Friday, March 26, 2010

The Best Shows You're Not Watching

1. Mercy (Wednesdays at 8:00 on NBC)

This show started off very weak, both commercially and critically. Its main charcter, Veronica, was hard to like in the beginning; she has just returned from Iraq to find her marriage in shambles, her army boyfriend following her back to New Jersey and her father developing Alzheimer's. Understandably, she was portrayed as distant and cold, but that's not what an audience wants. We need a loveable main character, especially if that character is female.

However, Veronica started to grow up and the supporting cast began to shine. The storylines became more engaging (a recent episode featured Veronica murdering a burglar while she is preparing for a date, and the effects of the murder on her PTSD), and the tone became more even. It developed itself into more of a relationship drama (that of friends, family and lovers) rather than a medical drama. Then James Van Der Beek came on board as a cocky new doctor with a dark secret, and the whole thing sort of gelled. Mercy is now one of my favorite shows on the air, which is a shame considering it is very likely to be canceled by May.

2. RuPaul's Drag Race (Mondays at 9:00 on Logo, with repeats Tuesdays at 9:00 on VH1)

I'll say it: this is the best reality show on television. It so perfectly blends elements of successful competition shows (Project Runway, America's Next Top Model) while simultaneously mocking them. For example, the contestants (all aspiring drag queens) receive She-Mail instead of Tyra Mail. The results are stunning: the challenges are always perfect, especially considering these queens are competing to basically be the next RuPaul. Why wouldn't Ru model the challenges after her own career? Past ones have included singing live in a rocker chick getup, making a dress out of curtains (a la Gone With the Wind), playing both the bride and groom in a drag wedding, and impersonating celebrities on a brilliantly kitschy game show called Snatch Game.

There are dozens of laughs in any given episode as Ru (out of drag) mentors the queens and later judges them (in drag), along with a panel of absolutely amazing guest judges; past guests have included Kathy Griffin, Jackie Collins, Henry Rollins, Terri Nunn, Dita Von Teese, Martha Wash, Alec Mapa and Kathy Najimy. And next episode's guest judges are (shut the hell up) Cloris Leachman and Debbie Reynolds! The pure joy this show illicits from me is incomparable and contagious. It's campy, cheesy, fun and really... what more do you need in a reality show? Tune in, you won't be disappointed.

3. FlashForward (Thursdays at 8:00 on ABC)

At this point, there's probably no saving this show either. It started strong with the biggest scripted premiere of the season, but its ratings quickly fell when the storyline got boring. Luckily the 3 month hiatus the show took has been for the better so far. Questions are finally being answered, the action sequences are back and that sense of urgency that made the first few episodes sizzle has returned.

Granted, we aren't much closer to figuring out what the blackout was and who caused it (since the first episode back pretty much put the kabosh on the "big reveal" in the season's first half of Lloyd and Simon being the cause), but the journey is getting a bit more exciting. The writers also seemed to remember the fact that there once was a character named Al on the show who broke all the rules, so they've stopped ignoring the fact that the flash forwards really don't necessarily have to happen. That has added yet another layer of drama which was sorely missing while Mark and Demetri were chasing sketchy leads in Hong Kong and Bryce was whining about true love. This was supposed to be the kind of mindfuck show that could ultimately replace Lost, but it's only now beginning to build toward its potential. If you jumped ship when it got sappy and slow, give it another shot.

2 comments:

  1. You forgot to mention Better Off Tedd

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  2. I loved Better Off Ted... but it wass off the air by the time I wrote this.

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