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 V.17 No.38 | September 18 - 24, 2008 

Idiot Box

Get Me Netflix, Stat!

Five shows to watch before the new season begins

Reruns are for sissies. These days, we rent boxed sets of TV shows and gobble an entire season in a single weekend marathon. With the new fall TV schedule getting underway, now’s the perfect time to play catch-up, renting “Complete First Season” DVDs for shows you might have missed on the first go-around. Here are our top choices to get you prepped for premiere week.

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (FOX, returned 9/8) The second season has already launched, but you can watch the first complete season on DVD. It’s only nine episodes (the first of which was shot in Albuquerque!), but they work up a good head of steam. Nobody was quite sure the show would return for a second season, so the first is fairly self-contained. Still, it’s good background for the ramped-up second season.

“Chuck” (NBC returns 9/29) One of the survivors of last season’s “geek chic” tsunami (“Reaper,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Beauty and the Geek”), “Chuck” is pure, indulgent TV candy. Hence, there isn’t a whole lot to catch up on here. Chuck’s a dork who works at a big-box electronics store. Thanks to a freak accident, he’s got an entire top-secret government database downloaded into his brain. Now he’s bodyguarded by a sexy CIA agent and a grumpy NSA spy. High jinks ensue. While you could just jump into season two sans refresher, the special feature-filled DVD will clue you in on the film’s various characters and running gags.

“Pushing Daisies” (ABC, returns 10/1) Too many viewers were put off by this show’s surreal Tim Burton-esque alterna-reality atmosphere. Sit down and watch the entire first season, though, and you may find yourself growing accustomed (perhaps even addicted) to the modern-day fairy-tale feel of this quirky comedy about a lonely pie maker with the ability to bring the dead back to life, his reanimated childhood sweetheart and a slightly unscrupulous private eye. Together they solve crimes. Sort of.

“Life” (NBC, returns 10/3) This freshman series got lost last season amid the usual pileup of cop shows. It’s got a “quirky crime solver” vibe slightly reminiscent of “House” or “Monk,” but it definitely marches to its own drum. Our lead character, Charlie Crews, is a cop who spent more than a decade in jail, framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he’s back on the LAPD, sitting on a multimillion-dollar settlement with the city. Why go back to work? Mostly so he can dig up dirt on whoever framed him. Watching the show in one DVD package really allows you to savor the sharp writing and subtle plotting. Clever and fairly realistic crime cases are underscored by the show’s carefully constructed conspiracy, which builds slowly from show to show.

“Eleventh Hour” (CBS returns 10/9) OK, so you won’t exactly be catching up with this series, which has yet to debut, but you can seek out the DVD of the original British series starring “Star Trek: The Next Generation” ’s Patrick Stewart as a brainy doctor investigating science-related crimes and conspiracies. Feel free to then compare and contrast. The original only ran four episodes. Here’s hoping the American remake, starring less-bald Brit Rufus Sewell, lasts longer.

 
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