Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
It's always a thrill to find something new to watch on TV. The goal of this column is to help you find programs that provide that personal jolt. But when I discover a new way to watch television, well, life doesn't get much better than that.
I have my family to thank for this latest discovery. Watching TV has traditionally been a passive, relaxing experience for me. Comfy couch, quality snacks, the right lighting, and a big screen were all that was required.
Obviously this is not the healthiest option, so this summer I finally decided to do something about it. My wife uses a treadmill for dark, early mornings or lousy weather to get her steps in. I've tried an elliptical and treadmill before, but never experienced the exercise high or, frankly, the interest to really stick with it.
When my oldest daughter Rachel was growing up, she unlocked the secret to staying on an exercise machine. She found what I like to call a "Treadmill Show" (she used an elliptical, but treadmill sounds better). Her Treadmill Show was One Tree Hill.
Rachel would only watch One Tree Hill while she was exercising on the elliptical. No exceptions. As tempting as it was to see what was happening in that North Carolina town from a couch or comfy chair, she would only watch when she got on that machine. 187 episodes of motivation – and it worked.
If was going to start exercising, I needed to find my Treadmill Show. But this couldn't be just any program. Strict criteria needed to be met…
1. The show must hold your interest, but can't be so good that you have to watch the next episode right away.
2. The show must be binge-ready. There's no time to wait for the next episode to drop.
3. The show must be entertaining, but not too deep. I don't want to think too much here … just distract me enough from the heavy breathing and muscle aches.
4. The show cannot have been spoiled. This needs to be right out of the box with all the plot twists yet to be discovered.
5. You can only watch on the treadmill. No exceptions. This is an exclusive.
Finding my Treadmill Show was no easy task. Jeopardy! episodes were too short without ads. I enjoy watching Good Morning Football live, but the commercial breaks are tough to take. I wanted an hour-long show (45 minutes without commercials), but one that I knew hardly anything about.
That's when my Treadmill Show found me — Manifest. I knew it was popular on Netflix, but didn't really know anything else about it. I had to go in clean. It's not a great show, but it's entertaining and held my interest. By the time the soft music played at the end of each episode, I had worked a quality sweat. And I stuck to my pledge — limiting my viewing to only when my legs were moving on that machine.
As I followed the passengers of Flight 828 through three tumultuous seasons, I began to look forward to the exercise. The Stone family was getting me over the exercise hump whether Vance was helping them or not. Saanvi's plight became mine as did the Major's fate. Manifest is not going to win any Emmys, but it got me through these hour-long sweaty sessions. And now there's going to be a fourth season! Can't wait.
I finished the final episode of season three, and now I'm in search for my next Treadmill Show. Maybe I'll start One Tree Hill.
THIS WEEK’S SPTINAFOBYMB!
(Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)
4400 (CW) – A remake of The 4400 who disappear and reappear. Monday at 9pm.
The Last O.G. (TBS) – Tracy Morgan is back in Brooklyn for a fourth season. Tuesday at 10pm.
The Motive (NETFLIX) – True-crime doc about a 14 year old Israeli boy who claims a green creature told him to kill his family. Thursday.
Colin in Black & White (NETFLIX) – Former quarterback Colin Kaepernick narrates the telling of his teenage years. Thursday.
Scooby-Doo: Where Are You Now? (CW) – Those meddling kids reunite to discuss their old cases and stumble upon a new mystery. Friday at 8pm.
Swagger (APPLE TV+) – Youth basketball drama inspired by the childhood of NBA star Kevin Durant. Friday.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
The best of baseball and finding love in Manhattan…
The World Series (FOX)
Tuesday, October 26th Game 1
The best playing the best. That's what any sports fan wants to see. Former National League rivals the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros are set to face-off at Minute Maid Park Tuesday night.
Joe Buck will be doing play by play and taking us through this championship battle. The game's pace is deliberate, but the talent will be undeniable to watch. I'll fall asleep early every night but still enjoy watching the Fall Classic.
Love Life (HBO MAX)
Thursday, October 28th Season 2
The first season focused on Darby (Anna Kendrick) trying to figure out relationships and handling her job in Manhattan. Darby navigated the ups and downs of her career and whether or not she was ready to find her soulmate, and this season she shifts to the background.
Ten-episode season two stars William Jackson Harper, better known as Chidi from The Good Place. He’s a guest at Darby’s 2016 wedding, and he begins to question his relationship, his career choices, and who he wants to be at this point in his life. I don't think he'll find Eleanor Shellstrop, but the journey should be a fun one to watch.
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Get a booster. Stay healthy and safe!
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.