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How we pick what we watch, especially during the fall blitz

During the summer, I recruited some wonderful guest bloggers, and we recently discussed how we pick what we watch. From Dan: For me, the genre shows I pick tend to be based on the concept of the show. If it doesn't conflict with something else that I watch, I give it a try. This has led to some major one season wonders. On the other hand, it led me to Battlestar Galactica and Lost, so I can't complain. [Ben is] right about Jericho. I don't see them doing that story with as much weight as is needed on network TV. I saw the second episode of Studio 60 and although no one really cares about the subject matter, the characters are simply too good to not watch. It isn't your average cop or doctor show, and that gives it a chance to stand out. As for Heroes... I want it to succeed, but having seen the pilot twice now I can say that unless it gets a lot better, it's gonna be canceled in a few months. From Billie: I can never tell if something is going to appeal to me. I wish I had a crystal ball so I could tell which shows to keep watching even though they don't excite me yet, and which ones aren't worth the effort. There are probably mainstream shows that I would love if I had the time to watch them, but which ones do I try? I can't try all of them, so I usually don't even bother. I make myself try everything that's even partially in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but that can be tough, too. I ran myself ragged last season trying to catch all the new sci-fi shows, all of which tanked. (Except Supernatural.) And I didn't even try Prison Break, a show that has just knocked my socks off. Who knew? Series DVDs are slowly changing this situation, at least for me. I no longer feel so much pressure to try to catch every new genre show, because the DVDs will eventually arrive and I can discover it later. Hit rates on my site have proven to me that my reviews for older shows are nearly as popular as my big hitter, Lost. So I'm beginning to think that the future of television is DVDs and subscription television, not networks with seasons and tons of commercials that break the flow. From Jess: I absolutely agree [with Ben] that network TV isn't up to the "day after" challenge. Can you imagine Battlestar Galactica on network TV? A lot of the darkness would undoubtedly be muzzled. And we haven't even seen the Season three stuff yet. From what I hear, it reaches new levels of darkness. Back in the day, I would get hooked on particular sci-fi shows based on what my mom was watching. I started with Star Trek (of all varieties), Babylon 5, and The X-Files because those are what Mom was watching. Nowadays, I have two general approaches for picking shows (whether they be of the sci fi/cult variety or other more standard fare). I either (1) decide to watch it from the beginning based on the general appeal of the premise, early buzz, and the promos. This is how I got into Lost, Wonderfalls, and Invasion. Or (2) I get hooked on the show after it has been on a little while based on buzz or a friend recommendation. That's how I came to Farscape, Alias, Veronica Mars, and to a certain extent Buffy. And I even tried Threshold because my one friend really liked it. But then that was cancelled. Erg. For Battlestar Galactica, it was kind of a combo of those. We skipped the miniseries, even though my husband was a fan of the original BSG. But when they made a series out of it, we decided to give it a whirl. So we caught the miniseries and the first two eps of the series and were hooked from the get go. For new shows this season, I plan to try out Ugly Betty and The Nine. Both have good critical buzz and I'm really intrigued by the promos for The Nine. I enjoyed Ugly Betty last night. It isn't high comedy or intense drama, but it made me smile. America Ferrara is great in the lead role. I think I'll stick with it. Sometimes I just need some lighter, heartwarming TV fare! I've also sampled The Class on CBS twice, but mostly because I'm a fan of How I Met Your Mother and I figured I'd give the whole hour a try. The Class isn't all that. I did actually laugh at one moment this week, but other than that the characters and the stories are blah. I'll give it one more week to hook me, then I'm out. I wasn't planning on taking on any new "cult" fare this season. I was initially interested in Heroes, but then it had mixed buzz and afterseeing some promos, I decided I didn't want to see it enough to add it to my busy TV schedule (even though Greg Grunberg is in it). But then I ended up watching the rerun of the pilot on Sci Fi tonight. (Method 3 for picking shows: let's see what's on right now ... this looks interesting ...) Heroes held my attention for the whole hour and I'm curious to see where it goes. I definitely enjoyed "Super Hiro," the Japanese guy who could bend space and time with his mind. He brought a bit of lightness to an otherwise kind of grim and gross hour. His deep affection/respect for all things Star Trek was very amusing. From Ben: I am totally with [Jess]. The best thing that could have happened artistically for Battlestar Galactica is for it to suffer initial obscurity. It would have been a rehash of the 1979 show otherwise. Those webisodes have also gotten me all into an excited lather as well. I am adding Veronica Mars this year to my viewing, I wanted to last year but it never seemed to work out. I can probably squeeze in one more show for regular viewing but that's pretty much it. Right now my list is: Gilmore Girls, Lost, BSG and V. Mars. So I am shopping around and hope I don't hook onto a one-season wonder like I did last year with Surface.

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