I didn't end up watching much live-action TV this year; I spent a lot more time watching anime and reading manga. I didn't start the year off with that many live-action shows, and since I'm a lazy person, I usually never watch a show during its first season. I let other people rec stuff. This year, I started off with Scrubs, Veronica Mars, and Good Eats.
No spoilers for any of the shows. The "shows I'm excited about" part will have pimping information (aka, how to access the show, the general plotline, and etc.), as I am trying to get more people to watch.
Shows that didn't work for me
Veronica Mars: I ended up dropping Veronica Mars after the second half of S2 didn't thrill me too much and the first half of S3 downright annoyed me. There were a few great episodes here and there, but I really don't find myself missing it that much. Part of me wishes this weren't the case, since I really enjoyed S1. Alas, there's only so much Veronica being rescued by the men in her life that I can take.
Supernatural: Despite the concerted efforts of rachelmanija and coffeeandink to hook me, SPN just never seemed to take. I've watched probably half the episodes from S1, including the finale, so I'm pretty sure that this show just isn't for me. I don't bear it any ill will, and I don't mind watching an episode here and there, but it doesn't seem like something I'll ever pick up myself. I did indeed like Dean and found him rather hilarious, but the show's gender politics and racial politics bug me. Also, I find that I just don't care that much about the Winchester family as a unit.
The Office: I know, I know! sophia_helix showed me the first season, and I've got all of the second season, just waiting for me to watch it. And, it's not that I disliked this show. I liked it; I thought it was hilarious and well written. But I think I've been hearing too many snippets of the fandom going around, because I already dislike Jim (I know! Heresy!), and this is only because I know he and Pam are everyone's OTP. I've also found it very hard to watch the show for personal reasons; it's really well done, but given all the upheavals at work this year, the absolute last thing I want to do is watch a show about work drama. The irritations strike too close to home, and it doesn't provide escape anymore. I suspect I may end up watching more of this when work isn't stressing me out so much.
Shows that I'm watching but not excited about
Scrubs: I've been watching Scrubs, though not blogging about it that much. There were some developments in S5 that I didn't enjoy that much, and I found myself getting a little bored of the humor. And it's been on hiatus for a while. Then again, new episodes are finally airing, and I'm starting to remember why I love it so much. It's only half an hour, and it rarely makes me want to throw sporks, so it's still on the list.
Good Eats: I've even cut back on watching Good Eats. Heresy, I know! It's not that Alton has gotten less interesting; it's that I've seen pretty much every episode at least 3 times. And they aren't making new ones fast enough! It makes me very sad. I miss having new and exciting episodes to watch, so really, this is less the show's fault and more its schedule.
Battlestar Galactica: I'm not sure if this actually counts, since I'm only watching bits and pieces of what Tivo's catching. I've seen the miniseries and a few episodes from S1 way back when, but it just never grabbed me. Thanks to the "fandom as a person" meme and everyone talking about the opening of S3, I decided to watch a few episodes while knitting. I still have no idea what's going on, and I'm not really into it, but because of that, it makes good knitting fodder, particularly when I have to graft or something else complicated. We'll see if this ends up dropping off or getting watched more avidly.
Avatar: the Last Airbender: I watched all of S1 and S2 of this, again while knitting and not paying full attention. I'm still not enamoured of most of the characters, though I do have one or two favorites. The acting and the plots and the characterization aren't as complex as I'd like them to be, but given that this is a show aimed toward a very young demographic, I'm not sure if this is fair criticism. On the other hand, the show's excellent use of Asian culture keeps me watching, particularly since it seems to be getting more complex as it goes along.
Shows that I'm very excited about!
So You Think You Can Dance: Um. Yes.
I have finally been sucked into the world of reality TV, and it is a dancing show. I still don't like most of the things about reality TV, but the people in the show are actual dancers and I love watching them dance. Ballroom! Hip hop! SWING!
Ok, I lied. This one isn't going to have pimping information, because I suspect you will already know if you want to watch or not, and I have no intentions on making anyone who doesn't like dancing watch this.
Heroes: Heroes is an ensemble show about a group of people who sudden start developing superpowers, along with their friends, families, and others. There really aren't that many main characters, since this is very much an ensemble, but I've written up the most important characters below:
Mohinder Suresh - Mohinder's father was murdered a few months before the show starts. He and his father were estranged, due to his father's rather controversial theories regarding genetics and human evolution.
Hiro Nakamura - Hiro discovers that he can bend the space-time continuum. He's a salaryman in Tokyo who loves comics and is a bit of a geek; he's the optimist who believes that power should be used for good. He and his friend Ando usually go around together. I love Hiro. LOVE.
Niki Sanders - Niki is a single mother (her son's name is Micah and her ex's name is DL) who's working as a stripper to make ends meet. She owes Linderman money, which sort of sucks, as Linderman is a big shot in Vegas who's got his fingers in some rather shady business. Niki's reflection in the mirror seems to have a life of her own, and a rather violent one at that.
Claire Bennet - Claire's a cheerleader in Texas who's just found out that she's indestructible via a series of rather disturbing experiments.
Nathan Petrelli - Currently running for a position on Congress in NY, can fly.
Peter Petrelli - Nathan's younger brother. Dreams about flying and in general goes around making things difficult for his brother.
Isaac Mendez - a painter in New York who can paint the future, but only when he's high.
If you to place names with faces, try the official site. NBC is also streaming all 11 episodes of Heroes on their site right now (yay!). Heroes shows on NBC, Mondays at nine. New episodes start 1/22, and you can catch reruns on Sci-Fi, Fridays after BSG (I think).
Despite my general policy of not watching premiering shows, I started watching Heroes from the very beginning because of the multi-racial cast. I started off with incredibly low expectations; I figured that the writers would end up stereotyping all the non-white characters and giving them minor roles, and it didn't look like the women had much to do either.
The show's premiere didn't really dispell any of these notions, but the cliffhanger was good enough to check out the next week's episode. And then, I started thinking that Hiro was adorable and that Claire was pretty awesome, and that was enough to keep me going. I moaned and bitched about most of the characters and the writing and the pretentious voiceovers, but I kept watching anyway. And then, I don't know what happened, but the show managed to avoid all the obvious potholes that I thought it would hit; it continued to have POC in the main cast and in supporting roles. It added more women (I'm still not happy with the status of the women, but it has improved since the beginning I think). The writing got better. The plotting got tighter. And soon, I was sitting there on the edge of my seat and laughing with delight at the plot twists and loving all the characters.
I'm still amazed at how quickly the show improved, and I'm so excited about new episodes starting again on the 22nd. I can't pinpoint precisely when it turned good, because it happened so slowly, but each episode is better than the last, and 1x11 was pure squee.
There's a sense of fun and joy in this show; you can tell that the writers think being able to do a superhero show is the coolest thing ever, and that they love it. There are enough callouts to superhero franchises to make me laugh, but they manage to take the usual plots and do them in a new way. I've found myself continuing to love Hiro and Claire more and more, and I've found that all the other characters have gotten more depth with each episode. This is also such a fast-moving and tightly-plotted show. The first major arc is over, and from a few rewatches, it seems like the writers have planned things out far in advance and are foreshadowing as they go along.
I am so glad I started watching this, despite all my initial misgivings.
And I've saved the best for last. My absolute favorite TV show of the year, hands down, is:
Spooks/MI-5: Spooks is about MI-5, the domestic branch of the British security services. The agents try to circumvent terrorists and other national threats. It sounds like your standard spy show. What I found refreshing about Spooks was how it focused on the working lives of the agents and the incredibly daring storytelling. I'm not going to introduce the characters for this one, just because I don't want to inadvertantly spoil anything. This is a show that you want to watch completely unspoiled, as the plot twists and the "OMFG what did they just do?!" factor hit the roof. I've been pimping it to people by showing them episode 2 of season 1; I think if you watch that and end up liking it, this is a show you'll like.
I think what everyone will say about Spooks is how gutsy it is, and it is. I am always afraid for the characters, because in this show, things can and do go wrong, often with disastrous results. The best intentions or innocence won't save people, and the writers never hesitate. The show addresses issues like immigration, racial tension, civil liberties, and terrorism, and they usually handle the plotlines very evenly, without ever making you feel like it's an after-school special. One of the main themes of the show is how people navigate the fine line between protecting their country and destroying it, and it never comes up with an easy answer.
The other reason why I love this is the characters. Spooks very rarely delves into their personal lives for maximum angst; it understands that the most dramatic moments to watch in a spy show come directly from the job the spies do. I love how the characters must constantly question themselves and what they do; they have to draw lines for themselves, make hard choices, and sometimes compromise themselves. And there's never the easy answer. I love how the show is about work and how it affects the characters, I love watching the characters change through what they experience, and I love how they interact with each other.
Spooks has just finished its fifth season; each season is 10 hour-long episodes, except the first season, which is only 6 episodes long. Seasons 1-3 are out in the States on DVD. The episodes also air on A&E, but with fifteen minutes cut out. Given how tightly plotted and paced all the episodes are, I'd suggest watching the DVDs, which have the full episodes. The DVDs also have the Worst Interface Ever.
I think 1x02 is a good way for people to decide if they like the show or not, since at that point, the episodes are fairly stand-alone. Most of the episodes in the show tend to be stand-alones, with the exception of the premieres and the finales. I love all the episodes I've seen so far, but my absolute favorite season so far is S3, which may be one of the best seasons of TV I've watched, period.
Watch this show!
rilina's non-spoilery pimping post
vonnie_k's non-spoilery pimping post