Next week is a big week in America. Forget about this week, with school starting, the 'lawmakers' reconvening in Washington, Obama making a key speech about the healthcare reforms. Next week is huge. Next week is when all the primetime dramas start.
Unlike in Britain, the TV networks don't seem to stagger the start of their TV autumn schedules. Giving you one decent new programme one week, followed by another a couple of weeks later, in a reserved, British kind of drip-feed - as if it would be bad for us to gorge us on 12 new dramas all at once. Here, in true American style, they give it all to you in one shebang.
So next week, I notice, House, Gray's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Heroes all have their 'season premieres', plus several big new shows the networks have been been flogging kick off. I particularly love the language they use to big everything up. It's all premieres, finales, blah blah blah. Even a repeat of the season premiere of my current favourite show, Mad Men, which I recorded by mistake thinking it was the second episode, was called an 'encore presentation'. Not a repeat, but an 'encore presentation'.
Next week could be, then, when I finally get to grips with the American TV schedules. I've hardly watched any since being in the US (unless you count the endless episodes of Dora the Explorer and Wonder Pets imprinted into the back of my brain). It's the usual story - multiply the number of channels and you simpy multiply the level of crap. I can't stand the constant interruption of ad breaks (ironic for someone who has been known to make a living out of writing about advertising). And I can count on one hand the number of American TV shows I follow.
But the shows that I do like, I like enough to want to follow properly. And when I have tried to follow repeats of any programme I might like, I've been baffled.
There I was, nearly at the end of last season's Gray's, when the schedulers, for reasons unknown, decided halfway through August to rewind the series to about Episode 2. And then screen all the others in double episodes on seemingly random nights, so now we are back to where we were just before the new series kicks off. It's baffling; so are Dr. McDreamy and Moody Meredith engaged or rowing? Is Izzy dying of brain cancer or fine? Perhaps the fact that the acting doesn't seem to reveal such things suggests that I'd better stop watching....
I also get the feeling that many of these series have now, as they say, 'jumped the shark' - run out of steam, adopted ludicrous storylines and become totally un-watchable. Desperate Housewives was dreaming up increasingly desperate plotlines when I last saw it; Lost (which is finally going to end next year) lost me years ago. And American networks don't seem to know when to stop - unlike the Brits, who pull the plug early on in the fear that viewers will get bored, and then try to flog the dead horse with increasingly rubbish Christmas specials. I used to love ER, but when every single member of the original cast has left, isn't it time to move on?
Nevertheless, when American TV is good, it's really good. So I'll be on the the lookout for the new ER, Mad Men or Friends, and will let my Brit friends all know if I find it......in the meantime, if any fellow expats have tips on quality US fare, let me know.