should you be watching the new shows?

When exactly did January become September’s long-lost sister when it comes to the TV calendar?

no more commercials. please.

no more commercials. please.

Somehow, my TV plate is just as full — and maybe even more full — now than it is during the traditional season premiere time of September. I think it started with 24 and American Idol premiering in January and running without interruption through the season finales in May. Then Lost copied that, and it was officially on. Now everyone premieres shows in January — premieres, season premieres and hiatus returns — and overloads DVRs across the country.

There are just too many premieres to keep track of, so here’s a quick look at some of them in case you were thinking about catching up OnDemand or online:

Archer (FX, Thursdays at 10 p.m.): In August, the Archer promos on FX seemed pretty funny. In October, when they were coming more frequently and I was watching three different FX shows, they were still funny, but teetering on the border of being annoying. By November, they were officially annoying. By the end of December, they were somewhat entertaining again. So the ads I had seen literally more than 500 times finally got to me, and I actually wanted to watch. Why not? I liked H. Jon Benjamin’s previous voice work on Family Guy and the vastly underrated Adult Swim staple Home Movies, and even liked him as an actor when he showed up on Michael and Michael Have Issues this summer. The rest of the cast was perfectly respectable, even if they had never done much voice work before. So what’s not to like? Umm, a lot. I made it through the first episode without laughing once — even though I wanted to — and bailed about halfway through the second episode to watch … I’m not even sure what I watched, but it was better than Archer. When I thought about it later, I realized the problem was that I’d already seen every funny part of the show in the 50 different commercials I’d been assaulted with over the last five months. I was reciting the show like a Seinfeld episode I’d seen 100 times. That’s not fun! I’m not kidding, I knew exactly what was about to be said for half the pilot episode. Thanks, FX. Your practice of promoting the holy hell out of a new show finally came back and bit you in the butt. At least there was no annoying Peter Gabriel song that gets stuck in your head for a week to go along with it. GRADE: D

 

Life, Unexpected (CW, Mondays at 9 p.m.): Over the summer when the CW ran their season preview special promo-ing all of its shows, this was the one that grabbed my interest. Interesting premise, fun little cast, relatable story (whether we want to admit it or not), it seemed like this had cult-ish hit written all over it. Then I saw the pilot this week and struggled to get through more than about 20 minutes, but stuck it out to get even more annoyed at the execution of said great premise. Three big turnoffs: 1. The radio show hosted by — big reveal! — a couple that acts like they hate each other on air. Fine. I can buy that. But what I can’t buy is that unless Portland is the dullest town in America, there isn’t a person within shouting distance of that signal who would listen to that show for more than five seconds without wanting to crash their car into a ditch to destroy the radio that ever broadcasted it in the first place. Just hearing their 30-second “banter” was enough to make me want to change the TV station, how would anyone be able to listen to it in real life on the radio for four hours a day? 2. Shiri Appleby, who plays the mom of the daughter she put up for adoption 16 years ago. She’s brutal. She’s the other reason no one would listen to the radio show, because she doesn’t seem to have an interesting bone in her body. I knew she was familiarly bad, and it took me about a half-hour to realize she was Daria on ER, who slept with John Stamos and broke up his relationship with Sam on the show in the last season. And then it all came rushing back of how much I didn’t like her last time either. 3. The stupidity this Lux girl even though she’s being painted as such a smarty pants and a wise-beyond-her-years type. The audacity of her — and the writers — to think she can just prance into a courtroom as a 16-year-old with no lawyer, case worker or adult to help her and think she can just convince the judge to let her be on her own? Are you kidding me? Has that ever happened in the world, EVER? No 16-year-old is that dumb or misguided. Except maybe the writers on the show, who are probably 16. Pass. GRADE: D

Human Target (Fox, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.): Give to the people behind this show — they know exactly how this show is going to succeed or fail. If it didn’t have the coolest action scenes you’ve seen on TV since the heyday of 24, you’d be jumping off this bandwagon with ACL-popping speed. Lucky, for the show, it does. Even if those great scenes are completely and utterly implausible — fighting in the open wheel bay of a jet plane? — they’re still a load of fun. They’re the kinds of scenes when after they’re done, you realize your palms are sweating because you were that riveted/scared. The rest of the show is take-it-or-leave it, other than Jackie Earl Haleywho’s acting circles around the rest of the cast to the point where you have to wonder how he got involved in the whole thing. A bet? An overdue payback to the creators? A psychological need to take every job offered to him because of those 25 dry years between Breaking Away and Little Children? I’d believe any of it. All I know is that not once during the first two episodes have I wanted to crack a “We play for a buck a game around here” joke or been hoping William Devane would pop out and start screaming, “Let them play!” So that’s something. GRADE: B

Blue Mountain State (Spike, Tuesdays at 10 p.m.): I made it through the first five minutes — and struggled doing that to the point that I was looking forward to 10:10 so I could turn on the weather report on the Fox 56 news. So maybe I’m being completely unfair when I make the following statement: It’s utterly horrible. Let me sum up those first five minutes. The back-up quarterback on a college football team is getting sexed up by two hotties while his waterboy roommate pounds on the door — “At least let me watch!” he pleads, because apparently times have changed since I was in college and that’s not awkward anymore — and an overbearing high school sweetheart of a prized recruit is laying out a life plan for them while the recruit (didn’t stay long enough to catch names, sorry … no I’m not, actually) just sits back and takes it all like Ronnie “Sure Hands” Paulson while trying to unbutton her shirt. Of course, she’s not giving it up until they’re married, because, again, apparently things have changed since I was in college. Two groupies come to his door, and the prude girl chases them away, even pulling out the hair of one of them. If any of that sounds like fun to you, then Blue Mountain State is probably for you. It’s not for me though. Wait, maybe I’m being too hasty. Let’s try this naughty clip on for size (really adult material, be careful people):

Nope. Still really, really bad and terribly tasteless. GRADE FOR THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF THE PILOT EPISODE: F

Caprica (Syfy, Fridays at 9 p.m.): One of my biggest TV regrets of the decade along with not watching The Wire or sticking with Lost is not watching Battlestar Galactica. I always thought I could just catch up on DVD at some point, then realized very quickly as I kept putting it off that it wouldn’t happen until my daughter is in college. So I really didn’t want to miss out on another BSG-like show. Tough to be more BSG-like than a prequel to BSG. I was worried going in that without watching BSG, I would understand about as much about the show as I understood the first time I watched Eraserhead. Then I read cast and crew interviews about how BSG fans might be disappointed because there is just no interaction with the former show. So I caught it OnDemand and the first thing you see is a line of the bottom of the screen that says “20 YEARS BEFORE THE FALL.” Are you kidding me??? That’s a Battlestar Galactica thing and I have no idea what it means!!! So you go to all this trouble to rope people like me in to your new show, then completely dash their hopes of possibly comprehending the concept of time. Nice. I watched about the first five gory minutes, felt like I was falling asleep and decided I needed to be fully awake to watch it and switched over to watch One Crazy Summer for the 128th time because I knew it would be easy to fall asleep to. Sure enough, the last thing I remember was Hoops getting a backhoe for his graduation. I’m planning on watching the first two episodes this weekend. If someone could guarantee me that Esai Morales would scream “What the sh!t?!?!?!” then I’d be front and center every week. GRADE: INCOMPLETE

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