Salon.com's tv columnist Heather Havrilevsky has a well-reasoned and quite harsh assessment of the state of television in 2008 on their site -- "The year the small screen fell flat"-- citing her dismay at the near-demise of what we all thought was another golden age of television.
I think she's a bit tough on TrueBlood, for example, which as we followed it here found its legs as it went along, starting out a bit shaky but finally zipped-up into something pretty nifty and we'd say deserving of its Golden Globe nod as Best Drama, which HH disparages. It's goofier than producer Alan Ball's Six Feet Under, of course, but has a verve and a vibrant ensemble cast who keep the admittedly out-there vampire plotlines consistently entertaining and immersive. I know we're all looking forward to its second season. (I do admit that you can get a little depressed going onto the HBO message boards for the show and finding it populated by vamp-lit cultists who are a little too fanatical in their devotion, but at The Flaming Nose we tend to understand loving television in a big way, most of the time.)
Definitely read the Salon article for some well-reasoned television criticism. I think she's right about Fringe, which seems to not quite to have lived up to its hype as the next amazing spooky drama, but maybe there's hope yet for it. I still believe there are more interesting shows to watch now than in a very long time, but great shows which have underperformed and been cancelled have always been with us, and shows which have outlasted their welcome and still survive have always been part of the TV landscape, too. It's not exactly a meritocracy.
I'm always amazed when there's ANYTHING on that becomes appointment television for me, and I'd say we're doing pretty good so far this year -- Mad Men, Dexter, TrueBlood -- and there are certainly others we've liked here which are now in hiatus and will return soon. Read the article and decide for yourself! Thanks, Salon, for great television writing!