Tag Archive: CBS


NBC’s comedy Thursday resurrected

Dealing with Funny Business

Four years ago, television insiders were rocked by a fear that the half-hour comedy genre was on its final legs. The field that was once defined by “I Love Lucy,” “Three’s Company” and “Cheers” could not hold an audience. Take, for example, the case of NBC’s powerhouse block of “Must See TV” Thursday. This block defined sitcoms for the latter half of the ‘90s, thanks to hits such as “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Frasier” and “Will and Grace.”  Once “Friends” and “Seinfeld” ended in 2004 and “Will and Grace” signed off in 2006, however, multi-camera comedies – those taped in front of a studio audience – were suddenly endangered. CBS had launched the moderately successful “Two and a Half Men” in 2003; for the next six years, this would be one of only two multi-camera comedies to make it past three seasons.

With the demise of the multi-camera comedy, luckily, came the rise of the single-camera bracket. Single-camera comedies usually don’t use laugh tracks. The humor is portrayed more subtly and the cameramen have a longer creative rope to zoom in and out and experiment with angles. Popular examples of multi-camera comedies are “The Office,” “Arrested Development” and “Malcolm in the Middle.” While critics love this genre, the broader audience historically does not, hence the cancellation of “Arrested Development” despite its strong cult following. It used to be that networks needed more patience with multi-camera comedies. Whereas single-camera sitcoms either found audiences quickly or not at all, multi-cameras’ greatest strength was word of mouth, and this required time. This fall season, however, is changing all the rules.

2008 entry “The Big Bang Theory” regenerated America’s love of comedy, and this season ABC has miraculously managed to launch a successful two-hour comedy block. While The CW eliminated comedy from its primetime schedule altogether, it’s undoubtedly a strong field for the other networks. So, which honeys bring the funny and which has-beens are wearing thin?

“She doesn’t even know I exist.”

If you’ve never heard of a TV show, it’s understandable. But if Doc Sonya has barely heard about it, you know it’s bad.

  • Brothers
    It’s a new comedy on Fox. Comes on during what TV insiders so fondly refer to as “the Friday night death slot.” The network obviously doesn’t want it to succeed, so why should you?
  • ‘Til Death
    This show is still on? Really??

 

Time to Break Up With…

  • Two and a Half Men
    Why do I feel so revolted by “Two and a Half Men”? It’s not the fact that it’s a “dude” comedy that objectifies women; I actually couldn’t care less about that. My dislike probably stems from “Men’s” lack of comedic class – neither the crude jokes nor the scenes in bed nor the dialogue is refined. There’s a little something called taste, and “Men” leaves one in your mouth comparable to vinegar.Bottom Line: It’s sad that this is still one of the highest rated comedies in primetime.

  • Accidentally on Purpose
    On par with “Two and a Half Men,” this tired concept should never have made it to the air in the first place. “Dharma & Greg”’s Jenna Elfman is wasted here as the “cougar” who gets knocked up by a twenty-something dude. Unfunny dialogue and stereotypical guy humor ensue (if the writers want to discover the proper execution of guy humor, they should watch “The Hangover”).Bottom Line: Bor-ing. Turn off the TV after “How I Met Your Mother” airs.

One-Night Stands:

Ultimately forgettable, but momentarily entertaining.

  • Ugly Betty
    I loved “Ugly Betty” when it premiered as a bright, quirky comedy in 2006. Much like “Heroes,” however, “Betty” fell into a sophomore slump and has since reached only mediocrity. The show now lacks the charm and whimsy that made it so delightful during its first season.Bottom Line: While Daniel has no memorable storyline to speak of and Betty’s romantic entanglements are dull and repetitive, Wilhelmina, Marc and Amanda continue to bring the inspired comedy the show sought its first season. Dump the other characters and give these three their own show.

  • Gary Unmarrried
    Another uninspired comedy on CBS’ schedule. While “Gary” is certainly more refined than “Men” and “Accidentally on Purpose,” it’s hardly a superior selection. It easily identifies with other marginally successful dad-centered comedies of past years: “The War at Home,” “According to Jim” and “Yes, Dear” come to mind.Bottom Line: Americans have proven that there is indeed an audience for these sub-par shows, and they thus continue to survive. Why not try something saucier, though?

 

Casual Dating:

“You’re pretty funny. Plus, you paid for dinner. I guess we can go out again.”

  • The Middle
    “The Middle” centers on the Hecks, a middle-class family in Indiana. While Patricia Heaton is the star, funnyman Neil Flynn, who previously played the Janitor on “Scrubs,” is my reason for watching. I’d say “The Middle” could be appointment TV, but with so many satisfying comedies out there, a girl can only watch so much.Bottom Line: Reminiscent of “Malcolm in the Middle,” “The Middle” demonstrates how mixing kooky with funny plus a tinge of heartfelt emotion makes for an entertaining half-hour.
  • Cougar Town
    I’m sure you’ve heard of this Courtney Cox show. Question is, is it any good? Answer: Eh… “Cougar Town” tries for the laughs a smidge too hard, and the slapstick bits don’t quite fit in with today’s comedy demands. However, there’s no denying Cox’s charm, and as son Travis, Dan Byrd’s downplayed comedic timing reminds me of Michael Cera’s spot-on underacting on “Arrested Development.”Bottom Line: Not a bad show, but not a standout, either.
  • The New Adventures of Old Christine
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus of “Seinfeld” fame plays Christine, a divorced mom who runs a gym. Her sidekick is the hilarious Wanda Sykes. I’m going to be honest with you: I’ve never seen this show. It’s shameful, because there’s no real excuse for it. But I’m going to endorse it because everyone who’s ever seen this show loves it. Plus, it comes with a top recommendation from my brother, and I’m OK with trusting Doc Sunny on this one.Bottom Line: Whether I’ve seen it or not, this show has Wanda Sykes. Come on, people, watch it. She’s quite possibly one of the funniest comedians ever.

 

Long Term Dating:

Comedy depends so much on personal preference, so it’s hard to figure out which shows to hate on and which to brag about. But the following are keepers. Girl Scout’s honor.

  • How I Met Your Mother
    This year has been a breakout year for “Mother” scene-stealer Neil Patrick Harris. The guy starred in Joss Whedon’s online saga “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” He finally hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live,” as well as the Tony Awards and the Emmy Awards, and he garnered an Emmy nomination himself for his work on “mother.” Folks, Doogie Howser has grown up. But Harris, as legendary/awesome playboy Barney Stinson, is only one element that makes “How I Met Your Mother” so fantastic.The ensemble cast includes Alyson Hannigan (“Buffy”! “American Pie”!); Josh Radnor; Cobie Smulders; and Jason Segel, who you probably know as “that guy” from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “I Love You, Man,” and “Knocked Up. Together, these five comedians bring us the multi-camera, next generation version of “Friends.” These friends live in NYC, hang out in MacLaren’s Bar (sorry, Central Perk), and make bold use of flashbacks to bring us one of the most subtly entertaining comedies we’ve seen in years.

    Bottom Line: It’s gonna be legen… wait for it… and I hope you’re not lactose intolerant, because the second half of that word is dairy!”-Barney, “How I Met Your Mother”

  • The Big Bang Theory
    You’ve probably at some point (quietly) laughed at a nerd for something he or she said. “The Big Bang Theory” thankfully allows us to laugh at nerds loudly and proudly, thanks to a stock of sitcom characters who are nutty, naïve and endearingly neurotic. Good for a laugh are Raj Koothrappali, an Indian stereotype with a thick accent, bad dress sense and the inability to speak in front of women; Howard Wolowitz, a short Jewish man who dresses in bold colors and will do anything to be with a woman; and Leonard and Penny, the two characters we can most easily relate to.

Jim Parsons, however, steals the show as Sheldon Cooper, Leonard’s socially awkward physicist roommate who neurotically must eat at the same restaurant every night, depending on which day of the week it is, cannot discern sarcasm and always settles a dispute with a good round of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock: “Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock…

Bottom Line: …and as it always has, rock crushes scissors.”

 

  • Modern Family
    ABC’s breakout comedy follows three families, related in some way or another, over the course of their daily activities. Sound dull? It could be, except “Modern Family” is the first show to successfully mix elements of multi-camera and single-camera comedies, so along with the blatantly hilarious lines, there’s a slew of dialogue so witty that one can’t help but laugh. My favorite part is Ty Burrell as Phil, whose over-the-top attempts at being the “cool” dad mock everything our generation is about. With possibly the most laugh-out-loud moments of any comedy on TV right now, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not watching.Bottom Line: I’m a cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face.” (cut to Phil doing the dance to “High School Musical’s” “We’re All in this Together.”)

 

  • Glee
    I’m sure you’ve heard of “Glee” by now, what with its musical numbers ripping up the iTunes chart week after week. Combining America’s love for undiscovered talent with nutty plotlines and distinctive high school personalities, “Glee” is broadcast television’s scripted answer to reality TV. What I like best about “Glee” is that it’s not a show focused on singing. It’s a character-centered dramedy with musical numbers sprinkled in. While the story about Will’s wife Terri pretending to be pregnant is frustrating, Jane Lynch’s portrayal of maniacal cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester more than makes up for it.Bottom Line: “I’ll often yell at homeless people, ‘Hey, how’s that homelessness working out for you? Give not being homeless a try!’” -Sue, explaining that people should be motivated to better themselves.

 

  • Community / Parks & Recreation / The Office / 30 Rock
    Like I said, NBC’s “Must See TV” Thursday was the place to be in the ‘90s, and its revamped “Comedy Night Done Right” is no different. Each of these multi-camera comedies not only defines but also glorifies the genre. There’s no need to expound on “The Office”; I’m sure every college student has seen it at least once (“that’s what she said!”).“30 Rock” isn’t as popular, but it really should be. Every character is a standout. My favorite is Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, VP of East Coast Television for NBC (probably because I want his job one day). “30 Rock” never hesitates to mock NBC or television or politics or anything else for that matter. Not only is “30 Rock” bold, it is also smart, never insulting the audience or throwing jokes in our face. Much of the humor isn’t in the dialogue – it’s visual (just when Jack says “I need your guidance” and reaches for a picture of Jesus on his desk, he picks up the one behind Jesus… of Nixon.)

 

  • Parks & Recreation
    When Amy Poehler vehicle “Parks & Rec” debuted last year, it was shaky at best: the scripts weren’t quite funny and the acting was too forced. This season, however, the show has found its legs. Sometime, when America quit watching, “Parks & Rec” got funny. Poehler’s grown into her role, and the standout cast of supporting players now receives the emphasis it deserves.

 

  • Community
  • “Community” is the 2009 entry into NBC’s Thursday night comedy line-up, and if its ratings hold (or grow!), it will round-out the comedy block perfectly for years to come. Like the other comedies, “Community”’s greatest strength is the ensemble cast, led by “The Soup”’s Joel McHale, as manipulative lawyer Jeff who’s back in community college because it was finally discovered that his degree came not from Columbia University, but Colombia, South America. This show is, I kid you not, hilarious. The best comedic pairing is undoubtedly Abed and Troy, and the executive producers have realized this: they now dedicate the final thirty seconds of each episode to an Abed-Troy gimmick, be it rapping in Spanish, taking over the school’s PA system or talking in a Batman growl.

Bottom Lines:
How long have you known about the pregnancy? A week? A month? A year?” –Michael Scott, “The Office”

I haven’t had this much trouble with a book since “Where’s Waldo” went to that barber pole factory.” -Tracy, “30 Rock”

“Whenever Leslie asks me for the Latin names of any of our plants, I just give her the names of rappers.” -Tom, “Parks & Recreation”

“Our first assignment is to make a documentary. They’re like movies, but with ugly people.” -Abed, “Community”

-Sonya Chudgar

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Get your sci-fi fix with “Supernatural”

Tuesday: Sci Fi Exploration

After years of attempting to debut a successful science fiction pilot, the Big 5 networks seem to have accepted defeat at the hands of cable television. Viewers proved they are not interested in the sci fi fare offered by broadcast networks – “Reaper,” “Journeyman,” “Bionic Woman,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” and “Day Break” are among the sci fi shows that failed to make more than two seasons in the past three years. Instead, sci fi diehards turn to SyFy and BBC America to get their fix.

What does this mean for Doc Sonya’s recommendations to you? Since we’re exploring strictly broadcast shows, this means there are only a handful of sci fi shows even on the air, and of those, only one gets my recommendation.

Time to break up with…

  • “Heroes”
    “Heroes” is a classic example of a show that debuted a phenomenal first season, became too hyped, and suddenly failed to live up to its expectations. While it is somewhat expected for shows to experience a sophomore slump, “Heroes” never climbed out of the pitiful ditch it dug itself into. Now in season four, “Heroes” is exploring Claire’s sexuality (yawn), killing off/bringing back to life Nathan and Hiro (like they’re really going to kill off series regulars), and failing to capitalize on its breakout star, Zachary Quinto.

Bottom Line: Grab season one on DVD; skip the rest.

Flings: Don’t require a whole lot of commitment from you. If it’s on, watch it. If you get distracted by something shiny, you probably won’t miss too much.

  • “Flash Forward”

Flash Forward is ABC’s follow-up to megahit “Lost.” While it lacks the flair, intrigue, and mythology of Lost, “Flash Forward” has a fascinating premise – the issue is whether the execution is good so far.
The concept is that for two minutes and 17 seconds, everyone in the entire world blacked out and caught a glimpse of their lives six months in the future. Some premonitions were good, others bad, some intriguing, and some nonexistent. This show reminds me of CBS fan-favorite “Jericho” (2006-2008), which chronicled an isolated town dealing with a nuclear terrorist attack in America.

Bottom line: “FlashForward” would make for a fun disaster/action movie, but as a TV serial, it needs to pick up the pace and make the characters into people we actually care about, or it’ll meet “Jericho”’s demise.

Casual dating: These shows are not the crème de la crème of the genre, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential. These are campy and/or guilty pleasures, just short of appointment TV but good enough that you’ll stick around to see the end of the episode. Feel free to indulge if you like what you see.

  • “The Vampire Diaries”
    This show is the CW’s response to the vampire trend, and for once, it seems like the CW actually made a decent creative decision. Based on the ’90s novels of the same name,”The Vampire Diaries” follows Elena, a teenager whose parents recently died in a car crash, as she navigates high school – with a vampire (no one knows, of course). Oh, and the vamp’s devious older brother spooks the town too.I like Ian Somerhalder (Boone from “Lost”) as older brother Damon. The rest of the characters, however, are written poorly and stereotypically; I wouldn’t be surprised if the character’s name on the script reads Best Friend or Main Character or Good Vampire. We don’t get a sense of a three-dimensional person on the show. We just see how an undeveloped personality reacts to events.Bottom Line: I won’t deny it’s a good choice for those into the vampire thing. However, for a similar premise but better characters/plots/actors, check out the WB’s “Roswell” on DVD. You won’t regret it

  • “Fringe”
    “Fringe” was a huge critical accolade when it debuted last fall, but the furor seems to have died down a bit since then. The show is about a team that investigates (you guessed it) the paranormal. “Fringe” does well with the mythology, meaning the overarching storyline is strong, sensational, and sometimes surprising. However, given that “Fringe” comes from “Alias” and “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams, I don’t think it is living up to its potential.Bottom Line: It’s a slightly more difficult show to get into than, say, “The Vampire Diaries. It’s also got a more serious overtone. Not bad for a show in its sophomore season, but it certainly has yet to find what it is creatively capable of.

Long-term dating: Arguably the best show currently on television…

  • “Supernatural”
    “Supernatural” debuted on The WB in 2005, the WB’s final year as a network. It stars my future husband Jensen Ackles Dean and Jared Padalecki as Sam, brothers who hunt things that go bump in the night. In a nutshell, Dean and Sam lost their mother to an evil demon when they were kids, causing their father to delve into the world of the paranormal and raise his sons as hunters.What started out as a procedural premise quickly turned into the most campy, addictive show on TV. While the standalone episodes are fun, witty and often scary, “Supernatural” creator Eric Kripke’s true mastery is the show’s mythology. There is more to Dean and Sam than the show ever let on during the first season, and now that “Supernatural” is in its fifth (and potentially final) season, viewers can see the threads that were sewn nearly four years ago. The show is unafraid to throw certain stereotypes on their heads. For instance, this season the mythology is stopping God’s angels (they’re the antagonists) from unleashing the Apocalypse – oh, and while Sam and Dean are at it, they need to locate God and stop Lucifer from rising.Whatever the season’s mythology, “Supernatural”’s strength is undoubtedly the bond between Sam and Dean, which is unlike any portrayal I’ve ever seen on TV. One second, the brothers are pulling a prank on each another, and the next, they’re making deals with demons to save each other’s lives.

Bottom line: Still not convinced? TV Guide magazine critic Matt Roush recently wrote, “My decision to get busy and catch up on (the previous seasons of) Supernatural was the best call I made all year.”

-Sonya Chudgar

Watching TV: Procedural Dramas

In October 2000, CBS debuted the pilot of a show called “CSI,” and from there the modern procedural drama bracket was born. Any TV show that solves a case on a per-episode basis – be it a medical anomaly, a legal scuffle or a postmortem analysis – is considered a “procedural drama.” Cases are opened and shut in the span of an hour and the audience goes to sleep happy.

CBS bases 14 out of its 19 primetime hours on procedural dramas, or a whopping 74 percent of its original programming. While every procedural drama on CBS is magically successful, most of them are bland in their premises, dry in the fact that most are spin-offs of each other, and ultimately repetitive.

So why not mix it up a little? Here’s an analysis of which procedural dramas deserve the boot, which you should romance for at least a few episodes, and which deserve your unwavering devotion.

First of all, don’t even waste your time with

“Trauma” and “Mercy.” NBC is trying, it really is, but these are not the procedurals you should even sample. Boring dialogue, tired plot lines, and two-dimensional characters are a greater waste of your time than “CSI” (a show you’ll quickly find out I’m strongly opposed to).

Time to break up with… the quintessential procedural crime drama, “CSI”

Now in its tenth (!) season, “CSI” is showing its age. Grissom (William Petersen) left the show last season, and the crime show’s methodical formula grows more tedious with each episode. While Laurence Fishburne is trying his hardest to step into Peterson’s mighty shoes, and the show’s producers wrote old favorite Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) back into new episodes, these are both signs the show is wobbling on its creative legs.

Bottom line: NYPD’s dark, gritty overtone gave it the balls to last 12 seasons; “Murder, She Wrote” stayed on air just as long by becoming a cornerstone of late ’80s-early ’90s pop culture; after nearly a decade on air, however, “CSI” lacks the foundations of these “greats” of procedural dramas, and the fact that its audience has declined by almost 6 million viewers this season means the rest of America is slowly keying in to this reality.

Also dump “CSI” offspring CSI: NY” and “CSI: Miami” while you’re at it. Sure, “Miami” star David Caruso’s attempts at serious acting makes for a comedic hour, but if Caruso is the sole reason you watch a show, you know it’s time to change the channel.

Flings: If you’re ready to come out of the long-term relationship with “CSI,” but not quite prepared to jump back into the pool of serious dating, I’d suggest you try:

  • “Numbers”
    “Numbers” has been a consistent procedural since its 2005 debut, thanks primarily to the strong rapport between David Krumholtz and Rob Morrow, who play brothers Charlie and Don Eppes. Charlie, using his mathematical genius, often helps to solve the cases handled by Don’s police team.

    Bottom line: Somewhat boring, but at least it’s reliably so. Would not require a weekly tune-in because of the lack of an in-depth season-long arch, but it’s a fundamental change from “CSI” and a perfect fit for fans of the low-key, open-and-shut cases.

  • “Criminal Minds” / “Lie to Me”
    Both of these procedural dramas focus on the mind of the offender: “Criminal Minds” tries to scrutinize the felon’s actions before he can strike again, while “Lie to Me” determines whether the offender is telling the truth.

    Bottom Line: I’d give the edge to “Lie to Me” and its star Tim Roth, whose Dr. Lightman is someone with a talent we’re actually interested in.

  • “The Forgotten”
    ABC simultaneously attempts Christian Slater’s comeback alongside a try at the procedural drama. It’s actually not a bad idea, but…

    Bottom line: Despite the semi-original premise of having “the forgotten” (the unseen voice of a body about to be buried) narrate each episode, this show fails to stand out – and in a world that already includes CBS’s 7,248 procedural dramas, this one will most likely be (excuse the pun) forgotten.

Casual Dating: The following shows could be keepers, if you decide you like them. If not, tune in from time to time and their feelings won’t be hurt.

  • “Law & Order”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”
    L&O and its progeny, “Special Victims Unit,” lack the flair of the CBS crime dramas (don’t expect techno music underlying the scenes where crime technicians sleuth clues in their labs). However, for those who prefer a focus on the case rather than the team solving the case, L&O is the show.

    Bottom line: There’s a reason this show has survived since 1990. For anyone willing to trade in bad “CSI” one-liners for more humanized characters and an in-depth look at justice, this is the way to go.

  • “Medium” / “Ghost Whisperer” / “The Good Wife”
    All three of these shows are targeted heavily at women. Their respective stars (Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Julianna Margulies) fit the appeal and target demographic that CBS aims for.

    Bottom line: Because these shows skew toward older audiences, they lack the playful fancy of “Desperate Housewives” and the promiscuous residents of “Grey’s Anatomy,” but they work well as alternatives to the abundant number of male-led procedural dramas. Try watching a show led by a girl, for a change, and see if you like it.

  • “Castle”
    ABC’s “Castle” is quirky and enjoyable thanks to its lead, Nathan Fillion. Fillion’s got a devoted following, thanks to turns on “Buffy” and “Firefly,” and he makes use of his fan base, treating them to a likeably pretentious portrayal of murder-mystery writer Richard Castle. Castle works with Detective Kate Beckett to solve crimes.

    Bottom line: A pretty decent procedural. Watch from time to time and you may actually enjoy.

  • “House”
    The reason I consider “House” more of a casual boyfriend than an exclusive one is because the show ruined its own formula three years ago and has since lost my devotion. “House” is special in that it is the most character-driven procedural drama on air right now. Viewers don’t really tune in to watch the medical cases or debate whether Thirteen or Cutthroat Bitch should be on House’s team; viewers tune in to watch Hugh Laurie magnificently portray a self-centered bastard of a doctor. And you know what? For three years, it worked. Laurie was backed up by Doctors Foreman, Chase and Cameron; supported by best friend Wilson; and occasionally hassled by hospital head Cuddy.

    At the end of season three, however, executive producer David Shore decided to shake up the show’s formula by firing House’s team and replacing them with a dragged-out competition between actors. I appreciate a showrunner willing to toy with a winning recipe, because, as in the case of “CSI,” the same routine gets boring after a while. However, Shore’s solution to shunt Foreman, Chase, and Cameron into opposite ends of the hospital and feature them in minimal scenes per episode throughout season four was a poor choice.

    Bottom line: “House” was worthy of the buzz when it first debuted. Now in season six, the show is showing its age. Most of the plot developments (the did-they-didn’t-they sexual tension between House and Cuddy is just wrong, and I could care less whether House is in a psychiatric ward) feel too contrived. Most importantly, “House” seems to have forgotten why viewers fell in love with the show in the first place. Case in point: Cameron is being written out of the show in November.

  • “The Mentalist”
    I actually enjoy watching “The Mentalist.” This is primarily due to the fact that Simon Baker is absolutely compelling as Patrick Jane, a man who solves cases by pretending he’s a psychic. Baker makes the show fun and more whimsical than the average procedural drama – too bad the same can’t be said for the supporting cast: Robin Tunney’s single, default facial expression can hardly be considered acting, and the fact that I can’t remember who else is on the show should say enough.

    Bottom line: You should be watching USA Network’s “Psych, the golden charm that “The Mentalist” rips off.

The Keepers: I know by this point you’re thinking all procedural dramas are the devil and I’ll never recommend a single one you should watch. Wrong.

  • “NCIS”
    “NCIS” stars Mark Harmon, who heads up a team of agents in D.C.’s Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The premise certainly doesn’t sound enticing, at least no more than any other procedural drama on the air. Why, then, does “NCIS” stand out as one of the best procedural dramas? Its ensemble cast (including Michael Weatherly, formerly of Fox’s “Dark Angel,” and Cote de Pablo), the quick wit and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it playful rapport between Harmon’s character and his team make this the standout of CBS’s procedurals.

    Bottom line: Hey, there’s a reason it’s currently the highest-rated show on television. (Sidenote: cross your fingers that an upcoming storyline kills off Abby. She’s unbearable. EDIT 12/9: Can I take this back? After watching nonstop repeats on USA, the girl has grown on me.)

  • “Bones”
    If “NCIS” is the best of CBS’s procedural dramas, “Bones” is the best procedural, period. Like “NCIS,” “Bones” has found that success lies in capitalizing on the supporting cast. The audience can appreciate every character on “Bones” because they are well written and amusing, and somehow manage to make terms like “calcium hydroxylapatite” pertinent to us. By focusing on the characters and their relationships, the hour feels more personable than any that CBS brings us. Plus, there’s always the guarantee of gross-out shots of decaying bodies!

    The main draw of the show, however, is the sexual tension between Brennan (Emily Deschenal) and Booth (David Boreanaz), both of whom work the longing stare and hidden smiles well enough to create the best will-they-won’t-they dynamic this side of Ross and Rachel.

    Bottom line: If you watch one procedural this season, let it be “Bones. (Just don’t watch while eating dinner. You will lose your appetite.)

-Sonya Chudgar