TV transitions

Pushing Daisies wallpaper

In the past few months, the 2008-2009 television season drew to a close with the cancellations of numerous genre shows. I was particularly fond of comedies Pushing Daisies, The Middleman, and Reaper (all of which may wrap up storylines in comic book form). Long-running, critically acclaimed shows such as ER and Battlestar Galactica
(BSG) finished, as did immature ones like Crusoe and Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles.

I thought the whimsical Eli Stone, Valentine, and Cupid deserved a chance, and we’ll never know if dramas such as biblical allegory Kings would have lived up to their potential. Space operas BSG and Stargate: Atlantis ended with a whimper, although each promises to have more spin-offs with The Plan/Caprica and Stargate: Universe, respectively.

Thanks to HBO and Showtime’s free preview weekend, Janice and I caught the second
season premiere of vampire melodrama True Blood and the dark comedy Nurse Jackie. While neither was particularly realistic, both showcased the quality of writing that
distinguishes HBO from its many competitors.

I can’t say the same thing for Frank Miller’s live-action adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. As a fan of the recent comic book continuation by Darwyn Cooke and others, I was
disappointed that Miller chose to emphasize over-the-top violence rather than the wry humor of Eisner’s blue-masked gumshoe.

I’d put the rotoscoped cyberpunk A Scanner Darkly, Brendan Fraser’s juvenile adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth, and comedian Jack Black’s Be Kind, Rewind somewhere between those two extremes. Each of these movies was reasonably entertaining.

The remake of Blind Samurai was interesting, and it’s a shame that Fox didn’t give the speculative fiction Virtuality a chance beyond its television pilot. As a student of Arthurian lore, I wanted to like BBC/NBC’s Merlin but was instead annoyed at the numerous ways in which it dumbed down the characters and plot for a younger audience.

HBO’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and PBS’s latest Poirot have been solid, if not overly faithful to the source novels, according to Janice, who somehow retains plot details of numerous mysteries for years (I suppose my own knowledge of comic book continuities is similar).

Coming soon: The summer TV season begins!