Just one year ago I lamented one rather underwhelming TV seasonThe Office was put out of its misery– and it was misery, make no mistake about it.  How I Met Your Mother found a way to stretch its eighth season into a ninth by having 24 episodes deal with one weekend (hey, 24 got there first– and did it a whole lot better).  Dallas even tried to soldier on minus the one Four Star General we all tuned in to watch.  Would things get even worse before they got better?

Despite the fact that Two Broke Girls remains a program people watch, 2014 is looking up.  First to clear the air about addition by subtraction:  I watched 41 minutes of Dallas this spring.  I’m over it.  I can’t buy John Ross as somebody who can master his “ABC’s”… let alone scheme on any level.  The “sensitive Christopher storyline” has Bobby’s son growing a beard and dating a single mom.  Kind of like what happened to Steve Sanders on 90120 with the Hillary Swank character, except instead of adding facial hair Ian Ziering simply started to lose hair.  Drunk Sue Ellen was shocking in 1978…not so now.  Even the burning Southfork was 30 years after the fact.  Where’s Ray Krebs when you need him?

 

Mad Men– this is “technically” the final season.  Even though they’re producing 8 this year followed by 8 more next year.  What’s going to stop shows from eventually producing 13 “one episode” seasons down the road?  Don Draper’s in a free-fall this May…with his wife in Hollywood, his work life on heavily measured life support (reporting to rookie of the year Lou) and his children being played by two of the worst actors ever (Kiernan Shipka excepted)  Instead of Bob Benson (from accounts!) cursing in Spanish, we’re cursing any and all Bobby Draper storylines.  I’m glad he traded a sandwich for gumdrops.  I’m thankful they’ve kept Gene on the sidelines for the most part.  And I’m surprised they haven’t turned Glen into the lead singer from the Turtles (they’re dead ringers).  It’s interesting how the firm is divided against itself– California/New York, Roger Sterling/Jim Cutler, Peggy/her underlings, Dawn/Stacy.  With the glacial pace this show proceeds, will there be any resolution of any of these conflicts anytime soon?  Tune in next year…but later this season.

 

The Americans– at least Sterling Cooper & Partners is one office.  Each front here is fractured (FBI, Russian Embassy, the Jennings, Stan’s family, the handlers) and somehow makes progress despite itself.  I credit the wigs.  Philip and Elizabeth are having issues managing their kids (nothing like sneaking into a neighbor’s house to play Intellivision–only to fall asleep), marriages (Martha’s this close to going over the edge in one direction or another) and methods (from Philip changing the bait for Yousaf to Elizabeth having to let her Nicaraguan protégé die).  Thank goodness Stan is being worked over by Nina and Oleg…while the gay Navy SEAL is going rogue.  It’s a credit to the writers and actors that a show with protagonists trying to bring down the U.S. hasn’t turned people off yet.

 

Turn– while the cover for these spies isn’t a travel agency in 1776 (it’s cabbage farming)…intrigue and information gathering while the other side is looking the other way isn’t that different.  Instead of the hero looking to steal stealth weaponry secrets for the USSR, the good guy in AMC’s new show is trying to get one over on the Redcoats.  There’s the unsure of himself lead who winds up being pulled into the greater cause.  There’s the forbidden love of his life he’s now working with to beat the British…along with intergenerational conflict.  There’s even a comically evil British Captain who smacks of the Ski Patrol/Cobra Kai/Alpha Beta type…only with an accent that makes you want to punch him.  The question is much like The Americans– how beholden to specific facts of history will this show be?

 

24– Jack’s back…if only in limited form.  Will the seconds count off twice as quickly?  Is there a metric hour that I didn’t know about?  After a less than awesome Season 8 that wrapped up four years ago…he’s in London this time (mixed reviews for foreign 24’s:  while Songala was cool in the movie 24: Redemption and the Season 5/6 car commercial in China was decent, Season 3’s Mexican storyline was fraught with overacting).  And Benjamin Bratt’s chasing him while his ex (Audrey’s no longer catatonic!) is married to Tate Donovan who works for her father the President (I buy James Heller as our chief executive a lot more than Wayne Palmer).  Chloe’s back with a bit of a gothic look (hopefully her personality remains the same–meaning socially incompetent) while there’s a new crisis (isn’t there always?).  There will be shooting, shouting and ridiculous plot holes.  I’m hoping this is more like Seasons 1, 2, 4 &5 than 3, 6 & 8.  WE’RE WASTING TIME!

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