Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Classic" Recap: The Big Bang Theory "The Middle Earth Paradigm"

"That’s right. You saw what you saw. That’s how we roll in the Shire!"

I’m taking a little time away from anticipating tonight’s penultimate episode of "True Blood" season 2 (stay tuned for an analysis of season 2 sometime in the week after the season finale) to talk a little bit about the show that got me watching sitcoms again- "The Big Bang Theory." In middle school, I was quite the sitcom junkie. I’d watch all the sitcoms I could get my hands on, both the modern and classic, Nick-at-Nite, varieties. When I really got back into watching TV a few years ago, it was the dawn of the era of the one hour drama. I got re-hooked on TV with shows like "CSI" and "Grey’s Anatomy." In the fall of 2007, however, my mom started asking me if I had seen "The Big Bang Theory." I dismissed it with a “I don’t watch sitcoms.” Then, during the TV doldrums of the Writers’ Strike, I actually sat down and watched a few episodes, and I was hooked on the nerd humor.

The episode “The Middle Earth Paradigm” is a fairly standard issue Halloween episode, but since it’s an episode of "The Big Bang Theory," it comes with plenty of delightfully nerdy twists. I think most series went for the Halloween episode that year because they figured the strike would prevent them from doing other holiday episodes. Some other great ones from 2007 were the "Pushing Daisies" episode “Girth” and the "Grey’s Anatomy" episode “Haunt You Every Day.” I do love Halloween episodes in general. I think that costume choice is an excellent way to show character. What do costumes say about the person wearing them?

In “The Middle Earth Paradigm,” our gang first enters Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment all dressed as “The Flash” for Penny’s Halloween party. The fact that they all chose the same comic book character for their costume could be interpreted in one of two ways. The first is that they are extremely in synch with each other. Second, this could just be a stereotype about nerds that the writer of the episode is exploiting. I tend to think that the first interpretation is probably what was intended. The writers of "The Big Bang Theory" have dipped into that particular well multiple times. One of those other times comes at the end of this scene, when the guys decide they need to choose new costumes and Leonard immediately calls Frodo. The other guys all sigh, leading the viewer to believe that they would have all chosen Frodo next, too. Another instance is the “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock” sequence in the season 2 episode “The Lizard-Spock Expansion,” where all the guys keep throwing down Spock. Because of the frequency of this type of joke on the show, I choose to believe that it is meant to show that these guys are such close friends that they really do think alike. No matter the correct interpretation of the scene, however, it does contain one of my favorite Big Bang Theory jokes. Before concluding that they have to re-costume, Raj says “Or, we could walk right behind each other all night and look like one person going really fast.”

We can really get more into an analysis of the costumes in this episode once the guys have all abandoned their “The Flash” costumes. Leonard is Frodo. I would imagine Leonard chose to be Frodo because he thinks of himself as Hobbit-like. Not in the liking to farm sense, but in the sense that he’s short and has brown curly hair. I’ve been known to, on occasion, think of myself as Hobbit-like for the same reasons! Leonard’s costume choice is more directly addressed later in the episode when Penny’s ex-boyfriend Curt is trying to figure out what Leonard is supposed to be. Once the difference between a Hobbit and an elf is explained to him, Curt asks Leonard why he’d want to be a Hobbit. Sheldon replies on Leonard’s behalf that it is because Leonard “is neither tall nor immortal.” I guess that pretty much confirms my theory!

Speaking of Sheldon, he decides to be the Doppler Effect. His costume is white and black vertical stripes of undoubtedly precise widths with a dot in the center. I think Sheldon chose this costume because, big surprise, he likes to feel intellectually superior to everyone around him, and being dressed as an “illustration of a scientific principle” allows him to do just that. He acts exasperated when the other party guests don’t understand his costume, but I think that, deep down, he really enjoys it.

Raj decides to be Thor, “not the Marvel Comics Thor, [but] the original Norse god.” I think that this costume choice continues Raj’s established dislike of certain aspects of Indian culture and being stereotyped because of his Indian heritage. It’s well established that Raj doesn’t like Indian food, for instance. When the other guys express surprise at Raj’s costume choice, Raj goes on a bit of a rant about how the Indian guy shouldn’t have to be an Indian god, and he can be a Norse god if he wants to.

Finally, Wolowitz claims to be dressed as Robin Hood, but everyone thinks he looks like Peter Pan. This appears to be yet another case of Wolowitz completely misreading what others are going to think of his behavior. I’m reminded of the time when he wore an eye patch to a bar, thinking it would make him stand out to women. You could also say that Wolowitz (and all the guys, really) have a bit of a Peter Pan complex, continuing to love things that others might consider childish. I don't think that's a bad thing at all (I write a TV blog after all), but it's there.

I hope you enjoyed this look at what costumes say about our favorite characters. When it gets closer to Halloween, I may have to revisit this concept, because there are many other great Halloween episodes out there besides "The Middle Earth Paradigm" and the others I have already mentioned. Happy (very, very, very early) Halloween!

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Classic" Recap: Wonderfalls "Lovesick Ass"

"Smitten and eager are bad. Now you know what you get with smitten and eager? Romance. Relentless, treacly, manufactured romance. That kind of romance never ends well.”

So, even though I’ve watched this episode of "Wonderfalls" plenty of times, I still find it difficult to figure out where to start when writing about it. The reason, I think, is that I identify with Jaye Tyler…a lot. I get her struggles, and I get her point of view. There are scenes in "Wonderfalls," and this episode in particular, that feel extremely, almost painfully, real to me. After processing my thoughts on the episode, however, I think I’ve come up with a few tidbits- some serious, some less so.

Every time I watch an episode of "Wonderfalls" (or any Bryan Fuller show, for that matter), I pick up on little nuances that I didn’t notice in previous viewings. My rewatch of "Lovesick Ass" was no exception, right from the very first scene, where Eric is installing a satellite dish on Jaye’s trailer. Eric’s ulterior motive to helping Jaye with the satellite dish greatly amuses me, and, honestly, I’m not sure why I didn’t pick up on it before. Eric, in addition to just being a helpful and nice guy, is hoping that installing the satellite dish will lead to an invite over to Jaye’s place some time to watch TV. It’s really a very cute exchange between the two of them. Jaye says that she only has one, very small TV, and Eric smartly replies that’s just fine because they can sit close together. Before this rewatch, I just sort of took this scene for what it was. Eric would do anything for Jaye, and Jaye’s drooling over Eric, but too afraid to do anything about it. Eric’s extra motivation gives the scene and the character more depth. It makes Eric seem less “whipped” by Jaye, for lack of a better, less misogynistic term. And it makes me chuckle.

I especially like how the climax of the episode plays out. The perceived threat to Eric (the creepy kid has taken him to the cabin by the lake…oh no!) is quickly neutralized. Eric easily grabs the baseball bat away from Peter, and we see that this episode is not going to take the shape that we might have thought. It’s not going to be a suspenseful thriller, it’s going to be about a kid talking out his feelings about his mother’s death and a guy talking out his feelings about (sort of) unrequited love. We don’t escape the episode without at least a little more Peter-induced mayhem, though! The scene near the end where it turns out Peter is a bit of a pyro and Eric’s car suddenly goes up in flames never fails to get a laugh out of me, just because of the way it’s shot. The flames are so sudden and engulf the car so quickly. There’s a scene in the pilot (or “Pie-lette”) of "Pushing Daisies" where a truck catches on fire in much the same way, and that never fails to make me laugh either. Bryan Fuller has said, in the DVD commentary to “Lovesick Ass,” I believe, that had "Wonderfalls" continued, Jaye eventually would have been institutionalized for hearing the voices of the Muses, and while institutionalized, she would have run into Peter again. I definitely would have liked to have seen that play out. One of the many reasons why "Wonderfalls'" way-to-early cancellation is so tragic (in the TV show cancellation universe, not in the overall grand scheme of things- I do have some perspective, I promise!).

A line in this episode that really stood out to me is when Peter, in his frustration at Jaye not returning his affection, says that he’ll “teach [her] how to love.” In a sense, that’s exactly what he does, only Jaye’s love isn’t exactly directed at Peter. Peter’s “kidnapping” of Eric motivates a panicked Jaye to hotwire Eric’s car and trek all the way out to the cabin by the lake because she’s afraid Peter will hurt Eric. She does truly care about Eric, even if this is the only way she is capable of showing it. Best of all, Eric clearly recognizes that and truly appreciates the gesture, even if it does slightly baffle him. Jaye still has a long way (and several episodes) to go before she begins to work through her issues and believe that she could be a good thing in Eric’s life as opposed to a source of pain, but it’s Peter who set her on that path. At the end of the episode, Jaye asks Eric why he would want to waste time trying to be in a relationship with someone as avoidant and messed up as she is. He replies, “Because you make me happy.” And isn’t that really what life, and love, are all about?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Classic" Recap: How I Met Your Mother "Okay Awesome"

"It’s not awkward unless we let it BE awkward.”

Most HIMYM fans tend to regard season two’s “Slap Bet” as the series’ best episode. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy “Slap Bet.” The “Let’s Go to the Mall!” Robin Sparkles video is hilarious, and Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel do great physical comedy when portraying the actual slap bet, but my very favorite episode of HIMYM is season one’s “Okay Awesome.”

Before I rewatched “Okay Awesome,” I thought I would be spending most of this blog post talking about how I love the way this episode depicts the club scene so realistically (captioning all the characters’ dialogue within the club was comedic genius), or the episode’s nod to those of us who don’t like the club scene. Speaking of HIMYM characters that didn’t like the club scene in “Okay Awesome,” if you liked Jayma Mays as the Emo coat check girl here, check her out in “Pigeon,” one of my favorite episodes of Pushing Daisies. Also intriguing about this episode was the dichotomy between Ted, who didn’t want to go to the club, feeling obligated to go, and Marshall and Lily, who actually really enjoy the club scene, not even being invited because their friends thought Marshall and Lily were trying to be “grown up.” What struck me the most upon rewatch, however, was just how much this episode shows the evolution of Barney Stinson.

When I say that this episode shows Barney’s evolution, I mean that when going back and watching this episode after getting through the next 3.5 seasons, it really makes you stop and think about just how far Barney has come since he uttered the episode’s title, “Okay? Awesome!” In fact, that early scene is a great place to start our comparison. The scene is one of the first occasions where we see Barney’s attraction to Robin. When Robin invites Ted and Barney to the exclusive club “Okay,” Barney starts to have a little respect for her in his own, kind of twisted, way. Occasions like this are probably what led to Barney thinking Robin would make an acceptable substitute “bro” when Ted was preoccupied with Victoria later that season in “Zip Zip Zip.” She can, after all, get him into exclusive clubs! Barney is, clearly, still far from processing what he feels for Robin at this early point in the series. Even though he is intrigued by Robin, he spends his time at Okay looking for new “cutlets” and doesn’t interact with Robin at all. Come to think of it, although by season four’s finale, “The Leap,” Barney and Robin have admitted their feelings to each other, they still haven’t processed what it all means.

Barney is still a bit of a two dimensional character in “Okay Awesome.” This episode takes place before “Game Night,” where we discover that before Barney became the suiting up, catch phrase saying player we now know, he was a granola-eating coffee shop musician who got dumped by his college girlfriend right before they were supposed to leave for the Peace Corps. It seems like Carter and Craig (HIMYM’s creators and showrunners) almost intended for Barney to be a Kramer-like character in these early episodes. They tried, for instance, to give him a signature, goofy entrance like Kramer had in Seinfeld. In this particular episode, it was Barney breezing through the door of Ted and Marshall’s apartment while saying “And his hair was perfect!” The other episode that comes to mind for this type of entrance is “Slutty Pumpkin,” where he does his best Tom Cruise in Top Gun entrance into the apartment, only to say “Flightsuit up!” Sure, in season 4’s “Little Minnesota,” we have Barney’s “I’ve been…waiting for you” complete with rented swivel chair, but that scene has a different feel entirely from these early, contrived (although funny) entrances. First, it’s Ted and his sister entering the apartment to find Barney already there. Second, Barney actually has a goal in mind behind his antics in that case- meeting Ted’s sister.

Barney also tends to use his catch phrases and exaggerated way of speaking a little less these days. There is one line in particular from “Okay Awesome” that stood out to me as being more exaggerated than the Barney of season 4. After Barney admits to Ted that he mistakenly danced with his own cousin at the club, Barney says, “Because, italics, this night did not happen,” complete with hand gesture to reinforce that he was speaking in italics. Is it a funny line? Sure it is- it gets me laughing every time. It is just more deliberately quirky than anything Barney has said in more recent episodes.

Finally, no Barney-centric analysis of “Okay Awesome” can be complete without a mention of…the shiny shirt! The shiny, silver shirt Barney wears to the club. The one that Lily says she can see her reflection in. That shirt is nothing that the Barney Stinson of season 4 (or even any episode after “Okay Awesome”) would ever wear. We’re talking about a guy who wears a “sleep suit” complete with “sleeping cravat,” after all! For all the fussing over “suiting up” Barney does in the first few episodes of HIMYM, especially the pilot, it is a bit jarring to see him not in a suit when they’re actually going out somewhere. Barney still adheres to the “suit up” philosophy in recent episodes, by the way, he’s just not as vocal about it!

After all this analysis of “Okay Awesome” and Barney’s role in it, some complimentary, some more critical, it is still my favorite episode of HIMYM and Barney is still my favorite character on the show. Thinking about how far Barney has come as a character since this episode makes the series, this episode in particular, and the character of Barney, even more compelling to me than they were before.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Classic" Recap: Dollhouse "Epitaph One"

"We all love the sound of our own voices. That’s why we’re here. To keep our own voices”

As I mentioned the other day in my first blog post, Epitaph One is the episode that really got me excited about the new season of Dollhouse. It truly is a shame that it was never broadcast on Fox (the story about why is kind of long and convoluted), because it is an exemplar of the show’s overall themes and provides an excellent bridge between where the series has been and where it seems to be going. It’s one part slasher flick, one part cautionary dystopian future tale in the tradition of Orwell and Huxley, and all worth your viewing time.

Taking place mostly in 2019, with our usual cast of characters only appearing via flashback, Epitaph One explores the consequences of the Dollhouse’s personality-imprinting technology. In the ten years that have passed since the previous episode, the “tech” has been exploited, first by the Rossum Corporation, the company that owns the Dollhouse. We learn in one of the episode’s many flashbacks that at one point, the CEO of Rossum’s personality and memory was imprinted into one Active per Dollhouse to deliver a message. That message was that Dollhouses would be providing a new service to ultra-rich clients- “anatomical upgrades. Later, the tech was exploited by the world’s governments. The world of 2019 is post-apocalyptic. The Los Angeles landscape we see at the end of the episode’s teaser is literally in flames. Military leaders realized that the Dollhouse tech could be used to create armies. A person could be imprinted to be the perfect soldier simply by answering an unlucky phone call. The few who have not been imprinted call themselves “Actuals” and constantly struggle for survival. A group of Actuals led by Mag (played by the wonderful “Queen of the Internet” Felicia Day) happens upon the Los Angeles Dollhouse while searching for a new place to set up camp away from any technology that could imprint them with new personalities.

A major theme of the episode is human interaction. The first flashback shows Adelle DeWitt, head of the Los Angeles Dollhouse, giving her sales pitch to a prospective client. She promises the client that unlike hiring a prostitute who would just pretend to be in love with him, by hiring an Active, he will have the “most genuine human encounter” he has ever experienced. Notably, Adelle’s most genuine human encounter of the episode occurs in one of the later flashbacks, and it does not occur with someone who has been imprinted. Perhaps the most poignant moment in the episode, Adelle must comfort a broken Topher. Topher can’t come to terms with the fact that it was his ideas to make the Dollhouse imprinting process more efficient that lead to the apocalypse. He has reverted to a child-like state, taking up residence in one of the Dollhouse’s sleeping pods and surrounding himself with even more children’s toys and creature comforts than he had in his old office. Topher has good days and bad days, and on the bad days, the only person who can calm him down is Adelle. It’s fascinating to see Adelle in this new, pseudo-maternal role. Some have speculated that there must have been something romantic going on between Topher and Adelle before Topher fell into this state, but I think such speculation ruins the simple beauty of the mother/child relationship portrayed on screen.

With its flashbacks that are actually “flash forwards” from our 2009 perspective (no, I’m not recapping an episode of Lost…yet!), Epitaph One provides a sort of blueprint for where Joss Whedon and his staff will be taking the story of Dollhouse in the coming seasons. How we got to the isolated flashbacks is, for the most part, still untold. The first flashback that actually takes place post-early 2009, however, is a little more clear and is more easily connected to what we’ve already seen. In that flashback, Echo is imprinted as what appears to be a recent Russian immigrant, perhaps a mail order bride or victim of other human trafficking (Topher does mention, in his insensitive way, that she’s “fresh out of the shipping container. Paul Ballard is standing back, observing, clearly Echo’s new handler. Other than Paul’s presence, everything seems to be as per a normal imprinting and prep for engagement until Echo and Paul are alone in an elevator. This isn’t Grey’s, so no, they don’t make out in the elevator (and I used to be a pretty diehard Grey’s fan, so I’m not necessarily anti-TV characters making out in an elevator!)- it becomes apparent that whatever happened to Echo while she was kidnapped by Alpha in the previous episode stuck. She has retained the awareness that she is actually Caroline, and she has probably retained the awareness of all the other personalities with which she has been imprinted as well. Echo and Paul don’t seem to want the rest of the Dollhouse staff to know this fact, so it remains to be seen for what purpose they’re using Echo/Caroline’s transformation.

Epitaph One is a truly special episode of television. Not in the “Very Special Episode” sense, but in the beautiful imagery, game-changing plot twists, adding vast amounts of depth to characters we thought we knew sense. If you’re already familiar with the world of Dollhouse (and if you aren’t, you should be!), you’re missing out if you don’t see Epitaph One.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Little Something for the Mystery Fans

As you may have guessed from my first post, I “don’t do crime procedurals.” Nothing against them specifically, they just aren’t what I gravitate towards when I turn on the TV. Never fear, though, crime drama fans- I’ve got it covered! My friend, fellow TV junkie, and aspiring author Sarah has been kind enough to write a guest blog post about the upcoming season in crime dramas.

Sarah's take on her favorite returning crime dramas (including mild spoliers for the upcoming season) follows...


I wanted to share with all of you my top five returning crime dramas. As someone who enjoys crime (in the I want to fight against it kind of way, not the crazy delinquent way), I just can’t get enough of the procedurals.

So without further adieu, here’s my list.

5. CSI
Season 10 of CSI premieres Thursday September 24th at 9/8 central on CBS

Premise: A team of crime scene investigators in Las Vegas, Nevada handle the nitty-gritty science that gets cases won in court. The CSIs are followed from the first call to a crime scene through all of the evidence gathering and analysis.

Why it’s exciting: Over the last 2 seasons we have successively lost Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) and Gil Grissom (Will Peterson). We’ve also gained Lawrence Fishburne as Dr. Ray Langston. Now for those of you who keep up with the spoiler news, we will be getting at least Jorja back for 5 episodes this season with Peterson following (maybe…hopefully). The GSR (Grissom Sara Romance) fan in me just can’t bear to see the writers break up the couple after giving them such a beautiful send off on Grissom’s last episode. But I’m looking forward to seeing how Ray changes from his initial time with the lab. Last season ended with him shooting a man for the first time. I’d like to see the repercussions of that action and how he and the other CSIs handle it.

4. Numb3rs

Season 6 of Numb3rs premieres Friday September 25th at 10/9 central on CBS

Premise: FBI Agent Don Eppes works with his mathematician brother, Charlie, to help solve crimes. Don is assisted by his team, including Agents Colby Granger and David Sinclair, and Charlie by his girlfriend, Amita Ramanujan, and fellow Cal-Sci professor, Larry Fleinhardt. Together, the Eppes brothers have survived attempts on their lives and livelihoods to do what they believe is right.

Why it’s exciting: For anyone who saw the season 5 finale, you know that Charlie has (FINALLY) proposed to Amita. It only took him 3 seasons, sheesh. So I want to know how that pans out because she didn’t say “yes” or “no” as of the final shot of the season finale. Plus, I want to see how Don’s ever-increasing tie into religion continues to unfold. I could do with some more Colby face time too. So what if he was a triple agent, he’s a solid guy who’d do anything for his boss and colleagues.

3. Criminal Minds
Season 5 of Criminal Minds premieres Wednesday September 23rd at 9/8 central on CBS

Premise: The Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) is an elite team of FBI profilers tasked with hunting down serial killers. The team’s leader, SSA Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner is assisted by agents Derek Morgan, Emily Prentiss, David Rossi, Dr. Spencer Reid, Field Liaison Jennifer “JJ” Jareau and Tech Analyst Penelope Garcia. The team travels across the country (and sometimes north and south of the border) to assist local authorities in catching killers.

Why it’s exciting: Last season ended with Hotch facing down an unknown gunman. The words “You should have taken the deal” are uttered and fade to black, the sound of a gunshot resounding as the credits roll. So clearly, I want to know what happens! Given my propensity to snoop out spoilers, I know that the actor Thomas Gibson (formerly of Dharma and Greg) is on for the whole season. I’m also excited to see what happens with the other characters. Will JJ’s new family (son Henry and fiancĂ©...or did they ever get married...Will) play more prominently in the show? Will we learn more about Emily’s past?

Season 7 of NCIS premieres Tuesday September 22nd at 8/7 central on CBS

Premise: The NCIS (Navy Criminal Investigative Service) team operates out of Virginia and handles all the cases that involve Navy or Marine Corps ties. The team is an eclectic bunch of agents including Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo, Tim McGee, Forensic Tech Abbie Sciuto and Mossad Officer Ziva David.

Why it’s exciting: At the end of last season we had some super Tony/Ziva drama with the death of Ziva’s boyfriend, Michael. And to boot, Ziva gets kidnapped (at her father’s order) in Africa and is being tortured. The guys have to rescue her. I mean they just have to. And I’ve heard (from Cote de Pablo) that there is more drama to come between her character (Ziva) and Tony. I’m a hopeless Tony/Ziva fan, ever since “Under Covers” in season 4. And on the non-romantic side we have the big mystery still surrounding NCIS Director Leon Vance (who isn’t really Leon Vance but is…it’s all very confusing).

1. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 11 of SVU premieres Wednesday September 23rd at 9/8 central on NBC

Premise: The Special Victims Unit is a division of the New York Police force dealing with heinous crimes such as child abuse, sexual assault, rape and murder. The squad is led by Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson. They’ve been partners going on 11 years and have been through it all; from marriage problems and unexpected pregnancies to finding out about family they never knew they had. They are rounded out by fellow detectives John Munch (yes the same John Munch from Homicide), Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, Captain Donald Cragen, ME Melinda Warner and a slew of ADAs (Assistant District Attorneys).

Why it’s exciting: Well first off, we get ADA Alexandra Cabot back for at least 11 episodes this season! She was the ADA from seasons 2-4, with a guest appearance in season 6’s “Ghost”. NBC gave her a spin off called “Conviction” that only lasted a season. She returned to replace ADA Kim Greylick in season 10 (the character wasn’t very well-liked) and they worked the Conviction back story into her reappearance. So I’m extremely excited to see her back with the SVU crew. They had such great chemistry together. Plus I want to see what the fallout is of Stuckey killing O’Halloran. It’s so sad to see him go. And the show is likely to have a slew of great guest stars as they always do each season.

So I hope you found something of value in this little blog. And maybe you’ll check out some of these great returning shows come September!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Shape of Things to Come

Welcome to the blog of an unemployed recent law school grad (Anybody need a legislative assistant or law clerk? Anybody?) who suddenly finds myself with the time to do something I've wanted to do for a while now. Share my love for (and opinions about) TV with the masses...or the few people who actually happen upon this blog.

At this point, you're probably wondering what could possibly make this blog different enough that you would want to read it when there are so many options out there. I hope to try to answer that right about now. list of the top five things that excite me about this coming Fall TV season.

5. Community
Premieres: Thursday, September 17 at 9:30/8:30c on NBC

The premise: Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), a lawyer whose license has been suspended since the discovery that his undergrad degree was less than legitimate, must go to community college if he hopes to avoid complete disbarment. Continuing in his not-so-honest habits, Jeff exaggerates his Spanish ability and forms a study group in an attempt to get a date with one of his classmates. The misfits that form his study group become a new support network for Jeff and each other, giving Jeff "a second chance at an honest life."

Why it's exciting: Mostly I'm excited about Community because I'm a fan of Joel McHale. From The Soup to his turn as "damn polygamist" Harold Hundin on the brilliant but short-lived Pushing Daisies, McHale always gives an entertaining performance. I generally stay away from all shows law-related because the inaccuracies make me irrationally angry. Since it's safe to say that Jeff won't be practicing law again anytime soon, I'm willing to give this show a shot. If Community can achieve the emotional realism of a show like How I Met Your Mother (and make me laugh, of course), I'll be in TV Heaven.

4. FlashForward
Premieres: Thursday, September 24 at 8/7c on ABC

The premise: All at once, everyone on Earth blacks out for a little over two minutes. During that time, people see visions of six months in the future. When the blackout is over, everyone must deal with the carnage that resulted from the blackout (cars crash and airplanes fall out of the sky) and the implications of the future that they've seen.

Why it's exciting: When I first saw the advertising campaign for FlashForward covertly inserted in the commercial breaks for an episode of Lost this past spring, I was skeptical. The advertisements were only seconds long and simply asked the viewer "What did you see?" I later learned the meaning behind these advertisements, and curiosity about the concept of the show overcame any annoyance with advertising choices. Add in some wonderful actors like Domenic Monaghan (of Lord of the Rings and Lost fame) and Sonya Walger (Lost's opposed to Big Bang Theory's Penny...or Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog's Penny, or...), and this is a show I definitely want to check out. Has ABC found a possible replacement for Lost? Here's hoping. Epic genre series make for great (and addictive) TV viewing.

3. V
Premieres: Tuesday, November 3 at 8/7c on ABC

The premise: V is based on the 1980's mini-series of the same name. Aliens, known as "Visitors," have arrived on Earth, promising change, hope, and cures for many of our most debilitating medical conditions. Most of mankind is grateful and happy the Visitors have arrived, but there is a group of people who believe the Visitors are on Earth for a more nefarious purpose.

Why it's exciting: Yet another epic genre series from ABC with a cast of genre veterans makes my list. For now, I'm happy to overlook the potential political message of the show (entertainment reporters have noted that the description of the Visitors sounds strangely close to the Obama administration) precisely because it's a chance to see more epic genre on network TV. The cast is exciting for any fan of genre. Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell plays FBI agent Erica Evans, and Firefly alums Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk also have significant roles.

2. How I Met Your Mother
Premieres: Monday, September 21 at 8/7c on CBS

The premise: HIMYM focuses on the importance of the small moments in a person's life as the narrative follows Ted, an architect (now architecture professor), on the journey that led to his meeting the mother of his children. In chronicling the adventures of Ted and his four closest friends as they live their lives in New York City, the show also focuses on the struggles of identity that characterize those years between graduating from college and truly being "grown up."

Why it's exciting: Just this picture alone had me laughing hysterically when I first saw it. I figure if even an episode still photo can have me laughing, this upcoming season will not disappoint. I can't wait to find out what Craig Thomas and Carter Bays and the rest of the HIMYM team have in store for us come September. What I especially love about HIMYM is how it so perfectly captures the experience of someone in their mid-20's to early 30's. From giving up your first car, to your best friend's wedding, to post-graduation unemployment, HIMYM hits all the emotional notes exactly.

1. Dollhouse
Premieres: Friday, September 25 at 9/8c on FOX

The premise: Dollhouse addresses what people "need," issues of identity, and the consequences of technology run amok. The Dollhouse is an organization with the technology to erase a person's memories and personality and replace them with a completely different personality. They use this technology to create "Actives" that they rent out to rich and powerful clients with the promise of complete privacy and the most "real" human interaction the client has ever experienced. Actives are wiped of all memory of an engagement, but the technology isn't perfect. Echo (Eliza Dushku) is one such Active, and her memory and personality have not been wiped away as cleanly as the Dollhouse staff might like.

Why it's exciting: I was absolutely blown away when I bought my Dollhouse Season 1 DVD set last month (a little "I survived the bar exam!" present to myself) and saw "Epitaph One," that elusive "lost episode" of the series. No episode of television has left me feeling like this since Lost's "The Constant," which, as I'm sure I will drill into your head repeatedly, is my absolute favorite episode of TV...ever. The Dollhouse "Powers That Be," including the mighty Joss Whedon himself, have stated that "Epitaph One" will definitely inform Season 2's direction. What else can I say? I love dystopian future stories!

So, now you have a sense of my taste in TV and the shows I may be blogging about in the coming months. Stay tuned for a few "classic" recaps of my all-time favorite episodes before the new season starts. Until then, hope you're enjoying catching up on all those shows you didn't have time to watch during the regular season. I do believe I have an episode of Leverage to watch myself!