Fall TV – Two Weeks In

Now that nearly all the shows I was interested in have premiered, and most of them have gotten a couple of episodes out, here’s what I’m liking so far. Pretty much in order of how much I like them. There’s going to spoilers for all of them, just fyi. The few shows that I’m planning to look at but haven’t premiered yet are Women’s Murder Club (which I won’t actually be able to watch unless ABC puts it up on their website, or I obtain it via, um, other means, because of scheduling conflicts) and The Next Great American Band, which is American Idol for bands, and which has one of the Australian Idol judges on it! I was really excited when I saw that in a promo tonight. I might try Cashmere Mafia when it starts in December (I think), because Lucy Liu is in it, but I decided against Christina Applegate’s amnesia sitcom Samantha Who?, because the more commercials I see for it, the stupider it looks.


Ugly Betty
This show is so close to perfect right now, it’s not even funny. The very first scene of the opener, spoofing telenovelas? Loved. And the way they did Hilda dealing with Santos’ death was so great–they had me fooled, but it was niggling in the back of my mind that if they really had Santos recover from being shot in the chest from a foot away, it would be really bad from a narrative point of view. But what they did worked really well. And America Ferrera, as always, great (she won an Emmy, you know). And Mark, and Amanda, and Christina (apropos of nothing, I just discovered that Ashley Jensen is on HBO’s Extras, which you should totally watch), and Wilhemena…I had no idea how much I had missed the show over the summer. Please, please, watch it if you’re not.

The Office
I’m not hugely loving the hour-long format; I think that’s short-lived, though. Some shows are just half-hour shows, and that’s the pacing that works for them, and The Office is one of those shows. The opener was pretty good, but the second ep really hit the stride, as Ryan comes back fresh from his promotion and starts overhauling the business and being generally douchy while Michael complains that the changes represent ageism. Brilliant. And Jim and Pam. SO ADORABLE. Please let them be happy and adorable for a long time without making them angsty. Let others deal with the relationship issues for a while, and just let Jim and Pam be adorable.

First three eps this year were brilliant. House and Wilson getting into a kidnapping war, House bouncing ideas off the janitor, actually interesting cases, the search for the new team members is cracking me up… I honestly don’t mind if they keep Cameron and Chase off House’s team for a while–as long as they’re around somewhere–and some of the new team possibilities interest me. I like the really annoyingly pushy chick, because I can see some entertaining explosions coming out of the fact that she’s just as ruthless and pigheaded as House, and I like the old guy. And I also like the woman who ended up killing the guy this week (ooh, someone died on House! That never ever happens), but I guess the fact that she killed someone may not bode well. We’ll see. But I’m not sure about Foreman getting fired from his new job…that whole subplot wasn’t really well-integrated, and that leaves the door open for Foreman to come back or something, and he was the one of the team that I didn’t mind leaving.

Friday Night Lights
I finished S1 on DVD on Friday one hour before the new season’s premiere. Yay! There’s something so fresh about the show, even though it’s about a small-town high school football coach and his family and his team, which doesn’t seem like a very original, innovative subject. But the writing is really good, the characterization is really good, and the camerawork is uncompromising (though the handheldedness of it can get a little annoying at times). Mr. and Mrs. Coach are the best adult couple on television, no question about it. And if I can fall in love with a show about football, as much as I dislike sports, you can too. So come on. The premiere went a number of interesting directions, a few of which had me screaming at the TV, so really, this season could go anywhere.

30 Rock
There’s only been one episode so far this season, but it left me wanting more immediately. 30 Rock is sort of one of those shows that sneaks up on you with how good it is. I watched it for weeks last year before I realized that I didn’t just casually enjoy it, but I honestly loved it. And I say that about so few sitcoms. Seinfeld-vision is brilliant, like most of 30 Rock‘s other comic indictments of consumerism and mercenary motivations of television execs. And poor Liz Lemon with her wedding dress! And Alec Baldwin is better than he’s been in years.

Grey’s Anatomy
Okay, so I’m really mad at Grey’s right now. But it still legitimately counts as an obsession, since obsession includes the idea of being unable to let go of something that no longer really lives up to expectations. And I can’t let it go. I still love the characters, even though they’re being stupid, and I still love the music, and I still love the show. And every once in a while there are flashes of goodness, and for an obsessed person, sometimes that’s enough. Plus, Becky and I spent the whole show last week arguing through text messages over whether or not Lexie is annoying enough to merit Meredith’s bitchiness toward her, and anything that provokes logical argumentation has value, right? Right?

More after the jump.

Like a WHOLE Lot

Pushing Daisies
This has only had one episode so far, too, but if it can keep up the level of whimsicality and quirkiness of the pilot (which is titled “Pie-lette” in a perhaps overly cutesy but very forgivable way), it…will probably get canceled. But I will watch it until it is. Between it starring the brother from Wonderfalls, its Amelie-inspired narration and color-scheme, and the interesting concept of having a romantic relationship between two people who can’t touch each other (one touch from the main character raises someone from the dead, but a second will instantly kill them again), I’m hooked. But I’m curious how they can continue to keep such a relationship interesting–I hope they can, because it’s far too easy to just have characters fall in bed with each other within an episode of their meeting, and this plot device certainly guards against that, but that means the writers have to actually be *gasp* creative.

Desperate Housewives
This is another one I wouldn’t be able to drop no matter how bad it got, but the first couple of episodes this year have been fairly good. I’m concerned about the Carlos-Edie situation, though. And I’m pretty much done with Susan, but I still like Mike, so I’ll put up with her. Bree’s competition with the new/old neighbor could be an interesting way to strip Bree down completely–she’s already lost her perfect marriage and her perfect family, what will she do if she loses her perfect homemaking ability? In the eyes of others, I mean–will Bree finally be forced to evaluate herself in some way other than how everyone else sees her? And I always love when Gaby shows her vulnerable side. And I’m actually interested in what the new/old neighbor has done to her daughter–neither S2 nor S3’s season-arc mystery interested me that much, so that’s good.

How I Met Your Mother
Last year, this show would’ve been in the top section. And I still love it, but I think the lack of Robin/Ted is taking its toll on me. Still, there’s a lot to like about it, and I’m still not about to miss it. Ted’s tramp stamp better come back up a lot, and I hear we’re going to get more Robin Sparkles, which will be awesome. And thankfully Robin has come to her senses and kicked Enrique Iglesias and his friends out–they were really annoying me.

I’m quite enjoying this spy comedy–imagine if Marshall from Alias got his own show, and that’s sort of what it’s like. I’d like for it to be a little geekier, actually. I mean, Chuck is a computer geek, right, which is why he’s valuable to the CIA/NSA in the first place, so shouldn’t he be good with gadgets and stuff? I’d be giving that guy gadgets left and right. Instead, Sarah gets the gadgets, which is fine, I guess, because she’s cool too. Anyway. It’s always fun to see Adam Baldwin, too.

Bionic Woman
The pilot was kinda rough, which worried me because I really want to love this show, but the second episode picked it up a bit. And I need my girls-kicking-butt show, now that both Alias and Buffy are gone. And when one of the girls is Katee Sackhoff (of Battlestar Galactica, the third season of which NEEDS TO COME ON DVD NOW), it’s even better. And looks like next week, she and Jamie may team up instead of being enemies, which would be cool, as long as it’s on a provisional basis and Katee could go back to being villainous whenever she wants. I’m glad Jamie’s boyfriend is gone, because he was really annoying.

I haven’t seen this week’s episode yet, but I’ve already seen some negative feedback from people (nothing specific). Anyway, I always want Heroes to be one of my favorite shows, because it should be the kind of show that I love to death; and it never quite makes it for some reason that I can’t put my finger on. The Hiro in Japan plot is really predictable, but still sort of neat due to the fact that I love katanas and time manipulation. The twins are sort of interesting, but they haven’t really connected them into the plot enough that I care. Claire’s new love interest is super-annoying. But I still like the show, and I’m hoping it hits its stride again soon.

I’ve mentioned I like time travel many, many times. This show is about a guy unstuck in time (shades of Slaughterhouse-Five, but so far without different planets or WWII bomb sites), who seems to follow the lives of specific people he’s supposed to help in some way. I don’t love it yet, largely because I don’t think the lead is quite as charismatic as he needs to be, and neither is his wife, but I like the premise and the narrative style well enough to keep it high on my list for now.

Okay, some of the writing in this week’s “pony-play” episode was cringe-worthy, I admit, but Bones remains a fun show for me. The first two episodes of the season were stronger, though (it kinda does better when Brennan doesn’t spend half the episode defending perverse fetishes). I wish they’d quit stepping around a Booth/Bones relationship, though. And I didn’t quite believe Angela’s resistance to hypnosis in this week’s episode–she seems like the type who’d be all for alternative things like that.

Enjoy, But More Provisionally

Dirty Sexy Money
I’m sorry, this show is entirely more fun than it has any right to be. Lawyer Peter Krause inherits his father’s biggest client, a super-rich, super-spoiled family, and takes them on only because he thinks one of them might have had a hand in his father’s death. I think a large part of its appeal is simply how good Peter Krause (of Sports Night and Six Feet Under) is, but the family members are also just so outrageous as to be fun. It’s not really a *good* show, but it falls squarely into the guilty pleasure category, and I’m already looking forward to it.

Private Practice
I’m severely hoping that Kate Walsh’s Grey’s spin-off moves up a category soon…I’m definitely still watching it, because Addison was very nearly my favorite Grey’s character, and I still love her, but I’m afraid her new show doesn’t quite know what it is yet. It’s got both humor and emotion, but their distribution is rather uneven. I do like the psychiatrist character, but most of the others just aren’t developed enough yet.

Kid Nation
I admit it, I let myself get roped into another reality show. In this one, a bunch of kids take over an Arizona ghost town and take on the role of pioneers. Basically, it’s Survivor for kids, but it’s interesting to see the dynamics of the group, who range in ages from 9 to 15, and see them trying to learn to do things they’ve never done before (like cook). And I also like the fact that it’s not a vote-out sort of thing–the town council (four kids set up as leaders) chooses one kid every few days to receive a $20,000 prize, but nobody ever has to leave. So the incentives to help out and do well are all positive rather than negative. I don’t know what the end-game is, though.

This is actually a better show than I expected it to be, and it’s probably a better show than my placement on the list indicates. It’s just that it’s yet another cop show. And the second episode wasn’t nearly as good as the first, though the third wasn’t bad. It does better when it focuses on New Orleans itself and the issues that arise in a devastated town. My guess is that this, and really the rest of the shows in this category are going to be my “wait until the weekend” shows–shows that I enjoy watching, but aren’t really a priority.

Family Guy
I think Family Guy is one of the more entertaining shows on TV, but it’s absolutely not required to watch it in order or anything, which makes it tempting to just pick up whenever I happen to catch it rather than make it a priority. Still, the Star Wars parody opener this year was good enough to go ahead and set my DVR for the rest of the season. It’ll be a good filler when I just need a few laughs.

NCIS is enjoyable, but it’s mostly episode-driven as opposed to arc-driven, which always makes a show less of a priority for me. But it’ll stay around, if only because I love Abby so much. And there’s been so little of her this season so far! They need to fix that. And quit focusing on Tony so much; I’m over that plot. I like Michael Weatherly, but I tend to prefer the episodes that focus on Abby, McGee, and Ziva.

AKA Angel Lite. But you know what’s going to keep me coming back for this one? Jason Dohring is in it, as the main character’s more amoral vampire buddy. Plus, Marshall from Alias is in it, though his character is DECIDEDLY less awesome than Marshall. And I like the girl, who reminds me of someone, but I can’t quite place who it is. So it stays on the DVR mostly by virtue of a supporting cast that I loved in other shows. Heh.

I apparently missed a lot of arc-plot at the end of last season, because the whole Colby plot blindsided me. And I think the second episode this season, which didn’t have Colby as a main focus, was better, so maybe Numb3rs is better off sticking with the individual episode style. I still enjoy the show, but it’s not really a must-see; it’s more of a boredom killer.

On Probation

Cane is actually a really good show. I mean, from an objective point of view. But from my subjective point of view, I don’t care about its soapy family business plot very much, and I don’t care about any of the actors in it (except it does have Alona Tal from Veronica Mars in a teeny tiny part), and in a season so full of shows that I do care about based on both plot and actors, it’s likely to fall off the schedule before very long.

I like the idea of Life–a wrongly-accused police officer ended up in prison for fifteen years before he was exonerated and returned to the force–and I like that it doesn’t take itself too seriously (it’s got a bit of Burn Notice-style humor going on), but I’ve not been drawn into it yet. It’s got a few more weeks to prove itself, though.

Gone Already

Big Shots
I’m sorry, Michael Vartan, I really wanted to like your new show. I did. But it’s just not good. It’s trying to be like Desperate Housewives with men, and I had a feeling that premise was going to crash and burn, and it does. Please, guys, pick better projects next time.

Back to You
At least I made it through two episodes of Big Shots before deleting it. I think Back to You lasted somewhere around eight minutes. If that. I wasn’t expecting to like it, so it may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it’s pretty much a sitcom built on all the things I hate about sitcoms. Therefore, it will go on for like eight years, while the ACTUALLY FUNNY AND CLEVER shows like Arrested Development get canceled. Because that’s how these things work. *sigh*