Let’s face it. As much as I love TV, some season premieres can be a little lackluster after waiting through the hiatus for our favorite shows to return. And then, on the other side of that, there are those premieres that blow us out of the water because they are much, much more than we could have expected.
So far this year, we have a few strong starts and a few that were less than what I had hoped for.
Strongest Premiere: (Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tie!)
Dollhouse. Hands down. Maybe it was the euphoria coming off of watching the DVD-only “Epitaph One” or maybe the show really has just hit its stride after the kind of really weak first half of Season One, but something really caused Dollhouse to come out of the gate running. If you are a fan of Joss Whedon (or smart TV in general) and you’re not watching this show, you’re doing yourself a disservice. More people need to watch this show to keep it on the air, so do your part.
Stargate Universe. Just wow. Even with an ensemble cast I felt could use some time to gel and a premise I’ve seen many other places, I was sucked in from the moment the episode began. Bringing together the best ideas from many of my favorite SF franchises, and tying them together in a world I’ve recently become nigh-obsessed with, Stargate Universe blew me away. Even if you’re not a Stargate fan, do yourself a favor and dial-in to SGU on Friday nights. The only bad part about finally being able to watch a Stargate show from the beginning: it airs to compete with Dollhouse! Eww.
Odd nugget of trivia about both Stargate Universe and Dollhouse: Even though they’re probably two of the best shows airing this season, they are both in what is generally known as the Friday Night Death Slot, where networks put shows to die.
FlashForward. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I suppose the folks over at LOST should be blushing about now. While the second episode was significantly stronger, the premiere was an hour of “I wish I were LOST” parallels. There was a kangaroo in the city instead of a polar bear in the jungle. A guy’s eye opens and pans to mass destruction, only it’s in a city instead of a jungle/beach (he even has a fight with an Asian man he can’t understand shortly afterward). Even the show’s structure of “flashing” has been taking directly from LOST. I figure it was inevitable given LOST’s popularity, but FlashForward only has me hooked to see if it gets any better, not because I actually care or want to watch. If I fall behind…meh.
And Those that Fall Somewhere in the Middle:
Community. I love Joel McHale. He’s a funny man. I watch him weekly on The Soup on E!, so when I heard he was getting his own sitcom, I went and saved the slot then and there on my DVR. Okay, so maybe I waited until my DVR would let me see Community on the guide before I did it, but it’s saved nonetheless. The premiere was funny; it really was. It wasn’t anything special (especially since it was based entirely around paralleling The Breakfast Club and I loathe John Hughes’ movies), but I could tell the characters would grow on me and make me laugh. I’m also biased that it’s about a college campus, and I think anything based on things I know about are great.
How I Met Your Mother. It’s surprising that this is the first time I’ve ever written about HIMYM on this blog because it might be my second favorite show of all time (the first being the much lauded LOST). I was wary of the beginning of Season Five because I felt that Season Four had lost a lot of steam compared to the hilarious first three, but when the premiere aired, my fears were assuaged, and I chucked for 22 minutes. I will always have a place in my heart for How I Met Your Mother because it was one of the first things my fiancée and I bonded over. We’d sit for hours watching the S1-3 DVDs, so now that we’re getting married this month, I’m glad we’ll be able to settle in on Monday nights after work and see new episodes as they air. Season Four is also out on DVD now, and I have to pick it up. I wonder if watching it serially will be any better than episodically through the weeks. Either way, Season Five has started off as strongly as I had hoped.
Fringe. While I was originally disappointed in the first episode of Fringe’s second season, I look back now and don’t have nearly the problems with it I did when it aired. Yeah, some things still don’t sit well with me (Olivia’s amnesia—I hate amnesia as a plot device—and the shutting down of the division), but I appreciate now how they’re all weaving a more cohesive narrative and setting things up I never thought about (thanks to the always insightful comments from “jane” on the linked post, especially). I still feel a little let down because I feel that the production team lost a lot of the steam it had built up at the end of last season, but given that I felt the exact same way about the beginning of S1, I have no doubt that the further we get into S2, the more hooked I’ll be. Looking back, I think the premiere is better than I gave it credit for, but it’s still nowhere near as strong as Dollhouse.
All in all, I’m happy with this season’s television offerings. Only a couple of shows are really in the “must watch” category where I tune in when they actually air, but I use my DVR and Hulu whenever I get the time. I’ve even had to weed some of the weak shows from last season off because I couldn’t spend the time with subpar shows anymore (CSI, I’m looking at you!).