Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall TV Preview--What I'm Watching (+ Thoughts on Breaking Bad's final episode)

I've finished my review of the new Fall TV Programming for 2013. I've enjoyed getting it done again and I hope that you've found some fun along the way. (I've even gotten some inspiration for how I will present things in NEXT year's edition, so that is also good news.)

But now I want to let you know what my potential TV watching schedule is going to be for this new season. Naturally, the demands of work--sadly MUCH more so than the demands of parenting--might force me into some alterations of this ideal schedule. But here is what I'm hoping for right now.)

Sunday (cable)

This night has been dominated by cable shows over the past several years and I plan to keep it that way. I finished watching the run of Breaking Bad last night (and have some thoughts . . . see below if you don't care about SPOILERS) and I will pick up with Mad Men when it returns for its final set of episodes. In the meantime, I'll be watching The Walking Dead (but upstairs to keep its away from Lynda).

(If I had premium cable--and I only finagle a free trial run of HBO to catch Game of Thrones, I'd also love to give Masters of Sex a try.)

Monday (CBS, Fox, ABC)

How I Met Your Mother and Sleepy Hollow are my definite shows to watch on this night. Most likely I'll watch HIMYM before I got to bed and maybe, if time doesn't permit, I'll push Sleepy Hollow to a different night. Because Lynda and I also like to watch Castle on Monday night's, and any excuse I can come up with the divert her from working all the time is a good excuse.

Tuesday (Fox, ABC)

My biggest issue on this night is trying to preview New Girl for appropriateness before Sarah can watch it. Depending on how Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. develops, I might try to watch that DVR-delayed with the girls. (They are fans of The Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man, so this might be fun for them to watch as well.) Sarah also likes Supernatural, so I've got to figure that out as well.

Wednesday (NBC, The CW)

Finally, the two weakest networks get on the board and its already mid-week. On NBC, I'll tape Revolution and find some time to watch it before the next week rolls around. But on The CW, I'm totally involved with the Amell brothers who are starring in Arrow and The Tomorrow People.

Thursday (CBS, NBC)

The Big Bang Theory is the main show on this night, along with Elementary--another guaranteed opportunity to get Lynda involved in the TV watching. But I'll be giving The Michael J. Fox Show a try for a while. But it might drop.

What won't be coming back this year? Glee. It should have ended two years ago.

Friday (Nickelodeon)

There is nothing on Friday that I am setting aside DVR time for. I watch Nickelodeon's Legends of Korra on Friday nights. It is not as good as the original Avatar: The Last Airbender was, but its getting better in its second season. (Which is only three weeks old.)

Also, I usually end up watching a movie with the kids on this night anyway.

Saturday (BBC America)

Well, whatever comes. I might be catching up on a backlog of DVR stuff or if I'm lucky Lynda and I might go on an occasional date. But there's nothing here that is appointment TV.

And when it returns late in the year, I'll of course be watching Doctor Who. I just didn't include it here as it is on hiatus.

(People also tell me that I should be watching Orphan Black, and maybe I'll try to catch up with Season 1 on Netflix before the next season begins.)


And now, on to my thoughts on last night's Breaking Bad.

And, no . . . I didn't truly think it was that level of bad. But, it did leave me feeling cold and unhappy--a bit.

And after thinking about it and reading some reviews today (that confirmed what I was thinking, not directing what I hadn't yet thought), I agree that it was all too neat in its precision and in the way that things were wrapped up for the audience.

Sure, we live in a world where if you piss off the fans at the end of a show's run, you get blasted. And maybe Vince Gilligan was a bit afraid of what happened to the Lost guys or to David Chase. But I don't expect Gilligan to ever admit this fear--even if it was mostly subconscious if it was ever there at all. But things had built up to such high heights. (And deservedly so . . . I loved the show like everyone else and was very impressed with how this 5.5 season of eight episodes just kept piling on and on and on without stopping.)

But it was just that build up that made last nights end seem sort of ordinary by comparison. Example--when Walt was standing and saying goodbye to baby Holly, I wouldn't have been surprised if he pulled out a knife and tried to slice her blanket. The scene was so quiet and still, I was conditioned to expect something terrible to explode all around it. I mean, that had happened each of the last four weeks, hadn't it?

But no. All of Walt's plans came together in Hannibal-like precision. But was that how the show had always been? For all of Walt's ingenuity and creativity and ability to imagine meth-cooking complexly, he was always sort of winging his way through it. Sure, he bluffed well. But it was always improvisation mixed with a healthy dose of luck that made his year-long meth ride work. We all loved it so much, we didn't want to really examine where all of the strings were connected, to see if they truly made the picture we thought they should. make.)

And last night, neat as you please, things worked. Walt got what he wanted and ended the way he believed it should. And that was the other thing that bothered me in the end. Walt got what he wanted. And after he inflicted so much pain and suffering upon others (for what he admitted in the end, was all for HIM)--I just felt a bit sad that he got to chose his own ending.

All that said, the show was great. And it wasn't WORST.EVER, I promise.

It just went off like one of Walt's famous cooks--without a hitch and without a flaw. But maybe some flaws should have bumped their way into the mixture? It would have made it more human and less clinical.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall TV Preview--ABC

I took a few more days off this past week to actually watch some of the shows that I've been talking about in these Preview posts. One of those was a highlighted show for ABC, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (9/24@ 8), a high profile effort that jumps off of the big, sparkly success of Joss Whedon's The Avengers movie and the decade-long (or does it just seem that way) build up of the Marvel superhero brand. All culminating in this weekly TV show that begins where Whedon's summer blockbuster ended--as everyone recovers from what is being called The Battle of New York.

The public is adjusting to the idea that super-beings exist . . . and that aliens and other super villians also exist. And if you live in a densely populated urban area, you are in severe danger of having your place of residence demolished at any time. Naturally, the government has been preparing for this for a while--probably since Peter Parker first donned his red & blue tights and started fighting crime in Brooklyn and the Bronx. But this show doesn't follow Sam Jackson's character, Nick Fury. Rather, it reveals (NOT a spoiler if you've seen the inumerable commercials leading up to last week's premiere episode) that his right-hand man Agent Phil Coulson is alive and leading a team of agents who investigate Supers and strive to make the rest of us safe from their potential damage.

The show . . . isn't great, to be honest. The premiere had to work hard to connect all the dots left over from the movie--and it doesn't feature any of the superheroes, mind you. Even Disney-owned ABC and Marvel can't afford those Hollywood guys on a weekly basis. Rather, it feels a bit like Alias, without all the sexiness and a lot like Alphas. (But ABC surely doesn't want this tent-pole show to be compared to that middling USA Networks effort.)

Joss Whedon is the executive producer, but not the creative leader of the show. Rather his brother Jed and his sister-in-law Mo Taucheron are show-runners. And they do provide a flavor of the Whedonesque speak that everyone expects. But the show just didn't snap. Its probably due to the needs of a pilot rather than the intrinsic weaknesses of the show . . . but we'll see. There have been reports that the show must answer to Disney, Marvel, and Mutant Enemy (the Whedon production company) and with that many cooks in the kitchen . . . the souffle might not rise as expected.

ANYWAY . . . on to the weekly lineup.


Once Upon a Time (9/29 @ 8) seems to be the big draw--at least to my particular set of entertainment values. The show still smacks a bit of the Disney movie Enchanted, where fairy tale people interacted with the real world. But maybe it is a modern-day Fantasy Island, mixed with some of the drama and danger of a Lost-type show? (I've never watched it.) The commercials tell me that this season is centered around trying to get to Neverland and it seems like either Peter Pan himself is not the happy-go-lucky boy we thought he was . . . or his shadow is sort of murderous and ragey? Anyway, it might actually be entertaining if you are into that sort of thing. And it is surely the best textile porn this side of The CW's Reign.

If you like your drama a bit more centered in the "real world" you can watch Revenge (9/29 @ 9) or Betrayal (9/29 @ 10). One is about people righting wrongs done to them . . . and the other is about avenging murder and lies. I'll let you figure out which one is which.


Dancing with the Stars (9/16 @ 8) has already premiered its new set of hoofers and I'm not sure if Bill Nye the Science Guy has been voted off yet. But I hope not. I only see the last few minutes of this show as I am preparing to watch Castle (9/23 @ 10). And because of that I know that some sort of former football player was voted off last Monday night. But I can't remember who it was. Anyway, Castle is still going strong and the big deal this season will be to see if Nathan Fillion's character and Stana Katic's character can maintain their deepening public relationship while she is now working in Washington D.C. as a federal-agent-in training?


This night begins with the aforementioned Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But the network hopes that this provides a strong lead-in for the new comedy The Goldbergs (9/24 @ 9) and Trophy Wife (9/24 @ 9:30). Goldbergs seems exactly like I [heart] the 80s + The Wonder Years. And while the voiceover by Patton Oswald is interesting to me, I don't think much else of it will be. Its probably a well-done show that I might catch up with some day on Netflix.

There is also a show called Lucky 7 (9/24 @10), but I initially forgot to even write about this show. So . . . maybe it is not capturing my imagination as much as a show about a group of people who won the lottery and then faced dramatic changes should?


This is ABC's big comedy night and half of these shows are returners from the past. This includes The Middle (9/25 @ 8) and Modern Family (9/25 @ 9)--which just won the Emmy for Best Comedy again. New comedies include Back in the Game (9/25 @ 8:30) and Super Fun Night (10/2 @ 9:30). Dean has already announced his deletion of Back in the Game, so I feel justified in never having started. And I don't think I care that much about Rebel Wilson's show. I am not sure about some one named Rebel and this feels like something that might have been created to take advantage of Melissa McCarthy's popularity, without paying for Melissa McCarthy. (Wilson was also in Bridesmaids.)

If you don't want to end your mid-week viewing with comedy (and why would you since The CW is serving up two hours of drama?), you could stay with ABC and watch Nashville (9/25 @ 10).


If you liked the idea behind Once Upon a Time--and maybe are planning to watch the Sunday night version of the show . . . then why not try Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (10/10 @ 8), a spin off of the original that follows the Alice character in her "natural" habitat. But don't get too attached. This is a one-season tale only.

Here is the part of this year's Fall TV Preview when I marvel that Grey's Anatomy (9/26 @ 9) is STILL on the air. And here is the part of this year's Fall TV Preview when I don't even try to distinguish Scandal (10/3 @ 10)  from the ABC shows Revenge or Mutiny or Betrayal or Evil. (Some of those names are made up.)


I wish that Last Man Standing (9/20 @ 8) was actually based on Y: The Last Man which people tell me is very good and that I think I should read. But it is a sitcom starring Tim Allen and I think you know all that you need to know.

I'll leave it to Dean to even try to explain why The Neighbors (9/20 @ 8:30) should be given any more time to prove itself more than a terrible idea for a TV show. And . . . speaking of terrible TV shows, I guess you could do worse on a Friday night than watch Shark Tank (9/20 @ 9)--might I suggest America's Next Top Model? But really, you should just watch a rerun of the excellent Sleepy Hollow instead.

And then there is 20/20, which is still going and provides new-journotainment for junkies at the start of a weekend. But I think it would just be better if you read the local paper and thought about what life would be like if the events of Sleepy Hollow could be plausible.


Football, football, football!!!!!

(But what might it be like if the quarterback was headless and he threw a pumpkin instead?) Hmmm?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall TV--Revolution "Born in the U.S.A."

I took a break from writing another entry in this year's Fall TV Preview series to watch the premiere of NBC's Revolution, season 2, "Born in the U.S.A."

And let me tell you, I can't remember a grimmer hour of television that wasn't hidden on cable and on later in the night. This was NBC, at 8 pm, on a Wednesday. And this show featured the sort of depressing stuff that I expect to see on the premiere of The Walking Dead, over on AMC later in October. I saw enough of Revolution last year to understand that this show is set in a difficult dystopia full of hardship. And I know that last season ended with the threat of a nuclear missile strike.

But when this season began with the fact that ICBMs did, in fact, obliterate Philadelphia and Atlanta, and that this sent our heroes into a tailspin of depression . . . well, that was unfortunate. But then stuff just started stacking up. Miles was hiding some sort of secret that left him covered in blood and so afraid that he had to burn the evidence. Charlie was alone, stalking Monroe to exact the revenge she couldn't get last season. Rachel and Aaron were trying to put the past behind them (and their inability to stop the nuclear strike) by finding a new beginning in Texas with Rachel's dad.

Then we find out that a band of marauders are surrounding the Texas town. And the invade and Aaron gets killed fighting off these bandits. But the sheriff and Miles are captured and led to the headquarters of the marauders (decorated with hanging bodies that you would expect to see on Game of Thrones.

Just misery on top of misery. It makes me wonder about the zeitgeist of the time, as we so willingly embrace these tales of despair. It is too easy to say that all of the global problems and fears of the past twelve years have led us to this sort of prime time television, but maybe there is a portion of truth about it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall TV Preview--Fox

Last night I finally watched the premiere of Sleepy Hollow which has been the show highest on my radar of New Shows to Watch. This is because I had some childhood fears about the Headless Horseman that I needed to resolve. (Plus, the premise of the show seemed bananas, but maybe bananas-good like in a ice cream and split way rather than in the you've waited too long to eat those things way.)

And it WAS the ice cream way.

At first I didn't even know that the show was developed by Kurtzman & Orci, the same dudes who were involved in Spiderman 2, Fringe, and lots of other shows that I love. It's got the weird elements of mystery that remind me a bit of Twin Peaks. It's got the occult of Buffy. It's got the sinister conspiracy of X Files. And I wasn't even scared of the Headless Hessian. Who knows what it'll be like going through this first season, but I'm totally in! 

What else does Fox have under way this season?


The Animation Block begins again at 8 pm with The Simpsons (9/29 @ 8), then flows into Bob's Burgers (9/29 @ 8:30), Family Guy (9/29 @ 9), American Dad (9/29 @ 9:30) and then run into a screeching halt at 10 pm with the dreaded local programming. I think that the Sunday night local programming on Fox is probably just an hour of YouTube videos talking about how bad The Cleveland Show was, how The Simpson hasn't been consistently good for the last decade, a few people trying to convince me to watch Bob's Burgers, and many, many people who just wish Seth MacFarlane would go away. 


At the start of the work week, Fox is already off to a shaky footing it seems. Bones (9/16 @ 8) will hold down the 8 pm slot until Almost Human (11/4 @ 8) arrives. But that might be a good thing as Almost Human brings Karl Urban into the role of a 2048 LA police detective that isn't partnered with an android like all the other cops on the futuristic beat. The show runner has a Fringe pedigree and I've enjoyed Urban's roles both in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and as Dr. McCoy in the Bad Robot Star Trek reboots. So, pencil me in for this show when November gets here--especially if it leads into . . .

Sleepy Hollow! (9/16 @ 9). I won't say anything more about this show but I will speculate that the 10 pm local programming block on Monday nights is going to be people reading my blog post recaps of the show as the season goes on.


I should let Dean blog about Dads (9/17 @ 8) since a.) he's actually watched the first episode and b.) his posts always get more hits than mine. [Dean: if you want to comment below, be my guest.] I don't know if anyone has watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9/17 @ 8:30), but it seems to have piqued some people's interest. I'm skeptical of Andy Samberg combined with Andre Braugher, but I guess a cop show played for laughs is probably better than yet another cop drama.

I really loved New Girl (9/17 @ 9) and look forward to more craziness this season. But Nick and Winston and Schmidt have a lot to live up to in my eyes this year. (Their biggest fan, however, may end up being Sarah, who fell in love with the show on Netflix over the summer and spends her spare time following stuff about it on Tumblr.) I didn't get involved with The Mindy Project (9/17 @ 9:30), so I don't have lots to say about it.

Tuesday's 10 pm local programming on Fox? Those same dudes who disliked Seth MacFarlane are further incensed by Dads and get into protracted arguments with other dudes who argue that Andy Samberg shouldn't just stayed on Saturday Night Live already.


You are not surprised to hear me say that I am not at all interested in The X Factor (9/11 @ 8). But are you surprised that Fox devotes the ENTIRE prime time schedule on Wednesday to this show? Why not give us a repeat of Sleepy Hollow, Fox? Or perhaps you might reair the first few seasons of Fringe that were so, so good. Or maybe get down on your knees and BEG Joss Whedon to develop a new show for your network--even though he's turn you down in a flat second. But any of these ideas would be better than two solid hours of yet another singing program.

The local programming block on Hump Day is just a terrible, terrible hour of that horrible Geico commercial with the camel. You know what I'm talking about and I'm NOT going to link to it.


Oh my glob . . . REALLY, Fox? Two solid hours of The X Factor wasn't enough for you last night, so you need to set aside ANOTHER hour at 8 on Thursday to examine the results of the previous night's voting? Wow. But okay. That is less programming that I need to write about tonight which will let me end this blog post sooner, which will let me watch New Girl and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sooner. So I guess that is okay.

Fox does have one semi-new bit of programming on at 9 . . . Glee (9/26 @ 9). I gave up on the show last year as the wheels came off and I'm not planning on coming back. Cory Monteith's suicide is just sad and half of the people aren't even cast members any more. Returning this show again is just like that feeling you get when you return to visit high school after spending some time at college. You might have some old underclassmen friends who are still there, but everyone should just agree to move on.

Thursday night's local programming is devoted to spreadsheets and charts that details how surprised everyone is that The Michael J. Fox Show is beating the 25th hour of this week's X Factor nonsense.


MasterChef Junior (9/27 @ 8) is what you get when you get tired of seeing Chef Gordon Ramsey berate adult cooks until they cry and instead wonder what it would look like if they asked him to scream at pre-teens who think they know how to cook. Something is wrong with this country when it devotes twelve hours of the week's programming to The Voice and then follows it up with this? Why did Fox cancel Firefly again?

But all is forgiven when the network decides to fill its 9 pm hour with a rerun of this week's Sleepy Hollow! Way to go Fox! You know that the nerds who are all in on this show are doing nothing else. Keep them involved.


Do some push ups, you nerds! Do you want to end up looking like Ichabod Crane 1.0? And don't get your hopes up. You won't end up looking like this one. Or this one.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall TV Preview--CBS

Maybe it's because I sitting down to write this on a Sunday and maybe it's because my hit counts indicate that no one cares about NBC or The CW. But, for whatever reason, after taking two days off to relax, recharge, procrastinate, and do other things, I'm ready to tackle another network's offerings and existing schedule for the fall TV season.
As always, these opinions--such as they are--are mine alone, except for Dean's views on Cable, of course. If you would like to catch up on what I've written about this year, or examine what I've written about networks and shows in the past, all you have to do is click here or take the Fall TV Preview page link at the top of the blog.

Tonight, we'll take a look at the schedule of shows for CBS. As you may know, CBS has been the ratings winner for the past several years. I suggest that these ratings wins are the result of the mass market appeal of Chuck Lorre's comedic writing style combined with a style of drama that appeals to the nation's older TV viewers. For whatever, reason, it works for the Tiffany Network. And I think this Fall is more of the same. Let's take a look . . .


After showing nothing but football from noon until 7ish, CBS leads its Sunday night with 60 Minutes, which has been on TV longer than God. It's not primetime, per se, but I felt I should acknowledge it like one acknowledges the sun when you get out of bed in the morning by squinting in its general direction.

The Amazing Race (9/29 @ 8) continues to bring whatever class can be found to the reality genre. It has won Emmys and continues to be an interesting show, I guess. Me personally? I've never watched it.

I've also never watched The Good Wife (9/29 @ 9) or The Mentalist (9/29 @ 10). But if you want to watch them, they start in a week.


CBS shifts from Sunday night dramas to a variety of comedies at the start of the work week. First up is How I Met Your Mother (9/23 @ 8) which finally lived up to its name in the waning seconds of last season, introducing us to Ted's future wife. I've been sort of hot and cold on this show in the last few years, continuing to watch out of obligation. Here's hoping that this final spin through the Ted Moseby memory bank will justify some of that obligation.

We Are Men (9/30 @ 8:30) takes a comedic look at men facing divorce, modern marriage, fatherhood, and all those sorts of issues that men didn't used to have to worry about at all. I don't know if it will be funny, and I sort of expect it to be rather ordinary.

Speaking of rather ordinary and not funny . . . 2 Broke Girls (9/23 @ 9) most likely doesn't care at all what I think about its show. But what about Mom (9/23 @ 9:30), a show starring Anna Faris. She's not broke but she is a single mom who is battling her previous alcoholism. Faris got some critical acclaim for her role in The House Bunny and she played everyone's favorite weatherperson in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1 and 2). Also this is another Chuck Lorre show, so I would not be surprised if it is successful. How will the show play recovering alcoholism for laughs, I wonder?

The last new show of Monday night is Hostages (9/23 @ 10), which I've seen many commercials for in the last month. It involves the coercion of a surgeon and her family into tanking the next days schedule operation on the president of the United States! It stars Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott and kind of makes he think of Panic Room mixed with Dave? I don't know where it goes from the first few episodes, but maybe it'll be like a female 24? Or maybe it'll be something else entirely.


Tuesday night is NCIS night! The original (9/24 @ 8) and the LA one (9/24 @ 9) will draw its share of viewers. But I expect it'll get crushed by Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D on the same night, starting at 8. (More on it in a different post.) But if you are settled in to watch NCIS, then you'll maybe want to also watch Person of Interest (9/24 @ 10). I gave PoI several tries in its first season, but it just didn't click with me. I wanted Michael Emerson to succeed post-Lost and I was sort of interested in Caviezel, post-"Jesus." But the concept of the show just didn't grab me.


Mid week is like Homecoming week for CBS. The shows offered have been on for a looong time and you likely know all that you need to know about them. This seems like the 300th season of Survivor (9/18 @ 8). The hook this time around is all stars versus their family.

Then there is Criminal Minds (9/25 @ 9). I honestly don't know how to describe this show. I've never watched it and I think it is just another police procedural drama similar to NBC's Law & Order:SVU that is its Wednesday night opposite. Why not switch over The CW at nine and give The Tomorrow People a try?

And speaking of 300th season, here is CSI (9/25 @ 10) for another season of intricate laboratory work and evidentiary examinations. Who is the William Peterson/Lawrence Fishburne/Ted Danson lead of the show nowadays? Are the junior CSIs still toiling in semi-obscurity? Wouldn't this show be that much more engaging if Joss Whedon wrote it?


Like Monday, this night is fronted by a block of comedies and anchored by a 10 o'clock drama. First, The Big Bang Theory (9/26 @ 8) asks you to wonder how things between Penny and Leonard will be while he is still at sea on some research trip. Will Raj ever learn to talk to girls without having to get drunk first? Is Sheldon learning to display human emotion in a convincing fashion . . . outside of his love for flags?

The Millers (10/3 @ 8:30) probably makes me sadder than almost any other show on any night for any network. And that is because it will most likely be yet another opportunity for Will Arnett to not be as good as we want him to be--either because of bad writing or maybe because he's turning into the Jim J. Bullock of recent television (he's in many things and not entirely successful at most of them).

And then there is The Crazy Ones (9/26 @ 9), starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Robin Williams. I would have sworn that this show was an hour-long dramedy . . . and now I see that it is only 30 minutes? I was already sort of skeptical, but now I'm more so. I would like Gellar to succeed. I gave Ringer a try a few years ago. But I'm sort of ambivalent to Williams. He's an easy target at times, so I guess I should be sympathetic. Maybe it'll be okay.

I'm going to skip Two and a Half Men (9/26 @ 9:30) as it needs no help from me or you. Rather I suggest that you watch Elementary (9/26 @ 10). It is not up to the quality of BBC's Sherlock and Jonny Lee Miller & Lucy Liu do not a Cumberbatch & Freeman make. But it's still an engaging hour-long drama/procedural with some flair to it.


Ugh. Undercover Boss (9/27 @ 8)--what? Yes?!  Hawaii Five-O (9/27 @ 9) and Blue Bloods (9/27 @ 10) are the forgettable shows being served up on Friday night. These have all been on for a few years--in the case of Boss . . . an unconscionable number of years at this point--so there is probably not much in the way of new things here. I suggest you spend your fall Friday nights attending the local high school football game and only rooting for the marching bands that perform at halftime. Those musical athletes have practiced hard for your entertainment and that stuff is harder than it looks.


Take a walk on your neighborhood bike paths while the weather is still good. The tv will be there when you get back.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fall TV Preview--The CW

A quick look at the number of page views WWYG?! has received for the last two posts show that twice as many people are interested in what Dean has to say about cable TV programming than what I have to say about NBC.

I could take that as a sign that no one is interested in what I have to say, but then I would have to re-evaluate the last nine years of this blog's existence. And I'm not ready to do that tonight. So instead I will assume that these numbers indicate that what no one actually likes is NBC.

Moving on . . . tonight to The CW!


On the first day of the week The CW offers "local programming." Honestly, I have no idea what that even means for my channel here in Columbus, much less what you might happen to get to choose from wherever you live. Perhaps it is wrestling. Perhaps it is community access stuff. Perhaps it is reruns of Star Trek: Voyager. Drop me a comment to tell me what is going on in your neck of the woods.


Do you know what Hart of Dixie (10/7 @ 8) is? According to a summary of what ended in season 2, the big question is "Will Zoe be back in BlueBell after her Manhattan summer when Dixie returns for season 3?" Because I am skilled in the interpretation of context clues, I will guess that BlueBell is the name of a southern town (hence Dixie) and that Zoe is a southerner who was trying to make it in New York and maybe got involved in a same-sex relationship with someone named Dixie. Yes. That is exactly what this show must be about.

You might not have ever watched that show, but you might have considered watching Beauty and the Beast (10/7 @ 9). I didn't consider it . . . because I've had many years of watching Kristen Kreuk on Smallville and don't think this so-called beast is all that disfigured. But if the producers are calling season 2 Beauty and the Beast 2.0 and the critics used such a modifier as "plagued" to describe elements of season 1 . . . I think I'll pass.

Local programming rears its mysterious head again on this night, starting at 10 pm. Perhaps this time it is a two-hour block of Wheel of Fortune?


The Originals (10/3 @ 9) is a spinoff of CW favorite The Vampire Diaries. This show involves vampires, werewolves, and witches in New Orleans. (And, apparently a vampire-werewolf hybrid?) If you don't have cable and really are interested in finding out what all the fuss was over True Blood, then I guess you can try this.

Speaking of CW favorites, here comes another season of Supernatural (10/8 @ 9). My daughter Sarah is really a fan of this show, but I've never given it a try. Perhaps, if she bothers to read this, she can post a comment below explaining why this show is any good. I suspect that if you like to read Cassie Claire's The Mortal Instruments book series, you're a fan of Supernatural. And that is fine. I'm here to only judge a little bit.

On Tuesday night, the local programming is most likely Frasier reruns.  
Oh baby, I hear the blues a-callin'
tossed salad and scrambled eggs!
Oh my.
And maybe I seem a bit confused, but baby . . .
I got you pegged!
etc., etc.


Now, here we go CW! Here's some interesting stuff.

Arrow (10/9 @ 8) returns after its strong freshman debut with more superhero excitement. This show was pretty good for us dedicated Smallville watchers. And if you don't care about superheroes that much, you were guaranteed lots of images of Stephen Amell shirtless with his 12-pack abs. (I think the fans called that Olvier Queen's "quiver," but I could have also just made that up.)

Following Arrow is The Tomorrow People (10/9 @ 9). If you are of a certain age and genre disposition, you might remember that this show originally existed as a British, 70s era program. Its about high schoolers with mysterious powers such as telekinesis. My wife Lynda seems pretty excited for this remake because she's showing the kids YouTube videos and saying things like "jaunting." I am a bit interested because, well, why not? But also because Arrow star Stephen Amell is the big brother of THIS show's star, Robbie Amell. Now THAT is some creative programming.

Tonight's local programming is a full hour of Bob Ross painting lighthouses.


Were you intrigued by what I wrote above regarding The Originals? Then you don't need me to tell you that The Vampire Diaries (10/3 @ 8) is starting its fifth season. And you probably already know who Nadia, Aaron, Jesse, and Silas are.

If you enjoy Arrow, but wish that it featured lots of embroidery and castles instead of abs, then you might want to find out more about Reign (10/17 @ 9). If you still don't know what this show is about, then what if I suggest that what you don't know about Mary Queen of Scot's angsty teen years is what is driving this show. I wish I could say that I came up with this descriptive quote--"It's like Gossip Girl, Game of Thrones, and Felicity in a blender." Wow.

Thursday night's local programming was going to be one hour's worth of Seinfeld reruns, but NBC discovered that if it ran the same Seinfeld reruns on Tuesday night at 10, it would outperform almost anything it is currently paying money for. So . . . no soup for you this night, CW!


I guess the CW believes that women really have nothing better to do on Friday nights . . . or that DVRs are put to much use on this night. Because it offers The Carrie Diaries (10/25 @ 8) and America's Next Top Model (???) during the coveted end-of-week prime time hours. Maybe the CW has data showing that there are a surprising number of females who have nothing better to do on Friday night than watch these shows. But where were these TV-watching ladies when I was a young and single man? I certainly would have had a better shot at these ladies back in the day than I might have had in a bar. Oh well.

The end of the work week's local programming is most likely just a montage of clips from the movie Office Space. I don't know which scenes you will get, but I'm hoping to get more of Jennifer Aniston and less of Lumbergh.


I'm not even sure The CW broadcasts a signal on Saturday. Why don't you read some Douglas Adams?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall TV Preview--NBC

Dean got me off to a great start yesterday, so I am compelled to throw myself into creating the rest of the Fall TV Previews.

And the first question that I must always ask myself is . . . "What order do I write things in? By day? By Network? By some random arbitrary schedule?" In the past I've followed each of these methods. But this year, it was clear what I was going to do. I have selected the show I would focus things on--that wonderful concept of Sleepy Hollow, the bizarre fish-out-of-water crime/cop drama where the fish is a Revolutionary War ghost of a headless Hessian mercenary. What kookiness would ole' Headless do in the modern world? (Besides lopping off heads, I guess?) I had already promoted the upcoming Fall TV posts by talking about Sleepy Hollow and so, of course I would aim squarely at Fox and kick it off.

And then last night came and went and I wasn't even prepared to watch the premiere episode, much less discuss it in any satirical way. So, I called an audible and decided to go with NBC as my kick off subject. And if you think I did THAT because one entire day of their weekly schedule is devoted to the NFL? Well, then good for you.


The aforementioned Sunday Night Football or Football Night in America or whatever gets your week started off right. It begins around 7:30 and just goes all night long. If you didn't get enough football all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday, then here is a little bit more. (Already going on)


Hey look at this! NBC also hardly has any shows devoted to Monday night either! (I really did pick the right network to get my mojo going, huh? I'll be all the way to Friday in about ten minutes of writing at this rate. Thanks for not having any sort of creative process or success, NBC.)

Well, NBC does have two shows. First there is The Voice (9/23 @ 8 pm). This singing competition show goes all the way from 8 to 10 pm, if you can believe it. Are they just rubbing it in to Fox, who's signature singing competition show has sort of gone off the rails in the last few years? I don't know because I make it a policy to just not watch these reality shows or competition-type shows. I don't think the judges are compelling. I don't think the competition is great. It's just not for me.

But if you can make it through The Voice, there is a new show called The Blacklist (9/23 @ 10). It features James Spader as a super-criminal who surrenders to the FBI and pledges to help catch those on the Bureau's "most wanted" list. I think this show reminds me of CBS's Person of Interest and has a bit of that same network's Elementary. I am not a huge Spader fan, at least not since his Less Than Zero days. But this show seems fairly innocuous. If you like crime dramas and enjoy seeing people that you are familiar with in new shows you know nothing about, then you'll probably enjoy this. The biggest problem? Spader's character is named "Red" Reddington. Ugh.


NBC keeps giving up me gifts as I examine their Tuesday night lineup. If you thought that two hours of The Voice on Sunday night wasn't enough for your singing pleasure, then guess what? It's on AGAIN this night between 9 pm and 10 pm. What more could they possibly do? How can NBC afford the broadcasting rights on all these song copyrights? Isn't it a failing network?

The Biggest Loser (Oct. 10 @ 8) isn't interested in hearing the word "fail." It's mission is to help overweight Americans take back their lives and change their eating and exercise habits to turn themselves into a better, healthier version of themselves. The REST of us who sit on the couch eating chips while this show is on might be very familiar with the word "fail." But let's not talk about that.

The last show of the night on NBC is Chicago Fire (9/24 @ 10). Isn't this the same name as the Chicago-area Major League Soccer team? Isn't there some sort of legal copyright problem with this? Are there three subjects I know less about that 1.) Chicago Fire 2.) Major League Soccer and 3.) copyright law?


Drama, reality show, football. All in huge hour+ blocks. That is what NBC is throwing out night after night. Here, midweek, it kicks things off with Revolution (9/25 @ 8), a returning show that got off to a promising start last season. The post-apocolypse show wants to sort of play with the kitsche of zombie show civil collapse but remain firmly in the family-friendly camp. I watch the show weekly during its first months and then it went on a early 2013 hiatus and I lost track of it. Over the summer, I adjusted my DVR to capture most of the second half episodes that I missed. But some of the lustre seemed gone. Maybe season 2 will reinvigorate it. But most shows cant' simply walk away for months and expect you to sit around and wait hopefully for them to come back. It doesn't matter that this show prominently features Giancarlo Esposito. It ain't Breaking Bad.

I'm skipping Law & Order: SVU (9/25 @ 9) because absolutely nothing needs to be said. It runs purely on inertia.

Ironside (10/2 @ 10) features respected actor Blair Underwood as a wheelchair-bound cop solving crimes. Its just another cop show with some elements of House. The show will use flashbacks to give backstory on Underwood's character, allowing him to get out of the chair and play the more impulsive, combative cop that got him into the wheelchair in the first place.


Hello, half-hour comedies! NBC knows that America only knows how to laugh on Thursday night.

It knows this because it consulted  its dusty programming bible which is kept in the locked safe in the abandoned top floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza where no one is allowed to go anymore. Well, no one but Ted Danson, Bill Cosby, and Jerry Seinfeld. (If they are feeling magnanimous, they'll invite Tina Fey.) They occasionally hold candle-lit seances up there. You can see the flickering lights if you look really hard. They open the creaky old safe where the programming bible is stored (the combination is 1985) and flip through the pages.

The comedy block consists of Parks and Recreation (9/26 @ 8), Welcome to the Family (10/3 @ 8:30), Sean Saves the World (10/3 @ 9), and The Michael J. Fox Show (9/26--The show initially will premiere at 9 pm, then move to 9:30 later. Check your DVR to make sure I got that right.)

The big news here, obviously is the return of Fox to TV and to NBC. He plays a news anchor who is battling Parkinson's Disease (as is Fox). The show also marks Betsy Brandt's first show since her role as Marie in Breaking Bad ended. I'm sure Brandt is looking forward to some jokes after the unrelenting drama of Bad and I'm sure Fox is just looking to get back in the TV game that made him famous . . . while he also clearly wants to educate us all on his disease. I'll say nothing at all snarky about this.

But NBC is also not only relying on Fox's muscle memory (sorry) of the network's glory days.Sean Saves the World is starring Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame. And I am here to say sorry to Parks & Rec. Not only is it firmly in control of Thursday night, but I've never watched it. I'm sure it's good.But I'm too busy watching reruns of The Single Guy to bother with anything made after 1994.


Nothing about Dateline NBC will ever be the same after watching Arrested Development's 4th Netflix season. If I wanted to watch Grimm (10/25 @ 9) I probably already be watching Supernatural anyway. But is there something to the network's splashy Friday night drama Dracula (10/25 @ 10)? Most significantly, the famous vampire is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He used to be an honest-to-goodness movie star! Was he persuaded to do this based on the success of NBC's mid-season Hannibal show?

Or is it something else? Why would the show pair Dracula, posing as an entrepreneur in modern America, with Van Helsing . .  a vampire hunter? And why would they be working together to bring down some shadowy organization called the Order of the Dragon. Oh . . wait . . . NERD BAIT! NBC knows that if you put mythological characters together and mix in a mystery, and if you place it on Friday night, the pimply set will probably latch on and obsess about every little bit of head canon. This show is built for Tumblr posts and lots of .gifs. And the costuming alone will draw some people in. (See?) This might actually work.


Football, football, football!
Go outside.
Read a book (or my blog).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall TV Preview--Dean's Cable Reviews!

[editor's note: Dean came through for me again this year and wrote a nice overview of the significant information you need to know about this fall season's Cable TV offerings. And because he is great, and because I am not yet prepared, I am giving his submission pride of place in this year's Fall TV posts.]


First I would be remiss if I didn’t urge you to watch Sleepy Hollow. I’m infringing on David’s turf here, but I don’t think he’ll mind.  [ed--HEY! Guess bloggers only get so much leeway. As Heisenberg might warn . . . tread lightly!] Critic Alan Sepinwall has said of it, “I suspect it’s bad.” Let’s make it the highest rated show ever! On to the cable.
This year’s reviews feature a rating system to help you decide whether they’re worth your time. I think it’s pretty helpful, and not opaque at all. (Your mileage may vary).


Boardwalk Empire (HBO): I almost gave up on this show last season, but then it ended, and oh my how it ended! It’s already started (like most of these shows…mea culpa) but if you have HBO you can catch up on demand. I suggest you do so.   
Series Rating: (On a scale of Mickey Doyle to Al Capone) Lucky Luciano

Breaking Bad (AMC): It’s not too late to start watching Breaking Bad before it ends forever. (It’s probably too late.) [ed.--It's DEFINITELY too late.] As a reminder of the heightened stakes at this late date in the season here are some unanswered questions: a.) Will Lydia and Todd ever get together?  b.) What is Walt Jr. going to have for breakfast? c.) Will Marie ever wear purple again? So tense! [ed--In his dreams and only when she wears a football jersey. Pancakes smothered in syrup and the tears of betrayal. Only when Skyler chooses the purple lining of Marie's coffin!]
Series Rating: (Chili P to Crystal Blue Persuasion): Crystal Blue Persuasion
The Walking Dead (AMC): The Walking Dead has an audience that NBC is jealous of. I can't watch this show, because zombies are scary and my wife is having none of it. I'm given to understand that it started off good, got pretty bad, and now is good again? This makes me sad because there's nothing more fun than listening to people complain about a show they are watching and you aren't.
Series Rating: (World War Z the movie to World War Z the book): Resident Evil
Other shows: There are other shows on Sunday that you could watch, but ugh, look, I’m tired and don’t want to look at a schedule. I suppose Dexter maybe? If you’re still watching Dexter, why? This isn’t rhetorical, I’m genuinely curious. Isn’t it terrible now? Although I heard Yvonne Strahovski is on this season, so that’s something. [ed--wait . . . WHAT?!] (I give this show a Ted Bundy.) 
Also probably Homeland is on (I give this show an “As You Wish” out of a scale of “love, twue love” to “My name is Inigo Montoya.” Also I’ve never seen it, so that rating is especially arbitrary.) 



Adventure Time with Finn and Jake (Cartoon Network): Most everything I write about is not appropriate for children, but this is! People with children, watch this! People without children should also watch this.   
Series Rating: (plop dumps to algebraic): algebraic
Regular Show (Cartoon Network): This show follows the adventures of a Raccoon and a Blue Jay who work in a park trying to slack off. Their boss is a gumball machine. There is also a lollypop man, a high-five ghost, and an immortal gorilla voiced by Mark Hamill. Somehow the show is more insane than that description.
Series Rating: (Thomas to Skips): Muscle Man and High-Five Ghost [ed--ugh . . . what?! How are these insane ratings even helpful to my readership? How is this accessible at ALL? I don't feel that you are treading lightly here.]


Brickleberry (Comedy Central): I only list this show to note that it is terrible.   
Series Rating: (no scale) Daniel Tosh’s rape joke [ed--ummm . . . Dean?]
Sons of Anarchy (FX): The last episode of the show featured the following: Prison rape, torture porn, a drowning in a bathtub full of urine (with the body then being micturated upon, another rape, a school shooting. I no longer care about the fate of any of the characters on this show. Ugh. However this show has pretty much everyone from Deadwood on it, so it does have that going for it. [ed--whoa. Guest blogger ladies and gentlemen. I emphasize GUEST blogger.]
Series Rating: (Steve the Drunk to Al Swearengen): George Hearst
Top Gear (History): This show is not as good as the British original. It started off really badly, but it’s gained confidence and is finally a show worth checking out.  
Series Rating: (Jason Dawe to Jeremy Clarkson): Richard Hammond
Cougar Town (TBS): I’ll be honest, I don’t know when this will return to TV, or if it will be on Tuesdays, but I hope it is, because Tuesday is a wasteland on cable otherwise. Also this show is funny and delightful and) you should watch if you like that sort of thing.  
Series Rating: (Shot glass to Big Joe): Big Carl


It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX): First note: If you can’t find this channel it’s hidden amongst all the sport channels. Second note: a show this long in the tooth shouldn’t be so funny still, but it is. Third note: not appropriate for any audiences.
Series Rating: (Charlie Work to Cut-Off Sleeves) Dee Looks Like a Bird [ed--Did you get Badger to write this for you in between Star Trek scripts?]
The League (FXX): Do you like Always Sunny? If so watch The League! Honestly, it’s just as funny and just as not appropriate for anyone. 
Series Rating: (Jacksonville Defense to Adrian Peterson) Peyton Manning
American Horror Story (FX): This season is about witches! Last season featured Ian McShane as a Murder Santa, so I’m not sure how that can be topped. However, the first episode title of the new season is delightful (and inappropriate for a family blog so look it up, unless you are a young child in which case . . . don’t). [ed--Maybe it's all the weirdness of up above getting to me, but that episode title didn't bother me as much as I expected.]  
Series Rating: (Banshees to Demonic Possession) Every horror trope ever rolled into one undifferentiated mass.

Key & Peele (Comedy Central): I spent an embarrassing amount of time watching Key and Peele clips while writing this. Rather than write something I suggest you "Google" Key & Peele East/West Bowl. You’ll be glad you did.  
Series Rating: (John Smith to A.A. Ron Balakey) Fudge
South Park (Comedy Central): This show has been on for 17 seasons now. It’s only 8 years younger than The Simpsons. If you don’t know what this show is about by now, I don’t know what to tell you.  
Series Rating: (Cartman to Butters) Tweek
Duck Dynasty (A&E): I’m uncomfortable with most of the reality TV out there. There seems to be more “laughing at” than “laughing with.” Because this is one of the most popular shows on television (not just cable, but all of television) I watched an episode. It was…OK. I’m not sure why it’s so incredibly popular, but at least it’s better than Two and a Half Men. I’ll take a thousand Duck Dynasties over that.  
Series Rating: (Honey Boo-Boo to Duck Dynasty): Duck Dynasty
Anger Management: Much like Brickleberry I only note this to say that this is terrible. Stop rewarding Charlie Sheen’s behavior.
Series Rating: (no scale): Alec Baldwin Voice Mail to his daughter


I didn’t see any shows worth watching on Thursday so I’ll put in a plug for Netflix Original series which can be watched at any time. Orange is the New Black (on a scale of Piper to Red, I’d give it a Red) is incredible. Arrested Development is still funny enough to rewatch a few times (I’d rate season 4 as “Same” or maybe even a “sad Peanuts theme”).[ed--SAME.] Derek has Karl Pilkington and I am a sucker for Karl Pilkington (On a scale of Life’s Too Short to The Office I’d rate Karl Pilkington “The Ricky Gervais Show.”)


Legend of Korra: Book Two: Last season of this children’s cartoon featured a murder-suicide. It hasn’t reached the heights of Avatar: the Last Airbender yet, but I’m definitely watching. [ed--Now I tread lightly on Dean's turf by also encouraging you to watch Korra. He makes the murder-suicide thing sound like a bigger deal than it was within the entire context of the whole first season. If you can handle the name of American Horror Story's season 3 pilot, you can handle this.]
Series Rating: (Azula to Uncle Iroh) Zuko [ed--HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT?!! (A:TLA fans know what I'm talking about.)]


College Football (ESPN probably): Football!
Series Rating:
(Big East to SEC): Pac 12
[ed--Well, what could be clearer? Thanks much Dean for kicking off this year's Fall TV Preview. Any complaints regarding the content of this post can be directed to]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Tangled Web From There to Here

Well, first there was this.

And then there was this, which was unrelated to that first thing.

But, because of this video:

the fans of that very first thing started to pay attention to that second thing.

And then . . . a bit later, I heard about it all via this thing.

So . . . I began watching all of the videos made during the second thing, which eventually ended. But then they decided to keep it going, which has eventually turned into this thing.

And, all of that in many circuitous ways led to this, which is often prominently represented by this amongst many of the fans.

Now . . . I'm not going to go and locate the exact video (out of so many years worth of videos) what that Pizza John image initially came from . . . sorry. But what you need to know is that other things--of course-- were also happening during all of this time. Stuff like this, but most especially this:

And due to the confluence of all of these things, there was this.

And all of THAT, my friends, is what helped bring me to this.

It has been a great ride from there to here and I'm happy to be doing it.


Monday, September 02, 2013

Ye Olde Labour Day Weekende

Yeah, we went to the Ohio Renaissance Festival with the kids today. It was the opening weekend of the yearly event and it sort of felt a bit like old times (olde tymes?) for Lynda and I.

The last time we visited a Renaissance Festival was this very same one between Columbus and Cincinnati, but it was probably 14 years ago, back before we had kids, when we were just a  footloose couple looking to have fun. (But naturally, since we aren't THAT carefree, we still had to do it in the context of taking some kids from our (then) church to have fun on a Saturday.

This time it was our own kids having the fun. (If you're a Facebook friend of mine, you can see the pictures over in that space. You can get there by clicking the WWY Facebook?! link at the top of this blog page.) We ate some food, listened to some minstrels, walked around a bit. I even got to drink some hard apple cider, which was nice.

Of course, Ren Fests are not entirely new to Lynda and I, kids or not, Ohio or not. Our first visit back in time was way back in our college days. My room mate Gerry and some of his friends were frequent merry-makers and they had the garb and swords to prove it. Lynda and I weren't THAT committed, but we traveled down that road a tiny bit--at least I did. See below for the evidence. (These photos came out of my 1992 scrapbook.)

(Yeah, that's right . . . I kept pretty extensive scrapbooks once upon a time.)

The jester's hat was Gerry's. The sweet Macintosh computer was also Gerry's. This was our dorm room above Honors House on the Georgia Southern U. campus. This half room upstairs was later declared a fire hazard. But Gerry lived up there for two years and I lived up there for three. But let's focus on the hat, okay?

The fair maiden Lynda bedecked with her Renaissance Festival hair garland. (There's a ribbon running down the back. The t-shirt is also a Ren Fest souvenir, but you can't get a good look at the design. I think this was taken in the "backyard"area of Honors House, near where the steps lead to the basement.

Here I am all decked out in my full garb. Pants, shirt, necklace. looooong tasseled hat with a fancy pattern and a cute little jingly bell on the end. (This was worn for Halloween one year, so THAT is why I am wearing socks with my sandals. It was late October and cold. Plus . . . my feet are ugly.

Proof that we knew how to have fun once upon a time.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Fall TV Previews . . .

It is September 1. That means that the annual Why Won't You Grow?! Fall TV preview posts are soon to arrive.

I know that you all look forward to these posts with great anticipation. And this year shouldn't be any different. There will be the usual assortment of returning favorite shows from years past, and particular focus on the new slate of terrible ideas that will be ridiculed and those selected few ideas that might end up being something worth devoting your television time towards.

If you want to review Fall TV Previews from the past, I decided to make it easier for you. I've created a Page along the top row of my blog page, below the header art and above the start of the most recent post. Just click on Fall TV Previews to go to the index page.

Now, in the coming weeks I'll be posting on specific networks and the like, but I thought I would tease you a bit by highlighting two items that I think are going to be of particular significance in this coming year.

Item 1--This show will either be amazing or horrifying or equal parts of both.

I can't wait to find out what this crazy idea will be like.

Item 2--You may know that this is the last year of How I Met Your Mother, a show that I have loved and been disappointed by in recent years. But in this last season, we'll get to the mother (who was finally glimpsed at the end of last year) and start wrapping up all of those loose ends that the show has gleefully strewn abut for the past 8 years.

One of those loose ends?
Click the link to visit the page.
I've as excited by this as I am the notion of a headless horseman galloping around in modern day Manhattan.

But you should start getting excited for the 2013 Fall TV Previews. They're coming up!