Friday, September 22, 2006

Monday Night Television

Thanks to CBS and NBC, Monday night might be the new Thursday. I didn't get to catch the premiere of "The Class" because I was in class, although I was curious if David Crane could produce another hit after "Friends." Here are the two shows I did get to watch:

"How I Met Your Mother":
Although the new season of "How I Met Your Mother" has some major plot changes, the show seems too similar to the first season, and not in a good way.

Ted keeps promising his children that he will tell him the story of how he met their mother, but she has yet to appear. The new season starts with Ted finally getting together with Robin, but he told us in the very first episode that she is not the woman he marries. It is hard to root for a couple that you know is not going to last. It is common in the show for Ted to tell us what is going to happen before it happens, so it makes watching the show pointless.

The only reason to keep coming back is that one day, the mother will be revealed. But it is doubtful whether this will be enough to keep viewers intrigued for more than another season, if that.

The show has its highlights. Neil Patrick Harris does his best to make Barney more than a one-dimensional stereotype. And for every 10 lame jokes (or maybe for every 20), there is at least one good one. In any case, there is still hope for "How I Met Your Mother," at least for now.

"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip":
I didn't take any notes on this and my memory of television is not as good as my memory of film for some reason. I suppose I could look up information about the show, but I'll just make this a few of my initial reactions:

Saturday Night Live is no fun to watch anymore, so who would have thought that a show about the behind-the-scenes of a sketch comedy show could be so enjoyable. Aaron Sorkin (best known for "The West Wing"), apparently, and he was right.

The episode starts at a taping of the sketch comedy show, also called "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." The guests are Felicity Huffman and Three 6 Mafia (Oscar winners, as they don't fail to mention) in what one can only hope will be the first of many delightful cameos.

The executive producer, Wes, played by Judd Hirsch, is trying to get a sketch on the air, but the censors won't allow it as it makes fun of Christians. During the show's opening (the fake show, not the real one), Wes interrupts a Bush sketch to rant about the state of television and the world in general in a scene that openly pays tribute to "Network."

This occurs on Jordan McDeere's (Amanda Peet) first day as network president. To make a long story short, she hires Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford) to save the show, and there we have the premise for the season.

The show has a lot of things going for it-- sharp dialogue, an interesting plot, and a solid cost. Perry and Whitford are the clear stars. They can partake in the humorous buddy banter while still sweetly portraying the close relationship of these two men without it feeling too sappy.

The only mistake in the first episode was not to show the sketch that was cut. After talking about it so much, viewers would inevitably be curious. Maybe they'll open with it next week.

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