As a self-proclaimed television addict, summer serves as my detox period with an eight week sleep away camp as the rehab center. I spent two months in which I was unable to watch even a minute of sitcom laughter, unresolved sexual tension or dramatic stress played out on the small screen in my living room.
I returned home without a sense of how much more time would be opened up if I did not have the hectic and strenuous job of scheduling hours upon hours of blocked out time for adventures on the screen. Instead, I was in withdrawal. And thus began my post-summer rebound session.
I’m not going to even pretend I got to catch up on all of the shows that grace our TV sets throughout the hot summer months. Instead I’ll fast forward through four shows that caught my eye as I flipped through my on demand lists while packing up for college.
Let’s start with the new: “Rubicon” and “Covert Affairs.”
AMC’s “Rubicon,” created by Jason Horwitch, isn’t the kind of show of which you can just watch one hour. In fact, it probably isn’t even the kind of show you can only watch two hours of.
The tag line of “Rubicon,” “not every conspiracy is a theory,” speaks volumes about the job of Will Travers (James Badge Dale), which is to prove that those crazy, paranoid, conspiracy theorists actually have a point. The plot lines move along at their own, somewhat leisurely, pace while somehow still causing me to sit on the edge of my seat (thanks in large part, I believe, to the musical score).
I can already tell this is going to be a great DVD marathon kind of thing in which you watch about 10 episodes at once. But unfortunately, now that I’m stuck on it, I’m not keen on the idea of waiting for the DVDs, let alone waiting one week, to find out what happens next.
The world Horwitch has built unfolds bit by bit with details revealing themselves in subtle but significant ways that grab your attention without you even realizing that you have been absorbed into the story. Or at least that’s how I felt by the end of the pilot, when I said, ‘Wait, that’s it? Where’s the rest?’ And to some people, namely the impatient, that might be an unsettling deal breaker. To me, and anyone who likes a good serial drama, it puts “Rubicon” near the front of the queue.
With a completely different approach to the government sector of spy work, “Covert Affairs” provides a much more lighthearted, fast-paced and adventurous tone. Of the four shows I caught up on, I’m going to say “Covert Affairs” caught my attention the least. Of the many spy shows I’ve seen (and trust me, I’ve seen many), this seemed like one of the less original reincarnations of an overused genre.
That’s not to say that it wasn’t good, because every hour that I’ve watched has been entertaining and holds my attention long enough to get me to watch another episode. But “Covert Affairs” is still looking for that hook that makes it unique.
“Alias” kicked ass because Sydney Bristow was unstoppable. “24” lasted so long because you never got tired of hearing Jack Bauer alternate between whispering and yelling. Now “Chuck” continues to survive because of its rabid fan following of dorks that love to see the underdog win. I have yet to put my finger on just what it is that makes “Covert Affairs” unique enough to give itself a name within the high tier of successful spy television. It has potential, and with its early renewal for a second season, I have high hopes that it will find what it needs.
Moving on to the returning series of the summer: “Warehouse 13” and “Mad Men.”
If you’ve never heard of “Warehouse 13” I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. And that’s not just because it’s a top-secret government facility that protects the world from wacky and weird artifacts ranging from Lewis Carroll’s looking glass to Edgar Allen Poe’s pen.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t know what the hell a Tesla is or who on earth Mrs. Frederic is. And that is because I still have yet to find someone on this campus who watches one of SyFy’s most original and most entertaining series, “Warehouse 13,” which returned for its second season this summer.
If you have ever watched “The X-Files,” “Bones” or even “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark,” you should seriously consider flipping on the SyFy network once in a while.
Artie, Myka, Pete and Claudia return with renewed energy for season two with more chemistry, more action and more mythology than was ever present in season one. The second season of a television show is generally called the sophomore slump, but I’ve been seeing so many successful season two shows that it may have to be renamed the sophomore surge.
Now we return to AMC’s roots, with the show that has given the network it’s newly renowned status, “Mad Men.”
“Who is Don Draper?” The question resonates across a black screen as season four’s premiere gets underway. By midway into the episode we learn that Don Draper has fast-forwarded through the summer and most of the fall to Thanksgiving of 1964. His divorce is official, yet Betty refuses to leave the house. Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce is a struggling but surviving company that now looks to Don for leadership on the front lines of battle as opposed to behind the scenes. But as any “Mad Men” viewer understands, who Don Draper is, is a far more complicated question than anything on the surface.
Creator and show runner Matthew Weiner has brought a new plan of attack to the screen this summer, forcing difficult questions and untimely situations upon each and every character in the three-time Emmy winning drama.
What continues to resonate with Weiner’s dramatic choices is his decision to never return to the status quo. Betty and Don don’t just get back together for the sake of their children. Don’s new company doesn’t become an instant success because of his previous accomplishments. They fall deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, and as a viewer, I have no hesitations in jumping on in right after them.
With summer television approaching an end, don’t worry about an end to your procrastination techniques because the fall premieres are right around the corner. And as a newly reinstated television addict, I for one will not be missing even an hour of the good stuff.
Rosenberg is a member of the class of 2012.