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New Shows (2013): May 11 - 20

In spite of May sweeps, the networks keep airing new shows. Unfortunately, not many of them are truly worth watching. For clarity, I have listed the new shows in the order they originally aired. As a reminder, red means stop, blue (yellow being too difficult to read in my world) means proceed with caution, green means go.

Dangerous Intuition (Lifetime)
Just in time for Mothers’ Day is this crazy movie about a mom, a stepmom and the child caught between the two of them. So many twists and turns it became comical and neither mother is one that I would hold up as a paragon of motherhood. Some really odd moments and a lot of Lifetime cliches. You won’t miss anything by not watching it.

Honey Do (TLC)
Wives whose husbands will not fix things around the house get to call in four pieces of eye candy to do the chores for them. Exactly what you would expect this to be.

XOX Betsey Johnson (Style)
The clothing designer has invited the cameras to watch her as she works. As I would live in sweats and pajamas if I could get away with it, this show did not interest me. If you are interested in the creative process behind designing clothes, give it a chance.

Resale Royalty (Style)
Women’s Closet Exchange is a resale shop based in St. Louis. Run by a woman and her two daughters, the show is about how they spend their days shouting and swearing at each other. Not even a little fun to watch.

Breaking Amish: Brave New World (TLC)
A spin-off of the original, this series follows the original cast members as they begin to adjust to their new lives. Like the vast majority of reality shows, I can’t take this one too seriously as a lot of the scenes are obviously contrived. Additionally, there is a lot of whining about how they are no longer accepted at home. No kidding. If you are going to completely disparage a way of life, you can’t be too surprised when those living it want nothing to do with you.

Ultimate Survival Alaska (National Geographic)
A group of men, described as “tough survivalists,” are sent on a ten leg expedition through the Alaskan wilderness. It would be easier to take the dangers portrayed on this show more seriously if a camera crew weren’t with them. A lot of the stunts felt like just that, all show. One guy eats berries he finds in bear scat. Gross, but unnecessary as the berries are nearly right in front of him. I got through about ten minutes before rolling my eyes one too many times.

Family Tree (HBO)
Christopher Guest’s first outing for HBO is simply lovely. An eight episode show, the first one sets up the premise pretty well. A young man is left a box of odds and ends by his great-aunt and it inspires him to find out more about his family. Filled with wonderfully eccentric characters, it is one of those shows that sneaks up on you. I have found myself thinking about it at odd moments and am looking forward to the rest of the series.

Pete Holmes: Nice Try, the Devil (Comedy Central)
Holmes is funny enough, but nothing special. Some of his jokes made me smile, but none gave me a real belly laugh. I find it odd to watch him as he tends to laugh at his owns jokes. For some reason, I found this disconcerting, which probably infected my enjoyment of the routine.

Going Ape (National Geographic)
A three-part series about how similar we are to apes. It’s fun and, at times, funny. The scientists do a series of experiments to prove how similar we really are that proved to be interesting as well. One that really stood is where a researcher showed a group of men two composite shots of women, very similar, and asked which one of the two was the more attractive. Without exception, the men chose the composite of the women ovulating. Fertility is a turn on to both species. If you are at all interested in either human or animal behavior, give this one a watch.

Crowd Rules (CNBC)
The same producer who created The Job, which I didn’t like, has created something very similar for a different network. Companies make their case to a panel, but it is the people in the audience who decide who wins the cash in the end. As it is only $50,000 (not a lot when you are trying to start a business), it all feels a bit forced. Again, I don’t like watching people beg, so this is not one I will be continuing with.

The Untold Story: Jason Derulo (E!)
About what you would expect from the gossip channel. Although his discussion of his accident was horrifying, I couldn’t help but feel that we were only getting the bits and pieces to make him look good. A true biography should show all sides to the person involved. Finally, not really worth your time.

North America (Discovery)
The latest nature program, narrated by Tom Selleck. Expect stunning scenery and lots of babies (the black bear cub was adorable!), but the florid narration and obvious musical cues get a little old after a while. I watched the first hour and that was enough for me.

Life Below Zero (National Geographic)
A reality show about the people who have chosen to live in the wilds of Alaska, many of them above the Arctic Circle. I found it fascinating as it is a wonderful reminder about the myriad of lives that are lived every day. These are people who fish and hunt to survive, who are trapped if they can’t navigate the river and who have lost multiple family members to the elements. It made me very happy to have food in the cupboard and a car in the driveway.

The Goodwin Games (Fox)
The premise is that the three children of a recently deceased man have to compete in games in order to inherit his $23 million. I found it a tad unsettling as the flashbacks show a father who was emotionally abusive and who liked to pit his kids against each other. I struggle to find humor when children are ill treated, and found myself mildly repulsed by some of what we discover. Other reviewers have liked it, so perhaps I missed the point.

American Masters: Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (PBS)
If you are a fan of the man or of his movies, you will enjoy this documentary. Filmed as a seventy minute interview with the man himself, it is intercut with loads of clips from all his early shows and his movies. I enjoyed it, but recommend it with reservations. The man is a force of a nature. Watching him for this long is a tad exhausting.

Inside Out: The People’s Art Project (HBO)
Working in France is a street artist known only as JR. Awarded the TED Prize in 2011, he used the money he received to create this project in which people around the world follow his example and post photographic portraits in public spaces. This documentary is about several of the communities who participated. The first half was excellent as it told the story of how this project kicked off and told some very personal stories of the participants. Unfortunately, the film drags a bit as too many stories are told and the film takes itself far too seriously. Watch it, but don’t be afraid to turn it off about 45 minutes in. You won’t miss anything.

Motive (ABC)
A procedural with a twist. From the beginning, we know who the victim and the killer are so the dramatic tension is around why the killer did what he or she did. The characters are all ones we have seen before, but I liked the chemistry between the two leads. There is a buddy vibe instead of a romantic one -- a nice change of pace. I enjoyed this show and will probably watch a few more episodes to see where they take it.


  1. I prefer polar bears. But not enough to watch the 2 Alaskan shows.

    Scat. I've learned something new today.

  2. Thanks so much for this. It is really handy to have a guide to the new shows. You have saved me much wasted time!

  3. I'm curious to catch Motive. Every time I saw a promo for it (during Scandal, usually) I couldn't help thinking what a terrible premise it was. Procedurals (when they work) usually work by keeping its audience guessing and by giving us a big piece of the puzzle upfront, they are reducing their scope in a scary way. Okay, so we don't know who did it or how, but why is generally the most interesting part. Unless the crimes are absolutely brilliant like in Monk or Sherlock.

    I miss intelligent procedurals. Raines was so awesome. And Boomtown. And Awake, obviously.

  4. sunbunny -- I am really enjoying Motive, more than I would have thought. It reminds me a bit of Columbo in that the dramatic tension comes from watching the protagonists get to the truth of the matter. What is important is why the event happened, not whodunit. It works.

    Of course, I don't hold out much hope for this show. We have only had a couple of episodes and now it is on hiatus while ABC shows the NBA finals. Nice way to lose momentum, I would think.


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