As a very meager attempt to atone for how remiss I've been at posting these past few months, I just wanted to post an abbreviated review of this past season of TV shows that I've been watching. I haven't been able to follow all of them as religiously as I usually try to, but it's been an interesting post-strike stretch of episodes, that's for sure.
Gossip Girl (The CW)
Sometime between telling my then-uninitiated roommate that gossip girl "isn't a character, it's an entity," and haranguing Josh Schwartz on the picket lines about Rufus' backstory, Gossip Girl became one of my favorite TV shows of all time. Sadly, The CW stopped making the episodes available online, as it was more popular as digital media than its Nielsen ratings would indicate. So I've missed about three installments of the first season, which I lament more than you can know. However, Serena's juicy backstory reveal (I CALLED IT ALL ALONG!)*, the entanglement between Lily and Rufus, and for the love of god Blair and Chuck, all of these elements have come together in a show that is actually titillating and still makes me laugh. When a friend recently asked a carload of GG-obsessed girls what the big deal was, I think we held court talking about it for about 45 minutes. Choicest dialogue (paraphrasing):
(Serena is embarassed to tell her friends about her secret shame)
Nate: We've all done things we're ashamed of, Serena. I had sex with you!
Blair: (indicating Chuck) I had sex with him in the back of a limo. Twice!
Chuck: (pause) I'm Chuck Bass.
30 Rock (NBC)
This second season of Tina Fey's pet project managed to be even funnier and more ridiculous than the first, and has really become one of the smartest shows on the networks. In one recent episode alone, they managed to reference both the uncanny valley and the Mozart-Salieri conflict. The season finale ended on a couple of cliffhangers, which is a useful tool for a sitcom, as proven by The Office, but one of them was about Liz Lemon planning to have a baby, by hook or by crook. I've put the brakes on my eyes rolling, but just until proven wrong about season three having "buy Baby Mama on DVD Tuesday" tie-ins every five minutes.
The Office (NBC)
Bluntly put: while remaining one of the funniest shows on American television, the fourth season signalled a decline in quality that is troubling for fans. Jim and Pam seem cemented in their relationship, which moves their romance from the A storyline, but I could see the show breaking them up at some point, just to drag things out and elicit groans from everybody. Michael and Jan had reached a peak of awkwardness - so we thought - until the season finale shocker. There have been some unusual changes in Michael's character, whereby he seems to swing from lovable buffoon Michael Scott to harmful idiot David Brent tendencies, and I don't think that makes it easy for the audience to side with him. (Did the show jump the shark when Michael drove his car into a lake?) Ryan as a cokehead with no business ethics is no surprise, but seems like more of a gag than a character arc to tug at our heartstrings. The Dwight-Angela-Andy triangle, then, seems to be the most compelling storyline, but without a little more insight into Angela's state of mind, I don't know where to stand on that. If showrunner Greg Daniels is devoting time to both The Office and its unnamed spinoff next season, then I forsee bad things happening to the show. I stopped watching Alias when J.J. started working on LOST (though, thank god, because LOST is so much better!)**, I stopped watching Grey's Anatomy when Shonda started Private Practice (also when Izzie and George got ridiculous), and I hope I won't have to do the same for The Office.
Other shows, like Grey's Anatomy and America's Next Top Model, I have basically stopped watching. I've checked in on ANTM from time to time, and was very happy to see this season's winner be a plus sized model, but Tyra is so obnoxious that I can barely stand the clips of her they show on E!'s The Soup. I do watch Ugly Betty and LOST, but the latter's season finale hasn't aired yet so I'm reserving a post to discuss it then, and I'm in the midst of catching up with the last few episodes of Betty online before I do the same.
* (SPOILER) Really, anything too dark for her to tell Blair about in the first place had to be murder. But the show would never want our heroine to be so unrelatable, so I knew it would be either someone-was-going-to-be-sexually-assaulted OR Serena-was-a-party-to-an-accidental-drug-overdose. Imagine my surprise when it was both! (END SPOILER)
** To be fair, I started watching LOST on DVD two years ago, and only started watching Alias on DVD two months ago. But when I got to the season 4 Alias DVDs, which is the point in the show which aired concurrently with season 1 of LOST, I stopped caring about Sydney Bristow and stopped watching.