At Last: Good Television!

The last good television show I watched was Lost. Yes, yes the last season wasn’t ideal, I know, but even with that caveat, the last season of Lost is better than the first season of pretty much any other show to come out since then. There have been things that are watchable (Defiance,

Yes, this guy is goddamned awesome. Have they given him ALL THE AWARDS yet? Why the hell not?

Yes, this guy is goddamned awesome. Have they given him ALL THE AWARDS yet? Why the hell not?

for instance, along with a laundry list of crime procedurals), but nothing that I saw and actually felt motivated to see more of. I would point out that I am aware Mad Men is supposed to be awesome and lots of people love The Walking Dead, but given my distaste for zombies and soap opera melodrama, the prospect of watching either of those shows sounds a lot like going to the dentist to me: good for me, and probably not that painful after all, but hardly something I’m rushing out the door to experience.

Oh, right, and there’s Game of Thrones, but seeing how I read all the books only to become disenchanted with the story at the end, the only reason I’m watching is to see Peter Dinklage tear up the screen. I’ve got the first two seasons on DVD, and I haven’t worked up the motivation to keep watching through season two. I mean, I already know everything that happens.

This brings me to my delightful discovery of the past week: Not one, but two shows whose pilots looked sufficiently interesting and fun that I am probably going to watch them both! Yes! Crazy, right?

Under The Dome

This is just a fantastic 'WTF' moment.

This is just a fantastic ‘WTF’ moment.

This is based off a Stephen King novel. I would imagine if you read it, that might suck some of the fun out of the series (much as happened to me and Game of Thrones), but beyond that, this show looks pretty awesome. It isn’t just that there’s a magical force field that’s cut off the town, it’s the completeness with which this idea has been imagined. King has thought of all the implications, here, and it shows. I know it’s been thought through because right at the end of the first episode (spoilers, sort of), I knew Duke shouldn’t touch the Dome, I yelled it at the screen, and I was right. Why? Because the Dome is operating under consistent principles and, therefore, can be anticipated. It also means there’s a lot more to discover, too. Throw in the devilish array of quintessential King small-town weirdo characters, and there is enormous plot potential running around here. So much has been set up and, goddammit, I want to see what happens. That hasn’t happened to me for the longest time.

Siberia

This one snuck up on me. It just kinda came on the television just before bed, and it is just so gloriously new and interesting that I can’t help but be sucked in. If you loved Lost and its weird, mystery vibe, there is no reason you shouldn’t love this show, too. That, though, is basically similar to a lot of attempted shows since Lost, and the majority of them have fallen utterly flat. What gives Siberia the edge? Well, it’s filmed like a reality show. It’s a show about a reality show gone horribly wrong; it’s the Blair Witch Project on steroids with actually good actors and a better special effects budget. Besides, if you loathe reality show contestants the way I do, why wouldn’t you want to watch some of those self-absorbed assholes get devoured by monsters in Siberia? Throw in a series of creepy mysteries on top of it, and I’m sold! I’m in! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait until the next episode!

It’s such a relief to say this, since I was worried I was becoming jaded and cynical towards the world of television science fiction. I’ve either been indifferent or hated almost all of it for years, and now, all at once, I’ve got two shows I am seriously interested in watching. So, kudos, tv executives, for finally stimulating that bug in me. Now, off I go to On Demand…

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About aahabershaw

Writer, teacher, gaming enthusiast, and storyteller. I write stories, novels, and occasional rants.

Posted on July 3, 2013, in Critiques, Theories, and Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. The only thing I don’t like about the summertime is how there aren’t a lot of television shows on. Most of them are taking breaks (just like I should)! Under the Dome is becoming one of my favourite series now, even though it’s only just begun.

  2. I’m one to roll my eyes at anything crime/cop related, but Breaking Bad is phenomenal. If I had to, I’d even place it ahead of GoT. I think I’ll check out Under the Dome after reading this.

  3. So, we just watched the first two episodes of Under the Dome last night, and I’m a little surprised at your assessment. The idea is interesting and I hear in the book King goes into quite a lot of detail and thought about the effects this situation would have on people…but the writing, directing, and acting on the show are terrible! This show hasn’t yet had a cliche it couldn’t wait to get its hands on apart from a love triangle, and I’m sure one of those is no doubt coming. Maybe as it gets further from the initial ‘this insane thing happened’ and more into the effect the situation has on people it’ll get better, but right now I’d give a ‘ehh’ at best. They benefit from the fact that it’s summer and very little else is on.

    • I wouldn’t say the acting is bad. Certainly as good as anything else on network television, at any rate. As for the clichés, it’s playing a lot with stock characters, sure. It’s Stephen King–he almost exclusively works in stock characters, but then twists them. The set up, to me, is building in a lot of dramatic potential that most series lack. Given that virtually *all* of television is one giant cliché, anyway (a spare few shows excepted), the fact that they’re sticking all the television clichés under a dome isn’t all that upsetting to me. Really no different than the first two episodes of Lost, to be honest.

      Also, part of my point here is that there *isn’t* anything else on television that interests me at all, no matter what the season. Like, seriously–you name it, and I’m not really interested.

      • If you think there’s no better acting on network TV right now, you’re definitely missing a lot of shows. Which, granted, you pretty much said in your post. For one example, and I know it’s a show that isn’t up your alley, but I’ve seen vastly better acting on The Vampire Diaries. And Supernatural, for that matter, which actually you might enjoy, and I can loan you the DVDs if you’d like to check it out.

        The first two episodes of Lost had a lot more to offer than this show. I’m kind of curious to see if it gets better–or if not, to keep poking fun at it–so for now, I may keep watching.

      • I’ve watched a fair amount of Supernatural, actually, and I’m going to strongly disagree with you on the quality of the acting therein. Exactly on par with Under the Dome, in my opinion, just with more seasons under it’s belt allowing the actors a bit more to play with. That show inhabits my ‘watchable, but not terribly interesting’ pile.

        Largely at issue here is the fact that watching television shows requires an enormous time investment that I am very, very rarely interested in investing, particularly now. The concept needs to really grab me to the point where I am actively curious where the show is taking me. Under the Dome and Siberia fit the bill, in that they are different enough from the formula from a lot of other shows that I do not, as of now, have a good idea of what this show is going to be or do. This is a really, really rare occurrence and, as they are currently executing things reasonably well, I am going to keep watching. Numerous are the television programs I’ve watched a couple episodes of and said ‘yeah, that was okay, but I’m not going to spend much time worrying about what happens.’ For the most part, I kinda already know.

        Under the Dome has exhibited the willingness to kill apparently main characters, has realistically envisioned its concept, has enough characters in enough combinations that some interesting things could come out of it, and I do not have any current idea what the arc of the program is likely to be. Are the characters somewhat stock? Sure, but, again, I’d say most of television traffics in the exact same stock. Is the acting bad? Well, no. Nobody’s winning an Emmy, but there is really not much wrong with the acting. A couple hammy lines, sure, but whatever. If concept could keep people watching the atrocious acting/writing in Heroes and Babylon 5, I can’t see what they have to complain about here.

      • I didn’t find Duke’s death at all surprising–honestly, he fell into the ‘gonna die soon’ category for me as soon as he was introduced. The ‘twists’ have yet to be surprising, and the same goes for the acting, IMO. It’s not just the hammy lines, the deliveries are all pretty flat (the lady cop especially). It could all get better, sure, but I’ve yet to be impressed by anything.

        But as they say, ‘your mileage may vary’. 🙂

        Heh, and for what it’s worth, I mocked the acting and writing in Heroes all the time, too. 😉

  4. I’ve not yet seen it, but I’ve been hearing fantastic stuff about Orphan Black on BBC America. A clone story that apparently is really strong and cool. I’ve got it set up to record on TiVo, and looking forward to taking a look.

    I’d also give a big thumbs up to The Americans on FX. Two Russian spies are married and living in the US pretending to be citizens and raising a family, all while spying for the Soviet Union. Half spy story during the height of the Cold War (takes place in ’81), and have marital drama of two people trying to raise a family. Was really compelling.

  1. Pingback: The Cost of Bad Dialogue | Auston Habershaw

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