It's annoying that the major television networks hold back new episodes of their scripted series for the whole month of April so that they can guarantee all-new content during May sweeps, but it could be worse. Between the end of the basketball season, the beginning of the baseball one, and "American Idol," I haven't had a lot of time for my dramas lately. When some new episodes started piling up on the ol' DVR last week, I had to leave them be until now. I also recorded the first three episodes of "Drive," out of loyalty to Nathan Fillion and Tim Minear, but I am having trouble bringing myself to watch them. What's the point? Midseason replacement shows are like second-round NBA draft picks. They're lucky if they even get a fair chance. (Obviously, "Seinfeld" is the Gilbert Arenas of midseason replacements.)
"Andy Barker, P.I." has already been cancelled, sadly. Farewell, Lew Staziak, we hardly knew ye.
"Scrubs" felt like a show on its last legs when new episodes first returned earlier this year, and the recent dreary, pointless two-parter involving the death of recurring nurse Laverne felt like a jump-the-shark moment if there ever was one. (I mean, besides the actual "Happy Days" episode itself.) But what do you know, the last two episodes have been fantastic, particularly the one about the inner worlds of Jordan, Ted, and The Todd. It's a sign of a superior television series when you look at the peripheral characters and think that any of them could easily carry a show of their own ("Deadwood," anybody?) and although I don't know if any network would pay for it, "Scrubs" would totally work without Zach Braff. I do miss John C. McGinley's curls, though.
"Gilmore Girls" is dead. Next show.
I have heard rumors to the effect that "Supernatural" is in danger, which seems silly, because the ratings haven't been any better or worse than they were last season and creatively the series has improved by leaps and bounds. The second-season DVD set is going to be colossal, with "Croatoan," maybe the scariest made-for-network-TV hour I've ever seen, plus the hostage drama "Night Shifter," the very funny homage to "The X-Files" "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," "Tall Tales," the one based on the Robert Johnson legend, and four or five more marvelous episodes. The show isn't terribly original, but it has gotten better at finding ways of building drama even when you can see the twist coming from a mile away. I had the whole plot of the werewolf episode from last week, "Heart," pegged from the beginning, and yet I still found myself tearing up a bit at the end. This week's offering, "Hollywood Babylon," started off with the in-joke factor a little too high (series exec McG playing himself, a "Gilmore Girls" mention, even a comment about how the weather in Los Angeles was unusually Canadian) but it ended up another winner. How can you dislike a show that kills off Don Stark and Gary Cole both in the same episode? I also liked that the fake trailer for the movie being made in the episode included a clue about the show's mystery. That's clever writing. I hope the CW doesn't cancel "Supernatural," because "Veronica Mars" is apparently toast and "Everybody Hates Chris" has never quite fulfilled its potential. With no CW shows on my season pass list, where am I going to get my gratuitous B-list starlet cheesecake guest spots like Charisma Carpenter on "Mars" or Tricia Helfer on "Supernatural?" Not cool, CW, not cool.
"House" has been solid this season, occasionally excellent, as was the case with "Act Your Age" this week. Well, maybe excellent is too strong a word, that might just be my crush on Carla Gallo speaking. I wasn't a huge fan of the Cameron/Chase romantic arc, but it (seems to have) ended relatively quickly and painlessly so good for them. Omar Epps has had a lot less to do this season, but he got his big story last year; it's good that they're finally giving Chase some dimension. And you just can't say enough about the casting and writing of Wilson. Robert Sean Leonard is a guy you immediately want to dislike for being so darned generically pleasant, just like Wilson, and yet he gets under your skin. He's absolutely perfect as the one friend House has.
"My Name Is Earl" hasn't been as consistently good this year as some of its other Thursday night companions. It seems like they've been building towards some major development for the whole season and now that May sweeps are here perhaps we'll finally get to see what it is. There hasn't been one great enough to inspire my mother to call me from Chicago and spoil the plot before it airs here in Boulder since the Catalina's Homeland episode. I liked the writers' idea of giving Norm MacDonald a whole show to do his Burt Reynolds impersonation, but they forgot to write any snappy dialogue. What happened to Catalina's simmering obsession with Randy? They need to bring that thread back. Inspired by the "Family Guy" "The Father, The Son, and the Holy Fonz," I think that someone needs to start a First Universal Church of Crab-Man. Eddie Steeples' Darnell is so blissfully content; you could do a lot worse for a guru. That reminds me, they need to bring back D.J. Qualls as Joy's black half-sister's boyfriend. I guess that was another second season "Earl" that was really good, although it didn't have "Eye of the Tiger" being played on Spanish guitar in it.