Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on NBC

Today is the final day of the 2012 Fall TV Preview. It was long, tedious, and unmemorable, except for the day my unimaginative CW preview tweet was 'favorited' for the first time. I'm less excited for the Fall TV season than I was last year, and the year before that. Jane Espensen's right: networks don't take any risks. The CBS lineup is the equivalent to an airport book store that only carries the latest crime thriller or generic romantic story. The other networks haven't launched many successful dramas or comedies in recent years. Many of the returning shows are getting old. Some of the returning shows are good, some even great, but there are no shows that'll make you rearrange your schedule to be home to watch live---not in this age of DVR and OnDemand and online streaming services.

NBC's the most depressing network in existence right now. There aren't many new ideas or thoughts to share about their problems or how to fix them. At the very least, they have two of the best comedies on TV right now, though I'm hesitant about the fourth season of Community. Parenthood's good or mediocre, depending on who you talk to. The others are mostly uninteresting. Here goes the preview:

PARENTHOOD returns on Tuesday, September 11 at 10PM

Jason Katims brought Matt Lauria to the show for the fourth season. Ray Romano's stopping by for a cup of apple cider. The Middle used Ray Ramono last season, in their premiere, to no effect at all. Katims promised Sarah will give an answer to the dude who proposed marriage to her. Haddie's going to Cornell. Parenthood has a sizable cast and many storylines for each, so I'll stop here because I barely watch this show. It's a soapy show with heartfelt moments. Expect soap and heart.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE returns on Saturday, September 15 at 11:29PM

It's an Election Year. SNL will air two Thursday night Weekend Update specials on Sept. 20 & Sept. 27. There's nothing I love more than hearing Seth Meyers congratulate himself on doing double duty, because the work crunch is so tough during an episode week, but by gum they get it done; and similarly, pop culture writers praising Seth and the writers and the cast for their hard-work gets grating. SNL lost Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Abby Elliott. Jason Sudeikis will bolt once the election episodes are over. I'll miss Abby Elliott, but my girl Nasim Pedrad should be involved in more sketches now. Seth McFarlane and Joseph Gorden-Levitt will host the first two shows.

UP ALL NIGHT returns on Thursday, September 20 at 8:30PM

Creator Erin Spivey decided to drop Ava's talk show. The series struggled to balance Raegan's personal and professional life. Maya Rudolph's character overwhelmed the professional part of the show. Todd Vanderwerff of The A.V. Club reported Up All Night plans to tell smaller stories in season 2, which should help the show. I think Rudolph's amusing as Ava, but the talk show did distract from the heart of the show, which is Reagan's family.

THE OFFICE returns on Thursday, September 20 at 9PM

Season 9 is the last season for the show. I think Steve Carrell should stay away from the show. There's no need for the nostalgia cameo. I type this as someone who stopped watching the show a few years ago. Greg Daniels hopes to make a season that'll please long-time fans of the show. I read criticisms of the show for the last year. Will it rebound in its last season? I bet the only great episode is the finale, when everyone who left comes back.

PARKS AND RECREATION returns on Thursday, September 20 at 9:30PM

Leslie Knope won the Pawnee election. I know this because I watched the final five minutes of season four last night. Ben and April will be in Washington D.C. working on a congressional campaign to start the season. Leslie will be on City Council doing stuff. Andy's supposed to become a cop or something.

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT returns on Wednesday, September 26 at 9PM

Ice T called out the fans that stopped watching after Christopher Meloni left. That's smart. Ice T is the veteran of the show now. Two new detectives have been added to take Meloni and Hargitay places. Dick Wolf's excited about the different feel of the show. As for the premiere, the Captain, who woke up to a dead hooker in the finale, is fighting for his freedom in the premiere.

30 ROCK returns on Thursday, October 4 at 8PM

After thirteen episodes, which includes an extended series finale, 30 Rock will end. The last scene will probably be between Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Since this is NBC, I imagine there will be a 7 minute ovation for the stars somehow.

COMMUNITY returns Friday, October 19 at 8PM

I read an article about what Dan Harmon would've done with season 4; this doesn't help my preview, because NBC fired Dan Harmon. The new show runners will use the 'Jeff meets his dad' storyline because the executives were excited about it. The Community story I'm invested in ended in May. It officially ended when NBC fired Dan Harmon. I'm going to watch the new season to see what's done with my favorite characters. I hope the charm of the show remains, but it'll never be the same as it was when Harmon ran things; if the season sucks, no worries, because the first three seasons are terrific. The cast offered nothing about the new season during comic-con. They sat around and sang for awhile or told inside jokes.

WHITNEY returns Friday, October 19 at 8:30PM

The second googe result for 'Whitney Season 2' is: should Whitney be renewed? Doesn't that question sum up the show? The show runner changed. A Friends veteran, Wil Calhoun, takes the rein and tries to make something out of this mess. Good luck, Mr. Calhoun.

I'd like to thank thefutoncritic for being a terrific resource every year during this two-week preview. Zap2It, Huff Po, Screenrant, and Wikipedia were great aides as well. Television Without Pity helped me figure out what actually happened in the previous season of some of the returning shows. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the Fall 2012 season. And stop by the blog for my reviews of a variety of shows.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on FOX

FOX is in a comfortable spot in the network landscape. They have huge hits in both scripted and reality programming. FOX gets criticized for past mistakes but no other network develops the kind of shows they do. What network would give Fringe a chance besides FOX? Anyway, I don't have many overall thoughts about the network. Read on for the individual previews:

GLEE returns Thursday, September 13 at 9PM

The seniors graduated from McKinley but none of the characters left the show. Finn enlisted in the army, and Rachel went to New York via train. Heather Morris gets to be Britney Spears again this season. Brittany's second centric episode is another excuse to dress Heather Morris up all sexy and have her sing and gyrate. The episode will involve her missing Santana. The Glee kids finally won nationals, but I'd expect another nationals-driven arc. The new Glee Project winner gets a multi-episode arc. Oh yeah, Kate Hudson is doing a guest stint. Her career has taken a long nosedive since Almost Famous. I thought Bride Wars was rock-bottom but, no, Glee is.

BONES returns Monday, September 17 at 8PM

Bones is back on a normal production schedule now that Emily Deschanel gave birth. The series will produce 26 episodes in season eight. I'm positive that what I write will be irrelevant by November. Bones was framed last season for a crime she didn't commit. The team is working without her. They want to clear her name. Reed Diamond shows up as an authoritative personality who questions what the team is doing. Once the show gets out of this nonsense, it'll be back to cases-of-the-week, personal and relationship drama, etc. Hart Hanson hopes the series will continue airing through season ten.

NEW GIRL returns Tuesday, September 25 at 9PM

Zoey Deschanel is like a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. The problem with Cap'n Crunch is when the sugar sticks to the roof of one's mouth or gets comfortable in between the teeth and in the gums. Too much of it can be a bad thing, and so it goes with Ms. Deschanel, who wore out her welcome the second her Siri commercials aired. Her character, Jess, is zany and aloof and 'adorkable.' I don't think adorkable is a buzz word anymore. Liz Meriweather, the show's creator, is a lot like Jess. I hear her voice 100% in the show's dialogue. New Girl is a harmless series. My only gripe with it is the Zoey element, but I'm not immune to her charms. Season 2, according to Ms. Meriweather, will follow an unemployed Jess, which will lead to her taking zany jobs. The Entertainment Weekly report also reported Jess' parents will come for a visit.

FRINGE return Friday, September 28 at 9PM

The comic-con Fringe trailer is awesome, and I haven't watched the show since the pilot. I don't understand a goddamn thing I watched, but whenever Desmond David Hume shows up to save the world through time-travel, I'm on board. The Observers are in town. The Fringe team were locked in something for 20 years. Their offspring (I think?) want to help save the world. The final season looks like it'll deliver on the excellent teaser.

THE SIMPSONS returns Sunday, September 30 at 8PM

Bart's going to fall in love for 908th time in The Simpsons run, this time with Zoey Deschanel.

BOB'S BURGERS returns Sunday, September 30 at 8:30PM

Bob's Burgers is a popular little show. I read something about a crossover between this show and Archer because of Jon Benjamin. Who knows, though. In season 3, the kids will get a job on a pot farm. That should be fun.

FAMILY GUY returns Sunday, September 30 at 9PM

Seth McFarlane doesn't lack for ideas. In season 11, Brian will climb Mount Everest; Lois will experience a midlife crisis; Quagmire marries a hooker; and Carter found the cure for cancer. Family Guy will celebrate its 200th episode this season, probably with a Brian/Stewie musical adventure.

AMERICAN DAD  returns Sunday, September 30 at 9:30PM

My friend, Funk, said American Dad is the best Seth McFarlane show on television. Ron Weasley is among the many guest voices in season eight. Alison Brie and Charlie Day and Chloe Grace Moretz are other notable people you'll hear this season.

RAISING HOPE returns Tuesday, October 2 at 8PM

THE CLEVELAND SHOW returns Sunday, October 7 at 7:30PM

Wikipedia tells me Cleveland "becomes entangled with a rap Illuminati" in the fourth season premiere. Expect guest voices and guest musical acts, including Kanye and Nicki Minaj.

TOUCH returns Friday, October 26 at 8PM

Tim Kring said season two will be more serialized.


The 2012 Summer Re-Watch: Everwood "Sick" Review

Everwood maintained a balance between melodramatic flair and deeply felt drama. The show succeeded because the writers never lost sight of the simplicity in their storytelling. Amy turned into a Lifetime movie of the week character during the middle portion of the season, but the writers didn't forget how Amy got to that place. The melodramatics of her arc were tempered by the deeply human touch of the writers in the room and in their offices, typing away, writing the script.

The balance is essential in "Sick." Linda being HIV-Positive is no longer a secret. Delia found Linda filling her pill box with a variety of pills and innocently asked her why she takes so many of them. Linda didn't lie to the child; she explained her disease, what it meant, and kindly asked that their talk remain a secret. Delia told her best friend Brittany because she was sad and trusting of her best friend to keep the secret. Brittany didn't. Her parents stormed into the Abbott practice, demanding answers for why the two doctors failed to disclose Linda's disease. Edna, Harold, Linda, and Andy, gathered in an office and game-planned for the town's reaction. The citizens of Everwood are often described, in times of crisis, with apocalyptic language. Edna expects Salem witch trial-like behavior, and Rose urges her husband to listen to the demands of the people to avoid catastrophe. Last season, in the abortion episode, according to Harold, the discovery of a doctor performing an abortion would end in the town massacring the doctor and his family (I'm embellishing for effect).

Harold will not bend to the town, and he is prepared to fight for his sister until they win their case. The citizens intend on taking the doctors to court for 'emotional distress' and 'fraud' because they opted not to disclose Linda's condition. Linda's silent during the impassioned parts of the episode. Harold's determined to fight for family and to not let the town win again. Slowly, though, Harold finds himself on an island. Linda doesn't want to fight; Rose advises Harold to listen to the town's demands to avoid court; Edna wants to respect what Linda wants and urges Harold to let his sister do what she wants and move on and continue to practice medicine. The words that echo throughout "Sick" are 'move on.'

Linda's disease was something no one really acknowledged or contemplated. Andy contemplated the disease before their relationship began but never really considered how the reality of the disease would affect his children. Harold disclosed his sister's to disease to everyone but the people she treated. They wanted to forget the reality. The town won't let them forget or act like everything is normal. The town's involvement is a minor part of the episode; what matters is the degree to which everyone must finally confront Linda's condition. Bright, Amy and Ephram are told about her disease. Ephram gets so worried he asks Andy to stop seeing her; Bright and Amy are sort of shell-shocked, but they'll just try to make Linda feel as normal as possible, and when people use that line of thought, it means life isn't normal.

The melodramatic flair of the episode involves the town versus the Abbotts, the threat of the practice losing its malpractice insurance, and so on. The deeply felt human drama is with Linda, who subdued in every scene. Linda isn't mad or upset. The character's written like she expected the truth to come out eventually and that nothing surprises her; you know, she expected it. Linda doesn't fight the town, but she fights Harold for wanting to fight for her; Linda doesn't fight Andy when he tells her their relationship can't go on. It's like Linda knew life in Everwood would be temporary. Linda doesn't struggle to keep the roots she planted in Everwood in the ground. She exhibits a quiet strength and resolve in all of her scenes. She'll be moving on now.

Ephram asks his father why he's dating a woman who could cause him and the family so much pain. He wants Andy to imagine a day when Linda's disease isn't dormant and Delia experiences the loss of another mother. The initial question, about why Andy chose to be in a relationship with Linda, isn't actually answered; the same question attaches itself to the other women Andy will date before the series ends. Andy's a complex character, and the writers don't shed light on his specific motivations until the season finale. Ephram's words about being terrified of losing him lead to Andy ending the relationship with Linda. Ephram inevitably feels guilt after he watches Linda and Delia talk, but Andy's mind is made up. Andy doesn't answer the question about how he's able to go on while still loving a woman who he's not with. Andy's carried around his love for Julia, and the love he felt for Linda will linger in the same way.

The Abbott practice does not escape the situation unscathed, despite adhering to the town's demands. Indeed, the ethical matter is dealt with in absolutes; there is no middle ground: the practice should've disclosed. Harold's met with a terrible surprise when a rep. from his malpractice insurance informs him that the insurance has been pulled while they investigate the practice for 'failure to disclose their intent of non-disclosure.' Harold cannot practice medicine without insurance. So, sadness and disappointment are plentiful around Everwood in "Sick."

The teenagers aren't having as bad a week as the adults. Ephram's moping around about Madison. Amy's feeling good about being off her medication. Bright rebounded well from the college disappointments. Bright's mood sours when Amy admits to possibly feeling a shift in feelings for Ephram. Amy felt for him early on in the season but then she let him go because she didn't want to deny him happiness with Madison, and she felt like she couldn't make him a priority. Seasons changed. Amy changed. Ephram is her guy now. Bright opposes the romantic union because he doesn't want to see his boy get crushed so soon after Madison crushed him. Amy's feelings for Ephram are re-introduced as set-up for the final three episodes.

The A story overwhelms any other story in "Sick." The episode succeeded because of the balance between melodramatic flair and deeply felt human drama. The balance separated Everwood from other family-dramas and is one of the reasons it was hailed as 'one of the best family dramas in years' by the Detroit Free-Press in 2003.

Other Thoughts:

-Delia beats Brittany up for telling her parents the secret. Arnie also makes a rare re-appearance and, of course, he's being bullied around by the girls. Brittany tells him to run because she wants to play dodgeball. He runs. Brittany and Delia talk about Linda. I assume Arnie just kept running and running.

-I'm going to write about Everwood on Tuesdays until the re-watch ends, starting this Tuesday.

-Michael Green wrote the episode. David Paymer directed it.

UP NEXT: "Do or Die"--Linda thinks it may be time to leave Everwood; Ephram and Amy go to prom with Bright; Dr. Douglas returns with a request for Andy. Watch the episode on


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on The CW, AMC, HBO, FX, Showtime, Syfy

The CW decided to premiere their returning shows in the beautiful month of October. For years and years, The WB and, now, The CW, thought it was in their best interest to launch their fall schedule before the major networks. The collective thought by the executives went: "If we launch Gossip Girl early then maybe people will decide to watch the show every week instead of Castle or CBS sitcom." People watched the early premieres for their shows and then left when the other shows returned. The CW then had to deal with prolonged hiatuses which hurt viewership even more. Really, the decision to run their shows early year after year couldn't have been a worse call. The last hiatus before May sweeps was usually two months long. Now, The CW understands it doesn't matter what month or week their shows premiere because viewership will always be disappointing.

Cable and premium channels offer a wide variety of returning shows this fall. The CW's shows are mostly about good looking people hanging out in a supernatural world or good looking people hanging out in a normal world. On cable, though, there are zombies to watch, motorcycle gangs and Claire Danes. On premium channels, i.e. HBO, Steve Buscemi walks around in 1920s fashion beating people up, or one could enjoy David Simon's Treme, which is a great series about life in New Orleans post-Katrina. I wrote last year that the great thing about TV now is, if you don't like something on one channel, just switch to another, and you'll probably find something you enjoy. I've become a fan of the shows on Syfy because summer TV sucked last year, and I decided to watch Alphas and then gave Lost Girl a shot; and, of course, I always watch Friday Night Smackdown. I even watch the nonsense pawn shop show on TruTV. I've just started watching old Phineas and Ferb episodes, and I am convinced Doofenschmirtz is one of the greatest characters ever created.

So, sit back in your computer chair, pour yourself a beverage, get a snack or two, and settle in for today's preview of returning shows.


HART OF DIXIE returns Tuesday, October 2 at 8PM on The CW

Hart of Dixie is a sweet and charming show. I watched two episodes last season. The finale in particular was a pleasant experience and made me regret spending so much time on The Secret Circle, because TSC was a miserable show to watch whereas Hart of Dixie improved my mood. Season 2's premiere will immediately deal with the wedding aftermath, George's confession to Zoe, Wade hanging out naked upstairs waiting for more sex with Zoe, and so on. I'll guess things will get complicated and nothing will actually be solved by the end of the premiere.

SUPERNATURAL returns Wednesday, October 3 at 9PM on The CW

I never thought a Jensen Ackles show would have seven seasons, let alone eight. Jensen Ackles played Jen's shitty boyfriend in the sixth season of Dawson's Creek. I thought Ackles was flat, boring, and not the type to co-lead a show. Well, I was wrong. I feel confused each time I read about Supernatural. Dean's returning from purgatory? How'd THAT happen? DJ Qualls will return as Garth. Is Garth good or bad? The brothers will spend time apart as the season kicks-off because Sam ate the last ice cream bar in the refrigerator. Dean cannot forgive that.

90120 returns Monday, October 8 at 8PM on The CW

This series has no goddamn dignity. Carly Rae Jepsen's going to guest star as herself? Why? The CW promises "MORE!" More of good laughs and good times and good looking people smiling. According to The CW's 90210 May Press Release, the characters will face the toughest challenges of their lives. I'm fairly positive last year's press release stated the same thing about the characters because they were transitioning from high school to college. The characters have comfortably left "West Bev" behind but face the challenges of adults. Expect nothing less than "Life, death, love, loyalty, betrayal" in the season premiere, which seems like an awful lot of ground to cover in 41 minutes. Take away five minutes for Carly Rae Jepsen to perform "Call Me Maybe" and the show will have around 35-36 minutes for life, death, love and so on. Later in the season, Ryan Lochte's going to guest star. The Olympian swimmer can't get his head around delivering lines while in motion.

GOSSIP GIRL returns Monday, October 8 at 9PM on The CW

More people watch a cat hum the Game of Thrones theme than a single episode of Gossip Girl. The CW's marketing team deserves a collective raise for making this show seem like a must-see event for a few years in a row. It will finally end after 13 episodes. Among the plot points are a missing Serena, some rich guy trying to get his empire back (what the hell?), and the search to reveal who Gossip Girl is. Listen, I'll answer that question right here and now: it's Kristen Bell! I know, I know, that was lame. I'll also answer the Serena question: Blake Lively's time is clearly more valuable now. I mean, she took part in a group interview with Charlie Rose in promotion of Savages, and she dates Leonardo DiCaprio (I think). Bon voyage, Gossip Girl.

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES returns Thursday, October 11 at 8PM on The CW

Elena is a vampire now. Bonnie's going to confront the darkness within her. Damon and Stefan will continue to try to win the hearts of Vampire Elena. The season three finale was quite good and quite effective in changing the dynamic of the show. Julie Plec's the type of showrunner who seems overeager to dish about her show. The season premiere will focus on Elena's transformation; if one reads interviews with Plec, one already knows where Stefan's mind will be during it as well as Damon's. TVD is a good show, and its great episodes are must-watch episodes. Season 3 stumbled a bit in the middle. I learned Julie Plec doesn't keep a show-bible, makes a lot of stuff up as she goes along, is a fangirl and a shipper, and she's steering the ship now with Williamson writing about serial killers for FOX. I have concerns about season 4. I hope the quality is maintained along with the breathtaking twists and turns. If the show continues to falter, at least I can distract myself with Nina Dobrev, who is so, so pretty.

But this is interesting (from the press release): Season Four begins with the knowledge that everything is changing. As Elena and her friends enter into the final stretch of high school before graduation sends them off on different paths, their bond to their home town of Mystic Falls takes on a deeper meaning when a new villain seems intent on destroying it.

NIKITA returns Friday, October 19 at 9PM on The CW

Nikita has a new team in season 3. I think she's still fighting The Division. Nikita and Alex may be friends again, but Alex may be working with the enemy. The press release isn't clear.


SWITCHED AT BIRTH returns Monday, September 3 at 8PM

The return marks the beginning of the second half of season one. Is that correct? Switched At Birth gets good reviews. People like the show. I watched a promo for the return. Many people yell during it. A male youth pushes another male youth down. The words "I Do" will, apparently, change everything. ABC Family promos have the same elements: friendly narrator announces the return of the show just before an abrupt shift in musical chords and then he gets down to business of drama and nonsense. I kept seeing promos for Pretty Little Liars; there are no differences between PLL promos and SaB promos. Well, that was an uninteresting remark.


THE WALKING DEAD returns Sunday, October 14 at 9PM (and TALKING DEAD returns the same night at 11PM, which is then followed by Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men at 11:30pm)

Carl is still wearing the cowboy hat! Now that that's out of the way, season three is supposed to be epic and intense and the best year of the show. Glen Mazarra feels enthusiasm for the new season. On a Nerdist Writers Panel Podcast, he and his fellow writers, Angela Kang and Scott Gimple, talked about how much happens in five episodes, compared to all of season two. The Governer shows up; the gang finds shelter the prison; Michonne will play a promiment role in the season. Season 2 finished strongly. I'm confident in Glen Mazarra. He's convinced me he and his staff know what they're doing, know what was wrong was wrong and will be fixed; plus, he thinks a lot about the show and the characters. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to season three. I dare predict the show will make a huge leap when it returns October 14th.


DOCTOR WHO returns Saturday, September 1 at 9PM

A friend of mine and I talked about Doctor Who one time. He thought about watching the entire series, from 1960s onwards. I'd like to watch Doctor Who because of the show's creative team. They're the same guys who write and produce BBC's Sherlock. I originally posted an excerpt of the BBC America press release; however, the excerpt is too spoilery. The Doctor will have his hands full this season.

BEDLAM returns Saturday, October 6 at 9PM

The show "dares to imagine Melrose Place...if it were haunted!" Well, then. Ashley Medekwe's one of the leads. I recognize her from ABC's Revenge, and I'm not all surprised Europeans utilized her talents way more than American producers. 666 Park Ave seems like a rip-off of Bedlam. The series format is procedural but with an on-going mystery about the owners of the haunted hotel the characters inhabit. I don't know what to expect in season 2. I just might tune in because I suddenly have a crush on Ashley Medekwe.


TOSH.0 returns Tuesday, September 25 at 10PM

Daniel Tosh is a busy man this fall between his own show and his new animated show. I don't know why I included this show in the post. I have nothing to write about it. Here's hoping for more amusing Internet Redemption videos.

SOUTH PARK returns Wednesday, September 26 at 10PM

It's difficult to preview South Park due to the creative process of Trey and Matt. They won't know what they're doing until a week before the air date. The first half of season 16 had its moments. I loved the "Cash for Gold" episode. "Butterballs" had the great Butters storyline followed by Stan's "Jackin It in San Diego" video. I look forward to the second half of the season.

KEY & PEELE returns Wednesday, September 26 at 10:30PM

This sketch comedy show returns for a second season. They'll make you laugh throughout their ten episode season.


30 FOR 30 returns Tuesday, October 2 at 8PM

Billy Corben directed film that'll air on October 2. The film follows athletes who lost all the money they earned. Cliff Floyd is among them, a name I did not expect to see. 30 for 30 produced terrific films two years ago. The films set to air in October vary in subject matter, from Bo Jackson to the senseless murder of a star athlete in Chicago the day before his senior season was set to begin.


SONS OF ANARCHY returns Tuesday, September 11 at 10PM

Ashley Tisdale will be involved in a multi-episode arc on Sons of Anarchy. Tisdale, who's last series work was on The CW's Hellcats, is the last actress I expected to appear in this motorcycle drama. My questions about the new season would piss of Kurt Sutter and loyal SOA fans. See, I want to know if Opie's beard will remain the same. Opie's beard is a work of art. I know Opie wanted to kill Ron Pearlman's character in the finale, but I don't know what happened. In between seasons, Kurt Sutter attacked critics for their weekly criticism of shows. Sutter specifically targeted The A.V. Club. In turn, critics turned on Sutter and tried to engage him in intelligent and reasonable discourse about weekly reviews. I think Sutter responded with a string of expletives. Joel McHale will try out drama; he'll appear in a multi-episode arc. Zap2It reported from Comic-Con last month about Sutter's comments on the new season: Jax's leadership of SAMCRO will be front and center. Cool.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM returns Wednesday, October 17 at 10PM

Season 2 is set in a medical hospital. Ryan Murphy said the season will be set in a new time period, completely separate from season 1 (thanks to screenrant for the info). New actors and actresses have been cast. Entertainment Weekly is set to release an issue that covers the second season of the show. New viewers can tune in easily.

IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA returns Sometime in October

It's Always Sunny doesn't have an official premiere date. It should return sometime in October. The FX promos are Japanese-themed. That says nothing about the eighth season.

THE LEAGUE returns Sometime in October

The same thing is going on with The League. No premiere date. No information about the new season.


BOARDWALK EMPIRE returns Sunday, September 16 at 9PM on HBO

Season 2 had a shocking twist that'll reverberate into season 3. Nucky Thompson's a harder man now, more ruthless and dangerous. I lost interest in the show after the season two premiere. The tag for Season 3 is: "War is Here." I'd expect violence, corruption, and all that jazz.

TREME returns Sunday, September 23 at 10PM

I think Treme is a tremendous series. Season 3 will tackle stories about the continued rebuilding of New Orleans and the realization that people can only rely on themselves to get things done. David Simon's talked about the never-give-up attitude of New Orleans, the endurance and fortitude of its people, and he plans on highlighting that in the newest season, which could be its last. I'm excited to watch Lucia Micarelli's Annie front her own band; some of my favorite scenes are when she's just playing the violin. It also appears she'll get a little sexy this season. I suggest anyone reading to watch the show if you haven't. I'm not sure if Treme will get the love The Wire got after it ended, but it could, so be there when the show was actually on the air.


WALLANDER returns Sunday, September 9 at 9PM

Kenneth Branagh plays a Swedish detective. PBS is airing its third series (season), if I'm not mistaken. I'm not familiar with the show beyond knowing Branagh plays Wallander.

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS returns Sunday, October 7 at 9PM

From the PBS Press Release: Set in 1936, the lives of masters and servants have never been so captivating, as two new arrivals make their mark and Lady Agnes reveals a dark secret.


DEXTER returns Sunday, September 30 at 9PM

Wow, so quite a bit happened in the season six finale. I won't write about it in case anyone who's innocently reading the preview happens upon this and doesn't want Dexter spoiled. Season 7 seems to have new direction. The producers will tell a story from season 7 until season 8, its final season.

HOMELAND returns Sunday, September 30 at 10PM

I might eventually watch the show, and I don't want to spoil myself by researching what happened last season. Just remember the day and time the second season premieres. Perhaps the producers should hire Treat Williams for a multi-episode arc.


HAVEN returns Friday, September 21 at 10PM

Syfy's website promises the characters true colors will be revealed. The series has been off the air for 11 months. Syfy held the show back from a summer premiere for reasons unknown to me. I thought the show was cancelled. Audrey Parker promised season 3 is the 'season of answers.' Okay then.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN: NO RESERVATIONS returns Monday, September 3 at 9PM

The final season of No Reservations kicks off in Austin, Texas, during SXSW. Bourdain's moved onto CNN to produce different features for them. No Reservations is a great show. Don't miss out on Bourdain's last No Reservations excursions.


BURN NOTICE returns Thursday, November 8 at 10PM


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2012 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on CBS

Ah, CBS: the sexiest network in America.

CBS brought back fifteen shows again. Two and a Half Men changed nights, going from Monday to Thursday. The Mentalist will air on Sundays at 10PM now. Aside from those changes, CBS is completely the same. The network is America's Most Watched. Jim Nantz reminds football viewers of this fact every Sunday. It seems pointless to criticize the network or to even poke fun at it. What's there to criticize? What's there to poke fun at? Nearly everything Les Moonves buys finds success. I'll just get on with the preview.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER returns Monday, September 24 at 8PM

This series will never end, will it? Each year, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas answer questions about an end date for the series. Presumably, the show will end after this season. The creative juices are nearly dry. The episodes vary from bad-to-worse-to-awful. The mother question is uninteresting now. The show spun its wheels too long. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Ted walked by a hot dog stand and Future Ted said the hot dog stand has an interesting story behind it and then 12 weeks later there would be an episode about Ted falling in love with a hot dog that he ate from the stand. The ratings get better each season though. A time existed when fans feared the show would be cancelled. Now, many people want the show to end because each passing episode is worse than the one that came before. Abby Elliott's joining the show for a multi-episode arc as a crazy girl who one of the gang likes more and more the crazier she acts. The finale revealed Barney and Robin will marry in the future. Right now, Barney's in a relationship with Quinn so that'll be an area to untangle. This show sucks now, but I will continue writing about it every week.

2 BROKE GIRLS returns Monday, September 24 at 9PM

2 Broke Girls infuriated TV critics all season. They asked show runner Michael Patrick King during the TCAs in January about the offensive humor he continually employed in the show. King, Dennings and Behrs acted oblivious to what offended the critics in the jokes the show tells. I watched a few episodes and mostly remember the facial jokes and the stereotypical portrayal of an Asian man. The premise hasn't changed. The broke girls are trying to raise money for a cupcake business. Each week they take on jobs and get into adventures. Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs have great chemistry. I don't know what's in store for season two but I know the premiere is titled "And The Pearl Necklace."

MIKE & MOLLY returns Monday, September 24 at 9:30PM

The question on the minds of Mike & Molly fans is: did Mike and Molly get married? I hope that's right. If not, I'll learn the painful lesson that comes with blindly trusting the internet. I never watched the show. I can't find much information about season 3. I assume Mike and Molly eloped because the premiere is titled "The Honeymoon Is Over." The title suggests the episode will explore the difficulties of newly-weds. I imagine the early part of the season will get some stories out the newly-wed angle. I'll remind you that I'm shooting in the dark with my speculation. Boy Meets World married off Cory and Topanga and the aftermath of the wedding sucked to watch. I'm not surprised a CBS sitcom is using this trope.

HAWAII FIVE-O returns Monday, September 24 at 10PM

Season 2 ended with several cliffhangers that'll need to be resolved. McGarrett's mother is back in the fold. Several guest stars are lined up, including Christine Lahti. I have a soft spot for Five-O. I enjoy the characters and the Hawaiian setting. I disliked most of season 2 because it lost what made season 1 a blast to watch. Five-O Producers promise a 'shocking' death, but it'll probably Kono, which will sadden me, because I'm the only Kono fan in America.

NCIS returns Tuesday, September 25 at 8PM

A bomb went off in the season nine finale, but Zap2It's Rick Porter thinks the characters-in-peril will be just fine because they signed brand new contracts. I wonder why a bomb went off in the NCIS offices. Who is behind it? How did it get in? I hope the answers to my questions will be answered in the premiere titled "Extreme Prejudice." If they aren't, I won't even know, because I don't watch the show.

NCIS: LOS ANGELES returns Tuesday, September 25 at 9PM

CBS's website comes through when I needed it! Season 4 will open with Hatty experiencing trouble adjusting to retired life and Callen on suspension. The older woman with glasses who I see in previews is photograph on a boat quizzical. Expect a boat to be involved, some rope, Eric Christian Olsen will hold a cell phone in his hands, LL Cool J is wearing a watch. Exciting things abound in the season 4 premiere, friends and well-wishers. Also, I perused the list of past directors. I approve of them. Terrence O'Hara and James Whitmore Jr. are alums of the Buffyverse.

CRIMINAL MINDS returns Wednesday, September 26 at 9PM

The Criminal Minds team has a new team member. Her name is Alex Blake. In the premiere, they'll investigate a murder committed by a twisted man. I tried to watch a recap video of Criminal Minds but stopped after three minutes. I really thought this show was off the air until I remembered its spinoff is the Criminal Minds that got cancelled.

CSI returns Wednesday, September 26 at 10PM

Ted Danson earned accolades for his performance during season 12. I heard he revitalized the series. I'm looking through pictures of the premiere as I type. Ted Danson WILL investigate a crime scene and will glare menacingly at a male in a prison cell while coated in a greenish glare. Danson's granddaughter will climb through an air-vent while Elisabeth Shue watches. Elisabeth Shue briefly smiles as well, so let's assume the team's handling a gruesome case for 37 of the 41 minutes of episode time. I have no idea how last season ended or what season thirteen has in store. I know Ted Danson will be wearing glasses.

THE BIG BANG THEORY returns Thursday, September 27 at 8PM

The Big Bang Theory's Wiki page has a list of plot points to expect for the upcoming season. Just know the gang will have deal with adult themes this season. I suppose Sheldon will still freak out over an opened can of yogurt he wanted to have. Apparently, he's in a relationship; that should be fun to watch.

TWO AND A HALF MEN returns Thursday, September 27 at 8:30PM

Nearly every returning CBS show has either been on the air for a decade plus or is nearing a decade run. Two and a Half Men enters its tenth season. Holy hell. I watched most of 2001's Texas Rangers, starring James Van Der Beek, Rachel Leigh Cook, Dylan McDermott, Usher and Ashton Kutcher. Aside from the shock that none of their careers became what the info box anticipated for them, with the exception of Usher, Ashton Kutcher played the dopiest cowboy in the history of American cinema. In this show, I assume Kutcher laughs his way through every scene he's in or looks down constantly or gesticulates wildly. Anyway, Miley Cyrus signed on for a two-episode guest stint. Does this mean the kid from See Spot Run will date Miley Cyrus for two episodes?

PERSON OF INTEREST returns on Thursday, September 27 at 9PM

I watched the five minute recap of Person of Interest because I watched two episodes of the procedural drama last fall. Season 1 ended with a woman forcing Finch to shut down the machine. Reese answered a pay phone in the last scene of the video recap. I also saw Amy Acker flee. I meant to watch the season finale because I love Amy Acker. Carter became a more prominent character. The feds tried to close in on Reese. Now, Finch needs to be rescued, Finch needs to run the machine and continue saving lives with his FBI pals.

CSI: NEW YORK returns Friday, September 28 at 8PM

The season nine premiere is titled "Reignited." I hope that's a nod to the series being renewed at the very last minute of CSI: Miami. According to TV Line's Matt Mitovich, season 9 will begin with an arsonist being unleashed on the city.

BLUE BLOODS returns Friday, September 28 at 10PM

The family dealt with legal troubles in season 2. Bridget Moynihan was recruited to investigate her own family, I think. Donnie Wahlberg shot an officer to death but didn't know he shot an officer. Tom Selleck and his moustache ran things from a dinner table or office desk. The CBS recap ended with Selleck contemplating a threat. Blue Bloods fans, feel free to leave angry comments for my lack of information and guesswork. I couldn't find a damn thing about season 3 anywhere I looked.

THE GOOD WIFE returns Sunday, September 30 at 9PM

Kalinda wants to kill her ex-husband and Alicia will defend people only in the season 4 premiere! Kristen Chenoworth will guest star in the premiere while a bunch of drama goes on. Kalinda's relationship with Nate seems unhealthy considering the various Good Wife stories lead with the character's desire to kill him. Is The Good Wife still a beloved show? Is the series 'so last week,' as people in the mid-to-late 90s would say? I think Homeland stole The Good Wife's spotlight.

THE MENTALIST returns Sunday, September 30 at 10PM

Jane shot Red John, but no one is sure whether or not the man he shot is actually Red John. The Red John storyline just continues to chug along, eh? Jane also wants to figure out the connection between Lorelai and Red John. Lorelai is portrayed by the lovely and so-good-looking-it's-unfair Emmanuelle Chriqui. CBS's premiere pictures have been a savior for this post, and the picture of Emmanuelle sitting in a orange prison jumpsuit is by far the best picture I've seen. Also, the main characters will investigate a murder or a kidnapping in the premiere.


The 2012 Summer Re-Watch: Dawson's Creek "Parental Discretion Advised" Review

The second season finale of Dawson's Creek is, strangely, about parents and guardians. The choice is strange because Dawson's Creek revolves around the teenager characters and their problems. The parents aren't crucial characters in the arcs of the teens. Mitch and Gail are usually involved in marital storylines; Mr. Witter comes around when Pacey needs to feel like a piece a shit; Mike Potter comes around when he's released from prison; Jen's parents sent her to her grandmother, her guardian, and Grams hasn't become the stable presence Jen needs. As the season closes though, the focus shifts from teenager to parent, the person or persons who shaped Dawson and Joey and Pacey and Jen.

The teenagers speak a sophisticated language; they use advanced vocabulary. The writers liked to show off their education through Dawson's Creek dialogue but they never strayed from the essential emotions of their characters. The teenagers get hurt easily. They cry. They laugh. They sometimes launch into monologues. They also need a support system. No matter how grown up they try to act, like Jen's misguided thought that she'll be able to live alone at sixteen, or Joey's tough exterior of independence and strength. Joey and Jen want to protect themselves, so they build walls. Pacey broke down in "Uncharted Waters" when he carried his drunken father to a beach, and he told his father everything he's wanted to say to him since he was a little boy. Dawson's too stubborn to admit why he doesn't want his mother moving to Philadelphia; his parents break-up becomes a day-to-day reality for him.

Joey and Bessie benefited the most from the presence of their father. Mike's plans for The Ice House would free the Potters from their debt. The Ice House would become the number one place for good food and good entertainment in Capeside. Mike's re-introduction into society was met with hesitance but the family quickly overcame the glares and stares and whispers behind their backs. Dawson spotted Mike dealing in the penultimate episode but kept the secret to himself. In the finale, the Capeside police have staked out The Ice House and Dawson feels torn between telling and not telling. Things get worse when The Ice House is lost in a fire started by rival drug dealers.

The swiftness of the drug war and the burning of The Ice House seems forced and contrived, a choice made only because it is the season finale and shit needs to go down. Dawson tells Joey the truth about what she saw. Joey refuses to believe her boyfriend and says they're relationship won't survive if he persists in saying it. Dawson thinks the truth is worth the risk. Joey and Dawson watched The Age of Innocence in the teaser and talked about unrequited love, sad love stories, and so on. Joey liked sad stories because characters loved someone regardless of the circumstances whereas Dawson liked happy stories because they ended with two people happily in love. That's foreshadowing the dramatic final scene of the finale.

Joey decides to wear a wire when she asks her dad for the truth about his drug-dealing. Dawson and his parents accompanied Joey to the police station where her options were discussed. The experiences for
Dawson and his parents were different than Joey's. Later, Mitch told Gail how glad he was that they were both there for Dawson when he needed them, that he thought of it as a sign they should get back together and she should not move to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Joey's life is drastically changing again. There is no support system for her. She thinks she is betraying her dad by turning him in. Mike tells his daughter that he's weak when he confesses as a reason why he regressed. Joey watches his father leave in the custody of the police. And then she tells Dawson she'll never forgive him for what he did and that she wants to forget him.
Katie Holmes brought the emotion and pathos to the storyline. The conclusion to Mike's arc felt hollow. Perhaps it's because there wasn't enough time spent with him and Joey. The few scenes in which Joey contemplated the normal life she would have now were the best parts of the arc. The conclusion was designed to break Dawson and Joey up again, too, even though Dawson didn't behave badly or make up the drug dealing thing. Leery tried to help; it was one of his most genuinely helpful and selfless acts this season, and he got screwed for it. The writers succeeded in making Dawson sympathetic at least, but it won't last. Oh no, it will not last at all.

The Joey/Dawson/Mike storyline isn't too big of a problem, though it's inevitably forgotten by the series. Mike becomes an off-screen reference who Joey thinks about every now and again, and there isn't a ripple effect from the final two scenes. The biggest problem in the finale is the depiction of Jen, which I went on and on about three weeks ago in the Abby Morgan review. Jen was the cool girl the last two weeks. In the finale, she's suddenly suicidal and near-tears in every scene. Jack's playing the role of a helpline volunteer. During the fire, Jen looks like she wants to walk into the flames and burns, which she later sort of confirms but she adds she's just unhappy and not actively trying to die. Jack's concerned and frankly tells her the truth: she needs a home, she needs her grandmother, she needs stability, and she needs to feel love. Jack knows how numbing hating one's self can be and he won't watch Jen continue to hate herself.

Grams and Jen finally reconcile in the last act. Jen lists three things she needs in order for their reunion to be pleasant and lasting, last of which is a room for Jack, but the first two are about respect and communication. Grams gushes just to have her granddaughter home. Grams understood the error of her ways and apologized; Jen finally stops being a teenage drama queen and understands the necessity of Grams in her life. Jen had a strange and inconsistent journey in season two. I won't repeat the many words I wrote three weeks ago, but the final storyline of Jen's represented her strange and inconsistent journey. I don't think Kevin Williamson ever figured out this character.

Pacey and his father reconcile as well but not without a struggle. Mr. Witter insults his son's pain over Andie's departure. Pacey's told to focus on school and man up. Father and son get physical too. Pacey admitted his need for his father earlier in the season. Pacey cannot communicate the need to his father because his father won't listen. The two come to peace with another. A conversation with Andie made Mr. Witter realize the depth of his son's pain, so on a sun-drenched morning in Capeside, Pacey's father apologizes. Pacey hugs his father and weeps about how much he misses Andie. Pacey would've been lost without Andie if not for his father realizing the mistakes he made and his attempts to make up for many times he wasn't around when his son needed him. The most triumphant moment of the season is reconciliation between father and son.

And so here ends the 2012 Summer Re-Watch of Dawson's Creek. The season's not the smoothest arc-wise. It's broken up into three distinct acts, so the whole feels scattered; however, season two is the show's strongest season. There are good-to-terrific episodes, terrific character moments, great scenes of Dawson being a jackass, and Katie Holmes is never better than in season two. I forgot how consistently good Kerr Smith was throughout the season, but I was disappointed to remember how involved Pacey is with Andie because his characterization suffers as she somewhat becomes him. I felt more disappointment in seeing how lousy Jen's portrayed, how scattered and inconsistent the character is. I felt especially disappointed that Rachel Leigh Cook stopped by for one episode; my memory betrayed me, as I thought she was around for 2 or 3 episodes.

I'd like to stick to my word and declare that I'll never write about another season of Dawson's Creek again; however, I quite enjoy writing about this melodramatic teen soap. I do think this must be the end of the line, though.

Greg Berlanti wrote the finale. Kevin Williamson left the series after season two to work on his short-lived ABC drama Wasteland. Berlanti ran the show in seasons three and four, if I'm not mistaken, before he left the series. Season 3 is a good season and season 4 is decent. The show goes to hell when Kapinos takes the reins for the college years.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Grimm "Bad Moon Rising" Review

Grimm is just a solid, solid show now. David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf and Richard Hatem and the rest of the writing staff and cast and crew had no break in the production schedule because of NBC's desire to fast-track season two for the Olympics. Through three episodes of season two, it's just a pleasure to watch now. That old Greenwalt magic is back in full force.

The first two episodes were macro in scale; the episodes gave time to every character, highlighted the return of Nick's mother, and had an info dump for the audience. The emphasis on serialization and the mythology of the show was quite welcomed. The strength of the last half of season one was actually in the case-of-the-week stories. The show began telling effective case-of-the-week stories complete with memorable characters and substantive stories. So, I looked forward to Grimm returning to the case-of-the-week format because I wanted to see if the quality would be maintained or if the quality would decline due to NBC's desire to appeal to a broader audience. So far, so good, friends and well-wishers, because "Bad Moon Rising" was great.

The case-of-the-week was personal. A personal story for a character is way more effective than a non-personal story. One could argue the introduction of Mark Pellegrino's George and his past with Hank was convenient or contrived, but it worked. The majority of procedurals lose me because the storytelling's as cold as an examining table in a medical office. This story wasn't; Hank is the godfather of George's daughter, who's been kidnapped. Hank's actually the centerpiece character of the episode. The case will succeed or fail because of him. The nightmares and flashes from his run-ins with Monroe and other Wesen or Blutbads drove Hank to a place where he almost turned in his badge because he felt himself to be a danger to the precinct and the innocent citizens of Portland. The story led Hank to a place where he'd confront the demons he sees and either break or break-through.

Mark Pellegrino's George is a respectable father and an old friend of Hank's. George belongs to the Coyotls, a pack of wolf/coyote hybrid Wesen/Blutbad/Need-Clarification-on-Creature-Types who react poorly when one leaves the pack, which is what George did over a decade ago. The reason his family kidnaps his daughter Carly is disturbing and sickening. Grimm's been able to tell creepy, disturbing and sickening tales in the past; the original Grimm fairy tales, before Walt Disney got his hands on them, were disturbing and creepy and sometimes sickening, so Greenwalt and Kouf retained that quality. Carly is a 17 year old girl whom the rest of the pack wants to initiate. Girls are initiated into the pack through sexual intercourse with the males of the pack, in a single night under a full moon, while tied to rope. The act is also incestuous. It's absolutely disturbing, and the coyotls instantly become one of the most loathsome creatures introduced into the mythology of the show.

There isn't a breakthrough in the case until Nick communicates with George one-on-one about what he is and what George is. The case moves at a blistering pace from then on. Hank and Nick track down the location of the family. The family hears about the police's interest in them. A stand-off is inevitable. Between these beats are disturbing scenes in the foreclosed land the family is using to initiate Carly into the pack that includes a violent bathing scene and overtures of rape. All the while a sense pervades the scenes with Hank, George and Nick that Hank's ignorance is hindering the case.

Hank learns the truth in a barn after Carly's rescued. George is held captive by his family while Carly freaks out inside because she's afraid Nick will kill her because she's a coyotl. Hank sees Carly's coyotl face and aims his gun at her. Nick calms him down by relating to his partner, swearing that Hank's not alone, that he, Nick, sees what Hank sees and has seen those things longer and that he can explain, but that right now he must believe him if he wants to save George's life. Hayden, the pack leader, plans on Volga-ing out and murdering the police, unaware that a Grimm is waiting for him in the barn. Hayden's plan blows up in his face; Hank punches him out, and the others are quickly put down.

The discovery for Hank is a comfort. George and Carly talk him through the report because he's not used to not reporting what he witnessed. When Nick's alone with him, Hank stops his partner before he launches into a monologue about the implications of what Hank knows. Hank just wants to tell Nick the day was one of his better ones because he knows he isn't alone anymore; I think Hank's line is one of the more important lines uttered in the series.

Juliette's amnesia isn't quite amnesia and I feel stupid for jumping to conclusions so quickly last week. Juliette just doesn't remember Nick, which I think is so cool. The intrigue and mystery surrounding the reasons was eliminated the moment the Previously On showed Nick killing Adalind's inner hexenbiest with his blood. Nick and Renard are agreed on finding Adalind and talking to her. On the surface, both agree to it because it's related to her mother's murder case. Individually, both have their own issues with her. A potentially dreadful storyline was instantly turned around by the decision to have Juliette remember everyone but Nick.

"Bad Moon Rising" succeeded because of its coherent whole. The case-of-the-week worked because it directly changed the character of Hank, the partnership between Hank and Nick, but also it was effectively disturbing. The Juliette scenes weren't distractions or asides as her scenes were. The hospital visits were integrated with the main action whereas the writers had trouble integrating all the elements of an episode last season. Grimm's pretty much figured it out, and the show couldn't be in better shape.

Other Thoughts:

-Monroe's hospital scene with Juliette was awesome. Silas Weir Mitchell never disappoints. Juliette's memory of dinner with Monroe bordered on romantic. If only we saw the rest of their conversation. Oh well.

-It was great seeing Mark Pellegrino again. Pellegrino portrayed Jacob on LOST. I wouldn't mind if George and Carly were recurring characters. I thought the actress was really good too.

-Richard Hatem wrote the episode. David Solomon directed it.


2012 Fall TV Preview: the Returning Shows on ABC

Welcome to Week 2 of the 2012 Fall TV Preview. I previewed the exciting new shows (not really 'exciting,' just new) across the five networks, and on cable and premium channels last week. This week I'll preview every returning scripted show on the five major networks and on cable and premium channels. If you want reality TV coverage, head over to Grantland or some such site.

There were few things I enjoyed less than the 2011-2012 ABC schedule. Online job search systems and the price of gasoline are among the things I enjoyed less than what ABC aired last season. I spent nine months watching and writing about Once Upon a Time and Revenge. I stopped watching the network's best shows before they took off. Every time I watched Revenge, I was flooded by ads for Shonda Rhimes' melodramatic doctor shows. Credit where credit is due, though: ABC landed on their feet in the last year of Desperate Housewives. Their comedy lineups are very successful. ABC is able to air shows that should've been left for dead in the mid-to-late 90s with the confidence that Tim Allen and Reba McIntyre have a loyal and dependable audience. Last summer I wrote about ABC's need for younger shows. Now, the network has a decent mix of veteran and young shows. The Sunday night lineup is supposed to be the hottest night on television, going from a nonsense show about how fairy tales are real and magic is back and ending on John Locke as an evil hotel owner. The network might have a big hit in their new show Last Resort.

No one will remember this except for me, but I left my Revenge and Once Upon a Time reviews on a cliff-hanger. Show runners aren't the only ones who deliver cliff-hangers in May. No, ma'am. I refused to decide which show I'd continue writing about in the fall. Ideally, I'd like to declare my intention to follow each and every show closely throughout the 2012-2013 season, regardless of the season, so that I can confidently opine on the relationship struggles of Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy or on the dimples of Elisha Cuthbert. Alas, that won't be the case, mostly due to my opinion that the majority of TV shows aren't really worth minute week-to-week coverage. Many, many websites try to cover every scripted show. Not The Foot. The returning shows previews are about providing the reader with an idea about what to expect from the newest season of his or her favorite show. As for that cliff-hanger decision, read on to find out which show I chose to continue writing about.

CASTLE returns on Monday, September 24 at 10PM

I talked about Castle several times during the 2011-2012 TV season with a friend of mine during my failures of trying to make an ANGEL fan out of her. The conversations mostly concerned Nathan Fillion and why he looked like he stopped trying to look presentable with HD photography filming him. I never gleaned anything about the show beyond what I knew: that Castle and Kate had unresolved feelings for one another, that they solved cases every week, and that my friend no longer found Nathan Fillion attractive. She was not enthusiastic about the show. Anyway, season four concluded with a passionate kiss between Castle and Kate after she quit her job. A mysterious man showed up to protect her afterwards. Kate made some headway in the mystery of who murdered her mother. For what it is worth, series creator Andrew Marlowe emphasized the romantic aspect of Castle/Kate heading into the season, teasing that they'll be a couple. I've no idea how the new dynamic will change the show.

PRIVATE PRACTICE returns on Tuesday, September 25 at 10PM

ABC renewed Private Practice for 13 episodes. The show is entering its sixth season on the airwaves. Also, Shonda Rhimes is running three shows, joining Ryan Murphy in that club. The actors don't seem particularly eager to continue doing the show beyond the initial order, according to Huffington Post. ABC slashed the show's budget. The October 2 episode will be the 100th episode of the series. In my thorough research of what to expect, it seems like Kate Walsh will need to decide between the two men who love her. And, I assume, she'll continue solving medical cases every week.

THE MIDDLE returns on Wednesday, September 26 at 8PM

The ratings for The Middle steadily dropped throughout its third season, sparking speculation about cancellation. The series is back after its finale was watched by 6 million plus people. There is zero information about season number four, which is why I wrote two sentences about ratings. The AV Club called season three "its best yet." Devoted The Middle Fans feel the show deserves to be talked about as much as Modern Family is talked about. Of course, any fanbase thinks that way about their show. The season premiere will be one hour long.

MODERN FAMILY returns on Wednesday, September 26 at 9PM

The sixteen second promo for season four featured Sofia Vergara excitedly declaring, "I'm pregnant!" Creators Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd teased, to TV Line, that Gloria will insist on wearing the same outfits regardless of how big her belly gets. Season 4 seems like it'll deal with a myriad of storylines: character going away to college, adoption, and teaching. Levitan and Lloyd promise a great Halloween episode. I assume the season premiere will be one hour long.

GREY'S ANATOMY returns on Thursday, September 27 at 9PM

Grey's Anatomy enters its ninth season with the aftermath of a devastating plane crash. I use various sites to write the returning shows part of the preview. Imagine my surprise when I saw TWoP gave a 'Best' to the Grey's Anatomy finale. Will the season nine premiere be Shonda's homage to the movie Alive? Rhimes promises nothing to fans. Any character could depart following the plane crash. I respect Rhimes' ability to manipulate the audience with her insane cliffhangers. The show could be a piece of shit at this point for all I know, but folks are talking about the show because of the plane crash. So, yeah, tune in to find out who survived to return to the nonsense world of melodrama and medicine.

SCANDAL returns on Thursday, September 27 at 10PM

This show premiered in March and ran for seven episodes. Critics were kind to the show; some even liked it. Television Without Pity called it an 'surprisingly entertaining' political show. I read comments on a EW Scandal article. Commenters love, LOVE the show and are on the edge of their seats waiting to learn the fall-out of the end of season 1, in which stuff happened. Yes, stuff happened. The specifics confuse me. Feel free to insult me in the comments. Anyone who does won't be the first. The President loves Olivia but is stuck with his wife or something. Olivia solved his infidelity scandal problem; however, he feels betrayed. Stuff happened and more stuff will happen. Tune in!

ONCE UPON A TIME returns on Sunday, September 30 at 8PM

OUAT's producers and actors went to San Diego Comic Con in July to promote the second season of the show. The panel resembled a LOST panel. Kitsis and Horowitz were glib and full of teases. They follow the Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse way of talking about their show: tell nothing but do it in such a way as to create more excitement. Emilie de Ravin joins the cast as a regular after her guest stints as Belle last season. The panel concluded with a video that hinted Captain Hook will make his way to Storybooke this season. Last season ended with the characters remembering their fairy tale selves and magic being restored to Storybooke. This is what I wrote in my review of the season finale about what to expect in season 2:

Emma wondered why the curse didn't immediately return everyone to the fairy tale world. Henry thought something went wrong. We'll need to wait until the second season to learn about this mystery, to learn how Charming and Snow took back the kingdom, and to learn what Rumple plans on doing with the magic.

Many people love this show. I'm the grumpy in the blogger ruining everyone's Once Upon a Time fun, so I'll refrain from needlessly insulting the show. I'm going to tune back in and probably write about the second season in hopes everything got better.

REVENGE returns on Sunday, September 30 at 9PM

Oh, Revenge. ABC believes in the nighttime soap so much that execs crossed their fingers, shut their eyes and placed it in the Desperate Housewives timeslot. In spring 2003, many shows had pregnancy cliffhangers. In spring 2012, many shows brought back a mother-thought-dead. The biggest "shocker" of season 1 was the reveal of the fact that Emily's mom is very much alive. There were also possible deaths and the return of the real Emily Thorne, who's pregnant with Jack's child. The worst part of the finale was the reveal of a shadowy organization pulling the strings of everyone, or something. I don't know. I pushed this show out of my head once I posted my review on an early Thursday morn. Emily's identity will be found out in season 2 and a whole bunch of other nonsense will happen. Tune in if you dare.

SUBURGATORY returns on Wednesday, October 17 at 9:30PM

Fans and Tessa will meet her mother this season. Season 1 concluded with an episode about the town's celebration of mothers, which made Tessa feel left out. Malin Ackerman has been cast as the very important mother. I watched the pilot and one scene from another episode. I think Jane Levy is terrific and gorgeous as Tessa. Perhaps it's not too late to start watching the series regularly. Series creator Emily Kapnek promises stories on the relationship front between Tessa/Ryan and George/Dallas.

HAPPY ENDINGS returns on Tuesday, October 23 at 9PM

The series began with Alex leaving Dave on the altar. As season three begins, they're back together. There will be no lack for stories in the early part of the season. Casey Wilson's character, Penny, might date or might not, because producers are always non-committal in interviews. I have no idea what Eliza Coupe's character will be doing. Eliza Coupe is awesome.

DON'T TRUST THE B---- IN APARTMENT 23 returns on Tuesday, October 23 at 9:30PM

Van Der Beek and Jane made a sex tape that Jane released for a couple thousand dollars. I don't know if the sex tape will matter in season two. The sex tape bit was the only information I gathered about this sitcom. I recall the renewal being a surprise. Van Der Beek's a good sport. I got nothing else to write.

LAST MAN STANDING returns on Friday, November 2 at 8PM

I bet this show is the next According to Jim, meaning it'll be on for seven seasons and net a sweet syndication package from myPHL or The CW. The series was initially about Tim Allen's character feeling emasculated by the presence of women in his life. ABC went wild with the 'mancession' craze until every series but Last Man Standing failed. Sometimes a series abandons its premise early. I don't know if that happened with this show. I'm surprised it's back for a second season, although I shouldn't be.


Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on NBC

NBC premiered two of their new sitcoms during their Olympics coverage. The network averaged over 30 million viewers for the Olympics. They were hoping audiences would stick around to watch their zany sitcoms. Did they? I don't know. I haven't read any ratings reports. With NBC's luck, I'm sure they experienced an 80% drop-off in viewership from the moment Bob Costas bid America good night. For the second fall in a row, NBC is launching six new series in another attempt to become relevant again. Last year, I compared the network to the Baltimore Orioles. The comparison doesn't work anymore because the Orioles have been in contention all season long. I saw two girls wearing Orioles t-shirts last weekend in Southeastern Delaware. If I'd been drinking any liquid, I surely would've spit out the liquid in surprise upon first seeing it. So, NBC will now be compared to the New York Islanders.

NBC is counting on Revolution to become a hit. Unfortunately for NBC, whatever they hope for never comes to fruition. The Event was supposed to be awesome and wasn't. The Cape was a disaster. The network continually attempts to take back the comedy spotlight from ABC. Once upon a time, they were the must-see networks for comedies. Matthew Perry is back on the network after Mr. Sunshine flopped. Jimmy Fallon will make even more money as one of the creators of Guys With Kids. Unfortunately, NBC's basically 'damned if they, damned if they don't.' I'll root for the network to find solid footing with a hit or two.

Today marks the end of week one of the 2012 Fall TV Preview. Next week I'll preview every returning scripted show on networks, cable and premium channels. Reality TV has no place in The Foot. Without further ado, here's what to expect from NBC's new shows:


Created By Scott Silveri

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 11 at 9PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2012)  Misery loves company. Unless you're sportscaster Ryan King (Matthew Perry, "Friends," "Mr. Sunshine") who thinks misery should just be left alone. After taking some time off, Ryan - who recently lost his wife in a car accident - is now ready to get back to work. And while he seems like his same old charming, cocky self, his boss won't set him back on the air until he seeks counseling. So, Ryan reluctantly joins a support group with one goal in mind: get in, get out and get back on the radio as quickly as possible.

Thoughts: I watched the Pilot of Go On because it was a rare opportunity for me to actually watch an entire episode rather than a short trailer. NBC's brand of comedy is annoying. Within three minutes, I wanted to turn the Pilot off. With the exception of Community, NBC comedies are quite rote stylistically. They are broad and silly and tolerable for up to three weeks. Matthew Perry is the prototypical sitcom performer. Everything he does is loud. By the end of the first act, he's already engaged his grief group in a game of March Sadness in which everyone one-ups each other's hardships to find out who has experienced the most hardship. The character he portrays is fast-talking and closed off and a sports radio personality. Sports radio personalities are insufferable, so I can't fault Matthew Perry for being insufferable as Ryan King.

The tones fluctuate wildly throughout the "Pilot." Ryan's ordered to attend group grief therapy after his wife passed. His boss won't allow him to work until they feel he's dealt with his wife's sudden death. March Sadness closes the first act. The second act has a poignant montage of the characters, alone, living their lives without the people they lost. The silent moments were effective; those moments when the characters were genuinely human and not sitcom caricatures. Ryan opposes group therapy because he feels the process is unnecessary. Every session he's deflecting emotion, changing the dynamic of the room, trying to inject fun. I respect Silveri's attempt to balance comedy with grief. I think Ryan King's journey through his emotions could work because grief a process, and I like the idea of him connecting with people through a very sad thing they all experienced. It's not a bad pilot. Silveri's script doesn't make light of grief. The silliness is a bit too much, like the last scene of the 'Pilot.' So, hopefully future episodes figure out the tones.

Chance of Weekly Review: 23%


Created By Ryan Murphy & Ali Adler

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 11 at 9:30PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2012) These days, families come in all forms - single dads, double moms, sperm donors, egg donors, one-night-stand donors... It's 2012 and anything goes.

Thoughts: Ryan Murphy is running three shows on three networks. The last show runner, who did that, to my memory, is Joss Whedon. Very impressive, Mr. Murphy. Yet again, a character wants to change her entire life because a relationship didn't work--these inciting incidents need to change. The New Normal is about a young woman named Goldie who becomes a surrogate for a gay couple. Together, with Goldie's 8 year old daughter, they become a surrogate family. Goldie's going to help make the couple's dreams come true and they'll help her make her dreams come true. Goldie wants to be a lawyer but those plans were derailed when she had a daughter. I assume the tone will be similar to Glee because Ryan Murphy has a distinct voice. The trailer was sweet. I'm sure the series will be sweet. I've never been a Ryan Murphy fan, though.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%


Created By Amy Ozols, Charlie Grandy & Jimmy Fallon

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 12 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2012) From Emmy winner and executive producer Jimmy Fallon comes a new comedy about three thirty-something dads trying to hold on to their youth, while holding onto their new babies' hands. Easy, right? Thankfully, Chris (Jesse Bradford, "The West Wing"), Nick (Zach Cregger, "Friends with Benefits") and Gary (Anthony Anderson, "Law & Order") have each other to help navigate their survival as new dads, while still trying desperately to remain dudes.

Thoughts: Guys With Kids uses a laugh track. Huh. I thought only CBS still used the laugh track. ABC Family airs Baby Daddy every Wednesday, which a show about three male roommates who raise a baby. Guys With Kids isn't much different. Two of the guys have spouses. The single one uses his baby as a wingman. Jokes are built on the idea that the men are not qualified to raise a child because they aren't women. Couples don't get free time anymore. Children are wild and time-consuming. This is nothing new. I'm not interested. I won't be watching.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%


Created By Eric Kripke

Premiere Date: Monday, September 17 at 10PM

Premise: (from NBC press release, May 2012) Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working? Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, and communication is impossible. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why? Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it?

Thoughts: Over 8 million people watched the trailer on YouTube. Not bad. The creative team behind Revolution is strong--JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk, Eric Kripke, and Jon Favreu. Name power doesn't always work in TV though. Abrams' latest shows haven't done too well. For whatever reason, I'm not excited about Revolution. The idea of electricity being gone is cool, but I don't care about why it happened or what kind of conspiracy exists. I think I'm burned out on conspiracies. Awake, the one series I was most excited about, lost me when the writers introduced a conspiracy. I'll check an episode or three because of the creative team.

Chance of Weekly Review: 50%


Created By Alessandro Tanaka & Brian Gatewood

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 26 at 8PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2012) Meet Dr. George Coleman (Justin Kirk, "Weeds"), a top-dog New York veterinarian. With an unorthodox style of operating, George's success comes from his undeniable gift with animals of all kinds. That is, all but the human kind. Dorothy Crane once held the key to George's heart, but today she also holds the key to the family business as she takes over Crane Animal Hospital. Not only is she George's new boss, but her romantic history with him and her lack of experience with animals is seriously cramping his style.

Thoughts: Animal Practice is terrible. I didn't like any part of the 'Pilot.' The obnoxious leading man syndrome of NBC comedies (except for McHale) hit Justin Kirk. The main conflict of the series is between two people who used to have sex. Once again I'll urge TV writers to come up with a different inciting incident for the premise of a series. They must work together now, which George doesn't like one bit, but somehow they'll find a way and be a great team. Tanaka and Gatewood created odd secondary characters for the two leads to play off. Annie's Boobs is the only delightful presence in the 'Pilot.'

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%


Created By Derek Haas & Michael Brandt

Premiere Date: Wednesday, October 10 at 10PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2012)  No job is more stressful, dangerous or exhilarating than those of the Firefighters, Rescue Squad and Paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51. These are America's everyday heroes -- the courageous men and women who forge headfirst into danger when everyone else is running the other way. But the enormous responsibilities of the job also take a personal toll.

Thoughts: Lauren German's in this show. I like Lauren German. The series is an inside look at the firefighter profession. Two male characters clash when they're not fighting fire, but they put their differences aside when they do. The death of one of their own is what sparks the conflict between the two. I'm not sure what to expect each week besides the responsibilities of the job taking a personal toll on the lives of the characters.

Chance of Weekly Review: 5%


Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on FOX

FOX is in a relatively comfortable place on network TV. Behind CBS, they're probably the second most secure network. ABC's rounding into form and NBC is a mess. The CW's not strong enough to be considered equals with the other four networks. FOX has a stable of reliable veteran programs. The shows have aged quite a bit though, so ideally they'd like to launch a crop of new shows that hit with the audience. The big hope for them last year was Terra Nova hitting big with audiences. Terra Nova was a mess and got cancelled. The X Factor failed to meet expectations. 2/3s of the judges changed in hopes of a ratings boon this fall. FOX chose to premiere Kevin Williamson's new serial killer drama starring Kevin Bacon mid-season. Last year, the network premiered four new shows in the fall. This year, there are three new shows on the fall schedule.


Created By Josh Berman & Rob Wright

Premiere Date: Monday, September 17 at 9PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2012)  For most physicians, the Hippocratic oath is sacred. But for one Chicago doctor, who is indebted to the mafia, saving lives isn't her only concern. THE MOB DOCTOR is a fast-paced medical drama featuring a brilliant young female cardiothoracic surgeon who is split between two distinct worlds as she juggles her promising medical career with her lifelong debt as a doctor to Chicago's Southside mob.

Thoughts: The Mob Doctor has all the elements of a network drama: procedural storytelling, twists and turns, genre busting, strong and independent lead, etc. I see what the series formula is. The writers get to tell heartwarming medical cases and thrilling mafia stories week-after-week. Grace, the main character, has to hide the mafia side of her life from those in her profession. FOX basically poured the ingredients of what they think makes a can't-miss series into a magic FOX bowl of development, got two men to develop it, and said 'WA-LA!' At least, America will know what they're getting if they see it on the guide: a doctor who works with the mob. FOX produces great trailers. Two years ago, I thought Chase would be the greatest series ever aired after watching the three and a half minute trailer. The Mob Doctor trailer is similarly produced. I won't make the same mistake. I think this will be a quite forgettable series. I mean, Michael Rapaport plays one of the mafia men.

Chance of Weekly Review: 0%


Created By Dana Fox

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 25 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2012) What happens when an exuberant, irresponsible dreamer who always says "yes" moves in with his overly responsible little sister to help raise her five-year-old daughter? BEN AND KATE, a new single-camera young ensemble comedy, follows these odd-couple siblings as they push each other out of their comfort zones and into real life.

Thoughts: The trailer states that the producers and director of New Girl produced Ben & Kate. Curiously, the trailer left out that the creator gave us the Kutcher/Diaz rom-com What Happens In Vegas. Now, why wouldn't FOX want potential audiences to know that? This sitcom seems sweet. The piano notes played during the trailer gives the sweet impression. Nat Faxon reminds me of Ed Helms. His Ben character is the goofball of the show but who has the biggest heart, according to his sister Kate. Ben moves home to help his little sister experience her twenties since she lost the opportunity when she had her daughter. FOX has a decent track record with heartfelt sitcoms. The adorability factor lies in the presence of the little girl, which will probably lead to many adorably heartfelt scenes in the show. It seems quirky but its quirkiness is grounded in Kate and Maddie. Watching the trailer is better than reading the premise. The premise reads like the most unoriginal idea, with the most uninteresting characters; however, as I like to write often, execution makes all the difference. A large possibility of the show grating on one's nerves exists; of course, one could become quite fond of the show. I guess it's best to watch an episode then.

Chance of Weekly Review: 21%


Created By Mindy Kaling

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 25 at 9:30PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2012) THE MINDY PROJECT is a new single-camera comedy from Emmy Award-nominated writer/producer and New York Times best-selling author Mindy Kaling ("The Office") that follows a woman who, despite having a successful career, desperately needs to break bad habits in her personal life. After all, how many doctors make inappropriate toasts at their ex-boyfriend's wedding, nearly drown at the bottom of a stranger's pool and get arrested for disorderly conduct just moments before having to deliver a baby?

Thoughts: This show lost me the moment I found out Mindy's character, Mindy, is obsessed with romantic comedies. I can't imagine watching a series about a woman who's determined to have the happy ending she's watched so many times on her couch. Romantic comedies suck. They are the reason the world can't figure out what it really means to love; lest this turn into an off-topic screed on the art of love, I'll compliment Mindy Kaling on her incredible talents as a writer. She's Emmy-nominated and a best selling author. I'm lucky if my blog gets a comment. I have all the respect in the world for Mindy. I'd have preferred her first series to be less about 'woman needs to find a man to marry' and more about her being whimsical and sarcastic and goofy in a medical setting. Many of the new shows most dire stakes seem to be 'Guy or Girl won't love me. Let me act out and take strange lessons from my bizarre best friend.' Love stories can be great; stories about relationships can be great. Hollywood and the TV industry produces the same crap every single year, though. The characters are usually the same as are the conflicts and so on and so forth. I heard the names of Meg Ryan and Hugh Grant uttered in the trailer. I don't like Meg Ryan or Hugh Grant movies. Perhaps it's worthwhile to watch an episode to see what an actual episode will be, instead of reading a premise and watching a trailer that highlighted what annoyed me. I think I'll do that.

Chance of Weekly Review: 12%


About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.