Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Opinion Five-Spot, WE 4/10/11 - Five Friday Night Delights


Fridays have been getting a bit of a bad rap lately; when USA Network abandoned original programming on Friday night due to depressed viewing levels and Syfy brought in pro rasslin', I had pretty much given up hope that it might ever become one of the truly elite nights of TV again. I was pretty sure the last time I'd ever call it my favorite TV night of the week would be summer 2008, when Sci-Fi was airing Doctor Who and then USA had their great Monk/Psych block.

I would never have guessed that it'd take less than three years for Fridays to get back on top. It certainly doesn't play out that way in the ratings, but this evening has quietly assembled a high-quality collection of programming that all deserves to do better.

Shark Tank - I don't watch a lot of unscripted TV, but this is one show that's must-see for me. It's neither a trainwreck nor a blatant tug at the heartstrings. In fact, sometimes it might seem to be setting up a tug at the heartstrings and then it turns around and rips it out. Such is life in the world of business sometimes. The "trainwreck" aspect has always sorta been there too, but this season seems to have toned that down in favor of what really made this show pop: the negotiations between the sharks and the promising businesses and especially the in-fighting among the sharks.

Chaos - I'm not sure there's ever been a time since I bought my TiVo that I've had a DVR conflict on Friday. But it's happening at 8:00 now, so Chaos on CBS will unfortunately get squeezed out. I'm not enough of a fan to seek it out online, but as mentioned last week, I think this is a neat little show. It's a bit cheesy, but I typically prefer that over the dark way many CBS shows go. It's unfortunate CBS seemed to be under the impression it had no shot, as it might have made a decent pairing with the NCIS shows. If you like those or stuff like Leverage on TNT, might be worth a shot.

Friday Night Lights - For DirecTV subscribers (and torrent downloaders), this upcoming season of FNL aired months ago. Even the DVD buyers will have gotten a chance to see season 5 before the NBC premiere. Because of all that (along with the fact that the show is a ratings dud to begin with), don't expect good numbers for the NBC airings. But I'll be there watching for the first time. The move off of NBC for first-run was actually a great development for the show creatively. The 13-episode seasons have worked much better than the second 22-ep one.

Fringe - I know I'm not alone in thinking that it's kind of a down period for broadcast TV drama these days. I'm watching several, but it takes less than one hand to count those I really enjoy. Counting Friday Night Lights and Fringe, I think I could safely say two out of the three are on Fridays now. (The third being Parenthood.) Fringe is a show with two distinct "gears"; it can be either a decent standalone show or an awesome serialized show. The standalone "gear" has become a bit underwhelming as we've learned how awesome the other one is, but it's still always more than watchable.

Blue Bloods - When it premiered, Blue Bloods had similar promise that it might be a two-"gear" show, offering some nuggets about some corrupt secret society in the NYPD or something. That "gear" has been almost completely abandoned (so much so that I wonder why they still bother mentioning at all) in favor of a fairly stock cop show. But it's a pretty decent cop show with a sprinkling of family drama. It reminds me more of the much-missed Law & Order mothership than anything else on TV these days, and it's always nice having one good, solid procedural on my viewing schedule.

More Five-Spots in the Index.

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