Two shows in particular. Neither of them new. One a comedy, one an action/drama. Both shows pushing the limits of accepted showmaking in their particular genre.
One is Scrubs the other is 24.
I have only recently jumped on the 24 bandwagon. I missed season 1, and refused to watch after that. Everyone talked about how great it was and I had no idea. I gave in, after my wife watched season 3, when my father-in-law bought season 1 on DVD, and let me watch it. Then I rented seasons 2 and 3 from Netflix. They were so good, I had them done before they could charge me for a second month. I even squeezed Shrek 2 and Collateral in before they made me return all the DVD’s I had to cancel my subscription. Perhaps the best $18 I ever spent. So, now I am at the beginning of Season 4, with about 11 hours waiting on my DVR. You know I’ll be caught up by the end of next week.
Scrubs, however, I have been watching since it started. I have missed Episodes here and there, for random occurences that I couldn’t prevent (of course, that changed with the DVR. Good GOD! Has there been a better invention, since TV itself?) But I have been a Scrubs fan since the beginning.
24 is a great show. It’s gripping, intense, and I honestly don’t know how I would get by if I had to watch it piecemeal, waiting a week in between each episode. The acting is good, although sometimes overly dramatic, especially since they got an accomplished, recognized actor to play the lead. The writing is OK. I understand that it’s a TV show, and that you have to suspend disbelief somewhat, which is why I won’t nitpick the insane amount of things that happen, and get wrapped up neatly in 24 hours. Overall, it’s a good show. If you haven’t watched it through season 3, but intend to, skip the next paragraph.
The question of which season is best, so far, is an interesting one. It’s hard to judge season 4, because it’s not done, and I haven’t started it. So I will only judge the first three seasons. For me, because I watched all three at the same time, there was no issue of novelty. That’s why I thought season 2 was better than season 1, and I think I find myself in the minority on that. It follows my “Lost World” Theory. In a nutshell, I thought Lost World was a scarier movie than Jurassic Park, and that the only reason people thought JP was better, was because the novelty of the dinosaurs effect had worn of by the time they saw LW. Same for 24. When it came out, it was groundbreaking TV. When season 2 game out…it was a little less groundbreaking. But in terms of the overall plotlines, I liked season 2 better. First, the main plot. Season 1 had a mole inside CTU helping kill Jack and the Presidential candidate. OK. I never for second, and not because I knew the show had more than one season, believed that Jack or Palmer would die. So what was the suspense? Who the bad guy was? Eh. Why he was doing it? Eh. Season 2, however, finding the bomb had real suspense. And that they had to fly it out to the desert. That’s good stuff. The secondary plot, however, it was brings season 2 really to the top. For instance, in season 1 there was all that annoying and completely unrelated CRAP about Palmer’s kids and the coverup. Made me nauseas every time it came on. However, a governmental conspiracy to take down the president, AND it ties into the main plot…much better. In fact, the only think season 1 has going for it, in my opinion, is that they killed off the most annoying character in TV history, something I was rooting hard in favor of. In fact, because both Nina and Sherry Palmer eat it in season 3 (Killing Kim would have been too much to ask for? Huh? Why? Because she’s hot? I thought for SURE when they gave her that nasty haircut in season 3 she was a goner. Oh, well. I had hopes.) that brings the “kill annoying people” index up on that one, even though the rest of it was OK at best.
Now to Scrubs, and why I seem to be the only guy I talk to who watches it. (Guy there is not meant to connote gender, it’s a placeholder. Although, with this whole explanation, it would save space to just write “person.” Allright, I know for next time.) This show is brilliant. It’s funny, piognant, and real. It’s not a sitcom. There’s no laugh track. Story lines and conflicts don’t tidy up nicely in 30 minutes. And the characters haven’t become caricatures of themselves. (see Will and Grace. This show has been in the crapper for 3 seasons. I get it, OK, Will is a narcissit, Grace is a pig, Karen’s a drunk and Jack’s dumb. Now STOP RAMMING THE SAME JOKES DOWN OUR THROATS EVERY WEEK.) The writing is clever, sarcastic at times and straightforward at others. But the writers and actors don’t play for the laughs. They understand that real comedy comes from playing it straight, and letting the words and situations do the work. There are things in life that are funny, and Scrubs brings them out. But there are things in life that are tragic, and Scrubs doesn’t gloss over those. Seriously, if you don’t watch Scrubs, start watching it. And if you need a quick Primer on the characters and setting, “gimme a call, I’ll fly with ya.” (Just Kidding, shoot me an email.) If time is a problem for you, that’s weak, because we all know you watch TV. If you have a TiVo or some other DVR. then you have no excuse at all. Put Scrubs on your season pass, and start watching true brilliance.