The Tivo Has Spoken – Alvin’s 2009 TV Scorecard

Now that the TV season is over, what did I think of all the series I watched this year? A lot of times it comes down to what I watched first (Medium, Supernatural, Lost, Privileged, Pushing Daisies) and last (Smallville, Cupid) on my Tivo.

We hardly knew ye… (New shows cancelled.)

Privileged – Definitely one of the saddest cancellations of the season. To my amazement, I kept watching this show first on my Tivo before it even finished recording. I had no idea that the story of a bunch of rich girls would be so appealing to me (and not because of any Paris Hilton-esque antics, either). 4 out of 5

Kings – Remaining episodes to be burned off in June. I would have been a cult follower of this show if it had kept going. This alternate-history, allegorical take on the Saul and David story from the Bible was such a great concept and the characters were all becoming interesting. Really too bad. 4 out of 5

The Middleman – Another short-lived but so cool/fun series about secret agents fighting the bizarre. The dialogue was witty and clever, pop culture references were teeming, and so much hilarity to enjoy. When will the next comedy-sci-fi-spy show comes along? 4.5 out of 5

Cupid – An sappy and saccharin romantic-comedy TV show that is saved by some clever writing and charming performances (though it’s still too much on the sweet side for me). 3.5 out of 5

My Own Worst Enemy – Another sad cancellation. I could always use more spies on TV. Christian Slater was good as a sleeper agent in his own mind. It’s unfortunate that our accommodations weren’t better. 4 out of 5

Welcome aboard! (New shows that lived.)

Dollhouse – I went from “OK” to “love the show” in 6 short episodes. This series was high-concept (the adventures of programmable human “dolls”?) and risky (super-creator Joss Whedon has not had the best mainstream track record lately), so I am so glad that Echo and friends are returning next year. The show is inventive and fun — I need it to succeed. 4.5 out of 5

Castle – Meaningless crime-solving fun; grisly-yet-humourous comfort food. Nathan Fillion is top-notch as the seethingly charming crime novelist turned police consultant and his chemistry with Stana Katic is really starting to work. Way to successfully launch another personality-based procedural! 3.5 out of 5

Fringe – An X-Files clone that took a leap into the world of the weird and soared on the wonderful off-kilter charm of the best new character on TV: Walter Bishop — the mad scientist. Plus, even in the first season, the ongoing story arc paid off pretty well (even without answering many questions). My only hope is that next season, Agent Olivia Dunham will unclench a bit. 4 out of 5

Lie To Me – Surprising that this is the first show to come along and sprinkle the pixie dust of psychology onto the humdrum criminal procedural. I’m loving all the tips about human expressions. The show is still fresh, for now… we’ll see next year. 4 out of 5

Better Off Ted – Love this show (didn’t at first) especially for the satire of Big Corporate. I’m glad it’s coming back. As satires go, it’s the perfect companion to Big Bang Theory. 4.5 out of 5

Parks and Recreation – New show has its moments. It’s still not doing much to satirize politics, and I’m not sure we need to see another clueless leader on TV and the characters are still not that interesting, but it might pick up in season two. 3 out of 5

Legend of the Seeker – I never expect much from this show, but it delivers a weekly dose of light “sword and sorcery” fantasy (which is not that easy to come by anymore). Worthy Xena successor. 3.5 out of 5

True Blood – Another series from last summer, which helped cement my love for the vampire genre. I was put off by the “white trash” aspect at first, but it secretly developed interesting characters and an intriguing and mysterious mythology that I really enjoy. 4 out of 5

Star Wars: Clone Wars – The series was so much better than the feature movie. It’s a kids series, but the stories are well written and once you get used to the marionette style animation, it’s an excellent show. 4 out of 5

Sanctuary – I had high hopes for this sci-fi, monster show, but it’s definitely a mixed bag: some total stinker episodes. I am hoping that its next season will shake things up a bit. 3.5 out of 5

Leverage – Awesome new show. A team of thieves take on “robin hood” cases to help the downtrodden by swindling the rich and oppressive. Cool, no? I love the little undercover bits — it reminds me of the 80s version of Mission Impossible. Fun characters and lots of great plot twists (though I could use less of the emotional-baggage moments). 4.5 out of 5

Merlin – Camelot: The younger years. Another light fantasy show with a splash of camp. I hope the stories will become a bit more complex next season. 3.5 out of 5

Wolverine and the X-Men – Another animated show worth mentioning. This show does a great job of integrating multiple story arcs as well (it probably does a much better job than the recent Hugh Jackman movie). It’s great to see so many cool comic-book characters on screen, but also there’s a bit of complexity to the stories as well (Take notes Merlin!) 4 out of 5

Middle Ground (some good some bad)

How I Met Your Mother – Sadly getting a bit bored of this show. The Robin-Barney thing is blah — give us something fun and shocking a la Robin Sparkles (or how about some hints about the dang Mother!) 3.5 out of 5

Reaper – Loved the show for its blend of humour and supernatural mythology, but it is also really getting sadly tiresome. I won’t miss it next fall. 3 out of 5

Simpsons – Continues to be OK (love the new opening sequence from the Simpsons Movie). Too bad they seem to be recycling stories. 3 out of 5

Scrubs – You could feel the show coming to an end, everyone’s growing out of their roles. I do like the new interns this season — wish they’d come along earlier. The season finale was well done, but I don’t know who will be the centre of the show next year without JD. 4 out of 5

Smallville – My lowest priority show. It’s not super-bad (no pun intended), but it’s just not taking me anywhere all that interesting. 3 out of 5

The Office – I wasn’t so crazy about the Michael Scott Paper Company storyline, and Ryan has become such a total dweeb. PB & J have become an exercise in delayed gratification. I can’t believe that Dwight is actually my highlight. 3.5 out of 5

30 Rock – All I can say is that it’s become a looney rather than funny show (though there are plenty of hilariously crazy moments). Can we get back to Liz’s life? or how about back to what goes on behind-the-scenes of a sketch comedy show, eh? 3.5 out of 5

Primeval – This dinosaur show was always less than awesome. Killing lead character Prof. Cutter was ridiculous (especially after eliminating another lead character last season). Plus now let’s mess with the formula all over the place by dealing with evil politicians instead of monsters. Going downhill, anyone? 3 out of 5

Little Mosque On The Prairie – I’m surprisingly comfortable with these characters (especially side-characters Fatima and Babur). The romantic melodrama is getting a bit thick though. I’m sad that Rayann and JJ didn’t marry. 3.5 out of 5

Psych – Though not much changes on this show, James Roday is infectiously fun as psychic detective Shawn Spencer. 4 out of 5

Cream of the Crop (my favourites)

Medium – To sleep perchance to dream – That’s all Allison does, but I just do not get tired of it. I think they have gone amazingly far with the concept while still staying true to the formula. This show has not faltered, and I love it as much as I did from the start. 5 out of 5

Desperate Housewives – Psycho Dave was a lame villain, and last year’s wonderful Katherine has been de-clawed, but the 5-year time jump did give the show some needed energy. Too bad Edie’s gone though. This was only a middling season. I hope next year’s story arc will be more juicy. 4 out of 5

Chuck – Lotta fun this season, though the Buy More gang are almost becoming a separate show as Chuck ups his spy game. I don’t think they can tease the romantic tension between Sarah and Chuck for too much longer though. 4.5 out of 5

Big Bang Theory – Geeks humour continues to be a very rich vein of hilarity, but Sheldon’s inflexibility is getting a bit tired. Let’s just declare him an android already! That would explain everything. 5 out of 5

24 – Way to recover from the last horrible season by sticking to what works: strong president, bigger and bigger villains (“You think it’s over? I’m just a cog”), Jack in mortal danger, surprise traitors. 4 out of 5

Heroes – Even Superman could not have done a better job of pulling out of a deadly nosedive. I am actually eager to watch this show again. Hooray for Baby Touch ‘n Go! 4 out of 5

Lost – Wilder, weirder, and so much fun! This season of time-shifting; returning from death; speaking with the dead; smoke monster mythology; and all kinds of good stuff. I would not miss a single moment. But now we need to wait until Jan. to find out what happened to the entire timeline — aargh! 5 out of 5

Supernatural – Take note Dan Brown, this is how you do Angels and Demons! The mythology has gone in such an interesting direction. Plus there were a few good humour episodes this season as well. These demon-hunting brothers can do no wrong. I’m sad if next season is truly going to be the last. 5 out of 5

Burn Notice – It’s been a while — almost starting up again. This show is always solid spy fun. 4 out of 5

Battlestar Galactica – With the exception of a very unsatisfying finale, this series has been awesome from beginning to end. The civil war, the rediscovery of the final five, so many interesting plots… 5 out of 5

Pushing Daisies – I’m incredibly sad for the loss of this refreshing series. I loved the various characters that the main four guys meet on the way. There is nothing else like it. I miss the show already. 4.5 out of 5

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