September 25, 2011

TV Report Card: Week of September 18, 2011

The new fall television season has officially kicked off, and it's been a crazy busy week filled with series and season premieres. I'm going to try to include as many shows in this first installment of the TV Report Card, but I doubt all of them will be sticking around. With out further ado, here is this week's TV Report Card:

How I Met Your Mother: "The Best Man" and "The Naked Truth"
Last season I did not hide my disappointment about How I Met Your Mother, but I did go into the new year with hopes that the show would get itself back on track. I was wrong. "The Best Man" had every element that I dislike about this show which made it close to unwatchable. I just cannot care about Pitiful Robin, Nosy Lilly, or Douchey Ted no matter how many times the writers shove them down my throat. Thankfully, "The Naked Truth" picked up the slack with an amusing Marshall story and the return of Nora and Victoria.


2 Broke Girls: "Pilot"
CBS debuted its new "single people in the big city" show, 2 Broke Girls and will be pairing it up with HIMYM. All of the critics kept talking about how this was one of the few good pilots of the 2011-2012 season, but it was not with out its faults. After checking out the pilot, I was immediately smitten with Kat Dennings as she played a rougher version of her big screen persona, and the premise of a female version of The Odd Couple could work. It it can bring more laughs than its Monday night stablemates, then I might be in for the rest of the season.


Castle: "Rise"
Season 3 of Castle ended on a cliffhanger as Kate Beckett was shot after she got closer to finding out who killed her mother, but since the show was renewed for another year we all knew that she wasn't in any real danger. I've been a major fan of this show since day one, but I have to admit that the premiere left me kinda disappointed. The Case of the Week was boring, the tension within the precinct due to Montgomery's replacement and Castle's tagging along was glossed over, and even the spark between Caskett seemed slightly diminished. The only saving grace was the amazing work by Molly Quinn as she played Alexis with the right mix of concern and outrage. I'm still a fan of the show; I just was expecting more from this episode.


Glee: "The Purple Piano Project"
I really wanted to be able to say that Glee was back after watching the Season 3 premiere, but unfortunately I can't. That's not to say that "The Purple Piano Project" was a bad episode because it was better than most of what we got from Season 2. It just didn't pack enough of a punch that I've come to expect from Glee, and it also introduced some story elements that I've been dreading such as Blaine invading New Directions. No matter what the reasoning, seeing him in McKinley makes zero sense. Despite Glee becoming The Darren Criss Show, "Purple Piano" did set the season long arcs (like Rachel and Kurt's journey) in motion, so that was a positive. Also, the fact that this will be a very transitional year for the kids could lead to a return to form which would be great because I just want the old Glee back.


New Girl: "Pilot"
Much like last season, this year has a theme which is "Cute Hipster Girl Deals With Life-Changes". FOX's New Girl has a very similar concept as CBS' 2 Broke Girls and ABC's Apartment 23, but what it has in its favor is Zooey Deschanel. Now, I'm a sucker for Zooey's brand of quirky dream girl, so of course I was going to won over by New Girl. The pilot showcased what she does best, and I even found myself being charmed by her three male roommates. Since the show is on right after Glee, I can definitely see myself sticking around for a few more weeks.


Sons of Anarchy: "Dorylus"
Season 4 of Sons of Anarchy has been touted as being the show's return to normal after a shaky third season, and it's also been set up as being a turning point for Jax, Clay, and the rest of the Sons. Three episodes in, and it finally feels like things are starting to happen as SAMCRO voted on being drug runners for the Galindo cartel, and Gemma and Tara finally talked about Maureen's letters that she sent back from Ireland. While I probably could've done without the gangstas stealing the guns plot, "Dorylus" felt like progress was finally being made.


Up All Night: "Cool Neighbors"
I shouldn't be the core audience for Up All Night since I'm not in my late-30s/early-40s or a parent, but I find this show charming. All of the family scenes work fairly well thanks to Will Arnett, but I'm not a fan of the workplace setting. This week's episode about Reagan and Chris realizing that they're no longer cool and are threatened by their new neighbors was a bit too broad for my liking, but it had enough laughs to keep me entertained. Regardless, it was still better than everything that involved Ava.


Modern Family: "Dude Ranch" and "When Good Kids Go Bad"
Apparently, every moderately successful sitcom had to have hour-long premieres this week as Modern Family also kicked things off with back-to-back episodes. For the most part, I could not stand "Dude Ranch" mostly because I hate Gloria and most of the episode revolved around her yelling because she couldn't make her ears pop. At least, we got some good moments from Phil and Luke moments. "When Good Kids Go Bad" was not much better but I blame the sudden appearance of Talking Lily which was so jarring that she took me out of the episode. It's hard to believe that this was the Outstanding Comedy two years in a row.


Community: "Biology 101"
For some reason I keep coming back to Community with hopes that it will finally convince me that it's one of the best shows on TV, and every time I keep wondering when it's going to win me over. I appreciate what Community has to offer, but more often than not I don't find myself laughing all that much. Its smugness and pretentious fans can wear thin which negatively affects my ability to enjoy the show. The Season 3 premiere was just too out there to by entertaining, but I did find Troy, Abed, and Britta's story funny. I'm still going to watch Community this year, but it's going to have to take a backseat to The Vampire Diaries.


The Vampire Diaries: "The Hybrid"
If you had told me a few years ago that I'd be addicted to a teen soap involving vampires, I probably would've laughed in your face, yet here we are. Last season of The Vampire Diaries was one of the better dramas on TV, and so far Season 3 has been just as good. "The Hybrid" really amped up the whole mythology behind Klaus, and we're getting glimpses of his motivations. We also got some more Elena/Damon heat, ghosty goodness, and the introduction of Caroline's father. It was jam-packed episode that kept things rolling along nicely.


The Big Bang Theory: "The Skank Reflex Analysis" and "The Infestation Hypothesis"
The last couple of seasons of The Big Bang Theory have been sub-par, and it looks like Season 5 will continue its downward slide. After a somewhat intriguing cliffhanger at the end of last season, Penny and Raj's tryst, they spent most of the season opener undoing everything they set up which was a letdown. I thought that they really could've given this plot some time to breathe, but the showrunners were too anxious to get everything back to normal. I just hope the writers establish some kind of relationship between the two after this debacle. The second episode was hit or miss. The Sheldon/Penny/Amy chair story was by far the funniest of the night, but the Leonard/Priya cyber sex B-plot bordered on cringe-worthy.


Parks and Recreation: "I'm Leslie Knope"
I have to give Parks and Recreation credit, it really is one of the better comedies on TV. Last season's "will they/won't they" storyline that involved Leslie and Ben could have been unbearable, but it was able to wrap up in a convincing manner without drawing things out too much. Ben's choice to break things off with Leslie so she could pursue her dreams was sweet without being sappy, and it also keeps the door open. The Tom and Tammy One stories were a little too wacky for my liking, but the Leslie/Ben stuff and Ann's inbox full of penises made up for it.


Whitney: "Pilot"
NBC's newest sitcom, Whitney, has been one of the most negatively reviewed new show of the year, but for some reason I was intrigued by it. After watching the pilot, it was as bad as everyone said, but I'm still willing to give it one more shot. First off, I kinda like the relationship between Whitney and Alex, which was the only humorous aspect of the entire episode. All of the supporting characters were excruciating to watch, but the central couple could be charming enough. If episode 2 doesn't wow me, I'll probably be out for good, but I'm willing to reserve judgment until then.


Nikita: "Game Change"
From the looks of it Season 2 of Nikita will look similar to Season 1, but with a few tweaks. Instead of Nikita and Alex taking down Division from the inside, Nikita and Michael will be using the information on the Black Box to expose Oversight in order to gain their freedom. The first Mission of the Week, clearing the name of a solider who was framed by Division to take the fall for a heist in Basra, was entertaining enough, but the new rivalry between Alex and Nikita was what sold me. Seeing these former allies face-off could be gripping. I'm even more on board with Mikita because their relationship doesn't seem hokey at this point, but you never know what can happen. Also the team of Nikita, Michael, and Birkoff has potential. Overall, a strong start to the season.


Supernatural: "Meet the New Boss"
Aside from Ringer, The CW had a pretty decent slate of premieres (although I only watch a handful of their shows) and Supernatural's Season 7 kick-off was one of the best. "Meet the New Boss" immediately picked up where Season 6 ended, with Castiel as the new God, but his plan was shortsighted as his move to take the thrown put Earth at risk because he swallowed the Leviathans that were being held in Purgatory. While I would've liked to see more of Castiel as God, I'm interested to see how they incorporate the Leviathan as the new Big Bad. This could be one of Supernatural's better seasons assuming they cut down on all of the Dean and Sam bickering.


Again, I don't know how many of these shows will be on future TV Report Cards, but I wanted to share as much as possible. More than likely I'll be sticking with the favorites and maybe a few newbies, but we'll have to see what next week has to offer.


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