Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall TV Preview!

Hello again. It’s been too long.

Not sure if anyone is still out there or not. Since I’ve only posted once on the Blog in the past three months, I’m guessing most people have moved on with their post-Lost lives, or are just morbidly waiting for the Blog to die a slow and painful death. That’s my fault. I need to get back on the horse and bring this thing back to life. But it’s been a weird few months. I’m still waiting for that spark, for something to come along and inspire me to start writing again, something that speaks to me enough to be worthy of writing volumes and volumes about – but it just hasn’t happened.

Actually, the closest thing to inspire me was a recent trip to California where I had to go to four liquor stores before I could find a place that sold Miller Lite. Are you kidding me? The second most popular beer in the country and I went to three places who had hundreds of types of alcohol but no Miller Lite? I was furious and ready to tell the world about it… but then we eventually found Miller Lite, I drank it, and forgot about the whole ordeal. Spark ignited… and then extinguished by delicious hoppy goodness.

Which brings us to this Blog post. It’s the fall – and with the fall comes the promise of a new season of TV, a bunch of new chances for something to come along that creates that spark to drive me into an obsessive place where the words fly from my fingers and before you know it I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about something important like the availability of Miller Lite in California.

This year, I’m grouping the shows into three categories:

  1. Must See TV – if you are only going to watch a few hours of TV each week, these are the shows you should be watching. No excuses.
  2. Promising Newcomer – if you are looking to give a new show a chance to join your uber-valuable DVR space, these are the shows that you should look into. At the very least, these are the shows that I am looking forward to this year.
  3. Fading Veterans – shows that are past their prime, but still worth tuning into because they display occasional flashes of the brilliance that attracted us in the first place – and because they’re familiar old friends who I can’t bear to let go of… yet.

With that, here’s my day-by-day breakdown of how you should be spending your valuable evenings this fall!


8:00 – Amazing Race (CBS) – Fading Veteran

You know, it’s not as though “Amazing Race” has gotten worse over the years, so perhaps the “Fading Veteran” label doesn’t truly apply. It’s more that if NFL games run long and my DVR misses the Amazing Race, no big deal. I don’t actively seek out the episodes I miss. But if I’m at home and the NFL Sunday Night Football game is lame, I’ll absolutely tune in. It’s a great show, showing you the world and proving that reality TV doesn’t have to be trashy. Even though it finally relinquished its death grip of the “Best Reality TV Show” Emmy this year (rightfully being awarded to “Top Chef”), at the very least it’s one of the two best reality shows on television.

Also - Phil Keoghan has the greatest job in the world. Go to exotic places and hang out there all day, then tell people what order they arrive to meet you. What’s not to like?

9:00 – Dexter (Showtime) – Must See TV

At this year’s Emmys, many probably thought I was rooting for “Lost” to win “Best Drama”. I was not. Dexter was head and shoulders above Lost in every conceivable way last year, and just might be the best show on TV. In my head, I always rationalize this claim by thinking about what one show I would watch if that was all I could watch each week. Although I love a lot of other shows, I think Dexter would win out in the end.

This year, the show builds on what was perhaps the second most shocking season finale of all-time (behind Lost’s “Through the Looking Glass”) and I can’t even begin to imagine where the show goes from here. But watching this preview of the season makes me giddy with excitement. It’s without a doubt the most exciting and powerful show on television.


8:00 – How I Met Your Mother (CBS) – Fading Veteran

Oh, “How I Met Your Mother”, the timing for us was never right. I failed to watch the show “live” for its first few seasons, but instead caught up via DVD over the past year or two. The first few seasons of this show were hilarious and heartwarming, like a worthy successor to “Scrubs” – but last year, the first one I watched “live”, was pretty weak. It’s getting the point where the characters are becoming caricatures of themselves rather than seeming like real people – and the situations are going from relatable to absurd (kinda like the late seasons of “Friends”, before it returned to form in its final season).

Here’s hoping that the show can find its way and return to “classic” How I Met Your Mother, but if not, I’m still going to stay tuned, if for no other reason than the fact that I’ve invested over 50 hours of my life in the show and still don’t know who the title character is going to end up being.

Dear writers – stop being afraid of delaying the inevitable. Introduce the mother!

8:00 – 90210 (CW) – Must See TV

“90210” has undergone quite the transformation over the past two seasons. What started out as a pretty tame teenage drama has kicked things up a notch with increasingly intense / outrageous storylines for each character on the show. It’s walking the fine line between being ridiculous and being awesome, and right now I come down on the side of it being awesome. In last season’s finale, serious stuff happened to nearly every major character on the show (rape, divorce, and admission of murder, to name a few). In this season’s premiere, even MORE serious stuff happened to these same characters, setting the stage for what could be a ridiculously awesome season.

Is it going to make you a better, smarter person? No.

Is it going to challenge your way of thinking? No.

Is it going to be trashy entertainment with pretty people? Yes.

It’s important to have a balanced diet of television shows each season. 90210 is the dessert portion of the schedule.

8:00 – Chuck (NBC) – Must See TV

At this point, you see how crazy Monday nights are going to be. This marks the THIRD show in the 8:00 timeslot that is DVR-worthy, meaning that you have two options:

1. DVR two shows on one TV while watching the third on a different TV, live (what Brian will be doing).

2. Watching one of these three shows online after the fact.

If you are a Nielsen household, I’m going to beg you to watch the fan-favorite but ratings-challenged “Chuck”. It needs you more than the other two shows.

After barely surviving the past two rounds of network upfronts thanks to obsessive fans and corporate tie-ins, Chuck put together a pretty nice third season that ended with shades of “Alias” as we discover that Chuck isn’t the first Bartowski to become a secret agent. Here’s hoping the fourth season can do what Alias couldn’t – and strike the balance between drama and mythology and fun.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Chuck is a happy show. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still has some meat to its storylines. The characters are likeable, the writing is solid, and it features the smoldering hot Yvonne Strahovski. What more do you want to start watching this show?


9:00 – The Event (NBC) – Promising Newcomer

I have no idea what this show is about, but I want to like it. The ads tell us “An abduction won’t prevent it”, a prison can’t contain it, the president can’t stop it, and a desperate act will start it” – so what is “The Event”?

The story of the creation of “The Event” gives us a hint: In 2006, a young untested writer decided to write his dream TV show – like the shows he liked, 24, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica – a nonstop action thriller with character development and mythology.

Sounds good to me.

Of all the shows that I screened this summer, this was the one I was never able to find, so I can’t really speak to if the show will be any good or not – but let’s leave it like this: I really hope it is good, and more than any other show this fall, this one has the chance to to Blog-worthy. It’s reason to be excited and give it a chance.

10:00 – Hawaii Five-0 (CBS) – Promising Newcomer

I watched the screener to this show for two simple reasons – Daniel Dae Kim and Hawaii – thinking it would give me a little of the “Lost fix” that I would be missing this fall. Imagine my surprise when this turned out to be the best new show I saw this fall.

There are a thousand reasons why this show shouldn’t work – mostly because it’s a remake of a cheesy 1970’s show - but in the end, it feels like a Hawaiian version of the movie “Bad Boys”. Scott Caan (Tweeter from “Varsity Blues”) and Alex O’Loughlin make for pretty entertaining partners, with lots of back and forth banter interspersed with some decent action scenes set against the beautiful background of Hawaii.

It’s nothing earth-shattering, but I was smiling the whole hour I was watching it and very entertained. Without a doubt, this is going to be the “ratings hit” of the new shows this fall.


9:30 – Running Wilde (Fox) – Promising Newcomer

I’m not going to lie, the original pilot that I saw wasn’t very good. But the re-shoot of the pilot, which I haven’t seen, is allegedly better. The reason why this show makes the list? It features Will Arnett playing a GOB-like character, and it’s created by Arrested Devleopment creator Mitchell Hurwitz. The re-shoot also added David Cross (Tobias!), meaning that it’s about three guest star appearances away from becoming Arrested Development Part 2, right?

I want this show to be good and Arrested Development-y. It’s not there yet, but I’m willing to give it a chance to see if it can get there.



8:00 – The Middle (ABC) – Must See TV

What started out as a show that I would accidentally watch while waiting for “Modern Family” to come on became a show that became Must See TV by the end of the season. In my mind, this is what The Janitor from Scrubs went home to each night when he wrapped up his shift as Sacred Heart - wacky family with three equally entertaining kids and a crazy wife trying to hold it all together.

Much like Modern Family, the reason that this show works is that each character is funny in their own right. I love Brick. I love Axl. I love Sue. I love Dr. Jan E. Tor. In fact, the weakest character on the show is probably the “main character” of Patricia Heaton… but even she is tolerable and has her moments. It’s a blue collar middle class show without being depressing (like Roseanne was), and usually features a few laugh out loud moments and quotable lines each episode – which is exactly what a half hour sitcom should do.

9:00 – Modern Family (ABC) – Must See TV

Never has a more deserving show won an Emmy. “Modern Family” burst onto the scene and was somehow instantly, classically hilarious right from the start. It was a show that literally EVERYONE, but managed to keep up its high level of quality and hilarity all season long. It makes you laugh – a lot. It warms your heart – a lot. It makes you hopeful for the future of American and its non-traditional families.


What more can I say? You all watch this already, and should continue to watch it. It’s the funniest show on TV since Arrested Development.


8:00 – Community (NBC) – Must See TV

If I had to pick the funniest NBC show on Thursday night, it would be “Community”. While “30 Rock” might be slightly past its prime, and “The Office” certainly is, Community feels fresh, is hilarious, and has a great balance of cynicism and sweet to make it all work. There were a number of episodes that were pure genius last season (the paintball and Halloween episodes to name two), that took the show beyond the traditional half hour comedy into something closer to full-on parody of pop-culture while still remaining true to the overall feel of the show.

Top to bottom, the cast is great, and each character servers their own hilarious purpose in different ways. I can’t wait to see what the creators come up with for the second season, but can only assume it will continue to innovate and entertain like nothing else on NBC’s Thursday night lineup.

8:30 – 30 Rock (NBC) – Must See TV

“30 Rock” is probably on the border between Must See TV and Fading Veteran. More often than not last year, I feel like episodes ended with me being pretty “meh” about them. But when it is firing on all cylinders (read: dealing with the main cast of characters and not the guest star of the week), it’s as funny as ever. It’s almost as if 30 Rock is becoming too “cool” for its own good and needs to return to its more simple roots.

Love Tina Fey. Love Alec Baldwin. Love Tracy Morgan. Therefore, I’ll keep watching and hope for a return to greatness.

9:00 – The Office (NBC) – Fading Veteran

It’s the show that people still talk about at work, even though it’s not really funny anymore. It boggles my mind that the Office has such higher ratings than every other show on NBC’s Thursday nights. It’s almost as if America decided it could only handle one “different” comedy (read: not something formulaic on CBS), and latched onto the Office – and is unwilling to let go, even as shows like 30 Rock and Community have matched and surpassed the Office in terms of entertainment value.

Still – this season is worth tuning in for one simple reason. It’s the last one with Michael Scott. The door is wide open for the writers to do some unique storylines that fundamentally change the dynamic of the show (perhaps for the better?) One of the hard truths that no one talks about is how Michael Scott is probably the least funny character on the show, especially in the later seasons where his shtick has lost its luster. Perhaps getting rid of him is just the jolt that this show needs to let some of the minor (but more hilarious) characters – I’m looking at you, Creed – move into the forefront and get this show back to being worthy of the water cooler talk on Friday morning.

10:00 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) – Fading Veteran

My friend Blair put it best – Sunny is funniest when it’s just the core group of characters hanging out in Paddy’s Pub, talking about random things and doing stupid stuff. Last year, the show branched out more (in terms of characters and storylines), and had its moments – but the farther they strayed from the core formula, the less successful the show seemed to be.

The first episode of the new season didn’t give me much hope that this season will be much different – and once it ended, I was pretty indifferent to the previous 30 minutes of television I had just watched.

Still, it’s the embodiment of the Fading Veteran. It’s got moments of true hilarity and I love the characters. There’s no way I’ll stop watching it, even if it doesn’t entertain as consistently quite like it used to.

10:30 – The League (FX) – Must See TV

The good news is, the introduction of “The League” seemed to coincide with the fading of Sunny. Having been a part of a pretty serious Fantasy Football league for nearly a decade, I can say with some authority that the show is generally spot-on with its take on Fantasy Football and those who participate in it. Solid characters, good writing, and friends being jerks to each other for the sake of winning an imaginary game - it’s almost like me and my friends looking into the mirror.


So there you have it, ten and a half hours of worthwhile TV for you to watch each week. Like I said, we’ll stay tuned and hope for some breakout show to become Blog-worthy, but if not, hopefully something else in life will inspire me to get writing with more frequency.

Until then, happy TVing!


Chris DZ said...


So glad to see you posting again. It was a wonderful surprise to refresh my RSS feeds and see a new post from you! This Fall TV Preview was just the post I was looking forward to, I hope my email was somehow responsible for it.

I am also looking forward to The Event and hope it can live up to the hype. I wasn't sure about Hawaii Five-O but I trust your judgment and will check it out.

I am curious about your thoughts on The Undercovers. Its another JJ Abrams spy show so its going to have Alias comparisons all over the place. The hype has been through the roof for it but the promos I've seen don't seem like its that interesting. Did you get a chance to check that one out or have any thoughts on it?

Anyway, glad to see you are back. Even if there is no one show that is blog worthy this season, maybe an end of the week wrap-up from you would be cool? Great moments in this weeks shows you watched or something. Just a thought.

Have a good one!

Lia said...

I hope Modern Family will also broadcast in Indonesia, at least on TV cable.

Unknown said...

I am/was also excited about "The Event" ... but the reviews have been bad:

Snarky said...

Dude, California doesn't sell much "Miller Lite" because it's crap beer. I mean they can't even spell Light correctly. Why didn't you try some of the other beer that is actually fresh and tastes good? I think your taste buds would have thanked you. And why are you drinking light beer? What is the point?

Unknown said...

Blog "The Event" Brian! The same group of us at work that watched/followed LOST are giving this a run. Watched last night, would rate it an 8.5 out of 10 for the first show.

Sawyer5665 said...

I was hopeful that The Event would be great, but I was disappointed....the flashbacks were very sloppy in my opinion. If the show continues using the flashback, they really need to clean it up. The Event has potential, and I am still holding out hope for it.

Hawaii Five-0 was very entertaining, and I will definitely be tuning in next week.

Running Wilde was not good at all. Brian, the reshoot didn't make it any better I don't think.

Boardwalk Empire was AWESOME. It's definitely my favorite new show of the season so far. You should definitely give it a look.

Ryan71 said...

O'Quinn and Emerson (Locke and Ben) are officially on a new show by JJ Abrams.. "Odd Jobs"


Anonymous said...

Still here

Unknown said...

Are you limited to just network tv shows?

Boardwalk Empire after 2 episodes is looking like one of the best shows ever made. might be jumping the gun a little but HBO has great shows, it's rated R so they don't have to ruin the authenticity of the show by censoring it, and martin scorc is the man and everything he touches is gold.

buscemi is iffy as a main train but he's shown in the 1st 2 eps that he can be a hard ass when need be.

It's not as mysterious as Lost or "the event" - which i'm gonna give a try but only after I have 3 episodes i can watch back to back to back. But Boardwalk has enough going on that it can yield a solid blog/discussion.

Steve said...

Shocked that you didn't include Fringe. This has easily become the best shpw since 'lost', it's not quite as complex, but has a great arc and a definate feel that they know where they're going with all of this.

A little surprised that you like 'the middle'. I had caught a glimpse and recorded it for a while, but discovered a a poor, painful failure take off of Malcom in the Middle, the the focus on the mom other than the children.
the most interesting character is the little boy and he is pretty much a clone of "Dewey" from Malcolm. Even the house with dated applianced screams Malcolm. The difference is that the two older children are poorly done and no chemestry. A big disapointment to what I thought would be a good quirky comedy.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brian, now that we're 4 episodes into "The Event," I'm wondering what you think. I am enjoying it more and more and am starting to think it may just fill the void left behind by Lost. The jury is still out, but so far, so good. Just wondering if you would consider blogging on this one. I would read it!

Unknown said...

I thought for the last episode of lost that they would find Gilligan
and be rescued

Unknown said...

Funny video showing unaswered lost questions

Unknown said...

Hey!!! Did you see the new show with Sarah Michelle Gellar from Buffy? It looks very promising. And guess who is on it? Nestor Carbonell!!!! One of my favorite Losties! The show is called the Ringer. I can't believe you didn't mention it! Check it out!!!!

Unknown said...

I should state that the show is coming out. Not yet on the tele. I am super excited about it!!!!

Unknown said...

aliette - it looks like that is a TV movie, not a series... but I am now tempted to check it out!

Brian said...

Oops - that was me :)

Unknown said...

I haven't heard that it is a movie, but a series that will air on CBS. Each time I google it or news about it, it comes up as a series set to air in the fall. I am really looking forward to it. LOST was my favorite show next to Buffy. I am happy to see SMG come back and Nestor on there just makes it YUMMY! I will let you know if I hear anything interesting.

Unknown said...

Brian---we miss hearing from you. Are you still out there? Have you watched the 12 minute bonus material/epilogue for Lost on the 6th season DVD set? You should comment and respond to that. There are still an few of us Losties who are out here still. We all miss you phenomenal LOST analysis.

Hey--- have you thought of creating a new blog for The Event? That is the closest to LOST I have found. Let us all know.



Unknown said...

Looks like slow and painless death was slow and painless. But just in case you still check this blog... Game Of Thrones. 1st 2 Eps were awesome. Books are supposed to be amazing. worth a shot


Joe Gibbs said...

Good to see a fresh post. I will come back and read it in depth.

Keep them coming, even though they are not about Lost.

We like Chuck and am happy it will be back. Good to see the characters develop over time.

The Office is past its prime. Was good for a long time, but for me, lack of serious character development makes the show stale.

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