Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I Watched This Fall, 2011 Edition

As veteran readers know, there used to be three Five-Spots a week. I always planned on scaling that back to just two this fall, and the plan was Sked & Opinion, figuring I'd hit most of the ratings news elsewhere on this blog. Then the SpoilerTV Ratings Five-Spot opportunity arose, so I decided to cut Opinion rather than keep adding to the load. As a result, I haven't really talked much about what I'm watching, even though I'm still watching a lot.

So I'm gonna bring over my summer wrap-up format to cover this stuff pretty quickly. Since I watch more in the fall than in the summer, I'll further divvy up the regulars by identifying when I watch them. I'll use a few familiar ratings terms: Live + SD (I usually watch within 24 hours), Live + 7 (I usually watch an episode by the time the next one airs), Live + 70 (I let it pile up) and Samples (I'm not a regular viewer). I thought this would correlate neatly with quality, but as I wrote this I discovered that I often don't watch the "best" shows first.

Live + SD: I almost always got to CBS' How I Met Your Mother / 2 Broke Girls block that night. How I Met Your Mother ain't what she used to be, but it's still capable of greatness sometimes. 2 Broke Girls has got to do away with that diner, but I really like the Dennings/Behrs duo, and I find some of the money management stuff pretty interesting and unique among sitcoms these days.

Live + 7: One of my favorite new shows is CW's Hart of Dixie, as I continue my long tradition of eating up the CDub's quirky "old-school WB" offerings.

Live + 70: Terra Nova (Fox). This is one of the most mindless shows on TV, but it's still kinda watchable. They probably should've expanded the developments of the two-hour premiere and finale to four hours each, trimmed the middle nine hours down to maybe two, and just gone with a ten-episode season. Those middle nine were where the show really got backed up for me, and I caught up with that period in a couple big chunks.

Samples: I watched the first two of The Playboy Club (NBC) and recorded the third, but then it was cancelled and I never bothered with it. Watched Ashton's debut on Two and a Half Men (CBS) and found it terrible.

Live + SD: Pretty much just New Girl (Fox). I like all of the cast and think Justin Long was a nice recurring addition. Though Happy Endings looks to be in OK shape at present, I still think they ought to get Damon Wayans, Jr. back if that somehow doesn't make it.

Live + 7: My favorite show on Tuesday remains the always strong Parenthood (NBC), but it's not always one I feel compelled to watch right away. As a big fan of unpredictability over boringly solid, I'm still in on Glee (Fox). And somehow I watched all of Ringer (CW), which is probably the worst show that I regularly view. I literally cannot think of a positive thing to say about it, but I'm probably going to keep watching.

Live + 70: Covert Affairs (USA). Have caught up on the fall season this week. I really like Piper Perabo (and felt kinda bad when she got "over-nominated" for the Globes last year), but most of the "office politics" stuff (especially surrounding the Jai character) is still a liability.

Samples: Last Man Standing (ABC). I like Tim Allen, so I check back in on slower Tuesdays. Seems to be improving a little bit. Daughters are getting more likeable (in the beginning, they were clearly just there as things for Tim to complain about). Still not at a Season Pass level yet. I quickly bailed on Man Up! (ABC) and Unforgettable (CBS).

Live + SD: At times, I have really enjoyed Suburgatory (ABC), but those critics and their dirty minds are turning me on this show! I also stuck with Survivor (CBS) despite a really crappy season. Hoping the One World twist this spring (and, perhaps more importantly, no more Redemption/returning players) will liven things up. I'm not as wild about Revenge (ABC) as some people, but I do think it's improved over the course of its run.

Live + 7: Probably my favorite Wednesday show is USA's Psych, and it had one of its stronger recent seasons, but it's not exactly a gotta-watch-right-away affair. I still like ABC's Modern Family, but what was once a top-five show is now one I can easily save for the weekend. I feel about the same way about NBC's Up All Night, and it'll certainly stay in the Live + 7 group when it moves to Thursday and joins a bunch of other comedies I like better.

Samples: Quickly bailed on NBC's Free Agents, Fox's I Hate My Teenage Daughter and CW's H8R. Hated the bland generic legal drama revamp on Harry's Law (far preferred shoe store version even though it was pretty laughable) and left after one episode. I've caught Hot in Cleveland and The Exes a couple times. The Exes is better than some TV Land originals, but overall I don't have much of an opinion on either show.

Live + SD: I usually watched the first three NBC comedies (Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office) along with CDub's The Secret Circle on Thursday night. Longtime readers know that I'm a The Office Kool-aid drinker, even in the later years when most critical voices have bailed. Indeed, I still find most episodes fairly enjoyable, but unfortunately the two big changes (Andy as manager and James Spader's character) have both been major disappointments.

Live + 7: I still have a season pass to The Big Bang Theory (CBS) but typically don't get to it on Thursday night. Like Modern Family, it's a former favorite that's now not really that must-see for me.

Live + 70: Even though I think it's had one of its more creative and funny seasons, I still keep getting behind on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX). Still have the two-part finale to watch there. And I still have the full fall run of Burn Notice (USA) on DVR.

Samples: Whitney, watched a handful because it was on after The Office but never remotely warmed to it. I sometimes catch Person of Interest if nothing else is on at 9:00. I feel there's some potential. Quick exit on How to Be a Gentleman and Prime Suspect.

Live + SD: Blue Bloods (CBS) really brings out my inner 70-year-old. I hope this show runs for 20 years on Friday nights. It's really a perfect Friday night drama, comfortable and low-key yet still pretty competently done. As I've said before, it reminds me a lot of the Law & Order mothership, which for me is a good thing.

Live + 7: The sci-fi duo of Grimm (NBC) and Fringe (Fox). Both shows have been only OK this fall.

Live + SD: The Walking Dead (AMC) was kinda frustrating in its slowness at times, but it generally remains one of my favorites. I think it always suffers a bit in comparisons to other dramas because it is such a distant third-best on its network. I also enjoyed Once Upon a Time (ABC).

Live + 70: Hoping to get caught up with Leverage (TNT) this week; I'm only a couple behind. It's actually had some fairly interesting ideas this fall, but generally it hasn't done that much with them (like the Office spoof). I really hoped I could stick out the final season of Desperate Housewives (ABC) since I've made it this far, but I've got eight episodes on the DVR and no real compulsion to watch them. Once Walking Dead and Once arrived on the scene, I also fell behind on Pan Am (ABC). I caught up last week. It has moments of goodness, but in general I just have a lot of trouble paying attention to it for long stretches of time. I also watched all of Homeland (Showtime) recently via On Demand. Definitely a cut above latter-day 24, and definitely my kind of show (I enjoyed 24 throughout), but I'm a bit surprised at the volume of critical love. I think both critics and defenders of the finale had good points.

Samples: Allen Gregory (Fox) was the worst scripted show I saw this fall. I was bored by the Hell on Wheels (AMC) pilot and had too much else to watch to continue with it.


Spot said...

As a long time Office viewer I am surprised to say I am still enjoying The Office even with the changes; I especially enjoyed the last two episodes! The writers are finally giving James Spader something to do by expanding his character out of the realm of plot starter. It has taken awhile, but I am now really enjoying Robert California, and can't wait to see where this character goes from here. He has brought back the awkward to The Office. Even Andy really fit well in the "Mrs. California" and "Christmas Wishes" episodes. So at this point I guess I am disagreeing with your comment regarding Andy and Robert California.

Spot said...

Thanks, jj. I thought "Mrs. California" was a step in the right direction, but on the whole Spader has not "brought back the awkward" to the extent I was hoping after he was so great in last season's finale. But I really hope that episode is a sign of things to come.

Spot said...

That is what I am hoping as well! Spader certainly can do it if they give him the material to work with.

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