Cable Boxing: The season — or what”s left of it — in TV

May 20, 2008 at 5:23 pm

By normal criteria — complete seasons, multi-layered story arcs and full-blown characterizations — the 2007-2008 television season basically sucked.

Hamstrung by a months-long writers’ strike, FOX let Jack Bauer take a “day” off; CBS let kids run a small ghost town, and they’ll probably wind up in therapy because of it; a “Dancing With The Stars” dame collapsed onstage … and through it all, we learned the meaning of tolerance, intestinal fortitude and the TiVo option.

Thank God for cable. HBO served up two grand slams: “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.” Both will continue to generate DVD sales well into the future, provided online fan fury over Tony’s denouement doesn’t prompt David Chase to “finish” the story. Five seasons of flawless, and infuriating, interpretations on drugs in our society, “The Wire” ended on a high note, and should make a nice addition to, we hope, a never-ending cultural dialogue on drugs.

Showtime was no slouch, either: “Dexter” shows Louisville love in Jennifer Carpenter’s portrayal of Debra, Dexter’s neurotic sister. “The L Word,” now entering its final season, arguably had the world’s first all-lesbian, mob-style “sit-down” (in Mafia parlance) and reconnected power couple Bette and Tina. And “Californication” proved David Duchovny would have life beyond “The X-Files.”

Not all network shows bit it, though. When the season finally rebooted in April, there were some finales we couldn’t ignore, nor despise:

The Office
The fourth season finale explores how to improve your coworker/employee’s going-away party:
Step 1: Your boss is immature enough to hide his grandma’s monthly check in his sock for months, then whips it out to pay for food, a live band, a Ferris wheel and fireworks at your sendoff.
Step 2: Your new human-resources department head is a quirky knockout who strangely misinterprets the signs of mental retardation, ;).
Step 3: Your kiss-ass underling succeeds in humiliating a difficult employee, while also opening you up to corporate reprimand.
Step 4: Your ex reveals she’s pregnant thanks to a sperm donor. Maybe your sperm shrivel up and die out of inertia.
Last of all …
Step 5: Your idiot coworker steals your engagement thunder by engaging himself to a prudish She-Devil. —MH

If you haven’t seen this yet, stop reading now. Eight (well, 7½) seasons in, the ensemble cast led by William Petersen continues to throw curveballs and put on a clinic for other crime shows. Regular readers of knew Gary Dourdan was out the door weeks ago. But the send-off? Brutal and disturbed. Which is how I’ll feel after this show goes off the air. —MH

The Hills
The best line ever uttered on this popular MTV reality series came when Audrina and Lauren were trying to sort out their failing friendship: Audrina looks deadpan at Lauren and says, “It’s not always about you, Lauren.” You go, girl! Except, the show is actually all about Lauren, unfortunately, which means if you move out of her house, Audrina, you’re probably off the show. I’d be annoyed at feeling like the third wheel, too … and since when did Justin-Bobby come out looking like the knight in shining, greasy armor? Heidi gives up glamorous job for deadbeat boyfriend Spencer — guess we know whose carpet matches their curtains. —SH

American Idol
It’s David vs. David — who really gives a rat’s ass? Any other year, these two would not be the last standing. Can you picture either of them up against Kelly Clarkson? A) We don’t need another generic rocker. B) We don’t need another pretty-boy crooner. After this pathetic season, I may have to hang up the phone on “Idol” forever. —SH

30 Rock
Things I want to know after watching the “30 Rock” season finale:
1) When do I get a 350,000th floor office?
2) How many people wrap compliments about themselves in a compliment about you, and is that actually weird?
3) Who fakes an orgasm better: Jane Krakowski or Meg Ryan?
4) How many “Freedom Searches” have been conducted on enemy combatants?
5) Are cheese chips and bull semen a baby-making combination? —MH

Survivor: Micronesia
Amanda should have gotten the million over spinster Parvati. And in a perfect world, the real brains behind most of the plotting, Cirie, should have gotten it over Amanda. Life’s not fair, and neither is “Survivor.” Glad to see Amanda and Ozzy hooking it up in the aftermath. Big Bird is still my fav. —SH

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