M: Welcome to day four 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
- For Tuesday’s preview click here
- For Wednesday’s preview click here
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, September 27th)**
M: I love, love, love this show. It started out as a geek sausage-fest with Penny primarily there for looks. Over the years they’ve developed her, and given her a hilarious group of girlfriends that rival the boys’ geek posse. I love where they keep taking things, and find the Sheldon-Amy Farrah Fowler “relationship” to be hilarious in everything they do with it.
C: I haven’t liked what they’ve been doing – or rather, not doing – with Raj’s character, though: he’s either the butt of jokes for being very lonely (which I find more sad than funny) or for being Indian (which I find problematic). Let’s hope that, now that Howard and Bernadette are married, this season includes a better plotline for him.
M: While I agree to an extent, the Siri plot line was hilarious.
E: Since I don’t watch the show, I’ll just say this. Sausage fest? EW. M, I can’t believe you used that vile phrase.
M: Seriously? You watch a show that, as one of its less offensive characteristics, refers to a main character as McSteamy, and you think “sausage fest” is vile? I really don’t get you.
E: What’s gross about McSteamy? Plus, you need to consult our Thursday preview from last year. I gave up that show a year ago.
M: It’s demeaning and objectifying, and if it were guys calling a female character that you’d be offended. Also, I said that was one of the least offensive parts of the show, and regardless of whether you gave the show up, you watched it for years. Either way, I don’t get why you won’t watch a show that would have you constantly laughing.
E: Obviously because it doesn’t look that funny to me. And because it looks like a whole passel of anti-nerd stereotypes.
C: But M and I are nerds, if it were such a passel) that would offend us…
E: …And maybe a little because it would give you too much satisfaction if I started.
C: Aha, the real truth comes out.
Last Resort (ABC, September 27th)**
C: Yikes. Based on this trailer, Last Resort looks like it would be a very intense action thriller on the big screen, harkening back to the heyday of Jack Ryan. How the hell is this a series?
E: I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out! I’m totally on board for Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman leading the submarine/inadvertent rebel crew.
M: Agreed, it strikes me as something loosely based on the Denzel Washington/Gene Hackman movie Crimson Tide, which was quite good.
E: See, my hopes go even farther, to submarine classic The Hunt For Red October. Can you follow orders you don’t trust? How do soldiers come to the decision to defy the authorities? Who’s right? How do you discern the truth when you’re miles beneath the surface of the ocean? I’m a sucker for high concept shows, and this is high, high concept.
M: To my point, you just described Crimson Tide pretty much exactly. You know that The Hunt For Red October is one of my all time favorite movies, but the plot of this lines up more with Tide, which is why I made that reference. If it turns out as good as Red October that will be great, though.
E: That’s my point – the quality, not the plotlines.
C: A resemblance to the latter would be spectacular, and more than I honestly expect. But a series about a nuclear submarine crew has, at the very least, the advantage of novelty. To do this right though, they’ll have to be deadly serious without crossing the line into total melodrama. Having recently visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, I must say the images of a tropical naval base under attack were particularly unsettling for me.
M: Understandable. And it looks really good, but I am still filled with trepidation. My issue is that I don’t know how long the tension can last. Can you drag a whole series out of it? I don’t think so. Can you get a season out of it? Only they pace themselves, the way 24 was able to at times. If they go with the typical rush that TV shows have, then they’ll be off on wild, unsustainable, unbelievable tangents far too quickly.
E: It probably won’t take long to find out.
The X Factor (FOX, September 13th)
E: Cheap sets, over the top production numbers, irritation. I watched a few minutes last season, and couldn’t avoid all the commercials this year, and that was enough for me! Can anyone explain to me, though, why Demi Lovato showed up dressed as Jennifer Coolidge? The blond hair and over-abundance of make up doubles her age at the very least.
M: As best I can tell, no. No one can explain why she’d show up dressed up as Stiffler’s mom.
30 Rock (NBC, October 4th)
M: It’s really not a good sign for your show, even though the network is putting it in a primo time slot, when they premiere it weeks after all the other shows for the night ON THE SAME NETWORK.
C: This is a show I’ve never been able to get into, though I know lots of people who love it. I like seeing good people catch a break sometimes, but this isn’t that type of comedy.
E: Again, this has always seemed like embarrassment humor to me. Can’t hack it. The critic-supported, ratings-challenged show finally comes to an end this year; the season opens with Liz Lemon fulfilled and happy, boss Jack single, and most hilariously, self-involved comedienne Jenna planning to marry a Jenna-impersonator.
C: Since Jenna is my abhorrence, you’ve just give me two reasons instead of one to stay away!
M: Jane Krakwski annoyed me when she was on Ally McBeal, she annoys me on this, and even her commercials annoy me, so I’m with C.
Vampire Diaries (CW, October 11th)
E: C, do you watch this, or is it just that your friends do?
C: My friends do. A small but very enthusiastic cabal of them, that is – and I am told that this season is going to be INTENSE. (That has also been said of every previous one too.)
M: From the episodes that I’ve seen, I think they all have been. Not sure if that’s good or bad.
C: Good, in this genre.
M: Which is that, the smutty 20-somethings vampires genre?
E: Yes, exactly. I understand there are big changes afoot; protagonist Elena is becoming a vampire. I suppose it’s about time. It kind of feels like everyone on this show who isn’t a supernatural creature is dead.
C: Or they’re a supernatural creature and dead! (Or should I say, “alive again”?)
M: Well, and Elena’s been dating one of the two vampire brothers for pretty much the entirety of the show, right? How long can one date vampires without becoming one?
E: 3 seasons, it seems. Unless you’re Buffy Summers, in which case 7 TV seasons and several comic book seasons more to boot.
M: And, you seem to forget, a movie.
E: She doesn’t date a vampire in the movie, and anyway, it totally doesn’t count.
M: That’s debatable, but we digress. Can I just say, before we move on, that after watching him play the weak, weaselly Boone on LOST, it is pretty amazing that Ian Somerhalder transformed into a total badass, bad boy heartthrob on this show? Definitely a sign of his chops as an actor.
E: It’s true. It’s impressive.
C: What’s more impressive to me is that he murders someone just about every week – many of them innocent and likable people – but is forgiven everything on account of his angst and his big dreamy eyes.
M: My turn to be sexist… that just means the show is written by women.
E: Except it actually isn’t, not exclusively or even predominantly. No, what you mean to say is that the show is written for teenage girls.
M: Fair enough.
Two and a Half Men (CBS, September 27th)
M: At this point the titular half is really more like four fifths, right?
E: The (greater than) half man has enlisted! And will date Myley Cyrus this season. Surely these are signs of the Apocalypse.
M: Seriously, wow. Apocalypse aside (which could happen in December anyway), the show moved on surprisingly well from the Charlie Sheen debacle last year. Even though it’s in an on-the-half-hour slot, rather than the more covet top-of-the-hour, it’s moved to Thursday, which is the biggest TV night, and still has a prominent place on the CBS schedule. To do that after losing its biggest star is impressive.
C: Probably because they just replaced him with another bankable gossip-hound.
M: Yes, there is that.
E: More guest star fun: Jon Cryer’s continues his relationship with fellow 80s teen star (who played Charlie Sheen’s girlfriend in the marvelous Lucas) Courtney Thorne-Smith, and Kutcher will romance one of his lady friends by bringing Michael Bolton on one of their dates.
M: I loved Lucas, such a good movie! Ahh, I miss the days when Corey Haim was alive, and not hanging with Corey Feldman…
Up All Night (NBC, September 20th)
E: An integral part of last year’s Women in Comedy line up. We watched a few episodes of this last year and enjoyed it well enough, though eventually it started to feel cloying. I like Christina Applegate, and Will Arnett didn’t annoy me as much as I was expected, but I pretty much loathed Maya Rudolph’s character.
M: You know, it was Arnett that scared me off from this. That and the premise looking weak, like the premise of Men With Kids.
E: Arnett normally would have scared me off, too. I’m surprised the writers have pulled out such a big change for the new season, by the way, one so big it’s almost desperate; Rudolph’s character has lost her talk show, which means Applegate has no job. A very bold choice for a show about a stay at home dad and Mom returning to her high pressure job; I’ll be curious to hear whether it pays off.
Person of Interest (CBS, September 27th)*
M: Let me tell you, the first season of POI was some of the best TV of last year, if not the best. There were so many good things, from great individual episodes and plots, to the moral ambiguity of Caviezel’s character. However, one of the things that impressed and pleased me the most was how patient they were willing to be. Patience is not on display often in network TV, but it was with POI. The plotline with Elias (the spectacular Enrico Colantoni) was subtly set up and developed over about 4 or 5 episodes before they even introduced the character himself. The plot with Root was touched on in the middle of the season, then left completely untouched until the season finale. And wow, what a finale it was. I can’t wait for this to come back!
C: The Quibbling Parents are also huge fans of this, and have sat me down to watch the latest episode on more than one occasion when I’ve been over for a visit. I feel the need to rent the first season in order, though, before jumping in.
M: Most of the episodes can be watched on their own, actually, but watching it from start to finish would be better because of the running little things.
C: Yeah, it just seems like I would enjoy it more in a fell swoop. High as the quality is, it doesn’t have the things that would keep me tuning in week to week.
E: Mr. E and I eventually gave up – we’d accumulated too many episodes on our dvr and knew we wouldn’t have time to watch them before the new season started. It’s good – some episodes, like the one dealing with rape and revenge, were great – but it somehow never became must see TV for us.
M: I know a bunch of people that dropped part way through. All I can say is you should give it another chance, and try to watch the episodes you missed, it’s well worth it.
E: I guess we should have had this conversation before the Olympics, when I had to find some way to make room on my DVR.
M: Yes, yes we should have.
The Office (NBC, September 20th)
C: I really thought this was ending last year. Did I imagine that, or did they change their minds?
E: No, this is the last year.
M: I’m with C, I thought last year was, but I confirmed it and you’re right, it is this season. Kinda sad that that’s all we have to say about what used to be one of the funniest shows on TV.
Glee (FOX, September 13th)
E: So I thought Mr. E and I had given up this show, too (we missed half of last season) but now he seems to want to keep it and just watch the musical numbers.
C: That’s been my usual tactic – hang in the room with a book or some grading while my roommates watched it, and look up for the songs. I don’t know if it’s on the house list for this year, though.
E: I do love the music, although I just don’t know how it’s all going to work with Finn either missing or in the army, Rachel in NYC getting battered by an evil dance teacher (Kate Hudson) and Kurt at home being sad and listless.
M: It will probably work the way it has for the whole run of the show so far… ridiculously and unbelievably. And probably insultingly and setting a horrible example for all the kids that it markets itself to. And for the record, the fact that you gave up on a show as brilliant as Person of Interest, but are still willing to slog along, even in part, with this one is both sad and insulting.
E: Sigh. Why is it that you seem to think mocking things I like will get me to not like them, and to like things I don’t like?
C: Yeah M, I have to take her side a little here – E may have weird tastes and prejudices, but you don’t have to be so relentless when she actually admits the poor quality of the show you hate.
M: Are you forgetting that I’m her little brother? It’s my JOB to be relentless like that! 🙂
E: Lucky me. Anyway… This season’s trick will be balancing new characters in Ohio with the high school graduates both at home and in NYC. Rumors abounded last year over whether there’d be a spin off, or whether the graduating seniors should have just left the show; it remains to be seen whether creator Ryan Murphy chose the best path.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, September 27th)
E: I’ll say it again: I gave it up!
C: You go, sister!
M: Okay, that takes a bit of the pain away. Good on you!
E: See how free my Thursday has become? Bring on the new shows. Not that Grey’s isn’t going to look like a new show, what with Lexie dead in the season ending plane crash and her devastated sometimes beau McSteamy (and similarly traumatized Teddy) quitting. I honestly don’t understand those choices, by the way. Lexie’s story was over, Shonda? What? See, damn it, you spend how many years watching these foolish characters go back and forth about whether they can be together and you just can’t quit them entirely.
M: Which is why you should have divested sooner…
E: Oddly, I understand the new season won’t start where the cliffhanger finale left over, with most of the main characters stuck at the crash site, but several months after their rescue. After all the PTSD they’ve done on the show, I don’t know how they’re going to handle the aftermath of yet another (pointless) disaster. Hopefully they’ll show some of the (presumably) exciting rescue bits in flashbacks.
M: Maybe they’ll stick to their strengths and just have them all sleep around within the same small group of characters as a form of “therapy.”
Beauty and the Beast (CW, October 11th)**
E: Who doesn’t want to fall in love with a noble shadowy creature who lives in a sewer and helps you solve crimes? I was so up for that the last time this show came around.
M: Which time, the 80’s version?
E: Was there a third one?
C: Not that I know of. But I’m definitely tuning in for the premiere of this, at the very least. Fairy tales are my catnip. Not to mention detection.
M: I thought there was another, but am coming up blank. Maybe I’m just thinking of the SNL skit with Jon Lovitz.
C: Or various movies, like the teenybopper flick Beastly, perhaps?
M: You know, that might be it.
The Real Housewives of Miami (BRAVO, September 13th)
M: I put this on only to placate my wife, who loves this crap.
E: So not touching this one.
M: Let’s just move on, please.
C: Heavens, yes.
Parks and Recreation (NBC, September 20th)
C: This is my latest find. I LOVE it. I love Leslie Knope, and Ron Swanson, and Andy Dwyer, and Ben Wyatt, and April Ludgate, and Chris Traeger… I have literally never seen a show that got me to root for its characters so quickly. It was only a month ago that my roommate started me on Season 3 (which I still think is the best, though Seasons 2 & 4 were good fun – I hear it’s important to skip Season 1) and this has already become the thing that cheers me up on a bad day. If you’re tired of hopelessness, or spite, or world-weary irony – all of which I feel like I consume by the bucket, daily – this show is a wonderful antidote.
E: Hmm. This is something I feared would be too cringe-inducing to watch. Am I wrong?
M: When it comes to sitcoms, usually.
E: Har har. I have a tough time with embarrassment humor, but I’m tempted to rent older seasons of this and see what’s inspiring the lovefest you and critics have for this show.
C: I just do not understand your assumption that everything I like is embarrassment humor, when you know my tolerance for that is almost as low as yours!
E: A) It’s not you, it’s sitcoms, and particularly the mockumentary type of sitcom. B) You did watch The Office.
C: Yes, but I fast-forwarded a lot when Michael Scott was onscreen. I don’t fast-forward Parks and Rec. Are these characters ever mortifed? Yes – on rare occasion. It is NOT the basis of the show. Is the audience laughing with their charming, lovable, witty humor the rest of the time? Yes. But knowing you, E, you’ll catch one embarassing scene and write the show off forever. *coughHowIMetYourMothercough*
Scandal (ABC, September 27th)
M: Despite the presence of my boy Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond on LOST), I can’t get into this. Perhaps it’s Shonda Rhimes presence, perhaps it’s just the subject matter.
C: “Scandal”? Yeah, doesn’t sound you-ish. Or me-ish.
E: I saw a few episodes last spring, and while I didn’t love it enough to become a regular viewer, I still thought it was a good enough show. Yes, I’m over Rhimes’ speechifying and ringing justifications of her characters’ selfish choices. She writes like someone who wants to be applauded for being disloyal when it suits her. That said, I like Kerry Washington as the lead character/crisis manager, and I like Tony Goldwyn as the deeply ambiguous president. Is he a good guy or an evil one? Is he purely manipulating all the other characters, or is he a worthy man caught in a bad situation? The show deserved its renewal, even if I’m not going to be tuning in each week.
Elementary (CBS, September 27th)***
C: I’ll definitely be tuning into this Holmes update, but I feel a little wrong about it. The creators of the BBC’s Sherlock, which this series is blatantly plagiarizing, are getting their American market cut from under them without even a decent kick-back for their losses. But… it’s Sherlock Holmes! How can I keep away? (At least until I see how good it is…)
E: Oh, I don’t know. There’s room for lots of Sherlock Holmeses in my world (Cumberbatch, Downey, Rathbone, Brett) if they’re done well, and this looks like it was done well enough to merit a few episodes viewing.
M: Agreed, plus I thought that the Brits were involved, actually, like with the Pop Idol folks being the same ones that started American Idol.
C: No, the showrunners of Sherlock offered to do that, but were turned down. And now if Elementary sucks, it will drag down the value of their brand. Another reason to hope it’s good!
M: Hmm, good to know. Back to this version, I’m not totally sold on the Sherlock Holmes in modern day New York setting. However, I like Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) a lot, am open to Lucy Liu (honestly, I’m more open to the idea in general of a female Dr. Watson than I am her specifically, never been as big a fan as most) and more importantly, the trailer makes it look at least slick and interesting.
C: I don’t get the Sick Boy reference but I’ve really enjoyed JLM in a few of his more recent efforts (Emma, Eli Stone).
M: It was his character in 1996’s Trainspotting, an all-in-one-film Before They Were Stars special with Ewen McGregor, Kelly MacDonald, Robert Carlyle, Kevin McKidd and JLM, and directed by Danny Boyle, all before any of them were known (except *maybe* JLM, who was in Hackers the year before).
C: I really do need to see that. Anyway – JLM’s Holmes looks, from the commercials, even less canonical than Benedict Cumberbatch’s – but he’s an actor I expect a lot from, so I still have strong hopes.
E: Me too. And if, as they promise, there’s no will they/won’t they tension between Holmes and Watson, I think the whole package shows great promise. Given the twist, the casting and the iconic characters at the center, I think this could be the hit show of the new season.
M: Agreed. I think it’s likely this or Vegas. Once again, kudos to CBS.
Rock Center (NBC, September 20th)
M: If this is all NBC can muster for what is one of the most competitive hours in prime time TV, I say bring back Jay Leno!
E: Hush your mouth. (Seriously, NBC execs, if you can’t come up with enough ideas for the five 10pm slots, we’ve got plenty. You know where to reach us.)
M: Seriously, they don’t. Why am I hushing my mouth?
C: It’s the internet, M. The walls have ears…
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX, October 11th)
M: I will admit a few things. First, I’ve never watch it. Second, I’m partially putting it on the list because I know some people who love it, but third, really I’m putting it on because I can’t really leave it off and include the comedy that’s on on FX in the second half of the 10 o’clock hour…
E: So let’s move on to that, then. I know this sitcom gets great reviews (especially for star Charlie Day) but I’ve never seen it either. Surprise!
M: With many thanks to a couple of my college friends, I discovered The League last winter, and was instantly hooked. It’s premise is a group of friends that share a fantasy football league. To those of you running for the exits, hold on a second. While there are times where it delves into the titular league, it is really about the very quirky and sarcastic and hilarious group of friends. You really need to check it out, it’s absolutely hilarious.
C: I’m surprised this is the first I’m hearing of it from you!
M: Yeah, that’s my bad, I definitely should have, and kind of thought I did.
E: Not strongly enough for us remember. So tell us now. Who’s in it? Why should we care?
M: No one you know is in it. Why you should watch it is that it is absolutely hilarious. I honestly can’t give you much more to go on, other than the group of friends does a great job of ragging on each other and making both normal and “hyper-reality” situations absolutely hilarious. In one episode last season one of the characters joined a cult to get breaking news on football players to give him an edge in the league. In another the lovable loser brother of the sort-of main character adopted the Microsoft slogan “TO THE CLOUD!” for every time he was going off to smoke pot.
E: Okay, that could be funny.
M: In another a dorky character accidentally rimmed martini glasses with cocaine (long story why he had it) because he thought it was powdered sugar, thus getting the whole group accidentally super-hyper high. And no, it’s not usually about drug use, but whatever it is about is usually hilarious.
C: So what you’re saying is, you like it because of all the hilarious drug use.
M: Yes, that’s exactly what I was saying. Besides, you know me, all about the drug use.
E: Mm hmm.