Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tricia's New TV Challenge

Hello! Summer is over and fall premieres have begun! This means one thing, it’s time for my yearly pilot challenge. It’s simple really, every year as the new shows premiere I challenge my TV Obsessed self to watch the first episode of every new scripted network television show. And this year it gets even bigger now that I’ve reinstated The CW into my challenge – they found a loophole in my boycott since canceling “Veronica Mars” by bringing Sarah Michelle Gellar back to TV. And, yes, it’s exhausting being this big of a geek.

If you were wondering, I have yet to actually complete my challenge. I got close last year, but was unable to make myself watch “Law & Order: Los Angeles.” I just couldn’t watch another one of those.

This year, I’m doing it and you’re going to help me stay accountable. So let’s get started with a few previews I got to experience and then a few that premiered this past week.

New Girl, FOX – Tuesdays, 8/9c

“New Girl” has been available to watch OnDemand and on for a few weeks now. It premieres for real on Tuesday.

I think it’s safe to say that FOX’s “New Girl,” is one of the most looked forward to new shows this season. And how could it not be? Have you seen Zooey Deschanel? Luckily, there is more to this show than her adorableness. If you’ve seen the trailer for this show, you may be disappointed in the pilot episode, because you see most of what happens in the trailer. But, fear not, this is a television show, meaning there will be more episodes and more funny moments; it’s not a movie where you sit through it for two hours and wonder why people are laughing hysterically at stuff you saw a hundred times during commercial breaks of Sunday Night Football. There will be more funny moments, each week. Or at least, that’s the understanding of how a sitcom works. And this sitcom certainly works.

The great thing about Deschanel’s character Jess is that while she plays a dork, no one expects us think she’s not an attractive dork. Jess breaks up with her live in boyfriend and needs a place to live, ASAP. So she answers an internet ad and we get the not so original “Odd Couple” plotline. She moves in with three guys who are funny and well developed in their own right. That was my fear watching this episode; would it be three normal guys trying to deal with a girl crying on the couch making Lord of the Rings references? No, it’s three guys with their own quirks and issues, designed to make sure the entire show’s burden doesn’t fall on Deschanel’s shoulders. Unfortunately, Damon Wayans Jr played a pretty great role in the pilot episode that is going to be written out due to his commitment to his other show, ABC’s “Happy Endings.” This sucks mainly because his “Coach,” was perhaps my favorite of the three roommates, as the personal trainer who was told he’d have to work on how he deals with women; his subtlety was well done and I’ll miss it.

Bottom line, “New Girl” is still one of my most looked forward to shows this season. Honestly, I’ve always thought the female dork demographic has been one of the most neglected demos in TV. Women are usually either put together or a total wreck; rarely are they as complex as I expect Jess to be.

Prediction: “New Girl” will do great between “Glee” and “Raising Hope.” I predict it will be renewed for a second season.

Revenge, ABC – Wednesdays, 9/10c

“Revenge” was made available to those who downloaded the pilot script From Kindle via a passcode. It premieres this Wednesday after ABC’s awesome comedies.

I had super low expectations for this show. I’ve found that every year since “Lost” premiered networks have been trying insanely hard to get us wound up about a mystery/thriller show. Trying to recreate the love viewers had for that show is just pointless. You can’t plan something like that. Anyway, I was wrong. For the most part, “Revenge” is very upfront about it’s intentions. Basically, it’s about watching someone take down a group of horrible rich people. I have no idea how this show will keep going for years, but I can say that I’m willing to watch until it turns me off. There’s nothing really great about it; the performances are good and the tension builds well enough. It’s just that it’s a fun show to watch. Easy as that. Watching Emily VanCamp’s character mess with people and enjoy every moment is fantastic and rooting for her is easy. At least it is in Episode 1. I imagine a few wrenches in works in the future, because I’m sure not everyone she goes after will exactly deserve it. I’m also incredibly intrigued about learning more about this lead character; we see her at two different stages in her life – the present and ten years prior. Then, we get a sneak at her life in between, and all you can do is wonder what happened over those ten years, who is this girl? And that will keep me tuning in.

Prediction: I give this show a 50/50 chance of sticking around. It’s really about if anyone will tune into the first episode or not. I can’t imagine how it will attract viewers mid-season. Fingers crossed we at least get an entire season.

Ringer, The CW – Tuesdays, 8/9c

“Ringer” premiered last Tuesday. You can watch it online at

CW, you sneaky, sneaky network. I haven’t watched you since 2008 and didn’t miss you at all. And then you bring Buffy back and I’m just supposed to forgive you? Well, it worked. I watched. And I cautiously enjoyed it. Separated twins where one takes over the other’s life is a hot thing right now. Not sure why, but ABC Family is doing it right now with “The Lying Game,” and now we get a double dose of Sarah Michelle Gellar which is certainly not a bad thing. “Ringer” is slightly darker than the cable network’s version, as one twin thinks she’s taking over her dead sister’s life because she feels she needs to in order to survive a very bad man. Soon enough she finds out that her sister’s life isn’t as perfect as she had initially thought.

The show is pretty good; the performances are just tension filled enough and I especially like Ioan Gruffud’s performance as rich sis’ unhappy husband. And SMG does a great job as Bridget who is desperately just trying to survive; though I’m not too crazy about her turn as Siobhan, who comes off as a typical rich bitch. Hopefully, we’ll see more development between these two characters as the show goes on.

The truth here, is that I’m afraid to get attached to this show. I just don’t trust The CW to be able to produce adult shows. Sure, “Supernatural” is great, as was “Smallville,” but these shows have/had elements that forced it to stay true to science fiction and superhero attributes. “Ringer” could easy become “Gossip Girl.” And if that’s the case, I’ll have no problem turning the channel. Because, honestly, there are few things that I want to see less on television than rich people’s problems.

Prediction: The nerd community is not going to let this go anywhere. But if The CW can cancel “Veronica Mars,” it can cancel anything.

Up All Night, NBC – Wednesdays, 7/8c

This show premiered last Wednesday, catch the first show on

Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph in the same show? Do I even need to review this one? Of course I loved it! The only problem is that it’s not on Thursdays. I mean, does NBC really think “Whitney” fits better into their line up? I haven’t seen that show yet, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of where that one is headed.

Anyway, “Up All Night,” is about a couple who just had a baby. It’s a simple plotline that should lend itself well to a half hour program. Christina Applegate plays working mom to Arnett’s stay at home dad, which is a nice change, especially since they have yet to throw it in our faces. “LOOK! Times are changing! TV is catching up, we swear!” And Rudolph is fantastic as the Oprah to Applegate’s Gayle; the tv host/best friend/boss who doesn’t really understand how having a baby can change someone’s life. So far, it’s a cute show, that made me laugh out loud a few times, but my hopes are pretty high for rest of the episodes.

Prediction: This fall season, half of the new shows are situational comedies. This is not the best, but it’s also not the worst, so it could go either way. Hopefully, it will reach its full potential soon, because we all know network TV is not known for its patience, though NBC did show a full season of “Outsourced,” so anything could happen. Also, I really want Arnett to get a show that lasts and that people watch while it’s on the air. It saddens me every time I hear someone talk about catching the really funny “Running Wilde” after it was already canceled. Have faith, NBC, I do!

Free Agents, NBC – Wednesdays, 7:30/8:30c

This premiered last Wednesday as well, you can also watch it on

I first want to say that I have a soft spot for Kathryn Hahn. She was on my favorite show of all time, “Crossing Jordan,” so I want so badly to see her do well. But this isn’t going to do it for her. “Free Agents” wasn’t a bad show, it was just confusing to me. It doesn’t seem like a show made for Network TV; it’s a bit dark and quirky for NBC.

Hank Azaria plays Alex a middle aged, sad man who just got divorced and is looking to “get back on the horse.” Hahn plays Helen, a sarcastic co-worker who is still grieving the death of her fiancé who died suddenly a year ago. Somehow comedy is supposed to arise when the two have a one night stand.

The two leads pull off the material well; it’s believable that they are attracted to one another, but put off by similar baggage. They have a certain amount of chemistry, but it’s hard to get over the sadness inherent in both of their situations. When Alex breaks down and cries when he thinks about his kids, it’s supposed to be funny, but I have a hard time laughing. Perhaps the issue here is that these situations are so true to life that it’s hard to watch and enjoy. So the writers attempt to off set the heavy with supporting characters that are just plain bad. As much as I love seeing Buffy vet Anthony Stewart Head back on my screen, his oversexed boss character is obvious and off-putting. Then add in an angry assistant and a few guys from around the office looking to get Alex laid and you’ve got a recipe for a sitcom that tries too hard.

Prediction: I may give this one a few more chances, because I know it’s hard to introduce all characters in a pilot episode well, but I’m not expecting to like it much more than I already do. And I don’t expect the rest of the viewing public to like it either. I don’t think it’ll last a full season.

The Secret Circle, The CW- Thursdays, 8/9c

“The Secret Circle” began this past Thursday, catch it on

Note to TV Networks everywhere: if you want to suck me into a show about supernatural forces or whathaveyou, be super creepy in the first ten minutes; it also helps to kill a parent off early so I can feel sympathy and root for the main character – combine the two and I will DVR the Hell out of your show. “The Secret Circle” is a show that I can trust The CW with; it’s about teenagers who discover they are witches and create themselves a coven. Britt Robertson plays Cassie, the new girl in town that the “circle” needs to complete itself and become more powerful. Robertson is good as the lead; she mixes the excitement of this newfound experience with the distrust of the others in the situation very well, probably because she’s not actually sixteen she’s able to play a parentless, confused child with honesty and a convincing pout.

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast isn’t as convincing. You could throw a dime at your TV and hit an overactor; but this The CW, so you shouldn’t expect Emmy worthy performances.

This show was created by Kevin Williamson, the man behind “Dawson’s Creek” and the Scream franchise; which is not surprising as “The Secret Circle” could easily be a mixture of the two, a little bit of creepy, a little bit of teen angst, but then add some cool effects and you have an interesting show aimed at teenagers that delivers an enjoyable forty-five minutes of TV.

Prediction: Paired up with “The Vampire Diaries,” I don’t see how this couldn’t do well, besides being on a really busy night of television. I guess we’ll have to wait and see with this one, but I’m hoping for at least a full season before The CW makes a decision either way.

And that’s it this week! Next week will be interesting, as there are a lot of premieres of both new and old shows. Here’s hoping my DVR doesn’t explode.

1 comment:

  1. Tricia, this is kinda insane. In other words, I'm way into this.