Most of the writers I know have mixed feelings about TV. One of those little voices in our heads (we have so many) likes to tell us that we should turn the set off and get back to writing. On the other hand, there’s the self-indulgent voice that convinces us we’re really studying plot construction (most of us can spot a commerical break coming a minute away, and not by looking at the clock), or characterization. And let’s be honest, some shows are just plain fun.
From the fall through the spring, I usually consider Sunday one of those “there’s nothing on TV” nights. The summer season, when the cable networks trot out their own shows, is a different matter. Tonight there are four shows I want to see, and every single one of them is on at 8 PM (CDT)!
On AMC, Hell on Wheels is back for the first episode of its second season. I watched the first episode of this show last year because the background, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad just after the Civil War, appealed to my interest in American history. I almost turned it off because the first few scenes were so dark and violent, and had nothing to do with the railroad (the show opened with a murder in a church!). I’m so glad I stuck with it. The background is fascinating, but the characters are even more so: Cullen Bohannon, the ex-Confederate soldier searching for the Yankees who murdered his family, and his uneasy alliance with Elam Ferguson, the educated ex-slave turned railroad worker. And the women: Lily Bell, the recent widow who has stepped into her dead husband’s position as railroad surveyor, and Eva, the tattooed prostitute and one-time Indian captive, torn between her feelings for Elam and her desire for a normal life with a man who wants to settle down, away from the ever-moving railroad town called Hell on Wheels.
Over on A&E, we have the third season finale of The Glades. There’s nothing deep or historical about this one–it’s a light, bright, police procedural located in an unspecified Florida community somewhere between the coast and the Everglades. It has a goofy, attractive protagonist, a detective transplanted from Chicago who would rather be playing golf, surrounded by an equally entertaining supporting cast and some gorgeous scenery. I went to high school in south Florida (Coral Gables) and college in north Florida (FSU in Tallahassee), so The Glades is a bit of a visit back for me.
Meanwhile on TNT, the hardy survivors of the alien invasion in Falling Skies may be about to discover what’s really going on in Charleston. In the last episode they found the city, which was rumored to be the center of the human resistance, destroyed–but there seems to be another Charleston, somewhere under the alien radar. The trailer for tonight’s episode included a shot of Terry O’Quinn, and I’d watch him in just about anything. I follow Falling Skies because I’m an SF geek, still mourning the non-renewal of Terra Nova.
And on Lifetime we have Drop Dead Diva, with its implausible premise (silly, shallow aspiring model, killed in a collison with a fruit truck, is sent back to Earth into the body of a brilliant, plus-size lawyer) and charming cast. I’ve been watching the merger of the model (Deb) and the lawyer (Jane) since the show began, as the “new” Jane (the truth is known only to her BFF/roomie and to her guardian angel) adjusts to her new life and handles her legal cases with tactics that never occurred to Perry Mason.
All four of these shows are on cable networks that get every penny’s investment out of their shows by running them in multiple time slots, not to mention that I have a DVR, On Demand, and a computer monitor that makes watching shows on line feasible, so I’m in no danger of missing any of them.
But I still think I should have been consulted about the schedules.