Every fall, the networks all come out with a litany of new shows that they hope we, the viewers will love. Now, of course it’s virtually impossible that all of these will appeal to everyone, and the few that do are still not all bound to stick in the long run, whether it’s due to poor execution, a wasted premise, or because it just plain sucks, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect success of a few.
So you can imagine how disappointing this season has been for me, what with all but two shows failing to live up to their promise. And one of the two that remains is still pretty young and may yet fall by my wayside. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to maintain a consistent level of quality on a high profile network show, but there are enough out there that manage it with style and grace that it makes this year’s abundance of failures all the more puzzling.
Although failure isn’t technically the right word, given that most of the shows I watched and bailed on are still on the air, so let’s examine those:
New Girl: I love Zooey Deschanel. When the news broke that she broke up with Ben Gibbard, I instantly began to foster unlikely notions that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance she would find in me what so many before had failed to provide. Which is why I found it so disappointing when I was left so underwhelmed by New Girl. So underwhelmed, in fact, that I didn’t bother to stick around past the pilot. It wasn’t offensive or anything, but I’ve reached a point where I need more than “vaguely charming” to hold my interest. I also bailed on Glee, and perhaps this was an unexpected casualty of that, but I’m not hurting not knowing how the forced romance between Jess and what’s-his-face is progressing.
2 Broke Girls: This was a new bailout, with this week being the first episode I didn’t watch. I struggled with this one, given how well the characters of Max and Caroline (I always want to say Max and Coraline, because I love Motion City Soundtrack) are portrayed and performed. The problem lies with EVERYTHING ELSE. From the failing to comprehend the notion that hipster jokes aren’t funny anymore, the forced romance (starting to notice a theme) between Max and what’s-his-name (I seriously can’t bring myself to care about these characters), to the far-from-subtly racist vibe that encompasses basically every supporting character. The last episode I watched featured two pointless Jersey Shore riffs trying to pass as characters, and a group of sassy gay guys, and my realization that every gay guy on this show would be a sassy one was enough for me to bid the show a less-than-fond adieu (in 2 Broke Girls-land, a french person would never be without a baguette and beret).
Free Agents: Okay, this wasn’t a show I was crazy about, but it was an amusing enough half hour that bridged the gap between Up All Night and Modern Family. The leads were likable and had solid chemistry, but the supporting cast had issues, namely in that they still existed in that post-pilot wasteland where subtle characterization is eschewed in favor of broad strokes in order to get the point across, and Anthony Stewart Head was wasted in the role of the horny boss. I could have seen the show building to something, but it was cancelled before it got the chance. Oh well.
Actually that’s all the shows I started watching that I don’t anymore, for one reason or another. There were plenty other shows that debuted, but Last Man Standing, Revenge, Whitney, Prime Suspect, Man Up or the slew of others just didn’t interest me. I was vaguely intrigued by Pan Am, but (like the rest of America, it seems) I just didn’t make the effort to actually watch it.
As I mentioned before, of the new shows this season, there are only two that I still watch regularly: Up All Night and Once Upon A Time, and Once Upon A Time is still new enough that I can’t say I won’t bail on it as well. If it sorts out what kind of show it wants to be (a vaguely goofy melodrama seems to be the most viable option) I could find myself willing to hang on. It also needs to figure out how to handle the difference in tones between Storybrooke and fairytale land, because while over-the-top theatrics are perfectly acceptable when people are wearing headresses and standing in castle towers, they become grating when delivered in a smart pantsuit. Tone down the stuff in Maine and you’ve got yourself a regular viewer, but please accept that you have problems.
And that’s why my vote for best new show of the fall goes to Up All Night. And even that didn’t come without a little trepidation, but they seem to be figuring out how to use Maya Rudolph in a way that doesn’t make it seem like she was ripped out of a show on Nickelodeon, and that was the show’s most glaring fault. I understand that having the show be all about Chris and Reagan would be too low key for a network sitcom, but it’s so refreshing that I wouldn’t have minded if they tried. Because Up All Night has found the Holy Grail of sitcoms: a totally believable marriage. The characters may have differences in their priorities and personalities, but chalk it up to Will Arnett and Christina Applegate for never making us question just why these two love each other.
Quality shows shouldn’t be as hard to come by as this season has made it seem, and hopefully midseason will deliver the goods that were sorely lacking this fall. If it doesn’t, I could see some potentially large holes to fill in the lineup. And if that winds up being the case, hopefully next year doesn’t start with such a whimper.
Posted under Kyle's Adventures in Pop Culture
This post was written by Kyle on November 10, 2011