Fall Must See TV! (Or not so much.)
Since fall television has officially commenced, is there anything that seems promising? Or not promising?
I think the only show I'm watching on network TV is Parks and Recreation. That astounds me. Thursday nights used to be the bomb. I need another LOST.
I decided to give Agents of SHIELD a try. I got super bored so I can't give an accurate review. I guess it has all the stuff Whedonites want to see, so it's got that going for it. But man, maybe I just have some deficiency or lack enjoyment of life, but I thought the writing was incredibly uneven. For every clever quip, there's some stupid heavy handed junk. I can't freakin stand it when characters say to one another stuff like "he doesn't know, does he?" Uh, no, obviously you both are thinking that so find a different way to tell the audience that something is afoot.
Also, the open was such an action cliche. Blergh.
No joy in life over here. Sorry.
I watched part of The Goldbergs by accident. I don't know what to think of it. Shrug.
One of my favorite Twitter accounts is Cancellation Bear (@thecancelbear). He gives indications about shows that seem safe and shows that are becoming #bearchow. It's amusing.
I'm currently making my way through Agents of SHIELD while I take a little lunch break, I'm about 3/4ths through it right now. I'm not loving it. I think this is the first hour long network show I've watched since... maybe Boston Public? I do NOT watch a lot of (non-comedy) network TV. And I remember why now. It all looks so cheap. And it's so slow. And so quiet. Not much subtlety. Characters just read lines in quiet rooms and it's hard to pay attention to. And the action scenes are laughable compared not just to the Marvel movies they're related to, but even just to premium cable TV shows (like Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire). A lot of the scenery looks like it belongs in a Marvel adult film parody. I guess I'm spoiled on HBO, but Agents of SHIELD seems like garbage compared to premium cable shows (EXCEPT FOR DEXTER, Dexter is basically a network TV show with more swearing and occasional boobs). I'll give SHIELD a few more episodes of background watching while I eat lunch and browse the internet. But I'm probably never going to give it my full attention.
OH WAIT, I watch America's Funniest Home Videos. That's the most recent hour long network show I watch.
As far as other shows go for the fall, not including Parks & Rec which you've already mentioned, here are the other shows I watch that are currently in a run, or about to start in the next couple of weeks:
South Park returns tonight.
There's already a mixed feelings thread in here about Brooklyn Nine Nine.
Key & Peele (Comedy Central) started last week. Pretty funny sketch comedy.
Always Sunny (FXX) is still in the beginning part of its ninth season.
The League follows it. I guess you'd have to start more from the beginning if you wanted to get into this. Though, tonight's episode is all about Rafi and Dirty Randy (Seth Rogen), which will be hilarious.
Saturday Night Live starts up again this weekend, with Tina Fey as the host, and Arcade Fire as the musical guest. A lot of veteran cast members are gone, and they have three new cast members. It's always interesting to me to see how young cast members handle carrying the load.
With Dexter ending and Breaking Bad coming to a close, I thought my Sundays would be more freed up, but low and behold, fall programming on HBO and Showtime have shown up in bundles.
Boardwalk Empire is in the beginning of its 4th season. Jeffrey Wright is proving to be an awesome addition to the cast.
Homeland and Eastbound & Down both have their season premieres on Sunday. USA! USA! USA! USA!
And two new shows are premiering as well. The first being "Hello Ladies" (HBO), staring Stephen Merchant as a nerd who thinks he's a ladies man (should be good, I hope). The other is "Masters of Sex" (Showtime) starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as pioneering researchers in human sexuality. Sounds nudity laden.
And then a couple weeks down the line, on October 13th, we get to see if Walking Dead keeps up the greatness it had in the third season, or regresses back to season two levels of boringness.
Yesterday while listening to the Avengers soundtrack on SPotify I heard an ad for Agents of Shield, and tried to remember to set my DVR for it, but alas I forgot. And based upon the reviews so far, I didn't miss much.
Most network drama shows seem to all be shot on the Warners back lot. You see those same brownstone facades in everything.
Look at Bones. Lots of b-roll of Washington DC but nearly all outside action takes place on the New York street that appears in lots of shows and commercials and the Beastie Boys video with the Delorean.
Network shows are about the star, while cable shows are about the characters and the story. Networks have not figured this out yet.
(readers - "networks" refers to NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC / Cable refers to everything else - AMC, FX, Showtime, HBO, etc. Granted lots of people get these shows not on cable but on satellite or fiber, but they are still called "cable" by an industry that is generally 20 years behind the times)
I don't recall the last Network show I have watched - Flash Forward I think. We watched Gray's Anatomy for a few years until it just became ridiculous. Most Network shows that I have watched have not been on the Network, but on Hulu or Netflix (ie, Lost, 30 Rock - never saw a single episode of these two shows on broadcast tv except for the Lost finale).
I have tried the occasional new Network show over the years - but they mostly fall into the same formulaic motif that makes cable shows more interesting. Network shows tend to resolve the problem neatly in 44 minutes, while a cable show can stretch a story out gradually over a season or more.
Plus, the way Networks work, they order a pilot, then they order 13 episodes, then maybe they order another 10, then maybe they renew, but maybe not. So you could find yourself investing time and energy into a show that might not survive 12 months. Wasteful. Cable shows tend to be in it for the long haul. With the exception of the HBO horseracing show with Dustin Hoffman, which was cancelled because horses were dying, most cable shows last a while. Possibly because they invest more money and/or they are actually produced by the network.
Take The Chicago Code a couple of years back. Good production values but after 6 episodes it was clear that the long story arc was not so long, and once the show was cancelled they wrapped it up neatly. Same with Flash Forward - could have been a multi-season story but once they stopped buying episodes they had to wrap it up. Not that a single season show is bad - look at BBC which does 3-7 episode seasons and they know when to quit.
We are finishing Dexter and Breaking Bad, and eagerly awaiting Homeland, Game of Thrones, Shameless, Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire (saving up for a rainy day), Doctor Who, Orphan Black, Ripper Street, American Horror Story, pretty much everything on HBO, Falling skies - note not a single Network show in there. If we could subscribe to cable networks only we would. I guess I watch my local news on a network affiliate, though it is generally only useful for traffic and weather - not a lot of investigative reports on local stations (ooh, the mayor's chief of staff used a city vehicle for the soccer carpool).
2nd Tier cable networks like USA and Starz have their own batch of shows, some of which are ok but not at the same level as the above. Covert Affairs, The Americans, Magic City (cancelled), Burn Notice, Royal Pains to name a few. Quality is all over the place here, kind of like SyFy shows.
On our to do list are shows we have missed but thanks to Netflix we can watch in marathon form: Justified, Sons of Anarchy, The Wire, Hell on Wheels.
As for sitcoms / comedies, I have not watched the office in a few years, and other than Family Guy, my comedy is also on cable - Veep, Episodes, Nurse Jackie (for some reason this show about a nurse addicted to painkillers is considered a comedy), Girls (also considered a comedy but some episodes are downright depressing - Scott would like it (boobies)), The Americans (I am going to call this a comedy because the scenarios depicted are simply to silly to be considered drama).
Then you have non-drama, non-comedy shows, loosely called "reality" or "reality competition." We watch FaceOff, Food Truck Road Trip, Around the World in 80 Plates, Toy Hunter, Hollywood Treasure, Brain Games - these are sort of throwaway shows that you can watch one without having seen the preceding show and not really miss anything. Good as background noise while eating dinner or reading Creative COW.
Ok, long story short - we all watch way too much tv.
[Mike Cohen] "Girls (also considered a comedy but some episodes are downright depressing - Scott would like it (boobies)"
Hey, I like TV boobies when they're *tasteful*! Even though that sentence I just typed was said with good intentions, it still probably made me look bad... :(
I've actually seen every episode of Girls, and Lena Dunham almost gets naked too much. To the point where she does it just to do it. But I WAS enjoying the plot lines of that show up until the season 2 finale. I don't really like Hannah anymore as a character, and I feel like she never really learns any lessons for any of her questionable behavior. Also, several other characters on the show have always been annoying. But that's the point, I think.
[Mike Cohen] "We watch FaceOff, Food Truck Road Trip"
Oh yeah! I watch both of these shows too! FaceOff is good fun, and there's never any "house drama" where the contestants are bickering with each other because they're sleeping around or they eat each other's strawberries from the communal fridge or something. They barely even show them interacting in the house. And I like how they all help each other out, even though its a competition. It's all about the make up, which usually consists of 2 people doing something awesome, 6 people doing something "ehhhh", and then 2 or 3 people totally screwing up.
I got really into The Great Food Truck Race last season, and have been enjoying this season as well. I thought the Hawaiian dudes were going to take it, but Tika Tika Taco looks like they could potentially pull it off!
yes... yes we do watch too much TV...
Re: Hannah on Girls.
Kudos to the actress for taking off her clothes and/or wearing very unflattering outfits, and not looking like a model as most actresses do. She has a lot of guts to do this, and has certainly been rewarded for taking risks. But yeah, most of the characters on the show are just awful people.
She has a movie called Tiny Furniture, which is supposed to be like the movie version of the show.
Re: FaceOff. They always show the new contestants seeing their house on the first episode. Sometimes it is like a MTV house with pool table and crazy luxury. But last season it was like a split level house with a garage - I guess they take what is available. But I do like that after that, you see them unwinding for a minute, then back to the workshop.
I'd be curious to know how they make those morphing sequences shown on the reveal stage segment. Clearly there is more than just a before and after photo, and probably a few days of Photoshop and AE work.
I like the judges also - they stick to judging and not so much their own personas. Glenn Hetrick must really be intimidating at restaurants.
Waiter: Sir, is everything ok with your dinner?
Glenn: You know, when I saw the steak and baked potato come out of the kitchen I had high hopes. But up close, it is just a disaster. I'm really disappointed in you.
Have you noticed that on every season of FaceOff they have one person who just can't work with others, and someone with shockingly red hair who is kind of a b*tch. I guess it makes for good drama.
[Mike Cohen] "I like the judges also - they stick to judging and not so much their own personas. Glenn Hetrick must really be intimidating at restaurants."
I almost get a chill up my spine when Glenn smiles. I think it's happened maybe three times.
Yeah, those morphing sequences are cool. And I'm happy they finally changed the footage they use every week when explaining the different phases of make up design. I got sick of looking at the same goblin face from season 2 every episode.
While we're sitting here talking about how we're mostly watching cable, this interesting bit of news hit today:
Vince Gilligan and David Shore on a detective show...at CBS. INTERESTING.
I was also a little disappointed by Agents of Shield, in that it seemed pitched to more of a kid audience, but they must know their market demo. I thought the flying corvette was a step too far and should have been left until later in the show.
"does Colson know?" bit was the most interesting feature. Speculation includes he was cloned, revived by alien tech, or he's an A.I LMD ( Life Model Decoy ) built by Stark.
My impression of the pilot was that it was probably saturated with "notes" from the studio heads and that this is not Joss at his less-fettered best yet. I WANT to like this show, but am still on the fence.
Hell On Wheels just keeps getting better and better, even as the plot seems to get closer and closer to the point in history where the opposing railroads meet. Chicago rapper "Common" has been outstanding and only gets better in his role. The sub-plots have been engrossing with some surprising twists.
The Blacklist. Big home run for me. I am interested to see if they can keep it going and if Megan Boone can keep up with Spader's fantastic character, but I really loved the pilot.
Other than that I have been working too much to keep up with the DVR. I did see The Goldbergs, I had really high hopes for this show, but the pilot looked really sloppy. They have a lot of talent and great ideas though, so I'm hoping that they can pull it all together!
And tonight is Thursday night comedy, so this is the breakout night for me. I approach the Parks and Rec opener with the enthusiasm of a young girl reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time!
They gave away the ENTIRE show for Spader's program in their web based promos, but we enjoyed it okay. It really is too obviously Hannibal Lecter spliced to Burn Notice, without the humor. I'm hoping they get more byzantine with the plots, and I REALLY hope she isn't his daughter.
Wonder if Robin's show will last one season. High-dollar movie stars tend not to stay in series TV very long.
[Mark Suszko] "and I REALLY hope she isn't his daughter."
Ugh...I feel like you just ruined the series for me. There is definitely some connection there. I can just imagine Spader holding out his fist, "I am your father."
"Noooooo!!! That's impossible!"