Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall TV Scorecard: Week 4

*4th and FINAL (at last) post examining this year's fall tv premieres.

Last Man Standing


If you were born any time before 1995, you likely remember the sitcom "Home Improvement" where Tim Allen starred as a husband and father of three boys who worked as the host of a male-targeted home improvement television program. The series was wildly successful, a staple of mid-90s television, and, thanks to it's young cast member Jonathon Taylor Thomas, had full spectrum multi-gender appeal.

In Allen's triumphant return
to television, Last Man Standing on ABC, he stars as a husband and father of three girls who works as the manager of a male-targeted sporting goods store.

Yes, it's the same show.

Problem is, it's not the 90's anymore and the same old jokes and the same ole traditional multi-camera family sitcom don't resonate anymore. The cast is likeable enough and it may get a few laughs in its 22 minutes of screen time but ultimately the experience is unmemorable. You're not likely to be chatting about last night's ep at the watercooler.

A lot of people showed up for the premiere but I suspect the numbers will nosedive in the coming weeks. That's not to say that the show won't survive. I could see this show taking it's older-skewing demographic and dwindling in obscurity for more seasons than it should a la According to Jim. In the meantime, don't waste your time.
Grade: C+
Class: Kill and Bury

Psych


In it's 6th season, Psych is plenty comfortable and therefore doesn't have to settle to cheap flash-in-the-pan tricks to draw viewers. It has a devoted fan base, comfortable ratings, positive critical appeal and while it would welcome new viewers it's fine just where it is (sidenote: If you're not a viewer, I guarantee you that you'll be intrigued after 1 episode and completely hooked after 3)

When we last saw the gang, Carlton had walked in on Shawn and Juliet sharing a secret kiss and in the premiere we find him desperate to expose his partner's relationship. The investigation takes a back seat to the character play (who cares) and we get some great moments as Lassie takes turns hooking Juliet and Shawn up to a polygraph test.

Yes, he hooks a man who lies about possessing Psychic abilities...up. to. a. lie. detector. test.

It's a refreshing premiere in how not premiere it is. It's just one more great episode in a long list of great episodes and sets up the Shawn and Juliet story arc that will obviously dominate the season. Psych is one of three shows that in my opinion navigated the post will-they-won't-they entrapment perfectly (the others being Scrubs and The Office). I don't expect any melodramatic wrenches thrown in for fabricated "tension," they're dating, it was inevitable, get over it and solve some murders.

(Sidenote 2: I've seen the next 3 episodes and numbers 2 and 4 are ESPECIALLY awesome)
Grade: B+
Class: Subscribe

The Walking Dead


TWD had some big shoes to fill. Its teasingly short-lived first season was universally heralded as one of the best things to ever hit the small screen. To complicate matters, showrunner Frank Darabont was replaced halfway through the hiatus, leaving the crew to scramble the team together and forge ahead.

We find our gang of survivors recouping after their near-death experience at the CDC and heading toward some fort (it doesn't matter, they ain't gonna get there). They get trapped by stalled cars on the freeway and have to hide as a roving "herd" of Walkers (zombies) ambles by. In the ensuing tension, one of the kids goes missing after running off into the forest, prompting the gang to go searching for her.

The showrunners reportedly spliced 2 episodes together to make the 90-minute premiere and it shows. The premiere has some truly edge-of-your-seat moments but gets lost in the between lulls that seem to go on, stagnated, forever. Eventually they find themselves at a church house and spend what seems like an eternity as nearly every character gets to monologueize about god and faith. There's a fascinating theological debate that underlies these moments (how would zombies fit into the contemporary christian view of life, death and the afterlife?) yet the show never quite gets there, instead dragging it's feet.

That said, TWD dragging it's feet is still streets ahead of most typical tv dramas on their best weeks. The final scene is an absolute doozey and the "scenes from next week" had me literally giggling in anticipatory ecstasy.
Grade: B
Class: Subscribe

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what all of these shows have come here. I don't think I've seen any of them advertised...no possibly Psych. I'll have to check them out online. I do like the Ax-Murderer girl in the Tim Allen show, but is there a Mr. Wilson?!

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