Code blue! This show has been dying for a long time, attempting to compensate by ramping up the whiny drama. Please, do not resuscitate.
This season has had its moments: Jim proposing to Pam in the rain, Andy and Oscar drunk-dialing Angela, Toby. The comedy, however, often feels forced, and with the Jim/Pam story line settled down, there’s no reason to set the TiVo. The characters are now mostly empty stereotypes of their former selves — smugness and tedium replace snark and pranks.
There is something about watching television late at night that makes Jay Leno almost palatable. Leno at 10 p.m. may induce vomiting. Watch at your own risk.
(EXCEPT “GOSSIP GIRL”)
Chad Michael Murray played rich bad-boy Tristan on “Gilmore Girls,” and now stars on “One Tree Hill.” Jared Padalecki played poor good-boy Dean on “Gilmore Girls,” and now stars on “Supernatural.” Rule of thumb for the CW: If Rory rejected them, so should we.
“THE REAL WORLD:
Even though this tired MTV show features a transgender roommate for the first time, one question remains: This show is still on?
“Lost” came back post-writer’s strike with a powerful and intriguing fourth season, finally answering major questions as the story line jumped between times and places. This year, expect further big reveals as the Oceanic Six returns to the island to save the friends (and enemies) they left behind.
With enough quirk to satisfy “Arrested Development” devotees yet enough heart to placate those of us (still) pining for “Friends,” “30 Rock” has quietly become the best sitcom on broadcast television. Tina Fey shines as Liz Lemon, the head writer for a sketch comedy TV series, and Alec Baldwin couldn’t be funnier as her boss, “Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming,” Jack Donaghy.
So tall! So gangly! So ginger! So good. Even though he went to Harvard.
At Yale, even if you don’t watch this teen soap religiously, you know someone who does. Since you can’t escape it, you might as well embrace it. Besides, Blair might enroll at Yale next year, and we can’t wait to see what happens if she trades glamorous New York City for, well, New Haven.
Whitney, the only passably normal character on “The Hills,” moves to New York to pursue her fashion dreams. Flying solo, can she create enough drama to fill MTV’s quota?
Michael C. Hall stars as the deliciously depraved Dexter Morgan, a serial killer whose target is other serial killers. He calls it “taking out the garbage”; fans call it the makings of a brilliant and eerie Showtime drama. Catch up now on DVD: The fourth season doesn’t start until this fall.
“THE UNITED STATES OF TARA”
Toni Collette stars as Tara. And Buck, and T, and Alice: One woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder. Created by Diablo Cody of “Juno” fame, this series will probably be pretty wacky but also pretty great. Premiered Jan. 18 on Showtime.
Will from “Will and Grace” and Ed from “Ed” team up as two friends who work in an ad agency. These actors are funny and endearing, but can their cuteness carry a show? Premieres Jan. 26 on TNT.
Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy” and “Angel,” returns with “Dollhouse,” a show about people who sleep in coffins and have their personalities replaced. Premieres Feb. 13 on Fox.