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May 22, 2006 - Image 12

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-05-22

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12 -The Michigan Daily - Monday, May 22, 2006
Old favorites bow out in '06

By Imran Syod
Daily Arts Writer
Television changes. It adapts to
the times, harbors evolving viewer-
ship and, most importantly, serves
up what sells. For the last few years,
it seemed network executives were
slow to adapt, but fear not: The years
of "CSI," "American Idol" and noth-
ing else seem safely passed.
The end of this TV season proves
two things: that creativity remains
alive and well in network board-
rooms (it simply went on break for
a while), and that America's taste
in television, while painfully sim-
plistic at times, is eclectic above all
else, resulting in a wide variety of
shows of varying quality that have
made this as vibrant a time as any in
TV history.
It's the end of an era at NBC. With
the departure of "Will & Grace,"
the last of the sitcoms that made

NBC the ruler of primetime in the
late '90s, is gone. Among the most
socially important shows in TV his-
tory - owing to a premise that cre-
ated gay characters just as funny,
stereotypical, flawed and lovable as
their straight counterparts - "Will
& Grace" had recently fallen prey
to repetitive, uninspired, outdated
writing. But, the finale was one of
the more quirky, off-the-wall finish-
es ever, employing flash-forwards
instead of flashbacks to truly bring
some closure to the twisted ballad of
Will and Grace.
Also finishing a long run on NBC
was "The West Wing," another once-
popular show that recently fell on
hard times. But with the first change
of presidential power in the show's
seven-year run, it finished strong
and will be remembered still as one
of the more clever fictional takes on
the American presidency of its time.
"ER," which dominated the ratings

in the late '90s, returned with its
strongest season in at least five years
- though no one seems to have been
paying attention.
Elsewhere, we have NBC's two
Thursday comedies, "My Name is
Earl" and "The Office." Both shows
picked up steam as the season wore
on - "Earl" because of its upbeat,
do-the-right-thing undercurrent and
"The Office" because of its spurts
of random existentiality and clever,
dark hijinks, which were derailed
a bit by a clich6d Ross-and-Rachel
season finale.
Over on ABC, the recent years
have presented a stark contrast.
The success of second-years "Lost,"
"Desperate Housewives" and
"Grey's Anatomy" took the network
near the top, though its attempt to
follow up with another strong slate
of new shows failed this year. Only
one of the shows introduced is cer-
tain to return (the lukewarm "What
About Brian?"). The acclaimed
spy drama "Alias" - the one-time
anchor of the ABC lineup - will
wrap up this Monday with a much-
anticipated finale.
On Fox, all fortunes are best
summed up by two words - "Ameri-
can Idol." The reality phenomenon
has somehow found the staying
power that eluded former power-
house "Survivor," and it will likely
come out this year as the top-rated
network show for the second year in
a row. Other shows like "The O.C.,"
"House," "24" and even the first-year
dramas "Bones" and "Prison Break"
attracted modest but steady audiences
sure to carry over after their closely
followed season finales.
The last of the big four networks,

4

"We received an anonymous tip that 'The Office' is a crack house."

CBS, has quite a few "CSIs" to wrap
up. Once the top-rated show on TV,
"CSI" slipped that crown to "Ameri-
can Idol" last season. Even as CBS
debuted more similarly themed dra-
mas ("Criminal Minds" and "Close
to Home" to go along with "Cold
Case," "NCIS," "Numb3rs" and
"Without a Trace"), it may be time
to consider that the resurgence of the
crime drama has passed. The network
also debuted a couple new comedies
this season; the sometimes sweet,
occasionally funny "How I Met Your
Mother" and "The New Adventures
of Old Christine," featuring Julia
Louis-Dreyfuss (of "Seinfeld" fame).
Both received better reviews than
could be hoped and should make a
solid comedy slate along with "The
King of Queens" and the inexplicably
popular "Two and a Half Men."
And as we look to next season,
we have to look no further than the
WB/UPN hybrid CW to understand
the outlook for all of network televi-
sion. Because spots for original pro-

gramming were few, some popular
shows from the WB and UPN have
been cancelled. But the return of "7th
Heaven,"."Everybody Hates Chris,"
"Smallville," "Veronica Mars" and
even Friday-night wrestling prove
that CW is as television remains
- varied in both content and qual-
ity. Television is the most important
vehicle of different strokes, and it
wouldn't be right any other way.

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"... watermelon bubble gum, flavored water, breast milk, green beans..."

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