Jonathan Storm:

Good afternoon, boys and girls.

Ellen Gray:

Welcome to this week's TV Chat. Lots of people have favorites...

VidPro:

Hands down, "Chuck" is my new favorite. I started watching as it was the lead-in to "Heroes", but now find myself enjoying "Chuck" more. Yeah, the cast could be thinned down a little, but I love the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously at all.

Jonathan:

Very interesting about Chuck. Everybody liked Reaper more at first, but Chuck seems to have progressed much better. Reaper is fun, but it's kind of stuck.

Ellen:

Unlike a lot of critics, who had it on their Top 5 lists, I was on the fence about Chuck way back in September. But I've come around. It's charming. Execution is everything -- the premise isn't much, but it seems to get better and better.

Mike Nguyen:

I vote for "Chuck" on NBC. I wasn't sure if I would be into the show from the trailers, but it has caught my fancy from the first time I saw the show. The chemistry between Chuck and the 2 FBI agents, Sarah and Casey, is the best part of the show. You can feel the romantic tension between Sara and Chuck, and it almost makes you want to scream at Chuck to do something about it. It's a witty, charming show with good action and cool toys that keeps me coming back to the TV or to www.NBC.com.

Ellen:

And who knew Zachary Levi -- who was so snooty in Less Than Perfect -- was leading man material? He's one cute geek.

Jonathan:

Oh, God. Ellen and I agreed again. I was on the fence about Chuck too. I wasn't down on Chuck but I wasn't up Chuck either.

Joe:

I think Chuck is a good show.

Ellen:

Though I worry when Jon agrees me about anything, I'm happy not to make puke puns.

Jonathan:

You are so sophisticated.

Ellen:

A girl's gotta have standards.

Stephanie:

I'm voting for Pushing Daises and Chuck. Maybe I have a thing for hapless male leads but I think both shows have something that's been missing from TV for far too long - charm.

Ellen:

It is turning out to be a surprisingly charming season, isn't it? Pushing Daisies has done a nice job of keeping its original tone, but I've also been pleasantly surprised by Chuck, and by how much I like Life, where Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis) isn't the least bit hapless, but still charms the hell out of me. (Plus, Adam Arkin is doing hapless there, and that's fun.)

Nicole:

I love LIFE! Witty dialogue, quirky, well-acted characters, enough mystery to keep you wanting more and well-timed answers (like last night's episode) to keep you from getting too frustrated (a la LOST).

Jonathan:

Well, I was wrong on Life, too. Mostly, I think because it premiered the same night as about 20 other shows, and it was the last one and not exactly an out of the box standout. But it has grown and prospered. I have a bunch of eps. on TiVo, and last night I watched the one about the girl who was found dead with her guitar. I like the way they try complicated stuff, but then take the time to explain it in a creative, rather than ham-handed way.

Jonathan:

The guy is a little too pale, though.

Jonathan:

I think it's because he's Scottish.

Ellen:

I think some other shows have learned lessons from Lost, and we're seeing a lot less teasing from new shows. On the other hand, last season, I thought Heroes was also hurtling through plot at a breakneck pace, only to see it slow to a crawl this fall. It's hard to keep up and not have your series end after a season. And Jon makes an interesting point (no, not on the top of his head) -- the fall rollout's a pretty wasteful process, and things can get lost in the mix.

Ellen:

This season, with the strike, they're being more patient than usual, because they need to hold on to their replacement series.

Jonathan:

I am so interesting.

CS:

For the first time in years - I personally like a number of new ones. I'll nominate the three already noted on this page (Pushing Daisies, Life, Chuck) - but also Reaper (great casting, great premise ... only knock is that the "villian of the week" is often lame - but he/she is rarely the linchpin of the episode).

Jonathan:

Or maybe Damian the Pale isn't Scottish. Whoooo cares, Laddie?

Ellen:

Yeah, Reaper's villains aren't that interesting. But now that the devil's possible daughter has entered the picture, maybe it'll break its format a bit. Ray Wise still gives me chills -- I interviewed him in July and was alternately charmed and creeped out. And I think you're thinking of the gorgeous Kevin McKidd of Journeyman.

Jonathan:

Oh, geez. Aren't they all gorgeous?

Ellen:

Don't be jealous.

craig:

Journey Man

Jason:

JOURNEYMAN

Ellen:

Yay, Journeyman.

Mark:

Pushing Daisies and Journeyman are the best new shows. The production values alone in Daisies are worth the price of admission. A fairy tale for adults, its humor never fails. Journeyman takes what could be a trite sci-fi device and turns it into a psychological thriller. And McKidd can actually act--he's worth watching every week.

Ellen:

Journeyman is another one I liked better than some other people did, and I continue to like it, though their hitting the reset button with the episode in which the federal agent gets shot felt like a bit of a cheat.

Jonathan:

The whole thing is totally bogus and fake. I hate it!

Ellen:

Mark, if you haven't seen HBO's Rome, you should check out the DVDs for McKidd's performance there.

Al:

What's the latest on Journeyman? It's my favorite new show. Will we see the final episode? Will it get pick up for a 2nd season?

Jonathan:

I think there might some other things in Rome that Mark might like even better.

Jonathan:

Like 700 naked women,

Ellen:

I don't think it's gotten a full-season pickup, but I keep reading that its chances might be marginally improved by the continuing strike. Ratings aren't marvelous, but it's at least there, whereas a lot of pilots aren't going to be anywhere if the scripts can't be written. It would've been gone by now otherwise, I'm afraid. And the fact that Life got what looked like a tryout in its time slot this week probably didn't help.

Ellen:

You COUNTED?

Dave:

Definitely Life and Journeyman. Props to NBC for stealing strong leading men from HBO - Lewis and McKidd are the reason I got into these shows.

Jonathan:

Actually, it was 694.

Ellen:

Polly Walker's gotta count for four or five.

Jonathan:

NBC didn't steal the actors. They were finished with their HBO gigs.

Jonathan:

Just a couple more of these beautiful British actors that are everywhere, even when you don't know it. Like that woman on Without a Trace.

Ellen:

But at least it shows casting people are looking further than L.A. That British invasion has brought us cool guys.

Chad:

Dexter is great and all my 30-something friends agree that it's the best series on TV.

Jonathan:

And many of my 90-something friends concur.

Ellen:

I've been watching a lot of Dexter lately (they send out the screeners in chunks) and while I mostly love it -- especially the relationship between Deb and Lundy -- I find I'm getting annoyed by the voiceover. Dexter tells us every time he has the slightest revelation, and frankly, it shows either laziness on the writers' part or at the very least a lack of trust in the actors and the audience. I think most of the subtleties would not be lost. Even on Jon's 90-year-old poker buddies.

Jonathan:

Narration can indeed be a curse, and, though I hate to say it, I sort of agree with Ellen. The show would be better without it -- but that still doesn't mean it isn't fabulous. And now, because of the writers strike, and because CBS and Showtime are owned by the same company, Dexter will be coming to CBS in the winter. (In a highly cleansed -- at least sexually -- form, I suspect.)

Ellen:

I'm not trying to muffle him completely, just get him to talk a little less. Plenty of action on that show.

Terry:

I agree with Mark. I love Pushing Daisies and Journeyman. I also like Big Shots and Dirty Sexy Money but I understand that Big Shots is being cancelled.

Ellen:

Few things are ever officially canceled -- they just don't come back -- but I wouldn't be surprised to see that one drawn and quartered in the public square.

Jonathan:

Big Shots has not been picked up yet, and it probably won't be, but it's not officially canceled. There's somebody else around here who, for some unknown reason, likes Dirty Sexy Money too. I can't abide those obnoxious rich people.

Ellen:

Did you see last night's episode? Not-so-obnoxious rich people. Lovely moment between Tripp (Donald Sutherland) and his not-son Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald). Gossip Girl also had a squishy kind of episode that made me think about how much sympathy TV seems to have for rich people this season.

SuzAlex:

Dirty, Sexy, Money This definitely has a cable-show vibe. Although the name is lacking, the cast and the writing are stellar! From Donald Sutherland as the patriarch of this neurotic and powerful family to Peter Krause and all the new and interesting talent that complete the cast. It's twisted and funny and still has a heart. Not the usual crap we're served up in the one-hour drama genre.

Jonathan:

You're still watching Gossip Girl? I gave up on it a long time ago, even with my well-known babe proclivities.

aud:

my one new addiction this season: Dirty Sexy Money. started watching because of Peter Krause; kept watching because it's got a great cast and a hook that keeps me coming back to find out what happens next... even though I swore up and down I wouldn't get sucked into ABC Wednesday at 10 ever again.

Ellen:

Definitely showing heart lately. I thought it was a fun soap in the fall, and now I think it might actually be working toward something deepers. And Gossip Girl, which first appalled me, is now actually kind of sweet.

Ellen:

Wednesdays at 10 kill me. I didn't get to watch Project Runway till this morning. And that's even with having seen Life on a screener earlier in the week.

Jonathan:

You are a TV-viewing dynamo, my dear.

Ellen:

I'd turn it all over to my higher power, but then I'd be out of a job.

Jonathan:

I think aud's boss must be out of town. Otherwise she wouldn't be screwing around doing on-line chat in the middle of work time. I love that you are all doing that. Screw the MAN!

Christina:

I love Journeyman, Chuck and Dirty Sexy Money. I loved Peter since 6 Feet Under.

Ellen:

Funny thing is, I hated him (or at least his character) in 6FU.

Rich DC:

It's Pushing Daisies for sure.

George:

Chuck and Life are by far the two best. Pushing Daisies is well bad.

sammo:

pushing daisies, absolutely!

sammo:

Pushing Daisie's is a good show. It is original and It's something that me and my girl can both enjoy. We look forward to it. I don't know how long they go with this however.

Jonathan:

That last message was from Dee, not Sammo. Sorry. Come to think of it, whatever happened to that martial arts guy, Sammo Hung, who had a show a few years ago?

Jonathan:

Anyway, if you don't like Pushing Daisies, you must be a cold-hearted

Jonathan:

and cruel person.

Ellen:

What I like most about Pushing Daisies is that until American Idol comes back, it's the only show my teenage son will watch with me. Otherwise, he's all YouTube, all the time.

Jonathan:

It is so delightfully fun, and I just got my first HD TV. Pushing Daisies almost makes the big screen take off and fly around the room.

Jonathan:

Does he like Kristen Chenoweth's blouses?

George:

i am not cold hearted I just dont like to be bored to death

Ellen:

I think he started out liking it for Jim Dale's narration (we have this family thing about the Harry Potter books on tape), but I'm assuming the pretty girls have something to do with his continued interest. I don't inquire too closely.

Jonathan:

I don't think there has been anything that is as creatively off the wall as Pushing Daisies that has actually found some popularity,

Jonathan:

But it definitely isn't the Steeler-Patriots game.

Ellen:

That was one of the big surprises this season -- that we weren't the only ones who turned out to like it. But as broadcast ratings overall go down, I've noticed in the past few seasons that critics and audiences aren't as far apart as they used to be.

Ellen:

Maybe fewer people with bad taste are watching?

CS:

GREAT call on Mad Men - fantastic show that no one knows about.

Jonathan:

I think some people know about it:

Ellen:

Being on AMC doesn't help -- but I give them credit for stepping up and funding it.

Jonathan:

It's possible NBC will move it over from AMC next year. Three cheers for the writers' strike...

Dave:

Big Bang Theory = BEST SHOW EVER

Daniel:

"The Big Bang Theory"

Jonathan:

A lot of my friends like Big Bang Theory, and I was one of the few critics who liked it in the beginning, too. I think those brainy characters are adorable.

Ellen:

You know, I don't hate it as much as I did at first, but I'm not really the audience for it, either. Chuck Lorre understands the traditional sitcom more than almost anyone still working seems to, but that doesn't mean everyone's going to find that kind of humor humorous.

Jonathan:

Well, Chuck Lorre may know some things: Dharma and Greg was wonderful, and Big Bang Theory is good, too, but I can't abide that Two and a Half Men.

George:

Maybe the cirtics are the ones with bad taste?

George:

The girl who plays Sarah on Chuck is an unknown, but incredibly attractive.

George:

Sarah Shahi is way more gorgeous than anything on Pushing Daisies.

Jonathan:

Well, obviously, George, we share the same taste on some things.

Ellen:

Not all critics are equally tasteful -- I have friends and colleagues who actually think Nip/Tuck is art, for instance. We don't actually speak with one voice.

Ellen:

I hate it when I overuse actually.

Jonathan:

We agree too much, Ellen. But one show that nobody has mentioned, and it's my favorite new one is Kid Nation. I love those kids as they struggle to get along, and I think it's fascinating that after about five weeks, they all elected the four oldest boys to be their leaders. It's a wonderful study on group psychology, community dynamics, blah blah blah, and the kids are also fun.

Ellen:

And I think it's one of the most exploitive shows on television.

Ellen:

And not just because it makes me feel better to disagree with you.

Jonathan:

Oh, foo. Who's exploiting who? The kids are having the educational experience of a lifetime, and they are also having fun.

Ellen:

I'll admit I'd worry more if it were a big hit, and these kids all had become household names. But reality TV has a way of tagging people, and kids shouldn't be judged this way -- too much, too soon.

George:

My kids (7 and 4) absolutely LOVE Kid Nation, how bad can it really be?

George:

But it is interesting that if a show that is a cirtical darling isn't watched, critics assume that the general public's taste isn't refined enough. I mean maybe it just isn't good (Pushing Daisies, which will be pushing daisies by season's end).

Ellen:

You know, George, if it were on Nickelodeon and your kids were watching it, I might be a little less worked up. It's the adults all talking as if these kids were characters who bother me most. Plus, on Nickelodeon, I'll bet the kids would be more in charge and less subject to the manipulations of offscreen adults. As for the audience, I'm only noting that our tastes seem to be converging -- that stuff we like and stuff viewers like aren't as far apart as they used to be. Sure, I'm going to think my own opinion is right. But it's TV -- so it doesn't mean you're wrong.

Jonathan:

And I would never impugn the public taste. At least not publically.

Maria:

Did you say that Mad Men may go over to NBC? Not sure if I like that. I feel so cultured when I tell people I watch AMC....anyway, I do like Aliens in America too, although I think it hasn't lived up to its full potential.

Jordan:

And I hate to admit that "Kid Nation" has grown on me. It borders on "perceptive" once or twice an episode.

Jonathan:

You go, Jordan.

Ellen:

Um, I didn't say that. What have you heard? As for AMC, TMC's so much better these days that I'm not sure I'd associate the former with culture. Aliens in America is a great show, though I confess I have a couple unwatched on my DVR at the moment. Am planning to catch up, because they just sent us the Christmas episode (which runs this Monday for some reason).

Jonathan:

I think Monday is Muslim Christmas.

George:

What difference would it be? Nick vs. CBS? I think you're kidding yourself if they would be more in control on cable. Kids are smart, they know its TV. They are having fun and a helluva life experience.

Jonathan:

George is smart! Even if he doesn't like Pushing Daisies.

Ellen:

I only meant that the audience would be largely composed of kids, not adults.

Chris:

Reaper and Kitchen Nightmares are my favorite new shows. I tried Journeyman and couldn't get into it even though I like Kevin McKidd. What do you guys think is the worst new show ?

Ellen:

This gets harder, because at some point I abandon the terrible ones. What if BIg Shots got better after I stopped watching?

Ellen:

But I'm going to trust that it hasn't and pick that one. Cavemen's bad, but it doesn't waste as many good people.

Jonathan:

Oh, jeeze. I'll say something's the worst even after I've only seen it once. That's my job.

George:

Worst new show has to be the Las Vegas version of Cop Rock.

Ellen:

That's how you ended up missing out on Gossip Girl getting better.

Jonathan:

And that proves my point. There was only one episode.

Ellen:

You mean Viva Laughlin? Missing without a trace since just after its premiere?

Jonathan:

The Viva Laughlin thing, not the Gossip Girl.

Jonathan:

Viva Laughlin was so bad, I erased it from my tiny mind.

Jonathan:

You watch way more TV than I do, Ellen.

Ellen:

And yet I watch less than many TV critics. Sometimes I sleep. But not yet. G'night, Gracie.

George:

I played the Viva Laughlin Drinking game. I drank every time I wanted to change the channel. I only made it through 25 minutes, but I was sufficiently buzzed! lol

Jonathan:

I have to go watch some TV now, and maybe drink a little too, now that you've put that idea into my mind. Goodnight, Tommy. See you all here next week, and we're sorry if we didn't get to everbody.