Fall 2011 Television Report Card: Returning Shows

Hello! As promised, I am still here to bring you the Report Card for this Fall 2011 Television season. It’s not an easy task, watching all this TV, but someone’s got to do it. No, I’m kidding, I do this because I want to give more meaning to spending hours and hours of vegging out in front of the television and devouring more TV shows than your average network executive. πŸ˜‰

We have reached November and the sweeps have officially begun. Some shows have even had their Fall finales, and some networks have released their mid-season schedule (No Community, NBC?? WTF?). Anyway, as infuriating as NBC’s decision to bench Community can be, I still have to make good on my promise to report to you how our returning Fall shows are faring this season. So without further ado, let’s just take a look at our Fall 2011 television season so far and see how they’re doing so far. Is this a great TV season, or is it the worst in years? Let’s take a look, shall we?

SUNDAYS:

Truthfully, the only returning show that I still watch on Sundays is HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. I don’t watch The Good Wife (please don’t make me explain why again, I’ve done it so many times in this blog), I have given up hope on Dexter after the disappointing season 4 and I don’t watch The Walking Dead (serious zombies are not my thing. I prefer my zombies hilarious, a la Zombieland and Shaun of The Dead). And I’m so not into How To Make It In America (which is basically Entourage, with a smaller budget). Which means I’m going to have to compare Boardwalk Empire with last season to be able to judge it fairly. And so far, this season is not much of an improvement. I love that we get more Richard Harrow, Rothstein, Capone and Chalky White – who are all great characters played by amazing actors, but I think the show could benefit from some character developments. Last season the female characters suffer from lack of developments, and this season, it seems the writers don’t really know what they want to do with Jimmy Darmody, which is a shame since Michael Pitt is definitely a great actor who can deliver perfection every week. Now that the season’s inching closer to the end and the stakes are raised, I’m hoping they’ll finally get it together and give us a truly satisfying finale that will make us forget about the frustrating early episodes.

Sunday Night Grade:

Boardwalk Empire: B- (It definitely got better midway through, and Richard Harrow alone made the show deserving of this grade)

MONDAYS:

Like I said in my previous post, Monday night is definitely a pretty crowded night of television for me, so if a show is lacking in quality on a night like this, I usually give it up pretty quickly (goodbye, Hawaii Five-0!). But one show I know I won’t ever give up even if it gets 8 seasons like Entourage (which I highly doubt because nobody seems to be watching it except for me and a few people in Brooklyn), is HBO’s Bored To Death. Now in its third season, this Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis screwball comedy continues to be hysterically funny and wonderfully odd. As one commenter in NY Magazine’s Vulture blog once said, “Bored To Death is Entourage for people who hate Entourage.” – a fitting description for a show that is light, funny, a tad insane and a whole lot of fun.

Of course in terms of ratings, Monday nights belong to CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, now in its 7th season (and we still haven’t met the mother yet! Do we even still want to?) and ABC’s Castle, now in its 4th season. How I Met Your Mother may not be as “cool” as Bored To Death in terms of comedy, but surprisingly, this season is not half-bad. It was flailing in the beginning of the season but now I’m enjoying it more, and not just because they seem to be revisiting the Barney and Robin romance once again. I’m not too crazy about Kal Penn as Robin’s boyfriend because she seems to have more chemistry with a stick of butter than with him, but eh, at least he helps drive the plot forward. Meanwhile, Castle benefited from having a strong season opener and even though the show focuses more on the cases of the week instead of the Castle-Beckett sexual tension, it actually works in their favor. Who knows, maybe they’ll just pull a Bones next season and have Beckett pregnant with Castle’s baby all of a sudden. That’s one way to beat the Moonlighting curse!

Speaking of pregnancy, The CW’s Gossip Girl is going through with the Blair Waldorf pregnancy plot, though now almost halfway in the fifth season, she still looks as thin as ever (seriously, stick a pillow under there or something!). However, despite the ridiculousness of every single plot, I think this season is actually an improvement, or maybe the last two were just so bad that anything can be seen as an improvement. Two things I would want to be rid off in this show though: Dan Humphrey’s floppy hair and Elizabeth Hurley. As Jessica Pressler of NY Magazine’s Daily Intel blog notes, “She’s the only British who can make her real British accent sound fake.” Too bad it doesn’t seem like her (and Dan’s Jeff Buckley hair) are going anywhere soon. Across the (Canadian) border, the addictive CBC drama Being Erica is now in its fourth and final season, and sadly the season has been underwhelming so far. I like that Kai is back, but I was kind of expecting Erica to have finally resolved her issues with men already by now, and yet she seems to still be as damaged as ever. I just hope that it’ll improve fast, since we all deserve a satisfying series finale and conclusion to this journey.

Monday Night Grades:

Bored To Death: A (I just can’t find anything bad to say about this show!)

How I Met Your Mother: C+ (Still in a continued decline from the early seasons, but there’s hope of a turnaround)

Castle: B (The quality remains consistent)

Gossip Girl: C- (We still need to suspend our disbelief every week, but at least some plots are quite enjoyable)

Being Erica: B- (Come on, Erica, get your shit together, girl!)

TUESDAYS:

Tuesday night television used to be the most exciting night for me, mostly because of Glee. But that show burns out so fast (more on that later) that I’m not even that excited about it anymore. But Tuesday night continues to be a great night for television simply because of the little show that could on NBC called Parenthood. Honestly, I don’t know why people aren’t watching this show. It’s honest-to-goodness that amazing. Emily Nussbaum of (now) The New York Times once said that Parenthood is the television equivalent of a nice, warm, bubble bath. You just want to soak in the goodness, preferably with a glass of red wine in your hand.

When Parenthood continues to warm our hearts in its third season, I can’t say the same about Glee, which saddens me because it was only two years ago when the show stole my heart and made me a devotee. But Glee, much like its characters’ relationships, turns out to be just another puppy love – it burns hot, it burns bright and then it fizzles away. Out of the six episodes that have aired so far this season, only two were actually great and reminiscent of the early episodes of season one. Ryan Murphy can’t seem to figure out what to do with half the cast, and he’s got to write in parts for winners of The Glee Project too. I still hold out hope that this show will return to its former glory before this season’s over but from the looks of things, we may have to bow out just as soon as the New Direction seniors graduate. However, another Fox comedy Raising Hope seems to be faring a lot better than Glee, if only in terms of quality. It may not have as many viewers, but now in its sophomore season, Raising Hope is still as funny, crazy and irreverent as its freshman year. If Glee continues to dwindle in quality, I wouldn’t be surprised if New Girl and Raising Hope end up replacing it as Fox’s favorite.

On to the good ol’ cop procedural, Canadian drama Flashpoint has just moved from CBS to Ion TV and yet continues to churn out solid episodes. It’s edge-of-your-seat thrilling while still tugging at your heartstrings at the same time. I will even go so far as to call this show the “Parenthood of cop procedural“. It doesn’t disappoint even after four seasons and two cast changes. Over on ABC, Body of Proof seems to be finding its footings in its second season, and Dana Delany’s character is a lot more sympathetic now, but it still has room to grow. Let’s hope for their sake they find their groove soon, because I don’t think ABC has given it a back-nine order yet.

Tuesday Night Grades:

Parenthood: A (It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it’s perfect)

Glee: C+ (there are two solid episodes this season but the rest are still meh)

Raising Hope: B (It’s still hilarious and such a fun show to watch)

Flashpoint: B+ (it does get heavy-handed sometimes but overall it’s damn good television)

Body Of Proof: C- (still not that great but it has its moments)

WEDNESDAYS:

When it comes to Wednesday nights, it’s pretty clear who dominates in terms of ratings: Modern Family. This ABC comedy won big at the Emmys and people are still loving this big, crazy, slightly dysfunctional family show. And don’t get me wrong, I still love this show very much, but I think in its third season, Modern Family is starting to enter The Big Bang Theory-like state: it’s still funny and the masses love it, but it doesn’t really go beyond that. We’re not attached to the characters or even the plots anymore, we just watch every week for the laughs and that’s it. I’m not saying it has come to that, but if it’s not careful, it can very well be in the next one or two seasons, because so far none of the season three episodes that have aired was particularly memorable. They’re all funny, but I somehow just don’t connect with them – unlike in seasons 1 and 2. On the other hand, ABC’s sophomore comedy Happy Endings seems to hit all the right notes lately. Sure, it had a rough start last season but it quickly turned around and made us fall in love with its quirkiness. Ever since Cougar Town is banished to mid-season (or maybe even longer, DAMN YOU ABC!), Happy Endings is the only ABC show that makes me feel like I’m hangin’ with the coolest people on earth when I watch it. And that feeling is – as Penny would say – amahzing.

Meanwhile over on USA, Psych has finally returned for its sixth season, after being bumped to Fall to make room for Suits last Summer, and I’m happy to report that even in its sixth season, the show is still as fresh and fun as ever. I like how they handle the Shawn and Juliet relationship, which is really to shove it in the background. But it works! It’s always tricky when a will-they-won’t-they couple finally get together and the only way they can sustain it Jim and Pam style is to push it to the background a little bit, until they make big life decisions such as getting engaged, married, having babies etc. And since Shawn and Juliet aren’t ready for that kind of leap, it’s best to only get glimpses of their blossoming romance for now. Finally, on to CBS’ Criminal Minds. Not much to say, except that it’s good to have the gang back together again. Last season felt a bit off with both AJ Cook and Paget Brewster getting the cut, but luckily CBS realized its mistakes and rectified the situation by bringing both actresses back. And now we can finally focus on the serial killers – and Matthew Gray Gubler’s fabulous hair.

Wednesday Night Grades:

Modern Family: B- (It’s still good but it’s not as great as it used to be)

Happy Endings: A (It’s seriously amahzing, you guys)

Psych: B (It’s still funny but sometimes it does get a bit “been there done that”)

Criminal Minds: C+ (Still comfortingly watchable, but it’s already in season 7)

THURSDAYS:

First, I just want to take a moment to mourn the darkest timeline of all: NBC benching my favorite show Community for mid-season, which means there will be no Community come January. Let us all put on our black goatee and plot the destruction of the world. Okay. Moment over. I don’t want to dwell on it, especially since the thought of no Community can trigger a breakdown, Abed-style. I’m just praying that the powers that be will let this little show gets what it deserves: six seasons and a movie. Especially since this season, the show continues to deliver amazeballs episodes. Yes, I said it. Amazeballs. Why NBC chooses to bench this show (and cancel Prime Suspect while they’re at it) and let the insipid Whitney live on to annoy the masses is beyond me. Obviously, this is the darkest timeline. I’m just waiting for someone to right the wrong. I’m talking to you, Bob Greenblatt! Anyway, moving right along, my second favorite show ever, Parks and Recreation, also has not disappointed me yet this season, despite their decision to break up my favorite sitcom pairing since Jim and Pam: Ben and Leslie. What used to be romance was replaced by angst and blossomed into romance again and oh! It’s just so good, it deserves a place in Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness.

The Office post-Steve Carell isn’t doing too great, however, which is a shame because I had always seen that show as more of an ensemble instead of a Steve Carell show. But I guess he left some big shoes to fill and somehow both James Spader and Ed Helms haven’t managed to do that just yet. The dynamic feels off somehow, and I’m still not getting why Spader needs to be there all the time. I’m still hoping they’ll finally get it right but it’s looking less and less likely now. Something tells me The Office should’ve just ended when Carell left. Over on CBS, The Big Bang Theory still gets monster ratings, and yes it’s still enjoyable to watch, but it’s getting less and less memorable now that it’s in its fifth season. I just simply can’t care about the characters anymore and I watch it with about as much enthusiasm as when I watch 2 Broke Girls. This show will live on forever, probably (hey, Two and A Half Men still exists, right?) but I’m not so sure I’m sticking around for the long haul.

Moving on from comedy to drama, Bones on Fox has just premiered its seventh season a couple of weeks ago with a pregnant Brennan and I have to say, they have managed to avoid the Moonlighting curse pretty cleverly with this plot, that happened mostly because of actress Emily Deschanel’s real life pregnancy. Brennan being pregnant help gives the show something else to focus on besides the Booth/Brennan relationship. We still get to see them as a couple but the shift in dynamic is a lot smoother this way, and they’re still just as interesting to watch as before they got together. Another upside: Sweets gets more to do, and I always love it when I get to see more of John Francis Daley (see my 10 Hottest Men of Fall list for clarification). Over on The CW, my favorite supernatural show this side of the millennium, The Vampire Diaries, also isn’t showing signs of a decline now in its third season. The plots remain interesting, the twists continue to surprise, the guest stars are added delight, and the relationships that are formed and broken continue to be exciting. Last season we had Jeremy and Bonnie hooking up, this season we had them breaking up thanks to Jeremy’s ghost vampire ex (don’t ask). Last season we had Matt walking out on Caroline because he couldn’t deal with her being a vampire, this season we had Caroline hooking up with werewolf Tyler who was later on turned into a hybrid and sired by Klaus, which ruined their ongoing romance (again, don’t ask). There’s always so many things going on, so many interesting characters at play in this show. The only downside? The producers are not shy about killing off beloved characters, so I’m always anxious that someone awesome is going to die in every episode. I don’t need that kind of anxiety in my life!

Thursday Night Grades:

Community: A+ (I’m biased, I know.)

Parks and Recreation: A+ (Again, totally bias. Don’t protest, it’s my blog!)

The Office: C (It’s really getting frustrating to watch)

The Big Bang Theory: C- (I just can’t care about the characters anymore)

Bones: B (Overachieving Brennan would probably not be happy with this grade)

The Vampire Diaries: B+ (It still gets a little too cheesy at times, but overall it’s still awesome)

Fridays:

Friday night television is usually the night when good television comes to die, or what we die-hard TV fans call “Programming Siberia”. And while it’s true that high ratings for Friday night shows are not easy to come by, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any quality show on Friday night, because it just so happens that Friday night is also “Geek Night”, with Chuck on NBC airing at 8 pm and Fringe on Fox airing at 9 pm. With those two shows on any given Friday night, do you even question why I never leave the house? πŸ˜‰ And so far, both shows totally deliver in terms of awesomeness. Chuck is in its fifth and final season and it’s still as entertaining as ever. I like that the stakes are raised and they keep giving us something to look forward to every episode, as well as the fact that I still have NO CLUE how they’re going to end the series. It’s going to be epic, for sure, but they’re clever enough not to give away the ending from the beginning. Fringe doesn’t disappoint either, after introducing a new timeline (Abed will LOVE this) at the beginning of season 4 that complicates things and at the same time makes them even more interesting. Plus they upgraded Seth Gabel to series regular, and he’s been pretty awesome so far. The only downside? With dismal ratings, I have a feeling this show will not make it to season 5, unless by some miracle. So internet! You know what to do, start a crazy fan campaign so huge Fox just has to give it one more season – or at least 13-episodes final season like Chuck.

Friday Night Grades:

Chuck: B+ (They did downgrade Beckmanand there’s just not enough of Jeffster this season)

Fringe: A (It deserves an A for Agent Lincoln Lee alone!)

And there you have it, my Report Card of the Fall 2011 Returning TV shows. What’s your favorite show of this season? Do you think NBC is crazy for benching Community? (The answer is yes) How ’bout that Ben and Leslie kiss? I will be back soon with my annual Christmas lists – so be on the lookout for that. For now, I bid you adieu and until next time!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

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Ten Hottest Men of Fall 2011

It’s the first week of November and you know what that means; Fall TV season is well underway and we are getting ready for November sweeps, all the new and returning Fall shows have premiered and in just a few short weeks, this season will officially wind down to make room for the holidays. But before we start putting the turkey in the oven or decorating the Christmas tree, let’s do what we do best here and continue with tradition: it’s time for another TV Hottest Men list!

When it comes to television, Fall is a really important season. Successful Fall shows usually get a full season pick up some time between their premieres and Christmas break. Failed shows will then get replaced by mid-season replacements come January or Spring. And sometimes a contributing factor to a show’s success can be as easy as a charismatic (and hot) leading man. Call us a superficial society all you want, but there is no denying that we like watching beautiful people on screen. And the ten men in this list definitely helps draw viewers every week.

So sit back, relax and feast your eyes on these beauties! πŸ˜‰

DISCLAIMER: This list does not contain any man under the age of 25. Because ew. I’m in my early thirties and it feels wrong to objectify men who are way younger than me. :-p Also the list is for “hot men” not boys.

Michael Pitt, Boardwalk Empire

From the very beginning, the hit HBO show Boardwalk Empire has benefited from a stellar cast. There is no mediocre actor in this show, not even the guest stars. From Steve Buscemi to recently promoted Jack Huston, everyone brings their A-game week after week, which makes the first hottie in this list even more impressive because he not only sizzles as gangster-in-training Jimmy Darmody, he also consistently wows us with his range. Michael Pitt has given depths and nuance to ambitious and often violent Darmody, making us believe that deep down he must be a lovely man, even as he tortures and kills in cold blood. And let’s face it, who’s not going to love those deep blue eyes and pouty lips? Even his on-screen mother can’t resist to kiss him on the lips (ew) sometimes!

Dylan McDermott, American Horror Story

Speaking of irresistible men, just as soon as American Horror Story premiered on FX last October, everyone, ghosts and humans alike have found Dylan McDermott and his man-ass utterly irresistible, which explains why his on-screen wife Tami Taylor Connie Britton always has a frown on her face, now five episodes in. Can you blame her? I’d be frowning too if all living and dead things want a piece of my hot husband. And the great thing about this show is that we can so understand why everyone wants to do McDermott’s character Ben Harmon: look at him! Have you ever seen a finer man? I’m tempted to haunt that murder house myself if it means I get to indulge on all that. πŸ˜‰

Gale Harold, The Secret Circle

The Secret Circle on The CW is really a show about teenage witches but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in eye candy for anyone over 25, because those teen witches have parents and one of them happens to be the delicious Gale Harold, who has charmed our pants off for years in Queer As Folk, followed by a stint in Desperate Housewives and Hellcats. Sure, it’s a little weird (and it makes us feel old) to see him as a parent of a teenage daughter but it doesn’t make him any less desirable somehow. Whether he’s playing doting dad or power-hungry witch, he still makes us want to call him “Daddy” (and then see a shrink about our daddy-issue).

Josh Charles, The Good Wife

I have admitted a few times in this blog that I don’t watch The Good Wife. I know it’s a quality show but for some reason I just can’t get into it. I think it’s the genre, I’ve never been a fan of a legal procedural. But I also have to admit I sometimes would catch an episode or two of this CBS drama just so I can get my Josh Charles fix, because this man is so, so fine! If I were Alicia, I wouldn’t have been so torn between Will and Peter because hey Mr Big is only attractive in Sex and The City. And even then he’s kind of an asshole. But Mr Josh Charles (who I suspect must be a vampire because he doesn’t seem to age) is the total package and I’d choose him over anybody. Too bad he seems very attached to his ballerina. Sigh.

Follow him on Twitter: @MrJoshCharles

Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation

I often say that if I could date one fictional character from one of my favorite TV shows, it would be Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. Sure he’s not what you’d call smoldering, but I don’t need a six-pack and all the muscles, I’m not Kim Kardashian. I need a man who is smart, sensitive, a little nerdy and oh so sweet. And Ben Wyatt, is all that and more. What bums me out is that his real life counterpart, Adam Scott seems to be exactly like him, only he’s not single. Damn, why are all the good ones taken? πŸ˜‰ Adam Scott is not only funny, he’s also smart, a little nerdy and oh so sweet. He probably wouldn’t appear shirtless in Men’s Health magazine any time soon, but he’s just the type of guy you can proudly bring home to mama. And that is a rare thing this day and age.

Follow him on Twitter: @mradamscott


Paul Wesley, The Vampire Diaries

Speaking of good husband material, this next hottie falls into the same category, even if his Vampire Diaries character has gone off the deep end and is now all evil all the time. This brooding handsome gentleman always manages to stay off the gossip sites radar, and he is involved in a number of charities with his wife Pretty Little Liars actress Torrey DeVito in his spare time. In fact, he’s so low-key that most people didn’t even realize that he and DeVito got married earlier this year. A hot young actor who knows how to lead a low-key normal life outside the public eye? Can we clone him?

Follow him on Twitter: @paulwesley

Seth Gabel, Fringe

While we’re still on the subject of married men, here’s another one on this list and he’s not only married, he’s also a father of two even though he still looks too young to be pushing a stroller around. Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard’s daughter and movie star in her own right, has long made an honest man out of him and let me just say, she’s a lucky bitch. He may not be a movie star yet like his wife but ever since he was cast as Agent Lincoln Lee in Fringe at the end of season 2, he has quickly been a fan favorite and an episode without him just feels a little empty. That naughty grin! Those gorgeous eyes! We love both universes Lincoln Lee and we can only hope that other universe’s Seth Gabel is single and ready to mingle – just as soon as we figure out a way to cross over and bring him back with us. πŸ˜‰

Wilson Bethel, Hart of Dixie

Everyone loves a good Southern gentleman, at least that’s what people who live in fictional Bluebell, Alabama would say. And guess what? After seeing this one Southern gentleman all wet and shirtless, I think we can all agree that a good Southern gentleman like Wilson Bethel, aka Wade the bartender/temptingly hot neighbor to Dr. Zoe Hart in Hart of Dixie, who can fix us mojitos shirtless while we enjoy the hot southern sun together is pretty easy to love. I know, I keep saying shirtless. I’m not trying to sound redundant, I just want to remind you that this gorgeous creature once made a PSA encouraging all hot men everywhere to go shirtless… for the environment. Now that is a cause I can totally get behind!

John Francis Daley, Bones

Bones has just returned for its seventh season last Thursday night, and all anyone can talk about is how Booth and Brennan are together now. While that is definitely something worthy to talk about, I myself care more for the young, wide-eyed and impressionable FBI psychologist Dr. Lance Sweets, who thanks to Brennan’s pregnancy, gets a lot more screen time now (thank you Emily Deschanel!). Sweets’ alter ego John Francis Daley has been acting since before his voice changed, and we’ve seen him transformed from a tiny, dorky, pasty 15-year-old in Freaks and Geeks to a dashing, charming 26-year-old in Bones. Add the fact that he’s also multi-talented (he’s the lead singer/keyboardist for the indie band Dayplayer and he also wrote this Summer’s hit comedy Horrible Bosses), I think it’s pretty clear that Bones has itself a brand new heartthrob, now that Booth is uhm, taken.

Follow him on Twitter: @JohnFDaley

Zachary Levi, Chuck

First, let us take a moment to properly grieve over the fact that this is Chuck’s fifth and final season. After thirteen episodes, we won’t get any more Chuck ever again. 😦 But if it’s any consolation, at least we get a proper farewell from our friends at Carmichael Industries and Buy More. Still, it’d be hard to say goodbye to these lovable lunatics, especially the star of the show Zachary Levi, who’s just every bit as nerdy and lovely as his alter ego Chuck Bartowski. He may not be a spy-for-hire in real life but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to charm our pants off. He’s hot, funny, smart and a total nerd who can serenade us with love songs (remember that duet with Mandy Moore at the Oscars? Squee!). Now we just need him to be hired in a new mid-season show (maybe NBC’s upcoming musical Smash?) so we’ll always have him to drool over for a very long time.

Follow him on Twitter: @ZacharyLevi

And there you have it, the Ten Hottest Men of Fall 2011. Check back in next week for my Fall 2011 Television Report Card, where we’ll be taking a look at how our returning shows are doing.

Until then!

xoxo

Binky Bee

Fall 2011 TV Report Card: Freshman Shows

Hello! As promised in my last post, I am here to bring you the Report Card for this Fall 2011 Television season. It’s not an easy task, watching all this TV, but someone’s got to do it. No, I’m kidding, I do this because I want to give more meaning to spending hours and hours of vegging out in front of the television and devouring more TV shows than your average network executive. πŸ˜‰

This week is the last week of October and very soon the networks will pull out all the stops to get viewers to tune in to their November Sweeps episodes (expect stunt casting, major twists and the whole shebang in the next few weeks) so before the whole insanity begins, let’s just take a look at our Fall 2011 television season so far and see how they’re doing so far. Is this a great TV season, or is it the worst in years? Let’s take a look, shall we?

NOTE: As you can see in the title, this week I’ll be dedicating this post for the Freshman shows that have just debuted over the last six weeks. Returning shows will follow in the coming weeks.

SUNDAYS:

When it comes to Freshman shows, Sunday nights belong to Showtime’s Homeland. Sure, Once Upon A Time debuted big last Sunday night on ABC, but it doesn’t make it quality television. Homeland on the other hand, is not only a hit for the premium cable network, it is also really, really good. Domestic terrorism has proven to be a difficult genre to sustain, but so far, Homeland has hit it out of the park with every episode. Of course, there is no guarantee this show won’t turn out to be another The Killing (I am still pissed at Veena Sud, by the way!) but considering the show runners used to work on 24, I hope they know better. Look for Homeland to do well at next year’s Emmy’s too, at least scoring nominations for Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, and maybe even Best Drama.

Over on ABC, the retro-sweet Pan Am isn’t doing too well on ratings, but oh I wish it would. I actually like it. No, it’s not brilliant television. And it’s clearly, clearly, not Mad Men. It’s not even ABC’s answer to Mad Men. It’s just a fun Love Boat-esque nostalgia soapy little show with beautiful people and gorgeous 60s costumes. That’s all. You can watch this show while doing the laundry or checking your emails. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. So do me a favor, and watch this show so it will at least get a full season?

Sunday Night Grades:

Homeland:Β  A- (I only give it a preemptive minus just in case it decides to pull a “Killing”)

Pan Am: C+ (Not quality television but definitely a fun Sunday night watch)

Once Upon A Time: D (Like I wrote in my review: meh)

MONDAYS:

Monday night is always a crowded television night for me, mostly because there are about five to six shows to watch on any given Monday. Even though I hate that NBC shifts Chuck to Fridays on its fifth and final season, I was a little relieved that I didn’t have to cram in eight shows in one night. Out of the six shows that I watch on Monday nights, to my surprise, Hart of Dixie came out on top, something I did not expect at all. After all, the show is from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire – and both The OC and Gossip Girl, though deliciously perfect guilty pleasure shows aren’t exactly what I call “quality television” (I’m not counting Chuck in this list though Schwartz serves as co-creator because the show came from his partnership with Chris Fedak and not Savage) but Hart of Dixie is not only a charming little show, it’s actually pretty good, you guys! It’s like the perfect mixture of Gilmore Girls and Everwood and Rachel Bilson gets more and more convincing as a doctor as the season progresses. It’s not going to win any Emmys, but it’s still a great show to wind down to on a hectic MondayΒ  night.

If Hart of Dixie has enough sweetness and sincerity to charm your pants off, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls has the exact opposite effect – it’s not going to charm your pants off at all, unless you’re a self-loathing weirdo who is into meanness and crass. The problem with 2 Broke Girls is not in its lame jokes or the laugh track or the somewhat old-fashioned multi-camera approach. The problem with 2 Broke Girls is that it relies way too heavily on mean comedy, and mean comedy just feels grating after a while. Take the whole Asian jokes that many viewers consider racist. I wasn’t offended even though I’m Asian so I don’t think they’re that blatantly racist, but still. Race jokes are tricky and best avoided, and they are even more offensive when they sound mean-spirited. I love me some Kat Dennings so I’m sticking around but if the show doesn’t tone down its meanness soon, I may have to check out sooner than later. Meanwhile, HBO’s Enlightened, despite centering on a woman unhinged, turns out to be a lot more charming that 2 Broke Girls can ever hope to be. It’s still not funny ha-ha, but it gets better as the season progresses and doesn’t disturb your inner peace with every episode, something 2 Broke Girls’ writers should learn from.

Monday Night Grades:

Hart of Dixie: B+ (It’s not good enough for an A but it’s the kind of sweet little show I’d love for years so definitely a B+)

2 Broke Girls: C- (I’m still holding out hope that it will improve before the season’s over)

Enlightened: B (It’s a great show, but it takes a while to get used to)

TUESDAYS:

Without a doubt, when it comes to Tuesday night on Fox, Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl totally rules. Not only does it generate bigger ratings than its lead-in Glee (something that even Fox doesn’t expect at all), it is also one of the new shows that get the most buzz online, mostly because Zooey Deschanel has a huge and I mean huge following on the world wide web. For a so-called indie darling, she definitely has mass appeal. Sure she has a polarizing effect, some people (myself included) LOVE her and some people just can’t stand her. But the majority rules, and the majority loves Deschanel and her new comedy. It is sometimes a little much (it’s like the writers are trying to kill us with twee), but at the end of the day, it’s genuinely funny and a great addition to Fox’s Tuesday night comedy block. Plus, the massive success of this show has somewhat boosted Raising Hope’s ratings so I just cannot hate on Deschanel. I can’t. I don’t have it in me.

The CW’s Ringer can only dream of getting a fraction of New Girl’s success but for a show with a truly terrible pilot (I’m not the only one who gave it a bad review), it has actually improved into something not at all terrible. It’s not suddenly good, but it’s definitely watchable and yes, absolutely fun to watch, something I did not expect would happen. I guess the writers learned from the atrocious pilot and began shaping the show into something of a guilty pleasure. It’s total soap and melodrama, and sometimes I still think Sarah Michelle Gellar deserves better but I can totally get on board now. No more ridiculous boat scenes, instead, they choose to go the Gossip Girl route with scandals, blackmail, betrayals and juicy little schemes. Plus, Veronica Mars’ Jason Dohring (Logan!) has scored a recurring role and it’s a good sign the show can only get better.

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Tuesday Night Grades:

New Girl:Β  B (The twee-ness can be a problem sometimes in this show)

Ringer: C+ (It’s getting better but it’s still not good enough to score higher)

WEDNESDAYS:

Ryan Murphy picked the right time to debut a new show, because FX’s American Horror Story kind of makes me love him again. I’ve gotten tired of Glee these days, especially since season 3 has yet to return to the awesomeness of the first 13-episodes of season 1, but I don’t mind it so much now that I just have to wait a day after Glee to be thoroughly entertained by the Murphy-helmed horror show that is American Horror Story. Sure, the pilot wasn’t that strong – just frenetic and crazy – but the subsequent episodes turn out to be a lot more solid than the pilot, especially these last two weeks, largely due to the writers’ decision to tone down the “shock-and-awe” and focus more on subtle creepy revelations a la The Sixth Sense. it’s still crazy (at this point I won’t even be surprised if the whole Harmon family turns out to be ghosts as well) but it’s the good kind of crazy and Murphy’s penchant for the outrageous kind of works well in this genre. His decision to actually have a writing team is also a contributing factor why this FX show may just be this Fall’s surprise hit. That, and Dylan McDermott’s man-ass. πŸ™‚

Another guilty pleasure drama worth mentioning this television season is ABC’s Revenge, that appeals to most viewers and critics for its unabashed and straight up melodrama. I never thought I would actually enjoy this show this much but I really do. The protagonist in this show, Emily Thorne is so hell-bent on revenge that she always wears the same crazy-eyed “vengeful” expression on her face that I’m starting to wonder if maybe she really is crazy. TV critic Emily Nussbaum (now on New York Times) mused on her Twitter once that maybe Emily Thorne is just insane and the people she exacted revenge on never really did anything to her. All those videos she watches on her laptop that justify her need for vengeance turn out to not exist and in the finale it’s revealed that she had been staring at a blank screen all along, a la John Nash in Beautiful Mind.Β  Don’t worry, the show is not sophisticated enough to come up with that twist, which is exactly the reason why it’s so appealing.

On the comedy front, NBC’s Up All Night and ABC’s Suburgatory seem to both be enjoying a quite successful run. Up All Night may not be ratings gold, but it scores high on the coveted 18-49 demo and without a doubt NBC’s most successful Wednesday comedy series this side of the millennium. Sure it’s still trying to figure out what it wants to be but it’s always funny and it even makes Nick Cannon bearable (I didn’t think it was possible). Suburgatory also takes a while to find its footing but as the season progresses, the show starts to grow on me, even though I do wish for more screen time for Alan Tudyk. He’s just so criminally underused!

Wednesday Night Grades:

American Horror Story: B (I’m cautious, just in case “the Ryan Murphy curse” rears its ugly head)

Revenge: C+ (C for the quality and a + for its “peach melba-esque” appeal)

Up All Night: B (It’s really funny, but it’s still not that solid)

Suburgatory: B- (The minus is for underusing The Great and Mightily Awesome Alan Tudyk)

THURSDAYS

Thursday night is another crowded night for me, mostly because NBC has a pretty awesome comedy block (well, except for the fact that the insipid Whitney is in the coveted spot after The Office, that should be reserved for one of the better shows – Parks and Recreation or Community while 30 Rock is on a long hiatus) so I’m very hesitant about adding new shows in the schedule, knowing that I won’t be able to get through them all and they’ll spill over to the weekend. But Person of Interest on CBS and Prime Suspect on NBC are two shows I’m glad I added to the already crowded schedule, because they are both really good procedural in different ways, and the kind of shows I can watch for many, many seasons (if they’re lucky to get more than one or two seasons). Ratings weren’t impressive for both shows, but I hope the networks are patience with them and give them time to build at least a cult following. They are really that good. Person of Interest is more high-concept and Prime Suspect is more down-to-earth but both consistently churn out solid episodes, with good writing and brilliant acting. Sure, Maria Bello’s abrasiveness is a lot more appealing than Jim Caviezel’s brooding stare (for some reason) but they’re both great shows to commit to, and I hope more people will because I’m just tired of being heartbroken every season when they cancel my new favorite shows.

Over on The CW, The Secret Circle‘s not-so-merry band of witches have done quite well on the ratings, building on its lead-in Vampire Diaries nicely but for some reason, even though it’s from the same team that made Vampire Diaries a truly awesome show that is so not just another Twilight clone, the show hasn’t really won me over quite yet the way Vampire Diaries did around the same time in season one. These witches just aren’t quite as interesting as the vampires, most probably because no one is truly psychotic yet, and we’re still hazy as to who’s the big bad in this show really is. I also would appreciate their ballsy move to kill off a regular character more if they hadn’t done the exact same thing with Vampire Diaries back in the day. However, I still hold out hope that Kevin Williamson and team will finally get this show out of its funk and make it just as awesome as its predecessor, so I won’t give up until this season ends.

Thursday Night Grades:

Person of Interest: B+ (The procedural part of the show tends to overpower to longer arcs and it gets predictable at times)

Prime Suspect: B (Now that they’ve toned down on the sexism, they could at least make Maria Bello’s character just a smidge more likeable)

The Secret Circle: C- (So far, I still find the season pretty much meh, but I’m still hoping for a turnaround)

FRIDAYS:

I can’t technically grade this show just yet because technically it hasn’t premiered just yet and I have only seen the pilot and it wouldn’t be fair to judge only from one episode. Some shows have strong pilots and lousy season, while some others have weak pilots but awesome season. But still, I actually really enjoyed NBC’s Grimm, even though I had really low expectations so I think it’d be safe to say that I would still be enjoying the show as it goes into its subsequent episodes. After all, it got a later premiere date than the others, so it should have more time to make the necessary improvements. I’m looking forward to episode two, and I hope I won’t be disappointed.

Friday Night Grade:

Grimm: C (It was not the strongest pilot, but it actually has potential)

There you have it, the Fall 2011 TV Report Card for all the freshman shows that I watch. Don’t worry, I will also do the same with the returning Fall favorites as well, but it will have to wait until late November/early December to include the returning favorites that get a later premiere dates (Chuck, Bones, etc). Check back in next week, though, because I will post my Ten Hottest Men of Fall list. You know you want to! πŸ˜‰

Till then,

Binky Bee

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Pilot Watch, Week Five: The Fairy Princess and The Big Bad Wolf

"I'm on TV" By Patrick J. Adams

Hello and welcome back to pilot watch, where I watch the new shows that have just premiered this Fall season and report back to you. I know I promised you all that I would review Once Upon A Time this coming weekend but since the pilot for the show has been released on the web by ABC, I can actually post this earlier than expected. So yeay for that. I love this whole early release on the web/iTunes strategy. Makes my job a whole lot easier. πŸ™‚

Okay, this week instead of just reviewing Once Upon A Time as promised, I figured I’d throw in a bonus and review another new show that’s about to premiere, Grimm on NBC since the pilot has also hit the web a week earlier than the scheduled premiere date. With Once Upon A Time and Grimm, ABC and NBC both try to take on the fairy tale/supernatural genre. I don’t know what it is about these two networks lately. They both tried to cash in on Mad Men 60s revival with Pan Am and The Playboy Club (and failed – The Playboy Club was canceled after three episodes and Pan Am’s ratings continue to decline after the premiere episode that I don’t think the show is long for this world. A shame though because unlike Playboy Club, I actually like it), and now they both are trying to take on the same fairy tale genre. Will both shows succeed, or will one or both die a quick death? Only time will tell. For now I can only tell you what I think of both shows. Which do I think deserve to succeed and which do I think needs to die quickly? Read on and find out!

1/ Once Upon A Time, airs on ABC, Sundays, 8/7c.

When I was contemplating on which show of this fairytale genre to put in the Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall, I picked ABC’s Once Upon A Time over Grimm simply because I did not hear good things about Grimm from the Upfronts in May. Journalists and TV reviewers that got the chance to watch both pilots seem to choose this show over Grimm even though they didn’t exactly give either great reviews. Let’s just say, Once Upon A Time was supposedly the lesser of two evils, and that’s why I chose this one to put in the list. And boy was I wrong about that.

Don’t get me wrong, Grimm isn’t exactly groundbreaking television either nor is it particularly good (more on that later) but Once Upon A Time made me groan and roll my eyes so much that my sister thought I was having a seizure. In all fairness maybe I am the wrong person to review this particular show because I was never big on fairy tales to begin with. My parents didn’t teach me to believe in fairy tales growing up, and so even though I knew all about Cinderella, Snow White and the citizens of the Enchanted Forest or whatever, I wasn’t particularly sold on the idea. And it could just be that I don’t like this show because I think fairy tales are stupid, but I’ve watched enough television to be able to make this assessment: it’s just not good. You’ve got Snow White with atrocious hair, Prince Charming who looks like Chris Martin from Coldplay, Jennifer Morrison trying to act like a tough chick but doesn’t quite cut it, a creepy precocious 10-year-old that used to be Bobby Draper, and a flimsy premise that I’m sure sounded awesome during the pitch but totally lame in execution. Fairytale characters being cursed to live in our world, our reality where “there is no happy endings” – sounds good in a pitch right? Totally pathetic in execution. Snow White ends up as a third grade teacher. Ookay. Prince Charming’s in a coma. Dunno where the seven dwarfs are but Rumpelstiltskin gets to run an inn and the Evil Queen gets to be a mayor of a sleepy, forgotten small town of Storybrook, Maine. Now if you were an Evil Queen and you cursed everyone you’ve ever known to live in a world where only you can get a happy ending, why would you settle being a mayor in a sleepy small town in Maine? Couldn’t she dream bigger, if not White House,Β  at least the mayor of NYC?

Like I said, maybe I’m unfairly judging this show because I think fairy tales in general are laughable, sexist and some of them are kind of racist, but Once Upon A Time is not worth your DVR space, especially when there’s great shows on cable (Homeland! The Walking Dead! Dexter! Boardwalk Empire!) on Sunday night. How bout waiting till 10 and tune in to Pan Am instead, it’s such a fun show and I kind of want it to last. πŸ˜‰

Verdict: Not Worth Your Time.

2/ Grimm, airs on NBC, Fridays, at 9/8c.

Like I’ve mentioned above, when the pilot for this show was first screened during the May Upfronts, I did not hear good things about it. In fact, journalists seemed to be so turned off by it that I decided to choose Once Upon A Time to be the fairytale show worth mentioning in my Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall list. And yes, now I admit it. I was wrong. So so wrong. Mostly because of how much I disliked Once Upon A Time, but also because the pilot for Grimm is actually, all things considered, not that bad.

No, it’s not great, and no it’s not even that good. There were a few moments that – just like Once Upon A Time – made me roll my eyes and mutter, “Oh come on. Really?” at the TV. But when it comes to actual storytelling, Grimm does not frustrate me as much as Once Upon A Time. Maybe because we all know that the Grimm Brothers’ “fairy tales” were all pretty dark, so the concept of this show was easy to accept (almost all Grimm Brothers’ stories have a “serial killer-y” quality to it and some are downright disturbing), and maybe because they try to balance the supernatural nature of the show with some good ol’ police procedural, but despite the plot holes and the blatant disregard to “real police work”, it was pretty enjoyable. It reminds me of Warehouse 13 a little bit, with less humor. It’s Supernatural meets Law and Order: SVU – again, with less humor. And considering how low my expectation was, I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Again, Grimm is not groundbreaking television and it’s not the right companion for fun, sexy, hilarious and nerd-tastic Chuck but I think if the writers are careful, it has the potential to be a pretty enjoyable Friday night show. Sure, out of the two shows I’ve reviewed in this post, I have a feeling this one will die quicker, mostly because I don’t think the network even has that much faith in it (scheduling it for Friday night aka Programming Siberia pretty much shows how little faith NBC has for this show) but if you can only watch one fairytale shows, I actually think this one is the lesser of two evils. And it’s not just because David Giuntoli, the lead character, kind of has that Gale Harold circa Queer As Folk quality about him.

Verdict: Not For Everyone, But If This Sort of Thing Interests You, Give It A Watch.

And there you have it, my reviews of the pilots I’ve seen in the past week, and my last “Pilot Watch” post. My work here in done, friends, now it’s your turn to decide which ones you want to commit to.Β  In the coming weeks I will be posting my Fall 2011 TV Report Card, where I’ll be giving you my thoughts on how Fall TV is doing so far. I’ll also be posting my Ten Hottest Men of Fall list, so keep a lookout for that. You know you want to. πŸ˜‰

Until then, I shall bid you adieu! Till next time!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

Pilot Watch, Week Four: The Frenetic and The Neurotic

"I'm on TV" By Patrick J. Adams

Hello and welcome back to pilot watch, where I watch the new shows that have just premiered this Fall season and report back to you. Sorry for the lateness of this post, I had a wedding to attend last weekend so I got busy with that and I figured since there was only one pilot premier last week, and only one this week, I would combine the two and do a mid-week post. I know you won’t mind, you’re all really lovely people, aren’t you? πŸ™‚

Okay, the two pilots I’m reviewing this time around is FX’s American Horror Story and HBO’s Enlightened, two very different pilots from two very different genres with one similarity; they both have emotionally troubled/disturbed characters at the center. Both are also the kind of pilots you either love or hate – and there’ll be no convincing anyone otherwise. So what did I think of the two pilots? Love or loathe? Read on and you’ll find out!

1/ American Horror Story, airs on FX, Wednesdays, 10/9c.

When Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, aka the men behind the massively successful Glee revealed that they would be taking on the more “adult” genre of horror with American Horror Story, I have to admit I was pretty skeptical. It’s not that I don’t think they would create a horrible show but it’s that I know they would create a fun, campy horror series that would either be convoluted and preachy by the second season (Glee) or downright weird and even morphing into a whole other genre by the third season (Nip/Tuck). Let’s face it, Ryan Murphy is great at starting something no one has done and succeeded before, but consistency is not his strongest suit. And that is the biggest problem I have with American Horror Story so far, the fear that it will get me hooked – just like Glee and Nip/Tuck in the past – and then disappoint me in the end.

However, I did enjoy the pilot very much. It was a straight up homage to all the great horror movies of the past, like Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining, and the fact that we get Mrs Coach Connie Britton back on TV so soon after Friday Night Lights wrapped its fifth and final season is just the cherry on top of a really disturbing cake. The frenetic pace of the pilot was a little dizzying but I think it worked with the genre so I didn’t mind it so much. And yes, the whole sex with a ghost in a gimp suit is a little hard to stomach – not to mention the knowledge that sweet Mrs Coach is now carrying Rosemary’s Baby ruins the whole Tami-worship for me a little bit, but if you’ve never seen Friday Night Lights it shouldn’t bother you one bit. And in the end, the multiple sightings of Dylan McDermott’s man-ass is enough to keep me watching, really. πŸ˜‰

As for the horror itself, I didn’t find the show at all scary. But then again, I’m Asian. Our ghosts can climb out of TV sets, unhinge their jaws and swallows American ghosts for breakfast. Have you seen the original Japanese version of The Ring and The Grudge? Yeah. They’re not for the faint-hearted. American Horror Story is more Poltergeist than Ju-On, so it shouldn’t be too traumatizing.

Verdict: Watch, But Prepare To Bail At The First Sign of Trouble.

2/ Enlightened, airs on HBO, Mondays at 9.30/8.30c.

If American Horror Story goes out of its way to scare the bejezus out of you, HBO’s new comedy Enlightened opts instead to help you find your inner peace and work through your rage. Enlightened tells the story of a woman, who after experiencing a nervous breakdown at work, spends time at a treatment center in Hawaii and finds her inner piece. She returns to LA to spread her positive energy only to find that it’s easier to find inner peace in a tropical paradise where she gets to swim with sea turtles than in the harsh reality of a big city. The premise isn’t funny and really, if you’re looking for a funny ha-ha moment you’re not going to get it (at least not in the pilot), but I think there is something promising about this show, you just have to be patient.

The pilot started with Laura Dern crying in a bathroom stall, and it just went downhill from there for her character. She unraveled in a very public way, and, like her co-workers, we felt sorry for her and even a little embarrassed. Like I said, it’s not funny ha-ha. That kind of meltdown is not something to laugh about, and I’m wondering to myself why this show is packaged as a comedy when, even though it’s earnest and sweet, it’s really more of a drama. The whole pilot was to establish Dern’s character and her journey, the journey we are taking along with her towards self-acceptance and emotional health. It’s not hilarious, but just like any journey in life, it has potential.

Enlightened benefits from having so many incredible actors in its cast, from Dern to Luke Wilson, who plays her cokehead ex-husband, to Dern’s real life mother Diane Ladd (who also plays her mother in the show), so even though it’s not a light-hearted affair a la its predecessor Bored To Death, the acting chops of those three alone is enough to keep me interested. But be warned: this is more like In Treatment Lights. It’s not going to put a smile on your face straight away but after a few sessions, it just might.

Verdict: Not For Everyone, But If This Sort of Thing Interests You, Give It A Watch.

And there you have it, my reviews of the pilots I’ve seen in the past week and a half. There’s no new pilot premiering next week except for Once Upon A Time on Sunday night, so the next Pilot Watch post will be posted in two week’s time.

Until then!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

Pilot Watch, Week Three: The Mediocre and The Mildly Entertaining

"I'm on TV" By Patrick J. Adams

Well hello there! Welcome to another week of Pilot Watch! As you know, since September marks the start of Fall 2011 Television season, I’ve been checking out the pilots for various new shows over the last couple of weeks to see if we can find our new favorite show, or be disappointed with networks in general. So far, this year has definitely been better than last year but maybe it’s only because 2010 was the most disappointing year of television ever. The new shows of Fall 2011 may not be groundbreaking television, but they’re definitely an improvement.

This week, I am reviewing two new shows that just had their premiere a few days ago: ABC’s Pan Am and Suburgatory. Yes, Fox premiered the Spielberg-produced dino series Terra Nova last Monday too but I didn’t watch it. The reason is simple, dinosaurs are just not my thing. I’m more of a future person than past when it comes to my sci-fi television. Give me aliens and robots any day! Granted, Terra Nova is more like Jurassic Park than actual pre-historic dinosaurs but still. The thing that bugged me about Jurasic Park is that this all could’ve been avoided if we all just left the past in the past. It just makes no sense to me, bringing back dinosaurs. πŸ™‚

So anyway, now that I’ve cleared that up let’s get straight to the reviews and see whether these two ABC shows delight or disappoint. Enjoy!

1/ Pan Am, airs on ABC, Sundays, 10/9c.

Pan Am and The Playboy Club are supposed to be the Big 5 networks’ answers to Mad Men, and if you watch these shows expecting another Mad Men, well, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The Playboy Club tried really hard to be a Mad Men clone and failed miserably (though casting creeper Eddie Cibrian in a Don Draper-type role may indicate the producers don’t really want this to succeed after all), and even though new NBC Chief Bob Greenblatt is patient enough to give this flailing show a chance, expect it to die a slow death by Christmas time. While Pan Am, that just premiered last Sunday, seemed to come with a disclaimer with its pilot episode that says, “Warning: If you come here expecting Mad Men, you need to change the channel right now. But if you’re more expecting for The Love Boat in the skies, you’ve come to the right show. Welcome aboard Pan Am!”

That is not to say that I didn’t like the show, however. I actually am delighted with this one. Pan Am is the anti-Playboy Club. It doesn’t try too hard to be Mad Men, in fact, it doesn’t even try, period. Instead, it sets a more realistic goal to be, as I’ve mentioned above, The Love Boat albeit in the skies. Five minutes into the pilot, I was already thinking Love Boat (and NY Mag’s Vulture agrees with me), which actually makes me enjoy this show properly. Pan Am doesn’t try to be realistic, political, or even anything else but good soapy fun. And there’s nothing wrong with a little soap every now and then, isn’t there? πŸ˜‰

Sure, some plots are laughable (like the whole CIA subplot, puh-leaze!) but if you watch this show with the same expectation as you watch Desperate Housewives (ya know, the early seasons), then these silly little ridiculous plots won’t bother you so much. Just see it as what it is: mindless escapism and sit back, relax and enjoy the flight!

Verdict: Watch It. It’s a Total Guilty Pleasure Show.

2/ Suburgatory, airs on ABC, Wednesdays, 8.30/7.30c.

Ever since Modern Family became a massive success, it’s clear that family comedy is making a comeback, and ABC tries to make it happen again this year by adding this freshman show about living in the plastic world of suburbia in its Wednesday family-friendly comedy line up. And as far as ratings go, their strategy worked. Suburgatory, while not a sensation yet, got good enough ratings to keep them in the safe zone for a while. But is it good enough to merit a “Must Watch” verdict in this review? Well, not exactly… But I have a feeling this show will improve once it has found its footings.

Suburgatory is actually pretty funny and ironic but the problem of the show is that it tries a little too hard to be ironic. The suburban satire was a little too extreme, and you gotta wonder what kind of suburban mom actually is in favor of her daughter prancing around the neighborhood in skanky mall outfits, but the jokes are quite funny, the characters are likable, especially (and I’m not just saying this because I’m a Firefly geek) Alan Tudyk, who made his glorious return to television in orange fake tan and speedos.

Sure, you kinda want to cringe when the sullen teenage daughter despises things like clean air and quiet neighborhood, but if you take a moment and realize that most teenagers despise everything their parents try to impose on them, even the good things, then you can enjoy this show for what it is, a fun tongue-in-cheek look of single parenthood and the suburban life. And really, it’s not half bad.

Verdict: Watch, But Give It Time To Find Its Bearings.

And there you go, my reviews of the two shows that premiered this past week. I’ll see you back here next week where we’ll be checking out Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story and see if the man behind Glee and Nip/Tuck can put a fun spin behind this age-old genre.

Till then!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

Pilot Watch, Week Two: The Oh So Good and The Awesomely Bad

"I'm on TV" By Patrick J. Adams

It’s week two of new Fall pilot premieres and you know I’m still here to watch and report to you lovely people of the blogosphere what I think of the new pilots the networks have to offer for this season. It’s not easy, getting through all these pilots, which is why I should warn you that I didn’t watch all that premiered this week, only the ones featured in my Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall and a few others that I was curious enough to check out.

This week, more shows premiered, but only two really deserved a mention (since I already reviewed New Girl last week, even though it technically didn’t premiere until last Tuesday night): Person of Interest and 2 Broke Girls. The rest are kind of blah, with the notable exception of Revenge, a show that is camptastic for its “melodrama for melodrama’s sake” approach that actually works. So which shows are worth your time and DVR space and which shows you (and the networks) need to forget ever existed? Read on and (let me) be the judge! πŸ˜‰

1/ Two Broke Girls, CBS, Mondays 8.30/7.30c

This Fall not only marks the beginning of the female domination in comedy, it’s also the season that brings not one, but two indie princesses to mainstream television: Zooey Deschanel with Fox’s New Girl and Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Charlie Bartlett) with CBS’ 2 Broke Girls. And if ratings for both shows are any indication, it seems that mainstream television audience is just as much in love with these indie darlings as the film festival hipsters.

2 Broke Girls tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a street-smart Brooklyn diner waitress and a down-and-out former Upper East Side princess, as they work together raising money to launch a cupcake business. Created and executive produced by Sex and The City’s Michael Patrick King and comedienne Whitney Cummings, who incidentally also had her own sitcom launched on NBC on the same week, this show may not be groundbreaking comedy but it’s still fun and sweet at the same time. Sure, some of the jokes are a little lame. But both leads, Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, are great actresses and they can convince us to smile even when the jokes felt flat. This show is also smart enough not to portray broke socialite Caroline Channing as an airhead vapid narcissist a la Paris Hilton (which would be annoying) but instead gave her depths and intelligence (after all she did go to Wharton Business School). All in all, this show is a great addition to CBS’ Monday night lineup and I’d rather commit my time to this one than Kutcher-infused Two and A Half Men.

Verdict: Give It A Watch, You’d Be Pleasantly Surprised.

2/ The Playboy Club, NBC, Mondays 10/9c

Thanks to the success of Mad Men (that show has just won its fourth consecutive Emmy, which is no easy feat), this season the Big 5 networks are trying to ride on the show’s coat tail by launching their own version of the “retro” genre: ABC is premiering Pan Am this Sunday night, about (what else?) Pan Am stewardesses in the 60s, possibly inspired by that episode of Mad Men (in season 3 if I’m not mistaken) when Don Draper hooked up with a Pan Am stewardess, and NBC premiered The Playboy Club, about (what else?) Playboy Bunnies in the 60s, also quite possibly inspired by the fact that Mad Men’s Pryce dated an African American bunny from the club, if I remember my Mad Men correctly. And guess what? I don’t know about Pan Am (yet, check back here next week for my review) but NBC’s The Playboy Club doesn’t even come close to the greatness of Mad Men. It doesn’t even deserve to be called “a poor man’s Mad Men”. If Matthew Weiner saw the pilot, he’d be laughing so hard, he’d wet his pants, I’m telling you.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh but it can’t be that bad, you’re just bias because you can’t stand Eddie Cibrian.” And it’s true, I can’t stand him, but still. I watched the show to support Dr Simon Tam Sean Maher and I went into it hoping that I’d like it despite my hatred of all things Cibrian (because my love and loyalty to Firefly and its alumni is that great), and even with my unwavering allegiance to the crew of Serenity, I can’t say anything good about this show. The problem isn’t just Cibrian, though he’s a part of it, the problem is in its heavy-handed exposition and the fact that it tries REALLY hard to be Mad Men, to the point of unoriginality (Cibrian’s Nick Dalton is Don Draper if he were a Playboy Club-frequenting lawyer, the Bunny Mother Carol Lynn is Joan Holloway if she were a “Bunny Mother”, the new Bunny that accidentally killed a mob boss is Peggy Olsen if she were an ambitious Playboy Bunny). Fellow WordPresser and Twitter friend Madmonq puts it this way: “[The] Playboy Club is like a retarded inbred midget trying to play Don Draper“. Harsh, but true. I love you, Sean Maher, but you really need to find a new job, STAT!

Verdict: Don’t Waste Your Time, Watch Castle Instead.

3/ Revenge, ABC, Wednesdays, 10/9c.

I feel like I shouldn’t be reviewing this show and instead just direct you to the New York Magazine’s Vulture review of the pilot, because I think it succinctly describes the exact appeal of ABC’s new guilty pleasure show (“Like the television equivalent of Peach Melba, it may be out of style, but it tastes pretty good.”). No, seriously, do read the review after you finish checking out this post because I agree 100% with their assessment and I have nothing new to add, really. πŸ™‚ Revenge, as the review in Vulture stated, is straight up melodrama and in an era where bad TV shows try too hard to be ironic, tongue-in-cheek, or subversive to mask the fact that they’re really truly awful, it is like a breath of fresh air. It’s camptastic, yes, but it fully owns up to it and doesn’t try to be anything else. That’s what’s so great about it.

That’s not to say that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, because it does. It takes itself so seriously that I don’t think anyone even cracked a real joke in the pilot. Scandals abound and every character has a secret a la Desperate Housewives, only it doesn’t even try to pretend it’s a satire. It’s not a satire, it’s pure and simple melodrama and for some reason, I am sucked in. Like Dynasty and Dallas in the past, I simply MUST watch this show. And if you’re not too much of a hipster and can appreciate the good ol’ days of campy, melodramatic primetime soaps, I promise you’ll love this one too.

Verdict: Just Watch. You’ll Love It. But Totally Deny That You Do.

4/ Person of Interest, CBS, Thursdays, 9/8c

Out of all the pilots that have premiered in the last two weeks, I have to say that this one is my new favorite drama. And considering that it’s on CBS, well that’s definitely saying something. It’s not just because it had Michael Emerson, and executive-produced by JJ Abrams, though it helped, the reason why I’m falling hard for this show is because it is that good. And not just for a CBS show, for a TV show in general. After last year’s disappointing Undercovers, JJ Abrams has finally redeemed himself (again) in my eyes.

Person of Interest has an interesting premise and is probably the most high concept procedural on CBS right now. It tells the story of a presumed dead ex-CIA agent (or something, they were pretty vague on what government agency the protagonist used to work for) played by Jesus Jim Caviezel, who is hired by a genius (and also, presumed dead) billionaire named Finch (Michael Emerson) to help him stop a future crime before it happens. I told you it’s high concept! It is definitely a welcome change from the usual crime procedurals of CBS, while still retaining the user-friendly format of high tech, crime solving badassery that the CSI and NCIS franchises are known for. It’s smart but kickass, it’s entertaining but at the same time paranoid, it’s got a great cast – with Taraji P. Henson playing a cop investigating our elusive protagonist, and it’s relevant in this post-9/11 world, where there’s only a thin line between vigilance and paranoia. If you want a smarter, more interesting procedural than the many CSI franchises, you have to give this one a try.

Verdict: Watch It or You’ll Regret It.

5/ Charlie’s Angels, ABC, Thursdays, 8/7c.

Remakes don’t always work on TV, especially when the remake is of a beloved TV show of decades past. NBC tried to reboot both Bionic Woman and Knight Rider without much success, and The CW also failed miserably when they tried to resurrect Melrose Place for the Facebook generation. Still, the relative success of The CW’s 90210 (now in its third season) and CBS’ Hawaii 5-0 (now in its second), not to mention the fact that Nikita somehow magically got a second season pickup, gave ABC enough confidence to give this Charlie’s Angels reboot the green light, especially since it’s produced by Drew Barrymore’s production company, the same one that produced both movies. And the result? Well, let’s just say it was so bad, I actually felt sorry for the three angels, especially Minka Kelly – and Victor Garber, who was just hired recently as the Voice of Charlie. They must’ve fallen on some hard times to want to be involved in this piece of crap.

The problem with this show is this; it’s plain stupid. Really bad writing and the acting is not exactly Emmy-worthy either. Sure, even the original wasn’t exactly Emmy-worthy but it was a different time, there wasn’t that many channels to choose from back then. There weren’t an abundance of brilliant shows being churned out by the cable networks every season to set a standard for quality. And yes, the movies weren’t exactly genius either, but we forgave the stupidity of both movies because they were campy and funny. This reboot is neither smart nor funny, which means it’s just awesomely bad. Hawaii 5-0 looks like groundbreaking television compared to this one. It’s so bad I gotta wonder what the execs in ABC were smoking when they gave the OK. I mean, that must’ve been some powerful hallucinogenics, right?

Verdict: Do Yourself A Favor and Watch Community and Parks & Recreation Instead.

6/ Hart of Dixie, The CW, starting Monday, Sept 26, 9/8c.

This show technically doesn’t premiere until Monday, but as executive producer Josh Schwartz promised via Twitter last week, the pilot episode has been available on iTunes for early viewing since Thursday, in an effort to drum up interests and get a positive buzz going. And of course, I can’t resist to check this show out early. How can I? Summer Roberts Rachel Bilson has finally returned to TV, and I’ve missed her. Plus, she brought Friday Night Lights’ Scott Porter along for the ride. And I’m always happy to see an FNL alumn back on my television (why do you think I checked out Charlie’s Angels? :-)).

Hart of Dixie tells the story of Dr. Zoe Hart (Bilson) who left Manhattan for Bluebell, Alabama when her career as hotshot NYC surgeon stalled thanks to her poor bedside manner and inability to remember any of her patient’s name. It’s a fish out of Manhattan story, that’s kind of been there, done that, plus it’s really hard taking Bilson seriously as a surgeon, especially since she still slips into Summer Roberts speak every now and then (“Diarrhea and diaper rash? Ew!” was seriously one of her lines), BUT, it’s still a charming little show with a good soundtrack and sprinkled with Southern hospitality and polite back-stabbing here and there that I think I’m going to keep watching. Besides, Rachel Bilson’s wardrobe in this show is so inspired. I’d watch every week just to get some style inspiration.

Verdict: Not For Everyone, But If You Loved The OC, This May Charm You As Well.

And there we go, the six pilots I happened to watch this week. Sorry I’m a little late with this, it’s been a crazy weekend! But I’ll be back next weekend for more pilot premiere reviews. Next week it’s Pan Am and Suburgatory’s turn. Will they delight or disappoint? I guess we’ll see!

Xoxo

Binky Bee