M: Welcome to day two of the Relatively Entertaining Fall TV Previews. 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
- For Monday’s preview click here
NCIS (CBS, September 25th)
M: I’ve said it before, and will say it again. I enjoy this show pretty much every time I watch it. I never feel like I need to, and I don’t watch or DVR it regularly, but it is really good.
E: I’ve never seen it, in fact.
C: That’s actually impressive, since scientific testing has proven that it is never not on at least one channel.
M: And not right, it’s a very well done show with good characters. Plus, it’s not a sitcom. And it’s the continuation of one of the worst decisions in network TV history, when NBC dropped JAG after one season.
C: There has to be more to it than that.
M: Of course there is. CBS swooped in and gobbled up JAG, which was a hit for them and ran for another 8 years, and spun off NCIS (which spun of NCIS: LA), which has at times been the number one show on TV, and is now entering its 10th year. With the LA version now starting it’s 4th season, that’s already 22 seasons of hit hour-long dramas for CBS because of one bad decision by NBC.
E: It’s no wonder they’re falling apart.
M: For those that do watch, there was a lot of upheaval at the end of last season. The introduced a bad guy, played by outstanding character actor Richard Schiff, best known for his time on The West Wing. Schiff’s character’s son was killed in an accident the Navy could have prevented, who goes on an intelligent rampage to take down as much of the Navy (and with it NCIS) as he can. In the process he blew up most of the Navy Yard, left most of the NCIS crew’s fate unknown (hint: they’re fine), but led to the wonderfully entertaining mortician Ducky (the character’s name is Dr Mallard, but is always called Ducky, one of my favorite TV nicknames) having a heart attack upon hearing the news while away at his assistant Jimmy’s wedding (which was going to be cancelled, but instead was rushed so he could get back to the case). It was very well done and tense, and will be interesting to see what they do with Schiff, and especially Ducky, in the coming episodes.
The Voice (NBC, September 11th) and Dancing With the Stars (ABC, September 25th)
M: Night two of each of these. Nothing much more to say, other than that I feel like these two- and three-night competition shows are sapping time slots out of the schedule that could be used to give more actual shows a chance. Especially the results shows, which are a complete waste of time and are made up completely of false suspense. Tell people the results and let them be on their way.
C: It is pretty sad that people will more consistently watch a show that could be effectually replaced by reading a single sentence, than a show with an intelligent plot and developed characters.
E: You know, the Dancing With the Stars results shows are sometimes entertaining. They have dance troupes perform, which I like, including Circe Du Soleil and various groups featuring former So You Think You Can Dance dancers (and you know I’m always in favor of that). I agree with you generally, of course.
Raising Hope (FOX, October 2nd)
M: E, isn’t this one of two crappy sitcoms that you watch solely because you like a member of the cast (all while refusing to watch stellar sitcoms like HIMYM and Big Bang)?
E: I watched the first few episodes of it; it was clever (and yes, I love Martha Plimpton) but after a while it became clear that I hadn’t fallen for any of the characters, and that’s too important to me in a TV show. I strongly object to you calling the sitcom actually I watch crappy, however, but I’ll save all the reasons why for Wednesday night.
M: Excellent, I look forward to debunking them!
Hart of Dixie (CW, Ocrobet 2nd)
M: Our first installment in the “If it were on another network it probably wouldn’t be back for another season”!
C: And our first installment of M’s Greatest Typos–um, does that say this is premiering on “Ocrobet 2nd”?
M: Yeah, yeah. Have your fun. Maybe I wanted to make the best month of the year sound even cooler by having it sound like a cross between October, and acrobat and sherbet. Who doesn’t love sherbet? Even people that think it should be spelled “sherbert” still love it.
C: I was thinking more of a cross between an octopus and a robot, but with a gambling addiction. Oc-Ro-Bet, get it?
M: I like it, actually. Sounds like something a villain in an Austin Powers movie would have.
C: …And it’s obvious we have nothing to say about Hart of Dixie.
E: Oh, you two.
M: Fine, bring us back to reality. I will say, Mrs M and I watched an episode or two last season, and it was decent enough, and Rachel Bilson has been cute and charismatic ever since The OC, including a brief fun couple episode arc on Chuck. The show didn’t connect with me, but I already had a lot of shows on my plate then.
E: I understand that there’s a crazy love triangle about to get solved here (the main character slept with one guy only to have the second show up on her doorstep, dripping wet). Apparently viewers will get to see who Zoe chooses right away.
Ben and Kate (FOX, September 25th)
M: At first I mistakenly thought that this was going to be Kate of Jon and Kate Plus Eight, but with her new guy now that it’s Jon Minus Kate. Thankfully no, it’s a standard-ish looking sitcom.
E: FOX has given it a choice time slot and has been promoting the heck out of it, hoping to turn it into a power duo with New Girl. Ben moves in with his sister Kate to provide child care for her adorable daughter. I love the idea of show revolving around bickering siblings, but nothing I’ve seen makes me want to check this out.
C: Um… it has the slutty shepherdess from The 10th Kingdom in it? Is that a game changer?
E: Wait, who? Is that Don Johnson and Melanie Griffiths’ daughter Dakota? And, no.
C: No, her name is apparently Lucy Punch.
M: I have no idea what either of you are talking about. As usual.
M: Oh, New Girl! This show had promise from the start, and really found its footing midway through last season. It’s very quirky and funny, and that’s not just Zooey Deschanel, it’s the whole cast, the writing and directing. Very fun.
C: Hm, not sure I agree, though there were some really great bits in the first season. But I feel like the series kept finding its footing, then losing it, then getting up again… The cast is absolutely charming, and the writing is sometimes hysterical (the Thanksgiving episode, for instance? amazing), but prolonged awkward embarrassment is way too much of a crutch for these writers. It’s like the British Office but with very attractive people.
E: I don’t get this one, either. Maybe I should have watched longer than the too-precious pilot.
C: This, folks, from the sibling who gives me crap for not giving things a fair chance.
M: E, we love you, but you are ridiculous with the sitcom discrimination. C, I agree a bit with you in regards to finding its way and losing it a few times, but I felt like they were consistently good for the better part of the second half of the season, and that the times it lost its footing were still at least sporadically funny. I really liked the three roomates, especially once they started having Schmidt and Cece hook up, and started giving Winston things to do. That really built some depth to the characters and the show. I’m looking forward to its return a lot.
NCIS: LA (CBS, September 25th)
C: Second verse, same as the first.
M: No, the first verse is good.
C: That doesn’t make sense.
M: Seriously? If you’re saying this is the second verse, that makes NCIS the first. I’m claiming NCIS is good, while this, due to the “No” starting my sentence, is not.
C: Oh. I maintain that your meaning was not obvious. But I don’t watch either, so I defer to you on the issue.
M: Because I like NCIS, LL Cool J and Linda Hunt, I’ve tried to watch this one a handful of times, but can never get into it. It doesn’t have the same chemistry between the characters, or the same zip to the plots. At the end of last season they had a pretty heavy plot, with guest star Claire Forlani getting killed, Chris O’Donnell going off the reservation and killing the bag guy, then getting arrested, and Linda Hunt appearing to resign.
Go On (NBC, September 11th)*
M: Matthew Perry tries again at sitcom success.
C: On what now, his fourth series (starring)? Execs seem to have faith in him, even after nearly a decade of patchy work.
M: Patchy might actually be kind. Still, this time his, uh, friends, are a group of awkward people going through “life transitions” in group therapy. It’s a decent set up, and I’ve now watched the first two episodes now, and it does have some very funny moments. I’m not crazy about it yet, but some of the characters are entertaining, and Perry’s character seems to be similar to Chandler Bing, who was my favorite part of Friends. I feel like it at least has the potential to be pretty good, so I’m going to stick with it for a while.
E: These commercials looked God-awful. I can’t imagine why you, M, or anyone else tuned into that premiere!
C: There’s that lady who was good in Eli Stone.
E: Which one?
C: The actress’s name is Laura Benati, she played Beth, Eli’s college girlfriend who showed up in several episodes.
M: And there’s the creepy guy with the beard, who was hilarious in an episode of the past season of The League. And the old blind guy. Oh, and John Cho! And you see, E, that’s the beauty of sitcoms. You can check it out in about 20 minutes. You spend more time than that on one paragraph of your Good Wife reviews.
E: Speaking of which, Matthew Perry’s supposed to be running against Chris Noth for the governorship of Illinois! We need him on The Good Wife! I can’t imagine anything he’s doing here would compare to his utterly despicable – impressively despicable – work there.
C: I dunno, this trailer makes it look pretty okay. But it also makes me seriously concerned about Matthew Perry’s face. Put down the Botox and walk away, friend.
M: Oh, his face looks really bad. Between Botox and too much sun (or fake sun), it’s like he’s trying to be a cross between Dyan Cannon and Nancy Pelosi. Not good.
Happy Endings (ABC, October 23rd)
M: Okay, remember my comment above about the CW? Are we sure this is on ABC? Admittedly, it is taking over the second hour of Dancing when ABC reaches the point that they feel like they can’t string that audience along for four hours a week any more, but still.
Emily Owens, M.D. (CW, October 16th)*
E: To my complete and utter shock, Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculi calls this the best new show of the fall season. It stars the marvelous Mamie Gummer (daughter of Meryl Streep) as a young doctor. If Ally McBeal were a doctor, this would be that show, Bianculi contends (though hopefully without the unisex bathroom).
C: Hey, I liked the unisex bathroom. I remember a lot of dance numbers in there.
M: Yeah, I had no issue with the bathroom.
E: I’m a little conflicted; this show doesn’t look worthy of Gummer’s talents, but I’m still going to check it out just in case. It can’t be any worse than Off the Map; I admire Hollywood’s commitment to finding her a show, and hope that (whether this is it or not) eventually one sticks. I wish her every success – as long as she can continue to guest star on The Good Wife.
M: Seriously, do you have to fawn all over everyone that shows up at any point on The Good Wife? It’s getting old.
C: M, didn’t you know they’re all her personal friends?
M: Sorry, I forgot about that. My bad!
C: Anyway – this show has one advantage, in that it looks like a character series in a medical setting rather than yet another follower of the team-of-doctors-faces-medical-melodrama-of-the-week formula. The disadvantage of this, though, is that the focal character has got to be really gosh darned compelling, especially given that she doesn’t have any mysteries to solve or anything. Will Emily Owens be that compelling?
The New Normal (NBC, September 11th)
M: This is, as best I can tell, the first official Modern Family rip-off, so I suppose it gets points for that, kind of like Andrew Johnson gets points for being the first president to be impeached.
C: I know. It’s like they came up with their title after reading the words “Modern Family” and thinking: “No one will understand the subtle implications of that!”
M: It does have the guy from National Treasure and The Hangover (Justin Bartha) in it, so maybe it gets a half point for that, too.
C: Hm. Does it get points, or does he lose points?
M: Fair enough. Either way, having seen a bunch of commercials for it, if I felt apathetic toward the show right now that’d be a positive thing for NBC. I cannot begin to describe how putrid I think it is going to be.
E: I don’t follow your analogy, really, but I couldn’t agree more about the heinous commercials.
M: Do I have to explain every simple concept to the two of you tonight? Geesh. Apathy is better than putrid feelings of physical illness. Shouldn’t be that tough.
E: It wouldn’t be if you worded it better.
M: Not everyone can be an English major.
E: Anyway, I saw a part of the pilot, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I’m not going to watch it (and it was in fact Mr. E who started watching it, or I’d never even have seen the pilot) but I was all prepared to be offended by the stereotypical caricatures that pass for characters; the best I can say is it wasn’t as offensive, and was actually funnier, than I expected.
C: Trying desperately not to point out that “stereotypical caricatures that pass for characters” is an ironic complaint from a fan of Glee… and, I failed. But am in complete agreement about how offensive and vapid this show looks.
The Mindy Project (FOX, September 25th)
M: The Office‘s Mindy Kaling gets her own show. Those paying attention (not even that closely, really) will hopefully be quicker than my older sister and understand what I mean when I say that I’m apathetic to this one.
C: Hey, it’s actually another character show in a medical setting! Mindy Kaling definitely has a big personality, so can she carry this? Going by the trailer alone, I’m dubious. Her character seems super annoying.
M: And that surprises you why? Everything I’ve seen with her “big” personality in has been annoying.
C: Well to be fair, the whole purpose of her character on The Office is to be annoying, so she’s doing her job right…
M: …though perhaps not acting…
C: …and I’m always pulling for female comedy writers in Hollywood, since they’re up against incredibly brutal odds.
M: You two and your sexism.
C: Ignoring your obvious bating attempt. You can do better.
M: That’s a moot point.
C: Speaking of cleverness though, there were a few premium bits of witty banter in the trailer for this, and some of the other characters seem well-written and funny. So, it’s a maybe?
E: Well, I have to admit I’m moderately curious about it, because Kaling keeps mentioning that her love of romantic comedies will be reflected on the show. I don’t watch The Office, so I don’t know Kaling; judging from the two of you, my lack of preconceptions might be a good thing.
M: I’d say so, but I think C may disagree.
Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 (ABC, October 23rd)
M: The other half of the Dancing replacement. I wonder what will be on in this slot in January.
E: Well, we liked Kristin Ritter on Veronica Mars, and I love to hate Dreama Walker’s character on The Good Wife…
M: …Oh look, E’s defending a Good Wife alum…
E: …so even if this wasn’t a sitcom co-starring James Van der Beek as a more ass-like version of himself, I’d be conflicted about it. But it seems to be doing pretty well in the ratings. I don’t see it going away that quickly.
C: Part of one episode saw me going away quickly, though.
M: To be fair, we just excoriated E for doing that to New Girl. Maybe I’ll give this another chance.
Vegas (CBS, September 25th)*
C: Here we see CBS trying to replicate the formula that’s been working so well for the pay cable channels lately: a gritty historical setting, a few headlining stars, and a lot of atmosphere. This time it’s the 1960s and the very beginnings of the Las Vegas we know today.
E: Dennis Quaid debuts on television as the law & order sheriff in the eponymous town, just as mob boss Michael Chiklis moves in to corrupt the place. Wackiness does not ensue – but whacking of characters probably does. Chiklis and Quaid are a plus; for me, the gambling and mobster premises are not. It’s probably going to be a high quality show, but it’s not my thing.
M: Oh, I’m very, very in on this one. Not only Quaid (seriously, Dennis Quaid doing a TV show!) and Chicky, but Trinity…er, Carrie Anne Moss and I believe Jason O’Mara (though he’s not listed on IMDB as full cast), and from the looks of it some good TV character actors like Michael O’Neill (a great “that guy”).
C: Oo, Carrie Anne Moss is always good. And Jason O’Mara is in the trailer… that guy starred in a BBC show called Berkeley Square in the late ’90s, I can’t believe how much he’s reinvented himself since then.
M: I can’t count the number of things I’ve seen him in, and he’s always compelling. I like him more as a supporting character than a lead, which bodes well here. And add to the cast that the production looks spectacular, that the concept is great, and that CBS is good at this type of show, I think this is going to be a big winner.
Parenthood (NBC, September 11th)
E: Mrs. M watches this, right?
M: Yes she does, loves it in fact.
E: This is one of those shows I vaguely aspire to netflix someday. I love the 80s movie, I respect showrunner Jason Katims immensely, and the cast is pretty charming.
C: You respect Jason Katims immensely? What has he done besides Roswell? You know I love me some Roswell, but “respect immensely”…
M: To be fair to E … *pausing while she is resuscitated* … he’s got Friday Night Lights, Boston Public and My So Called Life on his resume. To be fair to C, it’s also a resume that includes The Pallbearer and Pepper Dennis.
E: Er, thanks, M?
M: I’m Ron Burgundy? (sorry, couldn’t resist)
E: Moving on, I understand some big things happened last season (Dax Shepherd got married) so there should be interesting stuff happening in the new season.
M: The times I’ve seen it it has been very solid, and the cast, despite having folks that I don’t tend to like (the aforementioned Dax, Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Coach), is very good, and has had folks that I do, like Jason Ritter. I just haven’t been able to get into it, much to Mrs M’s chagrin.
Private Practice (ABC, September 25th)
E: For the love of God, will ABC cancel this show already? Star Kate Walsh is bailing; how much longer can the show possibly sustain itself? I’ve never figured out how a writer I enjoyed could employ so many actors I respect and come up with a show I loathe this much.
C: Maybe because this show exaggerates all the things we kept trying to convince you were terrible about her other show?
M: Ding ding ding!
Sons of Anarchy (FX, September 11th)
E: I do not watch this Shakespearean drama about bikers, though I have heard it’s super well done. In fact, what I hear about the the season premiere scares the bleep out of me.
M: I don’t watch it either, but everyone I know that does LOVES it. Definitely one of the most loyal audiences, and best couples (Peg Bundy and Hellboy).