M: Welcome to the final day of the Relatively Entertaining Fall TV Previews! Over time, Sunday has gone from having an occasional good show, to having some good shows, to now being one of the top days for programming.
E: Some might even say the night. Half the shows I watch are now on Sundays!
M: A few big time shows have moved to Sundays in the last two years, including E’s obsession The Good Wife, and the cable nets have declared Sunday the night for their critically acclaimed original shows — so this year, Sunday is pretty epic! As always, 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
- To see the rest of the previews click here – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday
60 Minutes (CBS, September 30th)
C: Now in its 45th season (really)… there is nothing else to tell you about 60 Minutes.
M: Except again, that CBS is king.
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC, October 7th)
C: 22nd season. These are some impressive numbers.
E: Unlike 60 Minutes, I don’t actually know anyone who watches this one.
M: Seriously, you know people who watch 60 Minutes? Who, your friends’ grandparents?
E: Nope. Not senior citizens at all.
M: As for AFV, back when this show first came on, then host Bob Saget was almost the same age the Josh Radnor was when How I Met Your Mother started. For those of you wondering what the correlation is, for some reason Saget does the voice of “future Ted,” Radnor’s character, narrating the story for his teenage kids. Saget’s now 56, making him still too young to watch 60 Minutes.
The Cleveland Show (FOX, October 7th)
C: I wonder who decided that Sunday evening was the perfect time for adult cartoons?
E: Obviously some executive at FOX. It’s certainly a big switch up from the football and soaps everyone else is showing.
M: The Simpsons have been there for ages now, ever since FOX moved them off of Thursdays, so I think they saw an opening, and opportunity to build the night around their biggest ever hit. And in case you couldn’t tell, we have nothing to say about the Family Guy spin-off.
Sunday Night Football (NBC, September 9th)*
M: Before the two of you complain, I just want to point out that there are more prime time hours on major networks devoted to dancing, and twice as many devoted to singing competitions than there are to football. So, yeah, Sunday Night Football is awesome. Now, the problem for me will come when 10:00 roles around and there are two other things I want to record. Maybe 666 Park Ave will be lousy and I’ll be able to watch the end of games.
M: Well, let’s have that conversation below…
Amazing Race (CBS, September 30th)
E: This is never a show I have to watch, but sometimes (especially while waiting for my favorite show to start after a late football game) I catch pieces of it, and it’s impressive. Not so impressive that it should win the Emmy over So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef or Project Runway almost every blasted year, but still, impressive.
C: In what way?
M: I’ll field that. It’s been a long time since I watched a whole season of this, but when I do catch it it’s always entertaining. The interaction between the teammates is always good, the competition is usually exciting with good twists, and they go to some amazingly cool places. As for the comment about the Emmy’s, that’s a constant complaint with those awards, though, not remotely specific to the reality competition category. The same shows and same people win every year. Yawn.
Once Upon A Time (ABC, September 30th)*
C: All last year, I got home on Sunday nights around 8:15 or 8:30 to find my roommates watching this. Half the time my reaction to what I saw on screen would be: “Oo, neat!” The other half, it was: “What the heck…” or “Are you kidding me?” If there’s a more wildly uneven show on television right now, I don’t know what it is.
M: Do you really want to start that argument again?
C: The first season ended with a big twist: [Spoiler alert] Magic comes to town! The fairy tale characters have been living in Storybrooke, ME with no powers and no memory of their previous lives, but that’s all changed. Emma has accepted her role as hero, Mr. Gold and Regina (or, Rumpelstiltskin and the Evil Queen) are battling for the title of baddest baddie, and Snow and the Prince now know who they really are. Family reunions and big changes are in the air.
The Simpsons (FOX, September 30th)
C: If anyone wants a good laugh, I recommend hunting down the episode “The Book Job” from last season, guest starring Neil Gaiman. Homer and Bart plan an Ocean’s Eleven-style con, where the haul they’re after is a lucrative paranormal young adult book deal.
E: Oooooh, I so need to see that. I must.
Bob’s Burgers (FOX, September 30th)
E: I understand that this show’s well liked by critics, but I really don’t get the visual style.
M: It looks cheap, which makes me not want to see it. Throw in that the premise isn’t anything to write home about, and you have a bad combo for trying to build an audience.
E: Yet it still airs. Baffling.
Masterpiece Theater (PBS)**
E: This season’s offerings include Wallander (the gloomy Swedish detective played by Kenneth Branagh), the less successful Upstairs Downstairs, and – dun dun dun! – the third season of what’s turned into a national obsession, Downton Abbey! Or the third series, if you want to be all Anglophile about it. It’s not merely the idea of seeing Shirley MacLaine as Cora’s mother; it’s just having everyone back. Free Bates!
C: Oh, Downton! How I love you. How I love how so many people love you too. The real difficulty is waiting until the third season airs in America in 2013, when it’s halfway through airing right this minute in Britain. One hears such tantalizing things…
E: Check your local listings: our affiliate will show the last season before going into the new stuff. It’s an excellent chance to catch up on the goings on of the Crawley family if you’re a new viewer, or to relive the deliciousness if you’re not.
M: I will add only this. There was one line in the 20 or so minutes of the premiere of The Mindy Project that I made it through that was really funny. Mindy mentioned Downton Abbey and the stereotypical “guy” doctor in the office yelled “What the hell is this show and why does everybody keep talking about it?!?” I laughed.
E: Me too.
The Good Wife (CBS, September 30th)*
E: The best drama on network TV is back, baby!
M: Um, we already talked about Fringe in the Friday post. 🙂
C: But if our readers would like to hear more about The Good Wife, they can catch E’s weekly novella on the subject while the season runs. Subscribe now!
E: Last season ended with Kalinda choosing not to run, but instead sitting in front of her door with a gun. If that image doesn’t grab you, you should tune in this season to see Will return from suspension, Peter in the gubernatorial race (still against Matthew Perry? I can’t wait to see) and living in the Highland Park house, and wonderful guest stars including Kristin Chenoweth. And, oh yeah. Kalinda’s husband. Ahhhhhhhhhh! I can’t even.
Revenge (ABC, September 30th)**
C: I lost track of this series around Christmastime last year, because it happened to be on a bad night for me (problems of the DVR-less). I expect to rent the rest of the season, though, when I’m in need of a serious guilty pleasure. Scheming, sexual intrigue, madness, murder — Revenge has all the ingredients of an atrocious soap opera. But it’s the main character’s wicked, villainous intellect that keeps you drawn in. How will she take down the next person who did her family wrong?
M: I stayed with it all the way through, but unfortunately the last third or so of the season didn’t hold up to the promise and quality that the show started with. While the quality of the last couple months of the show wasn’t as great, it did finish with a really strong finale, though.
E: I agree; the finale pulled out all the stops.
M: There was a ton packed into it, with a bunch of big cliffhangers (be warned, here be spoilers!), including a plane crash seeming to kill Victoria and destroy the evidence against Conrad, the discovery that Conrad was in fact a puppet and there are (as mentioned as a TV tenet in our most recent Castle post) bigger, mysterious forces behind it, Fauxmanda is pregnant presumably with Jack’s baby and Emily/real Amanda’s mother may actually be alive.
E: Seriously, I cannot wait to find out more about Emanda’s mother (knew that would come up at some point!) and I’m still in a snit about Fauxmanda’s pregnancy! The timing wrecked me. Emanda was going to confess everything to Jack! Of course, she’d already confessed her identity to the white haired man in what I can only describe as a moment of complete derangement. So now she’s living in constant fear of discovery. On the other hand, she dumped Daniel after he decided to join the dark side, so at least there’s that.
Family Guy (FOX, September 30th)
M: I feel ashamed that I’ve barely watched this since it was brought back to life. I love this show, and late night viewings on Cartoon Network while trying to get my kids to sleep when they were babies were just fantastic.
The Walking Dead (AMC, October 14th)
E: I understand that this show provides thrills and terrific acting, but I can’t get down with zombies. Give me mutants and wizards and cyborgs and werewolves, but zombies are where I draw the line.
M: What about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?
C: Still pretty gross. Weren’t they making a movie of that? What happened?
E: Well, the IMDB has it listed as a 2013 release, but with no cast and no crew attached to it, so I’d say it was a lifeless corpse.
M: I think they made Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter instead.
E: Or more likely, they made that first and when it flopped hideously they realized the mash up movies wouldn’t be cash cows.
M: Anyway, if I had know that Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile) was the show runner before it started, or had known it was going to be as well received as it has been, I probably would have watched Walking Dead. I didn’t, and now Darabont is gone and I’m hopelessly behind, so I feel like it’s too late to jump in, which is too bad.
E: I knew about Darabont which would normally be a huge plus, but still, zombies. I can’t.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO, September 16th)
C: This is supposed to be really good. Looks too bleak and rascally for me, though.
E: Yes, exactly. Even our beloved Kelly Macdonald doesn’t seem to play a character worth rooting for, and I just can’t get behind a show like that.
M: With Macdonald (C, note, third Trainspotting alum we’re talking about in these posts, with Elementary‘s Johnny Lee Miller and Once Upon a Time‘s Robert Carlyle, which doesn’t even mention the biggest star of the bunch, Ewan McGregor) and the wonderful, funny looking Steve Buschemi, I would be all over this. Alas, no HBO…
Dexter (Showtime, September 30th)
C: This, on the other hand, is supposed to have lost its edge some time ago. Or so I hear.
E: Well, this season certainly has potential; Dexter’s foster-sister discovers what her brother’s been up to all these years. Yikes! Who knows whether the actors’ tumultuous relationship (the show has been on long enough for them to get married and divorced) will bleed into what we see on screen? Although by we I don’t actually mean any of us. The audience in general.
American Dad (FOX, September 30th)
M: That’s not fair, Patrick Stewart does one of the voices!
E: Not enough.
The Mentalist (CBS, September 30th)*
E: Oh no! No one can doubt anymore that Red John really is out there, playing cat and mouse with Patrick Jane.
M: That’s for sure, and they sure have been ending their seasons with big bangs these last couple years. It will be interesting to see the fall out of this past one, however like with Castle, I prefer when this show is doing one-off episodes and focusing on funny, light-hearted murder investigations. Simon Baker is fantastic in the role, sufficiently arrogant and charming.
E: I love Baker, I love the team, and I’m still rooting for Grace and Rigsby to get together even if he does have a baby with his new girlfriend. And I feel really bad for Red John’s latest victim, Michael Rady’s boss man Luthor Wainwright. Maybe Emily Owens will take off, getting the perpetual series bouncer a gig that lasts longer than a half season. Meanwhile, I’m nervous for whoever tries to supervise Lisbon and her gang next; it’s starting to feel like teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts.
666 Park Avenue (ABC, September 30th)*
C: “From the producers of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars“? I can see why you’re excited, M…
M: I’m not actually excited for it, but it’s starring Terry O’Quinn, so I feel like I should at least give it a shot. And unlike E, where she’ll watch something because it has a woman that was in five minutes of one Good Wife episode is in it, O’Quinn has been so good in so many things I like.
E: Which person from The Good Wife? I didn’t notice anyone familiar (and they have to be good on the The Good Wife, you get that, right?)
M: Seriously, sis, reading comprehension! I said “something,” not “this.” To clarify, since I apparently need to, I was not saying someone from TGW was in 666 Park Ave, I was contrasting my loyalty to Terry O’Quinn with your loyalty to random one-episode guests on TGW.
E: You know, I really enjoy Vanessa Williams, but the premise seems kind of silly. I think O’Quinn’s wonderful too, but being part of LOST doesn’t mean that everything he touches turns to gold.
M: Well, it’s not just LOST (in which he was not only integral, but absolutely amazing). With him it’s also Alias, a few episodes and the first movie of The X-Files, Tombstone and a bunch of other things, even The Rocketeer. Plus, I feel like the The Devil’s Advocate type plot is a good idea.
C: Ha, I was just going to say, what isn’t promising is that he seems to be in a Ray Wise role here – a smarmy devil who lurks around looking full of schemes.
M: We disagree on whether it’s a good thing, but good call on Ray Wise, he’s frequently in that kind of role.
Homeland (Showtime, September 30th)
E: This is the only show to ever make me wish I had Showtime.
C: Starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, this Emmy-winning drama has a tense political premise and a lot of star power. I’ve definitely got the first 12-episode season on my list of things to rent.
E: Me too. Damian Lewis, as I recently mentioned, is a fave from the days of Band of Brothers. I’m so thrilled to see him get the recognition he deserves! Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Morena Baccarin – this show has an amazing cast and to all reports thrills and unsettles and wraps you in its wonderful, complex web.
M: I agree with you both. I loved Lewis in Life, which was cut far too short (yet another strike against NBC), and Danes has always been great, back as far as E’s beloved My So-Called Life. Add in that it looks like an even more suspenseful version of The Manchurian Candidate, with even more of an is-he-or-isn’t-he-“turned” question (Manchurian was pretty straightforward with that), and it is so up my alley. Why couldn’t this have been AMC, or some channel that I do get!
Copper (BBC America, August 19th)*
C: I don’t get the channel or I’d be watching this already.
E: I do get it, and I’m watching it, and I’m not positive you still would be. I like it, but it was a struggle.
C: BBC America’s first original series (and given what the name of the network implies, I’m more surprised they have any), this historical drama centers on a former Civil War soldier turned New York City cop. Franka Potente plays a supporting role, which is also cool (as a whore, though — not so cool).
E: Yeah, they’re pretty heavy on the hookers. And the throat cutting. And stabbing. And hanging. And gratuitous beatings. And child rape. That said, there’s some decent acting and it’s certainly not like anything else on TV. I go back and forth about whether the characters are worth overriding my squirming tummy.
C: From what initial reviews are saying, it sounds like the atmosphere and production values are performing higher than the writing at this point, but one hopes the fledgling series just needs to find its ground.
E: Yes, definitely. If the plotting were less obvious, or more interesting, I could stomach the creepiness the way I’ve managed to with Game of Thrones, but the writing fails to approach that level. On the other hand, I do keep watching it…
M: Well, that does it folks, the end of our Fall Previews. Let us know what you’re into, what you think we should check out, and what you think we should avoid. We should be getting up reviews of Castle every week, and E has her Good Wife novellas that will be posted each Monday or Tuesday, depending on how packed the episode is. We’ll have some other reviews along the way, too, but like I said, let us know if there’s something you feel we should tackle!
E: Monday or Tuesday – ha ha ha ha ha ha.