Though I will feel MUCH better after we destroy the Hillbillies tomorrow.
So...remember a couple of weeks ago when I went through all of the shows I was going to be watching this fall? How about we talk about that instead?
Here is a (hopefully) brief synopsis of this Fall's TV season so far, the way I see it:
Mad Men: Still awesome. I love how characters are being put into situations that just highlight everything we have learned about them over the past 3+ seasons, and that the writing and acting has been so good that each scene has at least three different levels to it depending on which characters are interacting at the time.
I'm not going to spoil anything on this one, because I still want everybody reading this who has not been watching the past three seasons to go watch as soon as possible.
Boardwalk Empire: When I posted about this before, I had only seen the pilot. We're three weeks in, and in my opinion the show gets better every week. The pilot had a LOT of Scorsese quirks to it, which made sense because he directed it. But the last two episodes have been better in part because they haven't been weighed down with the standard Scorsese required shots. Instead, we've focused a lot more on the characters and their motivations, and it's been fantastic, with superb acting performances and wonderful direction.
The Amazing Race: Very boring season so far, and I'm watching more out of habit than anything else. The problem is that there aren't any teams yet that I really like (except the one that went home last week, unfortunately), and what's worse is that there aren't any I can actively root against.
Chuck: Except for a slight mis-step this week, which was a pretty blah episode despite the appearance by Stone Cold Steve Austin, this show has picked up right where they left off at the end of last season. Which is a good thing. The relationship between Chuck and Sarah is sweet and funny, but they need to be careful not to be too repetitive with the "Chuck has a neurotic fear about some aspect of their relationship and Sarah has to spend the whole mission putting off talking about it" stuff.
How I Met Your Mother: Meh. Probably better than last season, but the writers are still making some pretty big mistakes (like acting as if either the characters or the audience care one lick about Don, who Robin spent the entire episode this week freaking out over). I'll keep watching, even if only for my weekly NPH and Jason Segal fixes.
The Event: I dropped this one about an episode and a half in. The actors are good and doing the best they can with the material given, but the Big Story is just not interesting enough to overcome ridiculous plotlines and character motivations that make no sense.
Lone Star: Kaput after two episodes. It is sad, because it was a decent show, but I don't think it was awesome enough to freak out over like a lot of critics and bloggers have. I'll miss seeing Adrianne Palicki every week, and I hope the lead (James Wolk) gets something else soon because he was really good and likable. I'm a lot more upset over recent losses like Dollhouse and Pushing Daisies than I was about this one.
Hawaii 5-0: This falls neatly into the category of Perfectly Acceptable Television. Nothing earth-shattering, just a nifty little procedural that is nice to look at (due to the gorgeous Hawaii establishing shots, and the fact that they manage to put Boomer in a bathing suit every week). The dynamic between Alex O'Laughlin and Scott Caan has been fun, with O'Laughlin serving as a pretty good straight man. My only real complaint is that the nods to the original have been a little ham-fisted, both the "Book em, Danno" part and the "Hey, we need a name for our little group" thing. But the theme song still rocks, and I think the show meets both the expectations that I had for it and the expectation it has for itself...an hour of mindless fun with beautiful scenery.
So, I've dropped two shows from Monday (The Event and Lone Star) and haven't picked any up...I tried Castle for a couple of weeks, but it just never clicked for me. I'm a fan of The Mentalist (more on that later), and this just seemed like a less-funny version of that.
Glee: Man, I don't think I've ever loved a show that is this inconsistent about what it wants to be, but here we are. The past two weeks are a perfect example...last week, we had the wonderfully silly and fun Britney Spears episode (featuring my very favorite character on the show finally getting a chance to show off her formidable skillset), and then this week the show tries to take on the huge and tricky concepts of personal faith. And, for the most part, they are able to do both of them really well.
(Quick aside: As someone who is a Christian, I thought they did an admirable job of at least trying to be fair with the "Religion" episode. It's extremely rare that the Christian point of view is captured properly by television, because the majority of writers are coming from a totally different place. I don't think Glee got us exactly right, but I give kudos for at least trying to portray Christians as something other than mean or stupid.)
This is a show that you are either going to love or hate...there's not going to be a lot of in-between. I still love it, in spite of its whiplash-inducing tonal shifts.
No Ordinary Family: ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I made it halfway through this past week's episode, and I think that's probably as far as I'm going to go.
Running Wilde: Ugh. I really, really WANTED this to be good. But I didn't laugh even one time at the first two episodes, so I cut it loose.
Raising Hope: Look, don't tell anybody, OK? But this show really makes me laugh. The pilot was pretty bad, but I have laughed a LOT at the last two episodes. Garret Dillahunt as the dad is really funny, which I wasn't expecting. His scene last week when he was trying to come up with a name for the boat he's going to buy with his lottery winnings has had me laughing all week.
GRADE: B. Would probably be higher, if it wasn't for Cloris Leachman's over the top and stupid portrayal of the occasionally lucid grandmother.
Detroit 1-8-7: Only made it part of the way through the pilot, and decided it wasn't going to work for me. Is it still on the air?
Sons of Anarchy: I picked this one up after dropping a couple of other ones on Tuesday night, and was immediately hooked. I've only watched full episodes of this season (4 so far, I think), so I'm still getting caught up (with the help of a couple of fan sites and the Television Without Pity recap archive), but I am REALLY loving it so far.
Caprica: Don't know...haven't watched it yet.
So, on Tuesdays I have dropped three shows and only picked up one. See, Mom? I'm making progress!
Modern Family: Chugging right along...absolutely no dropoff in its sophomore season, and I'm loving the new weekly "Sofia Vergara Stirs Things" feature.
Cougar Town: Just picked this one up a couple of weeks ago, after trying it and hating it early in its first season. Tremendous improvement, and a consistently enjoyable half hour...just wish they could do something about the name.
Survivor: This is the first season I have watched live, so I can't really compare it to earlier seasons, but I am only mildly impressed so far. I am mainly watching it to see if the contestants I hate are going to go home, but the most odious person on the show now has an immunity idol, so I don't know if that's going to work out for me or not. I think I may go back to watching this show like I used to...ignoring everything except the tribal councils.
Undercovers: Hey, what would happen if we got JJ Abrams to do a show, only we took out everything that makes JJ Abrams projects interesting?
Oh. THIS happens.
I was out after one and a half episodes.
Terriers: This show just keeps getting better and better...I just wish more people were watching it. The dialogue is clever and funny, the acting is great, the overall plot is intriguing. Too bad we're only going to get one season out of it.
GRADE: A. WATCH THIS SHOW.
First things first....
Grey's Anatomy: If the comments on my last post are any indication, you will all be happy to know that this one has been DROPPED FROM THE ROTATION.
Even cooler was that it was the wife's idea. I'm so proud of her.
Big Bang Theory: Another one that just keeps chugging along. Sheldon Cooper is on his way to being a television comedy icon, and for the most part the surrounding cast holds up their end of the bargain (though I wish the writers didn't so obviously despise Howard).
Community: WATCH THIS SHOW. It's clever, it's funny, it's loaded with pop culture references, it's somehow taught Chevy Chase how to be funny again, and it has one of the most genuinely likable ensemble casts in years.
The Office: Still watching out of habit, despite the obvious decline in quality over the last two plus seasons. Last night's episode was good, and reminiscent of some of the character-driven episodes of the show's peak. Any episode with that much Andy and Erin is fine with me.
Fringe: I love this show so much. They are really firing on all cylinders right now, nailing the mix between freak-of-the-week procedural, X-Files/LOST style geekfest, and character pieces.
The dynamic this season with the two dimensions, and especially the two Olivias, has breathed new life into a show that was already one of my favorites. And it's also given Ana Torv an opportunity to prove that she is a much more skilled actress than many (including me) gave her credit for during the show's early days.
The Mentalist: I've only watched the season premiere so far...this is one that we usually stock up on and then blow through 3-4 episodes at once. But I saw nothing that led me to believe that this wouldn't continue to be a fun hour of television every week...nothing earth shattering, nothing that is can't-miss, but consistently entertaining.
Still nothing on Friday or Saturday, except for the Freaks and Geeks replays on IFC, which definitely get an A. Apatow FTW, always.
Overall, this has been a really horrible season for new shows on the networks...I think Raising Hope and Hawaii 5-0 are the only ones I am going to stick with, and neither one of these shows are what I would consider "quality" television. More like Solid, Non-Offensive Procedural and Guilty Pleasure That I Hesitate to Admit I Like.
So...how about y'all? Agree with my assessments? Think I'm way off base? Anything I'm missing that I should be watching?