Fall TV 2009 – week 2

After only one week, my first Tivo casualty of the new season is The Vampire Diaries. I just couldn’t keep caring about the teenage melodrama if they didn’t give me more interesting supernatural stuff. The vampire storyline was way too cliche.

Fringe

It was probably too much to ask to have a season premiere that answered all questions raised by last season’s amazing finale, but couldn’t we have had any? When Anna Torv’s Agent Olivia Dunham returned to this universe from the alternate one that we’d left her in at the end of last season, she flew through a stationary car windshield no less! The rest of the episode was spent  letting her recover and getting new agent Jessup (not to mention new fans/viewers) up to speed. More and more, Fringe is showing its Lost pedigree. Not only did last season build up a critical mass of head-scratching questions, similar to Lost’s season two (when the mystique of the hatch was thrown away as they started crawling around inside it), in this season of Fringe, the idea of two realities seems old hat. There’s two of everything? What else is new? Well there’s also a new form-stealing enemy (so maybe there’s three of everything, eh?) who is more-than-mildly reminiscent of X-Files’s alien hunter. I’m glad that they don’t seem to be letting up on the weirdness. (Just when you thought it was safe to eat in front of the TV again.)

The Beautiful Life: TBL

I don’t understand the “TBL” part of the show’s name, but it does kind of fit with the type of posturing this show seems to be about. The series tells the tales (still not sure who the focal character is) of pretty young things trying to make their way in the cutthroat world of modelling in NYC. I was actually more interested in this show than I expected. The two leads are not bad: the fresh-faced farm boy (who I assume is a stand-in for executive producer Ashton Kutcher’s own experiences as a model) Chris Andrews, and golden-hearted rising star Raina Marinelli (both played by unknown actors). In the background there are also Mischa Barton (remember her from the O.C.) as a star model slipping over the hill, Elle MacPherson (lovely as always) as a powerful agent, and Corbin Bleu (from High School Musical) as a naive wannabe forced to compromise his morals.

Community

I was prepared to write off Community (an ensemble sitcom about a community-college study group) as a silly collection of broad caricatures, but instead, it’s a fairly well-written comedy with a real indie-film feel. Danny Pudi is an immediate standout as Abed, leading man Jeff’s unwanted sidekick. A scene that had me in stitches was when some of the group are mouthing words to each other behind Jeff’s back and Abed starts to freak out, thinking that he’s lost his hearing. We’ll see, but this may be my surprise fave of the season.

The Office

I’m not sure we’ll ever know how the Scranton branch did in the volleyball finals from last season, but they took no time addressing the topic of Pam’s pregnancy. I’m glad that they got back down to earth by couching the comedy in normal office issues (in this case, gossip). It bodes well for a grounded but still-funny upcoming season. My only question now is when they’re going to start the layoffs. In this kind of economy, Dunder Mifflin might have the most bloated staff around — especially considering none of them do any work!

Next week is mega-premiere week, featuring the return of How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Heroes, Castle, Smallville, Medium, and Dollhouse to my Tivo, and the probationary additions of new series Modern Family, Cougar Town, and Eastwick. It’s going to be crazy!

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