Fall TV 2013: Early Winners and Losers

About a month ago, I wrote a couple of posts about the new dramas and comedies I was most excited about. It was a season full of promise, and I was. . . aw, forget the dramatic set up. If you’ve been watching TV at all you know this year’s pilots are pretty terrible. If you haven’t yet tried any of the new shows, let this post serve as a guide so you can avoid the lemons.

A lot of pilots are just plain terrible, so I try to watch a show at least three times. If it shows even a hint of promise, I’ll extend it even more grace than that. I do this because some of my favorite current shows not only had bad pilots, their whole first seasons were cringe worthy. Yeah, Parks and Rec and Supernatural, I’m talking to you.

Fall 2013 TV show that have already been canceled.

Shows that are dead: If you were planning on watching or have sitting on your DVR Lucky 7, Ironside, We Are Men, or Welcome to the Family, don’t bother. All of these shows have already been canceled, and with good reason. The first two looked so dumb I wouldn’t even watch them. We Are Men should have been called: We’re really good actors that somehow got stuck in a really horrible comedy about men acting like idiots and we’re firing our agents. Welcome to the Family showed some early promise but quickly descended into two fathers screaming a lot.

Fall 2013 TV show that have already been picked up for a full season.

Shows that have already received a full season pick up: The Blacklist, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Millers, Mom, The Crazy Ones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Michael J. Fox Show, and Sleepy Hollow. The Michael J. Fox Show got a full season order from the beginning, so that doesn’t necessarily reflect how well it’s doing (numbers aren’t great). It should be noted that Sleepy Hollow didn’t just get a pick up, it’s already been officially been renewed for season two. The reason for the unusual order isn’t just the mega numbers SH is bringing in for Fox. It’s also because SH is only going to have a 13 episode season, so the original thirteen had likely already been ordered. Renewing it was the equivalent to Fox ordering a full season pick up (the additional 9 shows) of a normal show.

Fall 2013 TV show that have had more scripts ordered.

Shows that have had more scripts ordered but haven’t officially been picked up: Dads, Sean Saves the World, Trophy Wife, The Goldbergs, The Originals, The Tomorrow People, and Reign.

All of that news comes from either TV.com or TVline.com. I read ratings news briefs so you don’t have to. Yes, I’m a TV nerd!

So, those are the facts, but which of these shows should you actually watch? Below is the nitty gritty on each of the shows I’ve watched and my take on whether they deserve your time and DVR space.

Yep, these are good.

blacklistThe Blacklist: A crime procedural that doesn’t really do anything I haven’t seen before, but boy do they do those clichés really, really well. The show holds my attention every week, and James Spader smirks so well I’ll easily watch him for several more episodes before I get bored.

brooklyn_nine_nine_xlgBrooklyn Nine-Nine: I was actually predisposed to not like this one, not being a big Andy Samberg fan. Darn if it hasn’t been increasingly funny with each passing week. Not quite a Reno 911, not quite a Parks & Rec or Office, it has a magic all its own with an amazing cast. I was pleased to find it’s not “The Andy Samberg Show,” but a smart ensemble comedy.

Trophy-Wife-ABCTrophy Wife: I was very excited about this show, and I feel it has delivered. It’s consistently funny and the cast is excellent, even the unknowns and the kids. I wish they’d let Bradley Whitford be a little bit funnier like I know he can be, but otherwise I have no complaints. Each of the wives and their kids have interesting story lines and well developed characters for a show just a few episodes in.

the-originals-posterThe Originals: Admittedly, this hasn’t been quite as wonderful as I had hoped, namely because one of the main characters has spent almost every episode stuck in a box, which is getting a bit tedious. However, it’s still one of the strongest new shows this season and has helped the CW score some of its best Tuesday ratings ever paired with Supernatural. I’m loving this spin-off because I already know these characters from The Vampire Diaries, but I’d be interested to hear how someone who hasn’t seen TVD feels about it.

THE-TOMORROW-PEOPLE-570The Tomorrow People: Now I generally keep an open mind when it comes to the CW, because I’ve become quite fond of a number of their shows. Even so, I’ve been amazed at the quality of their pilots this season. In a fall when the main networks are feeding me dud after dud, the CW has given me three great new shows. The Tomorrow People is about a group of super humans with the three T’s (telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation). These powers manifest around puberty. Then it’s a race to see if the underground group the Tomorrow People will find you first to help you or the government group Ultra will hunt you down. If you can get past the terrible names of the opposing groups, it’s an interesting show that reminds me a bit of Heroes back when it was good.

reignReign: I’ve only see the pilot for this, but it was impressive. It’s very loosely based on a young Mary Queen of Scots and the political scheming of the French court. If you are looking for historical accuracy, I’ll remind you that this show comes on the CW. However, it’s filmed in Ireland and is visually gorgeous. I also actively lusted after a number of the dresses the characters were wearing. I’d probably keep watching for the eye candy alone, but Mary is very likable, there’s obviously a lot of court intrigue and romance afoot, and Megan Follows is the villain. I cannot pass up watching Anne of Green Gables play an evil queen.

Please, spare yourself and the children. These are terrible.

dadsDads: I’m very unclear why Fox has ordered more scripts for this show. I’m also puzzled why Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi agreed to participate in this show. You’ve probably already heard that its jokes are racist and sexist. They also happen to be profoundly unfunny. Despite early bad reviews, I watched this three times for Seth Green, but it really is as bad the rumors claim.

the-millers_612x907The Millers: Creator Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl) and Will Arnett should be a winning combination, but it’s not. I couldn’t even get through a whole second episode before I deleted this from my DVR. It’s basically another show about a family shouting at each other. Also, Will Arnett plays the straight man, which is a waste of his talent for comedic insanity. Arrested Development this is not.

Once-Upon-a-Time-in-WonderlandOnce Upon a Time in Wonderland: I’ve already abandoned the original recipe of Once Upon a Time, but I decided to give the spin-off a shot. The trailer intrigued me, and it stars Naveen Andrews (Sayid from Lost). My eyes! My eyes! I wish I could unsee this show. The CGI was so horrendous that you had to wonder if they were doing it on a Commodore 64. I didn’t even know it was possible to have CGI that bad anymore. Combine that with bad acting and even worse plot, and I feel like I should send a sympathy card to Naveen Andrews.

back_in_the_game_posterBack in the Game: I like Maggie Lawson (Psych), but if you replace Shawn, Gus, Lassie, and the rest of the Santa Barbara gang with a grouchy James Caan and a bunch of clichéd kids, I lose interest fast. Oh, and then they spent way too much time on actual baseball. I take a book to baseball games, so that was the final nail in the coffin. If you like baseball and old codgers, you might not find it as dreadful as I did.

Eh, they’re okay.

seansavestheworldSean Saves the World: Like in the case of The Blacklist, this show isn’t really doing anything new, but I have laughed a good bit. Part of why I’m still watching it is the great cast. They’ve collected a lot of my favorite side characters from other shows and put them all together: Lt. Dangle from Reno 911, Ivy from Smash, Tommy from Ben and Kate, Lester from Chuck, and Jack from Will and Grace.

the-crazy-ones-season-1-CBS-2013-posterThe Crazy Ones: Another show with a good cast, which is saving it from DVR deletion. There have been some funny moments, but they’ve made Sarah Michelle Gellar kind of lame. You’ve got Buffy, there, CBS. Use her. They also need to dial Robin Williams back about 20 notches. I really like the supporting cast in this series, though. If they’d use Hamish Linkletter and James Wolk more and Williams less, they could have a good show. Robin Williams’ brand of comedy was funny about 20 years ago.

marvels-agents-of-shield-posterMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: If there’s anything the world has learned from Firefly, it’s give Joss Whedon some time. You can’t build a complicated world with an ensemble cast of unknown actors and expect it to happen quickly. Give Whedon time, and he will not only deliver a great show, but he’ll likely launch those unknown actors’ careers in the process. I won’t list the examples because it would take too long. I’m a little worried because Whedon isn’t personally writing this series, but his brother is, and Joss promises he’s checking every script. So, the magic might happen a little slower, but I’m still hoping for the best. Right now it’s sort of a zany incident of the week procedural with a shadowy reference to Colson’s time in Tahiti thrown in at the end of each episode. The Whedon humor is there, but nothing’s gelling yet.

The-Michael-J-Fox-Show-posterThe Michael J. Fox Show: This is a rare example where the pilot was really good, but now it’s just so-so. I laughed myself silly through the pilot, mostly because the comedy was kind of dark, and didn’t shy away from issues Fox faces with his Parkinson’s. However, it’s become a basic family comedy that’s good for a few laughs each week, but isn’t anything special.

momposterMom: It’s a common refrain this season—this show lacks originality but has a good cast and is decently funny. Anna Farris and Allison Janney are great, but they need better material before this show could be called a must watch.

sleephollowSleepy Hollow: I haven’t been quite as taken with this show as the rest of the world is. It has improved from an almost comical first two episodes, but I’m still not completely sold. I like the two leads, especially Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane. But comedic gems Orlando Jones and John Cho are both being underused, and one is dead already. Well, you’re never sure if someone is dead for good in a show like this. My biggest beef, though, is that I’ve already seen this show. It’s called Supernatural, and they did it way, way better.

Super-Fun-Night-Season-1-Promo-PosterSuper Fun Night: I love Rebel Wilson, and there have been a few moments I have laughed really, really hard. Unfortunately, this show has also made me depressed a couple of times, which is not what I want in a comedy. I’d also like to see this mostly female cast have more of a goal than clubbing and moping about guys. I want to see Rebel succeed, but I also want Suburgatory to come back, and SFN has not been a worthy placeholder for the 9:30 timeslot. I’d recommend giving it Back in the Game’s slot so Suburgatory can return. I’m glad so many ABC executives read this blog.

Still to premiere: Dracula this Friday on NBC and Almost Human Nov. 4th on Fox.

So, what have been your favorites so far? What have you already sent to the great DVR in the sky?