Fall TV 2014 Check-In

It’s November, which means we’re in the special TV time known as Sweeps. In today’s day and age, there’s an increasing number of people who don’t watch TV shows the traditional way, live and actually on the TV; a lot of people DVR their shows or watch through various means (legal or otherwise) online. That being said, Nielsen ratings, as outdated as they are, still hold a lot of value to networks and advertisers – which is why November sweeps (along with sweeps periods in February and May) becomes sort of a battle ground for the networks. Sweeps somehow gauges what people are really watching, especially since a lot of shows and networks touting “big” episodes that you “must watch live.” Regardless, it’s a good time as any to check-in on the new batch of shows that premiered this season.

ABC

TIMOTHY PEPER, JOHN CHO, DA'VINE JOY RANDOLPH, KAREN GILLAN, ALLYN RACHEL, DAVID HAREWOOD

  • SELFIE [Cancelled]: The show follows in the footsteps of many horribly titled shows that came before it, commonly known as the Cougar Town effect, in which the show is much more than what the title implies. It’s like a modern-day retelling of My Fair Lady, that has had some really funny moments, in spite of some of the issues it faced in the first couple of episodes. If anything really, I quite enjoy the dynamic between Karen Gillan and John Cho, and the show has been fleshing out all the characters beyond just Gillan’s Eliza and Cho’s Henry. I’m really bummed to see that ABC cancelled it so soon, when it has started to find its footing.
  • MANHATTAN LOVE STORY [Cancelled]: The first casualty of the season was this odd attempt at a rom-com. The only surprising thing about the cancellation was that the show lasted a month before ABC pulled the plug on it. I really wanted to like the show because I really like Analeigh Tipton (who really was the only good thing about the show) and Jake McDorman (who somehow ended up being a greater jackass version of his Greek character). There just wasn’t anything good about it.
  • FOREVER [Full Season Pick-Up]: An immortal medical examiner helps the police solve cases because he can REALLY see the details everyone else misses. I watched the pilot, and it’s not terrible by any means. In actuality, it has a slight charm to it that I’m gonna say is due to Ioan Gruffudd. At the end of the day though, it’s just not really my thing so I didn’t continue watching.
  • BLACK-ISH [Full Season Pick-Up]: I know some people don’t like the title, but I think it’s funny and on the nose. An African-American family, that according to the dad, has been “white-washed”, making them “black-ish” – you can’t get a more straight-forward title than that. It’s been quite funny and a joy to watch; has certainly proven to be a compatible lead-out of Modern Family.
  • HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER [Full Season Pick-Up]: Of note, the show is only executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, not created by her, but is part of a Shondaland Thursday that has proven to be a winner for ABC. Right from the pilot episode, it got me. Seeing the back and forth between present day and the flash-forward of the murder mystery is really interesting. Also, it doesn’t really need to be said but Viola Davis is a FORCE. AMAZING. My only concern with the show is how they’re going to keep all of this going. I feel like this is setting up to be first season Revenge, with the reveal of what led to the main murder around winter break, and then the rest of the season showing the fallout. So then what will subsequent seasons (if any) look like? For now though, I’ll take it as it is.
  • CRISTELA: Honest, I haven’t watched it yet. I’ve heard it’s decent, ratings are so-so for a Friday, and that’s about it.

CBS

Pilot

  • SCORPION [Full Season Pick-Up]: A group of geniuses are tasked to help the FBI. A lot of people have called it the action procedural version of The Big Bang Theory with Katherine McPhee’s Paige being the Penny of the group. It’s a fun show to say the least and they have made an effort to give the characters more depth and not just stereotypes. Is it something I’m in a rush to see every week? No. But I don’t mind watching it from time to time.
  • NCIS:NEW ORLEANS [Full Season Pick-Up]: I don’t watch the show so I really have nothing to say about it. But we all know the NCIS name is sort of a goldmine for CBS.
  • STALKER [Full Season Pick-Up]: I watch the show for Maggie Q. Some aspects of it (the sociological/psychological implications, the back-stories of Maggie Q’s Beth and Dylan McDermott’s Jack) are interesting to me, but I’m really not a big fan of the procedural aspect of it. Again though, watching it for Maggie – and maybe the cool alt-cover songs at the end of each episode.
  • MADAM SECRETARY [Full Season Pick-Up]: I have no interest in the show. It just didn’t look like something I would be into.
  • THE MCCARTHYS: The show got a late premiere so I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. Even based on previews, I’m not entirely sure I want to watch it.

The CW

Pilot"

  • THE FLASH [Full Season Pick-Up]: There were high hopes for Flash coming into the season. Seeds were planted within the Arrow universe, allowing it to spin-off on its own, and by all accounts it has succeeded. The pilot became CW’s most watched EVER, after all the DVR ratings/playbacks were accounted for. Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg have done an incredible job taking what they’ve learned as executive producers on Arrow and put it into Flash. Excuse the obvious pun, but they really hit the ground running – there hasn’t been much of a learning curve and that has allowed the show to be very fun and more lighthearted than its dark Arrow counterpart. That doesn’t mean the show isn’t without some minor issues, but for the most part, it’s been doing an incredibly good job.
  • JANE THE VIRGIN [Full Season Pick-Up]: I was a little skeptical about the show at first, mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t sure what to expect. I quickly fell in love with the show after watching the pilot though; it was just so sure of itself from the get-go and knew what it was doing. Elements like the Telenovela speaker voice-over that you think wouldn’t work, somehow does. Anchored by Gina Rodriguez’ performance as our titular Jane, the show is just bursting with charm, humour, and heart.

FOX

Gotham

  • GOTHAM [Full Season Pick-Up]: This was one of the high profile shows of the new season, looking at the city of Gotham before there ever was a Batman; it was the “Batman show without Batman,” a label that was a little unfairly thrust upon the show. It’s a prequel series that follows Detective Jim Gordon return to Gotham, as the city itself is slowly crumbling from the crime and immorality. Yes, the underlying story is how a young Bruce Wayne became the Batman we know, but that’s not the main focus. Instead we get a serialized procedural – case of the weeks tied into the bigger story of a mob war for control of the city. It has been a slow build (as expected from a new series) but it’s been very solid. My only concern is that the show is getting a full 22-episode season, which if I remember correctly, wasn’t the plan. Initially, it was supposed to be like Sleepy Hollow and get an (at most) 18 episodes; stretching the episode count runs the risk of them adding filler episodes that don’t do much for the plot.
  • RED BAND SOCIETY: Some called it Glee meets The Breakfast Club, or Glee without the singing and set at a hospital. At the outset, it’s easy to make the Glee comparison (that is, first half of season 1 Glee) – these “outcasts” come together, in support of one another. I enjoy the show, but the first few episodes were obviously a process of learning to balance the teenage angst with the emotions involved with it being about kids in a hospital. While I disagree with some media outlets suggesting the show change focus to the doctors and nurses (led by the incredible Octavia Spencer, as well as Dave Annable), that would just make the show seem like Grey’s Anatomy-lite. It’s a tricky situation because realistically, not all the kids can “make it” and get a happy ending, but assuming the network gives it a chance, I really do think the writers can strike the right balance of teen and medical drama.
  • GRACEPOINT: I actually never watched Broadchurch, the UK series in which Gracepoint is based on, so it’s not like I was avoiding it and its similarities (as far as I’ve heard). I just slowly came to the realization that straight up murder mysteries don’t work for me; I need something else to hook me in (like the dual narratives of Showtime’s The Affair). The show was always touted as a limited series, so in the case of ratings, it will only play a factor in whether the show sees a second season, not a back nine.
  • MULANEY: I barely got through the first episode, and I don’t remember laughing at it once. There may have been a chuckle, but that was it. Chances of it surviving are slim.
  • UTOPIA [Cancelled]: FOX’s social experiment of tasking a bunch of strangers to form their own society, and live there for a year – what could go wrong? Well, no one cared. It was meant to be on air for 2 nights a week, which then got cut to just one night (on Fridays), and then straight cancelled. Can’t blame FOX for trying something a little different but this sounded like a terrible idea from the beginning.

NBC

Marry Me - Season Pilot

  • MARRY ME: I LOVED Happy Endings, and will never get over the fact that it got cancelled. That being said, I’m pretty happy that David Caspe has created this new show, loosely based on his relationship with series star Casey Wilson. Wilson and Ken Marino are the central couple, but like Happy Endings, the show is more than just about the couple – it’s also about their relationship with their friends. Pretty much if you were a fan of Happy Endings, the witty jokes, pop culture references, physical comedy – it’s all there.
  • THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA [Full Season Pick-Up]: I like Debra Messing and the show has Greg Berlanti (who somehow has the time to do ALL these projects, making everyone else look bad) as one of its executive producers, but something about it just didn’t appeal to me. I think the way the network sold the show to audiences – “She’s a mom AND a cop?! Whhhaaattt?” – just did not work for me.
  • A TO Z [Cancelled]: Cristin Milioti and Ben Feldman starred in this cute little rom-com series that was to show their relationship from “a to z”/beginning to end. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see their relationship fully play out since NBC has decided to not give it a back nine, essentially cancelling it. I realize “cute” is a word I’m using a little too often in talking about a bunch of the shows, but sometimes that’s what you need. This show certainly put a smile on my face every episode, so I’m a little bummed that it won’t continue beyond the 13 episodes.
  • BAD JUDGE [Cancelled]: Kate Walsh plays a tough judge, who doesn’t have the rest of her life together. The ads did not do anything to make it seem anything less than stupid, so I didn’t even bother checking it out.
  • CONSTANTINE: It’s our third new DC show of the season, but this one got a bit of a later start than the rest. I’m enjoying thus far and it does have more of a supernatural feel to it than the dark grittiness of Gotham or the light superhero fun of Flash. But yeah, I’m liking it and it definitely makes for a fun creepy night of Friday TV paired with Grimm.

What about some of the returning shows?

  • Agents of SHIELD has been on a roll in its second season. The events that occurred in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was definitely a game-changer for the series, and at least for those who stuck around, it sort of made getting through the first half of season 1 worth it. It’s been nice to see them broadening the show’s scope and actually incorporating characters from the comics (ex. the addition of Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird). Knowing what we know now about the MCU slate for the next 6 years, one can’t help but wonder how/if the show will play an instrumental role in setting things up for the movies.
  • Sleepy Hollow has continued to impress in its second season, despite ratings being less than last season. Some media outlets are saying that some things need to be “fixed” with the show, for which I disagree because that means there’s something that’s broken within the show. There are some aspects that could be worked on (let’s see Katrina show off her powerful witchery, get Irving out of the psych ward, and use Jenny more!), but take it week-by-week and it’s still the fun crazy show we know and love.
  • I’ve quite enjoyed the integration of Frozen into Once Upon A Time. I am however getting very annoyed by their constant use of the “Magic comes with a price” line, and the theme for this season (family and acceptance) is being layed on very thick.
  • Can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m kinda getting bored with Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. Still funny, but feeling very “same old, same old”
  • It’s been kind of hard to remember that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has moved to Sundays; I’m so used to Sunday nights of FOX to be strictly animation. That being said, there’s no sophomore slump here. Andre Braugher and his deadpan delivery is still the highlight of a very funny show.
  • Still on the top of its game? Arrow.
  • I haven’t watched Dancing With the Stars in full, live on TV for quite some time now, but I do still catch up with the performances afterwards. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve watched so much dance, but I’m not feeling it. Like some of the dances that are getting 10s, I’m like “Really? I wasn’t feeling it. I want MORE.” I think at this point, I just want to see professional dancing ALL THE TIME. And I really need them to get rid of contemporary and jazz (I will not stop complaining about this until it happens).
  • With a packed Monday, The Voice has been relegated to an afterthought – meaning like DWTS, I just watch the performances afterwards. I still love the show, but I can’t commit to the full two hours, when I have other things to watch. Though I do LOVE the addition of Pharrell as a coach.

So that’s my Fall TV check-in. What new shows did you check out this season? Any new favourites? Disappointments? Let me know!

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