Mr. TV: I Just Don’t Get It

I’m not sure why, but I have never gotten into NBC’s Friday Night Lights, which opens season four this Friday.  

You know by now, of course, that the network managed to keep the low-rated drama alive by partnering with DirecTV to spread the production costs. And that ensures at least one more season. So, there is plenty of time for me to still get involved. But there’s just something about this show—the cinema verité style, perhaps—that just doesn’t resonate. Considering my appetite for ABC’s Brothers & Sisters and classic family dramas, my lack of interest in Friday Night Lights is a disconnect for me.

And it’s not the only show that you might think I’d like, but don’t.

At the height of the hype surrounding ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy , I decided it was time to discover what all the hoopla was about. I did, after all, watch every single episode of similarly soapy Dallas and Knots Landing , never missed kindly Marcus Welby or Medical Center, and was glued to NBC’s ER in those early seasons. So, you might assume I would love Grey’s Anatomy, right? Actually, I have absolutely no interest in the lightweight “mcnonsense.” The show is so generic, in fact, that after tuning in to a recent episode for the first time in about two years I felt like I missed absolutely nothing. This doctor is sleeping with that doctor. The new young intern is being treated badly by the seasoned, overly-savvy veteran.  The grumpy patient really has a heart of gold deep down inside. Blah, blah, blah.

What I loved about my all-time favorite medical drama, St. Elsewhere, was how classic grumpy patient, Mrs. Hufnagel, was really and truly a total witch. And when she finally met her maker after her hospital bed snapped shut in the shape of a V, trapping and suffocating her inside, the water-coolers were vibrating the following morning with rounds of applause.
Too bad the writers on Grey’s didn’t consider doing the same with whiny Katherine Heigl before she exited the long-in-the-tooth serial. I bet material like that would have been good enough to snag her an Emmy.

I’m also not a fan of Grey’s spinoff Private Practice. And before you rationalize my distaste as a reaction to these being “chick” shows, historically so were aforementioned Dallas and Knots Landing. So, you never really do know who exactly is going to be watching what.

Facing Grey’s Anatomy, of course, is NBC’s combination of The Office and 30 Rock, both acquired tastes and neither breakout successes.  Although it took me time to get truly involved with the band of eccentrics on The Office, I still to this day find 30 Rock more miss than hit. Yet, anyone who’s a fan can’t stop raving about it. Once again, I just don’t understand what the big deal is. Chances are, of course, that either ABC’s Modern Family or Fox’s Glee will upstage 30 Rock at The Emmys and, for my money, rightfully so.

Another NBC sitcom I keep hearing has improved is Parks and Recreation. But after a couple of re-looks this season, I still consider it nothing more than a “B” level version of The Office.  While I have no problem making a commitment to the gang at Dunder Mifflin, the last thing I need (or you, apparently, based on the lackluster ratings) is another half-hour focused on a group of kooky co-workers.  

I also did not understand the critics who were buzzing about failed ABC office-place comedy Better Off Ted, the not-so-funny story of a nice guy working for a heartless technology company headed by icy Portia de Rossi. Since many of us have lived through a situation like that at one point or another—and in this recession fear for our jobs— it’s no wonder so few were interested.