Kendra's Top 5 Surprises
I was planning on being disappointed with House this fall since I thought the great Dr. House going to a mental hospital was a sure sign the show was destroyed. It was set up at the end of last season as if either House was insane and wouldn't be able to practice medicine anymore, or House had a chance of getting better as long as he got off the drugs, but then he'd be in so much pain he wouldn't be able to practice medicine. Yet somehow, it all worked out, though they rushed through House's institution stay in one long premiere episode. But besides that, I think the effect that character development for House has had on the show has actually made for one of the best seasons so far, leading me to be downright shocked House could not only pull off this craziness but make it great!
The big Breaking Bad health developments of this year, much like those of House, made me originally prepare myself for a big disappointment in yet another of my favorite shows. But then, pleasant and shocking surprise, Walt's cancer actually improving (when the show's tension was entirely based on him quickly dying and trying to provide for his family after his death with drug money), was not destroyed by his improved health. Instead, this bold plot twist ended up being one of the most fascinating plot developments I've ever seen on a show.
While Mad Men is always full of surprises, it pulled off one of the biggest and most exciting surprises of all with its huge and shocking Season 3 finale! While there have been huge changes on Mad Men over its few fantastic seasons, there were always a few solid points of the story we could count on: Don would be a big wig genius advertiser at a big company, and Don and Betty would stay together - miserable and forever cheating - but together. Then the Season 3 finale came along and turned all that on its head in one hour. Don and his fellow solid original crew started their own company out of a hotel room, and Don and Betty separated. While the blow of the business change was softened by the thrill of knowing we'll get to watch them build a booming company, but the blow of Don and Betty splitting up was harsh as we painfully watched them tell their kids as if we were ssitting right there with them breaking the kids' hearts.
It was clear when The CW jumped on the vampire trend train with this new vampire show this year that it would be a hit with the CW teen audience, but I expected it to be a lot more cheesy (okay, to me that means more Twilight-like, sorry fans). But while I planned to watch it but not need to watch it, I found myself drawn in from week to week needing to see that Damon cause trouble and see just how disastrous his latest trouble had been! It still has that teen drama and vampire hype silliness to it now and then, but overall I've been surprised by how addictive this new show is, whether I want it to be or not!
This is another teen show I planned to watch but not love. Since I disliked ABC Family's recent new teen series, The Secret Life of The American Teenager because it was just too cheesy, lesson-focused, and bad acting-driven, I expected MIOBI to not be all that different. I was instead surprised to be immediately hooked! Beyond basic element of watching some great (half stunt) gymnastics, this show did a wonderful job of building a solid cast not only good at somewhat non-cheesily becoming friends, but good at creating some serious drama within the group in a way that continues to show those friendships growing and changing instead of just girls being bitchy to each other. It's hard to find a group that can portray such real emotions to close friendships and pull off the excitement of competition, and this cast definitely does it.
Kendra's Top 5 Disappointments
With all the epic promos and enormous hype for Trauma this fall, it was clear NBC was gunning for Trauma to be their next ER. But, just as I feared from watching all the promos and noted in my NBC Fall Preview, this show was far too focused on creating epic accident scenes, and not focused on creating strong and interesting characters. ER was all about the perfect mix of medical drama and personal drama for the doctors and nurses, and Trauma missed matching up on that mark by far.
I was excited to watch Cougar Town this fall since it looked like a really fun new comedy, and not only was it great to get Courteney Cox Arquette back into comedy, but it seemed she was going to be the perfect actress to make Cougar Town cute and charming instead of the possible over-cheesiness a show with the premise of a 40-year-old woman back on the prowl had the potential to be. But alas, while Courteney Cox and the rest of the cast are pretty cute, the show overall is just plain not funny or clever. The characters and plotlines are all thinner than that white swimsuit Courteney's character wore to show off just how darn hilarious being a single, hot, yet awkwardly disastrous 40-year-old mom can be. Tragic.
Gossip Girl goes to college. If that doesn't sound like the title of a straight-to-DVD movie, I don't know what does. That sense of a hole-filled plot, poor quality storylines, and awful character development you get from a movie that didn't even deserve to hit the big screens is exactly what this season of Gossip Girl has been like. It's hard to make it work on a show when the characters have to move from all being at the same high school to going off to college, but it shouldn't have been so hard on Gossip Girl when they all could easily have gone to New York colleges and gotten together all the time. There was no need for all the extra complications they've created which have only become those thin and disconnected storylines we would hope to avoid on our favorite juicy teen drama.
I was skeptical when Cleveland got a Family Guy spin-off since he's not the most thrilling of characters, but Cleveland not being an interesting character ended up being the least of our worries when it came to The Cleveland Show. As my fellow SideReel editor Dom says, Seth MacFarlane's American Dad! gets the second rate Family Guy jokes, then Cleveland Show gets the third rate FG jokes, but I wouldn't even give that many props to the Cleveland Show jokes. Sorry, Seth, this one needs to go. And yes, I know, it's been renewed for eternity, but I'll keep hoping there's some way this one can get nixed sooner rather than later.
For some, the BSG series finale was the TV letdown of the decade. Sound dramatic? I'd say not really as long as you keep the word 'TV' in front of 'letdown of the decade' there and recall that this was also one of the most epic shows of the decade, one of the most nail-biting and thrilling shows of this past year, and one of the weirdest show endings imaginable. Yes, we expected the characters wouldn't all live happily ever after on the BSG ship, but having them find Earth and it all to end in weird religious experiences, unnecessary and bizarre deaths, and then leaving us with the knowledge it was just all going to happen again? Well that's not just disappointing, that's exhausting and for some fans, as if the enter epic journey was entirely pointless.