The Husband:

As I mentioned in my previous update on this long-running WB/CW show, Smallville became the exception to the rule by becoming a better, more focused and more exciting show only after the resignation of its two creators, Millar & Gough, as well as two of its biggest cast members, Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang) and Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor). By shifting its focus now almost 100% toward Metropolis, the show has grown into something grander while at the same time more intimate. How is this possible?

While I loved the Freak of the Week episodes of the first three seasons, all set in Smallville, they began to pale in comparison to the season-long story arcs (season four’s finale, especially, proved how good that show could be over an extended period of time). But when the FOWs went away, the season arcs suffered too, a result of their stories being far too stretched out and altogether too formulaic. I thought season 7’s major story, about the creation of Isis and its relation to Kara/Supergirl, was piss-poor.

Still strong, after all these years.

Still strong, after all these years.

But with season 8, the great big story arc, a.k.a. the Rise of Doomsday, was mixed in far better with a resurgence in FOWs, but instead of the first three seasons, where the formula was a villain becoming exposed to meteor rocks (i.e. kryptonite) and then discovering their dastardly power, these Metropolis-based villains are true super-villains, those both in control of their powers and aware of their major fuck-with-Clark-Kent plans. All in all, it just worked.

And oh man, did Kristin Kreuk’s exit ever help the show. After what seemed like decades of the Clark-Lana-Lex love triangle, Clark was finally allowed to focus on other tasks, not the least of which saving the world (and, you know, finally doing some heavy flirting with Lois). But Lana did come back periodically throughout the season, and while I would normally cry out “How can we miss you if you won’t go away,” I confess that I found her spring season two-episode arc to be some of the best work this show has seen. The best moment of the season, by far, was her sacrificing her newfound superpower, allowing kryptonite to enter her now-with-alien DNA body from a superbomb atop a Metropolis skyscraper, to save the city, to save the world, and to save Clark. Finally, I felt like she was actually a part of the story and not just the unwitting victim she was for so many years.

As far as VOWs in the second half of the season go (to me, they should now be Villains of the Week, because the show has finally earned that), the best was probably “Infamous,” where Linda Lake (Tori Spelling, not great but serviceable as a silly villain), the nasty gossip reporter who can turn into water, threatens to expose Clark’s true identity as the “Red-Blue Blur” (we’re not up to him being called Superman just yet), and has the story stolen from her as Clark comes clean to the world about his alien origins and superpowers, only to have his life fall apart and him conveniently going back in time thanks to that Legion Ring and setting everything straight again.

As for the best silly episode, that’s a tie between “Hex” – where Chloe wishes she had Lois’ life and ends up actually inhabiting her body – and “Stiletto” where Lois creates her own crime-fighting persona and realizes that it’s really hard to kick ass in stiletto heels. I need an episode like this every once in a while, just for levity’s sake.

(I did not, however, like any episode related to the Legion, sent from Krypton to aid Clark. It was just too on-the-nose and somewhat antithetical to Clark’s true mission to find himself and not just use others for their strengths.)

But all the best drama came from Davis Bloome a.k.a. Doomsday, the EMT with a confused past and a really bad case of turning into an indestructible monster whenever he blacked out or got angry. After he ransacked Chloe’s wedding to Jimmy Olsen, he finally starts up a relationship with her, as he notices that, thanks to her meteor rock-received power of healing, that he doesn’t turn into a destructive force when around her. But this leads to the best episode of the season, “Eternal,” where Davis’ past finally comes into focus. It turns out that he came down with Clark in that meteor shower back in 1989, but was picked up by Lionel Luther, who thought that he was the fabled Traveler who would save the world. (The true Traveler is, of course, Clark.) Once Lionel discovered his mistake, he treated Davis like shit and finally gave him up for adoption, not knowing that Davis would play a major part in the Kryptonian conflict on Earth, because Davis is literally destined to battle Clark.

It’s all rather silly, I know, but Sam Witwer really put a great deal of effort into making Davis a fully sympathetic yet loathsome creature, a troubled man with uncontrollable urges. And even when black kryptonite was finally used to separate his two personalities, Davis and Doomsday, he was still murderous and jealous enough to murder Jimmy Olsen in cold blood. (That final decision, to kill Jimmy, is a bold declaration from this show that we shouldn’t really expect anything anymore, and that the show technically is its own beast and doesn’t have to follow Superman’s comic lore if it doesn’t want to, a welcome respite from all those in-jokes to the lore that got real old real fast.)

Next season, the show will finally move away from its Thursday at 8 p.m. spot, where I’m amazed it lasted so long all those years up against such shows as Friends and Survivor and be placed on Friday nights where it might die a slow death. Then again, the show has always had trouble cracking the Top 100, and if you don’t factor in its youthful audience and its DVD sales it’s simply amazing that the show has lasted this long. But Tom Welling is 32 now and the show needs to end at some point, and I’m hoping that the Zod-centric next season will be its last. Most would say that the show has lost all of its energy, and while I won’t agree with that, I do think it needs an endgame and stick to it.

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The Wife:

We don’t usually do news here, but since I’m trying to decide what shows I can and can’t watch next year (thus, can and can’t cover) because of grad school, I figured I’d help you all out by sharing my handy-dandy season schedules for the major networks here at Children of St. Clare.

I’ve listed everything by hour, as most networks are running hour-long shows these days, so two half-hour shows are listed in the same box with the time the latter show starts in between them. If a show runs longer than one hour, I’ve indicated the length and listed it in the hour in which it starts. Asterisks (*) indicate new shows, and I’ll have some snap judgments on those shows following these graphics:

falllineupMTWRF

And here’s the weekend schedule for the fall, which, as you can see, is largely blank:

FallineupSS

In January, the networks will change to their midseason schedules:

midseasonlineupMTWRF

And here’s the weekend midseason schedule

midseasonlineupSS

Now, on the midseason schedule, you may notice some funny little symbols after the network names. Here are those footnotes:

  • # ABC has not yet announced its midseason lineup. The have, however, three new shows on deck: V, Happy Town and The Deep End, as well as returning shows Lost, Wife Swap, True Beauty, The Bachelor, Better Off Ted and Scrubs. Timeslots all to be determined.
  • + CBS has not yet announced its midseason lineup, but has the following shows for midseason replacements: Miami Trauma*, The Bridge*, Undercover Boss*, Arranged Marriage*, Rules of Engagement, Flashpoint
  • = CW’s midseason debut is Parental Discretion Advised, timeslot to be determined.
  • Additionally, Fox has Hell’s Kitchen scheduled for Summer 2010, and has Kitchen Nightmares on deck to fill holes in the schedule.

Now, for my snap judgments . . .

NBC: While we all know by now how I feel about Jay Leno, I can honestly tell you that the only one of their new shows I will definitely watch is Joel McHale’s comedy pilot Community, joining the NBC Thursday comedy block in 30 Rock‘s spot until it returns at midseason. Community has a good premise (McHale finds his college degree is invalid and must go back to community college to make up the credits), and has both McHale and Chevy Chase, who turned in a good performance as the villain at the end of Chuck season 2. I am overjoyed that Chuck is returning at midseason, as I think a 13-episode run will give us only the most super-concentrated awesomeness Chuck has to offer. I do not need another medical show in my life, so I’m declining Trauma and Michelle Trachtenberg’s nursing show, Mercy. 100 Questions looks so much like Friends that it is entirely out of the question for me. But then there’s Day One, which has a nice pedigree of coming from the people who work on Lost, Heroes and Fringe. It could be awesome, or it could be hokey, but I think it’s the only other promising thing NBC has to offer us.

ABC: I am delighted that ABC has given a permanent slot to Castle, allowing Nathan Fillion to prove he is charming, rakish and shouldn’t be a showkiller! He and Adam Baldwin have broken their own curse! Other than that, though, I am extremely concerned at how unimpressive the new shows debuting for fall seem, compared to the stuff ABC has on deck for midseason. Not a single one of the Wednesday night comedy block shows looks palatable. Hank looks downright abysmal, The Middle looks, well, middling, Modern Family falls flat and Cougar Town is trying way too hard. I might DVR Eastwick because I like Rebecca Romjin and Lindsay Price, but I have no emotional ties to either the previous film or the novel upon which it’s based to grab my immediate attention. I watched a clip from The Forgotten and I can tell you right now that I think it’s going to be the most dour procedural on television, and I certainly don’t need that in my life. I am, however, intrigued by Flash Forward because I like both time travel and Joseph Fiennes. But what sounds really interesting are the midseason shows. The Deep End is about law students and, out of all the ABC clips I watched, it certainly has the most character, pizzazz and joy. It also has Tina Majorino, looking the prettiest she’s ever looked. I will give that a shot when it premeires. I will also give hardcore sci-fi reboot V a shot, as we certainly don’t have any shows on network TV currently dealing with alien invasion, and I’m really jazzed on the trailer for Happy Town, which seems like its going to be a slightly more normal Twin Peaks (in that its a small town mystery), only this time, with Amy Acker!

FOX: I’m wary of a fall edition of SYTYCD, but I do see the benefit of it giving FOX a consistent schedule so that things don’t get shitfucked when Idol rolls around at midseason. Perhaps, if this is a success, going forward we’ll have to find a new totally awesome summer reality competition . . . maybe one for actors? OR MAYBE WE CAN MAKE A TRIPLE THREAT SHOW BECAUSE I WOULD TOTALLY WATCH THAT????? (Please, FOX?!!!!) Fox is actually my favorite of the networks so far, actually. I’m happy to see they’ve renewed Dollhouse and paired Bones with Fringe, which makes for a really rockin’ Thursday. Also excited to see Sons of Tucson with Tyler Labine as it looks pretty funny from the promo.  Human Target looks pretty fun, too. And you best fucking bet I will be watching Glee. The only thing I think I’d really pass on, here, is Past Life, and that’s just because I’m not really interested in seeing a show that solves crimes using past life regression (although one of my favorite X-Files episodes has exactly that conceit). So, rock on, FOX. You are my winner for next season.

CBS: I will be skipping pretty much every new show on CBS this year as they continue to build their police procedural empire. However, I will give a try to the new Monday comedy Accidentally on Purpose, even though it’s based on the memoirs of a film critic I don’t like very much, the Contra Costa Times‘ Mary F. Pols, who can’t seem to see the good in anything at all. The show is set in San Francisco, though Pols lives somewhere in the Walnut Creek area in reality, I assume, and Jenna Elfman plays the fictional version of Pols’ film critic who accidentally gets pregnant by a younger, one-night stand and decides to keep the baby, and it’s daddy. I generally like Jenna Elfman and, of course, adore Grant Show, who will be playing her boss. I will also give Three Rivers a shot, because it stars Moonlight‘s Alex O’Laughlin and its about organ donation, so there’s a chance I could see him repeat at least part of his horrifying performance in Feed, a film in which he kidnaps obese women and feeds them their own fat until they die. (How he would repeat part of that performance, I don’t know, but I’d like to see CBS try.)

CW: Will I watch a show produced by Ashton Kutcher about teenage models called The Beautiful Life? Yes, I will. Will I watch a show about teenage vampires called The Vampire Diaries? Indeed, I would probably watch something like that, as long as it sucked in a good way and not a bad way. Melrose Place? I have even less of a connection to that show than to 90210, so I’m not inclined to watch the reboot — especially since Ashlee Simpson’s on it. But, hey, I might need some mind-numbing crap to counterbalance all my grad school reading, so perhaps. I’ll give Melrose Place a perhaps, a perhaps perhaps, even, if I choose to continue watching 90210, making my Tuesday nights just like 1992. I am, however, surprised that CW axed the Gossip Girl spin-off, as even though I didn’t like the backdoor pilot, I did think the show had potential. I’m also surprised they axed Jason Dohring and Minka Kelly’s legal show, Body Politic, if only because I was hoping both former Moonlight vampires would have jobs come fall, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for Josef Kostan nee Logan Echolls.

So, as the curtain on this TV season falls, you can look forward to me actually writing about Mad Men this summer, as well as many, many articles on SYTYCD. After that, I’m going to have to see what my fall schedule is like and compare it to the above fall schedules to see what I can really watch and what I can, in turn, cover.

I’ll make you guys a chart of all that later.

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