Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Top Five Television Shows to Save for Next Season

With the 2006-2007 television season nearing an end, shows getting closer to May sweeps and the inevitable shocking twists around the corner, it is time to consider what the future may hold for the 2007-2008 television season. What follows is a list of the top five shows I think deserve to come back next season. Some of these shows are on the fence, some are likely safe, and at least one is all but dead. But, they are five solid shows, and here's why each should return next season.

5. 1 vs 100, NBC: Yes, the list starts off with a game show. But an addicting one. As Marc Berman, ratings guru over at Mediaweek, continually pointed out, the show picked up quality ratings on Friday nights (a tough night for any show to get great ratings) and it is much improved from its debut. Sure, its questions are a bit cheesy, but Bob Saget is a really good host, and I love the concept.

4. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, NBC: Sure, the show has been very disappointing. It has Aaron Sorkin, genius behind A Few Good Men, The American President, Sports Night, and of course, The West Wing. It had the best actor from The West Wing (Brad Whitford), the best actor from Friends (Matthew Perry) and a tremendous overall cast. It never really worked though. And the ratings are anemic. Yet, even though there is practically no chance it returns next season, I think ti should. There is too much talent there, both from an acting and writing perspective, for the show to stay bad for very long.

I'll have a full post on just why Studio 60 failed after NBC officially cancels it (because I do have my theories) but hopefully we can put that off at least another season. Because I really do think that if Aaron Sorkin gets a second chance, he won't let the pitch go by.

3.) Jericho, CBS: I've had a lot of mixed feelings on Jericho. When I watched the pilot this summer, before the television season had started, I didn't like it. Especially compared to the great opening outings from ABC's The Nine (was wrong on that one) and the aforementioned Studio 60 (ditto) which I thought were destined to be hits. The idea was an interesting one. How a small town would function in the shadow of a nuclear attack on U.S. soil, detached from all outside contact with the world (and, as the show quickly added, without electricity). I didn't like the pilot because it was just so depressing. Depressing subject matter. Depressing pilot episode. But, I gave it a shot at the start of the season, and I was hooked. The show was well acted, the stories were well told, and the characters were compelling. Especially the character of Robert Hawkins, played by Lennie James. You just wanted to know what he was up to, whether he worked for the government trying to stop the bombs from going off, or whether he was one of the attack's masterminds. Last week's episode seemed to answer that question (he was working for the government after all, or, at least he thinks he was) and how the season has unfolded has been great television. Interestingly, the ratings tell a different story. While at the start of the year, Jericho was one of the highest rated new fall shows, it has subsequently dropped off the map, perhaps proving my initial inclinations of the show's dark nature. Even with the ratings slide, though, the show should come back for a second go-around, and hopefully, in so doing, we'll learn a bit more about what has been going on in the outside world, outside the confines of Jericho, Kansas.

2. How I Met Your Mother, CBS: I'm not ashamed to admit I like the show fans call HIMYM. And, coincidentally (or not), it's the second time Bob Saget makes the list (he's the narrator on the show). HIMYM is practically the only comedy I watch (aside, of course, from Seinfield repeats) but that's probably more a function of the sad state of television comedies than anything. And that slowdown in great comedies is exactly why HIMYM needs to stick around. It's wickedly smart, Niel Patrick Harris has mastered the art of being obnoxious without being annoying and while being funny (a rare accomplishment), and how can you not be a big fan of Cobie Smulders, who plays Robin?

Plus, we haven't met Ted's future wife yet, so to cancel the show, without explaining, well, "How I Met Your Mother" just wouldn't be right. And while it may not get the ratings of other comedies, like the incredibly overrated Rules of Engagement (why again do people think David Spade is funny?) it's funnier, and that should count for something.

1. Friday Night Lights, NBC: And last but certainly not least is Friday Night Lights. Just a great show. And according to Kristen at E-Online, a second season looks very good right now for Friday Night Lights.
"Absolutely," coach Kyle Chandler said, when asked about the prospects of a second season. "I have no doubt."

The cast has good reason for positive thinking. They'd just received word that NBC ordered six more scripts of Friday Night Lights for next season. And while that's not a full, 22-episode season yet, it's obviously a step in the right direction. "The script order is a show of goodwill from the studio saying that they are still really interested in the show, and they want to see what the breaking stories look like," Scott explained. "And hopefully, they bring us back. We wanna be around for a very long time."

And I'll be honest, while I really liked the first few episodes of the season, and quickly became a big Minka Kelly fan, and have been a Kyle Chandler fan since his Early Edition show on CBS some years back, I have not watched regularly this season. I want to make up for that next year when the show is renewed, and hopefully catch up this summer if and when the show is released on DVD. The book was phenomenal, the movie was great, ad the TV show, from what I've seen, and from what everyone else who has seen the show says, is just as good. And I want a chance next year to make up for my mistake in not watching as regularly as I should this season, and I feel like I am not the only TV viewer to feel that way.

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