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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Shows you should be watching: Smallville, Scrubs, Las Vegas, The O.C.,The West Wing, One Tree Hill

February 25, 2004

As your local TV maven, I feel it’s my job to broaden your TV horizons.

You may be missing some of the finest shows the small screen has to offer. I’m talking about programs that aren’t always at the top of the ratings polls but have miraculously survived the network chopping blocks.

Here are my picks for the best shows you should be watching. Three are freshman dramas, with comic elements. The other three have been around longer. Check out these gems:

Las Vegas - The name says it all. This show is slick from start to finish. It has cool camera angles, a fun Elvis theme song and beautiful people who, surprisingly, can act. The show is centered on the inner-workings of the Montecito casino. You’ll be amazed at the surveillance gadgets used to watch gamblers. Plus, you’ll learn cool casino words like “pit boss” and “whale.” Former CIA agent Big Ed Deline, played by heavyweight actor James Caan, heads security. But the real stars of the show are the adorable Josh Duhamel and the city of Las Vegas. Don’t be surprised if you see some famous faces at the casino. Guest stars such as Alec Baldwin, Dennis Hopper and Brooks and Dunn have already made appearances. I’m betting this one makes it for several seasons. Catch it Mondays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

  • The O.C. - It doesn't stand for outlandishly clever, but it should. Set in Orange County, the show centers on the ostentatiously wealthy Cohen family. Yes, we’ve seen the blueprint before: Rich, beautiful people in California befriending the brooding teen rebel from the wrong side of the tracks. But this isn’t 90210. It’s much smarter, with adult storylines just as gripping as the teen scene. The characters poke fun at themselves and each other. Actors Peter Gallagher and Tate Donovan make up a strong ensemble cast and cement this new show as one of the year’s best. The breakout star is Adam Brody, playing the sardonic teen Seth. He’s a Tom Hanks in the making. His witty, dry one-liners are guaranteed to make you laugh at least a few times during the hour. Catch it Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

Scrubs - If laughter is the best medicine, this quirky comedy is just what the doctor ordered. The show follows medical residents J.D., Elliot and Turk through the daily trials at a surreal hospital. And nothing is off limits. From J.D.’s funny fantasies to Elliot’s clumsiness, it’s easy to identify with these misfits. The show may seem strange to you at first; there are no background laugh tracks. But don’t worry. You won’t need them. You’ll be laughing out loud so hard; you’ll hardly notice they’re missing. And while this one might make you think twice before checking into a hospital, it’ll sure tickle your funny bone. Catch it Tuesdays during the 9 p.m. hour on NBC.

Smallville - Maybe it’s the X-ray vision, the good-vs.-evil plots or just the lure of a boy from another planet, but Smallville is still one of the best hours of TV to be found. Based on the Superman story, this show focuses on Clark Kent’s years growing up in Smallville. He’s just learning to use his super powers and still hasn’t discovered some of them. The show gets points for beautiful landscapes and good writing. How could you not laugh when an Air Force recruiter told Clark, “I see you in a suit and flying?” Don’t be surprised if you love Lex Luthor in this version, too. Just as Clark is being shaped for who he will become, so is Lex. Catch it Wednesdays at 8 p.m on The WB.

One Tree Hill - Think Dawson’s Creek without the creek. This one is soapy at times, but the adults keep it from being just another teen drama. And surprisingly enough, you might find yourself reliving some of your high school days through the eyes of these self-aware teens. Catch it Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the WB.

West Wing - It may have jumped the shark when series creator Aaron Sorkin stepped down, but it’s still better than most of the shows on the tube. Stellar ensemble acting and interesting characters are the backbone of this one. I’m still watching to see what happens to President Bartlet and the gang, with the hope that Josh will eventually realize Donna is more than just an assistant. Catch it Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Originally published 2/25/04 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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