My DVR vs. the 2012 Fall TV Schedule

If you read my blog regularly (or even occasionally), you know I’m a pretty avid and engaged watcher of ye ole Boob Tube, television, TV. I enjoy the character development and the stories that television at its best can provide and, though I still go to a lot of movies, the writing on the best television shows has actually surpassed most films.

The new fall TV season is starting this month. This isn’t as big a deal as it used to be, with the advent of cable and its different launch times as a viable competitor to the networks, but it still holds a lot of sway in the TV world. Below is a list of shows I’ll be adding to my DVR list, shows that make the cut and shows that are gone.

My rules for TV shows:
1. No staged reality shows. Reality television gets a bad rap from this garbage; offenders include The Voice, X-Factor, American Idol…basically any game show that somehow involves music. I watch a lot of “more like reality but not quite” shows on HGTV and of course History and Discovery have quality stuff. But if it’s staged, or on a network, avoid like the plague.
2. Laugh-track. I decided years ago to drop the laugh track. I find it annoying, especially in that shows are written to the laugh track. If the joke doesn’t hit, it’s REALLY bad. Plus I hate the idea of being told when to laugh. I grandfathered Two and a Half Men into this until Charlie Sheen was gone and for a while after, but then nothing was funny.
3. I am tired of procedural shows. I like shows with continuing story lines, deep characters and mythologies. Very seldom does a police, medical or legal procedural interest me and even if they do, generally not for long. TV has developed better ideas than this.

So, here’s the list:

NEW
666 Park Avenue (Sept. 30 – ABC)
Horror is making its return to television. Frankly, I’m not holding out a lot of hopes for this one. I’m giving it a shot because (a) I’m a big Terry O’Quinn fan and (b) The Wife likes horror.

Animal Practice (Sept. 26 – NBC)
This could be good, but more likely to be awful. But could see some good animal comedy bits, and Justin Kirk has some great comedic timing.

Ben and Kate (Sept. 25 – FOX)
I really like the idea of a comedy about a brother and sister trying to live together; a fresh take on the genre. Comedies, even more than dramas, are all about the chemistry between the leads. We’ll see.

Elementary (Sept. 27 – CBS)
A fresh take on a familiar premise and character. Holmes in New York with a female Watson. Why not?

Go On (Sept. 11 – NBC)
It looks solid, and I’m always looking for good half-hour shows for that bit of bite-sized entertainment. Plus I became a Matthew Perry fan during Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Last Resort (Sept. 27 – ABC)
Most interesting high-concept this year by far: a submarine commander defies orders to nuke Pakistan and they are on the run from the US government. No idea how this sustains as a show, but I’m in.

Revolution (Sept. 17 – NBC)
I’m a sucker for post-apocalypita, JJ Abrams and high-concept dramas with a different story to tell. So, you know, I’m pumped.

Vegas (Sept. 25 – CBS)
Dennis Quaid headlines his first ever TV show and Vegas in the 60’s has a lot of promise.

RETURNING
30 Rock (Oct. 4 – NBC)
This is a great show, but it’s time has come. The decision to cap its 7 year run with a 13 episode order this year was a good one, but NBC has no replacement in the wings.

Community (Oct. 19 – NBC)
I don’t know why no one is watching this show. It’s far and away the best half-hour on network television. Enjoy it while it lasts: NBC is likely to say goodbye after its 13 episode order this year.

Hawaii Five-0 (Sept. 24 – CBS)
I don’t usually do police procedurals. This show is strongest when it’s letting its two leads, McGarrett and Dan-O, bicker while exploring its high concept premise. It’s big crime of the week schtick gets boring and unrealistic after a while. They should (a) focis on many more continuing story lines and probably (b) cut the episode order to keep things quick and fresh.

Homeland (Sept. 30 – Showtime)
Claire Danes is the best actress on television today. One of two shows that President Obama watches.

The Middle (Sept. 26 – ABC)
Often overlooked in the shadow of Modern Family, but this show is often better. Funny while remaining firmly rooted in the experience of American family.

Modern Family (Sept. 26 – ABC)
Best ensemble cast in comedy today. Pitch-perfect timing and chemistry between all six leads and even the kids. Not a dud in the bunch. Writers need to resist the urge to allow the show to become outlandish, a line they flirted with far too often in the 2011-12 season.

Once Upon a Time (Sept. 30 – ABC)
This show should have been bad, but we should have known we’d get nothing but good from the writers of Lost. Can’t wait to see where they go with this, as the show’s format went out the window with the Season One finale.

The Office (Sept. 20 – NBC)
This show should have ended three years ago. But, with a set ending and Greg Daniels (original show runner) back at the helm, this season has a shot to restore some of its former glory. At its worst, it’s not bad.

Parenthood (Sept. 11 – NBC)
Best show on network television today, and it’s not even close. Also potentially the best ensemble cast ever assembled, and run by the best show runner in the business (Jason Katims), a pioneer in the semi-scripted style that gives Parenthood and gave Friday Night Lights their crisp, clean and real dialogue.

Parks and Recreation (Sept. 20 – NBC)
The standard of NBC’s comedies, this one will have to hold down the fort after 30 Rock, The Office and (likely) Community bid adieu this year.

Person of Interest (Sept. 27 – CBS)
Incredibly interesting show; gets better and deeper with each episode, even though it’s framed as a procedural.

Touch (Oct. 26 – FOX)
This one’s on a short leash for me this year. I want to like its “everybody’s connected” premise and am a fan of Kiefer Sutherland (yes, before 24). But I don’t trust Tim Kring after the disaster and letdown that was Heroes, and the show was just average last year.

Up All Night (Sept. 20 – NBC)
Fun comedy with good chemistry between its leads. It’s okay, but it’s not sure what it wants to be: Workplace comedy? Family comedy? We’ll see, now that they’ve cancelled the Ava show. How will they keep Maya Rudolph involved this year? Honestly, it might be better if they didn’t.

The Walking Dead (Oct. 14 – AMC)
Amazing show. I am a bit worried about the 16 episode order: of course I’m excited to see more TWD, but I’m worried about it maintaining its quality and edge. Season 1 and 2 combined were only 18 episodes. Maybe they’ll treat this like two 8 episode seasons?

OUT
Castle (ABC)
I liked this show okay, but think it’s a poor use of Nathan Fillion’s talent (if he can’t do Firefly, then for sure the Rockford Files reboot they’ve been trying to get off the ground for years). The premise wore on me after a while, plus it’s up against Hawaii Five-0 and Revolution.

Family Guy
This show got bad years ago. I watched a few last year, but I’m done with it.

Fringe
Loved the show, but have decided to wait for it to wrap, then go back and watch all of them at the same time. Had a hard time keeping up with all the themes and such. Will be a treadmill show for me in 2013.

Glee
Musical porn; the stories have all the depth of a piece of paper and the spastic quality of the plots annoyed me after a while as well as insulted my intelligence. But what enraged me was Quinn’s accident, almost immediately followed by her returning looking perfect and able to dance in a wheelchair. Then she began to walk shortly thereafter. Have a friend who was in a bad accident and 14 months later is still learning to walk and talk. Maybe I overreacted, but it’s all I can think about when someone brings up Glee now.

Two and a Half Men
Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre need to make up and fast: both are nothing without each other. This is one of the worst shows on television (immediately followed by Anger Management, which I couldn’t sit through an episode of).