The 2011 Fall Season: New Shows

Television ReviewsSince I’ve been quite remiss in reviewing things anywhere outside of Twitter and in person lately (like, for the past few seasons), I thought I’d round up some quick thoughts on what I’ve seen of the new 2011 Fall Season of shows so far.

The beginning of the season is always a busy time for me. I try to give most new shows a chance, usually watching (or suffering through) at least three episodes before making a definitive decision on whether it’s worth my time or not. Far too often, the ones I like the best, don’t last much past that third episode.

I haven’t bothered to note days and times, as those inevitably change. But, each title is linked to the IMDB page for the show, so you should be able to see where it shows up on your local schedule through their tools.

So, without further delay, here’s what I think so far (often based on less than three episodes).

2 Broke Girls (CBS)

This one’s growing on me. I’m a bit of a Kat Dennings fan (or so it would seem… I remember her back in her Raising Dad days). The first episode was a little rough, but there were some genuine laughs and a good bit of heart in it. The characters may be a bit much for some–definite stereotypes abound and the “hate the rich” schtick can get a little repetitive–but I think there’s room for some good growth. The second episode showed some of that growth. I hope it gets a full season.

Charlies’ Angels (ABC)

I’ve heard that this was one of the more anticipated shows premiering this season. That’s really too bad. My eyes were rolling in the first fifteen minutes. The dialog is horrid. The plot contrived. And the overall quality of the show would even make a fan of 70s and 80s action shows (like the original Charlie’s Angels) wish for better days. There’s a chance I’ll suffer through one more episode, but unless there’s a serious improvement in quality, acting, writing, pacing, and, well, pretty much everything, it won’t get a third hour of my life.

Free Agents (NBC)

I like Kathryn Hahn. I like Hank Azaria. I want to like this show a lot. The first episode really didn’t do it for me. There were some good bits, but the supporting cast of flat, one-joke characters really didn’t do it for me. Nor did the reliance on the slew of sex jokes. But, there was still something good that shone through and, by the second episode, some things were toned down, others were polished up, and the chemistry between the leads may be just enough to save the show from being too bad to watch.

A Gifted Man (CBS)

I knew going into this one that it was being billed as the new Touched by an Angel (a show I never cared much for). What I didn’t know was just how bland and unoriginal the plot as a whole was going to be. There’s nothing that makes this show stand out from any other story that’s ever been told that involves a person who’s kind of a bastard being forced to redeem himself. Even Eli Stone (from a few seasons ago) did a better job of making the premise not just believable, but fun… and not overly sappy. This show, way overly sappy. Diabetic shock levels of sappy.

New Girl (Fox)

I absolutely adore Zooey Deschenel. But the pilot of this show really didn’t work for me at all. The filming style didn’t match the writing style and that just left a very talented cast falling flat. The premise is classic and rich with comedy potential. I know Deschenel can pull of some great stuff (and the show even manages to let her showcase her vocal talents a bit). I just hope the writers, directors, and the rest of the crew can decide what kind of show they’re making. The second episode seems to be a bit better, so that bodes well.

Pan Am (ABC)

They crammed a whole lot into this pilot. Almost too much. It was a bit tricky to keep track of who was who and what they were up to. But the groundwork they’ve set opens the door to a whole lot of plot possibilities. This is the second big 60s period show that’s debuting this season. Unfortunately, both are being compared a lot of Mad Men, even though they don’t have much in common other than the rough time period. Pan Am is something I think will be worth watching. I also think it stands a big chance of being one of the first canceled.

Person of Interest (CBS)

I wasn’t sure how this show was going to play out. I’m pretty darn happy with how it did. The plot premise is awesome–computer guy creates a program for the government that crunches through tons of data (email, video surveillance, cell phone calls) and spits out predictions of who’s a terrorist. As a side effect, it produces a whole lot of other “hits”, those are the “persons of interest” that the show is about. People who are going to be in trouble, somehow. Jim Caviezel does a great job as the heavy and Michael Emerson is almost too close to his Ben character from Lost, but the potential for interesting plots and solid action should keep the show on my “must watch” list.

The Playboy Club (NBC)

This is the season’s other 60s period drama. I liked it. It captures a lot of flavor and atmosphere. The characters have interesting backgrounds and the setting is swanky. Right off the top, there’s a mob plot, a political plot, and a bit of social commentary. If the show makes it even halfway through the season I’ll be surprised.

Prime Suspect (NBC)

Yet another cop show. I wasn’t at all excited about this one, but tuned in to see if Maria Bello could make it interesting. Once they got past showing us how sexist the precinct was and got on showing us that her character was, indeed, an awesome cop, the show actually got to the point of being above average. I don’t know if I’ll keep watching (there are only so many police procedural shows I can watch, and NCIS is already on my list), but it’s definitely on track to being a good show.

Revenge (ABC)

I keep thinking this is a CW show. I suffered through the pilot and will probably suffer through the second episode when I get around to it on the DVR. Basically, it’s The Count of Monte Cristo wrapped in Dynasty. No real surprises, standard characters, average performances. Not exciting at all. Also nothing shocking about it–Desperate Housewives has done more shocking things in mid-season episodes than this show did in it’s pilot.

The Secret Circle (CW)

This is a CW show and it shows. The teen-flavored cast fits right in with the stable of other shows on the network. It’s the twist to the normal high school hijinks that adds just enough flavor to it to make it worth watching. The mystery of why, in a town where there is a long history of magic using witches and wizards, the older generation is trying to keep the young’uns from realizing their own power is wonderfully metaphorical and very well played. The show has a nice edge to it, going a bit dark in places to add depth to what would otherwise be Charmed-lite. I’m very curious to see how it plays out.

Terra Nova (Fox)

Now this is the show I was most eagerly awaiting on the regular networks. It’s solid scifi–time travel, technology, and dinosaurs–and full of as much plot as action. It echoes back to one of my favorite canceled series, Earth 2, with it’s potential political intrigue. The first half of the two-hour pilot is a little rough and oddly constructed at times, but by the time the credits roll (after the massive dino fight), I was left feeling very happy and excited about the show as a whole. This, of course, means it will probably be canceled right quick. (It’s expensive and didn’t do exceptionally well ratings-wise, up against a slew of other popular things, including football.)

Unforgettable (CBS)

Yet. Another. Cop. Show. This one a gimmick cop show, along the lines of The Mentalist or Castle (more the former than the latter). The hook here is that the lead character can remember everything. This opens the door to an almost overused effect of her walking around herself as she goes back and searches for new clues in places she was before. There’s really nothing special about this show. The gimmick is going to get old fast, the performances aren’t compelling, the character back-stories are commonplace and uninspired. Shows like CSI eat shows like this as a snack.

Up All Night (NBC)

This is another show I desperately wanted to like (being a Christina Applegate fan and all). But, unlike Free Agents which showed some heart and space to grow, Up All Night has yet to convince me there’s a comedy goldmine in their show. In the space of two episodes, all the “new parent” jokes have been done and done again. And not even in new or exciting ways.

Whitney (NBC)

I was worried that the massive promotional campaign for this show had let us see everything that could be funny about it. Thankfully, there was more. And some of it was even good (and not a sex joke). Show creator and lead Whitney Cummings (who’s also one of people behind 2 Broke Girls) isn’t half as annoying as I thought she was going to be. The relationship between the two main characters manages to be non-sterotypical in that they don’t always fight, they don’t always make cynical jabs at one another, and they actually have a chemistry that leaves you feeling that, no matter what, they do care. That feeling hearkens back to Roseanne, possibly one of the best and most honest sitcoms ever made. I hope it keeps up the heart and humor.

So, that’s it so far. There are a few more shows premiering this week and others through October, so there’s bound to be updates.

What’s your favorite new show so far?

Update: Check out the rest of the new shows.


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