Mid-Season Report Card

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We’re in the home stretch for a bunch of shows at this point, with the last few episodes burning off in the weeks before Christmas. Here’s my mid-season (or ‘end of season’ report card for each show):

Gossip Girl – the show has proven itself outside of the trappings of attending ‘school’, which limited them in the first two seasons, but it still suffers from way too much ‘lightswitch flipping’ where the character’s relationships – friends or otherwise – are way too on again, off again. The big storylines of the season are kind of flops: Juliet feels way too old and the show will never takedown Serena, Dan the baby daddy was a short-lived catastrophe (PS: we need more Dan!), and the fact that costars Blake Lively and Penn Badgley have broken up in real-life makes the show a little bit…well, par for the course.
Grade: B-

Life Unexpected – I’ve quite enjoyed this season, despite it still not quite living up to its potential. Bringing Tash in as a less bedraggled version of her S1 self was wise, although the addition of Ryan’s sister Paige has really done nothing for his character or the show. Exploring Ryan & Cate’s bigger relationship issues is important, but I didn’t like the random Julia storyline. I didn’t love the ‘Minnesota’ storyline, although the tangled mess its made and the introduction of Sam (of Degrassi fame) seems promising. Also major props for bringing in Emma Caulfield, who I can never disassociate as Anya from Buffy, but she makes a surprisingly sweet and interesting match for Baze. Theory: Emma (it’s her name on the show) mentioned early on she had a four-year relationship with a married man. I guessed immediately her hesitation towards Baze was the fact it was with his father, and his dad’s bizarre reactions during the Thanksgiving episode make me thing this is the unsurprising bombshell the creators are going to drop sooner rather than later. But I like Emma! And Sam! Come on guys!
Grade: B+

One Tree Hill – Oh god why do I still watch this show? I used to joke with my sister about how terrible the first two seasons were, then I accepted OTH into my life when it peaked from Seasons 3 to 5 (debatably parts of 6 were decent) as a slower-paced character study. Now? It’s just terrible. I find myself often fast-forwarding the scenes with Quinn and Clay (although the latter is hot) because I can’t stand them and their random interjection into the series’ regulars. I also find that the chemistry the original leads has it lacking – they’ve built little worlds around each of the main characters for them to live in, but I miss seeing them together. The rare scenes between Haley and Brooke or Nathan and Mouth are among the best. Also it seems at least one storyline per episode is totally effing pointless – see: the treasure hunt with Quinn & Jamie last season, or the bucket list for Brooke this past week. This show just feels like it has completely lost the plot, and the only reason I’ve had to justify watching it for seasons 7 and 8 was to ‘see how it ends’. So OTH – END IT.
Grade: D

Parenthood – Probably my favourite scripted show at the moment. The interesting thing about Parenthood is that, like OTH, it doesn’t really have an ‘end game’ in mind, but yet it works so much better. The events of the show follow relatively realistic timelines and in many cases, there are no easy answers or hasty resolutions to the storylines (ex: Max’s aspergers, Camille and Zeke’s marital strain). The show is still a little sprawling for its own good – we need more Mae Whitman! – but in general I get really excited when I see this on my PVR.
Grade: A-

America’s Next Top Model – An interesting season in that Tyra’s guest stars and challenges and prizes much more reflected the never-ending theme of ‘high end’. The build-up of Ann kind of sort of made sense, and I’m glad they saw it through, but I’m sceptical about her real-world adaptability (i.e. will she be able to stomach rejection? Will she be able to do commercial work?). Overall a positive direction for the show to go in, here’s hoping they keep it up.
Grade: B+

Survivor – I know a lot of people are kind of at odds with this season. In some ways the cast has been pretty unlikable – there’s no ‘heroes’ in this bunch to root for like JT of Tocantins – but they’ve also been pretty memorable. Jimmy Johnson, Jimmy T, NaOnka, Marty, Alina, Brenda – all of them have been more notable players than many others eliminated before the final three. I haven’t minded this season, but it’s not one of their strongest – the game changers were eliminated early on (to be fair, in game-changing moves) and with the big quitfest this past week, it kind of sucks that happened. I’d have loved for Jimmy J to have stayed on longer. Overall I’m curious to see how this season ends though – everyone left is NOT who I would have picked in the beginning to go all the way.
Grade: B

The Office – The show has really lost its footing in the last few years, feeling increasingly gimmicky and contained versus long-term storylines, whether they be office-related (like the multiple season implosion of Dunder Mifflin) or character-related (hello romantic storylines). There have been some laughs this season, but overall its kind of par for the course of the latter Office seasons.
Grade: B

Saturday Night Live - Oh woe is me at how bad this show has gotten. The writing is terrible, the sketches wayyyy too-oft repeated, and the reliance on Kristen Wiig painful. I have no words, other than to say, Lorne Michaels, give me a call if you want something good to happen with your show. I'm at the point now where I analyze every sketch to say "That wasn't funny. That was terrible. What were they thinking?" versus actually just enjoying it and laughing.
Grade: D-

The Amazing Race – There’s no way an all-female team won’t win at this point. At least that’s my theory. Although fact, despite the fact they keep on winking at the fact one of the final three teams could MAKE HISTORY re: all females, lest we forget during the All Stars season two of the final teams there were females-only as well, and the Franken-team of Danielle and Eric nabbed the win. This season has been kind of lacklustre, as the format gets tired – I’m hoping the rumours about another All Star edition or a celebrity edition are true, as I’d love to see them shake things up a bit. I felt like Brook and Claire were shoved down our throats as the rah rah team to cheerlead for (double sidenote: no team that has used the U-Turn has ever won the show to my knowledge, so in theory, B&C are going to win), while the doctors, while admirable, are kind of boring. I’m not asking for buckets of drama, but a little more enthusiasm and a lot less restraint would make this team easier to root for. Jill and Thomas are just your typical cute, cocky, young couple that tends to excel on this show. I kind of like them, but I’m also rooting for an all female team to win – it sucks that an otherwise likable (if unmemorable team) is kind of being cast as the villains this season. In fact, the belief that I have that this will happen is the main thing that elevates this season’s grade.
Grade: B

- Britt's On

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