In Depth

Taking Stock of Trends

During a wild writers-strike-shortened season, critics had a multitude of guesses at what trends, for better and for worse, emerged at the end of it.

However, critics generally supported the emergence and continuation of well-crafted cable shows and enjoyed the rise of the geek on broadcast.

“Loved the new parade of geeky quirky heroes: Chuck of ‘Chuck,’ the slacker hero of ‘Reaper,’ the lonely pie-maker of ‘Pushing Daisies,’ the antisocial geniuses of ‘The Big Bang Theory,’” wrote TV Guide’s Matt Roush.

“The trend toward quality dramas on cable was a plus,” wrote Bruce Miller of the Sioux City Journal. “What they showed us: You could have one or two marquee shows and they would draw an audience. Think ‘Mad Men.’”

The cable trend even dribbled over into broadcast, in some critics’ eyes.

“Best trend is broadcast TV playing to higher standards for adult entertainment set by cable. Not that ‘Swingtown’ is worth lavish praise, but it’s a step toward experimentation and more ambitious programming,” wrote the Denver Post’s Joanne Ostrow.

As for trends that drew critical disapproval, one needs to look no further than the worst list: schlocky reality television.

Critics weren’t fans of the bumper crop of reality shows focused on C-list or lower celebrities, such as E!’s “Living Lohan” and MTV’s “A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila.”

“There were way too many reality shows based on D-list stars (‘Secret Talents of the Stars,’ ‘Celebrity Circus’). Granted, some are great (‘Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List’), and some are good (‘Scott Baio: 46 and Pregnant’), but the majority are just failures from the start,” wrote Jacki Garfinkel of ivillage.com.

Many critics, though, were stumped by the question about this year’s trends, as they felt the 2007-08 season was too disjointed to even get a read on, thanks to the writers strike.

“Best trend: Strike ended. Worst trend: Strike started,” wrote Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel.