It's a tradition like no other: every September I look through what I plan to watch as the new TV season starts. Usually, 70% of those plans fall through due to cancellation (rip Smith), disinterest (Hawaii Five-0), or Zooey Deschanel (New Girl).
But alas, we do it anyway. Every year there's renewed hope that somewhere among these offerings is a "Lost" or a "Boardwalk Empire" or anything on CBS I'd be willing to watch for more than 2 seconds.
Before we get started, one thing should be noted: I realized last year that I cannot watch procedurals. I tried Hawaii Five-0, and while I respect it, a "monster a week" format just does not interest me. It's essentially the same episode every time. I need arcs!
Without further ado, this is the 2011 Irwin Handleman TV Show Guide. Let's begin!
Sunday is by far the strangest day of the week for my TV viewing. The reason: HBO. It doesn't follow the traditional schedule for programming shows. Thus, some times during the year Sunday is the greatest night on TV, and other times, it's weak. Also, football. Sunday night football is a staple in the Handleman household, as is 60 Minutes. So what else is there?
THE AMAZING RACE
Ever since my buddy Victor won this show, I've been a regular viewer. It's all right. I'm not a rabid fan, but it's not a bad way to spend 40 minutes (it must be watched with the ability to fast forward) while eating some of my traditional Sunday night barbecue.
I fucking love this show. Many people bailed on it because it started slow. But trust me, it got good. Really good. Let's hope the 2nd season continues the momentum that was building last year.
THE NEW GUY
A very interesting development this year is the big networks trying to rip off Mad Men. There are a few period dramas where there were none before. I guess they're not understanding that Mad Men gets shitty ratings. No one watches that show. But hey, Entertainment Weekly talks about it so it must be a hit! And how can middle America not jump on board a show about stewardesses in the early '60's?
The show is based on a real stewardess and her experience back in the 1960's. Historical events, like the JFK assassination will play apart in the character's lives. Gee, sounds familiar.
But I will give it a shot.
WHAT I DON'T WATCH BUT PROBABLY SHOULD
THE GOOD WIFE
I guess this show moved time slots, because I know it used to be Tosh.0's competition. We used to always scheme on how to take down that God Damn Julianna Margulies. But now, it's on Sundays.
I was kind of excited about this show when it started, but I watched the pilot and 2nd episode and wasn't impressed. However, it has gotten really good and people rave about it. I think Six, the handicapped quarterback from Friday Night Lights showed up and things got interesting.
Still, I'm not watching it. It's Sunday! There's too much to do.
THE SUNDAY MIND BLOWER
Desperate Housewives is still on the air.
Monday Night Football has always made this a difficult night for half the year.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER/2 AND A HALF MEN/HAWAII FIVE-0/DANCING WITH THE STARS/HOUSE/CASTLE
I don't watch any of these shows, and I'm pretty proud of it.
THE NEW GUYS
This is our "Lost" hopeful of the season. There's always one. Spielberg is involved. So is time travel, dinosaurs, and that scary older guy from Avatar.
It's about a group of people from the future who go back in time to escape overpopulation and a polluted world to start over in the age of dinosaurs. That's a tough premise to pull off on network TV.
This show would probably be the most hyped of the season if it weren't for one thing: a plagued production. A lot has gone wrong in the making of this show, and it's got the label of "bomb" that it can't escape. But hey, so did Titanic and, well, Avatar, and those did okay.
I will be watching this. I want to see if they can pull it off, and how this can be a weekly show on Fox.
THE PLAYBOY CLUB
The other Mad Men show. I have no idea why everyone is hating on it. I'm a sucker for this genre shit, and I will be giving it a shot, Eddie Cibrian be damned!
THE NEW GUYS I DON'T CARE ABOUT
HART OF DIXIE
Summer from the OC paired up with the creator of the OC? Sounds like a CW's executive dream team! Unfortunately, it's not 2004 anymore, bitch. And Josh Schwartz can blow me.
2 BROKE GIRLS
This is a sitcom that people seem to be high on. It's from the famed writing duo of Michael Patrick King (the Sex and the City guy) and Whitney Cummings. I'll get to Whitney in a bit. But I won't be watching cause it's a comedy on CBS.
THE MONDAY MIND BLOWER
More people want to watch George Clooney's girlfriend ballroom dance than watch just about anything else on TV.
Tuesday is bleak, people. Well, except for one shining beacon of light. A ray of hope in comedy. An unstoppable force of nut shots and puke.
THE NEW GUYS I DON'T CARE ABOUT
Zooey Deschanel. Enough said.
LAST MAN STANDING
Tim Allen is back! Too bad it's not 1998. And have you seen a rerun of Home Improvement lately? Yikes. That show didn't even hold up while it was still on the air.
This was one of the worst pilot scripts of the year.
ABC has devoted a comedy block to this and Tim Allen's show. Look everyone, it's men who are pussies! I don't know much about this one, but it's about three 30 something guys who have trouble being real men...or something.
I'm so bummed they didn't stick with their original title, "The Rememberer". That was my favorite title of the year, possibly of all time. Finally, a show that needs Marilu Henner as a consultant.
WHAT I DON'T WATCH BUT PROBABLY SHOULD
I've heard this is good, and it's by the guy who did Friday Night Lights. I just never got into it.
THE TUESDAY MIND BLOWER
Sara Michelle Gellar is still alive.
This is more of a polarizing show than people think. Some people love it. And the people that love it make the people that don't like it, hate it even more. I'm fine with it, though I don't watch it regularly. And it bothers me that they use the same mockumentary crutch that is used on The Office and Parks and Rec. Those gay guys are good, but I hate that Mexican kid.
THE NEW GUYS
UP ALL NIGHT
Christina Applegate? Okay. Wil Arnett? Sweet! What could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah, their previous attempts at sitcoms.
I've heard good things though, and I'm giving this one a chance.
THE NEW GUYS I DON'T CARE ABOUT
Hank Azaria and that funny lady from Step Brothers star in an adaptation of a British show. Doesn't look good.
THE X FACTOR
Pretty shrewd move by Fox. "We love American Idol, but it's only on for half the year. Let's just do another American Idol and call it something else. Genius!" No thank you.
THE WEDNESDAY MIND BLOWER
The show H8R is "from the mind of Mario Lopez..."
30 ROCK/THE OFFICE
I find these shows pretty much unwatchable these days. 30 Rock in particular. It's just a joke factory with no backbone, no believability, and nothing to come back for.
The choice of James Spader to replace Carell on The Office was pretty bold, and pretty great. Maybe it can be "Kirstie Alleyed".
PARKS AND REC/COMMUNITY
"Hip" people tell me that these are the funniest shows on TV. If that's the case, then we are in deep shit.
It's very interesting that the host of The Soup, Joel Mchale, would end up on a sitcom that exists only to make pop cultural references. There is probably more of an ongoing plot of The Soup than Community.
And Parks and Rec has really funny people on it and is okay. I'm not a regular viewer, but I enjoy Adam Scott and Poehler. But again: mockumentary crutch and too much 30 Rock style wackiness.
THE NEW GUYS I WANT TO CARE ABOUT BUT CAN'T BECAUSE THEY ARE PROCEDURALS
PERSON OF INTEREST
This is from some of the people who did "Lost", and stars Ben Linus and the guy who played Jesus. The premise is like Minority Report. Might be good, but it's a different bad guy every week type of show.
I love Maria Bello. Unfortunately, it's a procedural too.
I really love Minka Kelly, but for different reasons. This show is going to be awful, and we all know it. But at least Minka is single again!
THE SHOW I WANT TO MAKE FUN OF BUT CAN'T BECAUSE MY FRIEND IS WRITING ON IT AND I HAVE TO ROOT FOR IT EVEN THOUGH THE COMMERCIALS MAKE THAT REALLY HARD
Oh, Whitney. This is a tough one. Let's be honest, the commercials and advertising for this show are brutal. Isn't marketing supposed to help matters? It's doing the opposite.
NBC is clearly super high on this show, and yet everyone else who sees snippets of it hates its guts. Why the disparity? Are they overestimating Whitney's appeal? Is it secretly awesome when you watch the entire thing? We'll have to wait to find out.
The thing is though, I've learned you can't always trust a pilot. It's such a flawed process. The NBC executives are chiming in with a million notes. Everything is scrutinized way too much. But now they have an amazing writing staff and a little bit of freedom to make the show they want to make. Not a show that is designed to "test well".
Here's my beef with Whitney Cummings though, which has nothing to do with this show in particular but involves plenty of bitterness:
Whitney Cummings has 2 sitcoms on the air. This one (which she stars in and 2 Broke Girls, which she is producing). She also has a talk show in development at E! Now that's fine, I'm not a hater. That's wonderful. But here's what I do have a problem with:
She is an executive producer on all 3 shows. An executive producer! It would be one thing if someone had developed a show, and then chosen her to be the star. That would've been great and totally understandable. But no. These networks are choosing her to executive produce these shows, to be responsible for their quality.
What track record does she have? Who is she to be an EP? She's never been on a show in her life, much less been a writer or a producer on one. Oh, she told a couple of roast jokes? That qualifies her to be the next Chuck Lorre or Greg Daniels? Then Lisa Lampenelli must be Aaron fucking Spelling!
The fact is, I have a better track record than Whitney does at making a successful show. So do a million other writers. This doesn't make sense. She doesn't know what she is doing. She is a stand up comedian, she is not a show runner. I am angry.
But anyway, good luck with your show! I hope it's a giant success! And the crazy part is, because of my buddy, I actually mean that.
THE THURSDAY MIND BLOWER
The amount of current starring cast members on Grey's Anatomy right now. There were less performers in Cats.
THE ONLY SHOW ON FRIDAY THAT MATTERS
TV takes the night off.
THE SHOW I'M MOST EXCITED ABOUT
HOMELAND (it's on Showtime)
It stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, and is about an Iraq POW who everyone thought was dead, who comes back as a hero but might've been turned into a terrorist. The trailer for this show is amazing.
It premieres on October 2nd.
MIDSEASON SHOWS TO (POSSIBLY NOT) WATCH
This was the best pilot script I read, and it's by the guy who did my favorite show from last year, the ill fated Lone Star. I miss you, Lone Star.
For some reason, they're saving it for midseason. Sadly, it is a procedural. But I will be watching this one to see if they can actually do more than 3 episodes of it without the whole thing falling apart.
Awake was the best, Work It was the worst. This is the show about 2 guys who dress as women in order to be pharmaceutical reps. You read that correctly. Somewhere, Tom Hanks is rolling around in his chin fat.
Enjoy...and let me know your favorites or if I missed anything.