Monday, September 26, 2011

Show Debuts - September 26-October 2

After last week when shows were debuting either for the season or for the first time ever, things have settled down. But no quite to normal. We have eight shows starting their seasons this week, with four of those being series debuts. And as yet there’ve been no public rumblings of shows being cancelled. Compared with the last few seasons that’s a surprise. When will the shoes -  and shows – start to drop?

Monday, September 26th

8-10 p.m. Series Debut of Terra Nova on FOX
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of Gossip Girl on The CW
9-10 p.m. Series Debut of Hart Of Dixie on The CW
9:30-10 p.m. Season Debut of Mike & Molly

Wednesday, September 28th

8:30-9 p.m. Series Debut of Suburgatory on ABC
9:30-10 p.m. Season Debut of Happy Endings on ABC

Thursday, September 29th

8:30-9 p.m. Series Debut of How To Be A Gentleman on CBS
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of Private Practice on ABC

New Series Synopses

Terra Nova is the long anticipated (since it was supposed to preview in May, much longer anticipated than was hoped) new series from Steven Spielberg. In the not too distant future the Earth is nearly uninhabitable, used up by people. A potential new start exists thanks to a scientific discovery that apparently opens a portal into Earth’s past, allowing a colony to set up in the age of the dinosaurs – Terra Nova. But all is not perfect in paradise.

Hart Of Dixie from The CW is a drama about a young woman doctor who, when she doesn’t get the surgical residency she was counting on is forced to take an offer that she would have normally rejected – to work in a General Practice in a small town in Alabama. Trouble is that the man who offered her the job has died…and left his half of the practice to her, but she’s not exactly popular with her new partner, and not particularly popular in her new “fish out of water” role.

Suburgatory is a comedy from ABC. When a single father finds condoms in his 16 year-old daughter’s room he decides to move from the city to the suburbs to find a better life. What they find is a place that seems too perfect, and a different sort of problems from those in the city.

In the new CBS comedy How To Be A Gentleman, the writer of an advice column in an Esquire like men’s magazine finds himself facing the prospect of being fired when the magazine is sold to a new publisher who wants it to become “younger and hipper.” To save his job he has to make his column more”modern and sexy” which means becoming friends with a personal trainer who used to beat him up in school.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Show Debuts - September 19-25

The Emmy Awards mark the real start of the new TV season. Here are the series debuting on all the networks this week (all times are Eastern).

Monday, September 19th
8-10 p.m. Season Debut of Dancing With The Stars on ABC
8-10 p.m. Season Debut of The Sing-Off on NBC
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of How I Met Your Mother on CBS
9-9:30 p.m. Season Debut of Two And A Half Men on CBS
9:30-10 p.m. Series Debut of 2 Broke Girls on CBS
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of Castle on ABC
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of Hawaii Five-0 on CBS
10-11 p.m. Series Debut of The Playboy Club on NBC

Tuesday, September 20th
8-10 p.m. Season Debut of The Biggest Loser on NBC
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of Glee on FOX
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of NCIS on CBS
9-10 p.m. Season Debut of NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS
9-9:30 Series Debut of The New Girl on FOX
9:30-10 p.m. Season Debut of Raising Hope on FOX
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of Body of Proof on ABC
10-11 p.m. Series Debut of Unforgettable on CBS

Wednesday, September 21st
8-10 p.m. Series Debut of The X-Factor on FOX
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of The Middle on ABC
9-10 p.m. Season Debut of Criminal Minds on CBS
9-10 p.m. Season Debut of Modern Family on ABC
9-10 p.m. Season Debut of Harry’s Law on CBS
10-11 p.m. Series Debut of Revenge on ABC
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of CSI on CBS
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of Law & Order: SVU on NBC

Thursday, September 22nd
8-9 p.m. Series Debut of Charlie’s Angels on ABC
8-8:30 p.m. Season Debut of Community on NBC
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of The Big Bang Theory on CBS
8:30-9 p.m. Season Debut of Parks and Recreation on NBC
9-10 p.m. Series Debut of Person Of Interest on CBS
9-9:30 p.m. Season Debut of The Office on NBC
9:30-10 p.m. Series Debut of Whitney on NBC
9-11 p.m. Season Debut of Gray’s Anatomy on ABC
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of The Mentalist on CBS
10-11 p.m. Series Debut of Prime Suspect on NBC

Friday, September 23rd
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of Nikita on The CW
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of Kitchen Nightmares on FOX
8-9 p.m. Series Debut of A Gifted Man on CBS
9-11 p.m. Season Debut of Dateline on NBC
9-10 p.m. Season Debut of CSI on CBS
9-10 p.m. Season Debut of Supernatural on The CW
9-9:30 p.m. Season Debut of Fringe on FOX
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of Blue Bloods on CBS
Sunday, September 25th
7-9 p.m. Season Debut of Extreme Makeover Home Edition on ABC
8-9 p.m. Season Debut of The Amazing Race on CBS
8-8:30 p.m. Season Debut of The Simpsons on FOX
8:30-9 p.m. Season Debut of The Cleveland Show on FOX
9-9:30 p.m. Season Debut of Family Guy on FOX
9-10 p.m. Season Debut of Desperate Housewives on ABC
9-10 p.m. Season Debut of The Good Wife on CBS
9:30-10 p.m. Season Debut of American Dad on CBS
10-11 p.m. Series Debut of Pan-Am on ABC
10-11 p.m. Season Debut of CSI: Miami on CBS

New Series Synopses

2 Broke Girls is reminiscent of The Odd Couple. Two young women from very different backgrounds are forced to live together because of the one thing they have in common: they’re both broke. Somehow the former rich girl and the one who has always had to work two jobs just to make ends meet have to survive each other and maybe become more successful as a team than they were as individuals.

The Playboy Club is a a period drama focusing on events at the hippest night club in 1960s Chicago, the Playboy Club. The women who wear the bunny uniform are a major part of the show’s focus and there’s a bit of a mystery attached as well.

The X-Factor is the American version of Simon Cowell`s British talent search sensation.

The New Girl stars Zooey Deschannel as a woman living – platonically – with three male roommates after catching her model boyfriend cheating on her. Jess is a quirky young lady re-entering the dating game with the help of her three new roommates and streetwise model, and Jess`s best friend Cece.

Unforgettable stars Poppy Montgomery as Carrie Wells a former cop who has hyperthymesia and is incapable of forgetting anything. An ex-cop now living in New York she goes back to being a cop after she becomes involved in a murder investigation led by her former partner who was also her lover.

Revenge is billed as a modern take on the classic The Count Of Monte Cristo. Under the name Emily Thorne, Amanda Clark returns to the Hamptons house where she grew up, seeking revenge on the people that she blames for the wrongful conviction and death of her father and the destruction of her family.

Charlie’s Angels is a remake of Aaron Spelling’s 1970s T&A classic, this time produced by Drew Barrymore who was one of the stars of the two movie remakes of the series. This time the Angels aren’t unfulfilled women cops, but ex-cons with talents that make them an effective team as private investigators.

In Person Of Interest a mysterious software billionaire has developed a computer program that predicts the identity of people connected to violent crimes that will take place in the future. To help him prevent these crimes before they happen he hires a presumed dead former CIA agent to effectively become his leg man.

Prime Suspect is an American remake of the classic British series. Maria Bello plays the new leader of a team of detectives whose new squad isn’t enthusiastic about taking orders from a woman, particularly a woman that they suspect has slept her way into her new job.

A Gifted Man is the story of a self-absorbed doctor whose encounter with the ghost of his ex-wife changes his life. He helps to run the free clinic that she had worked at and encounters people who really need his help.

Pan-Am is another period piece, this time looking at the lives of a group of flight attendants – or stewardesses as they were known then – in the 1960s when air travel was glamorous and the stewardess was the symbol of that glamour, even if the reality was nowhere near as good as the image.

It’s A Wonderful(?) Night For Emmy

emmysThere are a lot of adjectives to describe the 2011 Emmy broadcast; controlled, planned, anal.


Most of all boring. And I think it was boring because it was so controlled planned and precise. There were no obvious moments when comedy bits were dumped because the show was running overtime, The show seemed as well timed out as a Japanese train schedule and there was no room for deviation from timetable. It showed. The result was that it was an almost total lack of spontaneity. Even those moment that were supposed to feel spontaneous – the speeches by the winners – felt as planned out by the producers. The only winner to be played off was Kyle Chandler and that’s because he started to walk off and then realised that he forgot to thank Connie Britton for five years as Mrs. Coach. With one exception – Outstanding Actress in a Comedy – they didn’t even let the presenters actually read the names of the nominees they were going to be presenting to. You know, just in case someone screws up a name or laughs or something. How anal retentive is that! And yet they somehow managed to find time for the guy who named the winners – just in case we missed it when the presenters said the names – to make silly lame jokes. We don’t want this. As Joe Friday never said “Just the facts man.”

There were a couple of major musical numbers. One by Lonely Island it didn’t understand at all. I felt like Temperance Brennan on Bones: “I don’t know what that is.” I had to look it up and as a result…I’m feeling old and I still don’t understand the link that the song had to television. The other musical number was The Canadian Tenors – who I’ve also never heard of – singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during the Memoriam sequence. Now you’ll excuse me for saying so but I dislike this tendency, seen here and at the Oscars, of having the Memoriam segment underscored with live singers, particularly when the show’s director cuts between the memorial clips and the singers, which is exactly what they did this time.

I suppose we should discuss Jane Lynch’s hosting duties at the Emmys. Given what was allotted to her, I guess that she did an adequate job. FOX tried to recreate the excitement of last year’s opening musical number based on “Born To Run” but it didn’t come off quite right. Or maybe I just missed it because I was plating my dinner (in a manner that would drive Gordon Ramsay to apoplexy). She had a brief monologue at the beginning and from time to time has a couple of jokes, some referring to her sexual orientation. She also had a sketch later in the show wearing a black wig about why New Jersey is the setting for so many shows – among them House, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and of course Jersey Shore. Suffice it to say there was also a reference to another show that took place in New Jersey which had a controversial final scene. On the whole I wish that Jane Lynch had been given more to do on the show. Or maybe just better stuff to do.

Turning to the actual winners, the Comedy categories were dominated by Modern Family. The show won in every comedy category except Outstanding Actor and Actress in a Comedy, and that’s only because the show’s ensemble cast was all nominated in the supporting categories. Ty Burrell won for Supporting Actor in a Comedy while his onscreen wife Julie Bowen won as Supporting Actress. In one of the only “spontaneous” moments in the broadcast Melissa McCarthy won as Outstanding Actress in a Comedy, and received a tiara and roses in addition to the Emmy over the winner of my reader poll, Amy Poehler. That was a real shocker, and unlike a lot of people I’m not going to say that she won it for the movie Bridesmaids rather than Mike & Molly. Steve Carell failed to win an Emmy for playing Michael Scott on The Office, losing to Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory, who won the reader poll unanimously.

The Variety, Music and Comedy Series awards were lumped together with the Reality-Competition Category. I don’t care much for the Variety, Music and Comedy categories, although I noted a couple of things; they cut the segments naming the writers in this category – often the funniest damned thing in whole damned Emmy Show – down to 15 seconds each, thereby eliminating virtually all of the humour in those bits; and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won both of the categories and absolutely no one was shocked or surprised. Mostly they were resigned to the fact. The Amazing Race won the Reality-Competition Series category; the reader poll said So You Think You Can Dance, but then only three votes were cast.

The Drama categories were, for the most part surprising. Martin Scorcese won the directing Emmy for the first episode of Boardwalk Empire, and that shouldn’t be surprising until you realize that Scorsese has lost six Emmy in various categories before winning this one. The first big surprise was Jason Katims winning the Writing category for Friday Night Lights. You could say, “after five year’s of being as great as it was, it’s about time,” but considering that there were two episodes of Mad Men nominated – including “The Suitcase” – not to mention the highly touted Game of Thrones, well it was surprising. Peter Dinklage won for Game of Thrones in the rather weak Supporting Actor in a Drama category, while Margo Martindale won as Mags Bennett in Justified. In the days leading up to the actual awards she became a critical favourite for the Emmy in a category with some truly strong actresses. In maybe the only non-surprise in the Drama categories, Julianna Margulies won the Lead Actress Emmy for The Good Wife, just like my reader polls said she should (but again, only three votes; I wanted Elizabeth Moss to win). The biggest surprise maybe of the whole night came in the Lead Actor in a Drama category when Kyle Chandler won for playing Coach Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights over Jon Hamm (my readers’ choice), Steve Buscemi and the others.

I have little interest in the Movie and Miniseries categories, mainly because I see so very few of the entries in the category, and inevitably one or two shows dominates the category. This year was no different; I was actually on the edge of falling asleep while these categories were being announced. Downton Abbey won for Writing and Directing, and Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith). HBO’s Mildred Pierce (which was mercilessly panned by many critics) won for Supporting Actor (Guy Pearce) and Lead Actress (Kate Winslet). The dominance of these two was broken when Canadian Barry Pepper won the Lead Actor for playing Robert Kennedy in The Kennedys.

This left us with the three "Best Show” categories. Despite the threat from Game of Thrones, and The Good Wife – which won my reader poll – Mad Men won the Outstanding Drama Series for the fourth straight year. Since it’s only been on for four years, perhaps we now know what it will take for something else to win the category – Mad Men just has to be ineligible (which it won’t be next year). Downton Abbey won for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie (*yawn*). Finally, in the last, and most shocking (not) award of the night Modern Family took the Emmy as Outstanding Comedy Series.

If I were to apply my usual yardstick for awards show – did the show feel as if it was longer or shorter than it actually was – then Sunday night’s Emmy Award Show was a failure. It felt like it went on a lot longer than it actually did. I’m convinced that the reason why it felt that way is that FOX stifled the spontaneity of the show. While the networks expect every awards show except the Oscars to fit into a strictly enforced three hour window, I think that FOX was so determined to make it run on schedule – and coincidentally to not cut anything that they had planned – that they sucked all of the fun of the unexpected out of it. And while blame for this sort of thing usually falls onto the host, it does not seem to me that Jane Lynch bears any responsibility for this one. This one is entirely FOX’s failure.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Polls (2 of ‘em) Up

I couldn’t set them up as one this time around, and I couldn’t use my usual polling service but these are a pair of polls that I really like running. As always with these polls the premise is simple (like their author!). Simply choose the name of the show that you think will be cancelled after the fewest number of episodes. Note, I didn’t say which show would be cancelled first. The reason is that since some shows debut a week or two (or more) after everything else it is possible for a show to be cancelled after which airs fewer episodes than the first show to be cancelled chronologically. For example, lets say that Show A debuts on September 19th is cancelled three weeks after it debuts. It is possible that Show B, which debuts on October 3rd to be cancelled on October 18th, fifteen days after it debuted. Show A was cancelled first, but Show B aired fewer episodes.

This poll will run until October 16th OR until the first show in each category is cancelled, whichever comes first. As always, feel free to post comments on why you voted the way you did with this post.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Poll Result - Outstanding Drama Series


For the final Emmy Poll of the year, I asked which show would win the Emmy as outstanding Drama Series. This time around there were more votes cast than in most of the polls this year, but two fewer than in the Comedy series poll.

Eight votes were cast. Receiving no votes were Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, and Friday Night Lights. Receiving two votes (25%) was Mad Men. And in a tie for the lead with three votes each (37.5%) were The Good Wife and Game Of Thrones.

This is a tough category for me. I’ve seen three of the shows – obviously not the two that are on HBO and not Dexter either. I’ve seen a couple of episodes of The Good Wife, and have watched both Friday Night Lights and Mad Men sporadically since they debuted. I will say that I’ve seen some episodes of this past season of Mad Men and found it excellent as always. In fact, if the nominations for Outstanding Drama Series were based on single episodes, as so many of the Emmy categories are, I think a great many people would support Mad Men if they nominated the episode “The Suitcase.” Viewed overall I personally think that Mad Men is one of the best shows on TV and if I had voted, it probably would have gotten my vote. And as good as Friday Night Lights has consistently been, I don’t think that it can overcome the handicaps that it faces having been on DirectTV and then being a bit of an afterthought for NBC. That leaves us with two HBO series and The Good Wife. I haven’t seen enough of The Good Wife to effectively judge how good it is, but I suspect that it will do better in the acting categories than it will here. Is the Academy going to reward a broadcast network show when there are so many cable shows including bridesmaid Mad Men? I’m afraid I have to discount the chances for Game Of Thrones because of the long-standing Emmy prejudice against Science Fiction and Fantasy genre shows. (But is that just my reaction to Fringe never having a nomination in any of the main Emmy categories.) By default then I think the big HBO contender is going to be Boardwalk Empire. The three most likely winners are Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife and Mad Men and because I’ve seen more of Mad Men, that’s the one I’m going with.

Todd Mason has a different opinion:
THE GOOD WIFE has weak moments, but remains the best drama on US television, despite impressive work on the part of the folks at FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and MAD MEN and DEXTER.
BOARDWALK EMPIRE has an excellent cast for the most part, and shows why an excellent cast can't carry a series without decent scripts.

For what it’s worth Todd (less than the price of a cup of tap water) I can see your point about The Good Wife, and maybe if I had watched more episodes I’d agree with you more whole heartedly, but I do love my Mad Men. As far as Boardwalk Empire is concerned, I agree with your general premise about an excellent cast needing decent scripts (and/or superior direction) but since I haven’t seen the show I will refrain on commenting on whether that’s the case with this show.

I want to have a new poll up for the “Cancellation Derby” in the next day or so, although it might turn out to be two polls running simultaneously for Comedy and Drama. Be back soon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Show Debuts - September 12-18

The summer is finally over. For most of us Labour (Labor) Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of Fall – although based on the weather around here last week you couldn’t tell; we had the hottest days of the year last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. For TV the beginning of the Fall season is supposed to be right after the Emmy Awards on Spetember 18th. However, some shows will be debuting from four of the five US networks. The only one not to debut new shows is FOX (although ABC’s debut is a bit of a cheat; 20/20).

So here is what’s coming this week (all times are Eastern):

Tuesday, September 13th
8-9 p.m.: Season Debut of 90210 on The CW
9-10 p.m.: Series Debut of Ringers on The CW
10-11 p.m.: Season Debut of Parenthood on NBC

Wednesday, September 14th
8-9:30 p.m.: Season Debut of Survivor on CBS (originally scheduled for one hour but extended to 90 minutes)
8-9 p.m.: Series Debut of H8R on The CW
9-10 p.m.: Season Debut of America’s Next Top Model on The CW
10-10:30 p.m.: Series Debut of Up All Night on NBC
10:30-11 p.m.: Series Debut of Free Agents on NBC

Thursday, September 15th
8-9 p.m.: Season Debut of The Vampire Diaries on The CW
9-10 p.m.: Series Debut of The Secret Circle on The CW

Friday, September 16th
10-11 p.m.: Season Debut of 20/20 on ABC

New series synopses:

Ringers is the much anticipated return of Sarah Michelle Gellar to network TV. She plays estranged twin sisters, Bridget and Siobhan. Bridget a recovering addict who is a key witness in a murder trial goes to visit her estranged twin sister Siobhan. Siobhan is married and wealthy, but her perfect life isn’t perfect, as Bridget discovers when she assumes her sister’s identity after Siobhan apparently dies at sea.

H8R is a new reality series from The CW hosted by Mario Lopez in which celebrities confront their biggest haters and try to make them realize that their animosity is misguided. featured celebrities include Snooki, Kim Kardashian and Jake Pavelka, while others booked for the series include Kat Von D, Eva Longoria, and Barry Bonds.

Up All Night from NBC stars Christina Applegate and Will Arnett in a comedy about a couple trying to cope with parenthood in the modern world. In this case that means a career woman mom with a vulnerable and needy boss played my Maya Rudolph, and a stay at home dad.

Free Agents is NBC’s remake of a British comedy. This version stars Hank Azaria as Alex, a newly divorced man and Kathryn Hahn as a woman whose fiance recently died. They have a drunken one night stand and the series deals with the awkwardness between the two of them which is magnified since they work together at an advertising agency run by Stephen (played by Anthony Stewart Head, the only hold-over from the original British cast).

The Secret Circle follows The Vampire Diaries on The CW, which is only fitting since both are based on the novels of L.J. Smith. The story focuses on Cassie Blake, who moves to live with her grandmother in Chance Harbor Washington. There she discovers that not only is she the latest in a long line of witches, but she’s the last member needed to complete a coven of teenaged witches known as “The Secret Circle.”

Thursday, September 08, 2011

New Poll - Outstanding Drama Series

Right now I have a headache and heartburn, largely caused by things that this computer is doing to me, so let’s keep this short and sweet. It is our last Emmy Poll and as always there is only one rule: vote for the series that you think should win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series rather than for the show you are sure will win…if they aren’t one and the same that is. I enjoy getting your comments and responding to them here, so please feel free to comment on the relative merits of the nominees.


Deadline for this poll is Saturday, September 17 at Noon (not that I’ve ever made the Noon deadline myself of course). That’s the day before the Emmys are broadcast on FOX.

Poll Results - Outstanding Comedy Series

Parks-and-Recreation-Season-1-2009I nearly forgot about this one and I need to get on with it. There were ten votes in this category. The Big Bang Theory received no votes. In a three way tie for third place with one vote each (10%) are Glee, from FOX, and The Office and 30 Rock, both from NBC. In second place with three votes (30%) was ABC’s Modern Family. But the winner in this category with four votes (40%) was NBC’s Parks & Recreation.

I’ve stated often enough that I don’t watch a lot of sitcoms. The rare exception is The Big Bang Theory which I find hilarious. Thus I’m not really equipped to discuss the relative merits of the various shows that are nominated. However, this time around we have enough comments to get a feeling of the people who voted…even if a few “spammy” comments slipped through.

First up we have this from Todd Mason:
COMMUNITY was actually better than this slate, but only a bit better than PARKS and 30 ROCK. GLEE and MODERN FAMILY don't belong on the ballot.
I happen to agree with you about Glee. The thing is that I don’t know where the show really fits. It gets lumped into the comedy area because it has music and the inevitable association of “musical” is with “comedy.” Just my opinion of course.

Next this statement in support of this stance from Roger Owen Green:
I don't care what they say: Glee is not a comedy! (And neither is Nurse Jackie.)
I agree, particularly about Nurse Jackie. Of course the show wasn’t nominated as a Comedy this year though star Edie Falco was.

My good friend Toby O’Brien had this to say:
Although I enjoy all but "Glee" among the nominees, but only "Parks & Recreation" really took it to a higher plane this year. "Modern Family" and especially "30 Rock" had too many off episodes.....
I’ll take your word for it.

Alex wrote this:
I have to go with Parks & Recreation. Over the past few years, it's found its groove and stepped up its comedy game. Glee is, although entertaining, fundamentally not a good show. It focused on cheap, instant laughs and thrills rather than character development.
I think that the comments about Glee may be right on the mark. Based on some reported slippage in the ratings this past year it may be that the public is growing tired of the Glee “formula.”

Finally we have this from Tom Myler expressing a minority opinion:
Contrary to what of people think, The Office did great this past season! The final arc after Michael Scott left was hilarious.
This definitely does seem to be a minority opinion, even to your point about the arc after Michael Scott left. While there were some moments that professional critics found to be excellent, like the episode where Dwight ran the Scranton branch, many thought there were too many gimmicks in those final episodes. Adding to that is some negative reaction to a lot of the earlier episodes.

New poll up in a few minutes.