E: Thursday is starting to look like the day I catch up with everything that’s overloading my DVR. Not a lot of Must See TV for me!
M: What a change that is from the past, when Thursday was far and away the biggest and most crowded night of television.
C: That’s probably Sundays these days, or maybe Tuesday, depending on the demographic. But with Big Bang Theory on another night for now and Parks & Rec on hold until mid-season (augghhh!), my Thursday nights are looking curiously free.
E: As always, if we haven’t included something that you watch or were thinking about watching, please leave a comment and let us know why we’re missing the boat! 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
- Click for Sunday‘s, Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Wednesday’s posts.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, September 25th)
E: When did this become an 8 o’clock show?
M: I was going to ask why has this hasn’t been at least moved to a different night, but then I noticed when looking up something else that it was in the top 5 in ratings for “scripted” shows LAST YEAR. Seriously?
C: In fact, it was the most-watched hour-long drama in America. Which may be a sign of the Apocalypse.
E: And wow, I can’t believe this is season 11, and that so many people are still watching it considering how badly the quality has decreased.
M: You and me both. It’s been 8 years since Mrs M finally, mercifully, gave up on it. Craziness.
E: As far as upcoming plots, it seems that McDreamy wants to take a job at a D.C. hospital; Meredith refuses to move because she loves her home and community and she knows she’s on a show set in Seattle. Everyone looks sad but remains inflexible. Can their relationship survive their complete and all encompassing selfishness?
M: Hasn’t that been the question since the pilot?
E: Heck yeah, but the good thing about the show was that you did, actually, see Meredith mature. (McDreamy, on the other hand, kinda backpedaled.) Creator Shonda Rhimes promised several years ago that after their infamous post-it wedding, the two would remain together for good. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time a show runner lied. You’ll have to tune in to find out.
M: Or you could save yourself the time and read about it in late May, or earlier if it’s finally euthanized.
E: The show does have big casting news for the new season — they’ve snagged Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis to play the latest addition to the surgical team. Also in the offing — a new sister for Meredith! Yes, yes, the show has done that before, but this time the sister is the secret love child of mom Ellis Grey and lover Richard Webber. Right. And of course she’s the new hot shot cardiac surgeon replacing departing Cristina (Sandra Oh). You’ll have to tune in to find out how well that goes over, too.
M: *Ahem* Or you could save yourself the time and read about it in late May, or earlier if it’s finally euthanized.
Thursday Night Football (CBS and NFL Network simultaneously, September 11th)
E: It should be noted that when Thursday night football switches from simulcast to NFL Network only on October 30th, it will be replaced by The Big Bang Theory, The Millers, Two and Half Men, The McCarthys and Elementary.
C: You’ll find our Big Bang Theory review on Monday’s post, though, since it starts the season there.
E: The rest of that group, though, will appear in their proper time slots below.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, October 2)
E: Let’s see if I get this right. At the end of season five, Bonnie and Damon sacrificed themselves so that a group called the Travellers would be unable to complete their plan of erasing the entire supernatural world. But what happened to them? Where did they go? Can they come back? Season six attempts to answer these questions.
C: I think one of the brothers died and the other brother died to bring the first brother back to life? Something like that? But, as with Supernatural only with a larger ensemble, everyone on this show has been dead at some point. Often multiple times.
M: I’m actually surprised, based on everything else on the CW, that this is only going into season 6. It feels like it’s been around longer than that.
C: Since my grad school career encompasses the run of this show, imagine how long that feels.
Bones (FOX, September 25th)*
M: Speaking of feeling like it’s been around a long time…
E: Ten seasons in, and Bones is still reliable fun.
M: So says you.
E: I do, and since you don’t watch, you can’t be disagreeing for any other reason than your typical cussedness.
M: Or that I don’t watch because when I did I didn’t find it to be reliable fun.
C: I actually stopped watching because I found it a little too “reliable” — as in, same-all-the-time-ish.
M: But I will put my “typical cussedness” (whatever that means) aside, and C will put hers away too. Please continue.
E: Will Bones get husband Booth out of jail before criminals can do him in? Gee, I wonder. What’s much more important: getting Booth and Bones together hasn’t made the smallest bit of difference in the quality of the show; writers afraid of the so-called Moonlighting curse ought to study it.
M: Seriously, right? Once upon a time, a show was wrecked when the leads got together. But that show had started going off the rails leading up to that, and that it became a full on train wreck after was not solely the fault of the coupling. Fringe succeeded putting its leads together, Bones has too. Hopefully this will be a road map for future shows.
E: And while we’ve discussed the lamentable decline of Castle, that has nothing to do with “Caskett” finally coming together. Now, also like Castle, the mysteries on Bones have never been amazing; the key is the easy camaraderie and joy of the cast. They just sing when they’re together, somehow.
E: No, not literally, turkey, though I would pay to see if they did.
C: You have to wonder if Emily Deschanel can sing. Her sister Zoe’s got a really nice voice, after all.
E: Good point.
M: I might think it was reliable fun if they were literally singing.
The Biggest Loser (NBC, September 11th)
M: The ultimate DVR show. You can watch an hour of this in about 20 minutes on DVR. It’s inspiring, but like with Survivor, you can get worn out on it. I love it when I watch, but haven’t watched in several seasons now.
E: Exactly. I’ve binge-watched a few seasons on cable, and it makes me weep cathartically every time.
The Millers (CBS, October 30th)
C: Last year’s most-watched new comedy gets an addition to the cast in the form of Will & Grace‘s Sean Hayes.
M: We’ve clearly communicated that we don’t understand TV execs much of the time. Where this was the most watched anything last season, I’m confronted again with the reality that I don’t understand audiences, either. Back in Monday’s preview I referred to Timothy Hutton as the poor man’s Kevin Costner, insufferable without the success. Well, Arnett is the poor man’s Timothy Hutton.
E: Yeah, I’m with you. This is everything I hate about sitcoms rolled into one. But, for those who do like it, season 2 will see the marvelous Margo Martindale bonding with recently divorced Hayes, and Beau Bridges re-entering the dating pool, mobbed by women smitten with his full head of hair and four functioning limbs.
Scandal (ABC, September 25th)
E: I understand that Shonda Rhimes only agreed to move her buzziest hit show to 9:00 as long as she could keep the sexy-time shenanigans at a 10pm level. So that’s good to know.
M: Oh yes, so good to know. Every episode of this that I have watched has been a sensationalist piece of morally repugnant drivel, with people making the worst possible decisions, including the President of the United States having an ongoing affair and it being covered up. Maybe if our airwaves had positive role models, rather than so much “sexy-time shenanigans at a 10pm level,” we might have more respect for women as a culture.
E: Wait, is your point that Ray Rice watched to much Scandal to be a good person?
M: No, but if Ray Rice were on Scandal, he’d probably be lauded as brave for entering a treatment program, maybe eventually get elected to high office, and would definitely get away with no jail time… oh wait, he did get away with no jail time.
E: Let me interject and say that I really, really don’t understand the national obsession with this show. When it started, Grey’s Anatomy was pretty grounded in reality, about a bunch of ambitious students learning their craft, bed hopping and growing up a bit along the way. Scandal felt like something that should hit all the buttons for me – women, diversity, politics, based on a real life crisis manager’s life – but instead turned out to be the most ridiculous fantasia I have ever seen. Rape! Murder! Torture! Terrorism! Election fraud! Conspiracies! Sophistry!
E: I mean, okay, some of those things happen on The Good Wife, too, but actually grounded in reality. Best I can tell, Scandal remains entirely untethered to earth.
M: As much as we mock your devotion to all things Good Wife, I agree with you 100% there. What I have watched of TGW appears to be far more believable. And everyone that I have spoken to that loves it, including actual lawyers who hate most legal shows, notes how it has such a strong sense of realism.
E: Wow, M. Wonders never cease.
M: Come on, I’ve never had anything against the show, just your infatuation with anyone that ever appears on it.
E: When the last season ended, central character Olivia Pope dissolved her company and jetted off with Scott Foley’s Jake (who had recently murdered the Chief of Staff’s husband), fearing that her terrorist mother was responsible for killing President Fitz’s young son.
M: All totally believable.
E: Of course Olivia’s still in love with the philandering Fitz, but he’s recommitting to wife Mellie through their grief. I’m sure that will last.
E: Also, Huck claims he won’t forgive coworker/girlfriend Quinn for making him reconnect with his family – but hey, probably he’s just saying that. I mean, she started shagging him after he tortured her, right, so there’s got to be some wiggle room. And then there’s Joshua Malina’s David, who’s making surprising moves with the B613 files – but really, I can’t even. I know it’s a hit show and actors need to work, but it makes me so sad to see Malina go from Sports Night to The West Wing to this.
M: Again, I don’t get audiences.
E: The thing is, I would like to watch a show about a high powered D.C. crisis manager who’s a woman of color. While I’m happy that a show produced, written by and starring African American women sets the public imagination on fire, it’s just too over the top (and down in the muck) for me.
M: Where as I prefer to follow the words of Dr King, and judge people on the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin. 🙂
C: Can I just derail this to say the clothing on Scandal is really, really great?
M: Um, to quote E’s 5 year old daughter… what the whaaat?
C: That’s all I know about the show, since I don’t actually watch it, but I felt the need to make that point. Kudos, costume designer.
Two and Half Men (CBS, October 30th)
M: Shouldn’t this be on The CW, given that it’s limping along after everyone assumed it was cancelled years ago?
E: Who assumed it was canceled? This is a really popular show!
M: After all the Charlie Sheen stuff died down, this show fell deep under the radar. I think a lot of people thought it was gone.
C: I think this show must just be a habit for its viewers by now. It doesn’t even matter who the lead actors are or anything, as long as they’re men.
M: Seriously, they’ve lost a man and a half from the original construct, but keep on churning. I mean, I’m happy for Duckie, who was a total mush before this show, but seriously, put this to rest.
E: Then you’ll be happy to know that this is the show’s final season! And not too soon, because Chuck Lorre has big plans for an over-arcing plot; Duckie’s Alan and Ashton Kutcher’s Walden get married and adopt a baby. That certainly sounds like a joke, but I’m not the one making it.
M: To each other? So odd.
Reign (The CW, October 2nd)
E: Jousts! The black death! The king is dead — long live the king! A welter of machinations swirl around the monarchy. Somebody significant rides off into the plague infested country side to save his mistress. Somebody else ends up infected. Probably more than one somebody. And Mary stays in the castle with Catherine, sitting on their thrones.
M: I look forward to our 2023 fall TV preview, when we are able to comment that we can’t believe this show is still on.
C: Hee! I bet that comes true.
Gracepoint (FOX, October 2nd)
C: Based on a really well-reviewed British series called Broadchurch, this show has the odd distinction of carrying over the same main actor from across the pond.
E: The BBC version of this show was really mesmerizing. So many secrets in one small town! So many red herrings! But despite retaining David Tennant in the lead role, I don’t really know that I need — or want — to watch this story unfold in America. Yes, they’ve promised a different killer this time around. But, I don’t know. I mean, it was in English. I’ve already seen it, and somehow the differences all look inferior to me — the prettified female lead (Anna Gunn), the meaningless shift of the titular town’s name from Broadchurch to Gracepoint, the total weirdness of hearing Tennant with an American accent. Plus, the death of a child (the mystery around which the show revolves) hits a little too close to where I live for the premise to be exactly light entertainment. Thanks, I’d love another sip of that potion! Lovely!
M: For those of us who have not watched the Brit version, this might be good. Though I do agree about the death of a child, never a comfortable topic for parents.
Bad Judge (NBC, October 2nd)
E: Clearly modeled after last summer’s Bad Teacher, Thursday night staple Kate Walsh turns her hand to comedy, and I bury my head in the sand. See, she might be hard drinking and totally trashy, but she helps down on their luck kids learn how to cope with bullies! She’s a total marshmallow. Just ugh.
M: So, let me get this straight. This is “just ugh,” but Scandal and Grey’s are fine?
E: I don’t watch or like Scandal and Grey’s, so I’m not sure what your point is. Plus, if you’d seen the trailer you’d know what I was getting at with the level of trashiness.
M: I’ve seen the trailer, it’s awful. Like, approaching Grey’s or Scandal level awful, and you did used to watch and defend Grey’s. My point is I have no idea where the line is for you. Is it the low production value that makes it too trashy to consider watching?
C: Um, guys, can we stop actively fighting for ten seconds and mention that RYAN HANSEN is on this? That’s right, Dick Casablancas of Veronica Mars fame. I’m sure now you’ve changed your mind about how classy it is!
E: Wow, my marshmallow comment was totally prophetic!
M: Whoa. I’m not sure if that changes matters for me, but if Dick’s involved, at least there’s a chance.
C: Also, I’m just going to mention: I bet this’ll be popular.
E: I guess there’s no accounting for tastes…
M: And there we agree.
The McCarthys (CBS, October 30th)
M: Okay, who the heck are the McCarthys?
C: I think they must be related to the Millers? But seriously, M, this sounds more up your alley from the description: “This comedy series revolves around a close-knit Boston clan whose sports legacy runs deep in the family.” Oh and E, just for you: while the one daughter and two straight adult sons are as sports-obsessed as their dad, the mom and gay son watch The Good Wife together!
E: Nice cross promotion there, CBS! Not that straight men couldn’t enjoy The Good Wife, but the way they talk about it totally cracks me up.
M: Ok, I looked it up and watched the trailer. I did love the mom admitting she couldn’t DVR it because she wouldn’t be able to wait to watch.
E: I’m fascinated that this was created by Brian Gallivan of the web series Sassy Gay Friend. Oh, and the sister (Kelen Coleman) was good on The Newsroom. Waaaaay too self-consciously sitcommy looking for me, though.
M: That’s not surprising, but I’m with you this time. I don’t know what to make of it. I think it’ll probably be horrible, but… there are some decent Boston jokes (the cracks about Rhode Island are great). There are some authentic Boston accents — especially those by Boston natives Joey McIntyre (yes, NKOTB’s Joey McIntyre) and comedian Jimmy Dunn, who play comically different twin brothers.
E: Wow. A Jonas brother on one show, a NKOTB member on another… crazy pants.
M: I’ve actually seen McIntyre in guest spots in a handful of things (Psych, Motive, etc) and he’s actually a pretty good actor.
E: By the way, Dunn has a pretty good delivery, all things considered – and like McIntyre’s six grade teacher, I did originally assume he was the dad.
M: There’s another Ritter (Tyler, brother of Jason, son and spitting image of the late John). Great character actors (Laurie Metcalf and Jack McGee) as the parents. It’s just… I think from what I saw in the trailer that the “gay brother” plot is incredibly offensive. I just can’t tell if they’re trying to offend the gay community, or the straight community in Boston. Or if they’re not trying to offend either, but might succeed in both. Still, I laughed out loud a couple times during the trailer, so who knows.
A to Z (NBC, October 2nd)*
E: Okay, you’re going to laugh at me, but this one looks cute.
M: I’m going to surprise you… I agree.
E: I just — can you make a romcom out of a sitcom? Can the form possibly hold against the pressure to draw the inevitable out for as many seasons as humanly possible?
C: In case you have somehow not noticed, there are million shows like that, they just make the main plot be about the group of friends. Granted, most of them have some other gimmick or they go off the air pretty quickly.
M: Ross and Rachel were on-again-off-again-on for what, 12 seasons? To quote an occasionally wise entertainment blogger, “the key is the easy camaraderie and joy of the cast.” If they have that, well, then it’ll work for a long enough time. The previews make it look like they have it.
C: I’m just not sure how “the comprehensive account of [a] relationship” is going to work as a TV show. I mean, I feel like you need more than that.
E: Yes, exactly, like solving mysteries or drinking a lot of coffee or something. Anyway, Andrew and Zelda (see what they did there?) are wackily adorable, and destined to be together. Scott Baio look-alike Andrew’s a drone at an internet dating website, but secretly loves to belt out love songs while alone in his car. The Mother — I mean, Zelda — is apparently a professional girly-girly, getting her nails done and throwing themed parties; I can tell she has a job from the preview, but whoever composed the trailer didn’t think that was a significant personal detail. Certainly not when compared to her love of pedicures.
M: What an amazingly sexist and untrue look at the trailer!
C: I do think maybe they mentioned his job because it’s relevant to how they meet. Jobs are not usually important in sitcoms, which is why sitcom character jobs are mostly describable in one word, like “lawyer” or “teacher.”
M: That, and that it’s relevant to defining his character, which I’ll get to. Here’s the set up of the trailer, broken down factually. “Andrew’s a guy’s guy. He likes these stereotypical guy things. But wait! He has a feminine side. Zelda’s a girl’s girl. She likes stereotypical girly things. We have no idea if she has a masculine side. Women are better than men, and don’t have to have a masculine side to be acceptable (okay, there’s some opinion interjected in that line).
E: C, does that even make sense?
C: I’m a little lost about whether he’s sharing his own opinion, or what he projects to be the voice-over writer’s.
M: The writer’s. And E, what doesn’t make sense? They point out that he’s not just a guy’s guy like his co-worker (we get to him below), those dudes are gross. But she can be a girly girl, and that’s fine. The stereotype of guys is negative, the stereotype of women is positive. Make more sense?
E: Um, the stereotype of girls whose primary joy in life is getting mani/pedis? Is vapid and narcissistic.
M: Seriously, it say she likes them, not that they’re her primary joy in life. What is wrong with you? Why are you looking so hard for things to be offended by?
C: Why hello there, pot! Have you met my friend, the kettle?
M: Well, that’s fair enough.
C: Great; now let’s get back to the show.
M: He works at an internet dating company (relevant to a romcom), where he laments that they help people hook up rather than create relationships (which his aforementioned guy’s-guy co-worker sees as a good thing, of course, because that guy has no feminine side). She works in a window office that’s higher up than his, but right across from him, and can see his desk from hers. We don’t need to know what she does for the trailer. They meet, it’s cute. They go on a date, it’s awkward because he’s talking like a stalker. They don’t go out again… but THEN THEY DO! (bet you didn’t see that coming)”
C: I am shocked. Truly, truly shocked.
M: Seriously, though, Cristin Milioti (Zelda) was sooooo good on How I Met Your Mother. So good that she completely ruined the writer’s plan for the show (E, remember your comment about not getting to see the writer’s intended end for the relationship on The Good Wife? Rethinking that yet?).
E: Just because the HIMYM people screwed up doesn’t mean that everyone would – but you know I feel great sympathy for the pain you both suffered over the botched ending.
C: Yup, she was delightful and totally perfect for Ted, which apparently the idiots didn’t account for in their plan to have him end up with someone else.
M: A horrible plan, which they went ahead with anyway, pissing off their entire fanbase because everyone preferred Milioti. She didn’t appear until the 9th season, but she was that good. If she even approaches that here, and has the same kind of chemistry with Ben Feldman (Andrew) that she had with Josh Radnor, then they’ll have a hit on their hands.
C: I have high hopes for her sake, though as we said about Tuesday’s Manhattan Love Story, this might have worked better as a movie.
E: This looks cuter and more promising than Manhattan Love Story (and not simply because you’re both besotted with Milioti) so of the two I’m going to step outside my drama comfort zone and give this one a shot.
M: Wow, nice!
How to Get Away With Murder (ABC, September 25th)*
C: Ugh. Ugh ugh no thanks nope.
E: Brilliant Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis stars as a law professor educating her first-year students in not just the law, not just the theory, but in the practice of law, specifically in criminal defense.
C: Specifically getting guilty criminals off by any means necessary, from shady to downright villainous. Such an admirable vision of what law is for!
E: Yeah, that’s a problem. Her students include a former inhabitant of the 90210 zip code (Charlie Webber), former murder victim Rosie Larsen from The Killing (Katie Findlay), Emily Owens‘ nemesis (Aja Naomi King), and Dean Thomas, now graduated from Hogwarts (which is to say Alfred Enoch in Muggle parlance). I am absurdly excited about that cast. And the idea of them solving cases (starting with two murders in the premiere).
M: The only ones I know are Davis (great) and Enoch (not exactly a good sample size), so I’m not as jazzed.
C: Davis is amazing, and I love the number of actors of color involved, but I’m still downright floored that you’re excited about this, E.
E: Well, I’m excited about the cast. I am less excited about the would-be “complexity” in this Shonda Rimes-produced drama; I was so enthusiastic after watching the short trailer, but the full length one pulled me up short. Hurrah for giving us such a diverse cast (not to mention one led by an African-American woman, something that’s never succeeded before Scandal), but ugh for giving us the drek we can see in the long preview, which includes some Shonda-esque speechifying about how life can only feel worthwhile if you’re willing to use any means (ethical or not, legal or not) to win cases.
C: That was the beginning of the grossness, yep. The implication that if you’re not the best your life is worthless, and being “the best” equals the number of trials you win, period.
E: And then we get to the bit where Davis seems to be coming on to a student. Really? Must we? Is it only fun if everyone’s completely morally bankrupt? I’m all about shades of gray, but this cartoonish embrace of amorality is not it.
M: I feel like I’ve been on my high horse all post, so why hop down now. If there’s been a character that’s not morally bankrupt on any of her shows, I haven’t seen it. Not sure if you remember, but I used to vacate when Mrs M watched Grey’s. My first question upon returning home was always “did anyone do anything moral tonight?” The answer was always no.
C: This one seems to go further than a lack of positive ethics, though — in the long trailer we literally have our protagonists burying a body.
M: Reason enough to not watch the long trailer, let a lone the show.
E: As I’ve said before, I’m going to give this at least an episode so that I know what I’m talking about when I rail against it later.
Elementary (CBS, October 30th)**
M: This was another unfortunate casualty of my life being too crazy to watch TV last year. I have really enjoyed this show when I watched, and will likely pick it back up later this fall.
C: Ditto. I’ve only seen the first season, but loved it. I’m looking forward to an opportunity to catch up and jump back in, which is why I’ve added my asterisk even though I doubt I’ll get that chance until after the holidays. This is a sharp, exciting show with great lead actors who are just so, so dynamic to behold.
E: Ugh, so I feel kind of guilty even talking about plans for this season, but since this format requires it, you might want to skip the rest of this sentence. Sherlock returns to New York after palling around with MI6, only to find that Watson’s got a boyfriend (Raza Jaffrey of Smash and the new season of Homeland). What’s a narcissistic crime solver to do? Why, get a new protege, of course – Kitty Winter, played by the excellently named Ophelia Lovibond. I’m sure that will go over well.
C: Controversial statement: for my money, Johnny Lee Miller is the best Holmes on television.
E: You didn’t.
M: Whoa! Dissing the Cumberbatch!
Parenthood (NBC, September 25th)
E: M, do you want to handle this long running family drama, seeing that Mrs. M watches it?
M: I’m not sure she kept up on last season, actually, so I didn’t catch any bits and pieces to share. But she does love it. From what I hear, in the upcoming season (the show’s last) someone’s going to get knocked up, and one of the main cast members will die. Because despite a breast cancer storyline, they haven’t bumped anyone off yet, and that way, the ending won’t be too perfect.
E: Because who want a happy ending? I’ve never really wanted to watch this (I favor shows that are less like my real life), although I wish both show runner Jason Katims and star Lauren Graham well, and I loved the 80s film on which it was based.
M: We all did; highly underrated.
C: …I don’t think I ever saw it! It was PG-13, and I was not even close to 13.
E: What, how is that possible? M, we’ve failed her!
M: Ok, you totally need to rectify that.