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Confessions of a Television Junkie

I love this time of year. Love it and hate it.

Love it because I’m a television junkie, and autumn ’tis the season in which the networks roll out new content after a summer of reruns and basic cable (some of which is very good, by the way—check out The Closer, Saving Grace, and Burn Notice).

Hate it because I really don’t have time to watch TV the way it is, but the return of familiar faves and the arrival of new suitors are just too tempting to resist.

There may be hope for me yet, though. Is it just me, or this season off to a lackluster start? Evolving little post-Medellin, the Entourage boys were up to all the same antics in an episode that smacked of mid-season marking-time rather than a season premiere.

Alan Ball’s follow-up to Six Feet Under, True Blood, drew little fresh blood on ground already well trod by Buffy and Angel. (And Anne Rice—you’re seriously stretching credibility when one your characters expresses surprise to discover vampires in Louisiana.) First episodes are always awkward, though, what with all the setting up that needs to be done. I’ll give it another shot. It takes a lot for me to give up on anything that airs on HBO (John From Cincinnati, anyone?).

And Fringe, which should be super cool, is skating on thin ice. What looked like a twenty-first-century answer to The X-Files failed to help me go along with the supernatural leaps it made.

What I love about the medium is that television done well rivals great literature with compelling characters that evolve over the arc of a season or a whole series; complicated, multi-layered storylines; punchy dialogue; and consequential themes. Great television does all of this better than most movies.

And unlike books or film, which are produced largely in an audience vacuum and released to the world in pretty much complete, unalterable packages, TV shows can respond to their viewers, scrapping what’s not working and making adjustments when they veer off-track. (See, for example, Heroes.)

I’m sorry, but I just don’t trust—or, frankly, believe—anyone who claims they don’t watch television. There’s just too much good stuff out there. Really.

In the coming weeks, I can’t wait to reunite with

House
Reaper (If you’re not watching this devilish CW comedy, you should be.)
Heroes
The Office
30 Rock
CSI
Pushing Daisies
Family Guy
Life
The New Adventures of Old Christine
How I Met Your Mother
Two and a Half Men

I’ve heard Californication and Dexter are great, but I don’t get Showtime. Not making the cut after their midseason bows last year, however, are Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Knight Rider.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to meeting

My Own Worst Enemy
Kath & Kim
Life on Mars
Eleventh Hour
The Mentalist

Unfortunately, I’m not giving either Crusoe or Kings a chance.

How about you—what are you looking forward to on the boob tube this fall?

Caught in the ’Net

Play “Word Games to Improve Your Writing.”

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