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New Shows (2013): September 23-26

My other life has taken over a bit lately, and I have fallen way behind on the new shows. Because so many are debuting these days, I don’t want to wait forever before posting. The next few columns, therefore, will be a bit catch as catch can. The color code: red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great.

First Cousin Once Removed (HBO at 9:00pm)
This is a documentary about Edwin Honig, once a great poet, who is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. It was tough to watch. Far from a perfect man when he was well, watching those who loved him and those who simply tolerated him (especially his children) try to relate to him now is very sad. Worst of all, his only memory is the worst tragedy that ever happened to him. The film itself is over produced, but the parts with Honig are worth a watch.

Genealogy Roadshow (PBS at 9:00pm)
Exactly the same format as Antiques Roadshow, ordinary folk (in other words, too ordinary for Who Do You Think You Are?) are shown their ancestry. It is fun, but in a tepid way. One gets the feeling that a lot of what is discovered does not require a whole lot of time or effort, but watching people have their family legends confirmed (or refuted) was fun while I folded the laundry.

Mom (CBS at 9:30)
I can see this becoming a great show; right now, it is still searching for what it wants to be. The best sitcoms are about a tight group of people situated in a common area. This is spread too thin with too many characters. If the producers concentrate on the relationship between Christy (Anna Faris) and her mom (Allison Janney), this just might become a classic. If not, I’m afraid it will sink into the vast void of all mediocre sitcoms.

The Blacklist (NBC at 10:00pm)
With overtones of Hannibal and Clarice, this show is about a criminal/spy who turns himself into the FBI offering to help them bring down the worst of the worst. James Spader plays Reddington and Elizabeth Boone the FBI profiler; both are wonderful and they have great chemistry. The long term mythology is being so strongly hinted at that I can only believe it is a misdirect; but, in the meantime, the story is exciting, the twists are good, and the plots are well written. I am going to stick with this one for a while.

Hostages (CBS at 10:00pm)
Another Monday night thriller. The pilot was odd; everything kicks off before we know why it kicks off, so I struggled to get invested in it. Having said that, by the end I was interested enough to want to know what happens next. Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott are wonderful together and watching these two adversaries spar with each other just might make this limited run show something to watch.

Esquire 80th Anniversary Special (Esquire at 9:00pm)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC at 8:00pm)
Mark wrote an excellent review of the pilot to which I added a comment saying I was going to stick with it. I have since changed my mind. The more I discuss show this with others, the more convinced I am that I really need some backstory. I am going to watch some of the movies and then pick it up later in the year.

The Goldbergs (ABC at 9:00pm)
This is The Wonder Years set twenty years later. We watch the youngest member of a family as he watches his family; or, in this case, films them. Based on the films that Adam Goldberg actually shot of his family when he was a kid, there were some laugh out loud moments. However, it is all a bit frenetic and too reliant on ‘80s pop culture laughs. If it can find the sweet moments that Wonder Years did, it might prove to be a show worth watching.

Trophy Wife (ABC at 9:30pm)
With such an insipid title, I went into this show fully expecting to hate it. Having seen far too many reality shows, I was convinced this was going to be about the new wife bitching about the ex-wives and the kids. It turned out to be a very sweet comedy about an extended family, all of whom care about each other (at least on some level) and all of whom respect each other (at least on some level). The pilot had some laugh-out moments and two great performances from Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford. Is it the new Modern Family? Probably not, but it is good enough.

Lucky 7 (ABC at 10:00pm)
It’s a common fantasy, you win the lottery and you never have to worry about money again. There is, however, a well documented dark side to winning millions. People expect more from you; you blow through the money in a short period of time; money can buy a new house, but not happiness. This show is about the dark side and, for a pilot, it was depressing as hell. The characters all have their issues and it is obvious that they are only going to intensify. I watched this, grateful when it was over that I could go back to worrying about this month’s rent.

Knife Fight (Esquire at 9:00pm)
Secret Lives Of The Super Rich (CNBC at 9:00pm)
Brew Dogs (Esquire at 10:00pm)
Fangasm (Syfy at 10:00pm)

Back In The Game (ABC at 8:30pm)
Maggie Lawson plays a daughter who moves back in with her gruff dad, played by James Caan. I am a fan of both these actors, but neither of them can save this Bad News Bears re-tread. It’s not quite horrible, but it is far from good.

The Getaway (Esquire at 9:00pm)
Boundless (Esquire at 10:00pm)

The Crazy Ones (CBS at 9:00pm)
First Ringer, now this. I’m beginning to wonder when poor Sarah Michelle Gellar is going to find a project that shows us that she can actually act. She is so far outgunned in this comedy, it was painful to watch. This is not a comment against Gellar; most be would outgunned by the comedy riffing of Robin Williams. What is fascinating to watch in this pilot is the fact that James Wolk is not ungunned, he can hold his own with the comedic legend. The creators need to re-think this show, fire Gellar and make this a buddy comedy. Then, maybe, it would stand a chance. Doc reviewed the pilot and liked it much more than I. Watch an episode and decide for yourself.

The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC at 9:30pm)
Unless you live on Mars, you have seen all the press around this show. MJF, who suffers from Parkinson’s, is doing a show about MJF suffering from Parkinson’s. It’s not as dire as it sounds. The pilot relies a bit too much on the disease, but then things settle down a bit and it becomes a standard family sitcom. That is not necessarily a criticism. If the writing and the acting maintain this high level, this one has potential.

Flying Blind (Showtime at 9:30)
A brilliant scientist, working for the government, meets and begins a passionate affair with a man half her age who is Algerian. Movies like this make me insane. The woman is meant to be so intelligent, yet she can’t figure out that this particular young man may have an ulterior motive for getting close to her? Even after she catches him in lie after lie? Single women in their 40s do not blindly trust men; if anything, they are too cautious. I am all for rooting for an older woman falling in love; I am not when she is shown to be this stupid.

The shows with links are those that we will be reviewing this year.

Thursday, October 3
The Vampire Diaries (The CW at 8:00pm)
Scandal (ABC at 10:00pm)


  1. We feel exactly the same about The Crazy Ones. I hate to impugn my beloved Buffy, but she's just not working. I won't be coming back to that one. I wouldn't expect it to last a season unless they get enough in-show advertising to make it profitable.

    I liked the Michael J. Fox show. It's not something I think I'll tune in for especially, but I thought it was cute. It's nice to see Betsy Brandt smile. Plus, that gag with the ball pit made me laugh out loud. I don't know where it's like elsewhere, but MJF's face is plastered on pretty much every single bus in LA. They are not being stingy about promoting this one. It's really no wonder. Look at the massive successes he's had in the sitcom world in the past.

    Just couldn't get into the Blacklist. Maybe I'll come back if it gets better.

    It's a shame Maggie Lawson's new show isn't any good. They really haven't been advertising it at all! I really like her and I hope she can find something worthy of her next season.

  2. "First Ringer, now this. I’m beginning to wonder when poor Sarah Michelle Gellar is going to find a project that shows us that she can actually act."

    I assume you're not familiar with All My Children (for which she won an Emmy award) or Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

  3. TSK -- I am a huge fan of Buffy but must admit to not watching any daytime soap.

    What I was trying to say, perhaps too harshly, is that neither of SMG's last two shows have shown her in her best light. I would love for her to find one that does.

  4. The Crazy Ones just felt off to me, and I wanted it to be good. SMG can definitely act and she can be funny. Maybe it's a lack of chemistry with Robin Williams and a bit of miscasting?

  5. I don't watch soaps either but she did win an Emmy for that. :op

    I don't think, obviously, that SMG needs to "prove" herself as an actress after seven years on BTVS. What she does (evidently) need is better judgment in choosing projects. Besides Buffy, and to a lesser extent Cruel Intentions and The Grudge, most of her projects have been fairly calamitous. Ringer was the worst of the bunch, but she's been in plenty of other dogs. I really can't explain it; I guess she needs a new agent or something.

    I have to admit I've detested Robin Williams ever since he played Mork in the 1970's, so there's no way I'll watch the new show. His "wacky" shtick is just so, so tired at this point. Oh well, it sounds like it's another bellyflop for Mrs. Prinze anyway. Sigh.

  6. So far I think The Blacklist might be my favourite new series of the season! I love James Spader's character and his interpretation of it! :o)


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