What has happened to my beloved Showtime? Once upon a time, I told my friends, family and you lovely internet people that Showtime was the only premium cable television network worth subscribing to, but that time has changed. Have the glory days of Showtime really passed so quickly?
With the cancellation of one of the finest, most unique television shows on the air, United States of Tara, Showtime seems to have sent out the message loud and clear – the only thing that matters is ratings. What has become of heart? What has become of sticking out for a show that really captures an audience?
While I love American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars and (especially) MasterChef, it’s hard to feel like United States of Tara didn’t get the short end of the stick for daring to do something different. With whip smart writing, honest and sincere character development and engrossing plotlines for the main and secondary characters alike, it seems like the show had carved out its own niche. Apparently that niche wasn’t big enough.
I fear for shows like FX’s Sons of Anarchy and TNT’s Memphis Beat – the shows that don’t cater to the masses and instead focus on being honest and genuine. While some of the plotlines on both shows can be a little over the top, the shows really, at their core aren’t about the situations the characters find themselves in, but rather the shows are about the characters themselves. This is where Showtime seems to be faltering. Character development takes a back seat and that frightens me.
Because I don’t think it’s fair to rag on Showtime by talking about shows airing on other stations, let’s take a minute to talk about what shows will be returning to Showtime (which you can get from www.bestsatellite.tv) in the coming weeks and months instead ofUnited States of Tara.
With United States of Tara gone, Dexter has officially become my favorite scripted television show on Showtime and one of my favorite scripted shows currently on the air (second only to Sons of Anarchy over all). The only reason I’m even mentioning Dexter is because we’re closing in on season six and at some point, as painful as it will be, we’re going to have to say goodbye to Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter and the rest of this incredible cast.
I want to see the show end on a high note instead of dragging on well past the point it should’ve stopped. Last season was good, but it had its slow moments – something we hadn’t seen with Dexter until last season. It’s important that a show knows when to stop and my fear is that the show won’t stop until the ratings drop. If that’s the case, the series will suffer much like…
I wanted to post this article last week, but decided instead to wait until this week. Why? Season seven of Showtime’s Weeds premiered last night and I wanted to give the show a chance. I have been a Weeds fan since the pilot episode, but over the last few seasons, it seems the writers have done everything in their power to try to change that. While at the beginning of the series, Nancy Botwin is a loving mother who turns to selling pot as a way to ensure her children continue to have the life they’re accustomed to. Wickedly funny, heartbreaking at times and a joy to watch in the beginning, Weeds went off the rails around the end of the third or fourth season. Nancy stopped being a caring mother and transitioned into reckless, adrenaline junkie – putting her children in harm’s way at every turn. Her youngest son, Shane, is shot but still Nancy continues being reckless.
The season finale of season six saw Nancy return to what she once was – a fierce lioness willing to do anything, even sacrifice her self, to protect her kids. This gave me hope for the future of the show and is honestly the only reason I tuned in for season seven. The premiere? Three years have passed and Nancy is being released from prison. She is also back to making the sort of stupid, thoughtless decisions that made me grow to hate her in past seasons. Cancel this thing before the legacy of the show is destroyed beyond recognition. Cancel it and bring back Tara!
Up until this season, Nurse Jackie was one of my favorite shows on Showtime. This season, while United States of Tara kept me glued to my television for each half hour show, Jackie nearly lost me entirely. Because it seems Showtime chose to renew Tara over Jackie, I have to wonder if character development is dead and gone. Jackie Payton (Edie Falco) is still the same woman she was in the pilot episode. The only redeeming factor about Nurse Jackie is the supporting cast. Zoë (Merritt Weaver), Thor (Stephen Wallem), O’ Hara(Eve Best), Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith) and Coop (Peter Facinelli) are always fun to watch and they are played to perfection. Sadly, they don’t get nearly as much screen time as Jackie and the show suffers for it.
With all that said, the season three finale of Nurse Jackie was wonderfully done and actually got me looking forward to season four. Unfortunately, it was the only episode of the season I really, honestly enjoyed. Edie Falco’s performances are always incredible, but it feels like the writers aren’t really giving her much to work with. Hopefully that will change for season four. I don’t necessarily think United States of Tara deserves a spot on Showtime’s lineup more than Nurse Jackie, but it at least deserves a spot alongside it.
I have to admit, it’s hard to hate on Californication. David Duchovny’s portrayal of fictional troubled novelist, Hank Moody, is absolutely spot on. I have never been a big Duchovny fan but this show changed everything. Add to that the dangerously close to perfect supporting cast (Natascha McElhone as Karen, Madeleine Martin as Becca, Madeline Zima as Mia Cross and Evan Handler and Pamela Adlon as Charlie and Marcy Runkle) and an impressive line up of guest stars (Rob Lowe, Kathleen Turner, Justine Bateman, Peter Gallagher, Zoë Kravitz, Carla Gugino and even Rick Spingfield) and you have a show that has all the necessary ingredients needed to make engrossing television.
There hasn’t been an episode of Californication that has failed to leave me excited to find out what comes next. After season three, one has to wonder where the show goes from here. With the Mia mess concluded where will the drama come from. I’ve never been a big fan of the Marcy/Charlie/Stu storyline and with Karen and Becca on a road trip with Karen’s new boyfriend, Ben, I fear the show will just be more of Hank getting drunk and having sex with strange women. Sure that’s entertaining for a while, but for how long?
With all that said, there are some exceptional shows off to a strong start on Showtime. Shameless and The Big C are two of the shows that only seem to get stronger as they go. While I was disappointed with the season premiere of Weeds, The Big C (which airs as on Mondays alongside Weeds) was a roaring success. I look forward to seeing where the show goes, assuming, of course, Showtime doesn’t give it the ax.