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|Written by Brenna Clarke Gray|
|Wednesday, 31 October 2007 19:00|
Fall is here, and that means different things to different people. For students everywhere, fall is the return to the grindstone. For parents, fall is a beautiful sigh of relief tinged with feelings of melancholy. For educators, fall is the deep breath before they plunge their heads under water for another eight months.
For me, fall is when I sit down to make my new television schedule.
Because fall may be for changing leaves and new sweater vests and crisp morning strolls, but it’s also for premiere season and planning how you’re going to spend the upcoming cold, dark, depressing winter months. We may not be ready to admit it, but winter is coming, and sweet, sweet television is the only warm light on the landscape in the dead of January. The teams you back now will determine the joy you are able to experience for the rest of the programming year – and beyond. Remember the year you chose to throw your weight behind Two and a Half Men? Yeah, it’s your fault that show is still on.
So along with scheduling the rest of my life at this time of year, I like to sit down with a calendar and engage in the ritual of choosing my entertainment for the year. Combining old favourites with new friends is the most effective way of guaranteeing some satisfaction. Here are my picks for this fall, which will surely appeal to those who, like me, survive on a diet of Facebook and Pringles.
House, M.D. is back this season, premiering with a cliff-hanger concept. When last we left Dr. House, he had fired his entire team and was starting again from scratch. So what now? Will things go back to normal or will House go through a Survivor-style elimination with the rumoured 39 new applicants? And while we know Chase, Foreman and Cameron will all be back, their new capacities are tantalizing. Through it all, House will treat us to the kind of witty cynicism and angry ranting that makes him so endearing.
In keeping with the medical theme, Scrubs is back for its final season. J.D. and Elliot ended season six on a cliff-hanger too: would they end up together, or would they commit to the relationships they are supposed to be trying to work through? The delightfully dysfunctional duo will be back for what is sure to be a strong season. I think it’s always good when a show knows before the start of the season that it is going into the final haul. It makes for stronger episodes and a better sense of closure for those of us who watch Scrubs with a Kleenex box at the ready.
Over on the Mother Corp., CBC is back with Little Mosque on the Prairie. This is the touch-and-go second season for the much-hyped sitcom. Canadian shows don’t make it to season three on CBC very often, so Little Mosque will need to impress, and they will need to show that the program can stand on its own as a quality piece of broadcasting, rather than merely a curiosity. Canadians can get a lot of mileage out of a mention on CNN or in the New York Times, but likely not two seasons worth. Little Mosque needs to show that it is funny and entertaining before it is merely “important” and “ground-breaking.
Also north of the border, Corner Gas is back for what is sure to be another successful season. A great timeslot after Dancing With the Stars allows Corner Gas to capitalize on its middle-of-the-road demographic. As long as the writing stays solidly funny and the characters and scenes relatable, it’s hard to see an end-point for the show. When the premise is, as they say, that “there’s not a lot going on,” there’s also no real limit to the options for premises. Real life is blissfully open-ended.
And because there is no God, Degrassi won’t be premiering until December. When it does, however, we’re told to expect the MOST EXPLOSIVE SEASON EVER, just like we have been for the last half dozen years. This might actually be true, though: this year, the JT-murdering knife-wielders from Lakehurst High have been merged into Degrassi Community School. I hope more people get killed and/or raped, frankly. It makes for excellent television. That’s what I love about Degrassi. It goes there, ladies and gentlemen.
Of course, some lovers never leave your side. For two and a half hours every week, I spend time with my friends from Coronation Street – and they never take a break for Christmas or Easter or summer. I have them all year round (except when the CBC pre-empts Corrie for something as irrelevant and niche-oriented as the Olympics) and I love to spend my Sunday mornings tucked up in a Manchester suburb dealing with all sorts of trials and tribulations of working-class life.
Every year, I like to pick one new comedy, one new drama, and one new reality show to follow. I can tell you right now that my pick for last year, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, caused me nothing but heartache (see my column in last month’s (Cult)u’re for more details). So I’m not always right. But here’s what has got me intrigued this fall.
In comedy, I’m going with what is possibly not the safest choice in the world, but I’ve very excited about Big Bang Theory. Johnny Galecki was my favourite part of Roseanne by the end of that show’s run, but I think now it has been just long enough that he’s ready for a new vehicle. Plus, I’m a sucker for the nerd-meets-hottie formula. And finally, as if I needed another selling feature, the Barenaked Ladies perform the theme song. And, sold.
As far as drama is concerned, I think I’m all about Gossip Girl, though I know it won’t need my support to draw ratings. I think it will be a cattier and less realistic Degrassi, which is right up my alley indeed. It’s based on a series of YA novels that Naomi Klein has attacked for their celebration of corruption and sex underneath a veneer of cuteness that appeals to girls in their tweenhood. I certainly don’t think a twelve-year-old should watch or read something like Gossip Girl, though I know they will. But the series shows real promise as a guilty pleasure for older audiences, and perhaps is a cogent reminder that twelve-year-olds need to be PARENTED.
Reality-wise, there might as well only be one show on as far as I’m concerned. I’m 100% behind Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. I’m a diehard follower of Hell’s Kitchen and I love to be grossed out, so watching everyone’s favourite sociopathic Brit dress down irresponsible restaurateurs is more than I could ever hope for. I’m hearing negative things about this show in comparison with its British original, but I trust it will be an entertaining choice regardless.
In the end, there’s a mixed bag in television land this fall. Drama has never been stronger, of course, but the sitcom is still in its post-nineties lull and reality television is still fundamentally retarded. These options might help you make your choice, but whatever you do, view responsibly. And if you’re a Neilsen family, I’d be happier if you left your viewing choices up to me. Call me, I’ll give your TiVo a program for you.