Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fall 2011 TV series

In past years, I've done posts on which shows I plan to watch in the new TV season. I never did that this fall. Now it's November, and basically everything that's going to air this fall has already started. So, I figured I'd do a post on what I think of the shows that I've watched. Some I've been keeping up with religiously, watching the first night it's available online. Other shows I've seen a few episodes of, and may watch more if I find the time. Others I may give up on. Mostly, I've been a bit disappointed with this year's freshman shows. We'll start with those.


New Shows

Pan Am
I love this show. I'm a couple episodes behind, but only because it's not a show the Housemate watches (loser). See, most of my TV-watching time is during dinner (and lunch on the weekends) which I have with the Housemate, so any show that he's not interested in gets pushed aside, and I have to find my own time to watch it.

Pan Am is probably my favorite new show this season. I love the period setting, the world travel, the glamour of it all, even if it is exaggerated (I don't care). Of the six main characters, I loved about half of them right from the start, and the rest I've warmed up to in recent episodes. The show is funny and fun, but can also be surprisingly moving, as I found myself tearing up a bit on behalf of Colette in the Berlin episode. Anyway, if you're at all inclined to watch this sort of show but haven't given it a try, I highly recommend you check it out.

Terra Nova
I so wanted this to be good. I still do. It's just they keep being stupid about it. I'm no writer, I don't know how to fix it, but I can spot bad choices when I see them. First, they chickened out in the pilot by tacking on an awkward scene in which Mira (Christine Adams) and some other Sixer discuss Taylor's son, basically saying "See? We already have answers to our mysterious mythology, we promise." But that scene somehow managed to make the mystery both less mysterious and more confusing at the same time. Then you had that terrible conversation between Mira, the evil(?) Sixer leader(?) and hero Jim (Jason O'Mara) that went something like this:
Mira: You seem useful. Be on the right side of history. Make the smart choice. Join us.
Jim: But I like Terra Nova. It's a new beginning, and all that good idealistic stuff.
Mira: You're naive if you think that's really what Terra Nova is about.
Jim: OK, I'm listening then. What is it really about?
Mira: You know, you'd think I'd tell you because I'm trying to convince you my side is the smart choice, but the writers are telling me we can't give away too much of the mystery yet, so instead I'll just say, "You'll see."
Inexplicable. Side plots have been pretty lame, too, perhaps reaching a new low as Jim and littlest daughter Zoe spend the whole episode trying to get out of what is essentially a personal theater room. Why does that room only have an emergency door release on the outside? Is it a prison cell or something? I've been in walk-in fridge rooms, and they have emergency releases on the inside, because that is the more awkward of the two sides to get stuck on. And why would someone construct an access shaft that's only large enough for a small child to fit through? Did Hobbits build the place? And how many different scene cuts do you need to spend on these people figuring out how to escape that room? The only thing that could have made their plotline exciting would have been if there were ACTUAL spiders in there, trying to attack them.

OK, I should have saved my Terra Nova rant for its own separate post. Contrary to how it may sound at this point, I'm still enjoying the show, and I watch it every week. But I do so hoping that it will suddenly get better. They have a beautiful, interesting world to explore and some good characters. They just need to figure out what they're doing and use them intelligently.

Person of Interest
I like this show. I don't love it as much as I'd hoped, but I think they've been doing a pretty good job with it. I think my main issue is the cool, detached manner that Jim Caviezel gives hero Reese. It makes scenes with him that don't have any action a little...boring. Without more passion, I find it hard to really become attached to the character or the story. But I'll keep tuning in for now.

The New Girl
I really wanted to love this one, but after three episodes, I've just been a bit disappointed. There have been some good laughs, and I like some of the characters sometimes, but just not enough. Only if I find myself with a lot of free time, or hear that it's gotten much better, will I catch up with this one. I think Zooey Deschanel is a talented, funny actress. I just wish the material she got were better.

I started this one late, but now I've seen three episodes and I have to admit, it's totally a guilty pleasure show. Watch beautiful people live extravagant, glamorous lives, and see the nasty ones take nasty falls. Like Pan Am, the Housemate doesn't watch this one, so I have to find time to catch episodes on my own. I may watch some more episodes at some point, but only if I'm caught up with everything else.

Once Upon a Time
I wasn't entirely sold after watching the pilot, but after watching the second and third episodes, I'm loving it. If any show challenges Pan Am as my favorite new show of the season, it's this one. The characters are fun (especially the Evil Queen), and the fairytale premise is intriguing. I just wonder how they can keep the plot going. I guess time will tell.

Another disappointment. It's not bad, but it does suffer from characters being unbelievably stupid from time to time. It's also a bit hard to believe how many fairytale-creature cases Nick and his partner pick up. Does this reflect a universal percentage of perpetrators who are actually fairytale monsters? If only a Grimm is well suited to take out these creatures, does that mean that the rest of them, who get other detectives assigned to their cases, go free? It's one thing when a certain detective is well known for being good at "these sorts of cases", and gets called in from around the city or state to investigate. Alternatively, they could explain that this city is a fairytale monster haven. But they need some sort of explanation, because at the moment, it just doesn't make sense. There have only been two episodes, so I'm willing to give it some more time. If it gets better, great. If it gets worse, I may start tuning out.

Returning Shows

Favorite show on TV right now. It's a bit frustrating at the moment (vague SPOILERS) with the new altered storyline, but things are definitely progressing in an exciting way. I love it.

This was my favorite new show of last fall, and I think it's still going strong. The formula has changed a lot since the first season, and that took some getting used to, but change is good. It keeps things interesting.

How I Met Your Mother
Fun, lovable characters, and I've been enjoying Kal Penn's recurring guest star role this season. And, as I've already explained, I really liked their Ewok episode. Ted can take as long as he wants to find their mother.

Big Bang Theory
The other of the two sitcoms I watch. It's light and amusing, and I like the characters. They've had a couple good cameos so far this season, and they FINALLY admitted that maybe, just maybe, there might be one or two women out there who actually like comic books. Progress.

I think I've only watched the first episode, maybe two, from this season. The Housemate has given up on it, so I find it's a good one to catch a couple episodes of while I'm beading, since it doesn't exactly require my undivided attention. I'll have to see more before I decide what I think about this season.

Yes, the Housemate and I are still hooked on Merlin. It alternates between painfully silly and surprisingly grim, and I really wish the characters would learn to recognize traitors (Look! He's smirking! All the time when bad things are happening! Why doesn't anybody see?????), but somehow I love it still. I like fantasy and Arthurian legend (even perversions of it), and I've fallen for the characters. Also, James Callis was in an episode this season. Oh, how I miss Baltar.

Walking Dead
This is a good show, but it's also distressing and depressing. If the Housemate weren't such a big zombie fan, honestly, I might drop it. It just never leaves me feeling good. At least it's staying interesting.

This is Chuck's last season. We were lucky we got it this long, seeing as it was renewed only by the skin of its teeth the past couple seasons. I'm finding the current plot very frustrating. I understand why they wanted to switch up the Intersect a bit, keep it fresh, and didn't want to make things too easy for them, but it still pains me. Still, I've been with the show long enough that I'll see it through till the end, which I trust them to wrap up in a satisfying way, given that they have advance notice of the series finale.

Covert Affairs
I'm so glad we didn't have to wait until next summer to see more of this show. I love it so much. Annie, Auggie, and Joan are great, and the filming on location that Annie gets to do is beautiful and refreshing. So many shows try to make L.A. look like other cities in the world, who can blame the Covert Affairs folks for rubbing it in: "See? We really went to Paris! Not a set! And this? Yeah, we went to Venice. For real!" Fun, delightful show, and lighter and more realistic than my other two returning favorites, Fringe and Nikita.


Well, I think those are all the shows that I've seen this TV season. Any other shows I need to pick up this fall before I fall too far behind?

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