Are your grandparents around? Do you think you could send them a link to this? Or maybe just give them a call and read it to them. Because we all know that the only people still watching CBS are the elderly and whatever unholy alliance keeps giving Jim Parsons Emmys. In short, people who enjoy the unrelenting slog of the utterly predictable. On to the shows!
2 Broke Girls
I might be more receptive to a show like this if I didn’t think it was built on a lie. Kat Dennings is the snarky, been-there girl. She’s a little world-weary. This isn’t her first rodeo. Whatever. Beth Behrs is the uptown socialite who’s never done a hard day’s work in her life. You put the two together and modern day odd couple hijinks ensue. So what’s Behrs doing looking for work in a diner? Wouldn’t she use her high-powered connections to get a job in a law firm or something? I mean, even being driven slowly insane by the loss of her fortune and murdering hobos would be more believable than this. And how come she’s always ready with a witty remark? I’m gonna have to check up on this one, CBS. But it’s not looking good.
How to Be a Gentleman
Hey! It’s that guy! And that guy! Now, normally I’m opposed to multi-cam sitcoms on general principle, but almost against my will I found myself laughing more and more the longer this one went on. Although that may have been more because of Mary Lynn Rajskub, Rhys Darby and Dave Foley more than anything else. And honestly, I might watch this one just for them. Johnny Drama and Cricket hanging out in a gym and dating and women troubles seems a little too ADHD for me. I’ve got Glee for that.
Person of Interest
I like Person of Interest almost in spite of myself. It’s got Jesus. It’s got Ben Linus. And both of those guys have been in other things I liked. And a show about a hobo murdering people (take note Beth Behrs) is certainly up my alley. What turns me off about it is the typical CBS procedural format. When Michael Emerson tells Jim Caviezel, “We’ve got another name,” and Caviezel’s voice drops a few octaves to respond, “When do we go to work?” I’m kind of snapped back to reality. This isn’t The Bourne Identity, this is The Bourne Touchdown, or whatever the hell book they’re on now. If this turns out to be the same story every week, I’m going to be disappointed. Murdering hobos can only carry things so far.
A Gifted Man
Sometimes I think about the TV shows we had back in the 80s and 90s and I’m overcome with a great sadness. Where are the Highway to Heavens? The Early Editions? They just don’t make them like they used to. But, as I watched the trailer for A Gifted Man, I realized that this was the modern-day incarnation of shows like Touched by an Angel. Now, the feelgood think-about-the-children stuff isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But for others, it’ll transport them back to a bygone era. A simpler time when our TVs weren’t clogged with shows about hobos killing each other.
Why does Poppy (really?) Montgomery have to be a cop! I was happy just to see her using her weird memory thing to gamble, make fat stacks and take out
hobos mafiosi. I think this show is like Person of Interest in that it’s got a really novel concept that could really go somewhere if given room to grow. It’s unlike Persons of Interest in that I don’t think it’s going to be able to do that. The characters are too flat. The dialogue too predictable. And that thing where she keeps throwing what happened on that one day ten years ago in people’s faces is going to get old really fast. And that’s okay. The Highway to Heaven stuff I kind of miss. The tough cop stuff I’m beginning to hate.
Well, that’s it. Except it’s not. There’s still more than enough shows coming from HBO, AMC, Showtime and others over the next few months to convince us that television, much like America, is an empire in decline. You might hate it, but you’ll still watch. We’ll all still watch.
CBS is the sausage factory. FOX takes chances. NBC tries hard. ABC is the dutiful wife. No matter what, you can always come home safe in the knowledge that dinner’s going to be on the table, and that there will be a batch of cookies in the oven. Because you work hard, and ABC thinks you deserve it. You always know what you’re going to get. Some of the shows may not be great, or even pretty damn annoying. But we’re mostly fed a steady diet of Modern Family, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, with the promise of that occasional Lost that keeps us coming back for more. And for the most part, it looks like we’ll be getting more of the same this year. Pleasant, unoffensive, satisfying.
Pan Am really didn’t waste any time explaining its premise. “I’ll become a Pan Am stewardess!” Margot Robbie exclaims. Well guess what? You’ve actually got something pretty interesting there. You have a group of women, in the 60s, doing a job that was considerably more glamorous then than it is now, traveling all over the world. I bet you could do a lot with that. Plus, you’ve got Christina Ricci. And even though I swear her forehead’s growing inches every year like the mighty redwood, I did quite enjoy Casper, so I’m kind of obligated to– Oh wait, one of the girls is approached about being a spy. Bye Pan Am! It was fun watching you for five minutes!
Once Upon A Time
For those who keep up with such things, Once Upon A Time is going to seem a lot like Fables, the comic series that came thiiis close to having a show of its own, and at ABC, no less. That’s cool, right? Bringing fairy tale characters into the real world so the show’s got a dash of realism, but you get to keep all the supernatural, magic stuff because they’re fairy tales, right? Well, yeah. But this seems so damn boring. And having Bobby Draper there to explain everything and keep us all straight really isn’t doing anything for me. But at least we’ve got Ginnifer Goodwin. I guess a career spent playing the not-quite-as-attractive best friend and Margene on Big Love has prepared her to carry a show that ABC is hoping can fill that Lost-shaped hole in their schedule.
Last Man Standing
I have a bad feeling that Last Man Standing isn’t really a sitcom. It’s just a bunch of punchlines, all strung together by a very obvious laugh track. I have to say that Tim Allen returning to television after such a long time away is kind of a bold move. Even bolder is his decision to essentially play the same character he did on Home Improvement, with the same jokes. Because I’m so effing forward thinking, I really feel like the “sell by” date for shows — feel-good crap about how DIFFERENT men and women are from each other — like this passed about 10 years ago, but then again, The Middle is going into its third season, so what the hell do I know?
I actually think Suburgatory could be pretty good, although the narration works against it and it doesn’t need to be so cute about the “suburgatory” thing. Come on, Suburgatory, let us like you for you. You don’t have to try so hard. But those are issues are pretty minor. Overall, I think this may be the funniest pilot of the season. I’ll need to see a bit more so I can expound on that, because right now I find that if I’m not absolutely in love with something or I don’t hate it, I’m kind of at a loss for words.
The universe has more than its fair share of shows that people lovingly describe as “brain candy.” They know that while the show does posses some plot, there isn’t really any substance to speak of. So rather than try to defend this, they embrace it. “I just want to turn my brain off for an hour!” they proclaim. Some shows that might fit into this category would be Nikita or American Idol. And then, below them, we’ve got shows about baby beauty pageants, 16-years olds who don’t know they’re pregnant, Tyra Banks, and Charlie’s Angels. How redundant is this show? Don’t people know how much money Cinemax pours into women blowing things up? And they’re naked! Anyway, as soon as I heard Rachael Taylor say, “We’re not cops, we’re Angels,” I knew that nobody needed to watch this show, ever.
I wouldn’t exactly call The River’s trailer snazzy, or even exciting — despite the fact that I liked it — because it’s something we’ve seen so much of these past several years, mostly in movie theaters. The first season will consist of eight episodes. And for what it’s about, that seems like the perfect number. So what you’ve got when all is said and done is a really solid miniseries. And to be perfectly honest, that’s all this show will probably ever be. But, in case it does get renewed, where is it going to go? And that’s not even the show’s biggest problem. Serialized shows will find places to go. No, I think the bigger problem here is all the security camera footage we catch so much of. That’s not going to help anyone who thinks that the show’s just dragging them in circles.
Good Christian Belles
I’ll admit that this one looks a lot funnier than I thought it would. And I really can’t put my finger on why. Maybe because it’s from the writer of Steel Magnolias, which is a movie that I associate with my childhood the same way I do Count Chocula and Ninja Turtles. I’m interested in seeing how this show handles being set in Texas, because the only show so far to really do that has been Friday Night Lights. Well, maybe Dallas. A producer once told me that having a show on ABC would be a complete nightmare. And the fact that this show has gone from being called Good Christian Bitches, to Good Christian Belles, to GCB doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. But, if what we’re in for is mostly overgrown high school students sniping at each other and being snarky, maybe everything’s going to be alright after all.
Does anyone watch So You Think You Can Dance? Remember Sex? He came into auditions for three or four years in a row, all sweatpants and greasy hair and day-old stubble. He’d jerk around on stage for a few minutes, talk about how he was bringing sexy back, and promptly be shown the door. NBC is like Sex. They come in every year with a metric gaggle of new shows, talking about how this is the year, the year they’re shooting straight to the top. And then a week or so later we’re reading stories about fourth place and how truly horrible Outsourced is. Really, just garbage. This year… well, The Playboy Club and Whitney aren’t exactly filling me with confidence. But they have got a few shows that could build some buzz. Now, that doesn’t necessarily translate into success. Lone Star — which came from Awake creator Kyle Killen — made a big splash, got great reviews, and was canceled after its second episode. That’s TV. It’s cutthroat! So who knows how this new batch of stuff will fare. Does it even really matter? I mean, you can’t kill the mindless zombie corpse that is NBC. It staggers on regardless, searching for those Seinfeld- and Friends-flavored brains. At least we’ve still got 30 Rock.
You certainly have a way about you, NBC. With all that soft piano music I got so emotional that I forgot this was a show you guys would actually have to sustain for years and years. This show has been getting a lot of buzz, and it’s easy to see why. But if people were getting pissed off with Lost in its fourth season, when almost everything that show did was a question wrapped in a mystery stuffed inside an enigma, I don’t see how they’re not going to hate this show by its fifth or sixth week. I want it to do well, and if it can stay focused on its characters and not constantly stuff the mystery in our faces, it could go somewhere. And in the process, keep us all AWAKE! Oh. I’m really sorry.
The Playboy Club
You know where a great, “anything goes” place would be to talk about the 60s, sexism, civil rights, and have lots of scantily clad women running around snorting coke and giving guys “the business?” Broadcast TV! I’m sure they’ll never cop-out on their premise. I could buy another show set in the 60s. I could buy a show set at the Playboy Club. But I feel like this show’s already slapping my back, shaking my hand and not letting go, saying, “You don’t like me yet? What about this? Not yet? Well how about this?” Sure, the women are attractive and I always perk up a bit when I see someone trying to get rid of a body, but there’s something about this that just isn’t doing it for me. Maybe if they replaced Eddie Cibrian with Mike Myers’ character from Studio 54. I’d be there every week.
You can’t really judge a cop show from a four-minute preview. You need something like the first three episodes. And if you do end up liking it, it’s not going to be because of its original premise. What?! Maria Bello is a WOMAN! You really think she can break into a MAN’S world? I hope she can solve a big case and make everyone respect her. And why do all TV cops have to be so eccentric? We’ve seen all the jive-talk a million times before. If you want to push the envelope, show me you’re committed. Have Bello (wait, is she the Prime Suspect?) take that kid out and help him kill the people who murdered his parents. That’d be different, right?
We’re in luck, because Grimm’s pilot episode is only four minutes long and you can watch the entire thing right here. And it’s got everything, which is to say it’s got exactly what every other story that’s just like it has got. Guy finds that he’s the keeper of some ancient, dark secret. He’s shown the ropes by someone who’s just the right amounts condescending, funny and nonchalant about abso-effing-lutely everything he says and does. Guy fights the big baddie and saves the day, then discovers WHAT?! I’M GONNA HAVE TO DO THIS ALL THE TIME?! NO WAY! Supernatural cop dramas make jones for The X-Files. That reminds me, I think I’ll go watch that show.
Oh, I get it! It’s called Whitney ’cause it’s all about Whitney! But really, do Whitney Cummings and Chris D’Elia need sets and costumes and co-stars? Seems to me they could get by with a kitchen table on a stage, and maybe one of those big, light-up APPLAUSE signs to help the audience navigate its way through the sea of endless punchlines. One of the things I dislike most about this is show is the characters’ unnatural cadence, letting everyone know when they should be laughing. “Whitney! You can’t wear WHITE to a WEDDING!” “Did you just EAT a CUPCAKE? You’re on FIRE! DON’T GO THERE!” If you like 90s sitcoms, you better get your fill on Netflix because this one will not survive its first season.
Thank you, NBC, for introducing us all to Katharine McPhee. Now, Smash is kind of a tough one for me. I won’t begrudge a show its gimmick just because that gimmick is singing. And Smash seems to have come up with a less intrusive way of incorporating music into itself than than Glee, which is really just ADHD distilled into a television show. Although everything turning all dark with sparkly lights every time someone starts singing has me a little worried. My biggest problem is that the show’s taking the development of this one musical and building itself around it. You heard Debra Messing: “This could take years!” So how many sprained ankles, pain-killer addictions, casting sessions, and costume designer strikes are we going to have to suffer through before this musical finally comes off?
Up All Night
I get the feeling that Up All Night doesn’t care whether I watch it or not. It knows it’s funny, and it’s got a whole bunch of friends who know it, too. So if I don’t watch, who cares? It’s gonna do just fine without me. I mean, I want to watch it. I think. I’m intrigued by Will Arnett’s bold choice to not play his character as Gob Bluth. When he and Christina Applegate start cussing at their baby, I laughed. And I’ve always been a big supporter of cussing at children, so… This one could be really good, but Running Wilde was horrible, so fool me once. However, Maya Rudolph and the show’s shaky-cam documentary style makes me think I can look down my nose at and deride people who don’t watch it, even if the show isn’t knocking it out of the park. And that gives me hope.
Every few months I make sure to get fired from whatever job I’ve got just so I can sit at home and catch up on all the TV I’ve missed. And with the Fall season upon us, I better find someone to harass or run over with my car or something. The networks are throwing a metric glut at us over the next few weeks, so consider this your scorecard. Something to help you decide on what you want to check out, and what you want to leave alone (most of it you’ll want to leave alone).
The New Girl
You could also call this one FOX’s Best-Kept Secret, because HEY DID YOU KNOW ZOOEY DESCHANEL’S GOT A NEW TV SHOW?? Now hear me out. I used to love Zooey Deschanel. She was the girl I would hold and tell that everything would be alright, because our love would get us through the hard times (Cotton’s dropped her as their spokesperson in this scenario). That was until I saw (500) Days of Summer, the message of which was that women can do whatever the hell they want because they’re cute and they “want to.” It was enough to take me off the ZD train forever. At least I’ve always got The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But really, I’m just happy that FOX will continue to shove promos for this show down our throats until ratings tumble and they’re forced to put it in the cold, cold ground.
Alacatraz comes from J.J. Abrams, the man who brought us Six Degrees and Undercovers and who was minimally involved with Lost. So whatever happens, you know it’s gonna be good. Besides the time travel, the island, and the already-thin plot FOX is going to drag out over the next several years, what I like most about this show is that it’s got Sarah Jones as a police officer! What kind of topsy-turvy opposite day bulls**t is this! How about a show where Alex O’Loughlin doesn’t play a complete charisma vacuum! How about Jim Parsons actually working for that Emmy! It’s science fiction! Anything goes!
Allen Gregory is like one of those joke shows you see a commercial for on another show, with some ridiculous premise like, “When the baby drinks the mad scientist’s brain juice things get a little craaazy! Brainy Baby! Sundays this Fall!” It also kind of proves my theory that a baby or small kid doing anything — as long as it’s played straight — will be funny. Exhibit A! The E*TRADE babies! Exhibit B! Well, pretty much just the E*TRADE babies. Anyway, my logic is infallible. So, Jonah Hill as a cartoon Perez Hilton (without the ego or f***ed up hair) has a chance of going somewhere. And hey, people liked The Cleveland Show, so why not, right?
I Hate My Teenage Daughter
I thought it was pretty considerate of FOX to cut out all those shots of Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran looking at the camera, winking and trying to hold back their laughter at how over-the-top and just plain ZANY their show is. You know, just so we could stay in the world. What makes I Hate My Teenage Daughter such a slam dunk is how relatable it all is, because kids, right? And what’s great is that it’ll be just as true after eight seasons of the same joke as it is now!
The Bones spin-off America’s been clamoring for is finally here in The Finder, with Geoff Stults playing the titular finder. What I’ve always enjoyed about these shows — and we could be talking about cops, doctors, firemen, lawyers, whatever — is all the little bits of knowledge you pick up about the profession. For example, did you know that most hulking black men moonlight as lawyers? I didn’t. Also, did you know you could solve murders just by staring at a bunch of poster clippings and s**t taped up on somebody’s ceiling? It’s true. THAT’S how they caught Jeffrey Dahmer. It wasn’t those bodies in his freezer. Also, there’s a direct correlation between personal and professional success and the amount of pure, unadulterated sex you exude in the presence of others. Well, that one happens to be true, but I’m still sick of TV shows being written around it.
This is a show that’s been so hyped-up it’ll either be a huge success or a spectacular failure. One or the other. There can be no middle ground. This isn’t a show like Fringe that’s relatively cheap to produce and will be kept around even with low ratings. And with the next-to-nothing numbers Fringe is pulling in every week, the demise of Dollhouse, The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Firefly (which I’m still angry about and adding on this list for some reason, just kidding, I’ve never seen it), I’ve got a feeling that things are gonna break BIG for Avatar-With-Dinosaurs. And I’m sure that people won’t even realize that the show makes no sense.
Coming up next, a bog, a log, and a… frog? Nope. It’s NBC.