The New TV Season

After careful consideration, here is the list of new shows I’m watching this fall TV season:

Not a very long list; in fact, nada. Fact is that, while there were shows that have interested me, I have developed a higher standard for actually committing to a new show. I’m very suspicious of dramatic serials, because if the network decides to cancel it before it’s over, as ABC did with The Nine a few seasons back, it’s terribly frustrating.

I look at the ads for a program such as ABC’s Last Resort, about an an apparently rogue military operation, and it stars Andre Braugher, who I LOVED in Homicide: Life on the Streets. Yet the new show looks as though it ought to be a miniseries. What can they do with this format by season 3? And I see it’s already “on hiatus,” or whatever they all it when they haven’t canceled a show outright.

I was hanging out with my friend Fred Hembeck about five years ago, and he has this theory that once you start watching a show, generally you watch it to the end. I suppose I’m inclined to agree with this, although I gave up on 24 after a season and one episode, because I found it upsetting. I quit The Office after the Michael Scott character left, but that’s when it should have gone off anyway.

I don’t watch a lot of cop procedurals. Reality TV bores me; there a certain sameness to the way they drag out the “drama.” And most comedies I don’t find particularly funny.

My friend Dan HATES TV as a medium; I’m not entirely clear why. I do like it for some news and sports, e.g. Though, TV writer Ken Levine rants about the current state of television, and he’s not wrong.

Whereas Cheri of Idle Chatter LOVES TV. Her enthusiasm is nice; I used to love TV like that, years ago. I remember noting on her blog the name of the Leonard Nimoy character on Mission: Impossible (Paris), which was on 40 years ago, and I hadn’t seen it since.

I was reading a book about Vince Guaraldi, best known for the piano on the Charlie Brown/Peanuts TV specials, and it noted that his maternal uncle Muzzy Marcellino whistled the theme to the Lassie show; I knew that theme right away. This led to a discussion in my office about whistled themes, which of course meant the theme to the Andy Griffith Show, which I knew was written by Earle Hagan, the same guy who wrote the Dick van Dyke theme. But I also knew – and I suppose this is sad – that Hagan also WHISTLED the theme.

I do this test with my SEVEN CDs of TV theme songs, to see if I can name the shows without checking the list; the ones with words don’t count. If I watched the show, I’m pretty good, but if I never watched it, like Simon and Simon, not so hot.

Some folks watch shows because they like the look of a performer, such as Kat Dennings on 2 Broke Girls, even as they suggest that the show itself isn’t all that great. I probably haven’t done that since Sela Ward was on Sisters. If that were my criterion, I would have watched Desperate Housewives, but never saw 10 minutes of it.

But casts do matter. The last two new shows I decided to follow were Parenthood and The Good Wife. I think I was intrigued by the parallels between them. First, they initially aired at the exact same time (Tuesday, at 10 pm, on NBC and CBS, respectively.) Both starred the two anchor guys from a series called Sports Night, which I watched late last century, Peter Krause and Josh Charles. They both also feature actors from Gilmore Girls, Lauren Graham and Matt Czuchry. And then there are Bonnie Bedilia and Christine Baranski, who I have liked over the years.

OK, those weren’t technically the last shows. The most recent program I added was Major Crimes from this summer, which is a direct spinoff of The Closer, thus also violating my own rule about cop procedurals. But it’s the same set as the previous show, with most of the same actors, rather like how The Andy Griffith Show became Mayberry RFD.

But I never fret about a show being pre-empted. Most shows run only 22 episodes, and some, less, so even if they rerun each one, that’s only 44 out of 52 weeks max. When you only watch TV on DVR and your wife both records Dancing with the Stars and figure skating, then doesn’t get around to watching them, pre-emptions are good things.
Re: Larry Hagman, who died last week: I watched exactly one episode of Dallas, THAT episode everyone watched. I figured out who shot J.R. by halfway through, I was correct, and never had need to watch the program again. Whereas I watched I Dream of Jeannie religiously. Hey, it had a character named Roger, played by Bill Daily.

Here is Mark Evanier’s Larry Hagman story, which is very nice. And a link to Hagman performing with his mother, Mary Martin.
I’m rather neutral on whether Angus T. Jones should have told people to stop watching ‘filthy’ Two and a Half Men. Never turned on the TV to watch it, but I’ve been uncomfortable letting my daughter see it when the syndicated program would happen to be on, during the 7 pm hour.
Why Is The ‘Normal Television Family’ Always White?

0 thoughts on “The New TV Season”

  1. SEVEN CDs of TV theme songs”?! I am sooooo jealous!!

    Our TV here is seriously messed up: Our broadcast rules are different, so free-to-air has programmes that are only on cable in the US (we also get Australian, British and, of course, NZ programming). But the truly messed up part is that shows start and stop frequently, and they play sometimes months after they aired in the US, and they even sometimes start after they’re cancelled. Our top network, government-owned TVNZ, just started what it hyped as “a brand new series”. That series is “Pan Am”, which ran for a whole FIVE MONTHS in the US before it was cancelled.

    A lot of shows I watched and liked at first later become repetitive and derivative as they went on, and “Desperate Housewives” was that for me. I watched the first season, quit in the second (though I did watch the final ten minutes—which aired in NZ many days after it was on in the US).

    And now I’m whistling the theme to “Leave it to Beaver” in my head. Thanks for that.


  2. I agree, Last Resort would be better as a mini series than a season (or more) long show. But I like the cast and will continue to watch. The only show I absolutely refuse to miss is Once Upon A Time, on Sunday nights. I also like The Good Wife, but got into the storyline a little late. The one thing I miss is good comedy…like MASH, Cheers and The Cosby Show. Nothing even comes close now.


  3. I was watching some of the same shows you were. Last Resort somehow is not getting my attention like Lost was in years past. I dislike it when I start liking a show and then it is cancelled or put on a long hiatus. I think The Good Wife has some good writers. I mostly watch PBS Dramatic Series, Masterpiece and Oasis Wildlife or History. Vegas is another new show that I thought has a bad start to it. Nashville is a take off on Glee only is is the country music industry. Of course there is always Survivor.
    Boardwalk is a great great show. The Amazing Race continues on. The new top show appears to be Revenge and Revolution is a good one also. Good tv watching to you Rog.


  4. I found it difficult to immerse myself in TV since Lost sputtered out into a awful, frustrating failure (and before that with the indefensible Sopranos series finale). TV has recently had some pretty incredible shows but in my opinion they are sometimes entirely too over-thought and over-analyzed. I liked The Wire, but ultimately if I want art that’s huge in scope and complex with characters I’ll turn to literature and not a show with week- and month-long gaps. The only show I never miss now is Breaking Bad, which only has one more season left. Otherwise, I mostly just enjoy shows like Chopped and No Reservations (before its finale aired recently). I’m officially clueless now about new shows and I’m not really bothered by it. I have zero interest in Homeland or whatever costume-heavy drama HBO is spending millions on. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite show of all time and I can crack open any of the seasons I have on DVD at any time and I’m ok with just that for now until Breaking Bad returns.


  5. You wonder why I hate TV? I’ll tell you why. Because that box SEIZES CONTROL OF MY MIND AND TELLS ME WHAT TO EAT AND WHAT TO BUY AND WHO TO VOTE FOR. That’s why.

    I turned off my TV in 1982, and as you can see I am still recovering.


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