Thursday, September 10, 2009

What To Watch: Fridays

Previously, on TNRLM's What To Watch: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Remember when Friday used to be a television graveyard? Well, times are a changin' (at least for those of us old, nerdy and socially averse to spend a Friday night on a couch. Or who, er, have a TiVo). Long the place used to dump unwanted programs or fill with cheap reality drivel, more nets are actually programming Friday with honest to goodness scripted programming. And most of it is actually watchable!

Show Net Day Time Priority
Law & Order NBC FRI 800 Sleepytime
Dollhouse FOX FRI 900 Watch
Monk USA FRI 900 DVR
Stargate Universe SYFY FRI 900 Watch
Numbers CBS FRI 1000 Sleepytime
Psych USA FRI 1000 DVR
Sanctuary SYFY FRI 1000 DVR
White Collar USA FRI 1000 Watch

Law & Order: The original returns for yet another season. This programming staple got re-energized with one of its signature cast revamps, and this collection of actors is the strongest the show has had since the Lenny Briscoe glory days. If you gave up some time around "is this because I'm a lesbian?" do yourself a favor and check out the new "kids." (Of course, there's nothing wrong with lesbians. Or Elisabeth Rohm. Or Elisabeth Rohm as a lesbian. I'll be in my bunk).

Dollhouse: Gather round the campfire, and settle in for a long one, because there's a lot to say here. First, and most surprising, is the fact that Dollhouse is coming back at all. Ratings started off low (when it was paired with the equally ambitious and well done Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), got lower, and then steadied at a level that said "see ya!" Yet FOX, perhaps seeing the show's concepts and presentation get sharper (which would be ironic, since their meddling is what made the first few shows so shaggy) or maybe fearing the wrath of Whedon fanboys (and girls) again after aborting the masterpiece that was Firefly, surprised everyone, including Joss himself, by renewing DH for a second season. They talked about online and DVR viewing, but I would guess one of the biggest factors in the renewal is that the show is produced by sister company 20th Century Fox, so all the ancillary revenue stays in the family, and Whedon fans are nothing, if not obsessive purchasers (he says, looking at his Dollhouse DVD set). Regardless of the reasons, we have season two coming, though it will be inexplicably paired with a couple of FOX's awful sitcoms as a lead in. Hey, you take what you can get. As for the show itself? I've written extensively about it (check the tags), but here's a good way to summarize my thoughts. The wonderful Galactica Quorum Podcast (which previously, was about just what you think it was) asked for feedback on Dollhouse, and I was only to happy to contribute. Most of this made it onto their Dollhouse ep, which you can listen to here. Below, you can find what I wrote to them:
Hey guys. In response to your twitter, here are a few thoughts on Dollhouse. But first, some background on my experiences with the previous Whedonverse series:
  • I’m an unabashed Joss fan. That said, I’m not a mindless automaton who will accept everything he touches as handed down from on high.
  • Buffy rightly deserves its place in the pantheon of great TV. The first season is a “finding our way” slog though, with a couple of breakout moments.
  • Angel similarly took some time to find its voice in the first season, but resulted in a mature, apocalyptic noir that I may have enjoyed even more than the parent show (save the baby arc. For fuck’s sake, please don’t add babies to a show). I loved S5 and thought it got cancelled too soon.
  • Firefly was pretty much fully formed and perfect out of the box, and got hosed by FOX.
I was giddy with excitement for Dollhouse. Great cast on paper, solid stable of writers and intriguing concept. Did it deliver on the premise and potential? Kind of:

The first five eps were hit and miss. Only “The Target” and “Gray Hour” worked as solid episodes, and “Stage Fright” is right up there with the worst television ever produced by Whedon (Angel’s “She” and “Provider” and Buffy’s “Teacher’s Pet,” “The Pack” and “Where the Wild Things Are” are similarly terrible). Too much cheesecake (and I say that as a straight male eminently appreciative of Dushku’s sexiness) and way too many “glitches” for a supposedly competent and high priced organization.

“Man on the Street” was the ep where things turned around, and it seemed they really grasped the potential of the series. The home stretch of season one was vastly improved, and very entertaining.

At first, they didn’t really make a case WHY someone would spend all that money to hire a doll. It was a plot hole that stuck out like a sore thumb. And one that could have been easily explained: what you pay for is not ONLY the “special skills” (whether it’s safecracking, midwifeing, spycraft, asskicking or whoring), but the ability to have all the knowledge and experienced wiped without a trace provides an anonymity you can’t get elsewhere.

The whole Alpha story was well done, and Tudyk gave an exceptional performance.

There were great plots twists, that kept you guessing. Alpha. November. Whiskey. Dominic. Adelle’s weekend rendezvous.

From an acting standpoint, there were some distinct highlights, include Olivia Williams (great hopped up on drugs in “Echoes” and revealing more about the character in “Spy in the House of Love”), Enver Gjokaj (good in everything he did), Harry Lennix (appropriately weary and stoic), Fran Kranz (yes, Topher is annoying, like a smarter, caffeinated Andrew from Buffy, but he was written that way and he delivered), Reed Diamond, Mark Sheppard (not given much to do) and of course, Amy Acker, who brings immeasurable depth to everything she does.

Lord knows I love me some Dushku. She was great as Faith, is hot as the surface of the sun, and is, by all account, a great person to boot (her recent trips to Africa, for example). She's smart, funny, ambitious and self-effacing in interviews and on commentaries. But I’m not sure she has the chops to pull off such a multifaceted and constantly changing role and inhabit it fully and believably (losing all traces of the “tough Southie broad.”) I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, and hope she improves in S2.

Also, though I enjoyed Helo on BSG, Tahmoh was terrible here. I’m sure some of that was the fact that Paul Ballard was written as one of the stupidest characters on TV (Jason Stackhouse notwithstanding. At least Jason is funny).

There’s a lot of potential here, and the questions the show asks – what exactly are we? What is a “soul?” What makes a personality? What’s the morality of programming and renting people? -- are interesting and worth exploring in a weekly high concept drama. Whedon and company didn’t get a handle on it until late in the game of the first season, same as with Buffy and Angel, so here’s hoping that S2 results in a similar leap in storytelling and executional quality. I’d give the whole season a solid “B -.” (First half, C- and second half, A-)
That about sums it up, no? And you bet your ass I'll be watching.

Monk: I'm as weary of the Tony Shaloub Emmy parade as anyone (though he did initially deserve the recognition), but like Adrian Monk, I can be a little OCD, and unless a show totally craps the bed which Monk was verging on, if I have the time, I'm likely to see it through. This being the final season for Monk, I'll be tuning in. I'll give them this, the writing and guesting during this last go round has markedly improved. Ted Levine is underrated and Traylor Howard is adorable.

Stargate Universe: The whole Stargate franchise is an interesting one. While they tried to tackle some big ideas on occasion (a la Trek) with SG1 and Atlantis, it was primarily a light Friday night action adventure diversion, where the heroes dispatched the bad guys with a smile and quip, usually on a planet that looked amazingly similar to a forest in Vancouver. The good thing is that they usually cast very well, and gave viewers the sci-fi equivalent of an Outback Steakhouse. You know what you're going to get, and it went down well. With Universe, they're attempting to break the mold, go a little darker and a little more realistic, and provide an entry point for new viewers unfamiliar with 15+ seasons of Daniel Jackson, Rodney McKay, Samantha Cater and mythology based aliens masquerading as "gods." Will it work? I don't know, but from everything I've seen, they are putting their best foot forward, and having Robert Carlyle as the lead certainly helps establish their quality bona fides.

Numbers: Something I've added to the bedroom TiVo as another enjoyable, funky concept (use math to solve crimes!) procedural. If you're not watching yet, there's probably no need to.

Psych: About to wrap up for the season, to make way for another USA new series, but always fun. How can you not love a show about a fake crime solving psychic that displays such an unabashed love for everything 80s pop culture? Leads James Roday and Dule Hill have unbelievable chemistry, and the rest of the ensemble is solid (and Maggie Lawson is cute as a button). The mysteries, like with Monk, are no great shakes, but the laughs are found in the execution, which offers far more hits than misses.

Sanctuary: This show started as a web only, totally greenscreen/CGI limited series about a mysterious scientist who seeks to assist and study paranormal creatures. The first season, to be honest, was a bit of a snore, picking up toward the end of its run with a deepening mythology and sharper character work. I'll give it another chance, if for nothing else than the boundless charms of lead Amanda Tapping (late of the Stargate franchise). If you've ever seen her in interviews or listened to one of her DVD commentaries, you'll fall hopelessly in love with her. She's hot, smart, funny, sweet as a fresh from the oven cookie and overwhelmingly appreciative of fans.

White Collar: This is USA's latest character based show, about a master thief recruited by the government to help them solve crimes. Track record plays an important role here, as USA has done a fantastic job developing new shows, from the mildly entertaining (Monk, In Plain Sight) to the terrifically executed and must watch (Burn Notice, Psych and even the sadly little watched American adaptation of Touching Evil, which also featured Jeffrey Donovan). Only Royal Pains, which was a ratings success, has felt flat to me. So I'll check out White Collar, which has a good premise and an intriguing cast (Matt Bomer, Tim Dekay, Tiffani Thiessen, Willie Garson and recently added cast regular Natalie Morales, late of last year's Best. Damned. New. Show. The Middleman).

What To Watch: Thursdays

Previously, on TNRLM's What To Watch: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

It doesn't matter if you are a network executive, a showrunner, a media buyer or a viewer. You might want to rework the U2 anthem to be "Thursday, Bloody Thursday," because the pile up of shows on this, the weekday's most watched night, is going to epic. Thursday has long been a high traffic, high profile night (remember "Must See TV?"), but this year, each and every network (along with some cablers) is pushing their chips to the center and saying "all in." There's probably a little blood in the water, as one of the highest rated shows in recent memory, CBS's CSI: Original Recipe, showed signs of slowing down last year with the departure of star William Peterson.

So what to do here? Probably push your TiVo to the limit, and make some concessions about what to watch at home, what to watch online, and what to catch on DVD.

Show Net Day Time Priority
Bones FOX THU 800 Watch
Flash Forward ABC THU 800 Watch
Fringe FOX THU 900 Watch
Supernatural CW THU 900 Watch
The Office NBC THU 900 DVR
30 Rock NBC THU 930 DVR
Community NBC THU 930 DVR
It's Always Sunny in Philly FX THU 1000 Watch
The Mentalist CBS THU 1000 DVR

Bones: Bones has steadily grown in its time on the air, and become a nice little Moonlighting-esque crime show rounded out by a talented supporting cast. However, there were some serious missteps this past year, culminating with one of the worst season finales I've ever witnessed (if you watch the show, you know what I'm talking about, but suffice to say, an overly complicated coma dream sequence combined with a visualization of a novel in progress that results in character development that doesn't really happen is not how you want to cap off an up and down season). During the season, Booth had several hallucinations (the ghost of a dead war buddy, a hockey player, Stewie from Family Guy) that could have been ultimately explained by his brain tumor. Yet in the episode with the "ghost," the writer/director made a conscious decision to have Brennan actually see and interact with the damned "ghost." How can people, on a non-supernatural show, share a brain tumor created hallucination? Yikes. So, I'll give Bones a shot at explaining some of this away and getting back on track, but it's on a short TiVo leash.

Flash Forward: Interesting premise. Everyone on Earth blacks out for two minutes, seventeen seconds (expected cataclysmic chaos ensues), and has a "vision" of their future, six months from that point. Too high concept? Not sure, but it has an appealing cast, including Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Peyton List (Roger Sterling's new bride!), Courtney B. Vance and Lost's Dominic Monoghan and Sonya Walger. It's based on a novel by Robert Sawyer, but will depart dramatically from the book (though it has the blessing of Sawyer, who will also contribute scripts to the show).

CSI: Still the best of the CSIs (though that's not saying much these days), this old warhorse went through some serious upheaval. Peterson left, and was replaced (awkwardly) by Laurence Fishburne. Great actor, but I'm not sure his character "clicked" with the rest of the cast. Jorja Fox, who I can't stand to watch, also left the show, but apparently, she will be returning in some capacity this season. One of the few new characters they introduced, Lauren Lee Smith's Riley, leaves the show, which I view as a loss. Still, the writing here is sharp (with plenty of geek scribes on staff, including some from Trek and BSG -- the murder at a sci-fi convention was a highlight last year) and the "lab rats" are consistently amusing. I'll probably keep my season pass, albeit on a secondary DVR (or west coast feed).

Fringe: Like most new shows, Fringe had problems figuring out a consistent tone and style of storytelling during its freshmen debut. However, it got much, much better as the season progressed, and it features one of best casts on TV, anchored by Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Blair Brown, Lance Reddick and Emmy worthy scene stealer John Noble as a literal mad scientist. (Many critics were divided on Torv, but I think she played what they gave her beautifully). Spock himself, the legendary Leonard Nimoy, will build on his cameo at the end of season one as the mysterious William Bell, and the reveal of an "alternate reality universe" gives this tech-driven X-Files for a new generation plenty upon which to build new mysteries and thrills.

Supernatural: I was late the Winchester brothers party, and caught up last year via a DVD binge, but it was well worth it. (Noted TV critics Mo Ryan and Matt Roush did the same thing). I had initially dismissed the show as yet another featherweight CW teen pander, but boy, was I wrong. Supernatural is a worthy heir to the mantle of shows (like Buffy, Angel, Lost and the X-Files) that effectively and creatively blend thrills, chills, scares and laughs with moving long term storytelling. You'll be on the edge of your seat one moment, then laughing your ass off the next. This year, the show adds to its usual classic rock and monsters sensibility by letting Lucifer walk the earth engaging in an apocalyptic showdown with militant angels. Fun!!

The Office / 30 Rock: The Office is one of those rare shows to effectively handle the "will they or won't they" romantic tension between the leads in a logical and appealing way. Jim and Pam got together, got engaged, and are expecting. While this is great news for the shippers, it puts me on alert, since nothing kills a show for me more than pregnancies and kids. Still, it's very well written and acted, and I'll likely keep it around until the Babies R Us stuff becomes unbearable. As for 30 Rock, no show on TV has a higher laugh per minute ratio.

Community: A new show, headlined by The Soup! snarkmeister Joel McHale and Chevy Chase, looks subversively promising.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Another show I missed originally, and caught via the power of reruns and the interwebs, but will be adding to the season pass list without hesitation. Sunny isn't for everyone -- the characters are all hilariously self-absorbed and amoral. Take a look through the list of episode titles (which include "The Gang Gets Racist," "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby" and "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person") and see for yourself if this appeals to your sensibilities. It certainly does mine, and holy shit is this show laugh out loud funny.

The Mentalist: This was last year's highest rated new show, and it finally made a bona fide TV star out of Aussie Simon Baker (after failed attempts with The Guardian and the sadly little watched Smith). As the wits on USA's Psych like to mock (deservedly so), The Mentalist is basically straight crime procedural version of the former show. Is it "must see" TV? Probably not. Is it one of the better and more engaging crime dramas on? Probably so. Baker is a charming lead, and the supporting cast plays well together. There's room enough on my TiVo for two fake psychic detectives (even if both of them aren't fascinated with pineapples and 80s pop culture references).

Whew. I can smell the DVR overheating now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What To Watch: Wednesdays

For what to watch on Mondays (and the intro to what to watch), check here. For Tuesday, check here. Which brings us to Humpday!

Show Net Day Time Priority
Glee FOX WED 900 Watch
Law & Order: SVU NBC WED 900 Sleepytime
Criminal Minds CBS WED 1000 Sleepytime
Nip/Tuck FX WED 1000 DVR
South Park COM WED 1000 DVR

Glee: Obviously, the big news on Wednesday is Ryan Murphy's new hard to define Glee. Is it a musical? A drama? A comedy? Is it a parody of high school shows? Does it take itself and its characters seriously? I don't know the answers to the questions, but I'm sure as hell going to watch to find out. (for my review of the pilot, check here). Murphy knows his way around part of the genre, based on his track record with the spotty, but often hilarious, Popular. The premiere episode, aired much earlier this year following American Idol, showed a lot of promise (and yeah, who other than me downloaded "Don't Stop Believin" by the Glee cast and wore out their iPod?). School diva Rachel Berry (played by broadway vet Lea Michele) has a soaring and powerful voice, and the teacher in charge of Glee Club is winningly played by Matthew Morrison. And of course, Jane Lynch steals every scene she's in. But will Jessalyn Gilsig's (an actress I really like) one note harpy of a wife wear thin? (For her take on the character, check out this HitFix interview). How much will the musical numbers take you out of the drama, comedy and reality of the show? Will the song selections always be so pop culturally relevant and inspired? We shall see, won't we?

Law & Order SVU: This is another show I tune into out of habit. SVU is actually my least favorite of the franchise, and the season pass is designated "keep until space is needed." Perhaps the return Stephanie March and the usual parade of quality guest stars in lurid plotlines can spice it up.

Criminal Minds: Critics loathe this show, and I can see why. An ex got me to watch a few eps with her; I started watching more regularly, and found it to be an interesting, if occasionally sensationalistic and ghoulish, way to spend an hour with a cast I really like (including major crush Paget Brewster, Matthew Gray Gubler, Joe Mantega, Kirsten Vangsness and AJ Cook -- with occasional guest spots from geek icons like Wil Wheaton and Nick Brendon).

Nip / Tuck: See, THIS is what worries me about Glee. Nip / Tuck started off effectively walking the line between overcooked melodrama and outright camp, and in latter seasons completely went off the rails, barely resembling its originally witty take on superficiality and bromance (effectively sauteed with high concept storytelling and characterization). Still, we're in the home stretch now, and Nip / Tuck will return for a final victory lap, so I'll give it a chance to rebound.

South Park: Last season, with a few exceptions ("Pinewood Derby," anyone?) was just as funny as always.

What To Watch: Tuesdays

For an introduction to "What to Watch" (and a look at Mondays), check here.

Now, on to Tuesday!

Show Net Day Time Priority
NCIS CBS TUE 800 Sleepytime
V ABC TUE 800 Watch
Warehouse 13
SYFY TUE 900 Watch
Sons of Anarchy FX TUE 1000 Watch

Tuesday is a lite night for my TV viewing, especially compared to Thursday. Really, the primary highlights are the new V reimagining and the returning Sons of Anarchy (along with soon to conclude Warehouse 13).

NCIS: Like a lot of folks, I caught up on this show via the endless repeats on USA. It's kind of like a country fried steak. Sure, it's not filet mignon, but it's warm, filling and tasty going down. It's a typical procedural, with plenty of great "character work" to go around. And not necessarily character work in the same sense that an HBO, Mad Men or Whedon show would do, but in that we have some broad archetypes here that are winningly and appealingly played, within the constraints of a typical "wrap it up in 44 minutes."

V: For those of us in my age demo, we have fond childhood memories of the original V miniseries. Fascist, red leather wearing, rodent eating alien invaders take over the world? Awesome! Like a lot of network sci-fi from that era, it really doesn't hold up too well under modern viewing standards, but much like Battlestar Galactica, the underlying premise is interesting enough to give it the reboot treatment. And I, for one, will be watching. Even better is the talent behind and in front of the camera, including producers Scott Peters (of the underrated The 4400) and Jeffrey Bell (Angel, Alias and X-Files) and actors Elizabeth Mitchell (the wondrous Juliet from Lost), Joel Gretsch (The 4400) and Morena Baccarin (the impossibly gorgeous space hooker from Firefly).

Warehouse 13: Not sure whether to count this or not, since we only have a couple more eppys to finish in this charming new show's initial run. For more on W13, check out my "Summer TV Report Card." The good news? It's Syfy's biggest scripted hit ever, and has already been renewed for a second season.

Sons of Anarchy: I missed this riveting show during its initial airing, but caught up via reruns and it's definitely a keeper. Part outlaw drama, part Shakespearean meditation (think Hamlet), SOA is like The Sopranos on Harleys. Extraordinarily well cast and well written, SOA wandered a bit during the first season (as most shows tend to do) before really hitting stride during the back half. Last night's premiere kicked off the second season with a vengeance.

What To Watch: Mondays

Fall TV Season is finally upon us, and the season premieres of returning shows and pilots for new shows will start hitting the air soon. I'll be doing a brief rundown, day by day, of the shows I'll be watching this fall, so follow along and add your two cents worth as well. Let's start with Monday:

Show Net Day Time Priority
Heroes NBC MON 800 DVR
House FOX MON 800 Watch
How I Met Your Mother CBS MON 800 Watch
Lie to Me FOX MON 900 DVR
Big Bang Theory CBS MON 930 Watch
Castle ABC MON 1000 Watch

First, a quick word about what I'm calling "Priority." "DVR" means that I'll TiVo the show, probably get around to watching it, but not necessarily on the night in question. "Watch" means that I'll make every effort to watch the show live (or relatively live, factoring in the 15 minute or so buffer to blast through the commercials). And my third classification (which isn't shown here on Monday) is "Sleepytime." Long ago having tired of the shouty nonsense from SportsCenter anchors and news program hysterical blathering, I like to have a bank of shows built up on the bedroom TiVo to watch as I'm falling asleep. Typically, these are fairly unchallenging but watchable procedurals. Also, my "best of the night" are shown in RED.

Heroes: Call it morbid curiosity or a bad habit, but I'm leaving this on the season pass list despite a continuing (and almost terminal) decline in the quality of the show. Mainly, I like Adrian Pasdar, Jack Coleman and Zachary Quinto as actors, and for the time being, their talents and appeal overcome the charisma void created by the rest of the cast and the plot hole-riddled scripting. Could have the plug pulled in short order if it doesn't improve quickly, though.

House: How has Hugh Laurie not been awarded an Emmy yet? The quality of the individual episodes and plot strands can vary, but there's no doubting the ferocious, multi-faceted and captivating central performance (along with quality work done by the rest of the cast, especially the understated Robert Sean Leonard).

How I Met Your Mother: When's the last time you were so entertained by a show built around a douchey principal character and his uninteresting quest? But the other four characters are so awesome we put up with Ted.

Lie To Me: Like House, the show's plot mechanics can be a bit of a one trick pony, but the lead English import is so damned good, it makes up for it. They did start to show different nuances to the "lie detection" gimmick late in the season, and bringing in Shawn Ryan as showrunner, and Sarah Fain & Elizabeth Craft (late of Dollhouse) as writers should only help the show improve in its sophomore season.

Big Bang Theory: Simply put, my favorite sitcom on TV. BBT grew leaps and bounds in its second season, continuing all the lovably geeky stuff (spot on, while treating it with respect - a difficult tightrope to walk) that made it so appealing in the first place, while rounding out and deepening the initially one-note and troublesome character of Penny. Proof that the "old" three camera sitcom format isn't dead, and can thrive in the right hands.

Castle: Nathan Fillion gets his best role since Captain Tightpants, and has terrific chemistry with stealth hottie Stana Katic in this engaging, breezy, crime drama. Castle feels like it should be on USA network, and that's actually a good thing. (And bonus points for giving me the first kid on TV since Rory Gilmore that I don't want to put into a wood chipper).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It was a good 5:18

For five minutes and eighteen seconds, it looked like everything was “right” in the Dawgverse. UGA took the opening kick in the end zone for a touchback* and then reeled off an impressive opening drive that showed creativity and precision, culminating in a 4 yard TD pass from Joe Cox to Michael Moore.
*UGA fans may be unfamiliar with this term. It’s when the kicker kicks the ball into the endzone, and the receiving team doesn’t run the ball out, giving them a starting position on the 20 yard line.
I don’t know how much, if any, of this drive was pre-scripted, but it was certainly effective. After that drive, however, the offensive wheels came off and it was all downhill. Consider this:
  • On that drive, Cox was 2 for 3, for 33 yards and a TD. After that, he was 13 for 27 with a pick and a fumble.
  • On that drive, Richard Samuel rushed 4 times for 31 yards (7.75 YPC). After that, he ran 16 times for 56 yards (3.5 YPC).
  • In that first 5:18, UGA rushed 7 times for 42 yards (6.0 YPC). The rest of the game, UGA rushed 23 times for 42 yards (1.87 YPC).
  • Run/Pass mix on first drive: 7/3. Run/Pass mix remainder of game: 23/27.
  • First drive: 80 yards and a TD. Next 11 drives? 186 total yards, 6 punts, 2 fumbles, 1 interception and 1 field goal.
The familiar refrain after UGA losses last year was “Fire Willie Martinez!” And at times, it was hard to argue with that sentiment, watching the D get torched time after time, give up 40+ points on multiple occasions, failing to create turnovers and showing a troubling inability to make tackles. Well, Saturday in Stillwater, you couldn’t pin this loss on Martinez and the D. Yes, the pass rush continues to be anemic. No, once again the Dawgs didn’t create turnovers. But given the odds stacked against them (questionable officiating, ridiculously short fields to defend – only one OSU scoring drive was over 32 yards), the D did their job and it was the O that let this team down, and frankly, signaled that this is going to be a very, very long season.

Before the season, there was great debate over whether Cox would be more like Joe Tereshinski or DJ Shockley. You don’t want to form a complete opinion based on one game, especially one which followed several days of flu-like symptoms, but Joe’s performance was certainly closer to the former than the latter. Passes, even those that were completed, were a little off target and a little late to arrive. Given that, it was even more perplexing that after the first drive, the playcalling mix became more weighted toward the passing game, when it was clear to everyone watching that the QB wasn’t sharp and the receivers weren’t hauling in the waffling floaters that got near them. This was a horrible game for OC Bobo, and a D that doesn’t create turnovers isn’t going to help bail him out.

Despite a career long FG by Walsh and several long punts (aided by a couple of fortuitous bounces) by Butler, the special teams were a disaster once again. OSU averaged almost 34 yards per kick return and 15 yards per punt return.

So let’s sum it all up, shall we?
  • After an impressive opening drive, the offense was poorly coordinated and haphazardly executed.
  • The special teams continue to be an embarrassment for a top flight college football program.
  • The defense performed admirably, but still cannot sack the QB or generate any turnovers.
Given that, I think it’s gonna be a struggle to stay above .500 this year. Hate to say that, and perhaps next week’s home tilt with the Chickens will give us more to work with, but right now the glass is looking half empty.

But we’ll always have that first 5:18.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reasons not to be excited about college football starting tonight

I kid, of course. I mean it's fantastic that the most awesome thing ever invented by man (part of a short list that includes the TiVo, the interwebs, the blackberry, the grind n' brew coffee maker and whiskey) is starting the season again after what seems like an interminable hiatus. And it should, as always, be a wonderful season, full of twists and turns and drama.

Note: one of the many, many reasons I don't watch reality TV is that in essence, sports IS the ultimate reality TV, only far more entertaining and less manufactured (and with fewer Kardashians, Pratts and Partridges).

That said, there are things I'm absolutely dreading about the upcoming college football season, including (but not limited to):
  • Mark May.
  • Lou Holtz.
  • The hype Notre Dame will get for running through a schedule equivalent to what my single A high school played back in the 80s (surprised the Domers didn't pay Georgia School for the Deaf for one of Jesus-mandated required 7 home games).
  • FOX still covering several of the BCS games.
  • The unrelenting and unprecedented media felating of future UFL fullback and televangelist Tim Tebow.
  • Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews Band doing music for ESPN college football coverage. (Really, it takes a special kind of douchebaggery to make you long wistfully for the days of Big & Rich).
  • No smoking in the stadium breezeways.
  • The ridiculous effort it takes inside Sanford to get a stadium cup full of ice water as a mixer (really, folks, don't ruin good whiskey or bourbon with sugary soft drinks).
  • The mainstream media's continued "grudge" or apathy toward Georgia. (Has a program from a top tier conference, with such a recent string of continued upper level performance, ever gotten so little ongoing respect from pundits and journalists?)
  • Conversely, the predictable media slurping of the usual suspects (USC, Penn State, Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame).
  • Gameday traffic.
  • Television coverage issues. (Right now, my local ABC affiliate is scheduled to show Baylor / Wake Forest Saturday at 3:30, instead of UGA / OSU. Oh, how the viewing needle will move for that epic matchup).
  • Predetermined Heismanery.
  • Tedious, idiotic, insulting or unlistenable announcing (Pam Ward, Rod Gilmore, Bob Davie, Mike Patrick, among others).
Yeah, all that is truly annoying. But the good outweighs the bad by far, no? Time for some football.