US TV entering a golden age?

It's hard to believe it, but it seems that for the first time in years it seems that US television is actually improving and seems to be looking bright. The current range of major television shows and series seem to be more varied than every before and the whole market seems less derivative than it did five years ago where every new show seemed to be a Buffy clone or, even more commonly, some kind of police drama.

OK, so we have a number of remnants of that time still on our screens - CSI has gone from strength to strength and resulted in two spin-offs, the so-so CSI: Miami and the promising CSI:NY which made it's US TV debut earlier this year so keep an eye out for it on UK screens in 2005.

Alias could be considered as being something influenced by Buffy with it's strong female lead character, but it's far more than that and is one of the most entertaining and 'moreish' series I've seen, and this brings me on to my new favourite - Lost. From the same mind as the aforementioned Alias, J J Abrams, Lost focusses on the 40 or so survivors of a plane crash on a tropical island. Abrams and the other creators are really having fun playing with people's minds and now that the US is now around 10 episodes into the first season it's still very hard to see what direction things might be going in for upcoming episodes. Lost takes a different approach to that which you'd expect - it's very much a character based show and each episode covers the back story of one of the survivors as well as progresses the main storyline as they try to make a life for themselves while they wait for rescue. There are many plot strands - one moment everything seems very 'human', the next Abrams and co chuck in some mysticism. The characters are all intriguing in their own way and were all on the ill-fated flight for a reason. It's probably some of the best television I've seen in the last few years and well worth keeping an eye out for on Channel 4 in the UK next year.

Lost's Jack (Matthew Fox) and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) contemplate
life on a desert island...

Next on my radar is Scrubs (hopefully hitting DVD next year), the hospital comedy that has found a new lease of life in it's fourth year. The series seemed to be losing it's steam at the end of season three but thankfully things quickly picked up with the introduction of Heather Graham to the cast for the first eight episodes this year - and the guest cast continues to be impressive as the season has progressed. Scrubs, along with Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, is probably the funniest comedy series in quite some time.

Star Trek fans can rejoice in the fact that the floundering Enterprise has finally found it's feet (what took it so long?!). The new year has seen Manny Coto take the helm from the Berman and Braga double-team and his fresh view of the series has given it new life. Apart from the season-three wrapping first few episodes of the series, the 'new' Enterprise seems far more assured in it's direction - instead of one series-long arc, we're now getting shorter but more interesting and tightly-plotted stories that aren't afraid to shake things up. It's good to see Star Trek improving following the last five or so years worth of slumming and I just hope it's not too late to ensure that the series continues for another year. Improving viewing figures are the show's only hope.

Next year is looking very bright too - the return of Alias and 24 for their fourth seasons in January is probably the highlight of the whole year for me so hurry up 2005, I can't wait much longer!

Last updated: 19/04/2018 10:49:58

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