Oct 10 2012 6:00pm

The Warm Glowing Warming Glow: Fall TV 2012

Welcome back, kiddies, to the pit of disappointment and bad puns that marks the start of a new season of mediocre television. And by mediocre, I do mean mediocre. Once again I have delved into the teeming pile of half-baked pilots and sigh-inducing season premieres on your behalf and have emerged scared and shaken but full of things to say and a platform on which to shout them. Because I have an opinion that won’t be kept silent! Prepare yourself.

Holy crap on a cracker, but this season is dull. How can an alternate universe where all electricity ceases to exist be boring? You’ve got a talented showrunner with a unique voice telling a story with an intriguing premise that is unlike anything else currently on air. Yet it still makes me want to start stabbing people in the face. Then again, I thought the same thing about Terra Nova and Grimm, so precedence and what not. But nothing quite takes the cake of awfulness like the new batch of sitcoms. You know what’s funny? Guys taking care of small children. I mean, because they’re, like, dudes. With kids. Just imagine the wacky hijinks that would ensue. Hi-larious! That’s almost as funny as gay men. Even better, let’s take two gay men and give them a baby. Comedy gold! I’ll take that Emmy now.

This year it’s like networks just decided to stop trying and pretend they’re back in the good old days of Must See TV. As far as new shows are concerned, if you’re not a melodrama/procedural or sitcom that would’ve been dated in 1980 then you can piss off or turn yourself into some tacky night-time soap about sexy people being sexy who also happen to have sexy (magic) powers. I hope you’re happy, ABC. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY.

It’s already mid-October and absolutely nothing has been cancelled, though a few outliers are hovering on the bubble (Animal Practice and Made in Jersey, you’ve been warned). A lot of the old stuff from last season was renewed, but just as many of last year’s new shows were cut down before their prime. If by prime you mean given the axe before achieving their goal of destroying America with meh (i.e.: The Secret Circle). In the last few years the networks have been willing to try—albeit half-heartedly and with pathetic results—to tell the same old stories in slightly newish/creative ways, but this go ‘round they’re desperate for ratings, and boy howdy does it show. Jeremy Renner, please demonstrate for the class my exact feelings toward the 2012 season:

(Shows with an “*” are new this season. Keep an eye out in the next week or so for more in-depth coverage on shows with a “†”.)

*666 Park Avenue (ABC, Sun 10p): No. Just. No.
Adventure Time (Cartoon Network, Mon 7:30p)
Alphas (Syfy, Mon 8p)
*American Horror Story: Asylum (FX, Wed 10p - premieres Oct. 17): Without a gimp suit-sporting ghost rapist assaulting Connie Britton or Dylan McDermott cry-masturbating (crasturbating?), I’m simply not interested.
*Arrow (CW, Wed 8p - premieres Oct. 10): Honestly, the whole thing reeks of Smallville, but I’ll probably still give it a few chances before I write it off entirely.
*Beauty and the Beast (CW, Thurs 9p - premieres Oct. 11): STOP KILLING MY CHILDHOOD, HOLLYWOOD.
Doctor Who (BBC America, Sat 9p): Oswin! Oswin! Oswin! Also, “SuperWhoLock” is one of the greatest fandom crossovers ever. But now it's on hiatus again until Christmas.
Fringe (Fox, Fri 9p): Last call.
*Gravity Falls (Disney Channel, Fri 9:30p): Add this to your cartoon intake immediately.
Grimm (NBC, Fri 9p): David Giuntoli: Giving the talentless, big-eyed, shiny-haired, sexy soap stars a run for their money.
Haven (Syfy, 10p)
*The Neighbors (ABC, Wed 10p): Sweet zombie Jesus. I can’t. I can’t even. I am unable to can.
Merlin (Syfy, Fri 10p): I’ll let’s Emily Asher-Perrin take this one. [SPOILERS AHOY]
Once Upon a Time (ABC, Sun 8p): Once upon a time there was a show about fairy tales but it was on ABC which meant it was stupidly campy but took itself way too seriously and Alex had better things to do with her time so she just added the discs to her Netflix queue and told herself she’d get to it eventually. Then she re-watched her favorite episode of Supernatural and went to bed a happy kitty. The end.
*Revolution (NBC, 10p): Revolution is the Terra Nova of 2012.
Supernatural (CW, Wed 9p): CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!!!!!!! *Alex succumbs to inconsolable sobbing until she dies from all the feels* [tumblr reaction gif] [tumblr reaction gif in response to the first one]
The Vampire Diaries (CW, Thurs 8p - premieres Oct. 11): Need a silly teen melodramatic fantasy to fill the void until Teen Wolf season 3?
The Walking Dead (AMC, Sun 9p - premieres Oct. 14): I will once again be reviewing this show for Still haven’t decided if I’m happy about a new season or am simply filled with so much dread that I can no longer distinguish between emotions.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sun 9p)
*Call the Midwife (PBS, check local listings): “Were having a baby, my baby and me / You’ll read it in Winchell’s / That we’re adding a limb to our family tree / We’re pushing our carriage / How proud I will be”
*Copper (BBC America, Sun 10p): Between this and Hell on Wheels, I think we’ve got late-19th century America covered on the “not as good as it could be but also not terrible” TV show front.
Downton Abbey (legally: BBC America - not sure when it premieres): I want Maggie Smith to be my grandmother. She can adopt me and yell at me about week-ends and swivel chairs and indoor picnics and I will love her forever.
Hell on Wheels (AMC, Sun 9p)
The Hour (legally: BBC America, Wed - premieres November): You want Mad Men in England? You got it! And without the quality loss to boot.
*Vegas (CBS, Tues 10p): One day CBS will discover there are other types of drama besides procedurals. That day is not today.

2 Broke Girls (CBS, Mon 9p): Fingers crossed they make a “47%” joke this season.
30 Rock (NBC, Thurs 8p): The last time I was summoned for jury duty I told them I really didn’t think it was fair for me to be on a jury since I’m a hologram. I was excused. Thank you, Liz Lemon.  You are a true American hero and you will be missed.
*Ben and Kate (Fox, Tues 8:30p): One of the best new sitcoms this season. That is not a compliment.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, Thurs 8p): Sometimes I really love this show, sometimes I violently loathe it, but no matter how I feel I still harbor a passionate crush on Sheldon in all his nerdy glory.
Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 8:30p): Tina Belcher has a butt obsession. This is awesome.
Children’s Hospital (Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Thurs 12a)
Community (NBC, Fri 8:30p - premieres... someday): Great show or the greatest? I think you already know the answer to that. Also, Jim Rash is directing an upcoming episode.
Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23 (ABC, Tues 9:30p): Bitch. Bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch. BITCH.
Glee (Fox, Thurs 9p): You could watch Glee, or you could just watch this.
*Go On (NBC, Tues 9pm): If NBC can pretend it’s still the late nineties, then so can I. Now bring me *NSYNC and a Trapper Keeper and all the Daria I can watch.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 8p): Possibly last call.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX, Thurs 10p - premieres Oct. 11)
The Middle (ABC, Wed 8p)
*The Mindy Project (Fox, Tues 9:30p): Apparently the networks used up their quota on creative television show titles last year.
Modern Family (ABC, Wed 9p): This show functions for me in the same way Glee does: I’m glad it exists because there’s a whole swath of the country that needs to get comfortable with “the gays,” but I still have absolutely no desire to watch it.
New Girl (Fox, Tues 8p): I’m so not hipster enough for this show.
*The New Normal (NBC, Tues 9:30p): See my opinions of Modern Family and add to it my take on Partners and that’s how I feel about The New Normal.
NTSF:SD:SUV:: (Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Thurs 12:15a)
The Office (NBC, 9p): Who knew that having most of the cast quit before the final season would reinvigorate a dying show?
Parenthood (NBC, Tues 10p)
Parks and Recreation (NBC, 9:30p): “The less I know about other people’s affairs, the happier I am. I’m not interested in caring about people. I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes.” Ladies and gentlemen, Ron Swanson.
*Partners (CBS, 8:30p): It’s 2012. Do we really have to keep going back to the “gay people are funny because they talk weird and dress nice!” stereotype?
Raising Hope (Fox, Tues 8p)
Suburgatory (ABC, Wed 10p - premieres Oct. 17)
The Thick of It (, Sun 7p): Hilariously, perfectly British. And if you still haven’t seen In the Loop, now’s the perfect time to watch it and add “Fuckity bye!” to your daily vocabulary.
Up All Night (NBC, 8:30p): I tried to watch this show, but then I remembered Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are getting a divorce and love is dead and what’s the point and God I need a drink. *puts Jamie O’Neal’s “All By Myself” on repeat and curls up in a ball with a bottle of Jack*

Bones (Fox, Mon 8p): Whenever I think of David Boreanaz I think of Angel. When I think of that I think of the wee little puppet man. Which reminds me of all that nancy boy hair gel he likes so much. And then I remember Angel can’t dance.
Castle (ABC, 10p): Please tell me this season they’re finally going to cast Alan Tudyk in as a recurring guest star.
Criminal Minds (CBS, Wed 9p)
CSI (CBS, Wed 10p): This show is still on? Seriously?
CSI: NY (CBS, Fri 8p): I’m convinced this show is just Gary Sinise’s fever dream.
Dexter (Showtime, Sun 9p): Now there’s the sociopathic serial killing blood spatter analyst we all know and have hot sexy dreams about.
*Elementary (CBS, Thurs 10p): Elementary!Sherlock is kind of a dick. But in a good way. And full of tattoos. In a very good way. More importantly, we cannot let Lucy Liu beat Martin Freeman in the Great Watson Sweater Wars.
Hawaii Five-O (CBS, 10p): After two years I think I’ve exhausted all my “shirtless Alex O’Loughlin solves shirtless crimes shirtlessly” jokes.
Homeland (Showtime, Sun 10p)
*Hunted (Cinemax, Fri - premieres October 19): Something something spies.
Law & Order: SVU (NBC, Wed 9p)
The Mentalist (CBS, Sun 10p): This is a show that exists.
Person of Interest (CBS, Thurs 9p)
Revenge (ABC, Sun 9p): REVEEEEEEENGE! *twirls moustache and squints maniacally through monocle*
Touch (Fox, Fri 8p - premieres Oct. 26): This is also a show that exists.

Table Scraps
Hart of Dixie (CW, Tues 8p): Seth: “Summer and I are at war.” Sandy: “A pirate war?”
*The Mob Doctor (Fox, 9p): Anyone have any idea what this show is about? Mimes in love? Space pirates? Is it a copera or a policical? God, the title is soooo vague!
*Nashville (ABC, Wed 10p - premieres Oct. 10): Robert Altman! I loved McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Gos—what? It’s about country music singers? The cheerleader from Heroes sings in this? Well, never mind then.
Nikita (CW, Fri 9p - premieres Oct. 19)
Sons of Anarchy (FX, Tues 10p): Remember when this show was Hamlet on motorcycles?
Treme (HBO, Sun 10p): I could watch an entire season consisting of nothing but scenes of Antoine going to the Piggly Wiggly and still find this show utterly intoxicating.

Alex Brown is an archivist, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.

1. Pangolin
I believe Made in Jersey got the ax today.

I agree it's a pretty abysmal crop of new shows. Not a single one caught my eye as being worth a try.
Alex Brown
2. AlexBrown
And, of course, as soon as I submitted this, Community got delayed indefinitely. Between that and Louie going on a nearly 2 year hiatus, my television dreams have been more or less crushed.
Ed Dravecky
3. dravecky
You bemoan the loss of Connie Britton from American Horror Story then ignore her lead role in Nashville? Pick a side, we're at war.
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
Where's Last Resort - strong pilot, entertaining second episode, A - list lead and solid character actors.
Alex Brown
5. AlexBrown
@dravecky: If it makes you feel any better, I fully intend on ignoring everything about Nashville after this post.

@RobMRobM: I meant about including it here, but then forgot. It has gotten vey strong reviews, plus Ben from Felicity is in it. It still holds no interest for me personally, but it is certainly stronger than just about every other new drama out there.
6. John R. Ellis
No Psych? No Psych....


Oh no, please TV Gods, no! Don't take away Shawn and Gus! I'll do anything! ANYTHING! I NEED MY PSYCH!
7. Bittersweet Fountain
Stop toying with my emotions, Merlin doesn't start until January (legally in USA).

Between this and Emily Asher-Perrin's post, I've been checking the internet and the SyFy Channel compulsively to see if something has changed. I NEED MERLIN TO COME BACK.
Joanne Center
8. thegloop
@RobMRobM I agree with you about Last Resort. Interesting show. I like the premise and Andre Braugher is doing a great job. A bit of 7 Days in May mixed with Hunt for Red October mixed with like... I dunno... Hawaii 5-0 or something with the random islandiness.
Steven Halter
9. stevenhalter
I'm pleased with Elementary so far. As you said, kind of a dick but in a fun way. Hopeful.
Liz Bourke
10. hawkwing-lb
Hunted is pretty good, as of the first episode. If we're talking about Auntie Beeb's Hunted, at least. High production values, I like the camera work,* Melissa George is excellent in the starring role, and the other actors are pretty damn good too. It looks to be setting up some interesting shenanigans with private industry ethics, and the people behind the cameras - SJ Clarkson, Frank Spotnitz, Jane Featherstone - have good form for smart television.

(I say this having ordered the DVDs on the strength of the first episode, and I never do that.)

*There are probably technical terms for all this television stuff. I knows what I likes, is all.
Alex Brown
11. AlexBrown
@John R. Ellis: Just checked USA's website and it looks like Psych isn't returning until Feb. 2013...

@Bittersweet Fountain: Legally schmegally.

@shalter: I kinda want to watch more of Elementary, and that's the only new show this season that's hit me quite that way. Still not entirely sure I like like it, but so far I haven't hated it or been utterly consumed by boredom.

@hawking-lb: Good to know. Hadn't heard any reviews of it, so I wasn't sure what to expect. On the whole ordering the whole series off the pilot, I've only done that once myself and it was for Supernatural. I'm now a total SPN addict.
Alex Brown
12. AlexBrown
Looks like Ian McShane is joining the cast of this season's AHS. Which means I now have to watch this season of AHS. Balls.
Ian Tregillis
13. ITregillis
And AHS will have Jessica Lange again, albeit in a different role. Her character last season was so loathesome and yet so compelling at the same time that I'm eager to see what kind of vileness she can dredge up this year.
14. Stefan Jones
Person of Interest has taken a decidely SF-ish tone.

The mysterious computer that predicts trouble is an AI.

The new recurring villain is a post-humanist hacker lady.

Scripts name-drop Asimov, Von Neuman, and Dyson.
Mimi Epstein
15. hummingrose
Because a lot of people write it off without watching: New Girl is actually not particularly hipster and is a legitimately funny sitcom. (I'm not a huge fan of sitcoms, either.) If it were all Zooey Deschanel all the time, it would get old fast, but the three guys are really wonderful. And True American is the best drinking game ever invented.
j p
16. sps49
How very nice of you to approve Modern Family for everyone else.

Edited to fix the italics.
17. Umbardacil
What, nothing to say about Homeland? But it's so good!
Rob Munnelly
18. RobMRobM
@17 - with you on that. I was shocked ("Holy Sh*t") and pleased by the conclusion to the second episode
Fredrik Coulter
19. fcoulter
I turned off HBO and turned on Showtime this fall for Homeland and Dexter. Those (and Jon Stewart in the morning) are the only shows I'm watching religiously.

Thank you Showtime for having your good shows not fighting Game of Thrones and True Blood. And thank you Brighthouse for not charging a service fee when I turn channels on and off.
Alex Brown
21. AlexBrown
@humming: I think it's probably a marketing disconnect. They advertise it as the hipster's answer to Friends, which irritates me. But you've convinced me to go back and give it another shot. Eventually. Maybe next summer.

@sps: You're welcome. I am the gate keeper of approved television for middle America. That's why they pay me the big bucks.

@fcoulter: Hey, there's always the internet. No reason you have to reduce your television intake because of a lack of channelage. I watch more TV with my laptop than I do with my actual television set.

@Umbardacil, RobM, Ian: Honestly, I couldn't think of anything snarky to say about it. It's gotten rave reviews (hello Emmy!) and I haven't seen a single second of it.
Liz Bourke
22. hawkwing-lb
Milo1313 @11:

I can't stand Supernatural. *g* But I'm a sucker for reasonably-smart espionage stuff (or even stupid espionage stuff, like *cough* Alias *cough* *cough*) and Hunted looks like it might exceed reasonably-smart. I hope it does, anyway.
23. John R. Ellis

I am -so- relieved. I'd rather have vastly-delayed PSYCH than no Psych at all!
Shelly wb
25. shellywb
While it's glib to reduce Modern Family to being about the gay couple, it is in fact about the modern family, and it has some of the smartest writing on television. I'd recommend it to anyone, including those too hip to think they 'need' it.
Alex Brown
26. AlexBrown
@shellywb: I don't really consider calling it the smartest writing on television a compliment, given the current state of the average network tv show. But if you dump it into the pool of all channels - networks AND cable - then it becomes a very small fish in a very big ocean. I could name 10 shows on cable (and a few on network tv) a far more clever than Modern Family and do it without taking a breath.

But seriously, I don't hate the show. I just really don't like the modern sitcom. I think 90% of them are nothing but lazy writing with some dated pop culture references tossed in for good measure. Which means any sitcom that breaks the mold however slightly automatically looks better than it should. Of course, all of this is moot when faced with the glory that is Parks and Rec.

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