Before I get to my analysis of the upcoming season, I have to confess three things up front. First and foremost, I am a TV junkie. I rarely get to the movies anymore, and I love serialized storytelling. So weekly shows are good for me. And a PVR makes my addiction all that much easier to manage. Digital taping? Check. East coast / west coast feeds? Check. Ability to fast-forward through stuff I don’t care about? Check. Ability to use programmable menu to adjust taping schedules? Check. Public acknowledgement of my addiction? Check.
Second, I prefer drama over comedies. With the exception of the Big Bang Theory, I haven’t found a mainstream “must-watch” comedy in years. Most of them rely on themes like “rational person in a sea of crazy people” or single-note stereotypes (Corner Gas and the clones) or let’s show a group of people who are blacker / whiter / fatter than somebody else cuz different is funny (Molly and Me) or men as morons (Two and a Half Men, Rules of Engagement, Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement). Sure, they all have funny moments. But mostly they grate on my nerves like yesterday’s laugh track. And at 22 minutes long (without commercials), if I fast forward through the grating characters, there’s not much left to watch. So I usually pass on the comedies. Ditto for most reality shows, unless there’s a travel element (Amazing Race) or obstacles (Wipeout), but neither are “must-see” TV for me.
Third, I am willing to give a lot of schlocky things a chance if they have a chance of becoming interesting or at least entertaining. Often I only make it an episode or two and bail, but each September, I plan my TV schedule with the passion of a fantasy league for couch potatoes. This year? Not so much.
For returning shows, I will watch:
- How I Met Your Mother — it was kind of lame at the start of last season, but picked up near the end…it’s not a lot funnier, just a bit more oomph in the storylines with issues like fatherhood and death. This year, the driving force will be who Barney marries at the end of the season and it will keep me around most weeks, but not necessarily every week. Prediction: Pickup for another season;
- Castle — as an aspiring mystery writer, I love the premise (mystery writer teaming with detective) and the chemistry between the two leads can be great as long as they stay out of each other’s arms (they had a kissing scene last season that was supposed to be hot, but the acting by Stana Katic was laughable, although Nathan Filion did no better — note to writers: the longing is better than the having). The big topic for this year, although it might be resolved early, is Kate’s apparent “death” at the end of last season;
- Hawaii Five-O — I thought this would suck last year but tuned in for an episode or two to try it out, and stuck around…probably will last another season, but doubtful for third, too much macho crap at times. But the season finale was fantastic with every character at loose ends;
- NCIS — Gibbs is getting a bit long-in-the-tooth but the procedural part is still strong, and suspect that this will be the last season;
- NCIS: LA — I like the extra action this one offers, although please stop Kenzi from trying to emote. And please don’t drag out the “who is Callan, really” for too long..prediction: potentially the last season;
- Big Bang Theory — I think if I had to choose one show per week to watch, it might very well be this one…the writing is first-rate, and mixing it up last season to give Penny some female friends was great (without turning it into Friends-with-high-IQs). Plus I give props to Chuck Lorre as producer for ditching Charlie Sheen like the train wreck he is on that other show. Not much of a prediction to say almost guaranteed renewal.’;
- Blue Bloods — I like Tom Selleck in this role, and Mark Wahlberg comes across great as a lead detective. I hated the Blue Templar wrap-up last season (should have been more detail much earlier in the season, and built to a climax) as way too easy to solve andit will be interesting to see if the show can make it through mid-year cuts;
- The Mentalist — I was a late arrival to the series, and in fact only started watching after enjoying Lie to Me (now cancelled) and Psych (which I can never find)…great season finale, looking forward to the new season to find out if it was indeed Red John that died;
- Chuck — The network has announced only a handful of new episodes before it finishes for good, and with Morgan as the intersect, it may very well be pitiful. Might as well see the end though.
- Nikita — Too many changes in the final episode for me, not sure the future will be bright with other viewers likely losing interest too;
- Being Erica — This is a great Canadian show that has been picked up by the U.S. and has a decent future if it can figure out what the heck to do with Erica outside of her lovelife!;
- Fringe — I liked X-Files but was not a full-fledged fan, yet Fringe captured me early on because of the female lead (Anna Torv) and J.J. Abrams’ original creation stamp; and,
- Rookie Blue — Already launched for the new season, need to get back to the police storylines and away from Andi’s romance woes.
I also really like Psych, White Collar, In Plain Sight, and The Glades, but have trouble catching them reliably on my Canadian stations. Merlin and Torchwood are easier to find (on the Space channel), and I’m looking forward to Endgame, Lost Girl and Covert Affairs to pick up again on the specialty channels. All of which totals up to 18 returning shows to tape, and another four if/when I see them on the list. Total: 22 shows, 21 hours.
For new shows, I will give a shot to:
- Alphas — this is a pseudo-“X-Men for TV” show although the abilities of the alphas are far less visually demonstrable (more down-to-earth than superhero) and has already started…I doubt it will survive the season, but I’ll give it a go in case a cult following grows, has some interesting bits so far;
- Once Upon a Time — Storybrooke Maine becomes home to host of fairy tale characters. I have no idea if this premise will work, but it’s at least partially original. I’ll give it a go, but prediction is 4 EBIC;
- Person of Interest — Similar to the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report, based on the Phiip K. Dick story, the leads will be cops who can try to stop crimes before they occur. One of the downsides of the movie is you didn’t get to explore some of the ethos of being a preventative cop. Count me in, and I’m hoping for cult following.
- Ringer — Sarah Michelle Gellar? Great! Playing twins? Umm, not so great. Has anyone seen a twin show that worked in the last 50 years? Didn’t think so. I’ll give it a go, but SMG isn’t exactly Meryl Streep and seeing her play twins might be more painful than entertaining. Prediction: 3 EBIC.
- The Secret Circle — I am ashamed to say I watched Charmed even during the bad years (you know, every year it was on?). Witches are interesting. Cool even. So count me in. And I’m thinking there’s a chance of cult following. Prediction: Pickup, even by me.;
- Unforgettable — I really like the premise of a detective who can remember everything. Sort of like Psych or The Mentalist or Lie to Me with a twist. And if the lead wasn’t Poppy Montgomery, who killed every episode of Without A Trace she led, I might have hopes. I doubt I can stick with this one, but I’ll give it a go. Prediction: 2 EBIC.”; and,
- Whitney — not really sure where the episodes will go, but saw some trailers with Whitney talking about upcoming show, and she has some serious edge. I’m not familiar with her work, but if she can keep some sarcasm going, maybe it’ll be funny. I’ll give it a try, but my threshold for comedies is a bit high. Prediction: 3 EBIC;
- Charlie’s Angels — Since Hawaii Five-0 survived the reboot, and Drew Barrymore is producing, I’ll take a shot. Prediction: 22 EBIC:
- Grimm — Supernatural is still alive and well, err, alive anyway, so might have same demographic pull here. And has better chance at edgy stories over the Once Upon A Time. Prediction: 15 EBIC unless it finds some Fringe-like legs.
That makes another 9 shows, 8.5 hours of time. Other new shows that will go straight to a “pass” for me are:
- 2 Broke Girls — If the best thing you can say is that it is a “modern-day Laverne and Shirley”, then I’m going to ditch it for The L Word or something else with a bit of edge…prediction: 8 episodes before I’d cancel (EBIC);
- American Horror Story — People buy a haunted house? Yawn…prediction: 3 EBIC;
- Enlightened — Interesting, character going from rehab to spreading new approach to life? Sounds interesting…oh, wait, stars Laura Dern. Prediction: 2 EBIC;
- Free Agents — Hank Azaria in a lead for romantic comedy? Tuesdays with Morrie and Herman’s Head setup some respect, but nope. Prediction: 3 EBIC;
- A Gifted Man — Doctor talks to dead wife…pretty sure, Eli Stone (lawyer and visions) was already done. Prediction: 3 EBIC;
- H8R — Ordinary joes explain to celebs why nobody likes them? A train wreck of a premise that will likely have some eyeballs even with D list participants… Prediction: pickup by network but I would cancel before even one episode
- Hart of Dixie — new doctor finds life is about more than money while in smalltown America. Paging Dr. Hollywood? Snooze. Prediction: 5 EBIC;
- Hell on Wheels — historical revenge western with railroad construction as the plot driver…umm, I can’t think of five thematic words that say CANCEL ME NOW more than that. Prediction: 1 EBIC;
- Homeland — Intelligence officers and Mandy Patinkin. Sorry, those words don’t sing to me. And once you solve the initial mystery, where do you go? Prediction: 2 EBIC.
- How to Be a Gentleman — Like the 2 Broke Girls, this is update of “Odd Couple”. Focusing on men behaving doofusly. Pass, prediction: 1 EBIC.
- I Hate My Teenage Daughter — I’ve read the description of this one three times and still have no idea what it’s about other than mother daughter issues. Pass, prediction: 0 EBIC.
- Last Man Standing — Tim Allen is back as a home husband. I like Tim’s stand-up, but he’s a tool in most shows. Pass again, prediction: 1 EBIC.
- Man Up! — getting in touch with their macho side. Which the actors can do while playing golf, as their schedules should open up after three episodes — Prediction: 3 EBIC;
- New Girl — Zooey Deschanel in some sort of Three’s Company parody but with three guys instead of two girls? I have no idea how this premise works, but with Zooey guesting everywhere, someone apparently wants her on TV. Not me, but someone. Prediction: Pickup by the network, 2 EBIC.
- Pan Am — Mad Men, with stewardesses. And Christina Ricci as the lead. I am soooo not there. Prediction: 1 EBIC.
- The Playboy Club — Mad Men, but at the Playboy Club. Maybe it will surprise people by becoming a pseudo-Sopranos type show, but it will need to amp up the sex or violence pretty fast or disappear. Prediction: 3 EBIC.
- Prime Suspect — female cop in male-dominated world. And I’m supposed to care why? Prediction: 1 EBIC.
- Revenge — pretty little wench seeks revenge on country club set. Maybe the Gossip Girl set will chime in, and the networks will pick it up. Personally, 2 EBIC.
- Suburgatory — Oooh, let’s move to the country or the ‘burbs where it is safe and my daughter won’t get knocked up. Fish out of water shouldn’t last long. Prediction: 2 EBIC;
- Terra Nova — Dinosaurs? Spielberg? Time travel? What doesn’t this show have? Me watching it. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the movie and three other TV shows with same premise over the last few years. None worth watching. Prediction: 3 EBIC.
- Up All Night — Christina Applegate. Parenthood. Hoorah. Pass: prediction, 1 EBIC.
- The X Factor — Oh, look, it’s So You Think You Can Be Discovered singing/dancing/acting/something with a contest. I don’t watch any of those contests and I won’t watch this one either. Prediction: The network will pick it up, everyone will complain about Simon Cowell, and I’ll miss every episode very happily. Prediction: 0 EBIC.
For a grand total, ta da (!!!), of 31 shows and 29.5 hours of programming to try. While that sounds like a lot, there were over 45 shows to try last year, closer to 50 in September. Not including mid-year replacements. So, down about 40%. Which is all good for managing my addiction.