Monday, September 25th, 2006

The Sun Always Shines On TV

I used to watch a lot of TV as a kid. Like A LOT. Naturally, as I got older there was less time for boob-tubing and the television landscape is quite different now with the advent of TV-on-DVD and cable shows that run on their own schedules, but I still get a bit of a tingle when September comes and with it, the new (network) television season. I’m of the opinion that despite the amount of utter dreck on the air, that we’re still in the middle of something of a television renaissance right now. I can’t remember the last time (if ever) there were so many shows on that I’ve heard good things about or would like to try and catch if only I had an infinite amount of time at my disposal. But as it is, I’ve had to be very picky and choosy about what I watch because otherwise, I’ll watch everything. It’s depressingly easy to hook me on a show – I watched 90210 for three or four season in university even though I found it wretched. I just couldn’t stop (and it was great for procrastinating).

Anyway, with the departure of The West Wing, it looked as though there were going to be some pretty big openings in the time I was willing to allot to TV programming. 24 doesn’t start till January and man cannot live on Veronica Mars alone (well, I probably could but that’s another topic…). But thank goodness for Aaron Sorkin and his new show Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. Premiereing last week, it looks like it will more than fill that White House-shaped hole in my life. It has much of the same creative team, some of the same cast and even the same credits font as The West Wing and based on just the first episode, it looks to have the same creative spark that made Sorkin’s last show so beloved.

Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are a team of comedy writers who are recruited to take over an SNL-type comedy show after the former producer has an on-air meltdown. Naturally, they have a history with the show, its cast and the network and there is much promise in the relationships and politics that ensue. I’ve always thought Perry was capable of much more than Friends allowed, so it’s great to see him get a role that will (hopefully) let him realize that potential. Whitford has more than proven he’s a great match for Sorkin’s writing and I was rather surprised at how well Amanda Peet did as the new network president. The reviews so far have been pretty positive so hopefully it can find a large enough audience to convince NBC it’s worth the incredibly high production costs. But while the show is being lauded, the mock-blog they set up to promote it isn’t so lucky. Note that Defaker is down right now – temporarily or for good?

A show I’ve been browbeaten into watching lately – and I’m glad for it – is the new Battlestar Galactica. Pretty much everyone I knew with any sort of geek to them was telling me how great the new show was, so I gave in and watched the miniseries. Then the first season. Then the second season. And yeah, I will happily admit it’s pretty damn good. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking – it leans more than a little on ideas from Starship Troopers and V – but it is almost perfectly executed and that can count for a lot more than originality. Like pretty much everyone else, I’m eager as hell to see how season three plays out starting in two weeks, though The Resistance web episodes have been bitter, yawning disappointments. Those are thoroughly inessential but I’m not holding it against anyone. has a conversation with show creator Ron Moore about the show’s politics and what to expect from the next season.

As for Veronica Mars, season three of that premieres on October 3 and for the first time, it will be simulcast in Canada on the otherwise abhorrent Sun-TV network. Hooray. The Chicago Tribune talks to creator Rob Thomas about season three, the pressures of being a show on the bubble on a new network… and Richard Grieco.

I do still have a vacancy for a decent, half-hour sitcom to fill in for Arrested Development. I’ve started watching The Office but still have season two to catch up on. Anything new this season look promising? The AV Club tries to help out, and I do appreciate that.

And this TV post gives me the opportunity to clear out some MP3s I’ve been sitting on for a while but never found the right time to post – indie rock TV theme song covers! Anyone got any more worth hearing? And I’m ignoring tracks from those Saturday morning cartoon theme tributes a while back, everyone’s heard those.

MP3: The Breeders – “Theme From Buffy The Vampire Slayer
MP3: Spiritualized – “Theme From The X-Files
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Theme From The Simpsons
MP3: Sonic Youth – “Theme From The Simpsons
MP3: The Wedding Present – “Theme From Cheers
MP3: South – “Theme From Cheers

np – Grizzly Bear / Yellow House

By : Frank Yang at 8:37 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. danieljosef says:

    Great news that V-Mars is being carried by Sun-Tv. Now I don’t have to d/l the episodes.

    On an unrelated topic, do you have any info on set times for the Mew show tonight? Any word on the opening band?

  2. Ryan Waddell says:

    I started catching up on season 1 of How I Met Your Mother on the weekend, and I ended up watching 9 episodes yesterday. It’s a cute little quirky show. My Name Is Earl is a FANTASTIC show. The Class, created by David Crane of Friends fame, looks like it could be *ok*, but I just can’t see how they can keep it up for a full season, let alone many seasons. Six Degrees is a fantastic little drama that started up last week too, and it looks to be INCREDIBLY good. Is that too many shows? :)

  3. Frank says:

    re: Mew – no idea. doors at 8, show at 9. Ticketmaster says support TBA. I don’t know anyone at House Of Blues I can ask, so I guess we’ll find out when we get there.

  4. jeremyw says:

    I thought your title for this post was in reference to the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which apparently was titled It’s Always Sunny on TV when the concept was in development. It’s a brilliant half-hour sitcom, which I think shares sensibilities with Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development.

    Unfortunately it’s a cable sitcom with short seasons — the second just finished, with 10 episodes.

  5. Thierry says:

    Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip has gotten off to a good start, and features all the trademarks of an Aaron Sorkin show: walking-and-talking, so much dialogue even those Gilmore girls would be left out of breath, musical Gilbert-and-Sullivan style numbers, a strong undercurrent of self-righteousness, and an unresolved relationship that will nag at the show until those characters are finally brought together…Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are fantastic Sorkin actors and definitely up to the task, and the show has a great cast overall, but I’m no fan of Sarah Paulson’s character (or her stilted delivery of Sorkin’s lines), nor am I sure that Amanda Peet was the right choice to play a network executive. This being Sorkin, I’m definitely going to keep watching…

  6. Eric Grubbs says:

    Other than watching a DVD, my TV set comes on once a week. Wednesdays at 8pm central on ABC. That’s all I will say.

  7. Frank says:

    Eric – Dancing With The Stars? What?

  8. the311saint says:

    I’ve been impressed with Heroes, Shark, Smith, and Standoff (though Standoff is kinda filler and I know it) also Justice is pretty good too.

  9. jon says:

    I’ve gotta say I’m a big fan of both the british and american versions of The Office and you’re gonna enjoy season two, regardless of which version your watching.

    Now I’m asking if we’ve got any HBO fans. Six Feet Under, Sopranos, Rome and to a lesser extent Huff are all fantastic shows.

  10. Jerad says:

    Season 3 of the Office really hit the ground running last week. I haven’t laughed that much at a half hour of TV in quite a while. It opened up some new storylines, while keeping us teased on the old ones. The show is still getting better, so you should hurry up and finish that season 2 and get caught up.

  11. Thierry says:

    Anyone know who’s showing My Name Is Earl and The Office in Canada? I tuned into Global last week after anxiously awaiting to watch the premieres and there was no trace of either show! I don’t have cable – does this mean I’m going to have to download/wait for the dvd now?

  12. Jack says:

    Re: the Bragg mp3. I think the other singer may be Cara Tivey, who was Bragg’s pianist in the late 80’s, early 90’s.

  13. MissT says:

    The funniest show on TV now is Weeds. 10pm on Showcase. Each week there is a truly great moment.

    Here’s one – i sat in awe watching the brilliance of this a couple of weeks ago….

    Other shows I"m impressed with this season are Smith and to an extent Studio 60…I do miss Sports Night and just wish they would bring it back. Bradley Whitford is infinitely annoying but what can you do.

  14. Honey says:

    You won’t be sorry watching the Office. I recently started watching because my sister bought seasons 1 and 2, and while it isn’t as spontaneous as the british original, it is absolutely one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen on tv, period. Better late than never, I guess. This week’s season premiere had me on the floor.

  15. Paco El Chapultapec says:

    I’ll second "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia," which is, hands down, the funniest show on TV right now (since "Arrested Development" is gone).

  16. sky says:

    Great news about Veronica Mars. I was getting so tired of having to wait and dl. Also, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, I believe Women’s Network is airing the first season on Friday’s.

  17. mike says:

    There’s so many interesting TV shows it seems, but the only ones I seem to catch with any sort of regularity are "Cold Case" on Sunday nights, and "Airline" and "Criss Angel" on A& E. And to fill the X-files void, although not quite as intelligent, "Supernatural" is good fun.

  18. Karl says:

    I have SportsNight on DVD; still good.

    I’m not surprised that people aren’t going to like Sarah Paulson’s character. First, the character is based on Sorkin’s ex-gf, Kristin Chenowith, so no big shock how Sorkin will deal with her. Second, she looks to be Sorkin’s designated straw-man for the show, i.e., the conservative character set up to be refuted by the more liberal characters over time.

    Actually, the reason I prefer SportsNight to Sorkin’s other shows is that he didn’t bother with trying to prtend he was balanincing with a conservative point of view. Rather, it was a bunch of generally liberal folks occasionally having thoughtful disagreements among themselves on issues — and was much less phony for it.

    I don’t know whether Amanda Peet is the right choice for an exec either. OTOH, she is Amanda Peet. Sorkin could have her just stand around and I would consider watching it. And I do think it’s funny that she and Paulson were both on the short-lived "Jack & Jill" show on the WB with Jamie Pressly — who is great on MyName Is Earl.

  19. D Valentine says:

    I haven’t listened to it yet, but I have a possible correction: The band Nerf Herder does the regular theme to BtVS. If the Breeders happened to cover it, good for them, but I suspect it’s mislabeled. (Yeah, I am one of those losers who meticulously labels his MP3s. Sorry.)

    Realy enjoyed reading yer post. I also can’t wait for the next Studio 60 episode.

  20. Frank says:

    No, The Breeders covered the Nerf Herder theme as a b-side last year or the year before. That’s what the MP3 is.

  21. Chinese Democracy says:

    Frank ya missed the big news. Guns N Roses
    Nov. 15 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre

  22. Dan says:

    I second (or third…or fourth…or whatever) It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but only if you’re not easily offended. And I suspect you aren’t.

    The Shield: totally underappreciated cop show. The last season with Michael Chiklis and Forest Whitaker trying to tear each other apart? Amazing.

    I’d also recommend finding The Wire on DVD or d/l. It’s addictive, it’s challenging and it might be the best show on TV. Gotta start from episode 1, though, or you’re lost.

  23. Frank says:

    well you’ve all convinced me. effective immediately, I’m giving up the blog and doing nothing but watch TV from now on. Thank you.

  24. John the cover guy says:

    House, House, House, House……. House. I sit and take notes of the way he treats people and staff and still is loved/revered. Great stuff. If you ever wanted to hear what the doctor was really thining when you come in with something stuck in a zipper.

  25. David says:

    Since everyone mentioned It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia already I’ll give you a few others. If you like the Office I would recommend both Extras and The Thick of It. Extras is Gervais’ new series (season 2 just started featuring the much blogged about Bowie cameo). The Thick of It is a year old and only 6 episodes have been made so far but a new season is supposed to be airing soon. From its wikipedia page:

    "The action centres on the fictitious Department of Social Affairs. Hugh Abbot (Langham) is a minister heading the department, who is continually trying to do his job, or rather look like he is doing his job, while under the watchful eye of Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi), Number 10’s highly aggressive and domineering "enforcer".

    Of course since neither show airs in Canada at the moment you’re stuck with downloads but they’re well worth it.

  26. darren says:


    how could you name your post as you did and not include the A-Ha song?


  27. the2scoops says:

    I’ve found myself enjoying the comedy How I Met Your Mother on Mondays. The acting and writing are pretty good. They seem to run contrary to standard sitcom practices. Neil Patrick Harris (yes, Doogie) kills as the bachelor of the group and the music is pretty good too. They tend to end most episodes on a song, and they’ve ranged from My Morning Jacket to Roxy Music. The 88 had a funny cameo as a prom band last year.

    And the drama Heroes is looking great too. Bit of a Rising Stars (comic book) premise with ordinary people starting to discover extraordinary powers. The pilot impressed me enough to get me looking forward to the next episodes. Bonus is that both shows are on Mondays, and there aren’t too many gigs on those nights.

    I miss Arrested Development too.

  28. palpable says:

    Could not get into the premier of Studio 60 myself.

    If you have cable and can add Showcase, it has the best shows …

    It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – great first season, I don’t know why they had to add Danny Devito for S2, but anyway…

    Rescue Me – Denis Leary as a NYC firefighter

    Billable Hours – hated it at first but somehow it grew on me

    Weeds – awesome, good music. See:

    Deadwood – Wow. I just got the DVDs from Season 1 after seeing it rerun on History Channel. HBO rocks. This show is awesome.

    Intelligence – premiered this week on CBC, it’s from the guy who did Da Vinci’s Inquest so if you like that … Good opener.

    Smith – looks good so far. Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen

    Rent-a-Goalie – looks like it has potential

  29. rogelio says:

    Sonic Youth – Simpsons Theme. They rock, you rock, thanks!