Monday, 26 September 2011

Fall TV Schedule Addenda

The new TV season is alive and kicking, and along with the always enjoyable return of old favorites (Parks and Rec, I missed you most of all), the new crop seems to be holding its own nicely. Up All Night, Prime Suspect, and, surprisingly, The Secret Circle are a few of my early favs. I'm not exactly hemorrhaging spare time to watch hours and hours of TV each week, but I've decided to add a few shows to my weekly rota. It's a nice position to be in.

Dexter (Showtime, Sundays @ 9/8c): This summer, when my Slingbox was broken, I started watching Dexter at the urging of TV-watching friends I respect, and, well, I got a little obsessed. Those of you who like it, you know what I'm talking about. Wow, season 4, right?! Granted, I'm invested now. I've gotta keep watching.

Homeland (Showtime, Sundays @ 10/9c):
I posted about this one last year, as I relished Claire Danes' return to serialized TV drama after a ridiculously long absence. It looks perhaps irritatingly political, but I'm interested to see if it's also a character drama. Definitely worth watching the first season, at least.

2 Broke Girls (CBS, Mondays @ 8:30/7:30c): I'm going to be honest with you. Multi-camera sitcoms really bug me these days. The one-two-punchline style feels tired, and aren't we as viewers collectively past the point of needing a laugh track to tell us what's funny? Ugh. With that in mind, Kat Dennings went on Craig Ferguson's show last week and won me over to her new multi-camera CBS sitcom. I should have known that the charismatic heroine from my favorite hipster rom-com (Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. Obviously) wouldn't be on a stinker, but I've just grown so suspicious of CBS sitcoms of late. I didn't watch the pilot, but Ern and Leeard liked it, so I'll give it a whirl.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Why 'Boardwalk Empire' Lost Me Last Season

Here's another post from Maureen Ryan reading my mind about a show. This time, she describes the inherent connection problem that I've had Boardwalk Empire, that is, in spite of seriously gorgeous, near-perfect aesthetics and an undoubtedly cool concept, none of the characters are really worth following. It's pretty, but empty. As Ryan more eloquently puts it:

"It brings me no joy to bail out on 'Boardwalk Empire.' I thought the start of its first season was stylish and promising, but for me to stay interested in a group of people, I need to feel that the show itself is deeply intrigued by them. The problem is, long stretches of 'Boardwalk Empire' feel like a PowerPoint presentation come to life. The information is there, the aesthetic approach is "correct," but too frequently, I remained unmoved and uninvolved."

Yes, yes, and yes.

Those of you who watch it, what do you like about it? Are there certain characters you find appealing?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

What 'How I Met Your Mother' is Getting Wrong

If your relationship with How I Met Your Mother is like mine, that is, you affectionately hang on to the show because you still have nostalgia for the glory years, even though it's pissing you off with its stupid gimmick, then you need to read Mo Ryan's recent post about why the "who is the mother?" mystery is everything that's wrong with the show in its current manifestation. Ryan's criticisms are excellent and insightful, and if you aren't a fan, but you love TV as I do, you should read her stuff regularly. In this article, she unpacks the problems with the show's mystery bride concept, and why adding yet another mystery bride to the show is a horrible, horrible idea.

Don't get me wrong: I still find the show really fun, and it's not going anywhere from my season pass list, but it could be so much better because it has been so much better. Come on, HIMYM: without the gimmick, you're so great!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

My 2011 Emmy Predictions

Several months ago, I posted my dream Emmy nomination list knowing full-well that many of my favorite shows were going to be royally snubbed because of their genres (Fringe), networks (Southland), titles (Cougar Town), or penultimate seasons (Big Love). It's okay. I've dealt with it.

When the nominations came out, there was the usual list of overrated critical darlings (Modern Family, Mad Men), fan favorites (Glee, Jim Parsons), and WTH? nominees (Pillars of the Earth = So. Bad.), but there was also a huge mix of pleasant surprises. Although I don't see it winning, how fantastic was it to finally see Friday Night Lights get a Best Drama nomination (a nomination that I like to think honors the show, rather than just the final season -- I'll go to the mat for season 3's ultimate superiority)?! Or what about Cat Deeley's well-deserved (and long overdue) nomination for Best Reality Show Host? YES!

Because the awards are later tonight, I thought I'd post a predictions list just for kicks and giggles. For each major category, I've posted who I think will win (WW), who I think should win (SW), and who I would write on the ballot in a perfect world (WO). I wasn't exactly 100% with my Golden Globe pics, so we'll just have to see how this goes down tonight. Here's a list of nominees for you to reference.

Outstanding Comedy Series
WW: Modern Family
SW: Parks and Recreation
WO: Cougar Town

Modern Family is a fun show, with a great ensemble and plenty of laughs to go around, but it's not as well-rounded as Parks and Recreation, which fires on every cylinder 99% of the time. Every single character on P & R, from Amy Poehler's overachieving B-student-that-could Lesley Knope to Retta's zingy Donna, is nuanced to perfection, and the timing this season was absolutely perfect. I don't know, man. Can you think of another episode of a comedy show more perfect than "Harvest Festival" this season?

Outstanding Drama Series
WW: Mad Men
SW:Friday Night Lights
WO: Fringe

FNL deserves the prize for both its excellent farewell season and its largely unrecognized body of work. Mad Men still bums me out. The other acceptable win in this category is Dexter, which I recently became a fan of, and which is awesome.

Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie
WW: Downton Abbey
SW: Downton Abbey
WO: Eh.

I'm not hugely invested in this category this year. I haven't actually seen Downton Abbey, but my buddy Lizzy tells me its awesome, so I'm taking her word for it that it's better than Pillars of the Earth, which was actually one of the worst TV movies I've ever seen, The Kennedys, which had bright spots (Greg Kinnear and Barry Pepper), but would have been libelous if it wasn't so silly, Cinema Verite, which was alright but uneven, and Mildred Pierce, which lost me pretty early on, in spite of a killer performance from Kate Winslet (as ever).

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
WW: Steve Carell
SW: Steve Carell
WO: None. They got this one right.

It's nice to see Louis C.K. get a nomination this year for Louis, which I like a lot. But this year should belong to Steve Carell, who was a bright spot on the last flailing season of The Office.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
WW: John Hamm
SW: Kyle Chandler
WO: Bill Paxton

Paxton should have gotten a nomination this year for his scary-good ability to play a flawed, often unlikable anti-hero on the final season of Big Love, but alas. Kyle Chandler deserves this award for his utterly perfect performance.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
WW: Laura Linney
SW: Amy Poehler
WO: Courtney Cox

This category makes me mad. For one, how does Courtney Cox not have an Emmy nomination yet? There's no reason she shouldn't have gotten one this year for Cougar Town. I'm also going to be very annoyed if Laura Linney or Edie Falco walk away with this. Showtime and HBO's loose definition of "comedy series" drives me a little insane. Both of those actresses are fantastic on their respective shows, but it's a little debatable if either show is truly a comedy show. Can we please just change the category name to "Outstanding Half-Hour Show", because a half-hour show does not necessarily a comedy make. It should be no surprise that I'm rooting for Amy Poehler here. She was pitch freaking perfect in the episode "Flu Season".

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
WW: Elisabeth Moss
SW: Connie Britton
WO: Anna Torv

Anna Torv was a long-shot for a nomination because she's on a sci-fi show (don't even get me started), but I think I convinced myself that she couldn't possibly be ignored again after her season of playing, like, a million characters really well. Sigh. In any case, I think Connie Britton's got the best shot at winning something for FNL, but everyone seems to think Elisabeth Moss will likely win instead. It's a crying shame for Britton because she really deserves an Emmy for this season. I especially love the way she played the rift between Coach and Tami in the last few episodes of the season.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
WW: Chris Colfer
SW: Ed O'Neil, I guess
WO: Nick Offerman

Ron Swanson's Pyramid of Greatness. I think the Modern Family guys are going to split the vote, deferring to Colfer (who, again, probably shouldn't be in a "comedy" category. Mrrr.), but I'm not very invested in this category as it stands. A lot of missed opportunities here.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
WW: John Slattery
SW: Josh Charles
WO: John Noble

Josh Charles strikes me as an understated actor. He didn't really stand out on Sports Night, but he was always a solid backbone to the show. I feel the same way about his performance on The Good Wife: he doesn't get a lot of "big" scenes on The Good Wife, but he's absolutely solid.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
WW: Sofia Vergara
SW: Sofia Vergara
WO: Busy Phillips

I just want to say that I totally called Kristen Wiig's well-deserved nomination in this category. Given Cougar Town's ridiculous Emmy shutout this year, Busy Phillips' snub is unsurprising, but still annoying. I adore Sofia Vergara's performance on Modern Family, and it would be great to see her or 30 Rock's underrated Jane Krakowski take home the statue.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
WW: Margo Martindale
SW: Margo Martindale
WO: KaDee Strickland

Justified fans, I apologize. Your show just doesn't do it for me. Margo Martindale, however, is always superb (remember how I told you I just became a Dexter fan? Her character broke my heart in season 3). KaDee Strickland was also a long-shot for a nomination for Private Practice, a soapy, uneven formula show, but she really rose to the occasion this season in Charlotte's rape plot. Like, wow.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
WW: Amazing Race
SW: So You Think You Can Dance
WO: I'm okay with this list.

Amazing Race always wins. Blah, blah, blah. American Idol reinvented itself this year following Simon Cowell's departure -- pretty successfully I might add -- but it doesn't have the heart that So You Think You Can Dance does. I'd love to see SYTYCD pull out a lovable underdog prize this year. Project Runway should be punished for letting Wretchin' Gretchen win last season.

Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program
WW: Cat Deeley
SW: Cat Deeley
WO: I'm only invested in one nominee!

I think Cat Deeley's got a shot at this, and I'd really love to see her win. The thing that separates her from other hosts is the way she advocates for all of the contestants, while keeping the show, with its long-winded judges and crazy dancer shenanigans, running smoothly. She's graceful, professional, and personable. There was an episode last year where the sound stopped working in her mic, a contestant got injured, and the music cues seemed to be out of sync, but she powered through and made it look easy. Cat Deeley.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Nostalgia Alert: 'Happy Endings' Gets More Awesome is reporting that Fred Savage is set to direct and guest star (as himself!) in the second episode of ABC's Happy Endings this season, with the episode involving The Princess Bride. I know I'm not alone in feeling compelled to let out a loud and girly sqeeeeeal.

The Happy Fate of 'Make It or Break It'

Just yesterday I was lamenting the fact that ABC Family had yet to make a decision about the fate of my favorite teen sports soap opera Make It or Break It, and, as if I were at a restaurant where my food only comes to the table when I get up to go to the bathroom, ABC Family (bless their hearts) announced that MIOBI will indeed be returning for a third season! Hurray! (In my mind's eye, I'm doing a triple front handspring off the balance beam and sticking the landing to celebrate.)

The only "but" in this outstanding turn of events is that Emily Kmetko (played by Chelsea Hobbs) may not be returning, as evidenced by ABC Family's failure to include her in its press release and cast photo. I was very upset with her sudden and unceremonious departure last season. It felt unkind to fans who had invested in the idea of this talented athlete breaking the cycle of her mother's mistakes to then let this character become another statistic. Hobbs' real-life pregnancy seems to have been the catalyst for the show taking that turn, but at the end of the day I found it surprising that they didn't simply shoot around it, as the trend seems to be these days. Yesterday, Hobbs tweeted the following: "For everyone asking if Emily will be back; it's in the producers hands, right now I'm focusing on other work but never say never :)", and later, "As of now though, there are no plans. Ps. I love you all!!! Xo". Bad news for Emily fans.

As the show moves forward, though, building up to the Olympics next year, I for one am pumped to see more shenanigans at the Rock, even sans Emily. Good move, ABC Family!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

ABC Family Cancels 'The Nine Lives of Chloe King'

It seems that we will now never know who died for reals in the finale of The Nine Lives of Chloe King. In news that is the opposite of shocking, ABC family has canceled the low-rated series after only one season.

I will be the first to admit that the series was all kinds of bad, but I still found myself slightly addicted to the silliness. Or maybe it was Grey Damon's smoldering cuteness. It's a shame to see it go because it seemed like a show that was just beginning to find its footing. Oh, well. Chloe's low-rated-ness proves once again that it's difficult to bank on shows with non-vampiric supernatural elements (good luck with that, Secret Circle!), although not for lack of trying.

Now if ABC Family would just make a decision one way or another about Make It or Break It...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

'Revenge': Kindle Pilot Script Review

Confession time: I'm a bibliophile, but I own a Kindle. And it's awesome. I could go on about why it's awesome, but that's not the point here. Let's just say that for an indecisive over-packer like myself, a whole new world has opened up for me when I go places where I'm not sure which book I might want at a given moment. Awesome. Moving on.

As a promotion for their new show 'Revenge' (debuting Wed., Sept. 21), ABC has offered the script for the pilot for free on Amazon Kindle. I find this advertising tool intriguing. It says at least two things: (1) The marketing folks at ABC are trying to do something new and different from their competitors; and (2) They sure do think highly of the writing for their new show.

Well, I really like reading screenplays, teleplays, plays, what have you, so I downloaded the freebie and read through it before bed last night. It's soapy, a bit dated, and trying to do too much too early with the main character. The opening voice over is also pretty freshman comp (it opens with our protagonist Emily Thorne giving us the dictionary definition of "revenge". Oy). But it was mostly a fun, inoffensive read, and the writer (creator Mike Kelley, who also had writing credits on The O.C. and One Tree Hill, to give you an idea of the style) does a nice job creating the kind of ambiance that could make the show stand out (a network show hasn't been this "beachy" since Dawson's Creek).

The series is very loosely based on Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, so if you've read the novel you can understand how updating it and putting it in the Hamptons could become a soap opera -- not that that's a bad thing. It opens with a Labor Day engagement party for our revenger herself and Daniel Grayson, the Ivy League boy next door, at his family's home. But Daniel is no where to be found...until he shows up dead on the beach. (Dun-dun-dun!) The rest of the story is told in flashback, beginning with Emily's move next door to the Graysons at the beginning of the summer. The rest of the pilot chips away at Emily's revenge plot (motives, modus operandi, targets, etc.), and in keeping with every great evening soap where rich people are involved, there are plenty of fancy parties, backstabbing, and class envy, so buckle up.

The bottom line is that the script piqued my interest enough that I will be tuning in on September 21 to see how well it's executed. (ABC, by the way, offers a viewing of the pilot for free on their website, but I'm going to wait for the premiere because I like the buildup to new shows.) In other words, well done, ABC marketing.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Fall TV Extravaganza!

Hello, readers! I must apologize for my appalling failure to check in much this summer. It turned out to be a weird summer for me, TV-wise, with a whole host of technology breakdowns, TiVo rebellions, real-life busyness, and disappointing summer programming, that I didn't feel especially compelled to blog much. I've got a summer wrap party post coming your way soon, along with a fan guide to the complete series of Friday Night Lights (which I watched amid the darkness this summer), so keep your eyes peeled for that (gross expression. Sorry. I won't use that again).

But right now, I'm looking ahead to the dawn of a new Fall TV season, and its many exciting questions. Will old favorites offer new surprises, or continue down the same path of destruction (See: All Shonda Rhimes shows)? How will new castmembers gel with old castmembers (See: Charlene Yi on House; Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino on Law and Order: SVU)? What will win and what will lose in a promising crop of new shows (See: below)? Will departing favorites provide enough finale closure to satiate us (I'm looking at you, Chuck)?

In anticipation of this scintillating (and rapidly approaching -- The CW's new season premieres next week!) autumnal fare, I give you a night-by-night breakdown of what I'm thinking of watching this season (premiere dates are in parentheses). Bare in mind that my TiVo can only get two shows at once, so some shows will lose out this season by default. Plus, grad school's in its 7th year of kicking my butt (I'm in 24th grade. Gross), and I'm cutting out the nonsense, so if I hate a show this year, I'm cutting it out earlier than usual. If you think I'm missing something, sound off below in the comments section, and, by all means, I'll take a look at it. I live to keep you happy, reader. Onward:

Returning favs: TLC's Sister Wives (9/25 @ 9/8c); CBS's The Good Wife (*new night* 9/25 @ 9/8c)

Newbies: ABC's Once Upon a Time (10/23 @ 8/7c) and Pan Am (9/25 @ 10/9c)

Shows I've dropped: ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Desperate Housewives (DH lost me about four years ago, but this past season put the nail in the coffin. Now I'm free!)

I'm most excited about: Sister Wives and Once Upon a Time. The former has managed to do what it set out to do, that is, it has made an unconventional family with a stigmatized lifestyle sympathetic. I'm invested in the Brown family now. Once Upon a Time, frankly, looks really cool! I was a closet fan of ABC's short-lived Happy Town in 2010, and this series is giving me the same kind of vibes, but (*hopefully*) in a more commercially viable kind of way. In the same way that 30 Rock and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip only had one survivor in 2007, there's a good chance the TV-viewing public will only have room in its life for one fable-based TV series, and NBC's Grimm also looks pretty cool. We'll just have to wait and see. In any case, I'd really love to see OUaT live up to the hype.

Actor alert: Once Upon a Time features House's Jennifer Morrison in a well-deserved starring role and Big Love's Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White; Pan Am's got Christina Ricci; The Good Wife snatched up House's departing Lisa Edelstein for a multi-episode arc.

Of note: I wasn't sure about Pan Am at first. It kind of looks like a gender-reversed, pop version of Mad Men, but I like to believe in the creative power of Aaron Sorkin's frequent producing partner Thomas Schlamme. We'll see.


Returning favs: CBS's How I Met Your Mother (9/19 @ 8/7c); FOX's House (10/3 @ 8/7c)

The CW's Hart of Dixie

Shows I've dropped: The CW's Gossip Girl (it's served its purpose.)

I'm most excited about: HIMYM, I guess.

Actor alert: As mentioned above, House tapped Charlene Yi as a new regular doc; Kal Penn's guest starring on How I Met Your Mother; The O.C.'s Rachel Bilson returns to TV with Hart of Dixie, and is joined by Jason Street himself, FNL's Scott Porter.

Of note:
Have you seen the trailer for Hart of Dixie? It looks real bad. Not just CW bad, but failed 90s rom-com bad. The pilot looks all kinds of predictable, the title is stupid, and the premise appears to be two parts Sweet Home Alabama, two parts Doc Hollywood, with a large serving of cliches thrown in about the generic "South" for good measure. Yikes. However, Bilson was fantastic on The O.C. (even during its weird third season), and because of that, I'm curious to see if this show gets better.


Returning favs: FOX's Glee (9/20 @ 8/7c); NBC's Parenthood (9/13 @ 10/9c)

Newbies: The CW's Ringer (9/13 @ 9/8c); FOX's New Girl (9/20 @ 9/8c)

Shows I've dropped: None

I'm most excited about: Parenthood. The really fantastic finale came too soon last spring, so NBC's making up for it by giving Jason Katims' family drama a week's head start this September (yayness!). As the dangling threads pick up a few months later in the premiere, I'm dying to see where the characters (and actors!) go next.

Actor alert: Jason Ritter returns to Parenthood this season to (presumably) romance Lauren Graham's Sarah some more (glad The Event was canceled for this very reason. [Sidenote: did anyone else think it was fun that two Lauren Graham TV character love interests both ended up on The Event?]) ; Ringer marks Sarah Michelle Gellar's much anticipated return to TV; Zooey Deschanel gives TV a shot with New Girl (She & Him's awesome, btw! Maybe they'll get her to sing on the show!).

Of note:
After two viewings of the teaser trailer for Ringer, I'm not totally sure what's going on there, but maybe that's a good thing because it looks like it may be trying to do too much. I guess Gellar's character is on the lam or something, so she steals her twin sister's identity? I don't know. Worth a viewing, I s'pose. Also, FOX has been promoting New Girl like gangbusters lately, and the more I watched previews of it, the less excited I felt about it and Deschanel's pretty-quirky schtick. Good comedy series usually take about a half-season to marinate before they start getting funny, but there has to be something worth watching in the beginning. This one goes in the "we'll see, won't we?" category for now.


Returning favs: ABC's The Middle (9/21 @ 8/7c), Modern Family (9/21 @ 9/8c), Happy Endings (9/28 @ 9:30/8:30c); NBC's Law & Order: SVU (9/21 @ 10/9c)

Newbies: FOX's The X-Factor (*90 minute performance show* 9/21 @ 8/8c); NBC's Up All Night (9/14 @ 8/7c); ABC's Suburgatory (9/28 @ 8:30/7:30c), Revenge (9/21 @ 10/9c); FX's American Horror Story (10/5 @ 10/9c)

Shows I've dropped: America's Next Top Model (but just for this season -- time conflict); *Possibly* The Middle, but not because of anything its done wrong. It's facing stiff competition from newbies The X-Factor and Up All Night, and I don't feel strongly compelled to tune in from week to week unfortunately; Law & Order: SVU has been demoted to a "watch the first five minutes of each episode and delete if necessary" status.

I'm most excited about: Toss up between Happy Endings and American Horror Story. I can't remember the last time I liked a comedy show so much off the bat (even Cougar Town and Parks and Recreation took 6-8 episodes to find their footings), so I'm anxious to see if Happy Endings can continue what it started (and if it can find an audience!). American Horror Story just looks freaking cool. Also, see actor alert for 90% of the reason why this one is a 10 on my anticipation index scale. The only thing that could ruin it? The weird-a** sensibility that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk brought to Nip-Tuck.

Actor alert: Connie Britton (eee!!!) and Dylan McDermott (I was a BIG fan of The Practice back in the day) are joined by Jessica (Oscar winner!) Lange, Francis Conroy (who always creeps me out), and Life Unexpected's Alex Breckenridge on American Horror Story; Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, and Nick Cannon (you read that right) look hilarious in Up All Night (Arnett is always so much better in ensembles than strait up leading roles, but I'm counting on Applegate [who, btw, was one of the best ever guest judges on So You Think You Can Dance this season] to temper his OTT impulse); Jeremy Sisto and Alan Tudyk rock the suburbs in Suburgatory; Revenge brings Emily van Camp back from Walker hell and Madeline Stowe back from oblivion.

Of note: ABC Wednesdays are where it's at! It would be refreshing if Revenge, with its Count of Monte Cristo premise, indeed turns into the fresh new nighttime soap ABC hopes it could be, filling that 10/9c time slot they've been trying desperately to fill for two years (usually with Shonda Rhimes shows). Also, I think ratings star Modern Family is a little overrated and potentially the weakest link of a very funny block of TV on ABC Wednesdays, so I'm a little annoyed that Cougar Town has been relegated to midseason when it could potentially be a perfect show companion with Happy Endings, but we can't always get what we want! I should also mention The X-Factor, which is going to be huge for FOX in the Fall. Obviously, I'm a massive American Idol fan, so I'll be tuning in to see the reunion of Simon and Paula. I'll probably post more about it later on, but for now I just hope it's better than The Voice.

***I'm stressed out just thinking about TiVo overload on Wednesdays and Thursdays this season. Networks have six nights (Saturday doesn't count) to fit stuff in. Why the Wednesday-Thursday overload? Cruel and unusual!


Returning favs: The CW's The Vampire Diaries (9/15 @ 8/7c); NBC's Parks and Recreation (9/22 @ 8:30/7:30c), The Office (9/22 @ 9/8c); ABC's Grey's Anatomy (9/22 @ 9/8c), Private Practice (9/29 @ 10/9c)

Newbies: FOX's The X-Factor (9/22 @ 8/7c); ABC's Charlie's Angels (9/22 @ 8/7c); The CW's The Secret Circle (9/15 @ 9/8c); NBC's Prime Suspect (9/22 @ 10/9)

Shows I've dropped: None, although I did watch Nikita for a little while.

I'm most excited about: Parks and Recreation!!! It'll be tough to follow season three's total symphony of perfect comedy, but it's ridiculous how much I miss these characters. It's all I can do to not break into a rousing chorus of "5,000 Candles in the Wind" right now, er, most days.

Actor alert: Patricia Clarkson and 30 Rock's Paula Pell guest as Tammy One and Tammy Zero, respectively, on Parks and Rec, which may be the most perfect stunt casting we've seen since Megan Mullally first guested as Tammy Two; The Vampire Diaries welcomes David Gallagher, a.k.a. Simon Camden (right?!), as a guest star this season; The Charlie's Angels reboot stars FNL's Minka Kelly (as a tomboy Angel? Huh?) and Grey's Anatomy's Rachael Taylor (remember the gyno who broke Alex's heart?); Britt Robertson, Lux from Life Unexpected, takes the lead in The Secret Circle, joining Natasha Henstridge and Thomas Dekker (no, not the early modern dramatist Thomas Dekker!), who you've seen in lots of stuff; Maria Bello returns to TV in the US version of Prime Suspect, along with Aidan Quinn and Fringe's Kirk Acedevo.

Of note: A few things to talk about here. (1) I will admit that Charlie's Angels looks like a female version of all the things that annoyed me about the Hawaii 5-0 reboot, but I can't help it. I love seeing girls kicking butt in all kinds of situations. Love it. (2) I'm not really a fan of witch shows, but I want to see how Britt Robertson fairs on a new show, so I'm at least watching The Secret Circle's pilot. Not sure if this show can do anything different than 1996's The Craft (Neve Campbell's golden age), though. (3) Prime Suspect doesn't look amazing yet. Obviously, the UK version is a vehicle for Helen Mirren, and those are some big shoes to fill. I'm curious to see how it's received, and, hey, Peter Berg's involved! (4) Parks and Rec is my number one Thursday night show, but I'm also really excited for Grey's Anatomy to return (I see your judgment eyes, reader). The season finale left us on a huge cliffhanger with both Mer-Der and Christina-Owen. I'm surprisingly anxious to see how they resolve it.


Returning favs: NBC's Chuck (*new, better night*; **final season** 9/23 @ 8/7c); FOX's Fringe (9/23 @ 9/8c); CBS's Blue Bloods (9/23 @ 10/9c)

Newbies: NBC's Grimm (10/21 @ 9/8c)

Shows I've dropped: None!

I'm most excited about: Fringe. The last season and a half have been all kinds of amazing, building to a gigantic finale last May. What happens now?!

Actor alert: Seth Gabel has been promoted to a full-time regular on Fringe, giving Fringe fans everywhere more reason to swoon [sidenote: did you know that he's married to Bryce Dallas Howard? I just made you like him more, didn't I?]; The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss will be playing a love interest for Casey on Chuck.

Of note: It'll be sad to see Chuck bow out this year, but I'm glad the show was given enough notice of its ending for producers to craft a farewell season. It should be fun to see Chuck and Sarah fighting crime in a new venue with lots of money! I also predict a series finale with a positive pregnancy test for Sarah, and a happily ever after flash forward for everyone. On the newbie front, Grimm looks pretty cool. On my new show anticipation index, it's not quite at Once Upon a Time levels, but it looks like it's got a clever, mythologically-laden concept, with lots of potential.


College Football Saturday! Go Pokes!