Some thoughts on teevee shows:
:: It's taken me a while to finally get hold of the show -- it seems to have been eternally scheduled against something I watch on another channel -- but I am now a certified huge fan of The Big Bang Theory. I love this show. It walks a pretty fine line, occasionally tempting us to laugh at its socially awkward characters, but for the most part, Big Bang Theory genuinely likes its leads and treats them with respect. Even Sheldon Cooper.
:: I have to admit that I'm enjoying Mike & Molly. The first few episodes really put the pedal to the medal on the fat jokes, but it seems as if the writers have dialed that back a bit and instead focused on the burgeoning relationship between two likeable characters and the big bunch of quirky folks surrounding them. When done well, this is a pretty good formula for sitcom success. I do wish that the writers would push the humor a bit more toward edginess. I like that the show's tone is generally warm, but a little bite now and then would be welcome. (And as SamuraiFrog points out, Melissa McCarthy is really a beautiful woman.)
:: This season of Hell's Kitchen was really disappointing. It just seemed totally lackluster, the whole way through. I know that they purposely choose lunatic contestants to make the show more fun, but they went way too far this time, and the whole feeling, almost all the way to the end, was that the show would be won by attrition more than by skill. That's pretty much what happened. Nona really did do well in the last few episodes, but even she was there, getting kicked out along the way. Russell turned out to be an angry, arrogant jerk, rather like Benjamin from the previous season but with the anger turned way up. I hope the next season is better, though. This year tried for entertaining craziness, but it ended up just seeming to plod along.
:: The Amazing Race was solid. Not great, but never bad. Just solid. Two all-female teams went into the finale (three teams make the finale each season), and one of those teams won it. It wasn't the team I was rooting for, but this was one of those seasons when I didn't dislike any of the teams that were racing for the million dollar prize at the end. As usual, it was just fun watching the various challenges and all of the locations. I was glad to see that the producers put more of a clamp down on things like paying locals to drive you to where you need to go; a few seasons ago, there was a team I hated -- two blondes named Dustin and Kandace -- who would land in some country, bat their eyes at some local guy, and get driven right where they needed to be. The next season apparently brings back teams that were popular in their first Races but who weren't winners. I see that Margie and Luke -- the mother and her deaf son -- who were faves of mine a few seasons back are along for the ride. Bring it on!
:: Survivor wasn't as much fun as a few previous seasons, but it ended up pretty good toward the end. Since the finale aired just last night, I'll white this part of my comment out, if any of you are planning to watch it on DVR.
Once again I was stunned, during the finale, to see contestants saying that the way one contestant reached the final -- by staying under the radar, never letting himself under the axe, and winning challenges at strategic points -- isn't a strategy. During the last "argument session" in front of the jury, there were two guys, Chase and Sash, who had done the "weasel and lie and conspire with alliances" method of reaching the finale, while the other guy, a kid everyone dubbed "Fabio" in the first episode, did the "play nice" thing. And at one point, Chase and Sash both argued that their way of playing Survivor is the real way to play Survivor. This is, of course, total nonsense (as I argued here). Getting to the finale and being able to say "I didn't screw any of you, but these guys did!" is huge, and enough people have won it by now playing precisely this way to prove the point. Because Fabio won, and one of the two guys, Sash, didn't even get a single vote in the finale.
OK, that's all for Survivor. (Oh wait, it's not. Two contestants actually quit the game in the same episode toward the end. They got ridiculed for being quitters, but they were still allowed to sit on the jury and vote for the winners! That's absurd. If you quit, you should be out. All the way. The producers should bring back the contestant or two voted out right before jury selection began, and put them on the jury. (And as I'm writing this during the live reunion show, Jeff Probst has just announced that they've changed the rules for the future for just this reason.)
:: I'm really enjoying House this year. The writers are doing a great job with the relationship between House and Cuddy; they're not making it easy on them and keeping the characters consistent. The show is still very well done, week-in and week out.
:: CSI: Miami is glorious, glorious trash. It's just so goofy. I can't hate a show that ends an episode like this.
:: Castle still rules. It just does. It's simply the most competent show on teevee right now. And only Castle can end an episode like this!
:: Let's see, what else? The Office is becoming a testament to "Meh". It's just lifeless and dull. None of the antics make sense anymore. The show is still funny on occasion, but a lot of the time it's just painful. Undercover Boss is entertaining. We still like The Mentalist, although the Red John thing is really starting to wear out its welcome.
OK, that's about it. More teevee notes to come as shows return to new episodes!