For the first time ever, I was actually jazzed by last fall’s new TV season. It appeared that the major networks had finally learned that a tepid wasteland of programming directed toward middle America was regularly losing out to edgier shows on pay channels.
Boy, was I off the mark.
After giving many of the new shows a college try, three months later—with one exception—my Tivo is back to recording little more than HGTV. Highly hyped shows like Pan Am turned out to be little more than stylized period costumes, sans any characters that I give a shit about (as opposed to Playboy Club, which I found packed with scintillating action and multiple sub-plots; after it was skewered as sexist, the show was hastily retired after three episodes). Seems I’m hardly alone: Pan Am is now hanging by a thread in the ratings.
The few I devoted a Tivo Season Pass to…
2 Broke Girls: funny as hell for about four episodes, before sinking into a typical one-dimensional sitcom. The two main characters are nicely fleshed out; the supplemental roles are all painful to bear. After a month, I was watching with one eye closed. (renewed)
New Girl: Once Zooey Deschanel had been deemed “quirky” for the 100,000th time, it appears the show’s writers forgot she’s also smart. The season’s most critically heralded show imploded into a cliché of itself. I so wanted to love it. (renewed)
A Gifted Man with Patrick Wilson seemed promising… until his character evolved from a no-nonsense arrogant asswipe surgeon into a social welfare do-gooder. Zzzz… And what a waste of the brilliant Margo Martindale. (hanging by a thread)
Suburgatory had promise as a hip NYC urban girl is supplanted to the “zany” suburbs. However, it’s just not funny. At all. I’m embarrassed that the spoiled eye-rolling lead is supposed to be a New Yorker. (renewed)
Terra Nova was like watching a full-length movie every week, where a group of folks are saved from extinction by traveling back in time to a prehistoric earth. But there are way too many conflicts among the characters and not nearly enough dinosaurs eating people for breakfast. A big tease not worth an hour of fast forwarding. (hanging by a thread)
Unforgettable, an hour-long mystery where detective Poppy Montgomery remembers every detail and Dylan Walsh looks constantly perplexed. I adore Poppy. I adore the fact that anyone is named Poppy. I think she’s beautiful. I want to be her friend. I like the show and I think it’s smart. I hope I can commit to this one at some point. (renewed)
And then the ones I just don’t get…
The Good Wife, because Julianna Margulies is so fucking serious all the time. I want someone to throw a water balloon at her. I think you have to be a woman to care about this boring patter.
Parks and Recreation, starring yukky Amy Poehler. Critics love it, I loathe her. Ditto for Joel McHale’s Community. Both try so so hard to deliver highbrow humor that it seems entertaining the audience is secondary.
Desperate Housewives jumped the shark years ago and I gave up in the show’s final season. Enough bending characters to fit ridiculous plot twists. Desperate, indeed.
Up All Night with Christina Applegate and Will Arnett. So you had a baby and it cries a lot and you’re learning to be parents. Keep it to yourself. Yawn! (renewed)
Whitney: Worst of the worst… and renewed for a full season? That says it all. The networks have returned to programming for the lowest common denominator.
Modern Family: So good for so short a time. After rabid success, it appears the writers are playing it safe by making each character a cartoon character. Phil remains refreshingly funny, but I can’t bear watching the gay couple. Do these guys even like each other? They seem utterly miserable together. Over it.
And the one show of the new season I adore: ABC’s Revenge, the millennial version of an ’80s’ nighttime soap. The plot of a crafty young woman (played with precision by Emily VanCamp) seeking to get even with all those who wronged her deceased daddy—and her interactions with frosty bitch Madeleine Stowe—are fabulous fun.
It doesn’t hurt a bit that she’s also romantically involved with yummy Joshua Bowman. And the Hamptons setting amid oozing wealth adds to its delicious madness. The series has been renewed for a full season, while Stowe recently garnered a Golden Globe for her role as ice queen Victoria Grayson; and the show for Favorite New TV Drama at the People’s Choice Awards. Hopefully, that means Revenge will be with us for as long as it chooses to.
And so, the verdict: I’d rather read a magazine.