E: So, okay, it’s not the Must See TV of the 90s–
C: What could be, really?
E: Still, we have some of the most anticipated new shows of the season, and some of the most successful shows of last year. Oddly, cable has pretty much ceded this night to the nets, so maybe they think it’s Must See even if I don’t. Here’s a quick key to help you as you read:
- Titles in blue are new this season
- Each * means one Quibbling Sibling will be tuning in
- Click here for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday‘s schedules.
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (ABC, October 10th)**
C: In this era of a channel for everything, there isn’t much of what used to be called “family programming” out there. Lots of shows for every niche, but few that are squarely intended to be enjoyed on different levels by older children, teens, and adults. Once Upon a Time feels like a throwback to that style of television and has made a commercial success of it. Hence: take two.
E: That’s nice and all, but why didn’t they just call the show Wonderland? After the initial moment of recognition (“oh, it’s a spin-off!”) what do they really get? I mean, do they actually expect people to call it Once Upon A Time in Wonderland? OUATIW?
C: Nah, they must know people’ll call it Wonderland.
M: It’s the same concept as the Star Wars prequels being called Star Wars, Episode Whatever, The Actual Title, or the LOTR movies being The Lord of the Rings: The Title of the Book. Hollywood thinks people are dumb, and will not realize something is a sequel or a spin-off without blatant mentions of it in the title. I’d give people more credit than that if it were me.
E: Unchallenged. To go along with the fairy tale mash-up theme of Once Upon A Time, this show presents an Alice who escapes a horrific mental hospital to return to Wonderland in the hopes of rescuing her lost soul mate. To do so, she’ll battle Naveen Andrews’ wicked sorcerer Jafar.
M: Because Jafar belongs in Wonderland? Maybe if I watched the first one, like my family does, I’d know how that makes sense.
E: The first show posits that all the fairy tales exist in the same world, or in adjoining ones.
C: All Disney fairy tales, that is, because Disney owns the show — which also means it includes things which are not actually fairy tales. Like Peter Pan… or Alice in Wonderland, for instance!
M: Or Aladdin.
C: I meant things that aren’t based on folk tales of any culture. But yeah, basically it’s one, big, weird Disney crossover fanfic. Lest that sound dismissive, though, Wonderland does hit several notes I like: fantasy world clashing with real world, madness, a quest, long-lost love. (Alice’s soul mate is, of all random people, The Genie. Who is hot and young and British, for whatever reason — not Robin Williams. We’ll see him later.)
E: I guess that explains the appearance of Jafar? Sort of?
C: I don’t think this world deals much in explanations. I’ve found Once (which I’ve seen maybe ten episodes of) to be enjoyable in spots but wildly inconsistent in quality. If the writing on this is consistent, and consistently good, it could be really fun.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, September 26th)**
M: Hooray for the return of the best comedy on TV! Boo that E won’t watch it, because she’d love it.
E: Because I’m a nerd? Whatever.
M: No, because you’re intelligent, and because you like intelligent humor.
E: It’s still very broad.
M: Whatever that means.
E: Sigh. Enough with the pointlessness.
C: Now that you guys have gotten that out of your system, I’ll comment that while this show’s had its ups and downs, last season had some great episodes, including the one where the guys have their car stolen while taking pictures at Vasquez Rocks in Star Trek uniforms. The three female characters continue to punch up the show’s sometimes-overbearing boy humor, and it’s finally occurred to the writers to give Raj a storyline.
M: Oh, they’ve given Raj storylines, they’ve just been mostly demeaning and fully of jokes at his expense. I hope they give him a positive storyline!
C: Hanging around being a token isn’t a storyline. I mean an actual plot arc revolving around him, like Howard’s trip to space or romance with Bernadette. The ongoing bit with Kate Micucci last spring was a nice change!
M: Agreed. I’ve been pushing for him to “steal” Amy from Sheldon for a year and a half, now that’d be fun! Plus, in the new season we’ll see what happens now that Raj can actually speak to women without the aid of alcohol. That should be fun, too. I hope.
E: Additionally, it seems that Leonard is off in a boat, so Penny and Sheldon bond in his absence.
C: That sounds entertaining! Here’s hoping for a “Soft Kitty” dance routine.
The Vampire Diaries (CW, October 3rd)
E: The vampire gang goes to college! Alas, if they’re thinking that college will be less melodramatic than high school, they’re in for a sad (non)reality check. Their school hides dark secrets. No, for real!
C: Shut the front door!
M: So wait, when the show started were they supposed to be high school freshmen? Has anyone in Hollywood seen ACTUAL high school freshmen?
E: Do you even need to ask that question? Obviously the answer is no.
C: Weirdly, I think the heroine and her younger brother were both in high school in the premiere, so I’m not sure how she’s just graduated now. She’s clearly missed more than enough days to be kept back a grade or two, though.
E: Like that would ever happen! Another big plot line of the upcoming season is: how long will it take Damon and Co. to realize that Stefan has been replaced by evil doppelganger Silas? And once they do, how long will it take them to rescue Stefan from the watery grave where he’s currently trapped?
The X Factor (Results Show) (FOX, September 12th)***
M: Hooray, a results show! Oh, and the asterisks are all bogus.
C: To be very clear, that is M’s sense of humor at work.
Parks And Recreation (NBC, September 26th)*
C: With due respect to The Big Bang Theory, this gets my vote for “the best comedy on TV.” Squeeeee! I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it.
E: Poor Leslie, though. She goes to Washington D.C. to accept an award, then has to come home to fight a recall election. The producers are aiming to show us just how tough it can be for a progressive politician in small town Indiana.
C: True, they have put Leslie through some angst. She and Ben are so darn happy and cute, they have to throw something tough at her. I hope they don’t drag it out for too long, is all. What I like about this show, unlike pretty much every other comedy on television, is that it allows its heroes to succeed!
M: Umm, HIMYM and Big Bang‘s characters succeed. Ted built a skyscraper in NYC, for crying out loud! Leonard is working for Stephen Hawking and has Penny in love with him, and Bernadette is making big bucks!
C: Hm, maybe I chose the wrong way to express that. What I mean is that on a show like HIMYM, the humor often comes from the protagonists getting caught in awkward or difficult situations. On BBT, most of the laughs come from the guys ragging on each other or being laughed at by outsiders. The Parks & Rec gang get in bad situations, but most of the humor comes from their quixotic ways of approaching life. Way more often than on those other shows, you’re cheering for them or just warmly enjoying their company. There was an episode last season, for instance, that centered on all the male characters discovering that none of them had bachelor parties when they got married, so having a revolving party where each got to do his favorite thing with his friends. It wasn’t even skeevy at any point. It was just nice — but it was also hilarious. That combination’s really rare on TV.
E: Other items of note: crusty-on-the-outside Ron prepares for fatherhood, and Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe prepare to leave the show.
C: You had to bring it up. Just casually break my heart, why don’t you. I love Ann and Chris! I hate the thought of their leaving! Only the thought of a new Swanson in the world gives me some solace.
The Millers (CBS, October 3rd)
E: Because a movie with this bland family name title over the summer wasn’t enough.
M: So bland that I don’t even remember it existing. Not good.
C: I think it was like Meet the Millers or something. I could look it up but I don’t care that much.
M: I drove by a movie theater this afternoon… it’s still playing. So not good.
E: To be serious, this is yet another stupendous looking cast in a broad, dreadful looking comedy. Aiming for territory somewhere between Mom and Frasier, Will Arnett (huge strike against for me) is recovering from a divorce when his parents — the magnificent Margo Martindale and the brilliant Beau Bridges — split up and his mom moves in.
C: A plot about adult parents and kids living together? Crazy town!
E: His sister, Glee‘s Jayma Mayes, is hiding her own break up All this discontent apparently made the parents split up. How innovative! What genius!
M: Arnett and Mayes (despite her recent run on The League) are both strikes against for me. However, Martindale and Bridges are strong arguments for. I’ll probably see how it plays before deciding whether to tune in or not.
C: I like Jayma Mayes, but I doubt I’ll watch this, unless I hear surprisingly good things. There’s no hook.
Welcome to the Family (NBC, October 3rd)
E: I have no intention of watching this, but I’ll admit it looks pretty cute. A big plus is the presence of Glee‘s Mike O’Malley as the doctor whose unambitious teenage daughter doesn’t leave for college as planned because of an unplanned pregnancy.
C: What it looks a lot like is Modern Family. A lot.
M: I’ve liked O’Malley ever since his “The Rick” commercials on ESPN back in the 90′s. I still like him despite his association to Glee. I don’t know if I like him enough to give this “white-people-can’t-get-along-with-Latinos-until-our-show-puts-them-together-in-a-funny-way” comedy a try. Seriously, why do we think that the race of the families will be the big issue when teens are unexpectedly expecting?
E: The very one-note joke seems to be that although the white parents have it reasonably together, the Latino boy is a genius, and and the white girl, not so much. So we’re supposed to find it hilarious that the Latino family thinks the marriage that may or may not result from the pregnancy is a step down for their son.
M: To quote Stewie Griffin, HA! That was so funny I forgot to laugh. Except the initial HA!
E: You know, the more we talk about this, the less cute and more offensive it seems.
C: I think there’s also a Father of the Bride 2-style plot, if that… helps?
E: No. Not so much.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, September 26th)
E: Meredith gives birth, and Owen and Christina finally wake up to the fact that their life goals are incompatible. I just wish they’d copped to that before getting married and putting each other through hell. I might not watch the show anymore, but I can’t help wishing the characters well!
M: Ugh, why is this show still on? And why has it not at least been banished to Fridays?
E: Because lots of people who are not me still watch it. Plus it’s not geeky enough for Fridays; it’ll be canceled before they’d move it there.
M: Well hurry up already with the cancelling!
The Crazy Ones (CBS, September 26th)***
E: Okay, I give in. Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar running a troubled Chicago ad agency? I have to try, even if it is a sitcom. The supporting cast — Josh Wolk, Hamish Linklater — appeals as well. I’m in. Now, this is another show where I feel like I’ve seen the whole pilot in the trailer, but the trailer is hilarious.
C: Yes, the bit where the men are riffing the McDonalds-themed sex song had me choking with laughter. This is Robin Williams at his most caricaturish, but you just can’t help it — he’s a funny man.
M: I’m specifically not watching the trailer because I know I want to see the show, and don’t want the episode spoiled.
E: Very smart. Speaking of the pilot, Kelly Clarkson is pretty damn amusing playing a version of herself — and no, I don’t think that’s easy to do. We’ve all seen the celebrity cameo go badly awry.
C: The one thing I didn’t like was seeing Sarah Michelle Gellar approaching Calista Flockhart levels of wraith-skinniness. She looks drawn and withered. It’s almost, well, vampiric.
Reign (CW, October 17th)
C: Lols. So many lols. This show looks so overwrought, so sexed up, prettified, and shiny, it bears a much closer resemblance to the cover of a Philippa Gregory novel than to anything that ever happened in history. This isn’t even history as a Vogue shoot, like The Tudors; it’s history by Claire’s.
E: See, to me this is the CW at it again — presenting yet another show that’s almost tailored just to me. Renaissance-era France! Teenage love and quasi-historical politics! Too bad it looks atrocious, right down to the three-quarters accurate costuming. If the French court were a 1980s music video, this would be it.
M: So, teen love in Renaissance era France is your specific target zone? I never knew that.
E: Ha ha. Costume drama, political intrigue and teen romance are the salient, E-friendly points. A few other reasons I wish I could like this: Megan Follows (Anne Shirley) as villainous Queen Catherine, and Anna Popplewell (Lucy Pevensie) as one of Mary (Queen of Scots to-be) future ladies in waiting.
M: Okay, Anne of Green Gables and Queen Lucy of Narnia are definitely points in its favor.
C: Megan Follows… on the CW… as a mom. I just — can’t even. Brain hurts too much. First lines of “Bohemian Rhapsody” replaying mentally. Fugue state onset probable.
E: As an evil mom — don’t forget that. Throw in Nostradamus, a friendly ghost, and a cult that holds blood sacrifice rituals in the woods outside the castle, and you’ve got the makings of a supremely silly soap.
M: I hate to rehash it, and C will probably jump down my throat for my repetitiveness, but you did see what network this is on, right?
C: …is this the real life… is this just fantasy…
Glee (FOX, September 26th)
E: I gave up on this show a year and a half ago, but I will definitely tune in for the inevitable tribute to late star Cory Monteith. And I’m tempted buy their two part season opening tribute to the Beatles, though I’m more likely to buy the album than actually watch.
C: Love the Beatles, but I’m more likely to buy this tribute album.
M: Totally agreed. And I recently found out my 13-year-old watched three seasons of this without permission on her iPod, so my personal vendetta against it has only grown.
E: Oh, ouch. Proving that she’s a teenager, apparently.
C: Er, that’s awkward. Guess she knows about some things now, huh?
M: Yes, and stuff she knew-ish before, but would have preferred to have discussions with her as she watched, if she were going to. Damn you Apple! And hormones!
E: A propos of nothing, I’m really hoping they find an excuse for Chris Colfer to sing this. I mean, come on, could it be any more perfect for his voice? I think not. You can put my finder’s fee in the mail, Ryan Murphy.
Sean Saves the World (NBC, October 3rd)
E: I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that there are people who think this show is a good idea. But then again, lots of people who are not me love Emmy award winning Sean Hayes instead of wanting to gouge their eyes and ears out whenever he appears on screen, so maybe it’s not that unreasonable.
M: Shockingly, I am not one of those people. I really don’t get his “watch me annoy the crap out of you” appeal.
C: This series features, of all amazing things, a single dad! Can you believe that, America? He’s a man, and he’s parenting. I know, what will they think of next?
M: Maybe a story about a woman who’s neglected in her loveless marriage who falls madly in love with another man, but it’s doomed to fail tragically and so heart-wrenchingly beautifully?
C: Now you’re just being crazy. Oh, but wait, you’ll never see this twist coming: guess who decides Hayes certainly can’t parent a teenage daughter on his own, so she needs to become permanently available to help? This adult man’s mother! Grandparents and parents in the same house! Forget houndstooth; this is the fall’s hottest trend.
White Collar (USA, October 17th)**
E: I’m so far behind on this show that I don’t even think about trying anymore, but I know you two still watch and enjoy. What’s up for this season?
C: Actually I’m a whole season behind. I need to catch up before I can tune in! So I’m not going to read the summary below.
M: We’re picking up with out crew in a huge pickle.
M: Shocking, I know! Last season, Neal tried to help his dad prove his innocence, only to find out her was guilty all along, have him (the dad) murder a corrupt U.S. Senator, pin it on Peter and disappear. So, how does Peter get exonerated? How does Neal make it up to Peter for pulling him into all this? What crazy plots will Mozzie come up with this season? Tune in this season on White Collar to find out!!! Sorry, I got carried away.
Two and A Half Men (CBS, September 26th)
E: Cue Amber Tamblyn as Charlie Sheen’s long-lost lesbian daughter, who moves in and picks right up where her womanizing dad left off.
M: Cue a move to Fridays, if not an outright cancellation.
E: Like we’ve ever understood why this show was popular? If it can survive driving Charlie Sheen off a cliff, it can probably survive a predatory lesbian.
M: It’s not the predatory lesbian that’s the issue. It’s the show introducing a “long lost” this or that, who will fill the role of a departed former cast member. Pretty much always a sign of a show in its last throes. And for the record, I know why it was popular at first… It was genuinely funny. Now it’s stale and desperate.
E: The name’s astoundingly lame (a sad attempt at going classic), but the clips I’ve seen look well enough written and filmed. The premise? Much to his family’s relief, a popular news anchor returns to work after spending too long at home after his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease.
M: I like it. I mean, who doesn’t love Fox, and isn’t rooting for this to succeed?
C: If you’re not, you may not be human.
M: Yes, you may be a sparkley vampire.
Scandal (ABC, October 3rd)
E: Olivia Pope’s on again/off again affair with President Fitz is definitely off to start season 3. He’s spending too much time on the campaign trail, for one thing.
M: Just recently watched the pilot episode for this with the missus. YUCK. I can’t believe they still have the affair with the President thing going. Like that wouldn’t have blown up by now.
E: Oh, it’s blown up. That’s the other thing that’s going on right now — she apparently refused to marry him at the end of last season, they “ended” the affair, and her name got leaked to the press.
C: Wait, if he can get married, why is it an affair? You know what, never mind. I don’t want that information taking up valuable brain space.
M: I’m with you, C. (I feel like I’ve written that before)
E: Question: when did Scott Foley and Joshua Malina join this cast? Way to go, Shonda Rimes. She and I seem to share a fondness for smart guys with big brown puppy dog eyes.
Elementary (CBS, September 26th)**
E: C, this one belongs to you. I only lasted an episode or two last season; why did I make a mistake?
M: I can field that, as I gave up early, but came back to it mid season. It got increasingly smarter and well written, and when they started to really delve down the Moriaty/Irene Adler plot lines it really hit a stride. Johnny Lee Miller has been very entertaining in the role, and Lucy Liu’s grown on me.
C: I was lukewarm about it at first, but it’s just so clever and interesting and above all, well-acted. Miller and Liu are, in my opinion, both fantastic.
C: The supporting/recurring characters like Aidan Quinn’s Gregson, Natalie Dormer’s Irene, Vinnie Jones’s Sebastian Moran, and Candis Cayne’s Mrs. Hudson are all well-cast and super dynamic. The mysteries are standard detective TV fare on the whole, but the overarching plot is intriguing. One of the biggest draws for me, though, is the portrayal of Holmes as an addict who genuinely struggles between his colossal ego and his need for recovery. It’s one of the best-informed and most interesting portrayals of addiction I’ve seen on TV.
M: The addiction part is particularly good, and different from a lot of what you see on network TV. He struggles, and uses that struggle to help him at times. His OCD is fun, too.
E: The cast does win the show a lot of good will, especially the excellent Natalie Dormer. Think it’s worth rejoining this late, or would I need to rent season 1?
C: You could jump in, but I would rent Season 1, if I were you. If you weren’t drawn in by the pilot, try starting on episode 5, which I remember as very good.
Parenthood (NBC, September 26th)
M: Mrs M will be happy to see this is back, she enjoys this family drama. I haven’t been able to get into it, but it is decent enough when I do watch parts of it with her.
E: For those who love this nearly canceled family drama like Mrs. M, here’s the scoop. Cancer free Kristina considers a new career in politics. Julia and Joel have marital trouble, and newly single Sarah dates. A lot.
Covert Affairs (USA, October 17th)*
E: The summer series is back for a fall spin. Phew! I though there wouldn’t be anything for me to watch this hour. (Actually, that was probably a good thing.)
C: You were worried about filling up this hour? Really? If I didn’t know you read books, sis, I might’ve had to stage an intervention.
E: But what will the sexy spies do next? I have to know!
C: Hmm, maybe that intervention’s needed after all…
M: Seriously. Personally, I’m very behind on this, which Mrs M and I usually watch as a fun distraction, however it’s been getting too serious. This season has focused around guest star Hill Harper (fresh off of CSI: NY‘s cancellation) and a lot of trips to Colombia. For my money, go to Elementary first before this, but this isn’t a bad fallback.
E: Heh, I’m behind too. I’ll likely catch up in time for it to restart. It’s not the smartest show in the world, but it’s a lot of fun without being weighted down with too much mythology. I’m a fan of the cast, I enjoy seeing Annie and Augie together, as well as the complications for Arthur and Joan. So, good stuff!