It’s not necessarily their fault for being overhyped; it certainly is their fault for being rubbish TV.
They (whoever they are) say this is the golden age of TV – Oscar winners simply litter the small screen, production values are sky high, HBO/Showtime means there is real swearing, and DVD boxsets allow you to gorge rather than nibble. But for every The West Wing, The Wire or The Sopranos, there’s the overhyped piece of tosh…
1. Mad Men
More a fashion spread than a TV show, Mad Men isn’t nearly as bewitching as it thinks it is. The premiere of the new series was watched by a paltry 72,000 in the UK. And that’s the problem. We like the characters, we love the suits and brassieres, Sterling Cooper is already up there as one of the great fictional companies, but it is a real drag to actually watch. Gratuitous smoking and drinking (always a plus) aside, the glacial storylines, suburban ennui and boorish boys behavior make it almost impossible to sit through, however gorgeous Don Draper is.
Making it up as you go along is fine, as long a) you don’t tell everyone you are making it up as you go along and b) it doesn’t look like that it is being made up as it goes along. Great premise in need of things like, you know, a plot or proper story arc. It dissolved into a bit of a joke, not that it has hurt JJ Abrams or Matthew Fox. And that ending…mawkish soft-focus church-based denouement anyone?
3. Downton Abbey
Just like Marks & Spencer underwear – safe, reliable, depressingly middle-aged – though with that nagging feeling that they don’t make them with the same quality any more. Chuck in all the stately homes and lavish costumes you want, but a soap opera is still just that. Which is slightly unfair as Days Of Our Lives at least has depth and integrity in comparison.
Any show based on the twin delights of incompetence and cruelty, overseen by a Botoxed Englishman with a dead rat on his head, doesn’t deserve a daytime slot on CableFreakShow, but there’s little or no accounting for taste. Everyone’s got a sob story, hardly anyone can actually sing, and all people are really looking for is the car crash. There’s enough of that in real life, if it’s all the same to you.
5. Two And A Half Men
Didn’t get it when it was Charlie, still don’t get it with Ashton. It. Simply. Is. Not. Funny. With an aesthetic borrowed from a Disney-knockoff motel, and all the charm of a colonoscopy, its so-thin-you-can-see-right-through-it-because-it-doesn’t-actually-exist comedic premise escapes me. It’s a toss up between sitting through an episode or puking in my own mouth.