E: I only set out to watch The Good Wife tonight, but my husband was busy when it started, and so while it recorded, I got sucked in by the first few minutes of The Forgotten. And when it turned out that Devon Gummersall (Brian Krakow of My So Called Life!) was guest starring, I had to go back and watch the whole thing. And I’ve less to say about that, so I’m going to start there, if nobody minds. 🙂 (M: I mind.) I’m going to cut this for spoilers, so please, meet me and discuss after the jump. Well, I will say this first: The Forgotten was perfectly fine, but The Good Wife was something more. I’m more likely to talk about the setup and format of TF, whereas I’ll probably get into actual spoilers for the other, and since I’d generally recommend it, get thee to CBS.com if you haven’t seen it!
M: I mentioned several times over the summer that the bar is set pretty low for summer TV. Due to that low bar, and my affinity for Saul Rubinek, I actually stuck with Warehouse 13 for the entire season (E: You did better than me!). At times I wasn’t sure why, at times I was glad I did. Mostly I think I was too lazy to stop my DVR from recording all episodes (E: heh – we still have ’em all on ours), and hey, since it was there I figured I might as well watch.
To be sure, Warehouse 13 is no Farscape, which despite all the inroads the Stargate franchise is trying to make, is still far and away the best show that either SciFi (or “SyFy”) has ever put on. It is campy, though mostly intentionally, and stretches the bounds of imagination and willingness to suspend disbelief. The leads are very unprofessional, and you could really never picture either of them being assigned to protect a normal warehouse in the middle of South Dakota, let alone guard the life of the President. The comedic sidekick teenager is very forced, and rarely has a good line, but makes up for it by always being bubbly! And yes, that was thoroughly laced with sarcasm (sarcasm, by the way, is another family favorite). Most of the cases have been nondescript, which is sad considering the concept and the possibilities.
However, there has been some good. Continue reading
E: For those who recall, Castle was a mid-season replacement from last spring. If you’re looking for a show that’s going to make you feel emotionally attached to dead people, this ain’t it. (Try The Biggest Loser – wow, M, were you right; I caught the season premiere on cable and bawled through the whole thing.) (C: Ummm, did you just refer to the contestants on Biggest Loser as DEAD PEOPLE?! E: No, not the contestants. It makes sense if you’ve seen it.) But if you’re looking for some good crackling fun, well, we’ve got something for you.
(By the way, in the interest of fairness – and boredom – I checked out a few minutes of Accidentally On Purpose, and what a dreadfully sitcommy sitcom it is. Mix Bridget Jones in with Knocked Up and the loathsome “cougar” trend, dumb them way down, and you’re there. I seriously can’t believe that people get paid to put this stuff on the air. It was beyond fake and cardboard. I caught a bit of How I Met Your Mother, too, but it triggered my squeamishness reflex; there was some really fun smart stuff, and then there was some serious embarrassment humor. I had to keep changing the channel while Ted was humiliating himself.)
(C: Don’t tell me anything! I’m still catching up on S4…)
(M: Well, did you catch any of Big Bang? Like the line when Sheldon tells his mother that he was not “sassing her in Eskimo talk”? If not, you missed out again.)
(E: That’s me. Always missing out on those amazing sitcoms.)
Anyway, Castle 2×1 spoilers after the cut – don’t read it if you haven’t seen the show! And if you haven’t, go over to abc.com, watch “Deep In Death,” and come back so we can talk. It’s worth it.
E: Just when you think its not possible to love Neil Patrick Harris more, he goes and does something like this. And I know, the title’s a bit corny, but you have to acknowledge it: there weren’t a lot of shocks in the big categories, but Harris was so winning that he made the night enjoyable anyway.
What I liked:
From his white jacket tux (M: the ultimate in suiting up!) and his opening number (“Put Down the Remote”) , Neil Patrick Harris killed. Even the schtick about losing (again) was entertaining instead of awkward. He snarked about the relevance of broadcast television, he introduced presenters using their most obscure and hilarious credits, and he won the respect of former Emmy hosts good (Jon Stewart) and bad (Jeff Probst, of last year’s disastrous reality show host experiment). AND we got a fantastic Dr. Horrible short when the would be supervillian captured the airwaves to laud online programming only to be foiled by slow connections and his dim witted nemesis, Nathan Fillion’s Captain Hammer. Sure, I’d have loved it if the bit were longer or included more singing, but leaving your audience wanting more is probably the best way to go. Speaking of which, the millisecond we got to see of Felicia Day made me wonder if the Glee people have called her yet, and if so, why not? How brilliant a fit would that be? Continue reading
E: I’m no where near as obsessive about TV awards as I am about movie ones, but I’m moderately excited to see the Prime Time Emmys tonight. As I’ve mentioned before, Neil Patrick Harris is hosting, which means singing. And even better, it’s going to mean a Dr. Horrible production number! Yep, you just read that right. Dr. Horrible, live! Way to up the hipness factor, Emmy! They’re burying it in the middle of the telecast, so you’re either going to have to watch the whole thing, or depend on some grainy Youtube action Monday morning.
I should warn you that the Emmys have a billion categories, and I will not be looking at them all. (Think I’m kidding? They don’t announce the hair and make up awards on the telecast, use of prosthetics, or the cinematography in single or multiple camera series awards, either; oddly those tend to be the only places that shows I love, like Battlestar Galactica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have gotten nominated. They even have a category for commercials. Seriously.) I’m just going to pull out a few and comment on them. Oh, and hey, did I mention that the Emmys don’t do the whole 5 nominee thing any more? It’s mostly 6 or 7, depending. Unless we’re talking the mini-series category, where there are only two nominees. Right.
One other element I’m looking forward to this year? There’s going to be some of sort of homage to dancing shows, coordinated by the folks from So You Think You Can Dance. Woohoo! That ought to be a lot of fun. For, you know, me. 🙂
And without further ado, here’s a look at the major categories and my thoughts on them (highly personal, thoroughly biased, and no where near as scholarly and thorough as my Oscar notes will be). Still, enjoy! You might have rooting interests you weren’t even aware of – and if not, it should still be worth watching for the clothes. Look after the cut for the stars who’ll be wearing them.
Supernanny (ABC, OCtober 16th)
C: Childcare shows! My favorite subset of the reality genre! By which I mean… the opposite of that.
E: Oh, come on. You’d rather watch The Bachelor? Flavor of Love? I don’t think so.
M: I’d rather watch this than I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.
Ghost Whisperer (CBS, September 25th)
M: I see dead people… and cleavage. From what I can tell, that’s been the marketing campaign for the entire lifespan of the show.
Smallville (CW, September 25th)
C: This show is still on? They could have at least retitled it Metropolis after a certain point, and let the Man of Steel officially grow up.
M: Yeah, it’s crazy. I used to watch it, and stopped about 5 years ago, and thought the show was over by now. Maybe this season he’ll move with Pa to Hazard County….
Brothers (FOX, September 25th)
C: The worst reviewed of all the new sitcoms.
M: Which is saying a lot!
E: So much that you don’t even need my customary diss.
M: I don’t know what diss you mean! Really I don’t!
Law & Order (NBC, September 25th)
M: Fridays at 8? How the once mighty have fallen. Of course, this is probably the biggest casualty of the Jay Leno debacle. I have to say, as a note, that L&O has completely amazed me. It’s a show that has NO original cast members left. Heck, only one member of the second wave of casting, Sam Waterson, and he’s in a different role than he started out in. Of the 6 main character slots, most of them have turned over between five and ten times in the 20 year run of the show. The top ADA position has the least turnover, having “only” been inhabited by three people, Michael Moriarty originally, Waterson for most of the years, and now Linus Roache, who excellently portrayed Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins. Its crazy that this show keeps being a winner for NBC…. and that they basically killed it to accommodate Jay Leno.
E: Yep, they pretty much got hosed. Five days of Jay Leno are cheaper and a better return on NBC’s money than even one hour of Law and Order, and good television pays the price. Fortunately this show will live forever in reruns! I swear there are a few cable channels that run it 24/7.
‘Til Death (FOX, October 2nd)
M: Yes, E, another sitcom. And yet another with retreads from previous sitcoms, in this case Brad Garrett. Since I haven’t watched it since the first episode or two, is Finch from American Pie still on it? I think he is….
E: Would it matter? I’m pretty sure this sitcom encapsulates everything that makes me hate the format.
Ugly Betty *(ABC, October 9th)
E: I started on this show because I like America Ferrera; I didn’t think I’d be able to take it because I cannot handle embarrassment humor, but I wanted to check it out. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. They do a brilliant job of making you care about characters (and plot lines) who are sometimes insanely over the top. I’ve said this before, but if you can imagine Chuck aimed at women and gay men, then you get the tone of the show. At its best, it’s heartwarming, hilarious, silly fun. Ferrera is terrific, but the supporting cast (led by Vanessa William’s deliciously manipulative diva, but also featuring Michael Urie and Becky Newton) are stars.
M: As neither a woman or a gay man, I was never interested in this show. However, when they started parading Ferrera around at awards shows and press junkets done up in full model makeover mode, I lost any respect I might have had. The point of the show, from what I could tell, was about not having to look stereotypically beautiful to be beautiful, and not having people judge her on her looks. So they cast someone who was good looking, and made her look as bad as they could… because, you know, there aren’t any actresses out there that they could have cast that they wouldn’t have to work as hard at, right?
C: America Ferrera is gorgeous, but sadly, her kind of looks aren’t typical of young TV starlets (think Hayden Panettiere or Blake Lively). I respect that the show went for a different kind of beauty, even if I’d have been more impressed if they were with someone actually–gasp!–average-looking.
Medium (CBS, September 25th)
M: Is picking up another network’s leavings ever a good idea? Okay, so maybe it worked with J.A.G., but still, what are the odds? Even Scrubs died when switching networks.
E: A lot of people like this show, and it does pair well thematically with Ghost Whisperer, despite the lack of cleavage. (Well, in the ads, anyway. Maybe the show itself is equally cleavage filled. Anyone?)
America’s Next Top Model (CW – repeat)
M: Seriously, once isn’t enough?
Southland (NBC, October 23rd)
E: I watched this once, and for a cop show, I thought it was really good. Pretty dark, and I hate the portraits of marriages, but very well acted and written. I particularly like seeing Regina King, but there are a bunch of good actors here.
Dollhouse (FOX, September 25th)
M: When I first got the schedule for the fall, I printed it off and circled every show I wanted to watch, x’ed off every show I didn’t, and underlined shows I was sort of interested in. Other than Dollhouse, which I underlined, everything on Friday and Saturday got a big, fat X through it. Pathetic. Well, it’ll give me time to watch the shows I DVR on Thursday!
C: I wasn’t interested in Dollhouse last season (have heard great things, but I can’t get over the sheer porniness premise, not to mention the thinly-veiled misogyny — “Look at how wrongly this hot girl is being exploited! Tsk tsk! Be sure to get a good look!”). But I may have to change my mind if the entire cast of Battlestar Galactica is going to transfer over here.
E: I wanted to like the show, because I like Joss Whedon, but it took nearly the whole season to gel. (Am I a total sucker that I watch that long in hope?) There were both narrative issues and (rather obviously) some big gender ones, but things got quite exciting at the very end (M: Given the show, probably not the best choice of words, sis!). I’m cautiously optimistic about the new season. On the other hand, they did get rid of my favorite character, which I’m not so jazzed about.
What Not To Wear (TLC)
E: Fun transformational show. I still can’t get over the episode with Michelle B, the dog trainer/marketer who transformed from a nerd into a supermodel before our very eyes. Insane. Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, you know what you’re doing. (Although, ironically, the fashion education hasn’t really spread to those of us who merely watch the show and aren’t on it; they’re constantly getting subjects who watch the show but haven’t absorbed the lessons.)
C: I always enjoy this show when I happen to catch it; it’s very seductive to watch and think, “that could be me!”
Stargate: Universe (SyFy, October 2nd)
M: The newest spin-off of the Stargate franchise launches. I liked the movie a lot, have seen bits and pieces of SG1, and none of Atlantis. The thing that comes to mind, though, is how after we saw the movie, I said that I liked it, but E was disappointed, saying that she felt there was so much more that they could have done with the concept and exploring worlds. I joked that maybe they’re turn it into a TV series. Well, 15 years and three series later, its safe to say that the people who owned the rights sided with E – there was SO much more they could do. So, I rarely admit it, but kudos to you, E, you were right on that one. I still liked the movie, though.
C: I like the movie too, M – it’s two against one! So, I know there’s some controversy about this newest spin-off among the Stargate diehards, because the network came out and said they wanted to tailor it to a younger, hipper audience. Way to bite the hand that feeds you, SyFy! (M: Oh, they excel at that!) But I’ll be doing with Universe what I’ve done with the rest of the franchise: watching it on DVD, if I ever get all the way through the series that came before it.
E: I just can’t get over M admitting I was right about something.
M: I am perfect willing to do that on the rare occasions that you are right.
M: Like the nightly news, I really wonder if anyone still watches this. At least, anyone under 65.
Numb3rs (CBS, September 25th)
M: A solid “there’s nothing else on” show, with Rob Morrow, formerly of Northern Exposure, which came close to making my Bucket List In Bed.
E: The epitome of Nothing Else Is On, indeed. Not only does it feature Rob Morrow, but also David Krumholtz (of the fantastic movie Ten Things I Hate About You), Ally McBeal‘s Peter MacNicol, Diane Farr of Roswell, and Judd Hirsch of Taxi, so at least the cast brings a lot to love.
The Jay Leno Show (NBC)
E: Ick phooey.
White Collar (USA, October 23rd)
E: I just have to mention this new USA buddy comedy about a a con artist partnered with a by-the-book FBI agent. I know, I know, sounds depressingly formulaic, and probably is, but the con artist is played by Matthew Bomer – know to the Quibbling Siblings as Brice Larkin. That’s right, Chuck’s pseudo-nemesis now has his own show and his very own shenanigans. Could just be worth a peek!
M: Bomer was known, to me at least, before Chuck as the main character on the short lived Traveller, which was a solid summer fill in a couple years back.
M: YEAY! Saturday means no Jay Leno!
C: Does anybody watch live TV on Saturday? Rather than telling you what time Dateline airs and so on into obscurity, we’ll cut this day down to what you may want to know: Trauma repeats at 9:00, Law & Order: SVU repeats at 10:00. If you’re a fan of British programming, you can catch the 3rd season of the BBC’s high-camp hit Robin Hood on BBC America at 9:00 (premiered on 9/12). Everybody’s got new costumes, various generic females are brought on to replace the written-off Marian (Robin Hood sans Maid Marian? Seriously?) and Brit heartthrob Toby Stephens appears as Prince John.
Well folks, that’s all for the Fall TV Preview! Come back next week to see us review the premieres of several of these shows – anything that got an asterisk during this week’s review. And enjoy your TV watching!
THURSDAY... otherwise known as The Night That Almost Broke E’s DVR
FlashForward*** (ABC, September 24th)
M: I am so looking forward to this that I have been trying to hunt down people at ABC that will give me an advanced copy. Because, you know, I have a blog! So far no luck, but I’m not giving up hope. I haven’t been looking forward to a new show this much since, well, I’m not really sure when. Very excited!
C: A cast including Joseph Fiennes of Shakespeare in Love fame, Jack Davenport, John Cho, Sonya Walger and Courtney B. Vance would get my attention even without the awesome premise, but the concept — the whole world blacks out for two minutes and sees a vision of their lives six months in the future — is almost enough in itself to guarantee a first season worth watching. One wonders where the series will go once they catch up with their visions in time, but if the show gets into the source of the collective psychic experience instead of just exploring how the individuals deal with what they saw, there’s a potential there for an overarching plot that could keep things exciting.
E: Those previews have us riveted. I can’t wait!
Survivor: Samoa (CBS, September 17th)
E: I’ve watched this show before, but I’m so much more interested in shows where the chief skills contestants showcase aren’t lying and manipulation.
The Vampire Diaries (CW, September 10th)
E: My DVR only records two shows at a time, so I’ve been really hoping that this show sucks. I’ve read conflicting reviews — one good, one bad — but now that I’ve seen the pilot, I’d say you have some decent acting in an incredibly cliched plot. It’s a bit of a Twilight/Roswell mash up, in some ways, and doesn’t feature anything you haven’t seen a million times before. (C: Heck, Twilight is a clear Roswell knock-off, though more famous than its source.) Even the mildly compelling female lead bears more than a passing resemblance to Alyssa Milano. We’ve seen it all before. C has always said that Twilight would make a better TV show than film (C: because it doesn’t have a plot), and obviously someone agreed — you really can draw out high school drama forever. My tepid endorsement is that the show doesn’t suck, even if it’s not remotely original.
C: To be fair, the show’s based on a book series that actually predates Twilight by a dozen years. But there’s a reason it’s being made into a series now, for sure.
E: I think if this show were on, say, Monday night or Friday night when there wasn’t anything of interest to me on, I might watch it casually. But as it is…
C: Penny from Lost or Boone from Lost? Decision, decisions… oh wait, FlashForward actually looks fresh and interesting.
E: It’s very different to see Boone as the Big Bad, though. Very confident and manly. Different.
C: Well, maybe I’ll check out an episode at some point.
Bones * (FOX, September 17th)
E: I’m so happy I won’t have to give up Bones in order to pick up The Vampire Diaries. Bones is a reliable trifle, with crackling chemistry between the whole cast, even if I haven’t forgiven them for turning Zach into a serial killer.
SNL Weekend Update Thursday (NBC, September 17th)
C: How many people are going to watch this without the election? Meh. Not me.
M: I’m not sure I even understand why they are trying this. A half hour of weekend update? Not one a weekend? Who thought this was a good idea? Oh wait, it’s the network that’s putting Jay Leno on at 10:00 every night.
E: That’s right! It’s a weird combo of thinking outside the box and not actually having imagination.
Parks and Recreation (NBC, September 17th)
M: I heard a rumor that in the last couple episodes this show didn’t suck quite as much as it looked like it was going to from all the horrible commercials NBC kept pounding into our skulls repeatedly. Any confirmation?
E: Sitcom. Sooooooo uninterested.
C: I have more respect for half-hour comedies with no laugh track, and I used to be into The Office before the writing got so perfunctory and drama-based, but I’ve neither seen or heard anything to turn me onto this.
E: A shame, because Amy Poehler can be crazy funny.
M: That’s debatable.
Supernatural (CW, September 10th)
C: This season, see the Winchester brothers battle Satan with salt-loaded rifles! This used to a reliable spine-chill-a-week show, but since they’ve gone crazy with the Dan-Brown-esque plotting it’s lost most of its interest for me.
Grey’s Anatomy* (ABC, September 24th)
E: Even though I’m alone in loving this show, I do love it. I like getting the romantic and the weepy all in one place. Even though I don’t love all of their recent plotlines, and I’m really upset over losing so many of the original cast members, I’m still going back to Seattle Grace. I’d go for Chandra Wilson alone!
C: And then the hot doctor slept with the other hot doctor and everyone got a Scottish nickname. Yawn.
M: When my wife used to watch this show religiously, I would vacate the house for the hour. When I came back I’d ask “did anyone do anything even remotely moral this week”? Once I got a “well, maybe this one thing”. Soooo not interested.
CSI (CBS, September 24th)
E: We used to watch this show. Loved their clever sci fi convention murder from last year, with the Battlestar Galactica references,but that was the first time I’d tuned in in years.
C: Why is it that “procedural” so often means “perfunctory”? Even if I weren’t actively turned off by their obsession with fetishizing violence against women, these shows are so repetitive I have trouble paying attention.
Fringe** (FOX, September 17th)
M: Okay, so I mentioned Fringe in my Bucket List In Bed post, and the first season of it was fantastic. It started off very slowly (losing both E and C in the process, though I successfully got them back to it) but man oh man did it pick up steam, and ended with a HUGE bang! Just great. Love the characters, love the writing, the pacing, the dialog, the secondary and tertiary characters, and the weekly mysteries and overarching mythology. We’re going to do a roundtable on it, so I’ll stop gushing now.
C: Not starting this now, but I’ll probably tune in when I finally catch up with S1.
M: Hurry up already! Seriously, go watch! Now!
The Office (NBC, September 17th)
M: Jim and Pam may be pregnant. Jim peed on a stick, it wasn’t conclusive. Need I say more?
E: Well, if you said the Steve Carell wasn’t on the program anymore, I might watch it. Of course, it’s a sitcom, so even being rid of the constant humiliation of his character, it’d still be a hard sell.
C: You’re such a hater! TV can’t possibly be good if it comes in half-hour segments??
M: Or Robot Chicken-esqe 15 minute segments!
E: It can if it’s 30 minutes of Ace of Cakes! So, fine, I have been exaggerating the sitcom hate a little tiny bit. I probably would watch that show if I didn’t have to cringe over Carell embarrassing himself every other second. I just can’t handle that.
Community* (NBC, September 17th – but moves to 8 on October 8th)
M: The only new comedy that I’m even the slightest bit interested in checking out. The cast looks great, from The Soup‘s hilarious Joel McHale, to Chuck’s (hee hee) Chevy Chase, to The Hangover‘s Ken Jeong.
E: That does actually look interesting. For a sitcom.
M: Seriously, the sitcom hatred needs to be remedied.
E: I’d check it out if my schedule wasn’t already loaded, honestly.
Private Practice (ABC, October 1st)
E: Way too soapy for me. Love creator Shonda Rimes, love Kate Walsh, love Taye Diggs (Rent!), like Chris Lowell from Veronica Mars, was pleasantly creeped out by Paul Adelstein in the first season of Prison Break, like our Gram’s favorite Amy Brenneman, and love Tim Daly from Wings and The Nine, but no. Even if they hadn’t booted Francie from Alias, the show would still not do it for me.
The Mentalist* (CBS, September 24th)
M: The surprise smash hit of last year, which turned into a show that I started out thinking had the worst title in the history of TV, and ended up DVR’ing every week. We, as a family, have liked Simon Baker since his minor role in family fave L.A. Confidential, and I’m glad to see him successful in a good ensemble show.
E: Exactly. It’s like Bones – light, frothy fun with dead bodies.
The Jay Leno Show (NBC)
E: Like we said before, blah.
M: I don’t know, I think the every day thing is starting to wear me down. SEMICOLON, RIGHT PARENTHESIS! WINKY EMOTICON!
And don’t forget Project Runway is still airing on Lifetime at 10! (E’s DVR is saved – two hour long shows every hour, but only two shows. Phew! I still wish the stuff that interested me was a little more spread out during the week, though.)