2012 – A look back … and forward!!

A little later than normal here’s a look at what’s helping me while away the hours in TV Land! (2011 – 2012)

Returning Shows

Before getting into any of the new programmes there were lots of returning favourites eg: 30 Rock, Community, Blue Mountain State, How I met .. , Modern Family, Raising Hope, The Big Bang theory, The Middle, Its Always Sunny and The league on the Comedy front together with Blue Bloods, Castle, Chuck, Criminal Minds, Dexter, Fringe, Justified, Leverage, Nikita, Sons of Anarchy, Southland,  The Mentalist, The Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead.

Chuck recently finished up its final season. Its nice to see a show given the chance to finish up on its own terms. Won’t lie – got a little sniffle-sniffle in parts of the final two episodes. Community continues both its love affair with the avclub and being on the perennial bubble. It’s a show I like a lot – and so am happy that its ratings woes are on NBC and not elsewhere. Fringe gets better and better, but unfortunately there’s only a handful of people left tuning in. It’ll take a miracle to keep it on the air next year – one which Abrams & co are hard at work trying to deliver. I’ll be really miffed if it doesn’t get a proper wrap up. (PS : Fauxlivia >>>> Olivia). I still watch Glee, but have no idea why. Never has a show so hyped – jumped the shark quite so early in it run.

Spartacus is back. I can’t quite decide if I’m happy with it yet. The whitfield – McIntyre switcheroo is fine, but for whatever reason I can’t quite come to terms with all the other differences. The gore and boobies are more than enough to keep me coming back – but judgement is reserved on how it’ll stack up versus Blood & Sand and Gods of the Arena. Is anyone watching season two of Boardwalk Empire? I watched the first along with the rest of yee; was suitability impressed at how it was a very well made piece of television; well acted; etc etc … but none of that completely forgives the snail-like pace of it. Season 2 is sitting here calling out to me; it could be a long wait.

New for 2011/2012

On the Comedy Front 2011/12 brought a few keepers :

2 Broke Girls, Suburgatory, Happy Endings & New girl are all certainties to be picked up again next year – as well as being very watchable taboot. Happy Endings actually came to us during the summer, only to be picked straight up again for the fall schedule. New Girl (with Zooey Deschanel) is the most watched thing (18-49) on Fox (inc. Glee!).

I’m enjoying Are you There, Chelsea (w/ Laura Prepon of 70’s Show) and even I hate my teenage daughter( w/Jaime Pressly of My Name is Earl etc) – though both are in sad face territory when it comes to their prospects for next year.

Rounding out things on the comedy front are Up All Night, Last Man Standing, Rob and Whitney. UAN and LMS (with Christina Applegate/Will Arnett and Tim Allen respectively) are both likely to be back on our screens next year – though I’m not exactly sure why. I haven’t gotten past the first two episodes of either Rob! (Featuring the eponymous Schneider) or Whitney – though the ratings make it unlikely that they’ll be back next year – which is probably part of the reason. Weirdly though Whitney (Cummins) is also co-creator and producer of 2 Broke Girls – which I like a lot – so I apparently like her work – I just don’t want to see her in it!

Slimmer Pickings on the New dramas front for 11/12 :

Terra Nova is the only new fall network television show that I really committed to. Two years in the making, ridicously expensive to produce, featuring dinosaurs and time portals and good guys and bad. Starring Jason OMara from the American version of Life On Mars; the hype around this show was huge. And in the end is was … just fine. Hard to call what Fox are gonna do with it for next year; it’s very expensive for only average ratings.

CW created a companion show to The Vampire Diaries – in the form of The Secret Circle. By companion, I really mean similar. Both based on books by LJ Smith; but instead of Vampires we have witches; instead of Mystic falls we have Chance Harbor; Instead of Nina Dobrev we have Britt Robertson. Given I’m not a 15 year old girl, I’ve no excuse for watching TVD (In fact – Nikita and perhaps Supernatural are the only shows on the whole CW network that I should be allowed to watch) – but I do, and I’ll make no excuses for it. Similarly I shouldn’t be watching TSC – but errrm, well, uhh ..! Anyhoo, moving along!

Skipping over to Cableland for a moment we have Homeland and Hell on Wheels. If you haven’t started to watch Homeland yet – then do! It stars Claire Danes as a CIA agent hung up on whether a returning 8 year POW (Damian Lewis of Band of Brothers and Life) is all he seems to be. Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin (Anna from the V remake) round out the cast. It’s a slow burn to begin with – but really gets going later on. Overall its one of the best “first” seasons of TV I can remember. (Think S1 of Heroes, Damages, Veronica Mars etc). Recommended (& renewed).

Hell on Wheels is the other new cable offering which I’ve been following. Colm Meaney is probably the only recognisable face. Its a show about building the first East West US railroad during the latter half of the 1800’s. “Hell on Wheels” is the mobile cess-pit of surveyors, labourers, prostitutes, mercenaries and the varied other characters who make it their home. It stars Anson Mount, a former Confederate soldier who works as a foreman on the railroad as he tries to track down the Union soldiers who murdered his wife. Better than most of the Network rubbish I watch. (Renewed).

And that more or less rounds out the new Fall shows which I’ve been properly following.

Midseason replacement-land brought me Alcatraz and The Finder. Alcatraz (w/ Sam Neill and Jorge Garcia of Lost) is about a secret government agency tasked with tracking down the 300+ inmates of Alcatraz Prison who mysteriously disappeared in 1963 (but who have started to reappear in current day San Fran.) The sort of high concept show that I always watch, but its those high concept elements that make it a tight rope walker in terms of being re-upped. Ratings are on the slide (after opening strong). Hard to know where they’ll settle. I Suspect Fox will only give sophomore seasons to one of Alcatraz or Terra Nova.

Have watched a few of The Finder; a Hart Hanson backdoor-spinoff of Bones; Unrelated in every way to Bones except for both being procedurals of sorts. The Finder is essentially a PI obsessed with helping people find stuff. Also starring Michael Clarke Duncan. Easy watching- but bubble or worse on Fox, so don’t get too attached.

House of Lies popped up on Showtime recently – and is well worth a watch. Starring Don Cheadle and Kirsten Bell (amongst others) it follows a bunch of management consultants who’ll stop at nowt to get the deal done. Its half hour format (including lots of Cheadle breaking the forth wall) works really well. Already picked up for a second season as well.

So what of the balance of other new shows that came to us since the fall … ? I’ve watched at least the pilot of everything else, and most remain queued in my backlog of TV that I’ll watch just as soon I watch whatever I’m watching right now! Though I’ll have to take a knife to the backlog once we hit the summer.

Shows that’ll be back next year include Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Person of Interest and Revenge. Grimm is a fantasy/crime/cop drama set in a world where characters from the Grimm Fairy tales exist. Its a show I find hard to mentally separate from Once upon a Time – which is set in Storeybrook Maine, a town filled with Fairy Tale characters who have been exiled to the real world thanks to some wicked witch or other. Person of Interest is in high concept procedural territory; with Michael Emerson (of Lost) and his amazing predict-the-future-o-matic computer which can identify crimes before they happen working with Jim Caviezel as an ex green beret, CIA, all-round hero type trying to make the world a better place etc. Produced in part by J.J. Abrams and based on a screenplay he wrote together with Jonathan Nolan its a programme I’m surprised I don’t watch. Now that I know CBS will be bringing it back – I expect to be playing catch-up soon. Revenge is a tale of back-stabbing in the Hamptons following one girl’s quest to destroy those who betrayed her father. It’s kinda soapy – hence I’ve been slow to get back to it; but a candidate for shared tv if you need something to watch with the missus.

Other shows I haven’t mentioned yet include Unforgettable (yet another police procedural), Hart of Dixie (w/ Rachel Bilson) , Ringer, (w/ Sarah Michelle Gellar),  Pan AM (w/ Christina Ricci in a 60’s period drama about the coming of the Jet age) and A Gifted Man (w/ Patrik Wilson who can see his dead wife). None of these are likely to reappear next year – so aren’t worth any extra comment for now.

Charlies Angels, Prime Suspect, The Firm, and The Playboy Club are all amongst the dead already. I’ll miss The Firm (set 10 years after events of the book) and Prime Suspect (the US remake of ITV’s Helen Mirren Police Drama w/ Mario Bello).

And that’s mostly it!

But before I go … Can anyone recommend American Horror Story or Luck? And tick-tock – only 43 days to go before Game of Thrones Returns.

-M.

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