Formerly Known as The Boob Tube?

By Briane Nasimok

(TORONTO, ON) – As some of you may have noticed, not many of you from the lack of concern expressed, I have not appeared in the pages of the Windsor Square in a little while.

No I was not holding out for salary arbitration, as there is no contract between the “Man” and the writing staff here at the “Square”.

Some could surmise my non-appearance was a result of my heavy research for this article.

Those more sceptic might guess I got busy/lazy.

But the quasi-truth would be that in order to do justice to this piece, I had to spend a lot of time in front of my television screen.

The price one has to pay for art…

Last month, on the CBS Sunday morning magazine show, “Sunday Morning”, (what executive thought up that name?), when reviewing the current television landscape, the show dubbed it a “Second Golden Age”.

I had lived through the first, which occurred somewhere before “Alf” and after “So You Think that you are Funnier Than a Canadian Member of the Senate”.

This new era has been dubbed “Golden” because of shows on the great American cable broadcasters, starting with the “Sopranos” (loyal watcher), through to “Mad Men” (too many people smoking) and continuing to “Breaking Bad” (I’m waiting for the movie).

I did get hooked on “Dexter” and “Nurse Jackie”, but being old school, I watch network and cable fare by PVR’ing a number of series – okay fourteen of them – instead of downloading or pirating like the kids today (under 35).

“Sunday Morning” posted research that the average American watches 4 hours and 22 minutes of television every day and so I took up the challenge and as a dedicated journalist, I recorded that amount of programming during the first few weeks of the new season, to fully do justice to this piece.

Don’t thank me – a man’s got to do…

I focused primarily on the new shows and here are my observations:

The most-hyped new hour might be “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”, a series about the people who work in the shadows of super heroes. Okay I was a comic book geek; until the price went up to twenty-five cents a magazine and I discovered girls, not necessarily in that order.

And yes, I see all the blockbusters – “Iron Man”, “The Avengers”, even “Man of Steel”,

The first episode of “S.H.E.I.L.D., featured a super hero wanna-be or super villain, not sure what he really was – and the attempt of the good agents to get him on board with the right side. I still don’t understand where he will end up even after a second viewing.

This series should appeal to the young crowd and come sweeps-time I’m sure we’ll get some familiar Marvel stars popping up. Thor yes, Spidey… no way.

“S.H.E.I.L.D.” has already been picked-up for the season, although the numbers dipped in the second episode. Smart producers that they are, they added a teaser at the end of the show to draw you into the next episode or feature film.

“Lucky Seven”, wasn’t. Gone already after two episodes.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” featured one of my favourite television dramatic actors, Andre Braugher, in a comedy – playing it straight, although he is playing gay. He is teamed with former SNL enfant terrible Adam Sandler. Sort of “Barney Miller” meets “Police Squad”. It has enough going to keep it on the air this season, in my humble view.

“The Backlist” featured the one and only James Spader who I would watch read a phone book, especially if he did it with William Shatner (oh for the days of “Boston Legal”). Episode one saw this “public enemy” turn his attention to working for the state – teaming with an FBI newbie. He helps stops a possible terrorist plot to save the world. So he is good or is he really nefarious?

And why is the agent’s husband hiding passports, money and a gun in the floorboard?

The Blacklist” claimed the best 10 p.m. drama rating on the big four broadcast networks in the past year, with 4.4 million total viewers in “live plus three day” results, the biggest increase ever for a broadcast program.

“Dads” –for me, is a dud. Before it got on air the critics were blasting this Seth MacFarlane creation for bad taste. What did they expect? I like good, bad taste, but it has to be funny. Not so here. After the first episode if you want MacFarlane humour, just watch “Family Guy.

The other side of the family is taken care of by “Mom”, with the very funny Anna Farris, trading quips with her Mom, played by West Wing’s C.J. Craig, Allison Janney. Spoiler alert: the older two generations both appear to have been knocked up in years past, and now the tradition has been passed down to the next generation. However it is funny – Seth MacFarlane, take a page out of their scripts. Or a few.

“Trophy Wife” features another President Bartlett West Winger, Bradley Whitford, on his third wife, the young and young Malin Ackerman. Humour comes from wives one and two’s interference and the kids. If I have nothing better to do, I’ll check it out.

Let me sum up my response to “The Goldbergs” – fell asleep during the premiere episode, at 9 pm. So insomniacs start taping them.

“Hostages” started well but I am not sure how long they can keep Toni Collette’s family cooped up. Her character has to accidently kill the President in surgery (maybe by leaving in a sponge inside) and somehow Toni dodges that first bullet and outwits FBI rogue Dylan McDermott. – for now.

Earlier this week “TVWeek” wrote that three series were already in trouble, with “Hostages” on the line to go.

For “We are Men”, I have nothing against most of the cast – but seriously. Four guys of various ages, are on the prowl, three divorced, one left at the alter… it’s like they opened up any television plot cliché book and picked out four things. Tony Shaloub is great and Kai Penn is adequate – for me it goes downhill from there.

“We Are Men” delivered a 2.0 in 18-49 to rank as the lowest-rated in-season comedy premiere in the network’s history. “TVWeek” predicts that “We Are Men”, aren’t after this season, if not earlier.

“Sleepy Hallow” is not your grandmother tale of Icabod Crane. I loved the animated Disney film, but this has witches and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and Twitter.

“Sleepy Hollow” eroded slightly, off 3% from last week’s premiere with a 3.0 average. That’s t.v. technical jargon, folks.

Neither Robin Williams nor Michael J. Fox fare that well in their new sitcoms, “The Crazy Ones and “”The Michael J. Fox Show”. For me both seem to be pushing too hard.

Another new comedy features local comedienne Lauren Ash, veteran of Second City and many Canadian television commercials, in her continuing role in Rebel Wilson’s “Super Fun Night”. In my opinion it fares better than either of Robin or Michael’s shows.

I will finish with the last new show I saw, “Once Upon a Time, in Wonderland”. IT could be classed as the illegitimate surrogate of the ABC series, “Once Upon a Time” going into its third season. This story arc is supposed to only go for one year. The graphics are great but once again the story is convoluted.

Grown up Alice escapes a loony bin to search for her lost love back in Wonderland, with the White Rabbit (animated, voiced by John Lithgow) who may be a double-agent bunny, working for the Red Queen who has teamed up with Jafar.

Another show “TVWeek” has put on its endangered species list.

Oh for the good old days of Lucy and Ricky!

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata

Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between.

His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States.

Contact Ian with story ideas.

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