It's been a bumpy television season full of winners, disappointments and a lot of forgetful folks. Some shows stumbled right out of the gate while others took steady steps towards a full-season pickup.
The TV season is nearing the halfway mark when most of the shows go into reruns, an indefinite period of torture this year thanks to the writers' strike. At least the respite provides the perfect time to take a look back at the season so far. This TV season, the TV gods brought us...
...9 new winning series.
The delicious guilty pleasure Gossip Girl
redefined what it means to be a hit by becoming the first show of the season to not only get a full season pickup, but to it get on the strength of word of mouth, delayed DVR viewers and iTunes downloads.
Labeled by critics as the show doomed to be canceled by its own offbeat charm, it's a delight to see the whimsical humor and romanticism of Pushing Daisies
find an audience and be rewarded with a full season. Also coming out winners this season are Chuck
, Life, Dirty Sexy Money
, Back to You
, The Big Bang Theory
, Samantha Who?
and Private Practice
...8 actors who picked losers.
The four talented actors of ABC's Big Shots
came off more as big, obnoxious jerks. Michelle Ryan's Bionic Woman
came out of the gate strong ratings-wise, but has been hemorrhaging viewers since then as they realize it's really a dud. Meanwhile, Viva Laughlin
, starring Hugh Jackman
, Melanie Griffith
and Lloyd Owen
, went the way of another high profile, star-filled CBS series, "Smith": swift cancellation.
...7 alcoholic Walkers.
The Walker family clan of ABC's engrossing Brothers & Sisters
aren't actually alcoholics, except for youngest brother Justin, but they're one glass of wine away from joining him at AA. Just check out the season one DVDs, which feature a hilarious montage of all the drinking Walker scenes.
This season, Tommy opened his own winery, providing the family with an endless supply of wine. Considering the family theatrics and hilarity that usually accompany those drinking scenes, that's something to drink to!
...6 former vamps, vamp killers and space cowboys.
return to TV (Fox's "Dollhouse" with Eliza Dushku
) has been postponed indefinitely due to the strike, but you can still get your Joss fill this season. No, I'm not talking about CBS's cheesy, but steadily improving Angel
. This season, you can find alumni from all of Joss' shows on TV.
) might just be getting typecast as a charming gynecologist of all things. He played one in the indie flick Waitress
and he can currently be seen doing the same on Desperate Housewives
. His former costar, Adam Baldwin
("Firefly," "Angel"), is busy saving Chuck's ass from bad guys. On Fox's Bones
, David Boreanaz
("Angel") is half of one of TV's "will they or won't they?" pairings. Other Joss alumni gracing the tube in regular or recurring roles: Julie Benz
("Buffy," "Angel") on Dexter
, Alyson Hannigan
("Buffy") on How I Met Your Mother
and James Marsters
("Buffy," "Angel") on Without A Trace
...5 wasted TV actors.
Between the five of them, Kate Walsh
, Taye Diggs
, Paul Adelstein
, Amy Brenneman
and Tim Daly
have been in at least 11 TV shows. Some of them were infinitely better than "Private Practice," but sadly canceled such as Eyes
starring Daly (Walsh also guest starred as his wife). That makes it all the more painful to see all these seasoned actors suffering in material that's unworthy of their talents, forcing them to act like immature teenagers rather than the intelligent, charismatic adults they are.
All over the tube, the name Chuck is everywhere. "Pushing Daises," "Back to You," "Gossip Girl" and, obviously, "Chuck." The name even made some appearances at the movies this summer (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
, Good Luck Chuck
Who wins in the battle of the Chucks? "Back to You's" Chuck Darling gets disqualified on account of just not being hip enough to hang out with the other Chucks. Charlotte "Chuck" Charles has The Piemaker's love while "Gossip Girl's" Chuck gets points for showing some different colors recently by falling for Blair, but Chuck Bartowski is the most adorkable nerd to grace the TV since Ugly Betty's
Henry. Chuck Bartowski for the win on account of being able to use Klingon as a spy tool.
Seems like everyone wants to forget this season. On "Ugly Betty," Alexis lost all her memories of being a girl after a car accident. Peter's memory was wiped clean by the Haitian on Heroes
. Meanwhile, "Samantha Who?" put it right there in the title. Guess nobody got the memo from Samantha's ex-boyfriend that "amnesia doesn't exist. It's just a cheap and lazy story telling device." At least, it's working out for the charming and funny Samantha who?
...2 blond spies turned Heroes.
was a private investigator, not a spy, but she did do a lot of surveillance, blackmailing and sleuthing during her time. On Alias
, David Anders
' evil spy Sark was more of a point and shoot guy. With her smarts and his skills, think of what they might have accomplished together. Or just check out Elle and Adam on "Heroes." Fueled by skillful actors and interesting, enigmatic character development, Elle and Adam are two new heroes that deserve to stick around for the long haul.
...1 show that isn't suffering from a sophomore slump.
While "Heroes" has been struggling this season and critics' darling Friday Night Lights
, which thankfully got its groove back, was temporarily derailed by a controversial plot twist, one of last season's other new series is nowhere near the vicinity of a sophomore slump. The producers of "Ugly Betty" made a decision to hire more comedy writers for the second season, and it's paid off.
The second season has been sharp, witty and constantly bouncing. Marc and Amanda are the new Jack and Karen with their perfectly delivered zingers, but they've also gotten some much needed depth. While Amanda searches for the truth about her real parents, Marc's gotten a less than physically perfect love interest that allows Michael Urie
to show off his range. But it wouldn't be "Ugly Betty" without some soapy camp, of which there's plenty. In the midst of all the drama, scheming and Betty and Henry's secret romance, screw-up, playboy Daniel (the underappreciated Eric Mabius
) has somehow become the most grounded, sympathetic character.
Story by Vlada Gelman
Starpulse contributing writer