M: Hello, and welcome one and all to the return of the Relatively Entertaining Fall TV Previews! It is our custom here to give you, our readers, a night-by-night preview of what’s on this season, including both what’s returning and what’s new. We aim to cover the major nets, as well as the better-known (at least to us) shows on cable. As always, if we don’t include something that you watch, or were thinking about watching, leave a comment and let us know! 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
M: Barney’s getting hitched! Okay, so the big season finale reveal (SPOILER ALERT! STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW! IF YOU READ ON YOU EITHER WANT TO KNOW, OR ARE BLIND, WHICH WOULD MAKE IT HARD TO READ TO BEGIN WITH!) is that the bride at Barney’s wedding was in fact Robin. Dun dun duhhhhhhhn.
C: Just when everybody stopped wanting them to get together, the writers took us cleverly by surprise! Sigh. I can still hope for good from this development, but I’m kind of over it already. Otherwise though, I’m super psyched for this show to be back!
M: The more important reveal during last season was that within three years Ted’s daughter will be born, so they’ve got themselves quite the timeline on when he meets the mother… even if she’s a surrogate or another of the ridiculous theories bouncing around the ether. I say let’s get on with it, it won’t kill the show!
C: Agreed! I still think they might be angling to have him meet her in the series finale, but if they’re hoping to drag the show out more than three more years that’s off the table. So why not make it How I Wooed and Won Your Mother already?
The Voice (NBC, already started September 10th)
M: I’m sorry, I don’t get it. The commercials say it’s taking music back to its origins, or something similarly pretentious. I didn’t realize that four people looking to boost their own stardom sitting in chairs with their backs to the singer and then swiveling and hitting buttons when they liked the person was the “origin” of music. My bad.
E: I’ve seen a little of this show. I find the judges moderately entertaining, especially during the blind auditions, but the singers haven’t impressed me, and that’s what it ought to be about, right?
C: I like the idea of getting rid of the focus on appearance one finds in other “talent” contests–but I don’t watch any of these types of shows, so my theoretical approval’s less valuable than a mound of legumes.
M: Oh, you’re so clever.
E: That’s our baby sis.
Bones (FOX, September 17th)*
M: E, this is usually yours to comment on.
E: It is. Like The Mentalist and Castle, these writers bring a light touch to forensic investigations.
C: In a competition for weird compliments, that might win.
E: The casting zings with chemistry.
M: I don’t know, C, this one’s in the running, too!
C: How is that a weird compliment?
E: No, that last was a cliche, it wasn’t a weird compliment. Sorry. Now, I find some of their extended serial killer plots a little tedious, so I’ll be happy when Dr. Brennan comes back out of hiding and we can get back to the fun cases of the week. And gets rid of the blonde wig. Thankfully, it doesn’t sound like they’re making us wait long for that. More happy news? Booth and Brennan are going undercover in a dance competition! Nice!
Dancing with the Stars (ABC, September 24th)
M: Anyone even moderately recognizable this year?
E: Well, there ought to be, since this their first “All Star” season. So if you’d never heard of these folks before, you might recognize them from their previous turns on the show.
C: Hang on… that actually means they’ve run out of new mildly recognizable people willing to be on the show, doesn’t it? They now have to use “stars” who are famous for being stars of Dancing with the Stars? Ha!
E: Gilles Marini (the best dancer never to win this show) is the perfect example of a Dancing-centric celebrity created by the show. I’m tempted to tune in just for him – but then there’s Bristol Palin. So, probably a no. (Oh, who am I kidding? Mr. E will probably have this on while I’m recapping Sunday’s episode of The Good Wife, and I’ll end up looking in on the dancers that interest me.)
M: And my opinion of my brother-in-law just took a small hit.
90210 (CW, October 8th)
M: Really, with all the good shows that got cancelled, this is still on?
E: Beggars belief, doesn’t it?
C: I didn’t even realize this was still on last year.
E: For fans (sorry to hate on your show) it looks like the new season will bring you answers to questions about which cast members survived a car crash, will carry through with a pregnancy, and – well, there’s something about a Graduate style wedding crashing. Somebody’s dead – and it’s not guest star Ryan Lochte.
Partners (CBS, September 24th)
M: I like David Krumholtz, but this looks like dreck.
E: And I really like Ugly Betty‘s Michael Urie, too, but the fact that this gay/straight friendship comedy is made by the folks who brought us Will and Grace? Blech. Plus, it’s a sitcom. Have I mentioned that there’s been like one sitcom in the last five years or so I could stand watching and find consistently funny? Yeargh.
C: Unlike E, I don’t write off every TV series in a half-hour format. Sitcoms seem to me to divide in two categories: droll, self-aware comedies about oddball characters (Parks and Rec, Big Bang, etc.) and broad, heavy-on-the-laugh-track comedies about “average people” (Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly, etc.). This series looks to fall into the latter camp, so it will probably have a very long run that I don’t tune in for. For the record, I don’t write off everything in the second camp (Modern Family is fits that category and can be quite entertaining), but I’d have to be pulled in by strong recommendations from friends with similar tastes. Based on the Partners commercials, I’m not betting on that.
Two Broke Girls (CBS, September 24th)
E: Sitcom. Now, I liked Kat Dennings in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but the story of a wisecracking poor girl and a downtrodden heiress who go from roommates and coworkers to friends and entrepreneurs? Good for them, and good for the 2011 season being “the year of women on TV and in comedy,” but I’m not any more interested in watching this sophomore comedy than I was last year. It just looks so … sitcommy. Fake and stagey.
C: Yeah, there’s nothing about the premise and nothing in the bits I’ve seen to draw me in. I know a few big fans, though.
M: It’s about the one millionth version of The Odd Couple, but it may be the first time it’s been with two female leads. And I’ve seen bits and pieces of it and it is occasionally funny. Just not funny enough, or interesting enough, for me to tune in every week.
The Mob Doctor (FOX, September 17th)
C: With a catchy title like that, who could say no?
E: Let me follow my previous cliche by saying that this is an offer I can definitely refuse. The Mob Doctor is rumored to be the worst new show of the season. Starring My Boys‘ Jordana Spiro, it’s the story of a young doctor owned by the mob. Which I guess is one thing when she’s forced to make house calls to treat gunshot wounds, and something entirely different when the bosses want her to take someone out. Both recurring conflicts are supposed to be lousy and a waste of an appealing cast.
M: I watched parts of the premiere, enough to know it’s not horrible, and that I have NO interest in watching it. It is well done, and I was becoming interested when I saw her confront the mob boss she’s indebted to (because of her screw up brother, not that that’s a tired cliche or anything) when he told her to kill someone and she wouldn’t do it.
E: Oh, I see. You just don’t like it because the brother is the messed up one.
M: Oh, exactly, that’s why. Moving back to reality, it started going south for me when they had her “help” a young neighbor by getting her an abortion and covering it up so her father didn’t know. Even more so, at the end an old “retired” mafioso (who was getting back in the game) killed off the other mafioso she was beholden to, and gave her the choice to leave Chicago or he would take over as her boss. Of course, anyone given the choice between working for the mob and moving or starting a very successful life somewhere else would choose the mob, right? So, yeah, I’m out.
Gossip Girl (CW, October 8th)
E: I bet you there’s one good thing I can say about this show that you’ll agree with.
C: Other than the excellent fashions it showcases? Surprise me.
E: This is its last season! Woot! No more pretty people being despicably mean for no reason! Or at least not on this show.
C: Wow! Are we returning to an era where the girls who pushed you into a locker and made out with your boyfriend are the antagonists again, not the protagonists? Can we be, please?
Mike and Molly (CBS, September 24th)
E: As appealing as I generally find Melissa McCarthy, this is another broad sitcom. I can’t stand the form. If it is your cup of tea, however, you should know that there’s a new word in Molly and Mike’s world: baby.
M: Mrs M likes this one, and I will say, it’s not bad. I rarely watch with her, but when I do it’s not usually a waste of time. Damning with faint praise, I know, but still.
Castle (ABC, September 24th)***
M: Big, big changes are afoot on Castle. Alexis is headed to college, Ryan is married now… what else? Oh yeah, Castle and Beckett are a couple. We’ll see if they go the way of Moonlighting, or if they survive the big leap.
C: Ugh, did we have to make the Moonlighting reference along with everybody else? It was one show! In the 1980s! Hardly a statistically significant sample.
M: Sure, it’s one show, but it’s the one show that set the mold for every network exec, writer and show runner for the last 25+ years. Not mentioning it would be like talking about an all time great Olympic sprinter and not mentioning Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens or Usain Bolt. So yeah, we had to.
E: You had to, maybe.
C: From what I’ve heard about how they’re going to play Castle & Beckett’s new status in the start of the season, there should still be tension aplenty.
E: Soooo interested to see how this works out! And so hoping they’re going to stop the schizophrenic breaking of the show into serious episode and normal funny ones. Why does the creative staff not understand that it should still feel like the same show?
C: They obviously don’t read our blog.
M: Yep, pretty sure that’s why.
Revolution (NBC, September 17th)***
M: I’ve already watched the pilot for this online (to be fair, I wrote this before it aired!), and while the four-minute trailer for it had me more excited (mostly because it condensed the best parts, and almost the entire plot of the pilot into those four minutes), I am still on board for this show.
C: I watched it too, and you’re right that there wasn’t much in the one-hour pilot that they didn’t cover in the long trailer; not much, that is, to get excited about. But pilots often a poor indicator when it comes to a high-concept series.
E: Let’s all remember the brilliant opening of Flashforward for a moment, how it was almost as good as Lost‘s pilot, and then move on.
M: This series looks to be trying to draw some of the Hunger Games audience with its strong female lead, carrying a bow and arrows and wearing a braid down her back while trying to survive in a harsh world.
C: There’s no braid, M, as this article makes much of.
M: True, my bad, memory played tricks on me on that one. Anyway, I think they may be hoping that people don’t see that it REALLY closely resembles the ill-fated Kevin Costner vehicle The Postman. While that movie was better than what it got credit for, comparisons would likely scare off far more people than they would bring in.
C: It has become kind of a synonym for “terrible failed epic.” But don’t forget that they’ve thrown a little Twilight in for good measure – or at least, they’ve thrown in Bella Swan’s dad. Actually though, Billy Burke as Miles Matheson is probably the best thing the show’s got, so far.
M: I’m just mad they kill off Tim Guinee’s character in the pilot. I’ve been waiting since Strange World for him to get another show of his own, I wish this was it.
E: Sigh. I know. I love Tim Guinee, too. Now, the premise (what would happen if the power went out and didn’t come back on?) grabs me, and I love the tough girl heroine trend. None of the reviews have been particularly glowing, which dovetails with my experience of watching the pilot (was it just me, or considering how much money the network spent to promote it during the Olympics, did it look kind of cheaply made? They’ve got some good actors, but not impressive dialog or filming), but I still want to try it out in hopes that it gets better.
C: My big concern with the show so far is in fact the “tough-girl heroine.” Even leaving aside the fact that she’s saved by the Obligatory Cute Boy not once but twice in the pilot alone (from death and also “a fate worse”), there are no Jennifer Lawrence-quality acting chops on display here. Tracy Spiridakos overacts when she’s supposed to do emotion and underacts the rest of her screen time.
E: Yeah, well, it really does all rest on her, doesn’t it? I’m not sure my issue was the actress – the writers didn’t really sell me on her character by making her particularly competent or devoted yet. It’s not Spiridakos’s fault that she gets saved by the boy instead of saving herself, it was the writers’.
C: True, though I was commenting on her delivery of the material she did have. BUT — unbelievable as it may be now, I found Anna Torv boring when I first saw the pilot of Fringe, so I’m willing to give any J.J. Abrams heroine time to grow on me.
M: Agreed, she’s not spectacular right off the top, and neither was the pilot, but it has a lot of promise. I’m hoping it builds slowly into something really good.
Hawaii Five-O (CBS, September 24th)
M: I’m still watching, and I still really like Scott Caan on this, but I kind of forgot about it over the summer, so it’s looking like it’s going to lose the only-record-two-things-at-once DVR battle.
E: Scott Caan’s got the role of his career here (and will get a lot of flashbacks into his backstory this season), but the over-the-top violence proved too much for me. I’m not down with the good guys throwing morality to the winds to get the bad guys. I love the entire cast, though, so I’m happy for them that they’re still doing well even if I’m not watching. One thing for fans to look forward to? Christine Lahti guest stars as McGarrett’s estranged mother. (And before you ask, I checked; she’s actually old enough to be his mother.)
C: And there we are full circle, from a missing mother to a soon to be found one. See you all tomorrow for an update on Tuesday!