Tuesday, May 25, 2010

As the DVR dwindles

I feel I watch an impossible amount of TV but with 24 reaching its (satisfying) end I realized, as I enacted the solemn ritual of expunging it from my "series manager," that it's definitely shrinking. Last week I removed the pedestrian HBO miniseries The Pacific off the grid, and The Tudors (pictured) will soon be beheaded from Showtime (to be replaced next season by another historical bodice ripper, The Borgias, with Jeremy Irons). I dumped the witless, going-in-circles Entourage last summer, and The Sarah Silverman Program after half of a single third season episode. I think Silverman's awfully cute, but her show is a whimsically scatological disaster. Or was: Comedy Central agreed, and killed it.

With us, though, old shows have a habit of going away slowly. Shows I watch solo, like 24, I watch and erase ASAP--mostly to make way for movies I record off TCM and other cable channels. Lora's quick to get rid of hers, too, those being an HGTV program, Selling New York, and the Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica; the mothership was enough for me. The once-fascinating Nip/Tuck went off in March but I still have half its sixth and final season to slog through; it's a noxious as the Louisiana oil spill but still I must, finding some shows hard habits to break (and it was so good, too, for a couple of seasons). And we still have three year-old episodes of third season Tudors to get through before starting in on Henry VIII's other wives--that's how a toddler, a 10-8 schedule, "quality time," and other evening commitments, like theater, mess up your TV viewing.

So what am I watching? I'll stick with The Simpsons until it goes the way of Law & Order, which I never watched. The ups, like the hilarious surveillance satire, make up for the downs (the American Idol season ender) and you never know which will hit and which will miss. And Larissa, natch, digs the cartoon imagery, particularly "Homey" and "Boy" (Bart).

Missing more than it's hitting is The Office. When the castmembers start directing episodes you know they're bored, and the show, which walked a fine line between silly and inspired, is more often than not just sort of dopey. But as a half-hour comedy it's not in danger of me managing it out of our lives--yet. On the bubble.

Smallville is the kind of show that's easy to watch while cooking dinner, paying bills, etc. But a funny thing happened in its ninth (!) and penultimate season--we actually started sitting down for it, thanks to a strong storyline involving Major Zod (Tudors alums Callum Blue) and his minions. We hope the old warhorse continues to surprise us next season.

That's all we watch on network TV. ABC and CBS don't exist for us, except maybe for news and a Letterman here or there.

On cable, there's still HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, which was classic last time out. It'll be another year or two before Larry and Co. regroup and I'm confident it'll be up to par (Lora finds its comic misanthropy, a tonic for me, almost too painful to bear--but we both think Larry and Cheryl are among TV's best couples).

I have Dexter on the DVR but, speaking of misanthropy, the great season past, with John Lithgow, may have been enough for me. I'll give it a shot, or a stab.

Our mutual favorite, Doctor Who, has been pretty terrific this season. The new Doctor, Matt Smith, is just what the doctor ordered. I think it is the highlight of the viewing year, and like all cable/BBC shows it doesn't wear you down, or wear out, with too many episodes.

Summer brings True Blood, which I'm mixed on, and the unmissable Mad Men. That alone makes up for the other hours that are sometimes misspent...or fast-forwarded through.

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