Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chad's Takes

I think it's time to say it. I believe basic cable is now outshining the Big Four with quality television. AMC seems to be the creative empire right now, with the masterful Mad Men and the blisteringly brilliant Breaking Bad. (Love the alliteration, huh?) Meanwhile, the USA Network has created a channel of high-quality escapism, with the love-him-or-hate-him OCD victim Monk to the dynamic duo of Psych to the coolest burned spy in Burn Notice to the MacGyver of medicine in Royal Pains to the detective-criminal partners of the impressive new series White Collar. The USA Network is on a roll right now with breezy, sophisticated "mystery series" of various genres. It's the only outlet that has made detective shows watchable again, and I like that one network is trying to get out of the melodrama business. There was a reason Saturday afternoon matinees were popular, and USA has rediscovered this.

The boldest dramas on television have come from two unlikely sources. The first is FX, which housed one of the best series to ever hit television (The Shield). Talk about shows that make detective series interesting again. The daring and often gut-wrenching drama elevated this network as the affordable HBO. Since then, there have been series hits (Rescue Me, Damages, Sons of Anarchy) and misses (Nip/Tuck), but the fact that one network is always trying to stretch the limits of television is gratifying...since the main four have given up this task.

The other is formerly Sci Fi, now SyFy (for reasons beyond understanding). With the resurgence of science fiction thanks to Battlestar Galactica, all of a sudden, the genre has become a critical wonder once again. Warehouse 13 has recently brought back the Mulder/Scully era, and Eureka promises viewers that not all sci-fi takes itself too seriously. The highly anticipated Caprica comes out next year, which brings family drama to the science fiction world. I can't wait.

Meanwhile, there are the Big Four. ABC has been the winner this fall, by far. Clearly, they were the only network looking for quality, with CBS convinced that every show should have the letters NCIS or CSI in their names, NBC convinced that Jay Leno is the "new age of television". People with taste and remote controls have told NBC otherwise. Fox appears not to care about anything except singing, with the woefully uneven Glee and the perennially depressing American Idol ominously approaching this winter. Meanwhile, ABC is taking risks, and succeeding with many of them.

The biggest and best risk was on the comedy front. Modern Family is the best comedy to hit the tube in years, with an A+ cast and writers with brains, who recognize the audience has them too. The Middle has brought back the Malcolm in the Middle crowd and may actually be superseding it on some grounds. And Cougar Town is showing that middle-aged humor is often the funniest. If only the other networks would take such risks...

Unless the other three networks catch on with the trend of taking risks, you'll have to pay money to find quality television. Right now, cable is the best game in town.


Here's something I never thought I would say. I will not be attending OU women's basketball games this season.

Why? Because, apparently, the OU women's basketball team isn't aware of the term sportsmanship. At the Nebraska-Oklahoma volleyball match earlier this month, members of the team excessively heckled Nebraska volleyball players during the match. It prompted an investigation by the Big 12 into the game, and since then, OU's event management personnel have responded by closing off the first row of bleachers next to the floor. A small step, but something at least. As usual, the RufNeks were involved (a travesty of a fan club here at OU), but the women's basketball team? That's embarrassing to the athletic program and to the university.


The very people who should be demanding respect by showing everyone what it is are the people who acted irresponsibly and stupidly at an athletic event. For shame. I support Sherri Coale and the OU women's franchise here, but not if the players do not show respect for their opponents. As such, I will not be attending a single game this season. As many of you know, this is quite a sacrifice I am making, which hopefully shows how extremely disappointed I am of the players.