Each fall, I try to catch at least a handful of the new shows. We write about a lot of TV here, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been years behind the rest of you on a particular show. I need to at least try to keep up, or I never get any jokes.
Determined to not be a duck out of water if the next Game of Thrones or Community debuted this fall, I whipped up a spreadsheet of new show premiere dates and told my DVR to record a dozen or so pilots for me. As it turns out, finding the time to watch a dozen shows in a week is tricky, which is why you’re reading this at the end of October. Several shows, including Revolution, The M0b Doctor, Vegas and The Mindy Project, didn’t make me want to stop doing other things to watch, so they were out before I watched the entire first episode. A handful of others are on the bubble, like Last Resort, which I wouldn’t watch at all if not for Andre Braugher.
Four of the shows I watched ended up on my keeper list, because they had the right mix of interesting characters, good writing, talented cast (mostly), and overall chemistry.
Elementary (CBS) – I wanted to hate this, because I love BBC’s Sherlock. I sat down with all sorts of preconceived notions, ready to hate every second of it. Much to my own surprise, I liked the pilot enough to watch the three episodes I had saved in a row. The leads, Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, have great chemistry. Liu’s Watson could be developed more, we only know a handful of details about the character, and they don’t all add up to the character we see on the screen, but Liu does very well with what she’s given. There is definitely room for the show to grow, which could be especially challenging in the shadow of BBC’s masterpiece, but it’s far better than I thought it even could be, and it’s enough to dull the cravings in the long hiatus between seasons of Moffat’s show.
Go On (NBC) – I watched this for Matthew Perry, who I love. Go On isn’t perfect, it’s trying to balance touching and funny as well as workplace comedy and group-of-oddballs comedy, and it doesn’t always stick the landing. The cast is very large, and I get the sense the show doesn’t always know what to do with all of them. I’ve fallen in love with many shows that have similar struggles in the beginning, because they have the right ingredients for a good show, they just take a minute to figure out how to best blend all the elements together. Go On could be great, let’s just hope they figure out the magic before they lose the audience they’re going to need.
666 Park Avenue (ABC) – As our maven of pop culture, Catherine, told us last week, 666 Park Avenue is in danger of cancellation already. Noooo! This show is fantastic! Like Go On, it’s still working through a few opening kinks, but the pieces for a ridiculously fun, addictive show are already there. The young couple at the center of the show are a little bland, and I’ve been slow to warm to them, but Terry O’Quinn playing the motherfucking devil more than makes up for the vanilla protagonists. Vanessa Williams is equally fantastic, and the two of them play off of each other beautifully. The main serialized plotline is well-balanced with mysteries-of-the-week, some of which have been downright clever. This structure keeps Mr. and Ms. Generic White Leads from dragging everything down, and getting to know them in smaller chunks is making it easier to get invested in their tribulations. Given a solid chance, I think 666 Park Avenue could be worthy of my dear co-worker Slay Belle’s box wine and Twizzlers appointment TV.
Nashville (ABC) – I know. You don’t like country music. I don’t either, on any given day I’d probably rather listen to teeth being drilled. Liking country music is not a pre-requisite to loving the shit out of Nashville. I came for Connie Britton, I’m staying for all the over-the-top, delicious soap. Nashville has corrupt politics, sequins, banjos, sexy love polygons, shattered dreams and Powers Booth eating all the scenery, all rolled into one. I’m never missing it. And here’s the thing – the music is better than you think it’s going to be. T Bone Burnett, certified musical genius, who is also responsible for the music in The Hunger Games among many, many other things, is behind most of it, and you might find yourself surprised to have a few of the songs stuck in your head later. Like this one, for example:
Video found at this Daily Beast article about the song, which points out that it was originally written and performed by The Civil Wars, you can see their version below.
No genres capture the bittersweet agony of wanting something you can’t have quite like the folk and country genres do. Say what you will about the Swiftian bubblegum bullshit on the radio, there’s a side to country music I think I’ve underestimated.
Go watch these shows while you still can!
What shows did you pick up this season? Have you broken up with any already? Tell me all about it in the comments.