Tom Stangl

In 1992, Bruce Springsteen came out with a song called 57 Channels (Nothin’ On). The protagonist in the song keeps trying to find viewing enjoyment, but ends up shooting his television and going to jail.

The fall television season is less than a month old. Have you found any programs that are worth your time, or are you wanting to use the flat screen for target practice?

I generally want to enjoy a laugh or some escapist fare when I turn on the television at night. I like a good sitcom that will make me laugh out loud. I’ve found few laughs so far.

“Perfect Harmony” on NBC has made me laugh. Bradley Whitford stars as a Princeton voice professor seeking to find meaning in his life after his wife passes away after they move back to her hometown in Kentucky. He directs a quirky choir from a small church. The music is good, characters are more than a stereotype. I hope it only gets better.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have really been trying to like “Bob Hearts Abishola,” the new comedy from Chuck Lorre, creator of “Two and Half Men,” “Mike and Molly” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Billy Gardell who played Mike in “Mike and Molly” is Bob, the owner of a compression sock business in Detroit. After having a heart attack, he falls for Abishola, his Nigerian born nurse. Classic fish out of water romance. The only thing is, it isn’t funny.

On the escapist side, I have hopes for two new dramas: “Evil” and “Stumptown.” 

“Evil” on CBS is about a court psychologist in New York City who takes a new job with the Catholic church on a team exploring demonic possessions and miracles. The first episodes have been well crafted and spooky without being overly cynical or preachy. 

“Stumptown” is about Dex Parios, a strong, assertive and sharp-witted Army veteran who has a complicated love life, gambling debt and a brother to take care of in Portland, Oregon. Her military background makes her a great candidate to be a private investigator. I’m not generally a fan of the genre, but this series, based on graphic novels of the same name, is very well done. Smart and edgy with characters you care about.

The older I get, the more I appreciate a well crafted plot with a large cast of characters. I’d like to mention one last show worth a look. “Patriot” is a series on the streaming service Amazon Prime. John Tavner is an intelligence operator who takes a job at a Milwaukee piping company as his cover to help keep Iran from gaining a nuclear program. Tavner is failed by his handlers at nearly every turn and has to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

“Patriot” has many layers that are carefully laid. It’s a smart and very dark comedy that will have you laughing at very inappropriate things. Kurtwood Smith who played the father on “That 70s Show” is masterful in a supporting role.

It took nearly two years for the first season to be completed after the pilot aired in 2015. The second season premiered a year ago and Amazon announced this summer that they would not produce a third season.

It’s a shame because it’s one of the best things I have watched recently on television.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

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