Dexter -- nastier than I anticipated, and nicely done. Showtime has become genuinely competitive with HBO, considering HBO's loooooong lead times now on development. Barely can believe this is on American television.
Heroes -- the first episode was laden with the particular disease of non-genre guys writing genre: "Behoooold. I bring you superheroes WITHOUT CAPES! What brave new world of fiction is this? And look, there's even a plotline using a series of pictures as a narrative device. They are called, in the underground, 'co-mic book-es.'" However, as my friend DJ points out, for those audience members who are not of the Initiates -- which would be 99.99999% of the TV audience -- this is pretty fresh, and a good way in.
How Joe Straczynski hasn't gone on a shooting spree, however, I do not have a goddam clue.
That said, a couple genuinely great moments each episode (the levitation reveal was spiffy), good cliffhanger structure, love the Japanese kid, and with more Grunberg for grounding it ... the downside of too many plots (just not digging evil mirror-stripper Mom, sorry) will not strip it from the Tivo list.
Jericho -- over Kidnapped, and I'll be damned. It's lean, Turtletaub's thrown one nice directing set into each ep , and everybody's busy defining character through action. Skeet Ulrich trumps Jeremy Sisto. Who knew?
There are only two problems, and they're more personal quirks.
Nuclear physics was how I got into science, and apocalypse scenarios are my bread and butter. Who the hell got 15-20 hydrogen bombs? I mean, back during the Cold War ...
.. come to think of it, that's it. Jericho is the absolute best show from 1988. And I'm cool with that.
I love the bit about fallout: "We'll just wait it out and then wash everything ... and then strip the soil down 18 inches when we replant ..." annnnnnd I will really enjoy Season Three, with 22 episodes of the "Thyroid Cancer and Birth Defects" arc. That said, I'm willing to let it slide, for now.
Second, the pilot had a serious case of Magical Negro Syndrome. They seem to be implying that the black character does, indeed, know more than he's letting on ... but please note I am able to type "The black character" and not only do you know who I'm talking about if you've seen the show, you know who I'm talking about even if you haven't seen the show, but have seen any television in the last 20 years.
I will eschew the long joke run off the horrible Magical Negro bit in the pilot, and simply say it stays on the Season Pass.
Ugly Betty -- I really dug the epilot, but the one-hour format is awful and unsustainable. I would take a bullet for America Ferrera, but it's just too much for her immense charm to carry this show on her shoulders. Trial run, six episodes.
Studio 60 -- I will endure my apostate status: this is unwatchable. I know Aaron Sorkin's a great writer -- but I kind of demand that my TV show about a comedy show make me laugh. Once. Just once. Even nod appreciatively. Watching Sorkin's snappy (and let's face it, as much as I love him, self-important) prose try to prop up a setting with little or no social relevance is like watching Picasso paint a shed. Even the shocking discovery that Matthew Perry is a really, really good actor does not outweigh this.
30 Rock may have mixed reviews, but I am guaranteed at least one Baldwin-based laugh. That matters.
You may begin the stoning.
That's it. Nothing else new warrants a sentence, personally. I will continue my teen-girlish obsession over Veronica Mars, (I will no longer try to win you over. I will just say you're missing damn fine TV) stay with Lost and Earl, and dream about Battlestar Galactica. I would remind Eureka fans that tonight is the season finale. And Venture Brothers ends far too soon. Venture Brothers makes Baby Jesus smile. Brock Samson is, I say this with all seriousness, almost as cool as Al Swearingen.
But Al cleans up his own blood.
kvetches, debate, recommendations in the Comments.