We all have those TV shows that we love to watch every week, and those TV shows that are so terrible we refuse to watch them. But what about the middle? I tried to think up a list of the shows that I didn’t feel great about or bad about, shows that just hover around that line. They all offer up just enough to keep me watching, but they don’t do enough for me to consider them a favorite. Some shows, like modern era Simpsons, would possibly fall into this category. Except I don’t watch that anymore, so it doesn’t make the list. The Office, a show that has gone slightly downhill with every season, I thought would make this list… But then I thought about it more, and with Nard Dog as manager and Nellie being one of the worst characters on TV, I actually *hate* The Office now. So it doesn’t make the list.
Actually it was kind of hard to think of the shows that just float under the radar of good or bad. I pretty much just had to go through my DVR and look for the shows on the list that made me go “Oh yeah, I watch that, don’t I?”.
So here’s my list of the most “Eh” shows that I watch on TV (only shows currently in existence, otherwise Twin Peaks and That 70s Show would have made the list):
Seasons 1 and 2 of Dexter are must watch television. An original idea never seen before on TV, and done with maximum suspense. Season 3 was a tad of a downgrade, but at least offered some new ideas and plenty of tense moments. Season 4 was, on paper, more of the same. But it was just executed masterfully, as good as the first two seasons, and was aided heavily by John Lithgow’s Emmy winning role as the villain. Season 5… ehhhhhh. Season 6… double ehhhhhhhhhhhh. It’s still not a bad show, but it’s just not good anymore. Dexter has the most formulaic seasons on TV. Dexter hunts down a new main serial killer each season, eventually killing them in the last episode. It works like clockwork. Every season is a cat and mouse game that we’ve already seen, just done with a different lesson learned each time. The best thing the show has anymore is its suspense, but even that has gotten muddled lately amongst the fluff. Does anyone really care about Batista’s love life? Does anyone really want to watch Deb and Quinn bicker like teenagers? Does anyone really want to see LaGuerta do anything? Not me. They’ve only got two seasons left before they call it quits, and I’ve already put in 6 seasons of time; so I’ll see them through. But I just hope they can get back to the glory they once had for the finale. Right now, it’s not must watch television.
9. 30 Rock
What once was possibly the funniest show on TV has fallen into mediocrity in recent seasons. The jokes just aren’t there anymore. Tracy Jordan seems muted compared to what he used to be. He probably wouldn’t even witness a baby fight in a dumpster or a pack of stray dogs successfully running a Wendy’s anymore. Kenneth was a great side character, but he lost his appeal when he became a main character. Liz Lemon hasn’t grown as a character at all. She’s still pretend frumpy and out of touch. Jack has a few funny one liners every episode, but less than he used to have. Jenna is hard to watch. I hate her, and not in the intentional way that the show wants me to hate her. Though, it’s still worth watching for the few jokes that do hit. 30 Rock‘s worst episode is still better than the best episode of every current CBS prime time sitcom; combined. And the live episode from the most recent season was probably in my top five episodes they’ve ever done. But overall, it just ain’t what it used to be.
8. America’s Got Talent
Admittedly, I just started watching this show this season because of Howard Stern. I’m a huge fan of his radio show and have been listening to him in my car, every day, for the past 6 years or so. And AGT is 50% of what he talks about on his show lately, so I figure I’ll watch it to keep up with the radio show. I’ve never seen AGT before this current season, but the show itself isn’t much different than most of these other crap talent/singing/dance competitions. As a whole, it’s not a great show. But it does offer up some very interesting acts, like the magicians, or the paint dancers, or my boy TURF the contortionist/dancer. But there is also a lot of shit too, like most of the other dance groups, the singers, the little kid who plays the piano, the BMX team, Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne’s opinions, and so forth. It’s a show I would never suggest watching live, because there are immense amounts of padding in between every act. It’s a two-hour show that could easily be an hour without the extra shit, and an hour-long results show that should just be the first 10 minutes of the next full episode. The results show really sucks; I just fast forward to the eliminations. This is a show that requires fast forwarding. BUT, there are three or four things every episode that are incredible to watch, and I’m happy I got to witness them, so it’s worth the trouble. But I don’t see how you could *not* fast forward through everything Nick Cannon says.
7. Shameless (U.S. Version)
The first season of this show really got me hooked. All of the characters were developed well, and the shocking antics they were put in made for good television. There were good storylines, and it was well written. Now in season 2, it just sort of makes me tired. It goes on too long, and the stories aren’t as strong or compelling as they were in season 1. And it repeats a lot of the same themes. Is this show going to pretty much just be an endless parade of these folk’s misery? Do any of them get out? I guess that’s a reason to watch…? I mean, I still like the show and all the work they’ve put into its development, but I’m just less into it than I used to be. I have all the episodes for season 2 just sitting there, and I have yet to finish it. I have about 5 episodes left, but I just struggle with wanting to commit an hour of my time to watch it anymore.
This show was never really that good. Daniel Tosh is kind of an insufferable human being. His jokes are painfully obvious and pretty much rely on saying something idiotically blunt and racist for a cheap laugh. Or he’ll resort to taking off his clothes and making gay jokes (hilarious, right…?) There’s nothing redeeming about anything Tosh does or says. However, as a fan of America’s Funniest Home Videos (ONE OF THE BEST SHOWS ON TV), I do get some enjoyment out of the clips he plays during the first segment of the show, as they are very much in the AFV vein (but obviously more raunchy). I used to be able to sit through an entire episode of Tosh.0, but it has become harder and harder. Out of the 60+ web redemptions he’s done so far, I’d say probably five of them have been genuinely funny. And none recently. So I’ve been fast forwarding through the web redemptions lately, no point wasting time there. The back end of the show *may* have one funny joke in it, but is usually just worth it for the viewer video of the week (which has a decent chance of actually being funny). So a few good clips of fireworks exploding in someones face, or a fight in a Mexican restaurant still make it worth it to tune in, but every season requires more and more fast forwarding.
5. Master Chef
I know a lot of people really like Top Chef. I never got into it. But I have watched Hell’s Kitchen since the beginning, and have seen every season as they aired. The thing what I like about it, which seems to be why a LOT of people dislike Hell’s Kitch, is that it’s a bunch of terrible chefs that screw up all the time and get yelled at. Which I find great. There are DOZENS of cooking shows where they show people doing a great job cooking food, including Top Chef, and it’s almost not that special to me anymore to just see good chefs doing great things. Hell’s Kitchen stands alone as the only cooking show where chefs fuck up on a regular basis, and they get punished for it. And maybe it’s just me, but I love watching other people fuck up, it’s amusing to me. In Hell’s Kitchen, heroes and villains emerge, bad chefs turn it around and start cooking better, good chefs have colossal breakdowns and get eliminated, and all of them are still probably going to get yelled at by Ramsey. It’s non-stop stress every single week. Now, the show that follows HK on FOX, Master Chef, is not the same story. It’s a bunch of amateur cooks who have mild-to-decent cooking skills. No one ever really gets yelled at. They do highlight a lot of the bad food, but its more or less a regular cooking competition. I really only watch it because it’s right after Hell’s Kitchen. It’s something to watch, but it wouldn’t bother me if I never watched it again. At this point I’m just tuning in hoping to see Monti Carlo get eliminated. [if she wins, I'll definitely not be watching again next season].
4. Saturday Night Live
Typically, a 90 minute episode of Saturday Night Live takes me about 20-25 minutes to get through. That’s because I always fast forward through the cold open (played out political impressions), Weekend Update (poor man’s Daily Show, also – fuck you Seth Meyers), any sketch involving annoying reoccurring characters (looking at you Kristen Wiig and Keenan Thompson), and most musical guests. I give every sketch about a minute to do something funny, then I start fast forwarding. This usually results in one or two sketches an episode that I’m very happy I watched because they were actually good, and it makes the whole process worth it. Every blue moon an entire episode will be good (Melissa McCarthy’s hosting job), and sometimes an episode you thought would be completely terrible ends up being 50% funny (Eli Manning). Most episodes either start off strong and completely fizzle out towards the end, or (as I’ve seen to be the case more recently) they will be awful the whole episode but then have a redeemingly wacky one or two sketches to close things out. It’s not a great show anymore, but it does supply a couple hilarious moments in most episodes, making it worthy of the fast forward treatment.
3. True Blood
What once was an interesting show about vampires integrating into society has, in the past couple seasons, devolved into a major clusterfuck. Now Sookie is a fairy, there are shifters and werewolves everywhere, and LaFayette is some sort of Mexican demon (?). They even had a chance to kill off the show’s most annoying character (Tara) at the end of last season, only to bring her back as a vampire this season! Is Tara’s story arc going to be a young, pretty girl adjusting to being a newly created vampire? Because I believe they already did that, in detail, with JESSICA. (sigh) Terry, one of the show’s most minimal and insignificant characters, is now being pushed into the spotlight in what is probably the worst, most boring arc the show has ever done. And that’s saying a lot. I could barely pay attention during his Iraq War flashbacks because I couldn’t care less about his story. Terry’s story sucks for three major reasons: 1) No one cares about Terry, 2) It has nothing to do with ANY of the other stories on the show, 3) they had to force a fire ghost gypsy into it because, well… because it’s True Blood…? In addition to Terry’s stupid story, and in addition to all the stories that were already going on, they’ve added additional stories about the Ministry of Vampires (fart noise), about Jason investigating how vampires killed his parents (Fart Noise), and they are for some reason taking the time to delve into Pam’s back story (FART NOISE). Since when does anyone want to know more about Pam? This, more than any other show, feels like they refuse to get rid of any of the actors, and instead keep writing them ridiculous side plots in order to give them a purpose. I don’t know how to fix the show, but a good start would be to kill off half the characters at the end of this season (permanently!), and simplify everything. The show is still like 35% good, and that’s enough for me to keep checking it out, since I’ve already invested a lot of time into it (Dexter Syndrome). But if it got cancelled after this season or something, it wouldn’t really affect my life all that much.
2. The Ricky Gervais Show
Initially I really liked this show. Having never encountered Karl Pilkington before, his stupidity was mesmerizing. The way that he interprets the world was pretty hilarious the first couple episodes. Then it slowly started to become less and less hysterical with each episode, and just eventually flat-lined somewhere around ‘mildly amusing’. The animated visual recreations of Karl’s thoughts aren’t strong enough to warrant a TV show, and it eventually just becomes 30 minutes of these guys talking. And while the topics change, it’s always the same formula (ask Karl’s opinion; laugh at Karl’s opinion). I’m not commenting on the quality of the actual podcast in which this show is taken from, but a full length TV series about these three guys talking is just entertaining enough to watch every now and then, yet not compelling enough to make a priority on my schedule. I have about 8 or 9 of these saved on my DVR, and I usually don’t start watching them until I’ve gone through *all* of my other shows and there’s nothing left.
Wilfred should be a show that I love. It’s right up my alley in terms of weirdness. Ryan (Elijah Wood) is randomly having conversations with a dog, who he sees as a man in a dog costume. The problem is… the show goes nowhere. Every week is the same thing. Ryan lusts after Wilfred’s owner, Jenna, and Wilfred pretends to be his friend while selfishly using Ryan to his own benefit. You’d think the friendship would have developed over a full season and endured some change, but going into the third episode of season 2 (which I haven’t watched yet, my DVR fucked up), they are still right where they started. Ryan can’t trust Wilfred, and Wilfred is still trying to use Ryan. And Ryan and Jenna are still nowhere close to becoming a couple. The show skates by with having numerous funny sight gags of a man in a dog suit doing dog things, and they admittedly do it in a clever way most of the time. That alone has kept me watching each week. But without the promise of an actual story to support any of these jokes, eventually I’m going to get frustrated and quit watching. I just don’t know how long it can last doing the same schtick every week. To me, Wilfred is the definition of a mediocre comedy show. You shouldn’t go around telling people you’re a huge fan of it, but you also won’t get publicly mocked for enjoying it, either.