TV Time with Bob: midseason shows from mediocre to A-OK

Robert Taylor

‘America’s Next Top Model’

The CW, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

Is it just me or has the series imploded over the past two episodes? Jaeda and Eugena steal precious screentime when we know they are going to be gone soon, while fake suspense is created to make us think that Melrose and CariDee might have done badly at a photo shoot (as if that is possible). And as for the photo shoots themselves: the models flying in that dangerous looking machine, completely covered and told to emote? Then attack a man in front of a race car? I don’t think so. What a shame, because this season started so well.

Grade: C+

‘Brothers and Sisters’

ABC, Sundays at 10 p.m.

After a very shaky first episode, ABC’s freshman “Brothers and Sisters” has become a reliable hour of drama where the writing and directing almost matches the excellence of the acting. Whereas the inclusion of differing political points-of-view between family came off as forced and dull when the series started, it now has provided viewers with some of the best moments of the series, the high point being the touching Sept. 11 flashback episode. I’m falling in love with this family, and I hope they continue to intrigue me and make me care about them as the season continues.

Grade: B+

‘Desperate Housewives’

ABC, Sundays at 9 p.m.

OK, I gave in and watched the supermarket shooting episode even though I promised myself that I had given up on the show. And I loved it. Now that is how to balance comedy, drama and tragedy in a perfectly paced hour of entertainment. While the death was predictable, the circumstances of it were not, and the payoff was fantastic. This week’s episode was a marked drop in quality (Gabby must be a major sort of stupid to think she could model again), but for now I’m onboard again, even though I could care less about this season’s mystery.

Grade: C+

‘Gilmore Girls’

The CW, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

I know a lot of fans loathe – and I mean LOATHE – this season, but I’m still loving it. Yes, it’s become more soapy and less of an ensemble piece, but Lorelei and Christopher have a lot of chemistry together, and Emily is just as dry and hilarious as ever. I can see why some fans might feel alienated by the more comedic and talky feel of the show this year, but it’s still one of the smartest, best shows on TV.

Grade: A-

‘One Tree Hill’

The CW, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

Still my all-time favorite guilty pleasure. Things are just getting steamier and more ludicrous as Brooke discovers she is sleeping with her teacher, Deb becomes crazier than normal and Lucas gets highlights! There isn’t a better (or worse, if you want to split hairs) show to sit back and enjoy in such a bad way every week, and I hope it never changes.

Grade: A

‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’

NBC, Mondays at 10 p.m.

What a random series this is. One episode I’m ready to never see the show again, and the next I’m floored. The recently-concluded two-part series was the best the show has been since its pilot, and I’m finding the normally terrible comedy skits getting better from week to week. Now if the show would actually showcase cast members other than Matthew Perry and Sarah Paulson (where are you Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet and Steven Weber!?) and stop pandering on about the dividing line between Christians and atheists, then perhaps the show could be great. But right now it’s just tolerable.

Grade: B-

‘Veronica Mars’

The CW, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

Yes, the series has lost some of its magic in the third season, and I’m man enough to admit it. The overarching mystery of the first batch of episodes, a serial rapist on Veronica’s campus, just isn’t gripping me as much as the bus crash or Lily’s death, and Veronica and Logan have no chemistry together anymore. The done-in-one episode style is working well, though, and I’m enjoying seeing supporting characters get their own subplots instead of disappearing for episodes at a time. So it’s a mixed bag this year, but still one of the best shows you will find on television.

Grade: B+

Contact ALL correspondent Robert Taylor at [email protected].