all silly, and even Scrubs quickly wore out its welcome. Next time, make your own show instead of copying one.



Huff  
Based on the first season.

A very flawed, barely interesting dramedy about a psychologist and the various neurotic or downright crazy people in his life. His wife is utterly selfish, his brother is in an asylum, his father is a domineering, chauvinist jerk, his mother is a bitch straight out of a soap opera, his lawyer friend is a man-child, and he also has his patients to deal with, one of which is a psychotic stalker. The only sane person in his life is his son, but he seems to be unrealistically mature, level-headed and sensitive for his age. The first half of the season is quite bad, with a banal central character sandwiched in between a laughably cartoonish character of a bitch mother-in-law, and the lame and wild sexual antics of a 45 year old man who still thinks he is a cute little kid with hormones and a drug habit. It just doesn't work. The writing then gradually improves, becomes more realistic as well as more banal, the drama grows touchy-feely, and the characters never become compelling. Overrated.



Rescue Me  
Based on the first season.

I never liked Denis Leary and this show reflects his crude, caustic, immature and angry approach to everything he does. The setup is a group of fire-fighters in New York after 9/11, their personal lives, relationships, their jobs, their attitudes and psychology, damaged from having to deal with so many tragedies and their various ways of dealing with the job. Leary acts as a particularly damaged individual who is haunted by ghosts. For the first couple of episodes, the show works, combining real people and real flaws within this context of a very difficult job, mixed with some crude fratboy humor involving sex, chicks and penises. But the show rapidly deteriorates. All the men are either complete jerks, bumbling idiots or both, all of the women are either super-horny, twisted neurotics or bitches from hell, or all three. Sometimes, these characterizations are taken to cartoonish extremes. People are calling this realistic and a show about real people, but realistic would be much more balanced, not a world populated by crazies, jerks and bitches. The ghosts are a very poor and tired plot device, the fratboy humor, although sometimes amusing, gets tiring, but the ubiquitously insane and deleteriously neurotic personalities made me completely lose interest. Not to mention that after a few episodes, it's clear that most of the drama and comedy in this show has almost nothing to do with fire-fighting anymore and it has nothing more to say on the subject. FX can do better.



Pennies from Heaven  

Dennis Potter's acclaimed series, later remade in the USA with Steve Martin, explores an unusual idea: Miserable and twisted people in a gloomy, fearful, perhaps repressive society, that yearn for romance, happiness and innocence through 30s hit songs, frequently breaking out into song amidst their misery as a surreal expression of their real feelings. Arthur Parker is a sheet-music salesman down on his luck, married to a frigid, puritanical woman but constantly expressing his passions in perverse or kinky fantasies. He meets a schoolteacher who seems to match his personality, gets her pregnant, thus ruining her life with what I suspect are references to Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Both their lives go down the drain as a series of circumstances, bad luck and bad choices constantly get them in trouble. The story takes a while to get interesting but when it does, it features more of Potter's typical gripping and dramatic dark depths of humanity. Unfortunately, this concept of using song and dance may work in theory, but the result, as presented in an endlessly repetitive 7.5 hour series, is somewhat of an ordeal. Besides the fact that musicals are not my cup of tea, the constant switching between downbeat life-stories to song and dance becomes repetitive. If you appreciate this approach however, there is much to enjoy here, albeit the characters get a touch melodramatic in the end and the beginning is slow.



Bob Newhart Show, The  
Based on scattered episodes of the second season.

A weaker 70s sitcom about a shrink, his wife, friends and patients. He shares his office with an eccentric dentist, and his neighbour is an eccentric pilot. The writing covers the usual wide variety of story-lines. But Dr. Robert seems a bit too unhappy, ineffective, insecure, confused and tongue-tied to be a shrink, the writing isn't witty, and the rest of the characters are just a little too artificially silly and broadly-drawn to be funny. Mildly amusing at best, weak the rest of the time.



Castle  
Based on most of the first season.

I don't know about you but I find the whole genre of episodic mystery-of-the-week procedural cop-show to have died from over-exposure ages ago. From Law and Order to CSI and Bones and everything in between, this phenomenon should be dying just like the sitcom. The premise of this one already starts out badly: A very popular writer of macabre mystery decides to attach himself to a female detective for inspiration for months on end, and the powers that be are only too happy to oblige. His 'personality' is a juvenile, over-confident, over-sexed cartoonishly obnoxious man straight out of a bad sitcom, and he goes on and on annoyingly about his abilities as a mystery story writer and the things he picked up while researching his novels, and the writers of this show are only too happy to make the mysteries conform to his ideas of convoluted story-writing and surprise murderers. To make it more 'realistic', the mysteries stump him along the way and lead to many dead ends, but that doesn't help when the denouement usually turns out to be a convoluted howler. His partner cop is a walking cliche of driven-hard-woman with an unsolved emotional murder in her past, and her flat acting doesn't add much to this cardboard. Their banter is a weak and forced attempt at humor, consisting of him flirting with sophomoric wit and her making faces. Actually, the lighter touch is a welcome change in this genre of overly serious, endless stream of mysteries and murders, but it's just not good enough to raise the show above its numerous peers.



Casanova (2005)  

In between Queer as Folk and Doctor Who, Russell Davies released this joke of a 3-hour biography featuring David Tennant as the young Casanova and O'Toole as the old version. A weary O'Toole tells the story of his life (with semi-wise commentary) to a kitchen maid while he sits in the library, and Tennant gets to act out a cheeky, fun-loving, whimsical, adventurous and, of course, sex-obsessed lifestyle. There are several problems here: One is that this is supposed to be a period movie but it feels like a modern romantic comedy where everyone is wearing 18th-century-themed, overly colorful, gay and shiny costumes and modern outrageous hairstyles. Their behaviour and language are also anachronistic and I kept expecting them to pull out their cellphones every other minute. Making a period movie demands a discipline that Davies obviously doesn't have. Next is the dramatic content which is mostly non-existent, Casanova's character is empty and like an amusement park, and any emotional outbursts built around love affairs flirt from one woman to the other like a breeze. I suppose he must have modeled Torchwood's Jack Harkness after this version of Casanova. Then there is Davies's usual forced injections of his personal fantasies and gay agenda, with an obvious emphasis placed on the love affair with a Castrado who is a woman that 'comes out of the closet' with Casanova's help, Casanova developing a deeper relationship with his male nemesis or servant than with the love of his life, and Casanova developing a chummy relationship with a priest. In short, this is somewhat fun and colorful and the scenes with O'Toole have some dignity and weight with a touching ending, but overall, it's the story of Casanova reduced to a slapstick gay romantic comedy; it's a piffle, not a movie.



Skins  
Based on the first one and a half seasons.

Despite reports that say otherwise, this is really just an over-the-top teenage sex dramedy. In the vein of American Pie, the characters are all hopeless cases and various forms of awkwardness, self-destructiveness, wild rebelliousness, and insecurities, and, of course, they are all obsessed with sex. This is all unsubtle and over-the-top for comedic reasons. In the first season, however, it does have surprising touching moments, like with American Pie, where it finds a heart and love of its characters amidst the silliness. The primary goal, however, is to revel in teenage abandon with drugs and sex, and, like many other shows of its type, gets lost in cliched dramedy of teenage musical chairs as they love, lust, breakup, fight and pine for each other, until it all starts over again. Inexplicably, the parents and teachers seem just as lost and misguided as the kids, presumably for comedic effect as well. The second season goes all out into melodrama to give them plenty of material to angst over, what with deaths, abortions, accidents leading to impotence, and so on, but it's all unrealistic and ends up feeling like a soap. Go for Freaks and Geeks instead.



Miami Vice  
Based on most of the first season and some scattered episodes.

A cop-show that is more about marketing than content. The show became popular thanks to cool characters, cool clothes, cars and clubs, and the latest rock/pop hits used as soundtracks during cool montages of action or drama scenes. Combine this commercial approach and style with the fact that this was filmed in the 80s, and you have a show that reeks so much of 80s culture, it's almost unbearable. Fans would like to think the writing and plots were interesting as well, but these range from the merely entertaining to the mediocre. The characters lack depth, the action never feels real, the atmosphere and sets are too glitzy, the plot developments are often contrived and too neat. As an example, the really bad guys usually neatly die or give themselves away by stupidly shooting at cops and always missing our hero protagonists. So in summary, we have a mostly episodic, glitzy cop-show that is more Starsky and Hutch superficial entertainment than NYPD Blue or anything that came after.



Wuthering Heights  

I am not a fan of the novel and have only seen one other adaptation, so I suppose I should not be the one to compare this one. But this series did not alter my opinion of the story. To be sure, the acting is superb, and the chemistry in this one between Heathcliff (Hardy) and Cathy is raw and destructive as it should be. But I always saw the story as a tedious collection of cruel behaviour and wanton melodrama, and this adaptation only reinforced that impression. For those of you that don't know the story, it's about Heathcliff, an adopted wild boy who is scorned and hated by several, especially his adopted and cartoonishly cruel brother, but also loved by a wildly passionate girl. Heathcliff grows up hateful, and is so impatient, that, together with Cathy's whimsical behaviour, turns their passion into self-destruction. Heathcliff returns bent on revenge while Cathy gets married...



Tess of the D'Urbervilles  

I never liked the Thomas Hardy story this is based on, finding it an insufferable combination of contrived stupidity, fatalism, melodrama, and overly simplistic characterizations featuring cruel and evil men out to get the always pure and innocent powerless victims... I mean women. To be sure, the novel may present deeper themes and personalities, but these are easily lost in a movie. I only watch these series to see if they nevertheless managed to make something of it. They didn't. And to top it all off, the main actress has a blank demeanor and distracting, probably artificial, pouting lips. It's pretty and visually rich, it lovingly recreates this rural, simpler world, it's got good intentions, but at its heart it's just a simple melodrama. The 1998 series has some subtle advantages and disadvantages over this adaptation and it probably has better casting, but it is still the same story.



Masters of Sex  
Based on the first season.

Although this is based on the work of Masters and Johnson in the 60s, it seems that everything in this show is made up except for some aspects of the research and their actual findings. I.e. since most of the show is about the drama of their personal lives, it's fiction. In addition to their research which mostly involves physical readings and raw data that explores physical sexual responses and behaviours to masturbation, orgasm and sex, it explores their many affairs, sexual hangups, their inability to have children, the secret homosexual life of the Provost and his broken marriage, various dramas and stories emerging from their work with prostitutes, and so on, most or all of which are fiction. Which raises the question of why the writer didn't simply change their names and say that they were inspired by the work of Masters and Johnson. In any case, even as a work of fiction, this is insulting. It's both very misandric and unrealistic. All men in this show are bumbling fools when it comes to sex even regarding how their own bodies work and suddenly men are incapable of having sex without getting emotional, while most women in this show know exactly what they want, their turn-ons and turn-offs and what makes them orgasm, and they take every opportunity to tell men how clueless they are. And we are not talking about cluelessness regarding pleasuring women, as the women here even introduce men to fellatio! Even sexual problems seem to be restricted to impotence and male infertility in this show. I suppose frigid women or women with sexual hangups are politically-incorrect now. Game of Thrones was less fantastical than this show. Of course, men are also clueless when it comes to relationships, but that is par for the course by now. In any case, the many women take every opportunity to disparage men in this show, and the men are reduced to juvenile, undeveloped and confused one-dimensional characters that pine after women while the women are all independent and strong feminists. Even with Johnson's two kids, the boy is a confused troublemaker while the girl is an angel. The 'Masters of Sex', it turns out, are all women. Except that Johnson, in this series, recruits women to their research by telling them that these studies will greatly benefit and save women. But why would they need it if they know everything? So, basically, a writer's hatred towards men, in this case, resulted in a bad and laughably unrealistic show.



Men in Trees  
Based on most of the first season.

People are comparing this to Northern Exposure, but it doesn't have that show's magic, quirk and warmth. They are also comparing it to Sex and the City, especially considering the creator wrote for that show, but it doesn't have much sex nor the city. I prefer to compare it to Ally McBeal, except it doesn't have the lawyering, the quirk, and the great cast of supporting characters. Let's just call it 'McBeal vacationing in Alaska'. This is about a relationship coach who writes books about men, women and dating, who finds herself stranded in a tiny Alaskan town with a ten to one male to female ratio, right after her own relationship ends in a disaster. She is followed by a stalker female fan who is even more neurotic than she is, and her city-girl editor gets involved soon after. She obsesses over every relationship detail, the writing uses obvious symbols that are always tied into her weekly thoughts and obsessions on relationships, and the three of them start and stop multiple relationships over obsessive little details, while the guys are given typical chick-flick dialogue. It's all very mild, takes no risks, skirts carefully around gender issues, too carefully in fact, all of this resulting in a very bland, sometimes annoyingly neurotic, chick-flick TV dramedy.



Manchild  
Based on the first season.

British show that attempted to find the equivalent of Sex and the City for men, collecting four men past their peak, mostly divorced, trying to find pleasure in life. There's a playboy metrosexual womanizer, a man with finer tastes in art, food and various experiences, a miserably married man, and a man with erection problems. They explore what it means to be an aging male, in search of something or another. Unfortunately this show says more of society and men than I care to expand on, the image of men and their role in life seemingly taken from the viewpoint of angry divorced women or society's feminists, the men here being caricatures that drool over women, smoke cigars, behave like children, fret over their emotional immaturities, and go hunting. I don't know any men that are this ridiculous, and the name of this show basically says it all. At least Sex and the City made its characters real and fleshy, this one just sets up straw, pathetic men for bashing and calls it comedy. It seems modern men have lost their identity.



John From Cincinnati  
Based on the single season.

Experimental HBO show by the man behind Deadwood involving a surfing town in California, a whole lot of eccentric characters, and drama involving the supernatural. In this alternate universe, the world seems to revolve around a trigenerational surfing family: An older man who is still a legend and who one day finds himself levitating, his high-strung bitter wife who hates him, a has-been son who is now a messed up dope-fiend, and his 13 year old up-and-coming surfing star son who was the result of a screwed up relationship with a porn star. Local reporters and business-men seem to rely on this family for their bread and butter, a highly eccentric ex-cop who talks to his parrots serves as a surrogate father who helps them whenever he can, a motel and its three lunatic managers tolerate any mess that this family brings to their business, even a hood and his submissive side-kick decide to hang around the family and offer their free services. Amidst this weird fantasy world from the mind of a stoned surfer, comes John: half child, half retard, half guru, half superhero, half parrot, who seems to be guiding this whole mess towards some unknown goal with psychic abilities and a very bad form of communication. The dead come back to life, John projects himself in several places at once to avert disaster, wounds heal themselves, an epileptic gay motel manager has visions and sees ghosts, etc. What does it all add up to? Nothing. The show gets points for trying something new, but feels like it's wandering about aimlessly in this alien world that never resembles reality. Milch even injects some of his convoluted dialog from latter-day Deadwood for some of the characters. An unrewarding experiment.



Six Feet Under  
Based on the first season.

More HBO drama TV that tries hard to be sophisticated and cutting-edge with quirky characters, taboo-breaking and dark subject matter. The ongoing drama revolves around a dysfunctional family that runs a funeral home. The mother is a depressed control-freak, one son lacks a sense of responsibility and is working on a relationship with a very smart but difficult woman who has a bipolar brother, another grapples with his homosexuality, and the daughter is a typical bitchy teenage rebel. The drama is constantly spiced up with dark, repulsive but usually realistic character flaws, graphic sex, and dealings with an unusual death of the week (including talking to fantasy ghosts) that often disturbs their already rocky lives further. But several flaws sink this one: The actors are mostly bland or very unlikeable, the writing sometimes swerves the characters inconsistently in different directions, the drama slowly gets more soapish and whiny as it goes, the quirky day-dream or fantasy interludes feel forced, and it's simply not worth the investment to watch this show just to hang out with an array of whiny, depressed, repressed, or bitchy people.



Till Death Us Do Part  
Based on most of the fourth season.

The original British sitcom upon which All in the Family was based. I watched this mainly to figure out if something was lost in translation, seeing as that show was inexplicably unfunny. Turns out some things were indeed lost: For one thing, Alf Garnett is a lot more than just an obnoxious conservative racist; he has a personality and creates comedy in a variety of situations due to his personality. For another thing, the audience doesn't laugh just because he makes racist statements; the punchlines come after he makes offensive remarks. The Americans seemed to have missed this crucial little detail. And finally, his wife is a cartoonishly submissive punch-bag with an IQ of twenty. That said, I still found this show not to my liking simply because it has so much endless obnoxious ranting, arguing, yelling, insulting, complaining and bickering. The show is mostly relentlessly loud and obnoxious, with some moments of amusing comedy.



Open All Hours  
Based on the first season.

What is it with the British and comedies involving cantankerous old men harassing their younger dumber co-worker relatives? This Britcom involves more fleshy characters in the form of an old miserly shop-keeper with the hots for the nurse next door and his nephew who gets all the dirty work. The dialogue-oriented comedy is chuckle-worthy at times, and weak the rest of the time.



All in the Family  
Based on the first one and a half seasons.

A puzzlingly unfunny classic sitcom that makes me feel like I'm missing something. The show is old-school in more ways than one: The characters are caricatures, the writing sacrifices realism for 'funny' situations, and the main character is an old fashioned conservative racist. Archie Bunker is a mean, bigoted, always annoyed man who constantly insults people, his wife, and rants about races and their inferior qualities. He believes in old fashioned values, in Nixon, in putting women in their place, etc. The lack of humor doesn't stem from this character however, it comes from the fact that the writers seem to think that racism in itself is funny without setting up a funny situation or witty retorts. All it takes to get the audience to laugh is for Archie to say something derogatory and simple-minded about blacks or Italians to the horror of everyone around him. I don't get it. That said, his attitude would still be funny in some situations if the writers hadn't made him so cartoonishly stupid and obnoxious. But this way, it looks like a classic straw man for liberals to point their finger at and laugh. The rest of the show is slightly better with a setup that includes a cartoonishly simple-minded and meek housewife, a liberal daughter and her hippy husband who is still in college and lives in Archie's house, and a funny black man who enjoys teasing Archie by catering to his racist views. The show as a whole, though, is vastly overrated and feels contrived, an engineered piece full of cliches and straw men made up by preaching writers with an anti-conservative agenda and populated by actors that are much more cartoonish than real. The fact that this is a remake of a British show (Till Death Do Us Part), would explain how something got lost in translation, but its popularity with audiences is a mystery to me.



Steptoe and Son  
Based on the first and fifth seasons.

A pioneering and classic Britcom about a man and his elderly father who run a rag and bone business together and live in poverty. The son tries to read books, better himself and has aspirations of getting out of such misery but his father keeps embarrassing him and is manipulative and lonely, constantly succeeding in keeping him at his side. The misery of such a situation is raised by some typical sharp British humor and amusing bickering, banter and dialogue, but it's not funny enough and the constant yelling and quarreling tends to get monotonous and tiresome. Most fans evidently grew up on these well-drawn characters whom they grew to love, but, personally, I found it a bit too obnoxious.



Sanford and Son  
Based on half of the first season.

A remake of the British Steptoe and Son by the creator of All in the Family, and both of these influences show. Unfortunately, the humor in both these shows don't appeal to me: The constant bickering, whining and arguing isn't funny, and the boorish racism and crude manners of Sanford isn't funny by itself either. Sanford (Redd Foxx) and Son run a junkyard business, the father constantly faking weak health to get out of work or give his son guilt trips, and the son nursing aspirations, pretensions and ambitions, but instead having to tolerate his father's crude tastes and manners. The characters are a little more likeable than their British counterparts, but the humor is also less sharp. Mildly amusing at best.



Workaholics  
Based on half of the first season.

Yet another retarded comedy that passes for comedy at Comedy Central. This one is a slacker comedy, involving three really silly overgrown men, the usual 30 year olds acting like loser teenagers getting into outlandish (unrealistic) adventures, taking it all in stride as pot-heads are wont to do. In this retarded planet, taking drugs is funny in itself, as are penises and balls, leaving a dollar bill on the road with poop in it is an exciting prank, and wit may as well be synonymous with a UFO. Their adventures is something only a stoned writer would think is funny and remotely plausible, like a rich woman using one of them as a sex toy, or competing with professional bodybuilders. I did silly things as a teenager as well, but never thought they deserved a TV show. Rarely amusing, and mostly alarmingly dumb.



Emma  

It doesn't get any more 'chick-flick' than this. It also doesn't help that this is a four-hour mini-series about a character who, in the author's own words, is a "heroine whom no one but myself will much like". Emma is a meddling, conceited and spoiled girl pre-occupied with matchmaking everyone but herself, self-praising and mindless of her own failing efforts. This mini-series adds to this annoyance by casting a woman that talks with her face, over-acting with facial expressions and anachronistic bubbly openness and body language. The story, as this mini-series would have it, is a one-track minded love shuffle where even the men are either only occupied with matchmaking, or are just dear old fools. Nothing else of any depth is allowed past the bubbly romantic antics, except for some interludes of banality and minutiae, a character arc difficult to care about, and a silly blocked love story from a bad romantic comedy that emerges at the end of this ordeal for no particular reason. I found something to enjoy in Pride and Prejudice, but this is piffling nonsense.



Desperate Housewives  
Based on half of the first season and some other episodes.

Let's get one thing clear: This is soap opera. It's not a satire, it's not a clever parody of soap, it's not even a Sex and the City replacement although at rare times it does feel like Sex and the Suburbs. Adultery, ongoing melodrama, catty behaviour, revenge, scandals, bitches, sluts, over-the-top characters who constantly make the wicked/wrong/twisted choice, ubiquitous beautiful people, divorce, pregnancies, closet skeletons, gossip, characters you love to hate, and even a spice of murder, mystery and crime just to up the scandal and melodrama. These are all staples of soap and this show revels in them, only with thin women, higher production values, and slightly less cheesy writing. This is not comedy, in the same way that soap and over-the-top twisted characters aren't funny, which only leaves us with the occasional lame slapstick. There's also a completely useless narrative by a dead woman, and a Gilmore Girls relationship thrown in. So yes, it's entertaining and addictive, but in a Dallas/Dynasty way. Don't expect anything realistic, smart, witty, a social statement, or something you can relate to.



Sleeper Cell  
Based on most of the first season.

An FBI agent goes undercover, gets in touch with terrorists in American soil that are putting together some terrorist cells for the largest strike against the infidels since 9/11. Of course, comparisons can be made to '24', but even the ridiculous '24' is more believable than this brainless outing, and that's saying a lot. This show is dead on arrival for one simple reason: The terrorists are doing it for Islam, but are not religious. They don't act or think religious. Arabic dialogue, quotes from the Koran, and calling people infidels, do not a Muslim Jihadist make. This seems more like an American criminal street gang that go to strip joints, collect money from Mexican child-prostitute rings, etc. I mean if you are willing to die for your religion, one would think you would be acting minimally religious no? This is not just a blatant inaccuracy, it also means that the show has no chance of providing any thought about real terrorists. Other flaws include the multi-national terrorists, whereas we all know very well how the many radical Muslim organizations can't even work together. And then there's the typical 24-esque casting choices for law enforcement, and the increasingly implausible complexity of the plots. In summary, this is a brainless show that offers potentially good terrorist thrills and action, but which never gets off the ground.



It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia  
Based on the first season.

A Curb Your Enthusiasm clone as written by frat-boys. This type of embarrassment-humor, as I shall call it, has also been done by The Office, Reno 911!, Extras, etc. and although I suppose I am not the audience for these things, at least Curb Your Enthusiasm had sharp writing and made humor out of day-to-day things. This show thinks it has to resort to things like accidental gay sex, Nazis, molestation, and cancer in order to get its laughs. The characters are so obnoxiously stupid, cartoonishly immoral and annoyingly embarrassing, that they lose any relevance to the improvised/realistic feel these shows are supposed to have. I'll admit to laughing a couple of times, but the rest of the time I was bored. Taboo subject matter is not enough for laughs guys; you have to have half a brain to make good comedy. The fact that this show has hordes of rabid fans only makes it worse.



Arrested Development  
Based on half of the first season.

Vastly overrated comedy that seems to have endless raving reviews but offers barely a couple of chuckles per episode. The Bluth family is a very dysfunctional family and Michael is trying to make it work for the sake of his son. The loopy father is in jail for theft and embezzlement, the cold, manipulative, lying mother keeps mommy-boy Buster on a tight leash and everyone else barking at each other, there's George Michael who has a thing for his cousin, a jerk of a magician who tries to sleep with everyone, and a doctor who thinks he's an actor and has a fear of getting naked. Multiple silly story-lines are juggled, but this goes even beyond Malcolm in the Middle past cartoonishly funny, to silly cartoon. The characters are broad caricatures, behaviour doesn't resemble anything in reality, developments are too silly and forced to be funny, and the narration is completely redundant and intrusive.



Jack of All Trades  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell team up for another piece of camp, this one as sophomoric and juvenile as it gets. Bruce is a spy working in 1801, banished to a remote island by Thomas Jefferson to get him away from his daughter and to undermine Napoleon. He teams up with a female British agent, and together they plot, fight and conspire to sabotage and undermine the French while keeping up a supporting facade. Anachronisms fly one every second just to allow Bruce to wise-crack and to support the constant high-school-level of sexual innuendo, puns and flirtations. History and timelines are thrown out the window just so Bruce can meet numerous historical figures and make fun of them. The action involves slapstick and Bruce is practically superman, so there is never any sense of danger. In short, sometimes campy fun at the lowest level, but, overall, this is The Bruce Campbell show fit only for sophomoric, moronic guys that never grew up.



Tell Me You Love Me  
Based on the single season.

So HBO decided to take advantage of the ability to show explicit sex and make an adult show about relationships, intimacy, sex and the various psychological problems that go with it. Unfortunately the result is painful: A bunch of spoiled, waspy women constantly making high drama over stupidities, and feminized men whining right along with them. The writing shows an obvious lack of male perspective, and is further unbalanced by exclusively showing the drama, bickering and whining. There's a married couple who stopped having sex, a woman who is obsessed with getting pregnant and ignores her husband's needs, a slut who has issues with her boyfriend who can't commit, etc. Some of the neuroses develop addictively in a near-soapy fashion, the show gets points for trying, and there are some moments of insight (especially in the sessions with the psychotherapist), but overall, this is like reading through a women's magazine that nitpicks, and goes on and on over mundane relationship details that are of no interest to anyone except the couples. And as for the extended sex scenes: Most are obviously faked like some lame softcore flick, or simply awkward and lacking in eroticism.



Love/Hate  
Based on the first one and a half seasons.

Vacuous Irish crime-drama. For the first season, it feels like a Sopranos for the teenage cellphone crowd, featuring a bunch of clueless youngsters that are always on their phone or having bouts of drama with the various girls in their life, and when there is actually crime being committed, it is often never clear what they are actually doing, or they kill each other for such random reasons, even they don't know who is killing whom and why, except it seems to be interrupting their cellphone time. The second season is a tiny improvement, but still features a bunch of youngsters that haven't gotten a single personality or brain amongst them, with whimsical loyalties and motivations, constantly doing stupid things, without a hint of a thinking, planning brain in sight, making you wonder why they aren't all in jail. Deadly dull.



Berlin Alexanderplatz  

Fassbinder's 15 hour magnum opus and dark, existential character study. It was a disastrous failure when it came out on German TV and some blame its darkness for bombing; But of course, now that Fassbinder has been made into a cinema god by film-schools and fans, and due to the fact that this work was largely unavailable, its reputation soared. The anti-hero of this series is Franz, a weak-willed, misogynist, Nazi, criminal, woman-beater whom the writer attempts to make into something slightly more sympathetic using a combination of dumb innocence in his character, hard times, circumstances and pressures, as well as artsy, literary flights of poetry and existential rants and soliloquies. He emerges from his prison sentence of four years after beating his girlfriend to death, becomes depressed, is consoled by a Jew whom he calls a monkey, rapes his girlfriend's sister, then after a whimsical promise to go honest, proceeds to make every bad choice he can by associating himself and working with Nazis, pimps, and criminals, sinking into an alcoholic depression, trading women with his friend, losing his arm, pimping out his girl, and hopping from one woman to another while cluelessly trying to build a life. Fassbinder claimed to empathize with this character for some reason, and made this into a labor of love, stretching the series to 15 hours instead of 7 and adding a terrible surreal epilogue that feels like a Ken Russell biopic, highlighting Franz's life with a weave of mad costumes, anachronisms, psychological and gay reinterpretations of the characters, and a surreal, colorful energy. Franz may also be used as a metaphor for Germany's woes after WWI. The book may have been a classic that appeals to German cultural existentialists, but for me this is just an endlessly rambling portrait of a despicable Nazi and misogynist with miles of dull dialogue and superficial attempts at meaningful literature. For a truly interesting dark character study I recommend The Singing Detective instead.



Larry Sanders Show, The  
Based on the first season.

Early HBO comedy going behind the scenes of a TV talk-show, complete with jokes, celebrities and music, mixed with back-stage vicious network politics and characters. Celebrities are made fun of even more viciously off-stage, corporate pressure makes the host do all kinds of annoying things like commercials, apologies and spiders crawling up his arms, and characters bicker and play cruel power games with each other making you wonder how the show still manages to run smoothly when the cameras roll. Half of it is a meaner NewsRadio, the other half is uncomfortable office humor which probably inspired The Office, but it excels in neither. Amusing at times, but mostly left me cold.



Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em  
Based on the first season.

A slapstick Britcom revolving around the misadventures of an extremely accident-prone and idiotic Frank Spencer and his supportive wife. This is no Buster Keaton or even Mr Bean however, the physical stunts and antics lacking the elegance and timing of such brilliant actors. There is some comedy in how he reduces everyone he meets to tears and depression, ruining everybody's lives and destroying everything he meets, but even this gets repetitive. What really sinks the show however is the annoying voice, charmless personality and whiny character of the lead actor.



Good Times  
Based on most of the first season.

Dated, and definitely not one of the better 70s classic sitcoms. Mike Evans from Jeffersons wrote this one about a poor black family from the projects and their little inner strifes. John Amos is the father who works overtime to make a living, J.J. is the artistic high-schooler who is always painting, his mother, sister and little black militant brother all add to the color. But the writing isn't witty, and sticks the poor black victim angle in our faces all the time. In addition, many of the actors over-act artificially and project the fact that they are trying to be funny. J.J. is the worst offender, mugging for the camera and practically shuckin' 'n' jivin' in really silly antics that only got worse over time. The Jeffersons was miles better than this.



Borgias, The  
Based on most of the first season.

After the awful Tudors, I wasn't expecting much from another historical series from Showtime. This one turned out to be slightly better, but that's not saying much. It is never believable even for a second. Everyone spends all of their time lusting, conspiring, murdering, plotting, or entertaining their greed and various cruelties. The lip service paid to Christianity and the papal institution of the Vatican is so laughably vacuous that it resembles the acting and writing of a porn movie involving a nun. The writing in this show has no brains, character or heart, reducing its allegedly complex characters to soap queens and animals. To top it off, the Borgias, with all their alleged scandals and crimes, seem angelic when compared to some of their opponents in this show, presumably only so that we will take their side. In short, despite the visual opulence and Jeremy Irons, this is just more pulpy trash that will never challenge your brain, surprise you, or teach you history. In fact, everything was so cartoonish and pulpy, I got bored after only three episodes.



Weeds  
Based on the first season.

A white housewife sells weed to make ends meet after her husband dies, buying it off a local black dealer family while trying to raise an oversexed teenage son and a weird little boy with a slightly disturbed imagination. Other characters include her husband's loser brother, the uppity PTA, and the strongest character of the show: Celia Hodes a cynical bitch who makes her 11-year-old daughter diet and generally terrorizes her family. The show tries very hard to be quirky and hard-edged but, like Gilmore Girls, suffers horribly from contrived characters and writing. Most of the characters don't remotely resemble anything in reality, Mary-Louise Parker may be pretty but is dull as dishwater, and the quirks often feel forced. I didn't laugh once, a cute little fuzziness underlies all the hard-edges, the characters are contrived and problems are often solved with a quirky snap of the fingers, so what's the point of the show? Too soft and fake.



Absolutely Fabulous  
Based on the first season.

A popular British show about two forty year old female bandwagon jumpers that never grew up and live a life of alcohol, parties, irresponsibility and fashion. One has a conservative daughter that constantly berates and insults her while treating her like the child she is. Mildly amusing, but only due to Lumley and some of the secondary characters. The main character is acted over-the-top and comes off as pathetic and annoying rather than funny.



Da Vinci's Demons  
Based on most of the first season.

I'm not sure why this is classified under the fantasy genre, since some 'demonic' visions and hallucinations brought on by drugs and dreams don't really count. The only possible reason is that, although this is based on a historical figure, the history here, as well as the writing, don't resemble reality as we know it. This alternate reality resides strictly in the fantasy world of Dan Brown, where everything is linked to a convoluted conspiracy and the occult, all Christian priests are extreme perverts, murderers and involved in a conspiracy, and only the smart people that are free of religion have morals. Convoluted clues to solving mysteries only lead to more convoluted clues, with no reasonable motivation in sight for all these convoluted mysteries other than to allow the writers and their protagonist to try to show off. Except that it's impossible to be impressed when they don't even seem to know how many letters there are in the Hebrew alphabet and the writers use similar sloppy internet research to carry many pivotal developments in the mystery via such random, pointless and incorrect facts. And the characters? They are all modern in dress, hair, attitudes and behaviour, except that the murders, over-the-top cruelty and rampant sex, once again, reflect today's entertainment values rather than any kind of historical reality. Once upon a time, movies romanticized historical figures, now we have the opposite problem. Da Vinci himself they made into an action star who also happens to be the best swordsman, since, evidently, just being smart isn't sexy enough. He is also a leather-wearing young whippersnapper with a modern-gay-hair-design, rather than the serious man with the long beard we see in pictures. His brainpower, as depicted here, seems more like ADD from a hyperactive mind with flashy special effects, rather than disciplined thinking that brings results. And Da Vinci's inventions? Evidently the makers of this show thought they wouldn't impress anyone anymore, so they made him invent things that defy the laws of science. So it seems there are plenty of reasons for the fantasy genre after all.



Unusuals, The  
Based on half of the single season.

This cop-show has the attitude that a police precinct is like a fraternity where the criminals are just a little more wild and naughty then usual. There's even a pathetic stuck-up cop that talks about himself in the third person that serves as the snub of jokes and pranks from the other cops. Criminals perform robberies for fun or to get money for their Dad's operation, or they just do wild things like urinate on a policeman or kill cats. And they can always be talked into confessing by just a little bullying from the cops. A suspicion by internal affairs turns out to be some friends from the past that went bad from partying with hookers to committing robberies, there are lots of weird little crimes straight out of a college campus fraternity/sorority dare-fest (there's even a 'crime-slut'), or 'funny' crimes like a man pronounced dead who walks around town like a zombie, and the chief presides over the naughty cops, each with a collection of immature behavioural flaws, like a disaffected dean. The police and criminals seem to have been cast from a group of overgrown fraternity dudes, and the women all talk like dudes as well, but they're only in the show if they're hot obviously. In short, as you can imagine, this show doesn't even begin to work. A cop-show for dumb teenagers.



Modern Family  
Based on a handful of episodes from the first season.

An Arrested Development clone except the writing is even worse and the show is even less funny. There's a pathetic father acting like a 12 year old girl, an annoyingly uptight mom, a dull grandfather who, for some unknown reason, is married to a hot Latina 30 years younger, there's the always obnoxiously bickering gay couple with a doomed adopted Vietnamese baby, and a bunch of annoying teenagers and kids. They talk to the camera like it's some kind of trashy reality show, the characters are never real, the writing serves maybe two chuckles per episode, and the humor is based on lameness, awkwardness, stupidity, and childish behaviour. It's empty-headed popular shows like these that make me think that we need WWIII to get society back on the ground.



Grey's Anatomy  
Based on most of the first season.

There have been many hospital shows, so one would expect a new hyped show like this to have a new angle. But not only is it full of cliches and predictable, dull writing, it steals the idea from Scrubs to make the show about nervous and young interns, copying most of the characters from that show, only it leaves out the comedy, takes itself seriously, and makes the show about their banal lives. This makes you appreciate ER even more, seeing as that show emphasized what really mattered: The patients, the crises, the crazy life in a hospital, and the effect all of it has on the doctors. Here, we get petty drama about their personal lives, soap-opera romance where everyone sleeps or wants to sleep with everyone else, self-centered interns and doctors that seem to think surgery is some kind of game or prize, and patients that are lucky if their stories share the spotlight but often seem to be there only to make the interns' little lives more dramatic. Also, the female writers seem to have a thing about making childish comedy over penises. There's some occasionally effective hospital drama here but, overall, this one isn't too far away from dreck like General Hospital.



Reno 911!  
Based on half of the first season and some episodes.

Parody on the show 'Cops' with the structure of a sketch show. A team of incompetent, moronic, accident-prone, mean, slutty Reno police men and women go about their duties, dealing with one embarrassing or ridiculous situation after another. Sting operations go wrong, crazy characters repeatedly cause disturbances and run off in their police cars, one closet-homosexual hits on suspects and citizens, etc. The humor is mostly moronic American trash-TV and frat-boy humor with the usual political incorrectness and raunch, and some elements of Office awkwardness and sketch punchlines, but a lot of the dialogue is improvised and feels that way. Offers occasional chuckles, but mostly this lacks wit and is too idiotic.



United States of Tara  
Based on the first season.

Spielberg-produced slice of super-neurotic estrogen. Tara has Dissociate Identity Disorder (AKA multiple personality), and she and her loving husband both agreed that she should stop taking the medications and handle her personalities rather than suppress everything. So we get to watch Toni Collette act out several personalities and try to deal with life's little dramas while her husband supports, her teenage daughter angsts, and her gay, retro-chic, eccentric teenage son angsts some more. For starters, I'm not sure D.I.D. personalities are this broadly drawn, over-the-top stereotypes. But even if they are, it looks like Collette is having much more fun acting out as a cartoonish trashy teenage slut or trashy male redneck Vietnam vet, than the audience is having watching it. It reminds me of Six Feet Under: It may be well-written, but that doesn't mean it's interesting, fun or entertaining to watch. The sad thing is, the sister is even more annoyingly neurotic than multiple-personality Tara. In fact, almost every character feels immature and whimsically air-headed or trashy, demonstrating a lack of maturity in the writer. Another thing that could have helped this show is some testosterone. Just a tiny bit. Because then maybe the emasculated men would actually feel real. So all in all, this is not a show about a mentally damaged woman, but a show about a world where everyone is mentally damaged or airheads. In the end, and I don't believe I'm saying this, this is just more tiring extreme dysfunction that doesn't deserve its own TV show, and after this and Californication, I feel I need a fix of 60s sitcom-land where people were abnormally healthy instead of abnormally unhealthy.



Homeland  
Based on most of the first season.

Extremely over-hyped show with a flawed concept and terrible writing. A bipolar CIA operative seems to be the only one that suspects a rescued MIA soldier as being a turned terrorist. She struggles to conceal her psychological secret from the CIA while investigating her suspicions, also secretly, since, for some reason, the CIA never believes her and she is the only person that seems to know how to think. Thus, the show keeps its momentum going thanks to terrorist plots, tension between the returned soldier and his family, tension between her and her co-workers at the CIA, and her many neurotic breakdowns, insane highs and manic weeping. Except that, even if this concept may sound interesting, the writing is chaotic. Every episode features several plot holes, contradictions, and stupid contrivances. Some examples: How did she even manage to hide this from the CIA with all her behaviour, not to mention drug testing? Why is she the only one who even suspects him even without her intel? They don't even investigate him or monitor him based on common sense, and just ignore her intel. The CIA keeps having meetings to discuss latest findings with a dozen people, sharing sensitive information with everyone as if this were an academic gathering (need-to-know doesn't exist anymore?), then get surprised when one of their moles gets killed, and don't even consider that someone leaked information. They continuously ignore intel and common sense throughout the season, and she is even worse: Either she is performing investigations on her own based on wild guesses without any kind of monitoring or reporting, or she seems to be the only one who is thinking and coming to logical conclusions while the CIA only has their open and useless meetings. It just never makes sense. Even the behaviour of the soldier turns this way or that way, changing every episode as if each episode had a different writer that didn't bother to check in. In summary, I watched a whole season and it only kept getting messier, more contrived and less plausible. Who's in charge here?



Shameless (US)  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

And it's another American remake of a flaw-free British show that did not need remaking. The only two possible reasons for this, since the show obviously didn't need improvement, are: Money, and American xenophobia. So based on this fact alone, this show is crap. But even without it being a remake, there are huge problems: For one thing the actors are simply not good in their roles (see the original UK show for a reference point): Macy never convinces that he is an alcoholic and looks and behaves more like an unshaved actor than an angry & wild drunk, Cusack doesn't even begin to fill the shoes of a neurotic woman with multiple phobias, and most of the kids looks exactly like what they are: Groomed rich kids hired for the looks, pretending to be poor. They even live in a huge house, are well groomed and own tons of clothes, and the show wants to us to believe they have to steal toiler paper from public bathrooms. The characters are bloodless and gutless, and feel superficial, therefore the drama lacks the punch of the UK show, and the humor has also therefore disappeared, replaced only with in-your-face trashy behaviour. (By the way, for a summary of what the show is about, see the entry for the original show.) As far as material is concerned: The first season starts with an exact copy of the story-lines of the UK show, then gradually adds more and more new plot elements, weaving them into the original writing to extend it and double the episodes per season. But in any case, it's a lost cause.



Life & Times of Tim, The  
Based on half of the first season.

A joyless HBO animation. Tim is a dumb, pushover loser who always finds himself in embarrassing or raunchy situations such as having to fight an old man, explaining a hooker to his girlfriend's family, and covering up for a dog by claiming its 'accidents' as his own. This is no Curb Your Enthusiasm however, the situations always feel forced to suit the writer's childish sense of humor. The characters are charmless, laid-back bores and very unrealistic, the animation is ugly, and the humor is more suitable for immature drunken fratboys. The occasional chuckles and tight structure barely save this from being totally worthless.



'Allo 'Allo  
Based on the first season.

Silly British comedy by the makers of Are You Being Served revolving around a French cafe owner during WW2. Germans frequent his joint and expect sexual favors from his girls in exchange for other arrangements, the French underground uses him for cloak and dagger operations, he can't seem to be able to get rid of a pair of dumb British airmen hiding in his cafe, the Gestapo is close on everyone's heels, the wife is a terrible cabaret singer, while he has affairs with all the waitresses. Too puerile and repetitive to be funny, the characters are extremely cartoonish, and the fake German and French accents dumb things down further.



Thorn Birds  

Classic TV mini-series featuring the king of TV: Richard Chamberlain. It's like a Gone with the Wind in Australia, spanning generations with soapy love affairs, deaths, marriages, betrayals, passions, and ambitions. A priest is torn between his love for a girl whom he helped bring up and his priestly ambitions while being taunted by a wicked old woman who likes power games, and interacting with the various family members and workers of the Australian farm. Good actors, a sweeping story with a large scope, and great production values, but soap nevertheless.



Waking the Dead  
Based on the first season.

The mere fact that this is a British cop-show that is Americanized and takes after shows like Bones etc, is enough to severely disappoint. One expects British shows to have more to offer besides mechanical writing and pat, fast-paced, murder solving: Character, clever mysteries, personalities, anything. But this show merely puts together a team of detective, cop, psychologist and forensic scientists to solve cold-cases, and they conveniently are fed a stream of clues or they come up with easy, ridiculous insights to keep the pace flowing to solve the mystery in record time. The most egregious example of this is the psychologist, who pulls out some pop-psychology half-assed theory as if it were dogma, when there obviously are about 20 other possible theories that could have also fit in with their behaviour, and then the team moves forward based on this 'brilliant' insight. The rest is very mediocre and forgettable, and they cheat around the concept of a cold-case by having people perform additional crimes once they start digging into the case. They even use the cliche of the chief detective having a personal cold-case of his own, and badly at that. Watch 'New Tricks' instead.



Bones  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

A hop on the CSI bandwagon, mixing tech-forensic mystery-solving with a primary emphasis on analyzing skeletons, charred/mutilated remains, skulls, etc. and a crime-solving duo molded after Mulder and Scully. Boreanaz is OK here as a capable FBI agent, but isn't given much and plays second fiddle to a completely charmless, dull, sometimes bitchy and annoying female forensic expert. I understand that this is supposed to be her character but making such a person the lead in a show is one mistake, not balancing out her character with other casting choices is a worse mistake, giving her infallible genius, boobs, as well as karate expertise is yet another mistake, and her lifeless portrayal of a flawed, but potentially interesting character is the final nail in the coffin. Scully and Mulder complemented each other, but here, Bones is unrealistically given all the power. As if that isn't enough, the structure is too episodic, the writing isn't ever inspired, and the tech-jargon is unrealistic and too convenient a la CSI.



Chicago P.D.  
Based on the first six episodes.

Nevermind that I don't understand why people bother making new cop-shows after The Shield and The Wire; I thought this type of slick throwback to episodic action-oriented cop-show went out of fashion in the 90s. But I suppose it should not come as a surprise given that the producer made Law & Order and Miami Vice. There's a special 'Intelligence Unit' in the Chicago police force that deals with the more serious and challenging crimes, and which, somehow, manages to get away with breaking the law and trampling over people's rights every week. It's led by some slick, forgettable macho-guy straight out of the 80s, and other than the laid-back undercover specialist, and the eccentric desk sergeant who both register some personality, the rest of the crew look like they were cast from the local modeling agency on their way back from a beauty salon. They are not only never believable in their roles, they are instantly forgettable. The unrealistic police work is mostly episodic with weekly climaxes and shootouts involving various hard-cases, with some personal developments taking up a couple or more episodes. Badly dated the minute it was made. Chicago Fire isn't much better.



CSI  
Based on the first season.

Over-hyped show that is way too neat, repetitive, flashy, unrealistic and superficial. It looks entertaining and interesting at first when a forensic team does its Sherlock Holmes stuff at crime scenes, uses technical jargon to solve crimes, and prove the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent. But when episode after episode features the same flashy special effects, the same show-off, unrealistic technical jargon, and every mystery gets solved neatly by a neat tiny detail neatly left at the neat crime scene, and the flawlessly PC forensic team for some reason make arrests and interrogate people while looking beautiful and not developing any character, it becomes very dull fast. No arcs, no character, just episodic, technical detective work that isn't as clever as it thinks it is. Gore, flash and jargon do not realism make, neither does increasing the transgressive content and violence every season. This superficially flashy, nonsensically-technical and fast approach to forensics launched so many other shows and had such an effect on the populace that there was a backlash by law enforcement.



Flashpoint  
Based on most of the first season.

One of the most formulaic, and therefore boring, shows I've ever seen. This is a cop-show about a tactical unit, with an old-school emphasis on action, and it even starts with the climactic tense moment at the beginning of the episode as a preview. The episodes I saw were all exactly the same: Flash-forward to the crisis, flash-back to some cop banter while a situation starts to develop, a hostage or some other crisis situation explodes, almost always involving a good person who finds himself in a desperate situation, thus providing for the canned drama, there are lots of tactical details as the team sets up their positions and strategy, and the negotiator has a heart-to-heart with the criminal. Repeat ad nauseam. Whereas this kind of cliched storyline was used in single episodes in other older shows, this series repeats the same episode over and over. How uninspired can you get?



Affair, The  
Based on most of the first season.

An affair, a crime, a mystery, two dysfunctional families and their extended friends and relatives. Everything progresses at a painful snail's pace, and the mystery/crime doesn't even begin to get going, the writers assuming that the mere mention of an unnamed crime will somehow keep audiences hooked. But, believe it or not, that is not the serious problem with this show. This series uses an extremely poor choice for a narrative device: The same (very slow) story is told twice, each time from a different perspective, except that this is not Rashomon, or the same story slightly altered according to their perspectives. The story changes radically between the two versions. So obviously one of them is lying, except I rapidly became convinced that both of them were lying, seeing as neither versions felt truthful or real, and because there seemed to be no reason for their details to be so different, which means they must be both making it up to cover up for a third version of the story. Either way, how is one supposed to watch a show that multiplies its drawn-out slowness by two, then sets it up so that you must believe that at least one, if not both versions, are completely unreliable? Needless to say, I lost interest after two episodes, and it didn't improve in subsequent episodes.



American Dad!  
Based on half of the first season.

Another animated show by the creator of Family Guy, attempting a blend of dysfunctional family a la Simpsons, raunchy satirical humor a la South Park, pop-culture references, and a satire on the America of Bush, terrorists and neo-cons. The American dad in this case is a jingoistic CIA agent, always ready for action wherever it isn't needed, fighting terrorism in every shopping mall, battling immoral behaviour, planting the seeds of democracy, and trying to force his family to do the same. The son is a geek, the daughter is a *gasp* liberal, the raunchy pet fish lusts after the wife, and they have adopted a renegade gay alien. The laughs are scarce, with most of the humor being forced, awkward, lame, and overconfident and the political agenda is obvious.



Drawn Together  
Based on the first season.

Another South Park clone, attempting a similar combination of offensive, raunchy, politically-incorrect humor, pop-references, parodies, musical stints and touches of satire, but ends up painfully unfunny. Some stereotypical cartoon characters such as a fairy-tale princess, a video game hero, a Pokemon creature, etc. are all made to live together in a reality TV show and deal with each other's monster vaginas, woodland creature massacres, homosexuality, histrionics, bulimia, etc. The problem with this show is that, like with the beginning of South Park, the assumption is that raunch, toilet jokes, movie-references and offensive content are funny by themselves. Lesbians and scatological pranks do not adult humor make.



Family Guy  
Based on the first season and some scattered episodes.

A rip-off of the Simpsons without any of the wit, charm and personality. Dumb dad, sensible mother, loser son, etc. find themselves in one outlandish crisis after another along with their misanthropic, genius baby and a talking, cynical dog. The show attempts to put the fun in dysfunction and offer subversive raunchy humor a la Southpark by making fun of everyone and everything while wrapping it up in a moral, but it almost always comes out forced, unfunny, soulless and silly. Southpark hit the nail on the head when they pointed out that the humor in this show is so random and meaningless that it may have been written by sea animals moving idea balls around.



New Girl  
Based on some scattered episodes of the first season.

I suppose the sales pitch for this one went something like this: Everyone loves Zooey Deschanel for her quirkiness, so let's put her in a sitcom where she gets to be super-quirky, and have her move in with a bunch of guys who will be her friends and support her quirkiness. The result? A lot of forced, silly and artificial 'quirkiness' that becomes annoying really fast, and three horny guys that behave like children, or like a version of supportive guys as they exist in the mind of a 12 year old girl. It's as bad as it sounds.



Banshee  
Based on the first four episodes.

I like a testosterone-fuelled piece of action combined with sex as much as the next guy, but this series is just insultingly stupid. It's about an ex-con who steals a dead new sheriff's job in a town dominated by a criminal, while chasing down a past flame and ex-partner-in-crime, who is, by now, married with kids. Nobody seems to have any connections to the previous sheriff nor do they seem to be looking for him for mysterious reasons, and he beats people up and breaks laws in public daily, but no one seems to mind that much either. This protagonist is an idiotic macho-man who couldn't possibly survive in the real world for more than a few days, or stay out of jail; half his brains is in his biceps, the other half in his testicles, running up face certain death over and over again with only an attitude, and he only survives because the writers of this show have a hardon for him, bringing someone else in to save him at the last second or throwing the rules of physics out the window in order to make him look cool. He also somehow manages to have both a cocky and a constipated look on his trendily-unshaved face at the same time, which is what passes for tough nowadays I presume. His friend, for some reason known only to the pseudo-macho writers in this show, is the ugliest transvestite you've ever seen, and is also one of those Hollywood Hackers that can be called to hack anything within seconds. Everyone is after him, girls throw themselves at him for some unknown reason in every episode, including slutty underage Amish girls, just because he throws a really dumb smirk at them, and they even fantasize about him after he goes away for 15 years. The theme reminded me of Roadhouse, except that that b-movie looks like genius entertainment compared to this crap. The high ratings are a complete mystery.



Royle Family, The  
Based on most of the first season.

I'm not sure why this is described as a sitcom. It's more like a scripted show for audiences of the Big Brother type of reality-show. The show shows a working-class British family as they hang around in their living room or dining room, gossiping, shooting the breeze about various banalities, prices, an upcoming marriage, neighbours, relatives, bathroom-related interruptions, the TV, etc. They are all very ordinary and real, which should appeal to the above crowd, and there are some sharp quips made by the father as he comments on all of the gossip going on, and their characters and the care they have for each other do come out once in a while, allowing the audience to get to know them gradually. So it's like hanging around with your family while they gossip, except it's not your family, so you care even less. I suppose it's downright action-packed relative to Big Brother, but for the rest of us, it's boring.



Get a Life  
Based on most of the first season.

Moronic comedy with a cult following about a cartoonishly moronic loser and his silly adventures. He is over 30, still living with his resigned parents and his job is head paper-boy, and his best friend has a *shudder* job, wife and kids. As if men on sitcoms weren't moronic enough, this man-child makes them look mature by comparison. The situations in every episode keep getting more outlandish or even surreal or fantastical, including his aspirations to become a male model or male escort, his role in a play featuring zoo animals on skates, his saving up for 20 years to get a submarine, switching of bodies after stealing from an Indian burial ground, space aliens, a robot paper-boy, and dying. It doesn't quite have the fun insanity of British shows like Goodies or Bottom however, opting for moronic and juvenile humor instead, and it seems to think that it will get laughs merely by making him do moronic things. A unique show that probably appealed to young boys at the time, but it doesn't quite live up to its reputation.



Damages  
Based on most of the first season.

Don't be fooled by the pretense that this is a legal thriller; It's a soap opera where sex games have been replaced by legal games. Detached and cold Ellen Parsons is hired by the slimy and slippery Patty Hewes to work in in her notorious law firm, with ulterior motives. But everyone has ulterior motives and is playing the manipulation game, including evil sons and tricksy fiancés. The law, including courts, FBI and police, are only pawns in the hands of these backstabbing drama queens that somehow perform endless obvious crimes yet always get away with it. The police appear at a crime scene as decoration, but do nothing unless our catty queens want them to. There's a rivalry and battle with the rich Frobisher (Danson), and both sides will do anything to win, except we never understand what the battle is about. The writing revels in contrivances and conveniences, and the writers are so insecure in their abilities that they keep leaping forward and backwards in time to tease with meaningless seconds of season endings that only serve to manipulate the audience. In short, commercial TV designed to hook audiences without offering anything in return. The acting is good, but everything else is boring. A disappointment from FX that is usually better than this.



Happy Endings  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

It's like they put together a sitcom from generic pieces of other sitcoms, but forgot the funny stuff back home. Yup, it's another sitcom with six 30-year old friends that don't seem to have anything to do all day except get in and out of bad relationships like they were revolving doors, and have silly misadventures and arguments while hanging out every day. The biggest problem with this one is the characters are all really obnoxious, acting like 14-year girls, after a few red-bulls, trying to be snappy and cute. It's like the worst aspects of Friends amplified, combined with the silliest seasons of Scrubs, complete with annoyingly unfunny flashbacks, and childish 30-year-olds that don't resemble anyone in reality. If they had funny lines as with Friends, that could save it, except, they don't.



How to Get Away with Murder  
Based on first four episodes.

From the people behind Scandal and Grey's Anatomy comes yet another insulting stupid, obnoxious and unrealistic show that somehow became popular. This black woman is a hot-shot lawyer, except that most of her successes seem to come from students, many of them through illegal means. She somehow gets away with hijacking law students as her assistants, makes them compete with each other, and practices real-life murder-defense cases using their last-second detective work that conveniently always finds for her the exact tools she needs to win her case at the last second. She takes them to court and to clients who, for some reason, have no problem telling secrets to 10 law students. And she even encourages them to commit fraud, yet none of the students think of reporting her. Her primary personality when she is working seems to be 'angry woman'. Her personal and sex life is chaos, except we really don't care. There is a legal case-of-the-week structure, each of which is solved quickly and conveniently every week, and a longer story arc involving a murder that the students commit, which, ironically enough, feels more realistic than what she is doing with them. But that moves at a snail's pace so it quickly feels like just another cheap hook to try to keep its audiences. To top it off, the show makes sure to shoehorn at least one soft-core sex straight scene and one gay scene per episode, as if that will draw in more people and distract them from the stupid writing. There's barely a straight white male in sight. One would think they were a minority.



Elementary  
Based on several scattered episodes from the first season.

Looking at the casting list of this one is enough to put any Sherlock Holmes fan off this show, seeing as they casted a woman as Watson. Both Sherlock and Watson are male characters through and through, and only a brain-dead politically-correct moron would consider their genders mutable. So I only checked out this show out of curiosity to see if it is as bad as imagined. It's worse, but I suppose one should expect this from a production that, right from the start, makes such a ridiculous blunder. The blunders are not only with Watson. Sherlock is a physical man covered in tattoos who takes off his shirt often, and only a non-fan needs to be told how wrong this is. He is also garrulous, in love with the sound of his voice, thinking aloud every thought in progress as well as adding random rants, which is a far cry from the focused man we all know who kept his unproven suspicions close to his chest in order to prove them later. He is also a rude jerk here reminiscent of a man with Asperger, rather than a brusque gentleman. Worst of all, here he is an emotionally broken man, blubbering over a woman, needy, and recovering from drug-addiction! Words fail me to describe how insulting it is that they would try to pass this off as a re-imagining of the character. There are only so many changes one can make before it ceases to have relevance. As if all that weren't enough, Joan Watson, in this version, picks up on Sherlock's abilities in record time and gradually starts taking over the deductions he makes, as if highly-observant skills, a finely-tuned logical mind, feats of memory, intelligence, and the ability to make connections, are all easily acquired skills by anyone after just telling them to observe. And even if it were, wouldn't the police have picked up on it ages ago and not required his services? But she's a woman, so she cannot be only an assistant in this day and age and inferior in mental skills. Which, of course, leads to the ultimate politically-correct twist in the end of the first season that will have all warm-blooded fans yelling for murder. As far as the mysteries are concerned, even there the show is weak. Some are entertaining, but others features ridiculously implausible convoluted plots, and Sherlock often makes deductions that are leaps of faith rather than leaps of logic, conveniently ignoring dozens of other possibilities. So even if they weren't to call him Sherlock, this would be a mediocre show. Avoid.



Criminal Minds  
Based on the first three episodes.

Of all the police procedural fantasy episodic shows a la CSI, this has got to be the worst conceptually. Where CSI is a forensic wet dream where every crime scene is solved neatly using flashy little convenient clues, this is the equivalent for Hollywoodized psychologists. There is a reason why the actual FBI 'profiler' jobs are restricted to the FBI and usually mean analytical research and, at best, a minor ingredient in a real investigation: It isn't that effective. Humans can't be categorized neatly with field pop-psychology and statistics, and even where they do fit, this knowledge won't come up with much that is useful for catching them. What's most off-putting about this show is their confidence, how any theory they come up with suddenly becomes dogma and the criminals neatly show up to verify their every 'insight', when it's obvious that there are dozens of other possibilities. At times, this show seems to think it's some kind of supernatural trick, where the profilers see things that actually happened. In short, this is unwatchable because it's impossible to get past the conceited concept. And throwing around random famous quotes like some kind of thought-of-the-hour doesn't make it any better, since the quotes have nothing to do with what is going on.



Prison Break  
Based on most of the first season.

A convoluted conspiracy causes an engineer's brother to be put in death row for a murder he didn't commit, so he plans a convoluted prison break with his knowledge of engineering and gets himself put away in jail in order to get his brother out. Multiple set-backs and complications cause him to constantly adjust his plan, while family and friends get killed trying to pursue the legal angle with an all-powerful conspiracy at their heels. Now, some shows ask you to suspend disbelief and switch off some of your brain in order to be entertained. This show asks you to surgically cut out every cell of your brain, crush it to a mush on the floor, and then throw it out the window. Not a single episode goes by without some howlingly bad or non-existent logic or ridiculous coincidences. For starters, there's the fact that you can plan and execute a prison break with much more freedom and resources from the outside. Tattooing a blueprint of the prison is unbelievably idiotic: He could have committed it to memory or sneaked it in a book or by employing any of the dozens of ways they sneak in all the rest of their illegal tools. Then they expect us to believe that nobody can see it's a blueprint because you need special effects to see it. The all-powerful conspiracy group take care to cover their tracks and make it look like other people are committing the crimes one minute, the next minute they are killing people indiscriminately and leaving behind a trail. People are left alive for no good reason dozens of times just because the writers need them. The actual prison break plan never makes any sense, with multiple stages that aren't even needed, and new stages that make you wonder why they didn't just do that in the first place. Not to mention that it seems to rely on many coincidences and other people's charities. And so it goes, with every episode making you groan until you completely lose interest. Add to this the fact that anyone with their head screwed on straight shouldn't even want this prison break to occur, seeing as it is killing many innocents along the way, and causing murderers to escape and come along for the ride. '24', with all of its ridiculous implausibilities, at least had a minimal level of brain matter to keep you watching. And yet this show is still rated highly. Are audiences this stupid?



Comeback, The  
Based on the first four episodes.

The Office, based on one really obnoxious and narcissistic character, set in the world of sitcoms and reality-shows. Yes, its another embarrassment-humor show. But the thing is, reality shows already make fun of themselves and are as embarrassing as it gets. So what is the point in hiring a good actress to perform realistically in a fake one? So, besides the fact that I got tired of this 'humor' right after The Office, and find almost all of its clones (including this one) completely lacking in laughs, this one just seems so pointless. In any case, if you feel like watching a narcissistic has-been actress embarrass herself constantly as she obsesses over anything that may harm her image or ego, or her chances at making a big comeback, and are the type of person that enjoys watching celebrities making asses of themselves, then this is for you, since it is done well. If you are healthy, on the other hand, avoid it. And yes, I am talking about the character in this show, not about Kudrow.



Party Down  
Based on half of the first season.

'The Office' set in a LA catering company by way of Curb your Enthusiasm. Yes, it's another show that thinks that it's a comedy by simply setting up awkward situations, except that whereas the original Office has some semblance of reality, this creates cartoonishly obnoxious and stupid characters, and announces its stupid 'punchlines' miles before with a bullhorn. It's a gang of aspiring actors, ex-actors or failed actors making do as caterers in LA, who find themselves catering one odd event after another and having to deal with their internal problems, obviously made much worse by the simple fact that almost all of them are incompetent morons. The situations are outlandish with ironic payoffs obviously inspired by Curb your Enthusiasm, but it's really just weak copycat obnoxious material trying to pass off as comedy.



White Queen, The  
Based on half of the single season.

Similar to The Tudors, this is a complete failure of a historical series. I cannot comment on the historical accuracy of this retelling of the Wars of the Roses era with its unstable wars over the throne, but I know that it doesn't even begin to transport you to another time, nor is it an interesting story on its own terms. I've read heavy history textbooks that were more interesting than this. Everyone, including the men, are catty, gossipy and only pre-occupied with marriage and lovers. The king looks like some rich brat who just came home from a night-club, and everyone inexplicably treats him as such even though he is a king. Even the women get more respect than the king. And it's no wonder, since this seems to be feminist revisionism, where women run almost everything and men defer to them, and where women even have supernatural powers. The dialogue is dull, the characters one-dimensional, the casting looks like they were aiming for the teenage crowd, and the story is tiresome and superficial. It kind of reminded me of Mists of Avalon, except this is a different kind of fantasy.



Tudors, The  
Based on half of the first season.

Horrible soapy trash. For a historical drama based on the royal family of England, it couldn't have done more things wrong. For starters, this isn't about the 'Tudors', but about only one of the Tudors: King Henry VIII and his wives and kids. Instead of the portly (massive), red-headed, bearded 40 year old king with a wig, they cast a 29 year old teenage rock-star brat with a crew-cut who looks like he has a permanent sneer etched on his face, and otherwise has no personality or life. Some of the other older actors fare better, but the lovers and girlfriends are all cast straight out of a teenage high-school soap. The hair, makeup, behaviour, dialogue and even dress are all anachronisms and don't even begin to transport you anywhere close to the 16th century. Sam Neill is pretty good, but only serves as a constant reminder of the quality that the rest of the show lacks. There is an endless stream of pointless sex scenes straight out of a softcore flick. I'm not going to even begin with the historical accuracy of the writing. And the motivations and machinations of the characters may as well belong to 7 year old children. In short, like I said, a soap. Or, if you will, a modern softcore show with useless costumes. I guess it's no surprise that it had an audience for four seasons - soaps like Dallas have had more.



Method and Red  
Based on half of the first season.

Rappers in their own sitcom? I was expecting an MTV video with lots of egos, booty and urban posing. Imagine my surprise when I got exactly that. The cartoonish style is similar to Malcolm in the Middle only without the funny bits. Two rappers move into a rich white neighbourhood after striking it rich, clash with their neighbours and their overbearing mother who moved in with them and constantly whacks them over the head as a running joke. Other humor involves race stereotypes, showing off of riches, egos, fame and bikini-clad girls, and some sitcom cliches. Delivers about one laugh per episode.



That 70s Show  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

Silly sitcom that feels like a dumber, high school version of Friends with elements of the 70s unsuccessfully forced in. A group of teenagers with the usual horny, geeky, wannabe, annoying girlie, etc characteristics and their parents interact in this throwback sitcom that sometimes brings to mind Happy Days. The acting is silly and artificial, the dumb humor gets at best a couple of weak chuckles per episode, the idiotic Kutcher is in it, and mere colorful clothes and crazy hairdos do not the 70s make.



Revenge  
Based on some scattered episodes of the first season.

Two filthily-rich women, one young whippersnapper and a society queen, as well as assorted family members, are all involved with many secrets, many with some kind of revenge. The young woman is avenging the extreme injustice and death of her father and wants to take down the powerful family one by one using their own secrets and greed against them. From this description one would easily assume this is a soap-opera par-excellence. And it is indeed very soapy for the most part, everyone is rich and beautiful with skeletons in their closet, and the show is all about catty manipulations and back-stabbing plotting, making one wish for a trucker to take over, punch them all in the face and get it over with. But it also develops into more complex thrills as their secrets and her revenge plots become more complicated. Except that her plans are also laughably contrived, as she is always in the right place at exactly the right time, knows everything about everybody, has one of those highly convenient but impossible 'Hollywood hackers' that can hack into any system in seconds, and when she comes up with a plan, everyone and everything conveniently lines up and does everything as predicted so that her plan will succeed without a hitch, even though it involves things she couldn't possibly have known in advance. In short, it's a fantasy revenge series and laughably unrealistic, categorized together with shows like Alias. And it doesn't help that the writers contradict themselves and serve up plot-holes within a few episodes.



Cougar Town  
Based on some scattered episodes of the first season.

What's worse than watching 30-year-olds behaving like teens (Friends) and 20-year-olds behaving like children (Scrubs?). 45-year-olds behaving like ten-year-olds. I sometimes enjoy watching Courteney Cox, but this was a lot worse than I imagined. It's like the worst of both the above shows, without the good. This sitcom features the silly misadventures of an older woman in a town where lots of older women date young guys and party, her mid-life crisis making her try out similar pastimes, to the horror of her friends and teenage son. The concept itself is not the problem, it's the writing and characterizations. As far as the idea of having older people date younger ones, a quick comparison to Two and a Half Men is revealing: Charlie was portrayed as an immoral, juvenile jerk, except that the writers and the actor didn't try to justify his behaviour, they made him funny. Whereas in this show she has to be lovable and cute when she does it, and they forgot to make her funny. In addition, in this show, everyone acts like perky 10-year-olds girls trying to be cute for an audience. It's annoying, not funny. Also, single-moms have cutesy relationships with their loving teenage sons as well as their disturbingly girlish ex-husbands. And the show also has its own logic: When the son gets mad that his mother has become the local horny-teenage fantasy, she tracks down one boy who collects her posters and yells at him, and this 'fixes' the problem, after which he promptly forgives her. Say what?



Office, The (US)  
Based on most of the first season.

I could compare this to the original British version and say things like the actors are unconvincing and the manager over-acts. But the truth is, this is an inferior clone by Americans who didn't even feel the need to bring something new to the writing and thus produced a completely useless show. Later seasons may have more original writing, but I just don't care anymore after such a lame first season.



Law & Order: Special Victims Unit  
Based on half of the first season.

A spin-off of Law and Order, focusing on sex crimes. There is also more emphasis on the order rather than the law and the policemen's (boring) personal lives are explored as well. In summary, we have dull cops investigating all sorts of dramatic or extreme sex crimes, neatly finding the perpetrator in every episode. In addition to the boredom however is the real criminal of this show: plots and characters that wander into preachy, smug or contrived territories, politically correct stories where women weep and men are always the monsters, feminist misandric propaganda, and an annoying bitch cop with a chip on her shoulder.



Mighty Boosh, The  
Based on most of the first season.

A terrible cult-surreal comedy from England. Two zoo-keepers, one a pretentious idiot, the other an effeminate bigger idiot obsessed with clothes and hair, their highly eccentric boss who can never remember words for animals, one gypsy/Indian/whatsit guru, and a bunch of guys in animal costumes, make very random, surreal, fantastical and silly comedy. The appeal of this show, if you like that sort of thing, is that you never know what will happen next. A man is forced to fight a kangaroo, mutants break out in song and dance, there's a surreal dream sequence involving pairs of round objects, random people make fun of Howard's moustache, magical hair-restorer cream becomes a major plot point, there are ongoing jokes about pocket-cups, and so on. But the problem is that nothing is funny, just random and really silly, despite the fact that it revolves around semi-coherent episodic plots rather than sketches. The many comparisons to Monty Python obviously have no respect for the wit and satire of that troupe. If anything, I would compare this random anything-goes fantasy approach to The Goodies, except that one was much more fun.



Drive  
Based on all six episodes.

Talk about an insultingly idiotic show. The structure and style of writing is modeled after Lost: Take a group of people, throw them into a mysterious predicament that never makes any sense, then, while the dumb audience gets hooked on the mystery with no solution, invent new crises and back-stories and secrets for every character every episode. You just know the writers are making it up as they go along when they manage to contradict themselves within a couple of episodes. Characters constantly turn out to be something else, except that no one bothers to check whether their previous behaviour makes sense with the new revelations. The mind-bogglingly idiotic mystery of the show is as follows: A group of people with an incredible amount of secrets are 'manipulated' or psychologically forced to take part in a marathon, illegal car race back and forth across the country, driving from one random location to another based on stupid clues sent to them via SMS, except it really doesn't make that much difference what they do or how many delays they get into on the way or whether they are first or last, and the rules of the race obviously change or develop as it goes along, all, of course, so that the show can sidetrack as long as they want with preposterously implausible back-stories and soapy back-stabbings and secrets and alliances and nonsensical motivations. There is also ongoing convoluted 'thrilling' action based on who is or isn't part of the company behind the race and what their motivations really are. Truly horrible. At least this one was cancelled quickly; Maybe the audience wasn't falling for another Lost?



Femme Nikita, La  
Based on five episodes from the first season.

Vastly overrated cheesy action show 'based on' the superbly perfect French movie of the same name. It's not about a sexy babe kicking ass, you stupid Americans. And making her a pacifist only makes her less interesting, not more. The first episode rushes through highlights of the movie in flabbergasting superficial ways, setting up an innocent woman this time, who is accused of a crime and sentenced to death, and then 'rescued' by a clandestine agency that trains her to be a secret agent. The show then sets up episodic missions like some cheesy 80s action show, featuring Ken and Barbie dolls in cheesy action and short skirts saving the evil Communists and terrorists from themselves, with bad acting, cheesy emotional drama, people that sacrifice themselves for no good reason, and silly sci-fi gadgets from a bad James Bond clone. This looks and feels like soap opera actors in an action series. The heart of the original French movie is nowhere to be seen. At least the producers/writers improved a little for '24'.



Alias  
Based on the first season and some scattered episodes.

Yet another show that hopped on the bandwagon of kickass-females, this time placing her in convoluted plot-lines of spies and double-spies with over-the-top James Bond gadgets and Mission-Impossible-esque thrilling scenes. She's pretty, she's sexy, she wears crazy outfits, disappears in exotic countries and speaks their language, knows kick-boxing so well she can wipe out 5 burly men in seconds, she always gets away somehow, she handles double-agent games with a smile and she's still in college. What a load of crap. I could perhaps understand the fun if she had character, charm and a sense of humor but she's dull. The only reason Buffy got away with it was because there was an element of the supernatural and they didn't take it seriously. This is dumb, dumb, dumb.



L Word, The  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

I suppose this show was inevitable given the trendiness and popularity of lesbians. Somewhere an executive figured he would cash in on the female curiosity, addiction to relationship soap-drama, as well as the drooling male idiots, and make a lesbian drama with nudity and sex. Ignoring the fact that even the butch lesbians in this show are unrealistically pretty and that in this strange universe, all females are either lesbian or thinking about it, I tried a simple exercise: Imagining that this was a show about heterosexuals. All I got was soap, boring writing and whiny drama. Just more dull, superficial, self-obsessed women. At least in Sex and the City there was comedy; Here it's all estrogen-heavy drama. The high-points include the endless, annoying drama about a straight, engaged, cheating woman who doesn't know if she's a lesbian, and one lesbian couple repeats the phrase 'let's make a baby' so many times as if to chase away the painfully and stupidly obvious. If this show was supposed to show lesbians in a better, non-stereotypical light, it failed.



Hart of Dixie  
Based on the first three episodes.

One of the most artificial shows I've seen in a while. Zoe is a city-girl who is a 'skilled' surgeon except she was kicked out of the hospital for not being a warm person (yes, really). So when an old man hands her his practice in a remote small hick Southern town in Alabama, she takes the job out of desperation. Many *retch* life lessons await her, as her city-manners no longer work in a small town, and she slowly *gag* learns to be a nicer person, while she brings her 'skills' and modern attitude to a backwards town sorely in need of her *ugh* liberating and empowering attitude. Of course she meets a lot of resistance from a backwoods doctor and miscellaneous closed-minded people and local town-bitches, but not from hunks and kindly landlords. However bad this sounds, multiply it by a hundred, simply due to the fact that the lead can't act, tries to distract you from this fact with a mini-skirt, and looks like a brainless bubble-gum-chewing brat. It's mind-boggling how this got past the pilot.



League, The  
Based on the first three episodes.

Yet another infantile 'male-comedy' with the mind of a horny five year old featuring characters that never resemble reality. In this alternate reality, all guys are losers that do nothing all day but make dumb jokes over body parts and awkward situations involving genitalia, or they play fantasy sports, and yet somehow they are married to models. Except that the models either behave like one of the guys, or as what sex-deprived, loser, infantile guys imagine women to be. Comedy is made over things like singing filthy songs to children, getting high on pubic hair, or a woman raping her husband with her fingers. And the rest of the time is spent on fantasy sports. It's bad enough that guys spend their lives worshipping and watching other guys doing sport, but to devote their life to a sport that isn't even happening is beyond pathetic.



Derek  
Based on the first two episodes.

I'm definitely not the audience for this garbage. If anyone knows Ricky Gervais and his 'special' brand of awkward humor, then they would know exactly what to expect when I say that this is basically The Office style mockumentary set in an geriatric nursing home. It somehow combines the over-the-top sentimental feel-good cliched drama associated with this kind of place, with a trio of socially-challenged men that help run the place, causing all kinds of wildly inappropriate embarrassments or painfully cliched old-people drama. The one unique aspect is that Gervais acts (very unconvincingly) as a mentally-disabled assistant who tries to see the positive in everything. My patience ran out in record time.



Entourage  
Based on most of the first season.

A show for losers that drool over anything celebrity and glitzy and that can't get enough of the TV channel E! or MTV. Actually it's even worse than that: This show feels like it was written by some virgin, big-mouthed, fratboys obsessed with sex and celebrities because they can't get any of either. Film-star Vincent and his entourage of horny guys wander around Hollywood, fighting with agents, alternatively praising or bad-mouthing stars, attending one party after another, throwing away money like it was used tissues on expensive things which they are too brainless to appreciate, constantly getting laid by glamorous girls and groupies that are somehow always hot, easy and available, bumping up against real celebrities that act as themselves, etc etc. It's not funny, insightful, interesting, witty, or even satiric, and the annoying characters are not real or interesting in any way. A complete waste of time.



Devious Maids  
Based on the first three episodes.

It only took the first five seconds of recycled music and catty camp to identify this as the sequel to Desperate Housewives. Once again, it's soap-opera time, except the soap and catty behaviour is pushed to a 'satirical' extreme and the dramatic music is replaced with jaunty Latino music that cues you as to when to laugh. There's a murder of a Latina maid, and a group of maids get together to gossip and investigate the murder, while the filthy rich continue their outrageously neurotic behaviour. Of course, everyone is having an affair with everyone else and plotting and scheming, and the relationship between the scheming catty maids and the plotting bitchy bosses is exploited fully. And, of course, everyone looks like a thin model, even the maids. But trashy soap is trashy soap, no matter how you dress it up.



Popular  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

Take teenage high-school drama with shallow characters and push it over-the-top and what do you get? According to critics and fans you get a clever satire. But it's really just over-the-top teenage high-school drama.



Jane the Virgin  
Based on the first four episodes.

The concept for this show sounded unusual and amusing: Jane was saving herself for marriage when she gets artificially inseminated by mistake. What I didn't expect was a Mexican soap-opera made in the US. Sure, it makes fun of soap-operas and telenovelas and even has a telenovela star as her secret father as well as a Latino narrator with tongue planted firmly in cheek, but this show dives head first into soap-opera cliches, taking them to extremes and using them as its meat and potatoes. As such, it reminded me of Desperate Housewives and Popular, pretending to satirize bad TV while actually being worse. If you aren't convinced, here is the setup: The father is a playboy who has cancer and the sperm was his last chance at a baby, and his girlfriend is a back-stabbing gold-digger who is plotting with her secret real boyfriend. The sperm was inseminated by the playboy's sister, a soap-opera star is Jane's secret father, and Jane's fiance is a (very unconvincing) detective who knows about the playboy's secrets but who is forced to play along since he doesn't want the baby. And this is only the starting point, as the back-stabbing characters, affairs and lies only expand with every episode.



My So-Called Life  
Based on half of the first season.

Whiny, angsty, spoiled female teenagers with neurotic parents have way too much drama in their lives to whine about. The lead cynical, boy-crazy, sex-obsessed and depressed female character spouts out dumb 'wisdom' from time to time in between dramas. Who the hell cares? Often praised as being realistic to teenage concerns, but don't bother unless the lowest common denominator of trendy teenage angst interests you.



Gilmore Girls  
Based on scattered episodes from several seasons.

Some writers took their unrealistic fantasy of an ideal, mother-daughter relationship, wrote witty and fast-moving dialog that only special actors could have gotten away with, and hired a few wooden and boring pretty actresses to spout these lines and act cute. In other words, an unrealistic chick-flick about relationships that tries to be clever but gets really annoying fast. Avoid.



Reign  
Based on the first three episodes.

The only period dramas today seem to be teenage-oriented fluff with insultingly idiotic anachronisms and soap operatics. After The Tudors, Borgias and White Queen, this one is the worst of the lot, as it doesn't even try. It's supposed to be telling the story of Mary Queen of Scots, but it's really just a bunch of modern teenage brats play-acting queens and princes. The behaviour, and the attitudes to sex are blatantly modern, the guys have trendy modern scruffy beards, the dress and makeup are shocking, the queen and her gossip-girl friends prance around the castle giggling about their 'maiden innocence', or about hot princes and alliances, sometimes in their modern revealing nightgowns or fashionable dresses, and you expect them to pull out their cellphones every second to text someone or to update their Facebook status to 'Betrothed'. The soundtrack is modern pop-fluff for teenage girls, and whenever there's a courtly dance with royal guests, they get bored so they breakout into modern discotheque moves or provocative Latino dancing. I kid you not. Completely worthless and mind-bogglingly idiotic trash.



Friday Night Lights  
Based on the first three episodes.

I suppose I'm not the target audience for this show as I am not in the least bit interested in American Football, or any movies and shows based on sports for that matter. But I tried it anyways to see if it has something else to offer besides sports, and found nothing. It's a high-school drama featuring soapy love stories and teenage posturing and angst, except their whole lives revolve around a stupid game. Life's little difficulties are dealt with using fake, cliched uplifting speeches from the coach, one boy's worries is dealt with by taking him to the stadium and having a fake crowd cheer him on, there are snippets of games, melodrama over a paralyzed football player, flings with cheerleaders, family drama with the coach's wife and children, and so on, all meandering and gritty in faux-documentary style. It's as boring and empty as it sounds. And, to top it all off, although I have a pretty high tolerance for shaky-cam and even appreciate it in some cases, this one is so bad it's like they hired a camera-man with Parkinsons.



Scandal  
Based on the first four episodes.

A terribly written misandrist show that is basically just an ego trip. A bitch with an attitude and no brains or talent except to bark orders at her team and bully everyone, is seen as a goddess by many powerful people who employ her to 'solve problems'. Her team supposedly consists of lawyers, except they don't exactly do a lawyer's job and constantly break the law in many ways, harassing, blackmailing, hacking, and invading privacy, based only on some kind of flimsy reputation and a lot of bullying. They dig up information so that this woman can go around solving problems by blackmailing and bullying people into not making problems. There's nothing clever about this, especially since it's not always clear how her team uncover some of their information, making this show less about brains and more about attitude. The rest of the show they spend on treating her like a goddess and worshipping all her orders for unknown reasons, while she claims to have authority based on her gut and nose for the truth, which has been proven wrong already in the first episode. She even picks cases based on whether they are telling the truth or not, the writers taking the easy moral high ground, thus avoiding all the moral questions that lawyer-shows normally have, which is not very realistic to say the least, especially since she previously worked for the President to cover up his immoral mistakes. They're either doing that, or the many women in this show are constantly taking potshots at men who take it passively while they emasculate and humiliate them publicly. Just like the people she bullies, who almost never fight back or stand up to her for some reason. Oh, and the President of the United States pines for this woman as well even though they have no chemistry, while all his power is undermined by another woman who is angry at him for using her. In short, a fantasy feminist ego trip that never resembles reality, and a total waste of time.



Cold Feet  
Based on the first season.

Thirty-something British soap drama mixed with a touch of Friends comedy. Three couples go through trials and tribulations with relationship issues, sex, babies, adultery, etc. Besides the soap and the fact that the show is somewhat dull, the biggest problem here is that all the women are complete bitches and the men are kinda pathetic. Since when did bitchiness become comedy?



Transparent  
Based on the first four episodes.

A show about bunch of self-obsessed obnoxious and very empty people. To attempt to draw in an audience, they throws in lots and lots of cheap sexual content, slutty behaviour, lesbian affairs, kinky whims and dirty adventures. To make it edgy, they make it about the older dad of the family who comes out as a transgender, and throw in a bunch of lesbians as well. Except that they are still all very self-obsessed and boring people. Maybe this will appeal to the Big-Brother type of audience. Besides the audience however, the bigger mystery is why they labelled this depressing show a comedy.



Flight of the Conchords, The  
Based on the first three episodes.

Um, no. This one I just don't get. Moronic loser musicians, their incompetent manager, and a single pathetic groupie make comedy in a musical TV show with absolutely terrible music that uses moronic dialogue for lyrics. It may help if the moronic loser angle reflected something from real life, but these morons are so moronic that they are cartoonish, except they are so braindead and listless, they can't be compared to cartoon characters. Of course, people are calling this 'genius' and 'subtle', but you can feel your brain cells falling out of your ears like dead flies while watching this one. Dead boring.



Broad City  
Based on the first four episodes.

Watching this feels like society just took a huge leap forward towards the world portrayed in Idiocracy. I have no idea what these two girls in this show are supposed to be: Slackers, potheads, hipsters, neurotic New-Yorkers, horny modern women, all of the above. I don't really care. It's just never even remotely amusing. Everyone on this show never behaves in any way that remotely resembles human beings, you are never quite sure if something was meant to be funny or not because everything looks so retarded, and they throw female gross-out gags at the audience as if that will make it all worthwhile. Idiocracy here we come.



Parks and Recreation  
Based on the first three episodes.

Yet another attempt to reproduce The Office. Some guy watched it and thought: "Hey this is easy, all I have to do is cast some people in a hierarchical social environment and make them all as lame, stupid, awkward and embarrassing as possible". The writing on this one is as if stupid people were trying to create the stupidest people they can think of. Except that the stupidity is so forced that it's insulting. The wit on this show consists of scenes such as the one where a politician and community member walk down the street complaining about the heat, and one suggests they blow on each other's faces. Enough said.



Eastbound & Down  
Based on the first three episodes.

I don't understand what is happening with humor lately. Even toilet humor can be funny at times, but what is funny about embarrassments, losers and jerks? This is yet another comedy failure by HBO, featuring the most annoying jerk you've ever seen. An ex-celebrity baseball player who flushed his life and opportunities away thanks to his huge ego. Now he lives in his home town terrorizing his brother, his ex-girlfriend, the school where he works, and many kids with his foul-mouth, crude behaviour, obnoxious attitude, and racist views, his life run by the most basest impulses and childish, wounded-ego motivations, and they all let him get away with it. Obviously HBO thinks that the more crudity, and non-PC shock values you can throw at a show, the funnier it will become. This is pathetic.




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