Here it is, the Vanguard’s fall television preview. You will notice it’s different than most beasts of the same nature due to absence of brand new shows debuting this fall. I didn’t want to merely rewrite network press releases on shows yet to premiere; that’s useless.
Better than books
Here it is, the Vanguard’s fall television preview. You will notice it’s different than most beasts of the same nature due to absence of brand new shows debuting this fall. I didn’t want to merely rewrite network press releases on shows yet to premiere; that’s useless. Instead I focus on shows I love that are returning with brand new episodes. And I mostly watch comedy. Sorry, ER.
Colbert Report (Monday to Thursday, 11:30 p.m., Comedy Central)
Jon Stewart, as much as we all love you, your reign as the sharpest satirist on TV is now over. Colbert, the new king, solidified his lead during the 2006 White House Correspondents dinner, where he not only ripped apart the president while he sat dumbfounded ten feet away, but Colbert also skewered the news media in attendance. Surprisingly, Colbert’s performance drew little mainstream media coverage.
It’s not Stewart’s fault he’s second-best. He’s still funny, relevant and as cute as ever, but his show has become slightly safe after losing its best correspondents: Colbert and Corddry. Also, news media has changed. The personality-driven (read: ego-driven) news shows such as The O’Reilly Factor have taken over cable news, and no one quite understands how to satirize these pundits better than Colbert. From his on-air rivalries with Barry Manilow (to whom Colbert lost an Emmy award) to his ultra patriotic parody, he points out the ridiculousness of these pundits better than The Nation, Media Matters and The Daily Kos ever could.
The Office (premieres Sept. 27, 9 p.m., NBC)
OK, I get it; we all know the British Office is better. Ricky Gervais plays a pathetic, approval-seeking boss better than anyone could, and the two-season story arc (we’ll ignore the Christmas special) of the original Office offers a much more human, tragically funny display of humiliation than its American counterpart. Still, the American Office does have some things going for it. Namely, it has broken from its first season as just a direct rip-off of the Brits and has a really talented team of comedy writers and actors. Steve Carell does a damn fine job of playing the pathetic, approval-seeking boss too.
Frontline (premiers Oct. 16, 9 p.m., PBS)
The news documentary show on PBS returns this fall. Its first airing will be a look into Dick Cheney’s lifelong fight for presidential power. And if its anything like last season’s investigations on the Latter Day Saints Church, or the news media’s failure in reporting during the run up to the Iraq war, this season will be ultra-informative and the most worthwhile TV show you can watch.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (premiered Sept. 9, 10 p.m., HBO)
Is Curb your Enthusiasm better than Seinfeld? Probably not. Is it the best comedy on television right now? Probably yes. If you have HBO and don’t mind me warming up your couch cushions on Sunday nights while Larry David pisses almost everyone off with his awesome comedy, let me know.
30 Rock (premiers Oct. 4, 8:30 p.m., NBC)
Jerry Seinfeld guest stars in the first four episodes of 30 Rock‘s fictional behind-the-scenes look into a sketch comedy show. He’s a terrible actor, but as in Seinfeld, that’s nearly irrelevant if the writing is decent. He and Tina Fey may prove to be a good match.
Carpoolers (premiers Oct. 2, 8:30 p.m., ABC)
The only show mentioned in this article that hasn’t been around before. I’ve foregone the “my opening paragraph rule” for the following reasons: Bruce McCulloch, of Kids in the Hall fame, writes the show, and people involved with Arrested Development direct and produce. That type of talent sounds good to me, despite being produced on the always-questionable ABC.
The Simpsons (premiered Sept. 23, 8 p.m., FOX)
Not having watched The Simpsons in years, I was excited to see if it is still in the stasis I last saw it in. And indeed, it is. Only one, maybe two chuckles came out of me during the 19th season premier.
Metalocalypse (premiered Sept. 23, check local listings, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim)
Boondocks (Premiering this fall)
If you want a dose of fast-paced, absurd humor in cartoon form, the best place to go is Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Both Metalocalypse and Boondocks return this fall for their second seasons. The latter chronicles the adventures of the death-metal band Dethklok. This season starts with the band in seclusion after an attempt was made on their lives. They make their triumphant concert return at a massive execution of inmates and (of course) violence ensues. If you are or have ever been into metal, there is no reason not to watch this show.
The Boondocks tells a story of a black family that has moved from Chicago’s Southside to a predominantly white suburb in Maryland. This show contains Adult Swim’s most thoughtful social commentary (not that Boondocks has much have much competition in that field on Cartoon Network) and it’s slightly refreshing.