Premiere (and Finale) Watch

With the start of the fall TV season now underway and the summer shows wrapping up, we’re in review mode. All of these are completely spoiler-heavy, so if you haven’t watched any of these shows yet and want to be surprised, don’t read these reviews.

Except for the Hellcats review. Read that one, and then make sure you don’t watch it:

next year, dump the stand-up, please.

next year, dump the stand-up, please.

LOUIE: So which is the real Louie? The one that started and finished its first season funny and full of dark, decidedly adult humor that hit the mark, or the one that in the middle of the year had a stretch of about four episodes that didn’t nail one single joke and looked more like a passion project gone horribly, horribly wrong? After 13 episodes, it still could go either way when it comes back next year. After Sons of Anarchy on Tuesday ended around 11:15, I didn’t feel like trying to trudge through two new episodes that would keep me up past midnight watching a show I had really, really been down on. But I’m glad I did, because these two season-ending episodes reminded me why I liked the show back in July. Who knows where those middle episodes came from, like the unfunny Bully episode and the just plain uncomfortable and boring G*d episode. They didn’t seem to belong in this awkward world Louie CK had created and certainly didn’t belong on my TV, nearly forcing me to have the “it’s not you, it’s me” conversation with the show. The appearance of Ricky Gervais again certainly didn’t hurt. In a show that’s designed to be dark, he’s the light that turns the show around and makes you laugh out loud without even realizing it. He comes around and you smile, you can’t help it. So maybe it was Gervais that got the ball rolling, but the season went out on a good note, enough to bring me back next year. FINALE GRADE: B.

offensive on an astounding amount of levels without even trying to be offensive. that's impressive.

offensive on an astounding amount of levels without even trying to be offensive. that's impressive.

HELLCATS, 9 p.m. Wednesdays, The CW: We’ve come to expect something that resembles reality from our made-up TV shows. So in the first minute of Hellcats, the new college cheerleading dramedy on The CW, we know exactly where this show is headed. In one of the first lines delivered — in the lazy voice-over narration, no less — we find out the show’s setting is a fictional college in Memphis, a city where “football is king” — a line that makes Elvis, John Calipari and Rudy Gay all look at each other with a dropped jaw and a “Did they just say that???” look in their eyes. So that’s bad enough. Now hold on tight because you’re about to hear something you may never hear again ’round these parts — a stringent and passionate defense of cheerleaders, all of whom should be completely and wholeheartedly insulted and even outraged at the farce (not a compliment) that is Hellcats. Here’s how the plot goes: Pretty Disassociated Girl (PDG for short, names really don’t matter) with major money problems needs a scholarship, any scholarship, to stay in school her senior year. Never mind why. She hates cheerleaders, she’s never done anything close to cheerleading before, but the only way she can figure out to stay in school is to get a cheerleading scholarship — a notion that flies in the face of anything resembling logic. But wait, there’s more! This particular cheerleading squad is supposedly one of the top teams in the country, but is short one girl after a freak injury. Oh, and I forgot to mention, PDG caused the freak injury voodoo-style with a fake bow-and-arrow that somehow resulted in Hurt Girl falling off the top of the pyramid. Got it? Good. So PDG who hates cheerleading and, one would assume, all things athletic, decides to teach herself cheerleading in an afternoon so she can make the best cheerleading team in the country. Normally the cheesy, non-realistic shows would go the route of bringing in a cheerleading expert for a crash course, a la Col. Sharp in Armageddon. But Hellcats doesn’t have that kind of time! In lieu of the expert crash course, PDG rents Bring It On and goes into a Kevin Bacon-inspired dance around her apartment. After one viewing of the movie and a 30-second dancing montage, PDG is up to the task of making the best cheerleading team in the country. (Waiting, waiting …) Yup, you read that right. In a related note, I’m watching Days of Thunder tonight and then will qualify for Pocono 500 next year. In the midst of making a cheerleading show, to have that little respect for cheerleaders and the work they do — whether any of us believe it or not, they do work like crazy — is supremely preposterous and should completely alienate anyone who has even ever entertained the thought of becoming a cheerleader. Those who actually have been cheerleaders should be in front of The CW offices with torches and pitchforks to get this show off the air. I didn’t even get to the ridiculousness of a student being able to take classes with a three-month overdue tuition bill because it would probably just make my head hurt too much. Can you tell I won’t be watching any more episodes? PREMIERE GRADE: D-, saved from an F- by the cheerleading outfits, which has to be the only reason this show was made in the first place. KEEP WATCHING?: Umm, no.

am i the only one who doesn't really get why the show is called terriers?

am i the only one who doesn't really get why the show is called terriers?

TERRIERS, 10 p.m. Wednesdays, FX: Donal Logue hasn’t made a piece of poop I won’t try yet. The trite family comedy Grounded for Life? Count me in! The short-lived Knights of Prosperity? Sign me up! Runaway Bride? Happy to see him! So when he shows up as the lead in an FX show, it’s like I just got an dealt an 11 against the dealer’s 2. I’m doubling down and kicking myself that I went $25 and not $50. Right now, the hand’s still being played, and I got thrown a 5. So it’s not looking good. Not that it’s Logue’s fault, he does his best here. But ever since Tao of Steve, I either can’t or won’t take him seriously when he wanders away from good, smart comedy. He’s funny. He should always be funny. He gets some comedic moments in Terriers, it just doesn’t seem like nearly enough. When he leans over a desk and tells a powerful man, “I’m going to destroy you,” or something like that, it’s tough to believe. Maybe the problem is he doesn’t really have much talent to play off since just about everyone else in the cast could be classified somewhere between “catatonic” and “comatose.” It’s like they’re all sitting around waiting for Logue to do something, only he’s not the “do something” kind of guy. His partner Britt isn’t terrible, but seemed to be channeling a cross between Fenster in Usual Suspects and Don Dawson from Dazed and Confused. If he started mumbling and stood outside a high school classroom trying to convince Logue to come out and play, you wouldn’t be surprised for a second. PREMIERE GRADE: C. KEEP WATCHING?: Perhaps not for long, but I’ll give it another couple weeks.

fun with vampires

fun with vampires

VAMPIRE DIARIES, 8 p.m. Thursdays, The CW: When V-Di — that’s right, V-Di, because I hate calling it VD and equally hate typing it out all the time — ended last year, it was the best finale of the season. Now, it will go down as one of the best premiere episodes of the new season. Sure, I watch it huddled in a corner of my couch, hoping no one knocks on my door or even calls when I watch it to find out my dirty little secret — that I love a show designed for girls half my age. But the show is so good that it doesn’t even qualify as a guilty pleasure anymore, and this year’s opener solidified that. It picks up right where it left off — even giving us a different view of last year’s twisty final scene — and just doesn’t stop for the full hour. Normally I tune out when the action isn’t on the Salvatore Brothers, but the show kept the non-vampire stuff to a refreshing, absolute bare-bones minimum. The first 10 minutes made my head spin it was so intense and stuffed with action. And the surprise of all surprises — Nina Dobrev isn’t half bad! As Elena last year, more often than not, she was the worst part of the show. She wore a constant puss on her face trying to make sure Sarah Michelle Gellar wouldn’t sue her for copying her Buffy act. Doubling up on her screen time as evil look-a-like vampire Catherine was a huge, huge risk. But she’s approximately 5,462,894 times better as Catherine, which leads me to believe she’s a complete bee-yatch in real life. Not that it matters to us, we just want good TV, and right now, there aren’t that many better than V-Di. PREMIERE GRADE: A. KEEP WATCHING?: Yes, yes, yes.

this is pretty much what you get in nikita. lots of guns, lots of girls.

this is pretty much what you get in nikita. lots of guns, lots of girls.

NIKITA, 9 p.m. Thursdays, The CW: If it weren’t for NBC going to great lengths to define the term “messed up,” The CW might be the most screwy network on TV. How is it the insanely stupid Hellcats and the colossal bore of Life Unexpected can be on the same network as good shows like Vampire Diaries and, now, Nikita? At least that’s the impression from the Nikita’s pilot, which is really good. That kinda sucks because there’s no room for it on my viewing schedule. In two weeks, Fringe and The Office come back, leaving Nikita — no matter how good it is — without a place to reside. So I’ll just enjoy these first two weeks of double, triple and maybe even the long-awaited TV debut of quadruple-crossing as they come, not really knowing how it will play out. It’s a complete departure for the network, which normally caters to 14-year-old girls. This is not that show. It’s a testosterone-fueled guy show, just with girls doing the butt-whooping instead of guys. Its best quality might be the one that dooms it to failure, because it doesn’t fit on the network. The CW has about 4 million viewers, 3.9 million of which have to be teen girls. Perhaps I’m underestimating teen girls, but I just don’t think they’re getting this show — at all, in any way. It took me a couple minutes to process exactly what happened in the final five minutes or so. So the network is relying on 100,000 people my age across the country to convince another 3 million people that this show is worth watching. When has that ever happened? I still say it’s a safe show to watch because it’s almost a lock for a second season. The network must realize what a hard sell this is to its audience, so it’s going to give it time for word of mouth to generate and for DVDs to circulate. PREMIERE GRADE: B. KEEP WATCHING?: As long as there is room for it on a crowded Thursday schedule.

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