Save This Show!: Hart of Dixie (The CW)

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In the fourth installment of this series of blog posts, I wanted to put the spotlight on The CW’s “Hart of Dixie,” starring Rachel Bilson, Scott Porter, Wilson Bethel, Jaime King, and Cress Williams. Despite the reunion of Rachel with “The O.C” creator Josh Schwartz, Hart of Dixie hasn’t quite caught on. One could say that it’s not a “splashy” show like some of the others on the network (ex. The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl).

I’m not going to rave about the writing like I did with Nikita and Fringe, because that’s like apples and oranges. Hart of Dixie harks back to the old WB days, with its focus being on character drama. No vampires, witches, supernatural beings, rich people and their ridiculous drama, just people with standard TV problems. It’s a simple show that sometimes get lost in the hoopla of other shows.

I’ve got a friend who said she tried to watch the show but everything looked fake about it. I get what she was saying, sort of. For one thing, I know for a fact that they do film the show on the Warner Brothers lot (Rammer Jammer gave it away), instead of some actual small town. The actors’ accents might be a little exaggerated, but I’m not from the South so what do I know? And apparently, people still can’t get over the fact that Rachel Bilson does not look believable as a doctor. To me at least, I feel like you can get over those things. Suspension of disbelief for 42 minutes isn’t going to kill you. If you can get past those things, you’ll see that the show has a lot of charm to it, which really is the biggest selling point of the show. The men of the show have charm in spades, fully taking on the phrase “Southern Charm.” And if you loved Rachel Bilson on “The O.C.” there’s no reason not to like her here.

“Hart of Dixie” isn’t necessarily appointment television, but it’s a show that puts a smile on your face. It’s a wonderful mix of drama and comedy, which I’ve only found done well on some of the cable shows. For a network comparison, I can only really think of “Glee.” And while I like “Glee” I’ve found that it occasionally tries too hard to be funny and serious. With Dixie, it’s just very light-hearted and it’s certainly not a bad way to end off your Monday nights.

Save This Show!: Cougar Town (ABC)

In this third entry, I want to put focus on the best terribly-named TV show, Cougar Town. I’ll admit, at the beginning, I was one of the people who were turned off by the show because of the title (and that’s despite having Courtney Cox, who I love from Friends). But once the show got past its initial premise, CT became a wonderfully funny and heartwarming show about, well, friends.

I’m sure they don’t want the show to be considered as “Friends – 10 years later” but the conceit that these functionally dysfunctional people who are perfect friends, make for the inevitable comparison to Cox’s famous series.

Creator/producer/writer Bill Lawrence has done just about everything to get people to watch Cougar Town. As previously mentioned, after the show played out its original conceit, it became a truly funny and heartwarming comedy about family and friends. It wasn’t your typical family comedy, but at the same time, it wasn’t a comedy about twenty-somethings, which when you think about it, might be the root of the problem. I say root of the problem, but only in a marketing sense and getting the ratings/viewers it needs to stay on the air. Because their self-realized, broad comedy is wonderful as it is. Anyone who enjoyed Lawrence’s previous show, Scrubs, should enjoy watching the Cul-de-Sac crew of CT, just as much as the gang from Sacred Heart Hospital. When ABC benched the show to a to-be-determined mid-season air date this season, they didn’t just sit idly by waiting for the network to give them a premiere date. Obviously, they had to actually film the show, but they also did their own promotion and marketing to get people to watch the show and be prepared for when the show did come back. Ratings may not have been the best or enough to show that their hard campaigning paid off, but you can’t help but commend them for trying their damned hardest to get word out there.

I know this entry seems short compared to what I wrote about Nikita and Fringe, but that’s not because I love CT any less. CT is just plain and simple, a funny show that more people should watch. There’s no other words to describe it. A funny, well-written show, and in a world where hour-long procedurals/dramas rule the networks, comedies like these seem to fall through the cracks.

Save This Show!: Fringe (FOX)

In previous posts, I’ve made it known that I love a good underdog. It wasn’t until recently, while checking the renewal statuses of all the TV shows this season, that I realized a good number of my favourite shows are in fact shows whose renewal statuses are on the bubble. In other words, my favourite shows are TV’s underdogs – shows whose fate are not guaranteed.

In light of this realization, I figured I should do my part as a fan (regardless of how small a part that is) and try to get it out there why some shows deserve to be renewed. So consider this my plea to the powers that be. Instead of doing one big posting, I’ll be doing this in installments, one per show.

Now, I fully realize that there aren’t a lot of people out there who read my blog, but I am hopeful that this posting, at the very least, will get read by people who care about these shows as much as I do. If it somehow makes it along with the petitions and other pleas in the blogosphere to the eyes of someone who can actually make a difference in helping these shows’ fate, then I’ll be happy.

FRINGE (FOX)

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: Fringe is one of the best shows on television. I’m not just saying that as a biased fan, it is just the truth. I dare you to name another show on the air right now that can do what Fringe does.

And what exactly does Fringe do that makes it so great? Well first off is the writing. You can have a great concept, a great cast, but if the writing isn’t there, you’ve got nothing. As with most television series, the first handful of episodes of a freshman series can be a little clunky – trying to establish the tone and flow of the series, it can take a little while for shows to develop a rhythm. Fringe was no exception to that when it premiered in the fall of 2008. Its hook was that these unexplained phenomenons were happening in the world (or more specifically Boston/New York.) Coming into it, you knew you were going to see some pretty weird stuff. The first few episodes took on what seemed like a very standard procedural drama with a “supernatural” twist. But soon thereafter, you noticed that the writers were establishing a mythology to these odd occurrences. Four seasons later and we now have a show that is much more about the characters and relationships than a case-of-the-week procedural. What the writers have done is create a rather complex (to say the least when multiple universes are involved) story about human relationships. It’s actually quite a sociological look at how we see the world and interact with others. [Aside: As someone who was a sociology major in university, if I was given the opportunity to, I probably would’ve written an entire paper on Fringe’s take of society.]

Next to the writing is without a doubt one of the best casts on television. It completely baffles me how none of the cast members, especially the three at the head of the show (Anna Torv, John Noble, Joshua Jackson) have yet to be recognized by the Emmys or even the Globes, for their outstanding work as actors on the series. The performances by these three are so nuanced and full of life, you truly care about these characters. Not to mention how you could possibly forget Anna Torv in season three playing, quite literally, 5 different versions of Olivia. Despite how confusing it may have read or could have been, when you watch her performance you know exactly which version of Olivia she’s playing. I just can’t sing the praises of the cast enough, including Jasika Nicole, Blair Brown, Seth Gabel, and Lance Reddick. Also, can’t forget the wonderful guest actors over the years who have brought so much to the show as well: Michael Cerveris, Sebastian Roche, Jared Harris, Orla Brady, Amy Madigan, Andre Royo, and of course, Leonard Nimoy.

Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman have done such an incredible job spearheading the series, along with the other producers J.J Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Bryan Burk. It cannot be said enough how amazing the show is. Obviously, not everyone is into a show like this, which requires the complete attention of the viewer. It is not a show that you can just watch to pass the time or leave it on while doing something else. It is a complex show that, heaven forbid, requires the viewer to actually think while watching. I sincerely hope that the show gets to continue for as long as the writers are committed and passionate to it. The reality of it is, it’s struggling to even make it past this season. Speaking realistically, all I can hope for at this point is that Fox and Warner Brothers brings the show back for a fifth season and call it the final season if they want to cancel it (similar to what happened with Chuck and even One Tree Hill). To end the series prematurely and not allow the producers and writers to finish the story they wanted to tell, would be a huge disappointment, especially to the fans. We’ve already invested so much into the show, I don’t think it is too much to ask that we actually get resolution to the series or a satisfying ending. As long as the there is opportunity to resolve the overarching story, us fans could not ask for more, because this show has already given us so much.

Save This Show!: The CW’s Nikita

In previous posts, I’ve made it known that I love a good underdog. It wasn’t until recently, while checking the renewal statuses of all the TV shows this season, that I realized a good number of my favourite shows are in fact shows whose renewal statuses are on the bubble. In other words, my favourite shows are TV’s underdogs – shows whose fate are not guaranteed.

In light of this realization, I figured I should do my part as a fan (regardless of how small a part that is) and try to get it out there why some shows deserve to be renewed. So consider this my plea to the powers that be. Instead of doing one big posting, I’ll be doing this in installments, one per show.

Now, I fully realize that there aren’t a lot of people out there who read my blog, but I am hopeful that this posting, at the very least, will get read by people who care about these shows as much as I do. If it somehow makes it along with the petitions and other pleas in the blogosphere to the eyes of someone who can actually make a difference in helping these shows’ fate, then I’ll be happy.

NIKITA (THE CW)

If you’ve read my blog before, you’d know that I’m an unabashed fan of the show. I’m not obsessive (I don’t think), but I’m a big enough fan to always want to find where the cast is filming, just to personally tell them how great of a job they are doing. Though my luck pretty much sucks and I can’t seem to get to them even when they’re in Cambridge, my hometown.

I remember when I first heard about the show (Upfronts 2010) and I found it rather interesting that The CW would pick up the show because it seemed so different from most other shows they had (pretty looking young people with young people problems). Don’t get me wrong, they still assembled a very good looking cast, but the show is very action-oriented with little room for typical love triangles to be clouding the show. Now, I see the show’s initial pickup as a step into a more mature direction away from typical teen drama, which is exactly what the network needed (and still does) to be taken more seriously.

The most important thing to me was that Nikita as a show did something that is rarely seen – they cast an actress of Asian descent, the lovely and totally kickass Maggie Q, as our titular hero. I always believe in a good role model for today’s youth. Growing up I’d say I was a very conscientious fan/lover of entertainment – the media can be so deceiving so I didn’t really consider anyone as a role model per se or looked up to anyone. But to have someone like Maggie Q as a lead of a TV show is truly inspiring. You don’t exactly see a lot of Asian actors out there in the industry; actually you don’t see a lot of Asians in the industry period. For me, I’ve never wanted to be an actress, just to work behind the scenes is a enough of a dream for me (even though I’m not sure what my skills are). So seeing Maggie as the lead kind of gives me hope for whatever my future career could be (maybe a gig as a production assistant on the Nikita set next season? Wishful thinking…), as well as someone I could truly look up to. It also does kind of help that Maggie is half Vietnamese, but that’s a personal thing.

Besides Maggie Q, the show has assembled a group of very talented, and dare I say underrated, actors. Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca, Aaron Stanford, Melinda Clarke, Xander Berkeley, Dillon Casey, and recurring guest stars like Alberta Watson, Devon Sawa and Noah Bean have all given life to their characters with wonderfully layered performances.

Let us not also forget the amazing producers and writers behind the show. Some people may have suggested that the producers did so much in the first season, that the second season has come up short somehow. But I completely disagree, because with this second season, we’ve only started getting to the origins of the characters and of Division. Not to mention the character relationships and bonds that continue to develop on the show. The show continually gets better and we have Craig Silverstein, Albert Kim, Marc Alpert, Kalinda Vazquez, and all the other writers, directors, crew members to thank for creating such a great show.

I honestly hope that The CW and Warner Brothers decide to renew this show because it would be a damn shame if it did not continue. Regardless of the ratings (and let’s be real, Friday is not a great night for television viewing), it would be a huge mistake for the network to let this one go, considering its attempts at being a serious contender among the major networks. Nikita is one of only 4 CW shows to have ever been nominated for an Emmy (for Outstanding Sound Editing, but it’s still something). Is the network seriously thinking about letting go of a show that could potentially earn them some more accolades? I don’t think so.