The Guilty Pleasure TV of 2009

by PopMatters Staff

3 January 2010


5 - 1


cover art


Cast: Cast: David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, Michaela Conlin, Eric Millegan, Tamara Taylor, T.J. Thyne, John Francis Dailey


Review [3.Sep.2008]
Review [25.Sep.2007]
Review [19.Sep.2005]



Still the sharpest, the most likable, and the most (intentionally) comedic crime procedural on network TV, Bones rolled through its fourth season and into its fifth with its morbid campiness fully intact. Booth (David Boreanaz) wrestled with his mortality in the wake of a brain tumor, Cam (Tamara Taylor, who possesses the best wide-eyed reaction shots in the biz) tiptoed through surrogate motherhood, Sweets (John Francis Daley) spewed Freudian theories like they never went out of style, and the intern carousel kept on turning. But for all the lab-rat eccentricities and screwball plots, this show is grounded in well-penned character interactions and, of course, in the person of “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel), one of the most unique female characters on TV. Bluntly and hilariously rational, she’s at ease with human remains but consistently baffled by the intricacies of the living specimens. I, for one, wouldn’t have her any other way. Ross Langager



cover art

Legend of the Seeker

Cast: Craig Horner, Bridget Regan, Bruce Spence, Tabrett Bethell



Legend of the Seeker

After last season, during which Richard, a.k.a. the Seeker, was captured and tortured by the Mord Sith, it seemed unlikely that one of the evil Mord Sith would join Richard’s posse in their quest to protect the world from the undead. Still, unexpected twists are a key element to Legend of the Seeker‘s success. Like most “Medieval band of warriors ought to save the world” storylines, there are plenty of hearty battles and fierce sword fights, along with the requisite dashing hero and heroine and hard-bodied villains and vixens. However, it the growing relationships between the four travelers that draws fans in. Their closeness proves to be both an asset and hindrance in allowing Richard to fulfill his destiny (all medieval heroes have one). Although campy at times and filled with too much machismo (even from the women), Legend of the Seeker is a surprisingly fun ride through a time of yore. Michael Abernethy



cover art

Gossip Girl

Cast: Cast: Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford, Taylor Momsen, Ed Westwick, Kelly Rutherford

(The CW)

Review [1.Sep.2008]
Review [19.Sep.2007]


Gossip Girl
The CW

The recession has done nothing to slow the excess of the spoiled Upper East Siders of Gossip Girl. Designer duds and high-end smart phones are still as much a focal point of the show as ever, making this as much a guilty pleasure for teens as adults. What’s not to love about the barely-legal equivalent of Dynasty in which a bunch of 18-year-olds display more polish and panache than their middle-aged contemporaries, waltzing through their drama-packed lives? Even better, they never get carded as they drink like long-time veterans of the three-martini lunch despite being under 21! Although this year’s storylines have become even more unbelievable than the last two seasons (a long-lost love child is reunited with the family he never knew, a Marilyn/JFK/Jackie love-triangle for teens, and a threesome with Hillary Duff), Gossip Girl still features some solid acting from a young cast who dish pop culture-heavy quips and play “wise-beyond-their-years” with aplomb. Lana Cooper



cover art


Cast: John Anderson, John Henson, Jill Wagner




There’s no getting around it: Wipeout is hardly sophisticated entertainment. A snarky, neutered version of Japanese TV’s legendarily surreal and humiliating game shows, its climactic “Wipeout Zone” humourlessly apes American Gladiators’ similar “Eliminator”. Although the overdubbed jokes of the two Johns (Henson and Anderson) veer towards the repetitive, they remain preferable to the repulsive sexist and racist commentary of Spike’s precursor to Wipeout, MXC. The challenges were tweaked in season two, to varying success; one new obstacle was a treadmill strewn with inflatable pool toys, which the hapless contestants had to navigate while wearing clownishly large scuba flippers (and mask and snorkel, natch). But whatever else happens to it, Wipeout will remain a guilty pleasure of the highest quality as long as it features the capricious, joyful image of flailing human bodies bouncing off of the Big Red Balls. That segment alone will always put the “fun” in “schadenfreude” (use your imagination, it’s in there). Ross Langager



cover art

The Hills

Cast: Lauren Conrad, Audrina Partridge, Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, Brody Jenner


Review [1.Jan.1995]


The Hills

It’s more than a train wreck. It’s greater than the sum of its fake breast, talentless singer, creepy flesh colored beard parts. The endearing attraction of this lame Laguna Beach spin-off is not its characters, its clever plotting, or the endless marketing hype that MTV has managed out of such incredibly thin material. No, the real allure of this silly soap-erficial opera is that all of the interchangeable ‘actors’, all the infamous post-op faces found on the series actually believe they are worthy of such televised recognition. Think Heidi and Spencer are intolerable during their numerous, nonsensical media tours. Just watch them try and ‘act’ like a real, loving, and functional couple. It’s so sad it deserves our scorn, our pity, and our undying attention.  Bill Gibron


We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.

//Mixed media