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What’s Worth Watching?

By Bert Ehrmann
November 7, 2008

Though the 2008-’09 television season is already a few months old, I can’t say that I’m all too enamored with many of the new series that have debuted so far on network TV. In some seasons past, I’d find myself watching hours of new comedies and dramas nightly. But this year not so much.

Here’s a quick rundown on what I’ve been watching this fall. 

Sunday nights I watch Dexter and had been watching Mad Men up until the season two finale a few weeks back. I’ve written numerous columns on both series so I wont go into too much detail here. Rest assured that Mad Men is still the best thing on TV and the third season of Dexter (so far, at least) hasn’t disappointed.

Monday nights at 8 P.M. I’ve been watching the second season of the series Chuck on NBC. Over the summer, I rented the first season of the series on DVD and wasn’t that impressed. What I saw was all right, but there seemed to be something missing. Luckily, though, I did manage to catch Chuck when the new season debuted a few weeks back and was much more impressed with the start of the second season than the first. Chuck is a fun show with a lot of heart.

Tuesday nights at 9 P.M. I watch the new series Fringe on Fox. For the most part, Fringe deals with mad-scientist types experimenting on people and generally being not so nice to their fellow man and the team of government agents along with a good nutty mad-scientist and son trying to stop them. So far, there has been one decent episode of Fringe, a few mediocre ones and a few more stinkers.

At best Fringe is a weak update on The X-Files. At worst it’s not much better than a lame SCI FI Channel movie of the week. I tend to watch Fringe because I’m hoping for better things but, in reality, there’s not much else on Tuesday nights so Fringe wins my attention by default.

Wednesday nights at 10 P.M. I watch Sons of Anarchy on FX. Sons of Anarchy follows a biker gang running guns in California and generally causing mayhem and doing all sorts of bad things. For the most part, the Sons of Anarchy is pretty good, except it follows the main conceit of the series The Shield a little too closely in that just about EVERY character has a bad streak and that just about EVERY government official is corrupt.

Thursday night TV is a problem – there are simply too many good things to choose from. There’s My Name is Earl at 8 P.M. and The Office at 9 P.M. sharing a creative resurgence on NBC, Burn Notice (new episodes return this winter) on USA and the other new series I watch Life on Mars at 10 P.M. on ABC.

I thought the original Brit version of Life on Mars was interesting and pretty much feel the same way about the American update.  In Life on Mars, New York City cop Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara) is involved in an accident present day and wakes up in 1973. Is Sam dead, in purgatory or is the whole thing a coma dream and a figment of his imagination? (If you’ve seen the original series then you know the answer to this question.)

So far, Life on Mars has focused on Sam investigating crimes in 1973 with some story hints as to what’s really happening with him. I enjoy the series but wonder just how far they’re going to be able to push the whole “lost in time” concept? The original Brit series was a mere 16 episodes long and a successful American drama can last HUNDREDS of episodes. That’s a long time for Sam to be trapped in 1973.

I’ve also been DVRing the series Justice League Unlimited nightly at 11 P.M. on Boomerang and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Spike at 2 A.M. You could do much worse than checking these series out for the first time or, like me, enjoying them again.