What I'm Watching: A Drunken Fall Preview

If you've read even one or two of my previous posts then you likely know I watch ridiculous amounts of television. These are the shows that I kept up with (either live, on TiVo, downloading, or DVD) last season:

24, American Idol, American Dad, Arrested Development, Battlestar Gallactica, Boston Legal, Deadwood, Family Guy, The Flavor of Love, Lost, Love Monkey, My Name is Earl, The Office, Prison Break, Scrubs, Smallville, The Sopranos, Weeds, and The West Wing.

That colossal amount of time spent on my couch doesn't qualify me to run for office, enter the space program, or a lot of other things, but it does make me pretty much a TV guru. That my friends is why it behooves you (yes, it's a word) to pay attention to the programs I suggest. This is what I'm watching this year, and why. All times listed are Central (I make it so convenient. Gosh, I'm thoughtful).

1. Lost -- Other than "Deadwood" (now off the air awaiting two series ending HBO movies), this is by far the best drama on TV. Well written, well acted, beautifully shot (in HD no less), with a production budget that roughly equals Kevin Smith's entire career, it is what longform narrative (ie hourlong drama series) should aspire to. And it's really cool, too! Premiers: October 4th, Wednesdays 8pm on ABC.

2. 24 -- If it weren't quite so straightforward (bad guy does bad things, Jack punishes them) this might rival "Lost" as the best drama. On the other hand if it weren't so straightforward, I don't know if people would like it as much as they do. It's 24 episodes/24 hours real-time format is the television equivalent of a page-turner and thanks to Fox's gutsy scheduling (straight through the season, no repeats) the way that broadcast networks schedule their shows is beginning to change (yay for "Lost"). Kiefer Sutherland alone makes this show worthwhile. Premiers: January, Mondays 8pm on Fox.

3. Boston Legal -- I was late to this one, and will pay for it by having to catch up with the second season DVD (in stores early November), but the moment I started the first episode I knew I was in love. William Shatner (whose coolness is only surpassed by Sam Jackson) has never been better. The part of Denny Crain must have been tailormade for him, and James Spader is a great companion for him. It's the best parts of L.A. Law and Ally McBeal without all the filler (that makes sense, because they're all from the same creator). Premiers: September 19th, Tuesdays 9pm on ABC.

4. The Office -- The funniest "sitcom" since probably Seinfeld. Not a single episode has gone by that I have not literally laughed out loud, and that's rare with television. Steve Carrell has jumped past all his "Frat Pack" buddies in my eyes, mostly because of this show, but the amazing thing is that Carrell doesn't really outshine his co-stars here. Every single character is fully realized and fully hilarious. I know it was popular at first to bash this because the original British version was so highly regarded, but in the second season the American "Office" found it's own voice and (in my opinion) surpassed its predecessor. Incidentally for those of you that missed this jewel the first time around, Best Buy is running a special this week on both Season 1 and Season 2 all in one box for $42.99. Buy it now, thank me later. Premiers: September 21st (my birthday) Thursdays 7:30pm NBC.

5. My Name is Earl -- If "The Office" had not risen to such lofty comedic heights last year, I would be hailing this show as a rebirth for sitcoms. It's hilarious due in no small part to Jason Lee who's man-stache and wit carry this show. Supporting actors Ethan Suplee and Jaime Pressly keep the funny rolling. This show actually has a little less carryover storyline from week to week so, even if you missed last season, be sure and check it out. Premiers: September 21st, Thursdays 7pm on NBC.

6. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip -- Other than having the longest name in the history of television, this show also has the best writer in television, Aaron Sorkin. Creator of "Sports Night" and "The West Wing" (two of my all-time favorite shows), Sorkin writes dialogue that other writers dream about. Set backstage at a fictional "Saturday Night Live" type show, this looks to be (according to the critics and yours truly) one of (if not the) best new shows. Premiers: September 18th Mondays 9pm on NBC.

7. Heroes -- This one hasn't gotten the critical praise that "Studio 60" has, but it also hasn't been panned so far. Take equal parts "X-men" "Unbreakable" and "Lost" stir well and pour over a large attractive multi-cultural cast. That's about the recipe for "Heroes." Premiers: September 25th Mondays 8pm on NBC.

8. Scrubs -- Ella and I are behind on this one as well. We've only watched the show on DVD, but it is hilarious (a perfect companion for "My Name is Earl" and "The Office"). The first three seasons are available on DVD now, the fourth will be out sometime this Fall/Winter, and new episodes are returning sometime (undetermined currently) on NBC. This one is worth breaking out the TV guide for, so watch for it.

Runners up -- These are shows I'll probably still keep up with. They are very much worth your time, just not the cream of the crop like the shows listed above.

Family Guy -- Still hilarious, but I have to admit for me it's lost some of it's shine.
Smallville -- I'm not going to lie, it's not even a good show, but I'm invested after five seasons.

Rome -- HBO does not make bad shows, period. Ella and I just started watching season one of this on DVD. Season Two will premier sometime in early 2007.

American Idol -- I'm reserving judgement on this one. I had never gotten into it until last season and that was only because of the contestants. If they stink, so does the show.

Flavor of Love -- Second season is currently running on VH1 on Sundays. I have already expressed my love for this show, but they just brought back New York from Season 1, and I'm not sure I can handle it.

There they are, the shows I'm watching (or will be) this Fall. Check them out, the Drunken Rogue wouldn't steer you wrong. Also as the new shows ("Studio 60" and "Heroes") premier, I'm sure I'll be reviewing, so look forward to that.