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Fred's Views

Shows I'll Miss

Another TV season has drawn to a close. And, as usual, there have been some real winners and a lot of losers. Most of the shows that made it through the season will probably be returning in the fall. But a few really good shows won't be back. There's also a few adequate shows that I'll miss too.

Of the "Big Four" networks, CBS is the only one that I can't think of a show that I will miss. I can think of a few shows I'd never like to see (or see again), such as Survivor and Baby Bob, but nothing comes to mind that won't be returning. This year's big CBS hit, at least for me if not the ratings, is The Agency. Despite losing Ronny Cox, and several other changes, with Beau Bridges at the head, it is still an interesting hour. I really wish I knew just how much of the stuff they portray can actually be done! It always amazes me when a satellite picture is enhanced so you can read a licence plate from space! Is it really possible? When can I get this software for my PC?

ABC was first off the mark to yank a show I enjoyed: Thieves. I won't say it was one of the best, but I found it interesting and fun. It was, for those of you who missed it (which would apparently include a lot of you), a tongue-in-cheek update of To Catch a Thief or It Takes a Thief, but with a pair of thieves instead of just one. John Stamos did an adequate job and while Miss George was quite attractive, if not my fantasy girl, together they did manage to create some sexual tension as well as laughs and thrills. For some reason, tongue-in-cheek shows don't seem to catch on. A year or two ago we lost Snoops and there have been others in a similar vein.

Then ABC repeated their error with The Court. It is perhaps hard to justify two programs about the Supreme Court debuting in the same season, but The Court showed promise, and I was really enjoying the return of Sally Field.

ABC has had a few winners, especially Philly. Other interesting shows include According to Jim and My Wife and Kids, which actually debuted at the end of last season. I like, and watch, Alias, but it doesn't grab me the way some other shows do. ABC also brought us The Bachelor, another unseemly so-called "reality" program that had nothing to do with reality. Unfortunately, it may be back.

Fox had, I believe, a winner with The American Embassy, and its star was totally enchanting. I thought it would be a cheap copy of The West Wing, and that may have been Fox's intention, but it was an interesting show in its own way. One problem, perhaps, was its lack of focus: was it a "coming of age" vehicle for its star or a drama that focussed on the events of the day? It tried to do both, and, while I think it did a fairly good job of it, its split personality may have been one of the reasons for its unfortunate demise. This is one show that truly deserved more network support. One of the most disappointing nights of the past season was when I tuned in to see the "Season Finale" of The American Embassy and saw instead an insipid movie called The Wedding Singer. I'm no Adam Sandler fan, but there was no comparison. I watched about a half hour of the movie before I found something, anything, else. I want to see the finale somewhere, sometime.

NBC's big folly was yanking Leap of Faith. There were some aspects to the show's premise I wasn't too happy with - Faith seemed to be leaping into too many beds too quickly - but the star was enchanting and a joy to watch. I probably should do some research and come up with the names of these actresses I enjoyed watching - after all, I'd like to recognize their names so that I can catch them in other vehicles. Apparently one of NBC's less worthy efforts will be leaving: The Weakest Link has apparently been cancelled. It won't be missed. Soon to follow, I hope, (it should have been long dead already) is Fear Factor. Why anyone would subject themselves to such indignity is beyond me. Why anyone would want to watch is beyond belief.

NBC has a real winner with Crossing Jordan, although I wish our heroine was a little less self-destructive and a little less obsessed with her mother's death. Still a great show. I won't miss Under Cover, although it had some interesting features. I also won't miss Julia Louis-Dreyfuss(?)' effort. She's not looking as good as she did in her Seinfeld days and the idea of restricting the plots to 22 contiguous minutes is simply nonsense. This "gimmick" is one of the reasons I never warmed to Fox's 24. (It also seemed to be on at an inconvenient time.)

It may not have escaped your notice that most of the shows I mentioned had female leads. I, for one, enjoy programs with strong (and, of course, attractive) female characters. Of course the female lead doesn't always have to be as macho as in Alias or Dark Angel, not that there's anything wrong with that, and she can certainly cry and need a shoulder from time to time. But in general, she needs to be able to stand on her own two feet and be in control of her own destiny. I've seen far too many "damsels in distress" that seem to be utterly helpless in adversity.

No review of the TV season could be complete without a reference to Star Trek! When I first learned that Enterprise would take place before the original series, I had visions of disaster. (I'm sure one of the main reasons I disliked Star Wars Episode I and have little desire to see Episode II is that I know what became of the principal character. Whatever the reasons may be, Anakin Skywalker is ultimately Darth Vader and therefore not hero material.

Then I heard Scott Bakula would be the captain. Now I watched Quantum Leap (although my wife liked it far more than I did), but the sight of Scott in a dress still haunts my nights! I was really concerned about this show. And to top it off, it only had two females listed among its "crew" - and one of them was Vulcan. Then it debuted. Where was the full orchestra with that overwhelmingly impressive fanfare? Enterprise got off to a rocky start with me. But I stuck to it. I won't say that the scripts always intrigue me (I still think the original series had some of the best - and worst - writing), but Scott grew on me, the premise grew on me, the theme grew on me, and, most of all, T'Pau grew on me. I still can't view the opening montage as we slowly expand out into space and hear the theme song without it bringing a tear to my eyes. The Star Trek franchise is, at least for me, alive and well.

While on the subject, I have mixed feelings about the "uniforms" worn by "Seven of Nine" on the old Voyager and "T'Pau" on Enterprise. Don't get me wrong, they are both a joy to watch, but it seems a bit sexist. It also seems unnecessary for this type of show. (Still, "Seven of Nine" had/has a great body, but "T'Pau" is simply scrumptious. She is a joy to look at, and I find her reserved, apprehensive, intelligent yet loyal and, dare we say it, somewhat humorous, character truly captivating. One of the, perhaps, inevitable effects of such a show is that she seems far more "human" than the "half-human" Spock.)

All in all, 2001 - 2 has been an interesting year in television, and I haven't even mentioned the news and news coverage. There have been, I would guess, more than the usual number of good new shows. Yet, far too many good shows didn't make the cut. Who knows how many of these shows might have become the next Cheers or Seinfeld if given a better chance.

Obviously, originally written in 2002.

Copyright © 2002 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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