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New Shows (2013): January

We are well on our way into 2013 and, as a result, the networks are pulling out their midseason replacements. Here is a brief recap of the shows that premiered in January. For clarity, I have listed them in the order they originally aired. As anyone who has ever encountered an intersection knows, red means stop, blue (yellow being too difficult to read in my world) means proceed with caution or speed up to get through it, green means go.

Buckwild (MTV)
All you need to know about this show is the warning played before at least the first episode: “The following show features wild and crazy behavior that could result in serious personal injury or property damage. MTV and the producers insist [emphasis added] that no one attempt to recreate or reenact any activity performed on this show.” A group of kids from Wolf Pen, West Virginia who are so awful, I couldn’t spend even five minutes with them.

Vanderpump Rules (Bravo)
Oh dear God! Lisa Vanderpump, a former Real Housewife, now runs a restaurant in which absolutely everyone who works there is either misogynistic or a complete bitch. Another one that got all of five minutes of my time. Run, run fast, run far.

Deception (NBC)
Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, NBC is attempting to gather a similar audience to ABC’s brilliant shows Revenge and/or Scandal and most of the plot points from the first two episodes are taken directly from these shows. NBC is even marketing the show as the newest “guilty pleasure.” Guilty or not, a show has to be a pleasure to watch and this one is boring. Even Victor Garber, who plays the patriarch of the family, can’t save this horror. I gave this show a second chance, but it is a distant cousin to either of those aforementioned ABC shows. Get your guilty pleasure across the dial.

Africa (Discovery)
If you liked Planet Earth, you will like this one. The shots of the animals these camera operators are able to get are simply astonishing and the sweeping vista shots of Africa made me long to return.

Washington Heights (MTV)
A group of twenty-somethings, born and raised in “The Heights” are going through the trials of young adulthood and they have invited us along to watch. As someone who has been there and done that, it didn’t interest me in the slightest. To be fair, however, it is a major step up from the other dross that seems to pour out of MTV recently.

1600 Penn (NBC)
Jenna Elfman is one of my favorite comediennes ever. Unfortunately, even she can’t save this train wreck of a comedy. Another NBC show that is trying to be something it’s not; in this case, Modern Family White House Style. The only thing I can say about this show is that I watched the first two episodes and never smiled, let alone laughed. Give it a miss.

Banshee (Cinemax)
Produced by Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood), this has all the markings of another good story. Through a series of misadventures, an ex-con becomes the sheriff of a small town in Pennsylvania Dutch country. I really enjoyed the story and all of the many, many characters who inhabit this world are fantastic. There was a bit too much graphic violence and way too much gratuitous sex for my taste, but I might have kept with it if Cinemax was streaming episodes other than the pilot. I didn’t enjoy it enough to subscribe to the premium channel, but I might check out the DVDs when they are released.

Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual (WETV)
Cyndi Lauper has invited the cameras into her life. You know, the one that shows us that even though she travels the world and does things like sing with Ron Wood, she’s just like the rest of us. You have to be a big fan of Ms. Lauper’s to enjoy this. I am not.

Pete Rose: Hits & Mrs (TLC)
The pilot has a scene in which Pete brings his family to Cooperstown and then refuses to walk into the Hall of Fame until “they invite [him].” Whether or not you believe that he deserves his banishment from that particular institution, using a reality show to plead his case annoys me. Not to mention, I am not a fan of entire families opening their lives to television cameras.

The Carrie Diaries (The CW)
As I am the only woman alive who never liked Sex and the City, I expected to hate this. Instead, I was oddly charmed by it. AnnaSophie Robb, who plays the young Carrie Bradshaw, has just the right combination of innocence and gravitas. The story is a tad cliche (the best friend who has her heart broken; the young man who won’t believe he’s gay), but the amazing Freema Agyeman plays the woman who introduces Carrie to the joys of Manhattan. For those of us who lived in Manhattan in the 80s, it is fun to see the old names (Indochine! Century 21!) and to hear the old music. I can’t believe I am admitting this, but I am going to stick with this one for a while and see where it goes.

Continuum (Syfy)
Simply amazing. I loved it and can’t wait for more. Billie reviewed the pilot to which I have nothing to add except to say that the second episode was better than the first. I am hooked.

Ghost Mine (Syfy)
A pair of paranormal investigators join forces with an extremely superstitious mining team to discover if there are ghosts in an Oregon gold mine. I struggled to not laugh at the ghost hunters, but watching the miners talk about what brought them up to the mine and watching them set up the mine was interesting. Not enough to keep watching, but it got me through the hour.

Kroll Show (Comedy Central)
Nick Kroll, who is incapable of uttering a sentence without using the word “like” forty-seven times (one of my pettest of pet peeves) has his own sketch show. I barely made it through the first sketch before turning off the drivel pouring through my computer. It was, like, so bad and, like, it was, like, so not funny.

Legit (FX)
Jim Jefferies stars as himself in this comedy about the single most self-centered human being I have ever spent half an hour with trying to live a better life. In the pilot, Jim and his best friend drive best friend’s brother who is dying of some undisclosed disease to Vegas so said brother can get laid. The humor is base, but there were moments that were sweet. Not one I will continue with, but not the freak show I was expecting from the first five minutes.

King of the Nerds (TBS)
Self-professed nerds competing for the top spot and $100,000. Fairly standard reality/game show with people who will make good television, not necessarily who are true nerds or geeks. I’m not a huge fan of this type of show, so I won’t watch, but a lot of other reviewers have liked it.

Newsreaders (adult swim)
I’m genuinely beginning to worry that I am losing my sense of humor. The vast majority of the comedies I have watched for this article rely on sex and language for the laughs, but none more than this one. Shocking? Only if you’re a complete prude. Funny? Not in the slightest. This pilot only runs for eleven minutes; I made it three.

Stuff You Should Know (Science)
Based on the heavily downloaded podcasts, this is a televised account of those podcasts. The first episode was about alien hand syndrome, which I thought was a joke until I looked it up. There’s also a lot of filler about the hosts’ private lives that frankly isn’t very interesting. It didn’t work for me, but if you like the podcasts, by all means give it a shot.

Ripper Street (BBC America)
This is a straight forward police procedural, almost CSI: Whitechapel. Set in London immediately after Jack the Ripper disappears, the case is about the first snuff film (at least fictionally). It is filled with stereotypical characters who behave exactly as you would expect and an ending that is telegraphed a mile off. There is a lot of conversation about all the new fangled things that are happening, moving pictures, a telegraph machine and an underground railway that will allow people to live outside the City proper. I loved it, not so much for the story which is done better in Murdoch Mysteries, but because it made me homesick for the streets of Whitechapel (I worked only blocks from there) and the comfort of my local. The second episode was better as it explored the relationships between the main characters. I am going to stick with this one.

The Following (Fox)
I went into this one expecting to be completely grossed out and turned off by the violence. It is violent, but not excessively so and the story grabbed me by the throat from the beginning. The pace is fast and there are lots of twists and turns. I anticipated some of them, but certainly not all. The last five minutes were superb television. James Purefoy (sigh) is telling the Kevin Bacon character what the story is going to be about. Extremely meta, but it worked. I had to remember to breathe. This is one I will definitely continue to watch. Josie, and a lot of others, disagree with me.

The Taste (ABC)
Masterchef meets The X-Factor. Four judges pick teams to compete for the “coveted” trophy. I love cooking shows and I’m a huge fan of Nigella’s, so I like this one. If you don’t like cooking shows, give it a wide berth.

Edge of America (Travel Channel)
Some guy called Geoff Edgers travels around the US looking for what Americans do for fun. I went into this thinking it could be a delight as I am always looking for the next whacky place to go, but instead Edgers chooses things that are completely absurd or completely gross and then makes fun of it. I was instantly put off by his attitude and stopped watching halfway through the pilot.

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan (BBC America)
Part travelogue, part wildlife show, Charlie from Lost goes on adventures looking for creepy crawlies. In the pilot, he was in Vietnam scouring the rivers for a giant water bug. One thing you can’t knock is Dominic’s knowledge of animal life, his willingness to have any experience that comes his way and the sheer joy he experiences during the hour. I won’t keep watching simply because I’m not a huge fan of creepy crawlies, but if you like travel programs and/or nature programs, try this one out.

Incredible Crew (Cartoon Network)
Unless you are under the age of twelve and have the resulting sense of humor, don’t go near this one. Six kids do sketch comedy aimed at that particular audience. It does not translate well.

Southie Rules (A&E)
We’ve been able to watch Cyndi and Pete in their “real” lives, now we get to watch a family of ten from South Boston. It astonishes me that the producers can pass something this obviously staged as “reality” television. Another group of people I stopped watching after about five minutes. This family is not funny; they are just sad.

The Americans (FX)
Josie wrote a fantastic review to which I added an overlong comment. I won’t bore you with repeating it here. Just, as soon as you can, watch this pilot -- the best of the January offerings.

Do No Harm (NBC)
I thought everything about this pilot was ludicrous and well beyond my ability to suspend disbelief. sunbunny wrote an excellent review of the pilot which sums up perfectly what was wrong.

Whew! A lot of new shows, most of which were bad, a few of which depend on how your tastes run and a few to take the place of those going off the air. What do you think? What did I get right and what did I get wrong? Let us know below.


  1. OMG, this list is LONG. TV has changed : september and october are no longer the months to start new habits.

    Such a pity for Jenna Elfman; she was so good in Dharma and Greg. Too bad on that side that we were allowed only season 1 on DVD...

  2. You actually gave ALL of those new shows a shot?! Woah! I wouldn't have gone near some of them with a 6 foot pole!!! :p

    I'm right there with you on your "green" choices! Best two are definitely The Americans and The Following. Looking forward to more of them! :o)

  3. Nice recap, Chris. I've been considering watching a new show and, after your recommendation above and reading Billie's review, Continuum it is. Am currently two episodes in and loving it.

    Is someone really called Vanderpump? Surely this is what deed poll is for? (Apologies to anyone called Vanderpump, Frankenfarter or Wobbybotome.)

  4. I really wanted to like 1600 Penn. When I was little, one of my favorite Disney Channel Original Movies was My Date with the President's Daughter.. Adorable. The concept might have worked, if only the show had been written and casted better. Josh Gad drives me nuts.

  5. I liked Sex and the city..I was charmed by the Carrie Diaries despite not thinking I would be..It's just so fun seeing this story unfold even if it's old as the hills..
    Too bad about Jenna Elfman..I really like her.

  6. Paul

    I love the Greeks.

    Remembering fondly that I was the only one at a former department being able to say Papadomanolakis without hesitation or massacring the name.

    I've met a couple of Frankenfarters, nice people but ostracized at school.

  7. Thanks so much for this, Chris. I haven't even *heard* of some of these shows. There's so much more available now, and apparently, a big proportion of it is dreck. :)

  8. Such a fun read Chris. I didn't continue Deception past episode two. I loved The Following and ADORED The Americans. I still want to watch DO NO HARM although everyone says it's atorcious and it had the lowest premiere EVER. I'm just so intrigued for some odd reason. I hope I don't end up liking it :P

    P.S. Should I continue Continuum? I saw 2 episodes last year and then never continued although I enjoyed them a lot. Did you finish the first season?

  9. Cris -- "a shot" is a good word choice. Some of those shows didn't even get five minutes of my life.

    Billie -- "dreck" is an excellent word choice as well!

    Nadim -- we're only up to the third episode of Continuum here in the US. I am still loving it, so I think you should pick it up again.

    I simply can't recommend Do No Harm on any level. It is dire, but read sunbunny's review. She's willing to give it another episode or two, so maybe it was just me.

  10. ChrisB - I said I was willing to watch it, I did not say it was good haha. :)

    Nadim - You should watch Do No Harm, if only to understand what everyone is complaining about. :)

  11. dreck |drek| (also drek)
    noun informal
    rubbish; trash : this so-called art is pure dreck.

    You guys help my already good bilingualism. Cool.

  12. I just watched Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan. Despite my intense fear of spiders (childhood trauma), I really enjoyed it. He totally geeked out over spiders and snakes; it was hard not to smile with him.

  13. Josie,

    A long time ago I was slooooowly waking up. As my head was facing down to the bed's side, I saw a spider coming/climbing up to my face.

    You have NEVER seen someone jump to the ceiling faster than that. WAY more effective than any alarm clock. So when I re watch The Incredible Shrinking Man and/or the 3rd LOTR movie (oh ! and the 2nd H potter one), you can imagine that some passages are rather difficult....

    Amen sister !


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