Fall 2013 TV Diary

It’s time for my annual review of the new fall television season. In addition to the shows I’m no longer watching from last season because they ended their runs there are also a few shows I’m not watching because I stopped enjoying them. I quit both Once Upon a Time and Glee midway through last season. I stuck with both Revolution and Revenge all the way to the end of their seasons, but don’t have much interest in picking them back up again this season. They’re both still recording at this point because my husband is still watching Revolution and I thought I might give Revenge an episode or two. I have had opportunity but not the desire to actually watch the first two episodes of Revenge at this point, so I’m probably just done with it. I’ll probably let it record a few episodes though just in case I start hearing buzz that it’s worth going back to amid all the changes that were supposed to take place.

I have to say I can’t remember a new tv season that I was looking forward to as little as I looked forward to this one. None of the new shows were anything I was super excited to see. This year I mostly picked my new shows based on actors I like, but so far nothing has really grabbed me. Additionally, most of the returning shows I watch are far into their runs and they’re not as exciting to me as they once were. Shows that I used to look forward to eagerly each week have now lost their lustre.

Anyway, here is what is still filling up my DVR even if I’m not super excited by most of it at the moment.

Sundays

The Amazing Race

The only reality show I ever got into. We’re two episodes into the most current season, which has been pretty boring so far. There aren’t really any stand out teams that I’m rooting for so far and the two teams that have annoyed me the most have been coming in towards the top so they’ll probably be around awhile. I usually don’t start getting invested in this show into a little further into the season though. There are too many teams for me to keep track of at the beginning. Once things start getting whittled down I usually enjoy it more. It’s still not as exciting as it once was though, and it definitely feels more overproduced now than it once did.

Homeland

I loved the first season of Homeland, but I haven’t been able to say much for season 2 or what I’ve seen of season 3. I think Showtime made a grave miscalculation when they insisted that the writers not kill off Brody at the end of the first season. At least he’s been gone so far in season 3, but I know he’s coming back and honestly it just drags the story down for them to try and figure out what to do with him at this point not to mention how interminably boring I find his entire family. This show fell fast in my opinion.

Masters of Sex

One of the better new shows of the fall season, Masters of Sex is based on the true story of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. It’s a period piece set in the 1950s though it doesn’t feel as stylized as say Mad Men. The story is just slowly starting to build, but I’m interested to see how they’re going to play it out even though I know a decent amount about Masters and Johnson having talked about them in many a psychology class. I’ve always liked Lizzy Caplan who is playing Virginia Johnson, so I’m happy to see her in something that appears it may run for awhile.

Mondays

How I Met Your Mother

For the most part I have not enjoyed How I Met Your Mother for several seasons. There is occasionally a good episode here or there, but mostly the writers just keep relying on the same old jokes and have made the characters either super broad caricatures of who they used to be or made them do things entirely inconsistent with what we know about them. Not to mention how ridiculous this “love triangle” between Ted, Robin, and Barney is at this point. I’m all for a good love triangle, but a good love triangle this ain’t. We already know how it ends, and it just feels gross going all the way into the wedding weekend. At this point I don’t want any of them together. And on the subject of the wedding weekend I was slightly hopeful after the premiere episodes that we were going to see more of the mother and not actually spend so much time at the wedding venue. That has not turned out to be the case. Unless there is a major shift in this season really quickly this show is going to end on an even more sour note for me than I thought possible. It’s sad because I once loved it so much. It just stayed on well past its prime.

Hart of Dixie

I don’t have much to say about Hart of Dixie. It so far seems to be what it always was, which is a goofy, pleasant diversion. I feel like with it’s small town quirkiness it often gets compared to Gilmore Girls, but this show isn’t nearly as good as that show. It’s not particularly good in any real definition of the word, but there’s something I enjoy about it. It’s never going to be great television. It knows that it. It’s not aspiring to be more than it is. As many tv shows these days do, it uses a lot of music and I appreciate that it relies mostly on country music which helps me find lesser known country artists I enjoy just as other shows do for indie rock artists.

Sleepy Hollow

I did not have Sleepy Hollow on my original list of shows to watch this season, but my husband wanted to watch it so I figured I would give it a try as well. It involves Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman somehow winding up in present day through some time travel hoodoo. It’s kind of cuckoo bananas. I’m not entirely sold on it as a show, but enough to keep watching for now, which is basically what my husband said as well. Though the announcement that it will be limited in its first season to the 13 episodes it has now and that it was been picked up for a second season pretty much guarantees I’m going to watch through at least the rest of this season. Plus John Noble is going to show at some point so I at least have to watch until that happens.

Mom

The newest sitcom from Chuck Lorre, Mom stars Anna Faris as a single mom and recovering alcoholic whose own mother played by Alison Janney was also a single mom and an alcoholic. Now her own teenage daughter is pregnant. I mostly watched it because I really like Alison Janney. That’s what kept me watching all the way through the not-so-great Mr. Sunshine. This show is equally meh. It’s still recording, but it has definitely moved to the bottom of the watch list at this point. We’ll see if it falls completely off before the end of the season.

Castle

I used to love Castle and looked forward to Monday nights eagerly. Now this show is getting past its prime. Again it still has amusing episodes and some decent arcs, but I feel like they’re stretching beyond the bounds of credulity even more so than they always did. Finding ways for Castle to continue to be involved in police work has gotten beyond ridiculous. I am happy that they finally made him decide to move to DC last night even though that’s now a moot point. I’ve been yelling about that since the issue first came up at the end of last season. He’s a writer. He can work from anywhere. This show does well enough that it’s probably not going anywhere any time soon, but I wish for once an American network show would end it’s run before it’s useful life is over instead of puttering off into the sunset as a show people once liked but quit watching long or ago or are still watching but no longer like at all (see How I Met Your Mother).

Hostages

As was pointed out by every critic, Hostages does not have a premise that lends itself to an ongoing television show. Toni Collette plays a doctor who is supposed to operate on the president. Her family is held hostage by Dylan McDermott’s character who is an FBI hostage negotiator, though she doesn’t know that, who along with some other shadowy figures have a plan that for some reason involves having her kill the president during his surgery. Despite the tepid reviews I still decided to watch the show because I like Toni Collette and also because Hilarie Burton has a small arc in it and I really like her. See I told you I picked shows this season based on actors I like. This show is, well, not very good. I almost had to quit watching during the pilot after the third time Dylan McDermott’s character called his daughter Sawyer by the nickname Soy-Soy because that is awful sounding and a dumb nickname. I’m cringing just thinking about it. Luckily they spared me of that in the second and third episodes. It is only designed as a 15 episode first season and definitely isn’t going to have a second one based on the ratings. In fact they may be lucky to have all 15 of its episodes air so I suspect I will probably just keep watching knowing that it will be a show that is one and done.

Tuesdays

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I really wanted to like this show more than I do. I like the Marvel universe it comes from. I have loved much of what Joss Whedon has done in the past, but so far I am just B.O.R.E.D. with this show. This pilot episode was ok, but nothing I was over the moon about. The second episode practically put me to sleep. At least 80% of it was fight scenes. That just bores me to death. I’d like some character development or some decent humor or something. The third episode was slightly better, but still not great. I know Joss Whedon isn’t running this show day to day so that may be part of the problem, as he generally is really good at both character development and humor. Some of his other shows have been slow at the get go, so I’m hoping this gets better. I do fear that this show is not going to be what I hoped for though. In a discussion of this show on one of the podcasts I listen to they mentioned that they thought it was designed as a procedural so as not to have ongoing story arcs that would interfere with what is going on in this universe in other entertainment areas particularly the much more lucrative movie franchises Marvel has going. If that’s the case I am never going to be on board with this show. I am not a procedural kind of girl as you should be able to tell from the list of television shows I watch. I’m giving this show a long leash though and will probably stick through its first season to see how things shape up.

The Originals

The Originals is a spin-off of the Vampire Diaries. So far I’ve seen the backdoor pilot that they did last year as one of the episodes of the Vampire Diaries and then the first episode they showed last week, which was 90% of the backdoor pilot recut with other scenes from previous episodes of the Vampire Diaries showing the origin of the characters and a few new scenes. I didn’t realize that was what was happening at first and thus was really confused as to why it seemed like the characters didn’t know about things that had happened. I eventually caught on though. I’m willing to run with this show for awhile though unless the plots don’t pan out. I’m already invested in half the characters on the show from their time on the Vampire Diaries. I liked them on that show, but am happy they have their own show now to have plots revolve around them there so that the actual original characters on the Vampire Diaries can return to center stage. So for now I’m happy to let this show be the Angel to the Vampire Diaries Buffy.

Brooklyn Nine Nine

I was not expecting to like Brooklyn Nine Nine because Andy Samburg drives me nuts usually. I do not enjoy his kind of man-child humor. Many critics whose opinions I respect gave this show a good review though. That plus the fact that it was by the creators of Parks and Recreation, a show I really like, made me decide to give it a try. It is definitely my favorite new comedy of the season. I’ve had a decent amount of laughs from it so far. This is the first non-dramatic role I’ve ever seen Andre Braugher in, but I’m enjoying his character so far. I’m also a fan of Terry Crews who is my favorite character on the show so far. It’s still finding its footing in some respects, but that is not unusual for a sit-com. I fear that the low ratings for this show mean it may not be long for this world, but I did just see Fox had ordered more scripts for it so I guess they’re giving it some time to develop which is good.

New Girl

New Girl proved me wrong last season with their deft pairing of Nick and Jess a couple I was never a shipper for and did not actually want to see happen. I liked the idea of them just being friends. So far that storyline has really worked for me. The storyline that has dominated the beginning of the third season that has completely not worked for me is Schmidt secretly dating both Cece and Elizabeth. I like Merritt Weaver, but they should have just let her go at the end of last season. This whole situation has been not funny, and made me dislike Schmidt who was always a douchey character but at least before written as a lovable douche. Now he’s just a douche. I don’t think that is really how the writers want us to feel about him. Also as has been pointed out by everyone, this show still has no idea what to do with Winston. He’s never been fully developed and so far this season they have just made him totally insane. Something else that is not really working for this show. I’ll be interested to see what happens when Damon Wayons character returns for an arc this season (He was in the pilot as Coach, but his character was written out and Winston’s written in after Happy Endings was unexpectedly picked up for another season).

Mindy Project

I keep trying to root for the Mindy Project, but now several episodes into its second season I don’t think this show will ever fully get it together. You can see the structure for a great sit-com with romantic comedy beats, but it just is too much all over the place and can’t quite figure out how to get there for some reason. The show is jam packed with way to many characters and they for some reason just keep bringing in more. I do not like James Franco, and his arc did nothing to endear me to this show. Now they have another new doctor, which they don’t need. Not mention the 800 other odd people they have working in the office. They are all too over the top weird, and why are there so many of them? This show needed to just pick a focus and develop it instead of continuously throwing stuff up against the wall to see if anything sticks. It’s much too far into its run to still be doing that.

Trophy Wife

Trophy Wife is another show that initially wasn’t on my to-watch list, but it got enough good press the week leading into the premieres that I decided to give it a go. I like Bradley Whitford and Marcia Gay Harden a lot, so that helped. Bradley Whitford plays a man who is now married to Malin Ackerman’s character who is the titular trophy wife. He also has 2 ex-wives who are still heavily involved in his life because of their children. Marcia Gay Harden plays his first ex-wife and the mother of his teenage son and daughter. Michaela Watkins plays his second ex-wife and the mother to their adopted elementary school aged son. I actually wasn’t a huge fan of the pilot episode, but generally like to give sit-coms at least two episodes before deciding on them because pilots can be weird. The second episode won me over especially with the B plot involving Marcia Gay Harden and her two kids and some salsa.

Wednesdays

Modern Family

Modern Family is a sit-com that I really liked a whole lot when it first came out, but which I am less happy with these days. I get annoyed by character beats that are nothing but negative. No one on this show actually seems to like the other people in their families very much. Nothing but negative humor gets me down. I’m still watching for now, but this show has definitely fallen out of my favor.

Tomorrow People

The Tomorrow People doesn’t actually premiere until tonight. I was going to wait and watch the pilot first before posting this so that I could have as many actual reviews of show in here as possible. However, I looked at my schedule and have no idea when I’ll actually be able to watch this show. Thus I’m going to go ahead and post without watching it first. At any rate you can know I’m giving it a whirl. If it’s anything special I might post about it later.

Nashville

I’m still really enjoying Nashville with its soapy country ways. I still love Connie Britton and I like the music this show puts out every week. It seems like we’re going to kick the soap up a notch this season with the fake pregnancy, which I’m not sure I’m that on board with, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m also trying to get on board with the fact that the writers have apparently decided we’re just supposed to forget about what a gigantic jerk Avery was for most of last season and think he’s the good guy they’re now making him out to be. At least give him a character arc that takes the audience there. Just don’t drop it in our laps and expect us to forget everything that’s come before and buy it. I do really like the storyline with Will the closeted gay country star. Country music is definitely not a friendly place for gay people so I like the tension this is bringing to the story. I think there are some interesting threads that have been started for this season, so I’m excited to see how they’re going to play out.

Thursdays

Parks and Recreation

I was late to the party with Parks and Recreation, but I caught up before last season and have now been watching in real time a couple of seasons. This season is off to a good start so far. Though I’m sad that Chris Pratt is off doing a movie and thus Andy won’t be around for part of this season. I also don’t know how I feel about Ann and Chris being written out of the show halfway through the season, but we’ll see. I think this show is still doing a really good job of putting out enjoyable episodes even this many years into its run.

The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory is another sit-com I still find enjoyable well into its run. The addition of Amy and Bernadette as full-time cast members a few years ago definitely breathed life into this show that I don’t think would be there at this point if it was still just Penny and the four guys. I am also very happy they finally gave up on the dumb Raj can’t talk to girls thing because that had definitely been dragged out far past its useful life.

Vampire Diaries

In its 5th season Vampire Diaries has finally entered the dreaded transition to college. I really wish they had just let that go. Pretty much everyone on this show is supernatural now anyway, so lets just skip past the part where we go away to college and let them enter the real world which it felt like they were in anyway. They barely even entered the school last season. Matt who is practically the only human left didn’t even go to college, so I think they missed a real opportunity here. At any rate we’ll see if this show manages to handle the college years better than any other show that has tried it. We’re definitely in a bit of a reboot now with the switch to college and with the Originals off in their own show instead of crowding up this one, so we’ll see what happens. The one other thing I will say about this show right now is that it is just another case where I swear the writers hate the actors on the show as now that the actors that play Elena and Damon have broken up in real life they’ve finally decided to put them for reals together on the show. See also House with Cameron and Chase and bizarrely Dexter with Deb and Dexter (they’re brother and sister for crying out loud!). I’m sure there’s more examples out there, but those are the ones that come to the top of my head. This also leads me to my new rule for actors. If you’re going to date your co-worker you are not allowed to break up until the end of the show’s run lest your characters wind up together and wind up making everyone uncomfortable knowing that you probably hate each other in real life but are forced to pretend you’re in love.

Reign

I haven’t actually seen Reign yet as it has a really late premiere date, but it’s a CW show about Mary Queen of Scots. I decided to watch it after I saw that Megan Follows was in it because Anne of Green Gables. I’m sure she’s some peripheral character because she’s much too old to play a main character on a CW show. I’m sure this will be a ridiculous teen drama version of Mary Queen of Scots featuring lots of pretty people, but don’t think that means I won’t like it. If I like the show after I’ve seen a few episodes I may report back on it.

White Collar

Matthew Bomer continues to be on White Collar and thus I continue to watch. That is all.

The Michael J. Fox Show

The Michael J. Fox Show is a kind of semi-autobiographical sit-com based on Michael J. Fox’s life. He plays a news anchor who has Parkinson’s who is now returning to work after some time off. Betsy Brandt, coming off of Breaking Bad, is playing his wife. I like their dynamic so far. They have 3 kids on the show. It also stars Katie Finnernan as Michael J. Fox’s sister and Wendell Pierce as his co-worker. Their characters are a little one note at this point, but hopefully they’ll be further developed. It’s more sweet than funny at this point, but I’m willing to stick with it. I’m happy if I’m being told a good story even if I’m not laughing out loud all the time.

Parenthood

Parenthood is coming off what I expect to be the best season of its run with the Christina cancer storyline, but I’m still happy to continue to share one night a week with the Braverman family. I’m not especially looking forward to what appears to be the impending doom of Julia and Joel’s marriage, but I guess divorce happens if that’s where this story is going and it makes sense that this show would tackle it at some point maybe? I’m not always 100% on board with the stories on this show, but I still like the characters and am invested on seeing what happens in their lives.

Scandal

You may recall that I binge watched the first two seasons of Scandal at the beginning of the summer and then couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. I’m not sure I have much more to say about the show at this point. I’m trying to watch in real time and see if it changes my feelings at all, but the first episode of this season has not left me convinced that I care enough about what happens to the people on this show to keep watching. Mostly I think they should all die in a fire.

Covert Affairs

The plot on Covert Affairs was getting a little overly convoluted for my taste in the first half of this season over the summer. I’m intrigued to see where it’s going to go in the second half this fall now that Annie has faked her death. That’s pretty much all I have to say about this how at this point other than the fact that I generally really like the music they use in the show.

Shows I tried and quit watching

The Crazy Ones

Despite my generally meh feelings about most of the new shows I’ve tried this season there is only one that I’ve completely given up on so far and that is The Crazy Ones. I really wanted to like this show because I really like Sarah Michelle Geller and James Wolk. I just really want to like them in something other than this show. Sadly the ratings are such that I think they’ll be stuck here for at least another season if not many more after that. I knew I was fighting an uphill battle watching this show because I do not like Robin Williams when he is playing Robin Williams. I can’t stand that frantic everybody look at me all the time comedy he brings to the room both as himself and in many of his characters. It is not necessary to be on and in my face all the time. It’s a huge turn off. Unfortunately that’s exactly what this show was. Robin Williams sucks all the oxygen out of every scene with his constant schtick. It worked for me in Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire. Now I am long over it. Despite it going against my general rule to do so I didn’t even give this show a second episode past the pilot before quitting it because I know that what I hate about it, which if you didn’t catch on is Robin Williams, is not going to change. It’s what the show is.

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