Network Edition

True Blood
While I can’t confirm the rumor which accuses True Blood, like many other adaptations of “not being as good as the book(s),” I can confirm its writing as being horrendous 83% of the time. True Blood, based on Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries, is a lost puppy which doesn’t know in which direction it wants to chase its tale. The writers often introduce what could be potentially interesting plot points at the start of each season yet, as the seasons progress, these plots points are either lost in a jungle of plots and subplots or become debunked in no more than one scene. Additionally, the writers don’t even follow the own rules they’ve established since the series’ pilot episode. Either that or they create their own loopholes to do what they please. For example: vampires aren’t allowed to enter a human’s household unless they have previously been invited into it. That being said, vampires are allowed to stand just outside of a doorway, wait for the human to come to the door and then brainwash the human—“glamouring” them—into inviting them into the house. Kind of defeats the purpose of the established rule, does it not?

On top of that, the writers often resort to sex scenes to move episodes along—freakishly often. There are so many sex scenes in True Blood that, if I didn’t already know the series was actually about the coexistence of humans and vampires [among other supernatural beings] in The Middle Of Nowhere, Louisiana, I would assume I was watching some sort of high production softcore porn. Yes, vampires are sensual in nature ( or sparkly…*cough* Edward Cullen *cough*), but you would think that the writers of the show would want to focus more on untangling an already convoluted plot as opposed to determining what steps each character will take to get from sex scene ‘A’ to sex scene ‘B.’ The entire second season illustrated the ease at which an entire village can partake in nightly orgies—you know, after they’ve been brainwashed and all. Nonetheless, the show does, in fact, have a stellar cast (with a lot of eye candy—here’s looking at you, Deborah Ann Woll) who are highly capable of putting on a good performance…just, you know, when the script is good. Considering producer Alan Ball’s last work was the masterpiece that is Six Feet Under, I most certainly hope and know he can do it.

Entourage
Ah, Entourage. The show about the celebrity life which many adolescent males fantasize about.  While many people may not have the luxury of growing up to be an Ari Gold or a Vincent Chase (with the exception of the Ari Gold and Mark Wahlberg, whom the characters on the show are respectively based upon), many people can indulge in vicariously living through the televised lives of the boys from Brooklyn, even those who don’t cable cable television can view some ideas to start getting the best services. That being said, the show was injected with estrogen shots on a seasonly basis. While the boys were rude and crude in the first three seasons, epitomizing brotherhood on HBO’s Sunday nights in the years between 2004 and 2011, they would become unrecognizable by the time the series wrapped up—both figuratively and literally. Jerry Ferreira, who plays Turtle on the show, would lose over 50 pounds in the final two seasons, leaving Turtle…shell-less.

In the final two seasons, Vincent Chase, the biggest [fictional] celebrity on the planet, would turn to cocaine and alcohol abuse while dating a porn star (Sasha Grey, a porn star turned actress who was most recently in Eminem’s “Space Bound” music video– Eminem was yet another guest star on the 7th season of Entourage), only to spend three months in rehab and come out a changed man. That is, a changed man who would abandon his entire career to write a “Lifetime movie of the week” film script for his B-list actor half-brother, Johnny Drama, and to propose to a journalist who he’d only known for maybe 24 hours, if even that. What makes that entire scenario even less believable is the fact that Vince has never had a long-term relationship, excluding the teenage romance he had with Mandy Moore. That summer of love, referenced in the show’s second season when Vince and Mandy worked with James Cameron on Aquaman, went up in flames, if I recall correctly. Apparently, not even 2,000 leagues of water could put that fire between the two out…except when it did, later in the season.

Vince wasn’t the only one whose personality shifted almost 180 degrees, but he was the most noticeable, being the main character and all. It would seem that, while Entourage had been marketed as the male version of Sex and the City, by the series end it would become just that: the male version of Sex and the City…for females…and minus the sex. Excluding Sasha Grey’s stint on the show in season seven, Adrien Grenier (Vinny Chase) didn’t have a single sex scene in the final two seasons with someone who his character wasn’t dating. Not that I’m pointing fingers, but after Ally Musika signed on as a writer and producer sometime around season five, joining Doug Ellin and executive producer Mark Wahlberg (who the series is based upon, along with his entourage in real life), the show became increasingly effeminate. No offense to Ms. Musika, but she really gave the show a vasectomy.

Men of a Certain Age
What’s that? You haven’t heard of the series? And in that lies the problem. Men of a Certain Age, without a doubt, is one of my favorite shows of all time. Yet, due to poor marketing and TNT’s subjective scheduling for the Ray Romano series, the show was canceled after a feeble two seasons. The series was met with critical acclaim, in addition to an almost cult following—much like a similarly cancelled Freaks and Geeks more than a decade ago—but splitting the second and final season into two halves, spaced eight months apart, was a move that sent the series straight to its grave.  Although Andre Braugher was able to get two consecutive Emmy nominations for his role as Owen Thoreau on the show, there wasn’t enough interest to warrant another network to pick up the series for a third season—unlike another TNT series which once was a promising show on NBC as a replacement for ER. What show is that?

Southland
It’s quite possibly the best series that you aren’t watching. Headed into its fourth season, Southland, starring The O.C.’s Ben McKenzie, is yet another example of a series that wasn’t given the chance it deserved. After no more than 7 episodes into its first season, the series was cancelled by NBC, deemed as being “too gritty” for its network.  In the coming years, NBC, FOX and CBS would go on to prematurely cancel shows with promising premises without giving them a chance to breathe. Most recently, CBS’s How to Be A Gentleman and NBC’s The Playboy Club had their cables unplugged after airing only one or two episodes. Is that really enough for a series to show off what it’s capable of? After all, many series are only picked up after a pilot: is an additional episode really the make or break for series nowadays? Or are we living in a society that increasingly wants instant greatness as opposed to having to loyally trudge through good and bad to see their series become something iconic.
Weeds
The premise of the show, for those unfamiliar with it, was (key word is “was”) for it to be centered around Nancy (Mary Louise Parker), a suburban, single mother who, after the death of her husband, deals marijuana (weed) to the inhabitants of Agrestic to provide for her remaining family, sons Silas and Shane and her brother Andy. If it sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve either heard about the show or you’ve heard about Breaking Bad, a show which has an almost identical premise…except Nancy is actually a married man named Walter who cooks crystal meth after finding out he has cancer.

The first 3 seasons of Weeds stuck to the suburbia formula, and fans were extremely pleased. It earned the show Golden Globe nominations for both the series and the . With the following seasons, however, fans would only get more and more displeased by Nancy’s deviating further and further away from dealing pot to Agrestic adults stuck in their banal, repetitive lives. By the end of season 6, she had gotten involved with a Mexican politician who also ran a cocaine business under the table—literally under the table. He had a tunnel dug out underground which snaked its way below a shopping plaza, among other things. And, by the end of season 6, Jenji Kohan, the creator of the show, had her Ms. Botwin locked away in prison.

But apparently the fans protests finally reached the ears of the people at Showtime. Season 7, the most recent season, saw Nancy released from prison to a halfway house in New York. With a lot of dealing, screwing people, screwing people over, and screwing up people, Nancy got herself and her entire family back into a house in suburbia in the final moments of the season. While there is a possibility, however slim it may be, that the show won’t return for an eighth (and potentially final) season, it seems that in 2012 the Botwin family will return to the basics of the first few seasons, with a few twists here and there. But, if the show really did air its series finale earlier last month, then the final shot of Weeds would be quite the satisfactory one (those who’ve seen the finale may get that pun), with Nancy’s fate being determined in the same place where it began: as a pot dealer in a community.