For quite a while Sunday now has been my “Must See TV” day. During football season you can catch a couple of games during the afternoon as a build up to the primetime magic starts. Back a few years ago that magic was purely Fox; The Simpsons, followed by a mixed bag, than The X-Files. When than The X-Files ended there was a big hole in my Sunday night TV watching.
This year has been a banner year for Sunday. Desperate Housewives and Arrested Development are two of the most creative shows around. Now with Deadwood coming back HBO has made things super difficult for me to decide what to watch at 9 p.m. If FOX moves Arrested to 9 p.m. permanently it will be the best time slot around. Luckily for me I have time-shifting which allows me to watch the west coast feeds.
This past Sunday was another example of the greatness of Sunday TV, the lack of football withstanding. Here is how I spent my Sunday night:
8:00 p.m.: The Simpsons
I hear it almost every day. “It’s not as good at it usto be,” or “I think they should just end it already.” Blasphemy I say! Reluctantly I will admit that the show is past its prime. It does not compare to the glory years but it is still one of the better comedies on TV. Perhaps that is more of a statement of how far comedies have fallen than anything. But for 30 minutes each Sunday The Simpsons entertain me and make me laugh. This past week’s episode was an example of another mediocre episode. Even though it did not wow me, there were some great moments. The Gary Busey cameo was classic! The restraining order video made me remember the great Troy McClure (we still miss you Phil) and his instructional videos. Homer’s job at Sprawl-Mart (not Wal-Mart) as a greeter gave a glimpse of the old days when The Simpsons would attack anyone and anything.
8:30 p.m.: Arrested Development
What can I say about this show that has not already been said by pretty much every TV critic with a brain and a sense of humour? Julia Louis-Dreyfuss returned to the show as lawyer Maggie Lizer. It has been nine months since she saw Michael and hey guess what? She is pregnant! Michael displays his typical attempts to both be a nice guy and true to his more evil self. Very much like me in many regards. It is near impossible to convey the humour of this show in words. You really have to watch it.
So after a solid hour of comedy I was getting ready for two hours of solid HBO goodness. At this point I did not realize that Fox was showing a second Arrested Development at 9 p.m.
9:00 p.m.: Deadwood
I have been anxiously awaiting the return of this show. The second season premiere did not let me down in one bit. To my surprise the start of the second season surpassed my expectations. It started off with a bang, literally! A sex scene between Seth Bullock and the widow Alma Garrett allowed Molly Parker to show off her talents. Yeah I know bad pun.
The show immediately began to deal with the story line that will no doubt be the centrepiece of season two. That being how Deadwood will be brought into America and under federal law. Swearengen’s anger about this situation leads him to publicly humiliate Bullock about his affair with Garrett. This humiliation leads to the long awaited fight between the two main characters. After the end of last season it looked like this conflict would never happen. Both sides seemed to have cooled down and take a live and let live approach. So the fight that happened Sunday night was a bit surprising. The two of them went at it big time. Both sustained quite serious injuries. Bullock got a serious concussion whereas Swearengen sustained some serious rib injuries and his face was quite badly mangled. When the fight went over the second floor railing of The Gem each side’s cohorts came to protect their friend. All this did was end up with Bullock’s pals, Sol Star and Charlie Utter getting shot. Man I was super worried one or both of these guys were gonna die. Luckily none of the wounds were life-threatening.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Deadwood is the depth of its supporting cast. I had nearly forgotten about the “other” whore house in town. The brewing split between Cy and his madam/favourite whore Joanie came to a head this week as well. Joanie officially left Cy to start another house of ill repute. Cy’s line, “It’s either kill you or let you go,” summed up his tortured soul. How this story line plays out will keep things interesting over the course of season two.
Oh yeah and WHAM! Seth’s “family” showed up. I put family in quotes because they are essentially an adopted family. Seth married his brother’s widow and took responsibility of raising his brother’s son. He has built them a nice home but it is clear that, while Seth is willing to be a good father he is not as interested in being a good husband. There is no doubt that his wife will soon figure out, or at least guess, that something is up between him and the beautiful Alma. Will she let this affair go on figuring that she cannot expect Seth to be in love with her? Will Alma leave Deadwood because of the pain of seeing the one she loves married to someone else?
So many unanswered questions. I just hope the rest of season two lives up to its beginning.
10:00 p.m.: Carnivale
Oh HBO you give me so many reasons to love thee. Carnivale is just another reason. I must admit I was incredibly depressed at the way season one ended. I felt cheated! There were no real answers just more questions. I worried was I being sent on a wild goose chase?
This season has been a vast improvement. This week was no different. Ben anxiously is trying to catch up to the man who kidnapped his father. The tragic events of the last episode, where a woman died after an accident on the Ferris Wheel, are not soon forgotten. The avenging husband catches up with the fleeing carnival crew and kidnap Jonesy and Libby. Him and his friends proceed to torture Jonesy by tarring and feathering him. YIKES! That’s gotta hurt. The whole time Libby has to watch her husband endure this terrible fate. Just as the vultures are hovering above and I fear that one of my favourite characters is about to be killed off good old Ben shows up to save the day. Ben uses his power for the second episode in a row and restores Jonesy to perfect health (including his previously mangled knee) much to the chagrin of the nearby vultures.
On the other side of things Sophie has become entangled with Justin and his ever dangerous sister. Oh man what a turn. I can’t WAIT to see how Ben reacts when he finds out. Reverend Norman displayed heroic strength, although bad aim, in his attempt to assassinate Justin. I have been waiting for the day Norman “made his move.” I knew it would fail but it was pretty cool nonetheless. Iris continued to grow her dark side by offing Eleanor. Bashing her with an oar! Tony Soprano would LOVE this woman! Than to top it all off she tells the Reverend after his attempt to shoot Justin, “I was proud of what you did today. Such courage. Only you and I know…We will choose our time, Norman, and we will expose him.” Bombshell! Is she gonna turn on her brother? WOW!
Samson is still the real star of the show. How can you not love this guy? The actor playing him, Michael J. Anderson, is outstanding. If anyone had any doubts, not that they should have, he has proven that little people (I am sorry if that is not the politically correct term, I am not up on what is or isn’t PC) can carry a show.
I love what is going on with the show now. The whole “chase format” of the past couple of shows is amazing. It builds up so much suspense.
11:00 p.m.: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Ok you may start laughing. Done? Yes this is truly one of my guilty pleasures. I have been watching it on the west coast feed for the past couple of weeks. I don’t know why I like it but I do. Perhaps it is because after watching messed up families (Simpsons, Bluthes); people killing, whoring, gambling (Deadwood); the struggle between good and evil (Carnivale); and a show (Desperate Housewives) that pretty much has all of that, but was not on this week, I guess I need something cheesy and uplifting.
I know Ty Pennington can be quite annoying. Somehow this show “gets to me”. I like the idea of giving people a new home. I hate those other makeover shows. Giving someone a home is a real life changing event. The casting of the show, i.e. the families picked, seem to always be people you can “root” for. In one of the shows people from the neighbourhood volunteered to help out including a guy who was going to be shipped out with his army unit to Iraq the next day. I mean how can you not be even a little bit moved by that?
This week the team helped out a family who had sextuplets (six kids at once). The true joy on every family’s face when they see their new house is always amazing. Every episode they do something special for the family. In this case the homebuilder raised money to establish a college scholarship fund for all of the kids. I am not naÃƒÂ¯ve enough to believe that this show solves all the problems of the families involved but it sure gives them a step up to improve their lives; much more so than any of those surgery or clothes makeover shows.
12:00 a.m.: Arrested Development
Most nights I would be watching a little DH as I like to call it. Yeah I know calling it that makes it seem like a soap but I don’t care. This week I found that there was another new Arrested Development on that I did not realize before. This was essentially a part two of the first episode I watched earlier. Oh and before anyone starts I do know that it is technically Monday morning now but…bite me, this is my column and I make the rules.
This episode dealt with the consequences of what happened earlier. Michael is still trying to figure out if he is going to be a father. Buster’s missing hand is causing him to act more erratic than normal. His attack on his brother Gob (where his claw gets stuck in a very uncomfortable place) was hilarious. It was a great way to end the night.
Well that is all for now. My “holy day” was truly a good one. I can’t wait till next Sunday.