It used to be that the major networks were the only one's producing new shows and the summer was a place for reruns. This concept began to change with the advent of HBO developing their own original programming, which they premiered during the summer to full media attention. With the great success that HBO received from this strategy, Showtime and FX networks decided to emulate their cable competitor. The past couple of years, with their market share evaporating, even the major networks have gotten on the bandwagon, realizing that the medium needs a 365-day strategy.
While many rag on television, I would argue that it has never had more quality programs. Considering that major studios are run by their marketing departments, with the majority of releases focused on either big budget effects, remakes of past films and television series, or sequels, it's now rare to hear quality dialogue on the big screen. Many writers and directors have come to the realization that if they want produce quality work, television is the best place to fully develop their themes.
As I mentioned last week's post, The Fat Club
FX's "Starved" is the best new show of 2005. Not far behind is a similarly dark comedy, "Weeds", which appears on Showtime. Starring the always-great Mary-Louise Parker, who plays a recently widowed mother of two that decides to sell marijuana to keep her family living in the comfortable suburban life they had grown accustomed to. If you are looking for a darker, edgier version of "Desperate Housewives", this is the place to move to.
So besides the new shows "Starved" and "Weeds", returning drama's "Six Feet Under" and "Rescue Me" keep the quality level high. Sure the glut of reality shows continues, but there is one that is definitely worth putting on your viewing schedule. Rock Star: INXS, airing twice a week on CBS has a group of singers that make American Idol participants look pathetic in comparison. The ultimate winner of the show will tour and record with INXS. One of the great parts of the show is that the contestants are singing quality songs, with the cover tunes they are given written by artists like U-2, Nirvana, REM, etc.
The only thing keeping this show from being a great reality show is that host Dave Navarro and the band members of INXS are way too nice, when commenting on the contestants. The show could really use a Simon Cowell to call out the weaknesses of the performers. If you haven't seen the show yet, it's a great time to dial it in, as most of the weaker performers have been bounced. Jordis, Marty, Ty, Mig, and JD all have star-power and it will be interesting to find out who fits the band best. Possibly the most unsung element of the show is how great the backing musicians are, as they seamlessly go from one style to another, rocking out like the best cover band on the planet.
One last note: In this great summer of programming, don't waste your time watching "Tommy Lee Goes to College". While the premise seemed funny enough, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee attends the University of Nebraska, all the "hi-jinks seemed forced and the way it's shot just adds to the non-reality of it. The show has a narrator who sounds like the guy who does the voice over for the Sadomania porn videos and just let me recommend those videos over this pathetic show. The Osbourne's and Anna Nicole Smith were train wrecks, but they were entertaining in their psychosis. Tommy Lee just feeds into the stereotype that the guy is a dickhead, who's biggest talent in life is his dickhead.