Fall Television 2014

Now that we're firmly entrenched in this year's fall television season, I've begun to get a better idea about what I'm likely to watch, and what's worth our time, and what won't be sticking around much longer. It's one thing to like or dislike a pilot, but it's the episodes that immediately follow that really shape a show's destiny. Ready for some categorization? I knew you would be!

I'm In!

First of all, I should mention the returning favorites that I'll obviously be sticking with: Bob's Burgers is back for Season 5, and you should make an effort to watch, even though knowing when it's airing will be a challenge; Fox is being a dick by messing around with the schedule. It's only aired one episode so far (featuring an incredible mash-up of musical versions of Die Hard and Working Girl), and the next one won't be until November 2. Pull your shit together, Fox. And speaking of Fox, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has begun Season 2, and while we haven't yet gotten an episode that has reached the peaks that Season 1 did, it's not in a sophomore slump, either. The only other returning show I'm watching as it airs is Top Chef, which I'll hopefully be able to keep up with as far as reviewing, so if you're keeping up, let me know so we can chat about it.

As far as new shows go, nothing has blown my mind, but there are definitely a couple of shows that I'm pretty comfortable committing to. If you'd have asked me last week, I don't know if I'd have included Black-ish among them, but this past week's episode ("Crime and Punishment") may have been the best episode of a new comedy I've seen so far this season. If that's the direction this show is heading in, I'll be a devoted fan. Similarly, David Caspe's new show, Marry Me, has only aired two episodes, but I'm on board. The second episode was a big step up from the pilot, I like everyone in the cast, save one*, and Happy Endings was so great that this one warrants some trust up front.


There are a couple of other shows that I'm also enjoying so far, but are not as cemented as the ones above. I have minimal interest in the backstory of The Flash, but after seeing some very positive reviews, I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did, because unlike something that shall remain nameless - but rhymes with Botham - it actually strikes a consistent tone and is mostly well-written. Grant Gustin strikes the perfect balance between confusion at his newfound powers and a yen to help others, and Jesse L. Martin is note-perfect as his adoptive father. The women do not fare as well in this show (Caitlin has some promise, but needs a mode besides humorless scold, and Iris is a shallow, dopey drip who everyone is in love with for no particular reason), but aren't beyond hope. I wouldn't call it one of my favorite shows ever, but it's definitely worth keeping up with, for now.

As is A to Z, a romantic... Well, I guess we have to categorize it as a comedy, though it's not very jokey. It's kind of a mix between When Harry Met Sally and How I Met Your Mother, and is about the burgeoning relationship between Andrew and Zelda. A to Z, get it? GET IT? And every episode starts with sequential letters of the alphabet. It's not the worst gimmick in the world, and stars Ben Feldman and Cristin Milioti have good chemistry. There's also some funny corporate culture satire in the background that won't give Better Off Ted a run for its money, but is still enjoyable. The only people left to mention are Andrew and Zelda's best friends*. Yeah... They sure are characters on this show! I don't know that I've ever been so evenly split on a show before. For everything funny and charming that happens, something bad and irritating balances it out. If nothing else, I'm going to keep watching just to see which side of the fence this thing eventually falls on.

Not As Promising!

These would be the shows that I wouldn't classify as "bad", but that I'm unlikely to continue with. So, with apologies to Viola Davis, who is a wonderful actor, and completely awesome in How to Get Away With Murder, I doubt I'll be watching any more. If she were a bigger part of the show, maybe, but it seems to mostly be about a group of photogenic, morally-bankrupt law students who are about one-twentieth as interesting as she is. I appreciate the gay sex, Shonda Rhimes, but it's just not enough to keep me on the hook. I also caught a few episodes of Forever on a friend's recommendation. It stars Ioan Gruffudd as a medical examiner who resurrects naked in the nearest body of water every time he dies. The show, shall we say, borrows liberally from the Sherlock template, and while it's a decent-enough procedural, it's just not gripping enough to be appointment television.

Bye, Felicia!

I tried, Gotham. I really did. And look, I like Christopher Nolan too. But just making your heroes and villains grim and gritty isn't enough. This show is a complete mess, from its inability to settle on a tone (is it supposed to be dark and disturbing or wickedly camp?) to its over-reliance on winks to the audience (She likes to be called "Cat" and she drinks milk! Eh? Eh?) to weak casting. I could only put up with a few episodes before dumping it in disgust. If it somehow manages to right itself and becomes watchable, someone let me know.

*The Season's Dumbest Trend

Are you a white, fat, bearded actor? Want to play an obnoxious best friend? Good news! 2014 is your time in the sun! Though it's early in the season, the white, fat, bearded best friend is easily the worst thing about both Marry Me and A to Z so far. I'm told that there are plenty more of these annoying hirsute gentlemen running around on other shows, too (Mulaney, for example). I'm not sure why the entertainment industry is suddenly so enraptured by this trope and is dumping these dudes on us by the truckload, but I'm not a fan.

Weekly Schedule

So, we've got a pretty manageable slate here. Sure, other shows will soon be along (Downton Abbey, Parks & Rec) to wreck our schedule anew, but for now, there's plenty of entertainment to be wrought, with time left over to... I don't know, clean your house or spend time with your loved ones or WHATEVER.

Sunday: Bob's Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tuesday: Marry Me, The Flash
Wednesday: Top Chef, Black-ish
Thursday: A to Z


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