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)
Newbies: 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!