Apologies; Roy's wedding and my being ill left the blog hanging somewhat. But what have I been up to in that time (aside from being in bed and at a wedding, natch)? Well, watching television, mostly. For September is here, and that means the beginning of the new American TV season. Tens of new shows on the airwaves, many of which won't last the month, and old favourites returning as well. I'm no longer in America, sadly, but thanks to the magic of BitTorrent and a sister who can find almost any torrent that you care to name, we're able to get most of the shows less than a day after their broadcast (not quite the heady days of 2003 where I was downloading 24 and Buffy on the UNC network a full day before their TV airing, but still quite impressive nonetheless). The upcoming week brings us Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls (I spent the summer watching all six seasons of Gilmore, so you could say that I've become a fan), but the past week saw the return of the greatest police show to ever grace television, plus a pilot that brought smiles to everybody in our house. The Wire is a TV show that, like the city it's set in, offers no concessions to newcomers. The dialogue is a mixture of swearing and obscure Baltimore slang, the most likeable character is either a drug-addled heroin addict called Bubbles who indulges in a vast array of petty thefts and misdemeanours, or a womanising, arrogant American-Irish cop that can't help but screw his life up, and, while a season is only thirteen episodes long, they contain enough material for a full 22-ep run. And you never know when something you saw in, say, the first season, will become important in the fourth. It is harsh, it is dour, and it is Baltimore. Two of the episodes have been shown on HBO so far (three if you have access to HBO On Demand, but the torrenters appear to be avoiding encoding those); the focus of this season is slightly different this time around, because of the events of the end of Season Three. This time, it's about the future. The next generation of drug pushers being cajoled into their designated careers, a school that's about to open to the new term, and the fight for control in both the drug corners of Baltimore and the mayor's office. Sadly, there are no happy endings in this city; candidate's Carcetti original optimism fading away as he realises that every morning he "wakes up white is a city that ain't", and most of the children accepting Marlo's drug money to buy new clothes for school, as his men hide bodies in abandoned homes. It's not going to be pleasant, but it won't be anything less than compelling. You have a friend. A friend who, to be honest, you love. They're exciting, challenging, funny, witty, and seem to be why the sky is blue in the morning. And then, just as you think that things are going to be this way forever, the pair of you are separated in an inevitable, but still heartbreaking manner. That would be the end of season four of The West Wing. Then, a few years later. You've kept in touch, the spark is still there, but it's not quite the same. And then. And then. The reunion. Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. Possibly the best TV pilot I've ever seen. For those of us who cursed the last few years of Sorkin-less West Wing, the title cards, the cast, even 'Snuffy' are all guaranteed to raise a smile. An initial screed broadcast on live TV decrying the FCC and the TV networks' fear of groups like the PTC broadens the smile. The banter and the chemistry between Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry turns the smile into a grin, a grin that remains fixed for the rest of the programme. It's Sorkin at his most earnest, applying West Wing-style grandeur to a comedy show. Which might seem a little silly. Unless you've seen Sports Night. It's good to finally have him back. (And, as an aside, Russell T. Davies needs to have both of these shows slapped in his face after these comments. Why is he so afraid of failure? Why is convinced of his audience's stupidity?) Next week: prepare for my Gilmore-related meltdown as I now how have to watch it from week to week. Especially after what happened at the end of the last season.