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Sunday, December 8

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Airbags

Television season finales for 2007 have aired, series have either been renewed or cancelled, and the networks unveiled their new schedules and shows earlier this month. As we head into the drought of scripted summer shows (no worries if you like reality TV; there's plenty of that airing in June, July and August) I thought I would share my opinions — which don't exactly dovetail with the majority of commentary I've read — of particular episodes and executive decisions. I'm not trying to be contrary; it merely turned out that way. Warning: These tirades include spoilers.

1. Apolo Anton Ohno Hough and Julianne deserved to win this installment of Dancing with the Stars.
Yes, Joey Fatone is a star performer, and the audience in the studio adored his showmanship. My personal favorite of the bunch was Laila Ali. How could I not cheer for a tall, strong, opinionated woman who defied expectations about being a "lady boxer" to exemplify grace and elegance on the dance floor? Plus, she had a wicked sense of humor and never complained about the pain; weeks of rigorous activity exacerbated her already bad knee problems. But she is not a wee woman, able to be lifted and thrown about. And Joey, no doubt because of his 'N Sync background, was one of the best dancers from the beginning. What most judges want to see from contestants in these competitions is marked progression. (Especially if one's name is Tyra Banks.) Apolo started strong but also managed to improve almost every week, in spite of sometimes questionable choreography.

2. The final episode of Heroes? Not that good.
I enjoyed this freshman series' take on ordinary people with superhuman powers. However, as the first chapter wound to a close, I found myself a bit bored with it all. I wasn't confused by the overlapping stories and generous plot; it just didn't feel quite genuine enough to resonate with me. Perhaps it was cast bloat: there are a lot of characters, and it's nearly impossible to dedicate enough screen time to fully flesh out each one. And as much as I enjoy Hiro — and Masi Oka's portrayal — I think Heroes leaned a bit too heavily on him and his journey. It's always awesome to see Richard Roundtree, but all his blather about "heart" and love took time away from what was supposed to be an epic battle between Peter and Sylar. Even with other heroes there, it was both weak and anticlimactic. I wasn't expecting a nuclear blast, hardeehar, but I expected something. There was also too much Baby Superman going on: D.L. is shot, then unconscious, then able to walk. Matt takes four bullets to the chest and torso simultaneously at point blank range yet survives long enough to be placed in an ambulance. The only moment I enjoyed was Nathan's apparent sacrifice — c'mon! no way can they kill the Petrellis! — even though I really, really wanted Nathan to be the great dark character of the show. If only he were the bogeyman that Molly mentioned. That would work for me.

3. The CW was completely justified in its decision to cancel Veronica Mars.
And not just because my hate for woobies is known far and wide. Yes, The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll was awful television. However, it garnered higher ratings than VM during its eight-week run. In addition, Season 3 of VM wasn't very good. It wasn't the move to college but rather the move away from the season-long murder mystery arc that made Season 1 so effective. (I didn't care much for Season 2 as a whole, what with showrunner Rob Thomas paying too much attention to fan suggestions.) Yes, I know Thomas was told by the brass to break up the third season into two smaller mysteries with five stand-alone episodes at the end. Although VM may be a critical darling with a dedicated-and-vocal fanbase, it never garnered the necessary numbers. It would be nice to have "quality" over quantity, but the CW is a young, struggling network made up of two former netlets, and its highest rated series continues to be American's Next Top Model. They added several new reality series that sound awful, of course, but they're more likely to pull in more viewers than Veronica and crew.

4. Charlie's death on Lost? Two years too late.
I enjoyed the first season of this show until the scene of Charlie hanging "dead" in a tree. Of course he survived, thanks to super amazing doctor Jack (with whom I also have major issues, but let's concentrate on the Hobbit for now). The writers had promised a "shocking" death, and killed off Boone instead, which was probably the least surprising move they could have made. Had they the bones to kill off Charlie that early, I would have cheered his demise and the risk taken. More baffling to me is how Charlie is a fan favorite, as well as seen by his creators as the iconic everyman — he who nobly sacrificed his life for his friend Desmond as well as the rest of the survivors. I saw him as a whiny, washed-up one-hit wonder. His redemption arc was stupid and boring, and his "comedic" moments embarrassed me. However, if Charlie were really that smart, he would have jumped out of the signal room and closed the door from the outside. Idiot.

5. NBC placing "a href="http://gapersblock.com/airbags/archives/why_you_should_watch_friday_night_lights/">Friday Night Lights on Friday nights next season was a good move.
Friday nights are usually death slots for TV shows, but by moving this critically-acclaimed-yet-low-rated drama out of the line of fire of reality powerhouses American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, NBC gives FNL a chance to grow. The network isn't setting the bar too high, and if the ratings stay steady or go up, it can only be seen as positive. It would be nice to have FNL air during the week, but it would be tragic for this show not to air at all. The series won the Peabody Award, for crying out loud. Reruns of the entire series begin tonight at 8pm, or you can watch all of the episodes here. Oh, and the Season 1 DVDs will be released this summer. Watch it.

6. Grey's Anatomy spawn Private Practice is much, much worse than the original.
Viewers apparently love whiny, selfish doctors in improbable or out-of-character relationships; also, using "Mc" as a prefix. Even worse is its spin-off, Private Practice, starring Kate Walsh as Dr. Addison Montgomery. I gave this one a shot for three reasons:
A. Tim Daly.
B. Addison is the only Grey's regulars who I don't want to poke with a sharpened stick.
C. Tim Daly.

The cast is full of talented people — Amy Brenneman, Taye Diggs, Merrin Dungey — who have proven themselves on other series. But Private Practice's scenarios are trite and completely unprofessional for any office, let alone a fertility clinic. And you'd think after ABC cancelled Daly's brilliant series Eyes (which also featured Ugly Betty's Eric Mabius in such a loathsome role that it took me several weeks watching him as Daniel Meade to erase that performance) as well as The Nine that they could find something good for Daly to do. Instead, we get the most ingratiating aspects of Grey's combined with stupid dialogue and even stupider set-ups. Private Practice can be summed up in two words: talking elevator. Paging Addy McBeal...

7. Brothers & Sisters? Awful.
Greg Berlanti took over the reins of this troubled show from Marti Noxon, who went on to write for Grey's. Hmmm... you don't think... Yes, B&S can be commended for presenting a gay character that is neither a sexless prig nor a shining, stereotypical paragon of all that is homo. But it can't be excused for the loathsome Walkers, whose melodramatic histrionics often end with slapstick scenarios that have included everyone showing up at the same "remote" cabin for the weekend, a food fight between women far past 50, and the entire family jumping in a pool. Really, is this how adults behave? B&S also takes the most grating aspects of Berlanti's previous series, Everwood — overly trite music, nonsensical arguments, obvious plot points — and amps them past 11. At least none of the male leads have truly awful hair. Yet.

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About the Author(s)

As a child, Dee Stiffler was only allowed to watch one hour of television a day. She usually chose Sesame Street. Today, she overcompensates by knowing far too much about the WB's lineup as well as pop culture in general. Email her at pop@gapersblock.com.

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