Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Fall TV

I'm excited about the fall TV season in a way that I haven't been for a long time. I'm not really sure why. Maybe I'm just excited about fall, being completely over this hot summer. Also, for some reason this year my commute - on both ends and on the train itself - is practically wall-to-wall print ads for TV. So I've had this sense of "OMG the fall season is coming! I have to figure out what I'm watching!" Good job, advertisers! Also, I've been looking at these for weeks without much else to go on. For whatever reason, I haven't seen many commercials for the season, and the preview articles are only just coming out. I paid some attention to internet buzz during the upfronts and the TCA press tour, but mostly I was more interested in fake shows. So - and this is weird for me - there are a bunch of shows I'm going to try that I know next to nothing about. Good job again, advertisers! (This same tactic has also had the opposite effect: The print ads for the new NBC comedies are so off-putting that I can't imagine ever watching them even if they turn out to be great.)

Anyway, here's what I've got planned for the season.

Monday is a weirdly full night this fall! Weird because it's not usually, and because I'm making weird choices. I should say that I don't watch a lot on the computer, and I always forget about on-demand. For someone who used to work at night at have very complicated schemes for programming the VCR for nearly everything I watched, I've become completely lazy in the age of the DVR. I want my shows delivered to a list, with as little thought required as possible. This is even the first season in a while I've given this much thought to my new show schedule. So if I have more than two things in one block, I generally have to make a choice. If it's really worth it I'll download it or catch up later, but at this stage in the season it's hard to say what's worth it. So having four shows at once at 8:00 on Monday is presenting a problem!

How I Met Your Mother
I really like HIMYM, and even in these last couple of not-great seasons I find it reliably funny and the characters reliably likable. Yes, even Ted. So this one's a definite keeper.

Gossip Girl
I'm conflicted about Gossip Girl, and this might be the year I give it up. It's always been good trashy fun, full of stage actors slumming it or people I know (they shoot in NYC, so for a while it was the Law and Order for the Spring Awakening set), but I almost quit last year because it really went off the rails. The characters got less likable (or less fun to hate) and supporting players who I liked were around less. I stuck with it though and the second half of the season got some of the old magic back, but I'm not sure I need to pick it up again. I'm undecided.

The Sing-Off
I'm not at all ashamed by how much I've enjoyed The Sing-Off before, though an a cappella contest is obviously not essential viewing. I suspect I'll skip it. Plus, it's two hours long and loaded with filler, so I can always just watch the second hour, which has no conflicts.

Terra Nova
I'm curious about this one, but if I stick with Gossip Girl I'll skip it. If it's good, it's the kind of show I'd probably like, but the odds of it being any good seem sooooooo slim. I don't know much about it, except that it's been fraught with production problems, and that's never a good sign. And it's expensive, so likely to get canceled if it's not a quick hit. I want to support major network sci fi, but not if it's awful!

The Playboy Club
I don't expect to make it through a whole season of this, but I'm curious to see what it's like. Laura Benanti is in it and I love her, and I could use a new stylish prime time soap. Assuming it is actually stylish and not tacky, sexist, or worse, tedious.

Glee is frequently terrible but I almost always enjoy it anyway. Even when it's bad I always find it interesting. And I usually enjoy the music, and Brittany's one-liners and Quinn's reaction shots. I prefer the sadder episodes to the wackier ones, so Kurt's pretty reliable for me. I can't argue with anyone's criticisms of this show, but it just works for me. Plus I got hooked on The Glee Project this summer so I'm looking forward to seeing how they awkwardly shoehorn all those new "actors" into the show.

New Girl
I was super-skeptical about this. I still am. But I like Zooey Deschanel, even if I don't quite buy the idea of her as someone who has trouble getting dates and generally hate forced "quirkiness." But the pilot is free on iTunes right now and I actually really enjoyed it! The cast has great chemistry, and it's a little...not dark, exactly, and not as mean as Cougar Town (which I got turned on to and totally hooked on this summer), but there's an edge to it that makes me believe these people could exist outside of a sitcom. I especially like the concept of the "douchebag jar." The writing actually makes Zooey convincingly nerdy and socially awkward (the flashback to her as a child is maybe my favorite moment of the pilot, mostly for the casting of the girl), and slightly crazy in a way that's fun to watch but could easily be off-putting on a date. I'm in. We'll see if the appearance of Justin Long later in the season changes that. The douchebag jar is gonna be full!

Do I need to explain why this is awesome? Sarah Michelle Gellar as twins! One of whom is eeeeeeevil! If this isn't the most fun show of the season I will be very very disappointed.

The X-Factor
I probably won't actually watch this, but I'm curious enough to check it out. I miss having Paula Abdul on my TV, strange as that may seem.

Modern Family
Again, not much to say. I find MF consistently funny, if occasionally predictable. So there it is.

Happy Endings
ABC burned this off last season and it turned out to be really funny! Who knew? I caught up over the summer and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It shares a lot of DNA with Cougar Town and New Girl. Groups of friends who are amusingly mean to each other in a lovingly snarky way, wall to wall jokes, very little sentimentality. It's not a great show, but I enjoy the tone and find the cast very watchable.

I know almost nothing about this show, which is actually sort of fun. I know that Connor Paolo, who played one of the only characters I still like on Gossip Girl, is on it, and that the girl from Everwood looks fabulous on the slightly batshit posters. Since I gather it's some sort of thriller, I'm sort of psyched to go in unspoiled. Hoping it delivers on the camp.

American Horror Story
Again with the batshit, this time the teaser commercials. I just saw a full commercial for this for the first time and it got me really excited. It looks genuinely twisted and very funny. Glee aside, I've never been a big Ryan Murphy fan. Nip/Tuck didn't do anything for me, and I've tried a few times to get into Popular to no avail. And my favorite Glee episodes are rarely the ones he writes. But I find him interesting, and this might be the show that makes me a fan. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with the genre. And maybe he'll throw in a musical number or two?

Top Chef Just Desserts / Top Chef
I know JD has its haters among original Top Chef fans but I am emphatically not one of them. I love these high-strung weirdos, I love Gail Simmons, and I love dessert. I'm so excited for Craig's inevitable meltdown, which so far is promising to reach "the red hots are for my mommy" levels of awesomeness. And when that's done the new season of original flavor will start, and I enjoy even a weak season of TC, if only for the food porn.

I just don't know about Community. I never loved the first season, though there were some great high points. Season two had it's share of those too, but also such low lows that it wasn't worth it. I'm inclined to give it another chance, but I'm not sure it's worth the time. I can always wait for the internet to tell me what's paintball-worthy and watch those episodes later.

Parks and Recreation
A show I didn't think I'd like that I totally love. So glad I gave it another chance with the second season. Thanks, Extra Hot Great and Pop Culture Happy Hour!

Vampire Diaries
I just love this ridiculous show. I think there's enough good bad television this season that I won't really miss Gossip Girl.

Person of Interest
I like Michael Emerson a lot. I like shows that shoot in New York. A friend of mine is working on this and I want to support her. But I also have two other shows this hour and this one doesn't really look all that promising, so I may just skip it.

Grey's Anatomy
I've stayed loyal to Grey's all this time, and felt rewarded when last season was actually really good (whiny Meredith aside, but that's the price of admission for the show). So I'm not about to give it up now.

The Secret Circle
It's Dawson's Creek with witches!! Programmed with Vampire Diaries. Clearly The CW knows what it's doing. Feels a little like old-school WB and I'm super psyched. (Or it could be Eastwick. We'll see.)

Project Runway
I stopped paying much attention to PR but Boy kept watching it, so I saw most of the last couple of terrible seasons. This season it got good again! So I'm back in. In fact I'm watching this week's as I write this, and Bert and Eyebrows are having a giant flaming fight. Damn good stuff.

I've written about Archer before, so I'll just say that I'm soooo glad it's back this week!

A Gifted Man
The show on this list I know the least about. I like Patrick Wilson and he looks gorgeous on the poster. That's pretty much it. I only learned the other day that Jennifer Ehle is in it too, and I love her! There seems to be some good buzz, despite it being on CBS on Friday nights.

Obviously this will be terrible, but I'm intrigued. Isn't there another fairy tale show slated for midseason? And I'm still sad these got picked up and Ron Moore's supernatural cops pilot.

The Good Wife
I love love love this show. Great writing, great acting (especially the constant parade of NYC theater people). And this year Alicia has a new, much better wig!

Pan Am
Another one I'm intrigued by but not so optimistic about. I like Christina Ricci, I like stylish period dramas, I'm interested in the golden age of air travel or whatever. It could be fun! Or it could be deeply dull.

So that's my fall TV. Looking at it on a grid it doesn't look like too much (it's a lot, but I've always watched a lot of TV) but after writing all this out it feels like too much! I mean, not that there's ever too much TV. And there are enough new shows that fall into the curious-but-questionable category that I'm confident that by midseason I'll have plenty of time for Smash! and Good Christian Belles. Still, it doesn't bode well for the Buffy rewatch or the Netflix Queue Challenge. I'll report back in a few weeks!

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