Previewing the Fall TV Season, Part 2 — Wednesday-Saturday

If you missed part 1, here’s how it works. This is a quick scroll through the new nightly primetime TV schedule for the start of the 2011-12 season (no midseason replacements yet) to see what I’ll be watching, ranking the shows in four tiers:

Watch it live: The shows I can’t live without seeing, or at least am most excited about.

DVR: The shows I still want to see, but they’re not in my first tier (yet).

OnDemand: For the last couple years, this has been the “watch it online” category, but I suck at watching things online. I don’t get enjoyment out of it and I’ve found that I will rarely, if ever, watch anything online. Since OnDemand has gotten so much better in the last two years, you’re pretty safe leaving some things to OnDemand. I’m not streaming with HuluPlus or Netflix just yet, so I can’t include that. Hopefully by next year.

Skip: This is pretty much any show I don’t mention.

A couple things to know about how I do this:

this is not the time to skip desperate housewives if you're a fan

this is not the time to skip desperate housewives if you're a fan

--In part 1, I said I skip House on Mondays because I never got into it. I’m not advising anyone fully immersed in something like House, CSI, Desperate Housewives or NCIS to skip it — I’m just saying I will be skipping them. It’s up to you to make your own programming decisions, this is just how my live/DVR/OnDemand schedule looks.

--My schedule is completely fluid, and I give special, immediate preference to new shows. I try to watch every pilot, at least ones that look remotely interesting. But I’m also much quicker to let them go. So when I said in part 1 that I’ll be watching something like Once Upon a Time at 8 p.m. Sundays over The Simpsons, there’s a good chance that I might give up on the new show and push the old show back into a higher tier by Thanksgiving.

--My OnDemand schedule is going to differ from other people’s, since I have Comcast, whose service includes Fox shows. Blue Ridge does not have Fox shows. I’m not sure what shows DirecTV has OnDemand. So if I advise anyone to leave a show to watch OnDemand, you should probably make sure it’s available on your system.

--I have not seen one new show this year so far. I have a couple screeners that I’ve tried to watch but haven’t gotten around to it. This is all based on show descriptions, YouTube previews and buzz I’ve read about them. I’ll try to post reviews as soon as I watch the shows.

On to the Wednesday to Friday schedule, which is much, much harder than part 1. I’m a little pressed for time, so I’m just trying to link to the newer shows:


frankly, i don't know how anyone can pass up american horror story at this point

frankly, i don't know how anyone can pass up american horror story at this point

Watch it live: The Middle (8 p.m. ABC), Surburgatory (ABC)/Free Agents (NBC, both 8:30 p.m.), Modern Family (9 p.m. ABC), Happy Endings (9:30 p.m. ABC), American Horror Story (10 p.m. FX, starting Oct. 5), South Park (midnight rebroadcast, Comedy Central, starting Oct. 5). OK, so I’m living in a dream world thinking I can stay up til 12:30 a.m. to watch South Park. That’s borderline insanity. No, it’s full-fledged insanity. But I’ve pretty much told myself there is one new show I won’t be missing this year. That show is American Horror Story. Whether it will be good or bad, I have no idea. What I do know is that I need to watch it. Yup, I said “need.” And I even put it in italics, so you know I mean business. So …

DVR: South Park (10 p.m. Comedy Central), Up All Night (8 p.m. NBC, early premiere Sept. 14), the new show with Wil Arnett and Christina Applegate. Two great comedy actors? Check. Good premise of “surprise parents”? Got it. Lorne Michael pedigree? It’s in there too. If there’s a show this year that screams, “Give me some time to grow, pleeeeeeease!!!” it’s this one. Chances are it’s going to get creamed, creamed, creamed and then creamed some more beneath X Factor, Survivor and The Middle. But if it’s good, hopefully NBC doesn’t dump it when the official creaming begins. One problem for me — there’s no way it would be winning a battle on my schedule with The Middle, the most under-appreciated show on TV right now.

OnDemand: The loser of the Suburgatory/Free Agents battle. If I had to guess, I’d say Free Agents goes here and then disappears after a couple weeks.

there won't be one reality show in this schedule. sorry. actually, no i'm not sorry.

there won't be one reality show in this schedule. sorry. actually, no i'm not sorry.

Skip: There are going to be some people who say this is a tough night. These people will be thinking X-Factor should or does matter in some fashion. I am not one of those people. So it’s nice to just chop off four hours of viewing time each week Wednesday and Thursday until November. It’s not that I don’t recognize the significance of the show and its potential power — it’s just that I don’t care in any kind of way. I couldn’t make myself care if they told me the final pitch of Game 7 of the World Series would be hidden somewhere within an X Factor episode. Revenge (10 p.m. ABC)has strike one with its star Emily Van Camp, who played the completely uninteresting and unnecessary Rebecca on Brothers and Sisters. Strikes two and three are that it looks like Marc Blucas gets killed off in the first 15 minutes. Yeah, that’s right. It’s worth two strikes.

Biggest timeslot battle: 9 p.m. X Factor vs. Criminal Minds vs. Modern Family vs. America’s Next Top Model. Poor Harry’s Law. It could be gone by Halloween up against those shows.


Watch it live: Vampire Diaries (8 p.m., CW), Office (9 p.m. NBC). nothing at 9:30, and Always Sunny in Philadelphia (10 p.m. FX). The Office has always been an OnDemand show for me because it’s easy that way, and it may end up back there. I’m at least encouraged by the promo, despite there being no new footage. Guess that means I’m going to like it without Steve Carell.

DVR: Secret Circle (9 p.m. CW), but only because I don’t get CW OnDemand. I imagine we”ll be talking about this as the same show as Vampire Diaries by Christmas.

cricket, chloe, murray and dave foley. sign me up. even with johnny drama.

cricket, chloe, murray and dave foley. sign me up. even with johnny drama.

OnDemand: Community (8 p.m. NBC), Parks and Rec (8:30 p.m. NBC), How to Be a Gentleman (8:30 CBS), Person of Interest (9 p.m. CBS), Charlie’s Angels (8 p.m. ABC). I said it on Monday, but I’ll make sure to say (write) it again. Community and Parks and Rec are probably my two favorite comedies on TV right now. It’s just worked out much easier the last two years to watch them OnDemand with The Office on Friday or over the weekend. Don’t ask why, because I don’t know. Maybe I like unwinding with intelligent, funny comedy on the weekends. If this was 1985 and I had to choose these over Vampire Diaries, I’d pull the trigger in a heartbeat and sadly say good-bye to the Salvatore brothers. But I don’t have to, and it just so happens that these three shows play opposite each other and are five of my favorite shows on TV right now. Doesn’t it kick ass to live in 2011? I’m a little worried that there hasn’t been more buzz around How to Be a Gentleman. I said it during upfronts, but it might be the greatest sitcom cast assembled in at least the last 10 years and it’s got a cushy spot right behind Big Bang Theory. If this was any good, people would be talking about it. A lot.

sweet. an excuse for a minka kelly picture.

sweet. an excuse for a minka kelly picture.

Person of Interest has JJ Abrams going for it and a lot of buzz, but not much else. Charlie’s Angels gets the same Friday Night Lights pass that Hart of Dixie gets. Because it has newly single Minka Kelly, it lives for at least a week. But seeing as I never liked the original Charlie’s Angels when my parents watched it, why would I like it now? Even at like 4 or 5 years old, I think I recognized the show had nothing to do with anything and was just explosions and boobs. If this doesn’t make me a man, then so be it — but I need more from my TV shows.

Skip: Prime Suspect, which sucks, because I’ve never disliked anything that Maria Bello has been in. (Although see Saturday is this is your case as well.) But the first things I look to cut in my schedule are procedural shows. And yes, it’s just as fun to automatically skip right past that second two hours of X Factor on Thursdays as it was on Wednesdays. I really like Whitney Cummings, but there hasn’t been a funny promo for her new show Whitney yet. Has anyone laughed at them? And I think I’ve seen, like, a dozen so far, hoping that the next one might actually be funny. Nope. Not a one. Disheartening. I’m not kidding, this is four minutes of unfunny. I dare you to make it through. If you can’t make it, you can just stop at the references to CBS shows starring Jane Seymour:

Biggest timeslot battle: I’m watching 8 p.m. with X Factor vs. Big Bang Theory/How to Be a Gentleman vs. Charlies Angels vs. Vampire Diaries vs. Community/Parks and Rec. But I’m only watching it hoping that Community and Parks and Rec survive the oncoming blood bath. I feel bad treating poor Minka this way, but right now I’m openly cheering for Charlie’s Angels to fail so that Community has more of an open path to stick around for a fourth season.


i'm trying to get nikita back in my life. i really am.

i'm trying to get nikita back in my life. i really am.

Watch it live: Nikita (8 p.m. CW), Fringe (9 p.m. Fox). Everyone thinks Nikita is screwed moving to Fridays, and they’re probably right. But I’m pretty happy about it because there was no way for me to catch it on Thursdays — even though I liked it every time I watched. Friday opens up a lot of possibilities. And I was thoroughly disappointed by the Fringe finale. But now that it’s four months later, I’m ready to move on and embrace the show again.

DVR: Nothing.

OnDemand: Chuck (8 p.m. NBC). Oh, who am I kidding. I won’t watch Chuck OnDemand. I meant to about 50 times last year, and don’t think I ever pulled the trigger. I ended up switching to Good Wife or Family Guy or something else at the last minute. We’ve been going through the motions lately, me and Chuck. But I think it’s time to just break up.

Skip: Not sure if there is anything that could make me be interested in A Gifted Man. It’s got some decent pedigree with Johnathan Demme behind it, but if it takes Margo Martindale away from Justified next season … well let’s just say I won’t be happy.


OK, I wasn’t going to bother with Saturday, except to make sure you’re aware of a couple things:

is it weird that my main concern with maria bello and prime suspect is that she looks too much like mary shannon on in plain sight?

is it weird that my main concern with maria bello and prime suspect is that she looks too much like mary shannon on in plain sight?

1. Terra Nova is being rebroadcast each week at 9 p.m. on Fox in case your Monday schedule prevented you from watching it.

2. NBC is doubling up on Prime Suspect, showing it at 10 p.m. in case you couldn’t get to it on Thursdays. For people like me with two kids, a wife who works weekend nights and two kids, this actually stands a much better chance of sneaking into my viewing schedule here than on Thursdays.

3. The CBS comedy Rules of Engagement is here at 8 p.m. so that CBS can burn off a bunch of episodes and put it into profitable syndication. There’s no other explanation for leaving it to die on Saturdays. And that’s what any original programming will do on Saturdays — die.

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