On Fall TV, in November

IMG_1779So, I tried real hard to have a Fall preview up here in late August.  I had a large list of shows picked out, a short handwritten synopsis of them, and even had printed out a calendar to colo(u)r-code.  Then school started (after a busier-than-I ever-want-again-summer), and I had to, like, work. And here I am with two weeks until Thanksgiving! The good news is that by doing it this way, we can cut through the BS, and look at the list of televisions shows that I am actually watching. There is always a certain amount of attrition each season, so really this is the true list. This list doesn’t include the summer shows I kept up with, such as The Bridge and Broadchurch; these belong on another half-written post that may make it to “publish” some day.

I watch the following shows through a combination of DVR, Hulu +, and “live tv.”  I stay current on most of the dramas, and with the exception of Parks & Recreation, I tend to let a couple episodes of the comedies pile up and watch them on the weekend. The other thing to keep in mind is that I am a sports fan, so on any given night there may be a baseball  game (#thecardinalway) or hockey game (this is our year!) to distract me. I absolutely know that I am missing some good shows, but this is what I can do.  It is also entirely possible that I am watching way too many shows on Fox.

So, as evidenced by my colo(u)r-coded calendar:

Masters of Sex (Showtime): I am thoroughly enjoying this look at Bill Masters and Virgina Johnson, who were among the first people to study female sexuality. It probably helps that I am thoroughly in love with both Michael Sheen and Lizzie Caplan, who play the titular characters. The show does needs to work a little harder to develop Virgina Johnson, however the dramatized version of this real-life St. Louis 1950s research team is always entertaining. One of the few shows I watch as it airs.

Almost Human (Fox): The only show on this list that hasn’t debuted yet, it is from exec produced by J.J. Abrams, stars some attractive people, and has a sci-fi concept. Obviously, I will be there.

Sleepy Hollow (Fox): This show is so ridiculous that it is highly entertaining. Created by the team behind Fringe (RIP), it is the story of Ichabod Crane, re-told to make Ichabod an Englishman, who was killed in the Revolutionary War (obvs, he fought on the side of us Yanks) by the Headless Horseman, who awakes in present day Sleepy Hollow. Here he meets local deputy Abbie Mills (whose mentor was decapitated by said Headless Horseman), and together they become the two Witnesses destined to stave of the apocalypse. Oh, and there is also the witch Katrina, Ichabod’s wife, who is trapped in purgatory.  If this sounds bat-shit crazy, you are correct. If it also sounds like one of the most enjoyable shows on right now, you are also correct. The chemistry between the two leads is excellent, and the way the show makes American history fit into its needs, a la National Treasurer, is so ridiculous it works. The fact that Ichabod is still wearing the clothes he was buried in 200 years ago, is an example of why this show is so crazy it works.

Agents of SHIELD (ABC): Off to a slow start, I am sticking with it because of 1) Joss Whedon and 2) the Avengers connections. So far this story of the Agents of SHIELD working after the battle of New York that happened in the Avengers movie has been a bit pedestrian, with story lines that aren’t really taking advantage of the rich comic book world it can work in. However, because of the two reasons above, I suspect I will stick with it for the at least this season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): The best new comedy out there, it follows a group of homicide detectives in Brooklyn. Led by Andre Braugher’s Captain Holt (who is one of the few gay captains in the NYPD) and Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta, the show brings a great cast that has clicked quickly, and some fabulous one-liners. Created by some of the people behind Parks & Recreation, it sports a diverse cast (that doesn’t feel the need to tell you all the time how diverse it is), makes me like Andy Samberg again, and well, has Frank Pembleton with the best deadpan this side of, well Frank Pembleton. Don’t believe me, check it out here

New Girl & The Mindy Project (Fox): New Girl was fantastic last season. The Mindy Project beat my beloved Ben and Kate out for renewal. I am still watching both. New Girl is in that slump after total excellence, and The Mindy Project is still wildly uneven with at least few jokes that make me laugh every episode. I am rooting for both of them to be successful (even if it is begrudgingly so in The Mindy Project’s case) and enjoying them.

Arrow (CW): Since this is the show that caters to the (straight) female gaze on an equal footing to the male, all I need really need to say is “salmon ladder.” (Check it out, I’ll wait.) But, since the show is so darn good, I will also say it brings above-average storytelling, zigs when I think it might zag, and has fixed some of the main problems from last season.  Now if they could just figure out what to do with Laurel, and her constant damsel in distress ways….

Nashville (ABC): The show I can’t quit, not matter how ridiculous it becomes. The weirdest combination doing just exactly what I think it will do and also not at all what I think, but somehow annoying me at least 70% of the time. There are good story lines in there, and well Mrs. Coach, but I resent characters completing changing when  it fits the storyline. I don’t like nice guys, becoming “Nice Guys,” and I don’t really understand why Teddy still exists.

Parks & Recreation (NBC): Oh Parks & Recreation, you wonderful show, even Jerry (or is it Garry? Nah, let’s call him Larry)  keeps coming back for more. If this is the last year I get to enjoy Leslie & Co., I plan on taking full advantage of it. All #bossbitch of it.   After all it is a show that I like that is on television.

The Returned (Sundance): The most recent addition to my list, you might call it a show about french zombies. And while people coming back from the dead is the factor that pulls you in, the quiet way it handles this is why you should stay. It is very French, but with a beautiful setting in the French Alps, and good balance between plot and character development, I am  completely hooked.  Check it out, and I promise you will be happy you said oui  à Les Revenants.

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It’s Back! What I’m Watching, Told Through Colo(u)r.

The new season of television is upon us here in the United States, and I have a little tradition that I must uphold. I know I am a little bit tardy in this, as many shows have premiered, so for those  worried it might not make an appearance this year, never fear, the colo(ur) coded schedule is here!

I create this calendar to organise the new shows that I want to check out each fall and to keep track of the returning shows.  There are always shows that I check out once or twice that just fade away from my schedule, and I am sure this year won’t be different. This is either because they get cancelled, or they just don’t keep my interest.

A couple interesting (to me at least) things to note about this year.  My schedule feels very sparse this year, with only a few conflicts and even some open time slots.  I am not sure if this is because I have learned to live with less television in my life or for other reasons.   I have a pretty busy work schedule this semester and I know I won’t be able to keep up with a jam-packed slate. Or, it could be that it is simply a weak year for new shows.  I expect that it is a mixture of all three, but I have to say, there were very few shows I felt really excited about.

This schedule doesn’t reflect the many returning shows that I want to be watching (such as Boardwalk Empire or Homeland) that I have fallen behind on. As you may guess (or know) I have a difficult time not starting at the beginning . I am still working my way through Mad Men (and I will finish it so I can watch the next season live), so I am wary of taking on too much. So, I know there are good shows I am missing, but I can’t watch them all this year.

Here a quick rundown of the shows this one girl is watching this fall, after the break.

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What I’m watching this Fall, in technicolor

This week marked the beginning of the 2011-2012 television season for a large chunk of shows. And with it, comes the much talked about ‘What Sara’s Watching’ colour-coded schedule. It is finally(!) complete,  both in paper and electronic form. Each colour represents a different network (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, AMC, FX), and I’ve limited it to basic cable (so no Boardwalk Empire for example).  An asterisk indicates a new show, and a few are officially ‘on notice.’ If there is no improvement after 3 episodes, I’m gone.   Also, since I am currently in a brand-new job and without a DVR, I have tried to make this a manageable list. There are some shows I was intrigued by (say, Revenge), but am realistic enough to know that I won’t really have time for it. (Update: Annoyingly, I can’t seem to get the electric map to show up in color for the world to see, but trust me it is-here is the picture proof!)

Below I’ve highlighted all the new and some returning shows I will be checking out in the next couple of weeks. Maybe someday I’ll get preview screens, and then I promise to cover all new shows!

Sunday

*Once Upon a Time (ABC)    

Fairy tale characters get cast out into the real world and can’t remember they are fairy tale characters. A Ginnifer and a Jennifer (Goodwin and Morrison, respectively) star, and you’ll probably get them confused. But it’s a little bit sci-fi/fantasy and therefore I will watch it.

*Pan Am (ABC)

Christina Ricci and some others star as airline attendants, back when they were called stewardesses, for the airline giant of the 1960s Pan Am. Based (loosely) on true stories this looks like vintage fun.

Monday

*Terra Nova (Fox)

Jurassic Park crossed with sci-fi: A group of people from a dystopian future travel back in time to save humanity-as long as the dinosaurs don’t kill them.

*Hart of Dixie (CW)

This basically looks like the tv version of Sweet Home Alabama. Which kinda sucked. The only reason it’s getting a look is because of Josh Schwartz of Chuck and The O.C. (don’t call it that) fame. It’s on notice because it looks stupid.

Tuesday

Glee

Glee is getting a few episodes to see if it can start telling stories that aren’t offensive to women, people of color, and people with a disability. Also, if a character could show some development and then you know stay developed, Quinn!

If it does none of this, I’ll have my sister tell me what happened. Because, I can’t quite quit it, but it is on notice!

*New Girl (Fox)

Look, I don’t mind Emily Deschanel’s sister. I think she’s cute, I like She & Him, and I think she acts okay. But I am not a fan of: Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Faux Dorks, girls who have ‘only guy friends,’ and twee and quirky for the sake of it. I’m afraid this show is going to be more of the things I’m not a fan of and less of Zooey just hanging out with some friends. So, it’s on notice.

Reed Between the Lines (BET)

Perhaps this is 21st Century version of the Cosby Show, that stars Theo Huxtable and the star of Girlfriends.  One of the few shows this season to have more than one minority staring in it, and I’m hoping it can live up to the Cosby Show comparison.

*Ringer (CW)

Buffy, ahem Sarah Michelle Gellar, makes her long awaited television return in a dual role as twins Siobhan and Bridget. I don’t want to spoil too much, but let’s just say Bridget starts living Siobhan’s life, where she is married to Horatio Hornblower. (Who I called dibbs on back when he played this role).

Wednesday

*Up All Night (NBC)

G.O.B. plays a new father and stay-at-home Dad? Christina Applegate is his tv producer wife? Maya Rudolph is an Oprah/Ellen hybrid of funny? Come on! You know I’m there. And the first episode was pretty funny too.

*Suburgatory (ABC)

Jeremy Sisto has been one of my tv boyfriends for a while, and Suburgatory makes him a single Dad. So, I am def. going to check it out. I do hope they break away from the traditional(ly boring) formula of talking about how cool those from NYC are and how very provincial anyone else is. ‘Cause that will get old.

Thursday

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

I can’t wait! Full Stop.

Person of Interest (CBS)        

It’s from J.J. Abrams so that’s all I need. You might want to know that Ben Linus (sadly without John Locke) and Jesus also star, or that it presumably full of twisty, sci-fi plots to get to watch. I only hope that this time, there really is an end-game.

Secret Circle (CW)

So it’s about a girl who discovers she’s a witch, from a line of witches. She moves to a small town with a bunch of other teenage witches.  Gale Harold from Queer as Folk plays a really creepy magical person. Yes, I’ve pretty much been down this witchy road before (and before). Basically witches are usually in play when I watch crappy tv.

Friday

Chuck

Proof that sometimes fan campaigns work, Chuck is entering its final season, which is its fifth. Go to Subway and remember your power!

A Gifted Man

As you may have figured out by now, I am a sucker for a fantasy/magical/sci-fi story, especially when it stars Patrick Wilson and Elizabeth Bennett (BBC-style).  Like Medium and Ghost Whisperer, a character can see a ghost. Unlike those, this time it is a boy! Also, he may only be able to see his dead ex-wife (that’s Elizabeth Bennett,) I’m not sure.  Anyway, this is on opposite Chuck, so I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it, but definitely worth me checking out.

Fringe

One of the shows I’m most anticipating the return of, Fringe has really developed into a great truly science-fiction show. Last season took a bold step in the finale by proclaiming that Peter Bishop never existed. Producers have promised it’s not a reboot (an over-used word these days), but a new look at old stories. In what is likely its finale season, let’s hope Fringe goes out with a bang. And don’t worry, Joshua Jackson is still part of Fringe.