Waaay back in September of last year, The Only TV Column That Matters™ passed judgment on all of the new series premiering on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW for the 2013-2014 television season.
Though the majority of my pilot reviews were, of course, dead on, a handful of the shows drifted into disappointing territory—or, in some cases, a whiplash-inducing tailspin of suck—as the weeks wore on.
Now that we’re past the midpoint of the season, here’s where I was …
Sleepy Hollow (Fox): I was iffy on Sleepy Hollow in the beginning, believing it might be too “thinky” as escapism fantasy. Nope. The good-lookin’ time-traveler/good-lookin’ cop/good-lookin’ murderous torso triangle blew up into a hit and earned a second season. (It only had to sustain its crazy-ass storyline for 13 episodes instead of the usual 22, but that’s nitpicking.)
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC): Since ABC didn’t allow critics to see it before the premiere, the general speculation on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was, “It’s Marvel; it’s Joss Whedon; it’ll be awesome!” So far the only “awesome” aspect of the series is the divide between fans and haters of character Skye (True TV is on Team Skye, FYI—back off), but it’s still Marvel, and it’s still Joss Whedon, so …
Super Fun Night (ABC): Good god. The rapid decline of Super Fun Night is either the result of micromanaging network notes (“Can you make them … less pathetic?”), or our too-high expectations of Rebel Wilson as a show lead after only proving herself a reliable second banana. Or both.
The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC): The Peacock wanted a bridge between the smart comedy of Parks and Recreation and the less-smart/more-watched comedy of Must-See Yesteryear; instead, they got The Michael J. Fox Show, which leans too hard into “family” comedy with a dulled edge. Playing it safe gets you nowhere—or on to CBS.
Dracula (NBC): Much sound and fury (and blood and boobs) signifying nothing. Dracula was never going beyond one season, anyway, as NBC reportedly had to tell star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, “When you finish all 10 episodes, you can have your drugs back, mm-kay?”
Enlisted (Fox): I wrote it off as just a Stripes rip-off, but Enlisted got damned good, damned quick, balancing sharp humor, subtle sentimentality and real military issues like a boss. Too bad Fox has nowhere else to slot it but Fridays with the equally-funny/equally-doomed Raising Hope.
But, in Most Cases, I Was … Right!
The Blacklist (NBC): The best new show of the season—and it keeps getting better every week. It’s no surprise that James Spader is killing it, but co-star Megan Boone (and, yes, her wig) has consistently stepped up to match his game. Surprisingly, NBC hasn’t screwed this up. Yet.
Mom (CBS): Then: “Another disposable, canned-laughs yuck machine.” Now: “Another disposable, canned-laughs yuck machine that’s somehow still on.”
Dads (Fox): Then: “I have a suspicion that Seth MacFarlane produced this on a dare.” Now: “I know Seth MacFarlane produced this on a dare.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): Awarding Brooklyn Nine-Nine a couple of instant Golden Globes may have been premature, but it’s still the best new comedy that Fox—or, really, any network—has produced in years. As of February, it also gets a sweet new timeslot after New Girl. (Sorry, Mindy Project.)
The Crazy Ones (CBS): The surprise isn’t that Robin Williams’ crapfest holds on to Two and a Half Men’s lead-in audience; it’s that Two and a Half Men still has any audience. But seriously: The Crazy Ones suuucks.
Sean Saves the World (NBC): [The sound of a toilet handle jiggling.]
DVD ROUNDUP FOR FEB. 11!
The Americans: Season 1
Two deep-cover Russian spies (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) pose as a suburban married couple in 1980s Washington, D.C. But in their mission to destroy America, did they count on … falling in love? No, no they did not. Also: wigs. (20th Century Fox)
The true-ish story of Anna Nicole Smith (as played by Agnes Bruckner), the stripper-turned-supermodel who fell into a life of sex, booze, drugs, rich geezers and fame addiction before overdosing in 2007. Not sensationalized in the least. (Sony)
Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz star in Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott’s tale of Tex-Mex drug trade gone bad, with more weird hair and clothes than American Hustle. Story, not so much. (20th Century Fox)
In the future, the fate of the planet lies in the toggle mitts of “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), the Chosen One who can defeat the alien invasion. Any resemblance to The Hunger Games is wishful thinking on Orson Scott Card’s part. (Summit/Lionsgate)
The Returned: Season 1
The creepy hit French series about people trying to come back home to a small village, only to learn that they’ve been dead for years—and, if that weren’t enough, there’s a serial killer, too, as well as a Mogwai (!) soundtrack. (Music Box)
More New DVD Releases (Feb. 11)
All is Lost, Austenland, The Best Man Holiday, Chastity Bites, Dallas: Season 2, Diana, GBF, Grace Unplugged, Haunter, I Heart U, Jewtopia, Killing Kennedy, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, The Reverend, Sherlock: Season 3, Sorority Party Massacre.