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Desperate Housewives (2004–2012)
Started well, grew weaker with time
25 August 2006
When I enjoy a new show for a season or two but then find it growing stale or repetitive or degenerating into self-parody, prompting me to stop planning to see it and eventually to turn it off when I happen across it accidentally, that's a show that I will give a vote of 3 and then write a comment explaining that I'm not panning the entire run of the show but only the later seasons. Unfortunately, in this case, the 'earlier seasons' means the first half of the first season, so I'm only giving it a 2. It wasn't that I didn't think it was funny, it was more that I could tell most of what would happen each week just by watching the commercials. And because the story lines are convoluted and intertwined, I can't just watch it once in a while and enjoy it either.
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Malcolm in the Middle (2000–2006)
Started well, grew weaker with time
25 August 2006
I give a show a 3 if I really enjoyed it for the first year or two, but then found it growing stale, stopped planning to watch it, and eventually turned it off when I accidentally ran across it. It's especially annoying to be disappointed by a show you used to consider a favorite. (When I give a low score for this reason I always comment so that it's clear I'm not slamming the entire run of the show but only the later seasons.) Good performers but the material degraded across time. Hope to see them turn back up on the schedule, preferably not in a spin off but in fresh scenarios that allow them to develop and show off aspects of their talents we have not yet seen.
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Will & Grace (1998– )
Started well, grew weaker with time
25 August 2006
One of those shows where characters became less dimensional with time; early seasons definitely worth watching but annoying toward the end. Some very good comedic talents who need fresh characters to work with. Story arcs are not the problem, but self-parody is only funny for so long. Like the lead characters on Seinfeld, I don't care for any of these people by the time it's all over, and wouldn't want them for friends or neighbors or relatives or coworkers. They seem not to really like each other either, but just to be used to each other and too weak to look for new friends. Looking forward to seeing these people in the future but please, no spin-offs.
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Surprising casting, great acting, ambiguous message (and that's a good thing).
18 July 2006
If you don't like movies that are adequately summarized in a 20 second spot, if you do like to see actors work against stereotypical expectations and do it well, if you don't believe people or endings are all good or all bad and you're OK with that, this might be a movie you will want to add to your collection. DeNiro is doing the expected only in that he is practicing his patented shape shifting technique -- I found his characterization both believable and involving. Murray gives his first great serious performance -- who knew he could be menacing? Uma is hard to figure, in the way conflicted people often really are. David Caruso gives the most out-there performance I have seen from him, and in this movie it works. (I didn't know him in his first TV cop series, but this character is nothing like the one he plays in CSI Miami.) You might even find yourself rethinking what really happened, and liking that, too.
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Northern Exposure (1990–1995)
Great show -- hopefully someday a great DVD set
27 May 2005
For me, this series tied with the X-Files as 'Best of the Decade: 90's' and I miss it terribly (but I'm not willing to buy the DVD package that is out now -- I'm waiting for the owners to give this program the kind of presentation it deserves.)

I don't mind paying for quality and this show had that in premise, setting, plotting, characterization, acting, and don't forget music -- the works. Humor, drama, introspection, surrealism, dream-scapes. Characters young and old, native and transplant, cynical and naive, material, mystical, and misanthrope -- and all (eventually) lovable.

It made me care about real people I had already written off as too something -- too neurotic, too caustic, too silly. I helped me see the flaws in people I had been too easily persuaded by -- intellectuals, philosophers, and mystics, with clay feet in mud that I had never noticed.

It made me want to fling pianos, and dance on my own grave. I can't wait to get it into my permanent collection.

UPDATE: I did buy the DVDs, used, and I haven't been sorry. There are scenes where the generic music is SO WRONG -- in particular the Flying Man dancing with the scarf -- but even so, the quality of the material outweighs the problems with the package.
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House M.D. (2004–2012)
Very Good and Getting Better
27 May 2005
Watched the first two or three episodes by accident, then lost track of when it aired and missed a couple. Found that I missed that cranky genius doctor detective and his relentless -- even brutal -- honesty. Came back in time to learn why he limps and sucks down painkillers like candy (but I'm not telling you); now he's my new favorite dangerous man, edging out James Spader's self-destructive lawyer on Boston Legal.

I hope this show lasts. Whether or not it does, I know that House will eventually wind up in my DVD collection beside Hugh Laurie's fabulous comedic work in Black Adder and Jeeves and Wooster. This guy really has range!

In case it doesn't last, check it out quick. There's very little else like it on TV today.
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