Monday, October 3, 2011

My Thoughts on 14 New Shows

The new fall television season has arrived - I was really hoping for some winners, but most shows have landed with a big *thud*. Here are my thoughts:

1. The Secret Circle - Absolutely not what I was expecting... at all. First, the show is advertised as being by the creators of The Vampire Diaries (a show that gets better with every episode, that has jaw-dropping twists and turns with such strong character development that the audience connected with them from episode one) - yet displays none of the same qualities. Every second of every episode so far has been predictable and the characters are dull and forgettable. Second, I didn't realize the show was about "witches" - maybe from my lack of research or maybe the show was poorly advertised. I thought the show was about a group of teens that discovered they had "powers" as in each of them had a different "power" and they had to form this "circle" to keep their powers in check (I was thinking more of a Misfits type show - which was extremely appealing to not so much.). Third, I liked Britt Robertson on Life Unexpected but she is really awful on this show - which could be credited to the bad writing/directing because everyone on this show seems like they can't act (and I know that Gale Howard can in fact act). Still, out of the other new shows on the CW (Ringer and Hart of Dixie) - this one is actually the least offensive one.

2. New Girl - As of this moment, I am indifferent on this show. I think it has some memorable moments, some interesting characters and a sweetness to it that most comedies lack. However, it is also trying a little too hard to be "quirky" and Zoey or "Jess" if you are convinced they are different people becomes slightly annoying 1/2 way through each episode. The pilot episode was really hard to watch because there have been so many promos leading up to the episode that I felt like I was watching a repeat. The next episode definitely got better - so I am hopeful that it will work out a few kinks (like the guy that replaced Damon Wayans Jr. - he doesn't seem to fit into the show yet) and become a must watch show (I have faith - if Cougar Town can do it then any show can...). Side note: Hannah Simone is hot and I think they should make a law that every guy must keep a "douchebag jar" in their home. That is a genius idea.

3. Terra Nova - Finally, this show has aired!! I was convinced it didn't actually exist! And guess what??!! It totally blows! It's like Lost except the characters willingly went to the island instead of crashing on it and there are dinosaurs instead of polar bears and smoke monsters. I actually hesitate to make that comparison because Lost was actually interesting and this show is painfully not. I realize they are supposed to be creating a lot of Lost like "mysteries" like the cave drawings and the "sixers" but there are a lot of things that simply don't make sense - like the actual time traveling bit that was never given any real explanation except by the teenage girl that explains it as part of the whole "butterfly effect" (which just confuses me more...). Are we just supposed to go with it or are we going to be given a better explanation? Also, what happened to the little girl for 2 years? The father went to jail for violating the population control law ("2 kid maximum") but then he escapes from jail (a little too easily - which makes me wonder why he didn't just do it sooner) and they smuggle the girl into Terra Nova. It seems like she has been with the mother (because she is hesitant towards the father) but then why did they have to smuggle her in - when it was already known that the third kid exists? I have a lot more of these type questions - but I will leave you with just one more...the main couple have been apart for 2 years due to his incarceration - yet spend their first night together in separate beds. Which makes me think that there is absolutely zero passion between them, which in turns makes me not care about them at all as a couple. Was that on purpose??

4. Suburgatory - Before the show aired I commented that the promo's had a Mean Girls feel to them - which was super exciting. I am happy to report that the show definitely has some Mean Girls spirit to it. So far, I would say this is my favorite new comedy. I love the cast - and not just Jeremy Sisto (who succeeds at being funny....who knew?) but also Alan Tudyk (Firefly/Dollhouse fans, like me, will jump for joy). I didn't realize he was in this so that was a nice surprise. Aside from the awesomeness of the cast - I really like the father/daughter relationship that is portrayed in the show. It feels very genuine so far and I have high hopes that the show only gets better.

5. Ringer - Probably the most disappointing of all the new shows. I admit that SMG was never really known for her acting skills - but she seriously rocked as Buffy (so much so that she hasn't successfully moved past this iconic character). I was hoping that her painful foray into films would come to an end and she found her way back to a great series. Ringer is NOT a great series. Annoyingly, in the first scene I found myself questioning why Buffy was hiding from this guy who was trying to kill her because c'mon really she can kick that guys ass. Sadly, I didn't have to keep reminding myself that I wasn't watching "Buffy" because the show became so painfully bad - the comparisons disappeared quickly. I think the worst part of the show is that it treats it's audience like we are stupid by over-explaining everything. We didn't need the longest montage ever to explain that she took her sisters identity - any "good" actress can pull that off with a single crooked smile and a mischievous shimmer in her eye. We don't need the flashbacks of the sister that I will refer to as the "hot mess"sister being drunk and disorderly - we understood her "hot mess-ness" from the very first mention of prostitution charges and the AA meeting. We also don't need the cliched misconstrued "perfect" sister - did anyone think that she actually lived the "perfect life"? Of course, she lived in a miserable, loveless marriage and was having an affair with her best friend's husband. There has been absolutely nothing about this show that has surprised me, in fact I bet can probably draw out an outline of every new episode within the first 5 minutes of airing (and I am guessing only a few more eps will air before the big "C" word hits).

6. Revenge - I would say that out of all the new shows that I watched this season - this is the show that I knew the least about. Which might account for part of the reason why I enjoy it so much. It is by far my favorite new drama of the season. The pilot episode was absolute perfection - and succeeded in everything that a "pilot" episode should do...which is to create enough intrigue about characters and plot that the audience actually wants more (crazy concept...right?!). I like that it is a show that seems to not make any apologies and reminds me of a Breaking Bad type series - to be clear I am not comparing it to the best show on t.v, I am just saying that it is a series that will not have a "happy" or "resolved" outcome. What I enjoy most is that it is about a girl who could best be described as "cute as a button" but is actually downright evil (for understandable reasons - which makes us root for her to succeed in her evil acts). It also reminds me a bit of Damages - in the way that the audience knows more than the characters do (like how it will end). I am really looking forward to see where the show takes us.

7. Hart of Dixie - I am hoping that by the time I publish this post, the show will be officially canceled. It is the worst of the season. I knew from the ads that it would be bad, but there was a small glimmer of hope (Rachel Bilson and Josh Schwartz together again...) that it might be at least a guilty pleasure - you know like 90210. I adore Rachel Bilson, I really do - but she is not the best actress. Thinking back to the greatest show ever, The O.C, I don't think it was noticeable because she wasn't the worst actress on the show (ahem...Mischa Barton...) and because the show didn't ride on her shoulders - she had a mini role that evolved into something bigger. Plus, if Seth Cohen loved her then we had no choice but to love her as well...right? And because I love her, I find it very hard to say anything bad about her. So, I will keep it short and (un)sweet - the show is not funny in the slightest and is bordering on offensive to anyone who aint "city folk". The premise is unoriginal and lacks credibility because someone that stupid can't possibly be a doctor. And the acting....oh the

8. Person of Interest - So far, this show is not bad but it is extremely boring. The story is interesting and the characters are strong but the pace of each episode has been painfully slow. I think it is very typical of a CBS show (which tend to be very straight-forward and simple) which isn't necessarily a bad thing (I enjoy Blue Bloods because of it's simplicity) but it was not what I was expecting from a JJ Abrams creation. Plus, aside from the ability to predict a crime - the rest of the technology relies on phone tapping which doesn't really make for interesting television. I'm not quite sure if Michael Emerson is supposed to be "creepy" in this show or if it is his "Ben" persona that will inevitably follow him everywhere. I also hope that they give Taraji P. Henson something more interesting to do soon. It always irks me when great actresses are under-utilized.

9. Pan Am - I'm not quite sure what to make of this show yet - it has some interesting parts, particularly the CIA mystery and the whole early feminist ideals of our Pan Am stewardesses. However, the dialogue is quite moronic (Ricci's characters response to a passenger hitting on her: "I am not included in the price of the ticket" - which is not exactly something a feminist would say because it implies that she is in fact an object that can be bought.) and after 2 episodes - absolutely nothing has happened. I have to say that my whole annoyance with the series relies on Christina Ricci's hair - did anyone else notice the discrepancies with the length of her hair in the pilot episode? It was so distracting that I can't get past it. I have nothing else to say because so far there isn't a much of a plot to critique yet.

10. Charlie's Angels - I am disappointed that my only interest in the show (Carlos Bernard) is not a series regular, instead just a guest in the pilot. I am also disappointed that someone as established as Victor Garber would participate in this garbage (he is the voice of Charlie). Only 1 out of the 3 girls has a smidgen of charisma (Rachael Taylor) - the other 2 are bland. They are not given any depth except for the fact that they are all former "bad girls" - which we are hit over the head with over and over again. I am guessing that this will be among the first causalities of the season so I won't waste any more time writing about it.

11. A Gifted Man - I literally knew nothing about this show other than Patrick Wilson was in it - and I am a huge fan of his so obviously I had to watch. I also love Julie Benz so that was an added bonus. It turns out that the show is about a douchebag surgeon who starts seeing ghosts (specifically the ghost of his ex-wife - who is also a doctor, but the kind-hearted type). These apparitions are apparently there to make him less of a douche, but I'm not convinced yet. I am not really a fan of "ghost" type stories, but I do love a good supernatural show if it is done well. The show reminds me of Eli Stone, just with doctors instead of lawyers (and it is not nearly as good). It moved way too slow (which is the problem I have with most shows this year). I will watch one more just out of curiosity and loyalty to these actors, but if it doesn't get much better I will have to stop.

12. Up All Night - Again, I miss Samantha Who? so freaking much!! Especially with the sudden popularity of Melissa McCarthy - I feel like the show would be much more successful if it aired now - but alas I guess I just have to get over it...right? Up All Night is exactly what I was expecting (except that I thought Christina Applegate was the host of the talk show and Maya Rudolph was her producer/boss - which I think would have been more interesting...). Will Arnett and Christina make a really cute couple - there is definite chemistry between them. I think it is a cute idea that they are parents but that they are still trying to remain "hip". It's sort of an untapped market right now. The best way to describe it is "cute" but it's not really laugh-out -loud funny yet.

13. The Playboy Club - So, this show isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be - although I wouldn't call it "good" or even "mediocre". I was disappointed that the so-called mysteries are not actually mysterious. It starts with a murder - but we know who did it, therefore the intrigue is lacking. It's also not really a "murder" it is more "self-defense". Then there is one "bunny" who is "not who she says she is" but instead of creating intrigue - they tell us right away that her mystery is that she is a lesbian and that her "husband" is also gay. The whole underground gay movement is actually interesting (as is the African American "bunny" who is trying to overcome her race as well as her gender). Of course, the misogyny is blatant like the guy who brags that he got his wife "pregnant and ugly" so other guys wouldn't look at her. But it does have a hint of feminist thought (when a customer says to one of the "bunnies" "ain't you a thing of beauty" she responds with "I'm not a thing" - the writers of Pan Am should take note...). Overall, I think the show has the best shot at filling my guilty pleasure quota - but it will likely get cancelled before it becomes pleasurable. I guess I will just have to settle for watching Kendra on E!. Side note: The comparisons between Mad Men and this show are simply ridiculous. They are in such completely different leagues that they shouldn't even be put in the same sentence. Also, the character comparisons between Don Draper and Eddie Cibrian's character (don't know his name yet) are also dumb because Don Draper would have "rescued" Amber Heard's character ( but he also would have fucked her. Proof that they are 2 very different characters.

14. 2 Broke Girls - How can any executive watch this

show and not see the blatant over-use of the laugh track? It is odd because I thought I might just be over-sensitive to the horrible noise because it has been so long since I have watched a show with an actual laugh track (I would like to thank Arrested Development for kicking off the no laugh track trend - awkward pauses are much funnier than actual laughter) - but then I read several reviews that commented the same thing. It's an easy fix but after the 3rd episode it still hasn't changed. I think Whitney Cummings idea of comedy and my idea of comedy are 2 very different things (the same can be said for Michael Patrick King - I literally feel like I want to vomit when I see anything related to Sex and the City). Aside, from the laugh track - the show is not really that funny. Kat Dennings does the best she can with the material but I feel like she is probably cringing inside at some of the crass dialogue she has to make work. The other girl is amusing as the "Paris Hilton" type heiress who suddenly finds herself broke. The chemistry between them works but it just needs to be toned down (drastically). Oh - and get rid of the horse.

***American Horror Story and Once Upon a Time have not aired yet...

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