Most Improved Characters of the Season

laurencefishburne_csi_290.jpgSo here's my big announcement of the week. I think the big "CSI" trilogy worked.

I do like Dr. Ray Langston better now than I did two weeks ago.

Sure there were laughable moments. I couldn't stop giggling every time Horatio called him "Dr. Ray." I don't know how David Caruso can make saying someone's name melodramatic but he did. And it was kind of preposterous that Ray would be able to tell these other CSI teams things they didn't already know. But the episodes gave viewers much more insight into Ray's character. He was committed to finding out what happened to the missing girl and getting an answer for her mother. The trilogy made him more human and less stiff. Do I think he's a great character? No but I do think he's on the road to improvement. Do I think "CSI" will ever go back to being the show it was when Gil Grissom was on? I'm not sure but I think that's much more of a possibility now than it was last season.

So I started thinking. What other characters are better off this season than they were last season?

Matt on "Ugly Betty:" Many of you have written me that you think Matt is better off this season because of his snazzy new haircut. And I definitely subscribe to the theory that as the hair goes, so goes the character. But I think it's more than Matt's coifed locks that have improved him this season. I actually always liked Matt - unlike Henry, he didn't have a pregnant ex-girlfriend he left Betty for and he made for a good love triangle when Henry made his way back onto the scene. But last season he was a bit of a doorMatt (sorry I couldn't resist). He was like a little puppy dog around Betty. This season he has much more of a personality, a personality independent of Betty. That's due to his new job and his outright anger at Betty. I kind of liked it when he was so furious with Betty. Plus I enjoyed that he was totally clueless that Amanda was smitten with him. There is much more to do with him this season to make him his own, independent, interesting, character.

Leslie on "Parks & Recreation:" As I stated at the beginning of the season, Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope went from being a goofy, awkward one-dimensional character this season to a complete character. And with each episode, she gets better and better. Sure Leslie is still goofy and awkward but thanks to Poehler's nuanced performance Leslie is optimistic but not an idiot. She actually might be good at her job. I like that she has a boyfriend this season. I like that her friendship with Ann has continued to blossom and I like that she got that darn pit filled. It also helps that the show has become much more funny. The Halloween episode that had Leslie facing off against her teenage nemesis was definitely a highlight.

Meredith on "Grey's Anatomy:" I know last week I said I didn't miss Meredith. And I haven't. It actually served the show quite well to give viewers Meredith in smaller doses. This season Meredith is more happy, more confident, and less annoying. I actually remember why we all wanted Meredith and Derek together in the first place. Having Meredith and her story line take a backseat to the other characters, allowed current characters to get more quality time (some good stuff with the Chief last week) and also allowed the show to introduce new characters (let's hope Kim Raver's cardiologist sticks around for awhile. I'm all in for a Cristina/Owen/Teddy love triangle). And while I haven't enjoyed every episode, I've appreciated that the show has played with its format this season. I'm ready to root for Meredith again. Are you?

But while some characters have improved, others are still really struggling:

Ryan on "Brothers & Sisters:" The main problem with Ryan isn't that he's out to ruin the Walker family business, it's that he only appears on the screen when he's behaving badly. He currently has no role on the series but to play the villain. He might as well twirl his moustache when he says his lines. And it's ridiculous to think that he would have been brought into the company's inner sanctum so quickly. The man looks squirrelly. But maybe no one is suspicious of him because they never see him. I have to think the series is regretting the whole story line, which only existed to de-Walker Rebecca and allow her romance with Justin. I want the Walkers to figure out what Ryan is up to soon and send him packing.

Annie on "90210:" Alas, poor Annie. Not only have her friends ostracized her this season but the show has as well abandoning her in a romance with a drug dealer. The drug dealer who happens to be the nephew of the man she hit with her car (will the show ever close the loop on that story line?) The story hasn't made Annie any less grating, but it has made her more stupid and petulant. In my opinion, she's gone from bad to worse this season.

Who are the characters you think are most improved this season? Who still needs improvement? Talk about it below.

All times listed are Eastern Standard Time for November 16-22

Tricia Helfer is the first "Battlestar Galactica" alum to guest on a CBS comedy this month. She'll play a friend of Chelsea's on "Two and a Half Men" (Monday, CBS, 9 p.m.). Next week Katee Sackhoff stops by "The Big Bang Theory."

I'm working on managing my expectations of Heather Locklear reprising her role of Amanda Woodward on "Melrose Place" (Tuesday, CW, 9 p.m.). I'm so excited because Locklear created one of my all time favorite television characters and I'm psyched to see Amanda again (inquiring minds want to know - did she leave Peter on the island?) But, except for Michael, the series has blundered the return of other former "Melrose Place" residents and I don't want them to ruin Amanda. I have great faith in Locklear, but I'm concerned. How about you?

The biggest casualty of everything worth watching airing on Thursday night has been "Fringe." I so wish FOX would move the show back to where it was last season because then everyone would get to see this week's terrific episode (Thursday, FOX, 9 p.m.). I don't want to say too much but it's a very revealing episode where we learn more about the mysterious Observer and the role they play in the show's mythology. We also gain more insight into Walter and the love he has for his son. The hour has everything you want in a science fiction series - good characters, humorous moments, creepy moments and an ending that will leave you wanting more. After you've watched this week's episode of "Fringe," let me know what you think.

Even though this season has been so boring, I do think Althea, Irina and Carol Hannah were probably the best three to make it to Bryant Park (although I couldn't help rooting for underdog Christopher) but I still can't abide Irina's attitude. Although I do appreciate they're all nice to Tim Gunn. I still haven't recovered from Kenley being so rude to him last season. Who are you rooting for to win "Project Runway" (Thursday, Lifetime, 10 p.m.) And raise your hand if you are so happy that the show is heading back to New York next season.

November sweeps is always a good time for family to stop by. Ralph Waite, best known as the patriarch on "The Waltons," is Booth's grandfather on "Bones" (Thursday, FOX, 8 p.m.). Frankie Faison is Dr. Bailey's dad on "Grey's Anatomy" and Stephen Collins (Reverend Camden to you and me) is Addison's father on "Private Practice" (Thursday, ABC, 10 p.m.).

That's all for today. I'm back on Friday to talk about characters most in need of a good story line, what's happening on "FlashForward," quotes of the week, familiar faces and more . Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week or a topic for discussion? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com or follow me on Twitter. Have a great week. Talk to you on Friday

 

Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal