TV Guide

EW recently put out an issue that touted the five new TV shows to watch this season. Coincidentally, or maybe not, I've been watching three of them: Alias, 24, and Smallville. The other two shows, I believe, were Scrubs and Undeclared, neither of which I've seen.
I like 24 a lot, but I read that they still have half the season to write, or something like that, which strikes me as a dangerous proposition. Frankly, I'm not religious about getting exactly 24 episodes, so if they have to condense the show a bit and fast forward some parts (Kiefer Sutherland's character has yet to use the bathroom, which you would think he'd have to do sometime in the span of 24 hours) I'd be fine with that. They do some interesting things with split screens, similar to what Mike Figgis did with Timecode, and I'm curious to see where more filmmakers take that technique. Overlaying narratives like that is something not easily accomplished with literature.
Alias is somewhat fun, but I really think I just watch because Jennifer Garner is cute and dresses up in all sorts of crazy outfits and wigs in each episode. It's not really that great a show, but most of TV is trash anyway and this is shiny trash. Her character seems way too emotionally fragile to be an international spy, but she looks good running from her pursuers.
Smallville has been up and down, and I've missed a few episodes. I love re-examinations of popular mythologies, and this is a sometimes clever revisiting of the Superman mythology. There's certainly enough material to work with, but hopefully the show doesn't descend completely into teenage melodrama.
I've given up on the X-files. Not just because Mulder and Scully are gone, but because the material feels stale. Without the conspiracy engine, the show is just a weekly monster mash. I personally believe the show could have survived the loss of Mulder and Scully, but the lack of interesting new story material is what's killing that series. Doggett and Reyes are fine, but at some point they have to run into some creature and think, "Wait, didn't Mulder and Scully figure this one out in Season Five?"
I wish the Simpsons would focus even more on current events and on spoofing pop culture. That's when the show is at its best. Some of the territory the show covers now no longer amuses me. What's amazing about the show is how broad its canvas can be, and I'm logging my vote for more pop culture bashing. Take advantage of the flexibility of the Simpsons universe and the inherent freedom that comes from animation and stick closer to current events. For example, that episode last year with the teen boy singing group (of which Bart is a member) was great. N'Sync guest starred, made fun of themselves, a good time was had by all. Basically, I'd like to see the Simpsons steal a bit of The Onion's soul.