Welcome to May sweeps, which feels like – April. Or March. Where are the special shows, the crazy cliffhangers, the transparent attempt to get you to watch, watch, watch? Since so many of today’s successful dramas are procedurals, it’s kind of hard for the networks to pull out some "Who Shot J.R.?" plot twists. Remember that Law and Order where the assistant D.A. asked if she was being fired because she was a lesbian? Remember how random and strange that seemed? That’s what happens when you try to go all May sweeps on shows that resolve themselves in under 60 minutes.
As far as conspiracies go, 24 has really set the bar quite high. The president colluding with terrorists to put WMD on foreign soil, thereby creating an excuse to go to war and secure oil resources? Unless another show can pull out a conspiracy involving the U.N. or the Trilateral Commission, it’s doubtful another drama is going to be as exciting as a conspiracy that rises to the highest level of government.
You know what’s a great way to break out of prison? Hold the warden hostage with a shank. What’s that you say? That’s a really terrible way to break out of prison? Well, don’t tell that to super-genius Michael Scofield, because that’s exactly how last week’s episode of Prison Break ended. Michael, if the shank thing doesn’t work, tell the warden it’s opposite day and that he should get in a cell while you do his job.
What About Brian
I didn’t think I could hate a show as much as I hated CBS’ Love Monkey, but What About Brian is like being trapped in a J.Crew catalogue where all the models chat and dish on each other’s marriages. You know those couples you see shopping at Pottery Barn in the mall? The ones with the permanent smiles and the A&F clothes? Those people desperately want to be the characters on What About Brian, but the half of them that is still human won’t let them.
Will and Grace
OK, so this was a repeat of the episode that guest-starred Britney Spears, but hearing her list a number of mysterious lesbian sex acts is sure to delight repeat viewers. Not to mention Ms. "I Support Our President" satirizing the "Support Our Troops" attitude made me wonder: Did she change her mind about the prez or does she just say whatever the script tells her to say?
My Name Is Earl
Making fun of a hopelessly drunk and neglectful father requires walking a very thin line between farce and meanness. Sadly, this week’s My Name Is Earl stepped over the line into meanness far too many times. Not to mention pathetic alkies who can barely speak tend to remind viewers at home that karma works in an extremely mysterious way.
This week’s episode was dark. After demanding to see all the office complaints ever filed,
Michael made Jim and Dwight sit in mediation and listed off every horrible thing Jim had ever done to Dwight. And while Jim’s pranks are funny when you see only one an episode, hearing them one after one made Jim seem like quite the prick. Dwight may be a nutjob, but it’s not too easy to laugh at somebody making their co-worker’s life a living hell for no other reason than that it’s really funny.
You would think it would be extremely hard to make a Saturday Night Live hosted by Tom Hanks not funny, but the SNL writers took their gloves off and went to it. A sketch in which Hanks plays a sweaty dude in a yoga class is a perfect example of how poorly the show is written; instead of creating a quirky, weird character, the writers just had Hanks talk about how sweaty he is and how he has a dog. Not a schnauzer or a Welsh corgi, just "a dog." Since I know new cast member Andy Samberg and his thelonelyisland.com friends are writers on the show, I’m blaming them for completely dropping the ball. The first rule of writing comedy: don’t be too stupid to make something that might be funny actually funny.
Stewie singing Phil Collins’ "In the Air Tonight" because the ghostly TV he’s trapped in gives his voice an echo? Awesome. Now let’s completely ruin its off-the-cuff hilarity by making it a ring tone, OK?