|The cast of Fox's delightful Bob's Burgers.|
"What are your shows?"
In this increasingly fragmented entertainment universe, that question may become the new millennium's version of "What's your sign?" After all, what better way to get to a quick fix on a person's personality and interests than by finding out which television shows that person follows on a regular basis?
Now that the 2010-2011 is over, I thought I'd give you a complete inventory of the shows I watch every week. If you want to know the "real" Wayne Kotke, look no further than this list. For your convenience, I've organized it by the night of the week on which it airs. Yes, I'm old fashioned and watch the shows "live," as it were.
Join me after the break, won't you?
Okay, here's the schedule. The shows marked with an asterisk (*) are my current Top 5 favorites.
The Cleveland Show
Comments: So I like cartoons. That shouldn't come as a surprise. Bob's Burgers is really one of the miracles of the 2010-2011 television season, a show which overcame some initial awkwardness to become maybe the funniest, most oddly touching shows on the air. Early reviews compared it to King of the Hill, which isn't too far off, but I think it plays even more like the second coming of Home Movies, which also utilized the talents of H. Jon Benjamin. Meanwhile, American Dad has been quietly doing some its best-ever work in the last couple of seasons. The show's central premise may seem rooted in Bush-era politics, but the writing and acting overcome that. In particular, Seth MacFarlane's performance as Roger, the Paul Lynde-inspired alien, elevates the entire show.
Comments: I have band rehearsal on Monday nights, so I can't get attached to any show on that night. Sorry, Monday night shows.
Comments: Like virtually every Glee viewer, except perhaps the loyal teenyboppers in the show's target demographic, I have a love/hate relationship with this series. But that's okay. The show's flaws -- and they are many (schizophrenic writing, for one) -- actually make the show more compelling, certainly more fun to discuss afterwards. The show's financial success and heavy media coverage cause some to dismiss it without much investigation, but I think it's one of the most daring, audacious shows on television. There's nothing quite like it. And amid the chaos and clatter, cast members like Naya Rivera, Chris Colfer, and Heather Morris are doing excellent work.
American Idol (performance show only)
Comments: I've been a regular Idol viewer since Season 5 (the Soul Patrol vs. the Kat Pack, remember?), and it's a habit I just can't quit. This season, though, I've limited myself to the performance shows. I guess what I like about the show is its old-fashioned corniness. If the patron saint of television, Mr. Ed Sullivan, were to rise from the grave, I think Idol would be the show he'd instantly understand. At its best, Idol is a combination of seemingly every TV genre: sitcom, drama, game show, variety show, and documentary. Season 9 tested viewers' patience, and at first Season 10 seemed like it was going to be a big improvement. But gradually, the show ran out of steam as it reached the finish line this year. (I can't remember a duller finale.) Too bad. But I'm pretty sure I'll be back for more next year.
Parks & Recreation*
Comments: So this is the big night, right? I don't think I need to say much about any of these shows. I realize there's a pretty strong backlash against The Office these days, but here's what I'll say: I tune in to this show for the little moments, and from my vantage point the show still has plenty of them. Ed Helms, in particular, is doing some very fine work. I don't worry so much about "character arcs" or "story arcs" on The Office anymore. I just watch for the jokes and the performances. Hate if you must. I sort of feel the same way about 30 Rock, which I think has more jokes per episode than anything on television. Meanwhile, Community and Parks are often astonishing, two of the best shows on television currently. I find myself getting involved with those shows to an embarrassing extent. Hell, Community has brought me to tears more than once. And if you're missing the antics of Nick Offerman and Aziz Ansari (among many others) on Parks, well, you're missing some funny shit.
Comments: Are there even shows on Friday? I do occasionally watch a local public access program called The World of the Weird Monster Show, which is an earnest-but-cheap attempt to recreate the "horror host" shows of yesteryear. TCM Underground occasionally has some awesome movies, too, though it technically airs on Saturday morning.
Saturday Night Live
Comments: I am not a fair weather fan of SNL, one who tunes in when it "gets good" but gives up during the rough patches. No, I'm a season ticket holder. I've been watching since I was 11 (thanks, Mom and Dad), and I'll probably be watching as long as the show remains on the air. The show is not particularly inspired at the moment, which is disappointing since it features an extremely talented and versatile cast. But I've watched SNL when it was at its low-down downdest, and the current version is nowhere near that bad. I will say: SNL, ease up on the recurring characters, the "gay panic" jokes, and sketches built around variations on a single gag. Work on those issues, and the show could easily be great again. I'll be watching either way.
OTHER VIEWING: I don't get much on my current cable, but my two favorite "anytime" channels are Turner Classic Movies and the Food Network. If I still got FX, I would watch Archer and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But I don't, so I don't.