writers on strike... what to do?

You know what this means right? More Survivor, American Idol, Amazing Race... Reality TV! [Shudder] Its going to be bad folks. In addition, the contracts for Director's Guild and Actor's Guild are due up in June! The hope is that the work that goes into the WGA contract can be applied to the DGA and AGA. Technically we're still in the first week, but the repeated breakdowns in progress doesn't exactly lend to optimism.

The only recipe for right now is to go back an catch up on all those shows you missed! With a brand new Netflix account in hand, I begin to build up a queue that will satisfy my need for "quality" TV in between college basketball games. The following is a breakdown on what I'm hoping to catch up on.

To See...

Freaks & Geeks Seasons: ½

Due to the insistence from Jeff and Forty-Year-Old Virgin/Knocked Up, I've taken the plunge to get my heart broken by becoming attached to this show that barely had a season's worth of episodes. Ann and I watched the first three episodes last night, and I'm already disappointed that I only have a very limited number of episodes left (9). =( Damn you NBC! You now join the ranks of Fox for killing off fantastic television only to dump mind-numbing crap in our face instead.

Three episodes in, I understand both why the network saw fit to kill it and why it is loved by so many... This is not a simple sitcom. It is not a simple drama. Its a real, evolving story... heartwarming, funny, awkward, and "Crap! High school was exactly like that!" This is like Serenity... it wasn't a stereotypical sci-fi show, not a basic western, not a simple comedy, not an intriguing drama. A genuine story that needed to be told and the big-wigs simply didn't get it.

Also, how can a series that won an Emmy, be canceled so soon?

Undeclared Seasons: ½

And we pick up where we left off, this time with only 15 episodes (those bastards). I don't know much about it yet, but I assume its fairly analogous to F&G, just moved up a few years -- college years. If it is anywhere near the quality of F&G, I'll treat it as season two of F&G, so I can actually claim to have a full season!

Its unfortunate because I think Judd Apatow's talents are better suited to the television episode format, rather than feature length movies. A brief look at his imdb profile suggests he's staying with producing films. I hope he does decide to make a return to the small screen, and I will eagerly await.

(Supposedly there's lots of cameos from F&G, so that should be fun)

Farscape Seasons: 4+mini-series

Ok, ok. This is one of those answers to "you know you're a geek when..." But I couldn't help seeing what was making all the racket. Farscape is a project with the Jim Henson company... so you know what that means... Muppets. But this is more Yoda than Kermit the Frog. Two of the main characters are puppets but they are made to look real (ala Yoda before he made the jump -- pun intended -- to CGI).

There is a little difficultly getting started watching this one. Apparently the company that has the DVD rights to Farscape are royal bastards... trying to charge $140 dollars for a full season (X-Files like extortion). Well, I'm having none of that. Additionally, they recalled the first season for some reason, so its virtually impossible to get it (buy or rent)! I've seen the first 4 or so episodes from various streaming video sites... enough to know I should continue. The non-sci-fi-loving passerby will think its a complete joke (more for the muppets and the costuming... which are fairly outrageous), but you just have to turn the other cheek. It is routinely hailed as one of the best sci-fi series ever made (often right up there with Firefly). Firefly was obviously better, but at least it was the SciFi Channel producing Farscape so it at least got a full four seasons and a mini-series, rather than a Fox-killing half a season.

I'll keep you informed when they finally get season 1 back out there.

Stargate Atlantis Seasons: 4+

Having already made my way though all ten seasons of the original Stargate SG-1 (and a huge fan of the movie and previous series), I need to at least make my way through this venture. I've watched the first 5 or so episodes... Characters aren't quite as good as the original, but the original cast makes lots of guest appearances. And at least they are still making episodes!

(Start with SG-1 before this... there are definitely plot prerequisites).

Doctor Who Seasons: ~2

The BBC revamp of the 40+ year old franchise. When I was really young I saw a few of the older episodes (I guess the 80's version, rather than the 60's version). I know nothing about this new remake; this is more a shot in the dark than the rest of this list -- it's also toward the end of my current queue.

Did you know -- There have been 10 doctors in the Dr. Who series?

Rome Seasons: 2

Surprise, surprise. Another quality product coming from HBO. I've already seen all of Deadwood (and if you haven't, shame on you! Go rent it! Now! And you must watch at least 4 episodes... it takes about that long to get into it). Rome was on around the same time (after the Sex in the City conclusion), but Deadwood won out for me at the time. It is supposed to be really good -- graphic violence, sex, deceit, scheming, betrayal... Literally, what more could you ask for?

Not much as far as I'm concerned.

The Wire Seasons: 5

HBO again, and this time with what I believe is the most critically acclaimed show I know. Sopranos took a lot of the thunder, but almost everyone who saw both claimed The Wire was better. Again, another sheer character driven drama that supposedly takes a few episodes to get into it. With five seasons (and each successive supposedly better than the previous), this is a more serious endeavor to undertake. My Dad has been pestering me to get around to seeing this, as it's easily his favorite show ever. In time... In time.

Season 4 was set in Baltimore, MD and I have a few relatives who have worked there and claim the show is incredibly accurate in depicting the day to day life there.

Battlestar Galactica Seasons: Resume w/ s3

I don't know how the WGA strike will affect season 4 (currently slated for the beginning of 2008), but the season 3 box set comes out at Christmas time. I've saved watching the cliffhanger from season 2, so I could immediately jump into season 3. Supposedly a lot of "interesting stuff" happens in this next season...

BSG is really one of the most under appreciated gems in this line up. It should really be competing with main stream programming, but can't because it's "sci-fi" (as if that was some dirty label). Sci-Fi in the main stream is Star Trek/Star Wars, when it doesn't have to be (in fact, the best are usually at the opposite end of the spectrum). I understand why ST/SW have the audience they have, but if any show could have broken the mold, it would have been BSG. However, if Fox/NBC/ABC had decided to fund it, it would have been axed in the middle of the first season (I'm not bitter or anything).

Lost Seasons: Resume w/ s3

Season 3 also arrives this Christmas. I have to say I was disappointed with season 2. Adding and killing off characters it seems without much purpose... Plot twists and character blunders for the sake of preventing characters from evolving. From what I hear, they now have a fixed end date, so they can start actually developing a story. One of the biggest blessings I think BSG had was that it had a fixed end date (four seasons)... The writers knew how long the story was going to take and how many episodes they were going to use. BSG is a lot tighter than Lost for this very reason. Who knows how the strike will affect season 4, but I'm hoping s3 is a substantial improvement.

Seen and Recommend...

Firefly Seasons: ½ + Movie

Its hard not to come across as cult-like when discussing Firefly/Serenity. Maybe it really is a "you get it or you don't" type of reaction, but this had the potential to become one of the best TV series running if given the support it deserved. You would think studios would be looking at DVD sales of series' that they cut short and go,"hmmm... maybe if we had done the right kind of marketing/not fucked with the time slot/given it a time slot of death, then it might have succeeded..."

Its hard to tell what their goals are sometimes. They are all looking for the next Seinfeld, Friends, Frazier, et al. when not all shows fit that model.

Stargate SG-1 Seasons: 10

Who doesn't like a little Richard Dean Anderson love? The rapport between the main characters really is quite staggeringly good. Some great evolving plots, they kept stories going without being mundane. Some criticize the Ori plot as weaker and a reason why it was stopped after its 10th season, but I actually thought it was good, and felt rushed to give it a conclusion. There were lots of political and cultural undertones that made it a really good conflict.

In any regard, I highly recommend this series if you were a fan of the original movie. You'll get quite a lot of mileage out of this show with ten full seasons to get through.

Deadwood Seasons: 3

Having not seen The Wire yet, so I can't directly compare the two, Deadwood has to be one of my all time favorite character based dramas. Not only for the resurrection of "cocksucka" into contemporary vocabulary, but the quality of writing and dialog is on another level. There are so many spectacular lines from this series that are just mind-blowingly good (on a Shakespeare-quality level). Don't hesitate starting this series. It will not disappoint.

Buffy Seasons: 7*

Getting back to Whedon's roots here. I only really enjoyed up to about season 4, and only really seen bits of the other three seasons. I personally think the earlier seasons are better, due to the fact that Joss went off to work on Serenity in the season 5/6 time frame. Lots of great good vs evil battles surrounded with how to adjust to high school life. While it has a dark and serious theme to it, Joss does a good job of not letting it become depressing with lots of wacky plots and witty dialog. I think being a little darker would have been better, but that's just my preference.

Shows to be missed...

Bionic Woman

This has potential, as long as it isn't killed off by the strike. Characters are a little flat at the moment, but I love Katee Sackhoff (of BSG fame) as a villain. Joss Whedon I believe could have done this show justice... I'm just not sure how the writing will be going forward. It is beginning to get cutesy, and not sure who they are marketing to.

Journeyman

A little Quantum Leap and Time Traveler's Wife mixed together and set in San Francisco. Even this early, I think they have some potentially good characters going. Filming in SF is a plus too =)

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Please, please please... settle the strike so this show has a life. My understanding is they have made around 9 episodes for next year if the strike isn't resolved. This could have potential... and watching Summer Glau kick ass is always a winning premise.