Premiere Week Scorecard: Grading the Fall's New Television Series
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Premiere Week Scorecard: Grading the Fall's New Television Series

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | September 30, 2013 | Comments ()


Masters of Sex — A breath of fresh air, Masters of Sex is a compelling, well-acted, intelligent and thoughtful glimpse into sex, both from a scientific and emotional perspective. Lizzy Caplan is sexual dynamite, and the series is the only outright home run of the fall. (See the recap) (A-)

Agents of SHIELD — Beneath the fun, Whedon-y goodness, Agents of SHIELD a little too befitting network television, which is to say: It’s another procedural, although a very fun one that could add enough mythos to make it very good (for a network show). (See Joanna’s premiere recap) (B+)

The Goldbergs — I am perfectly willing to concede that my Wonder Years nostalgia is creating bias, but I found The Goldbergs to be a funny sitcom about an overbearing, abrasive, and ultimately kind-hearted Jewish family. I think there’s even more potential for the show to get better. I hope so, because the pilot completely won me over. (See the review) (B+)

Brooklyn Nine Nine — The pilot episode was outstanding, thanks in large part to Andre Braugher’s terrific turn as the hard-nosed gay commander of the police precinct. The second episode faltered, however. Nevertheless, with Michael Schur behind the show, and a great deal of talent in front of the camera, I expect Brooklyn Nine Nine will hit its stride just before it gets cancelled. (First episode B+, second episode B-

Sleepy Hollow — The first episode was very good, in a guilty pleasure kind of way. The visuals are great, and Tom Mison — who plays Ichabod Crane — is charming British fun, but the second episode really established Sleepy Hollow as yet another twist on the network procedural. It’s a fun enough show to watch, but I can’t help but think it’s an empty-headed version of Fringe with gothic fairy tale creatures instead of sci-fi. (B)

The Blacklist — James Spader is deliciously good in the series, in which he plays a criminal mastermind who helps the FBI track down other criminal masterminds. He is not, however, good enough to overlook what is otherwise a fairly pedestrian procedural with a slight twist. It’s a meat-and-potatoes show, but I’ll continue watching for a while just to see if Spader can fully elevate the series into something other than broadcast network filler. (Spader: A, the show C).

Back in the Game — It’s a sitcom iteration of The Bad News Bears with James Caan (who has had some unbecoming plastic surgery) in the Walter Matheau role as the irascible, drunken f*ck up. He’s mildy amusing, although the biggest selling point so far is the sweet, effortless charm of Maggie Lawson (Psych), who plays the single mom that decides to coach her son’s hopeless Little League team. I wouldn’t expect too much from Back in the Game, but it could be a mildly amusing, occasionally touching family sitcom. (B-)

Trophy Wife — Great cast (Bradley Whitford, Malin Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden) and fitfully amusing, but it’s hard to think of Trophy Wife as anything but Modern Family with divorced people and custody arrangements. (See our review) (C+)

The Michael J. Fox Show — The pilot episode was sweet, if not conventional, but the second episode was not good at all. Hopefully the series will continue along the same lines as the premiere episode, in which case The Michael J. Fox Show could be a heartwarming, middle-of-the-road family sitcom. (See: ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’ Is the Best Parkinson’s Sitcom in the History of Network Television) (B for the pilot; D for the second episode).

Crazy Ones — It’s old-school Robin Williams at his schticky best, and that can be good or bad, depending on how you feel about Williams when he is unhinged. The pilot would not have been so bad if it hadn’t felt so much like overzealous product placement for McDonalds. Kelly Clarkson — who has a guest role in the pilot — is actually the best part about the premiere, and easily the funniest moment came in the outtakes at the end of the episode. Robin Williams’ nostalgia and Josh Wolk’s charm is enough to give it a few more shots, but it seems unlikely that the Crazy Ones will ever be a great series, although I expect that it will be around for years, thanks to the cushy time slot on CBS. (C+)

Mom — The latest Chuck Lorre abomination is not as abominable as his other series, thanks to Anna Faris and, especially, Allison Janney, who is so good in the Mom pilot that I’m willing to give the show a second episode before I eventually quit. The premiere had a moment or two that suggest Mom could be a better sitcom, but it seems unlikely given that Chuck Lorre and CBS are behind it. (C- for the series; A for Janney).

Lucky 7 — Airing on ABC on Tuesday night, where Agents of SHIELD and the sitcom block of The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife already look promising in the ratings, Lucky 7 bowed with a 1.3 in the demo, and will probably be cancelled by November sweeps. Besides the presence of Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (who plays Clay Davis in The Wire), this drama — about seven poor people who win the lottery and have to sort out their lives — has very little going for it. Winning the lottery together “makes them family,” and the family that wins together, sticks together, right? I can’t imagine suffering through an entire season of secrets being spilled that break this “family” apart, especially knowing that in the end, two of the guys unload their money (as we know from the opening flash forward). (D)

Betrayal — Adultery! Betrayal! Revenge! It’s another stab at duplicating the success of Revenge and Scandal, although Betrayal falls much closer on the spectrum to Revenge: It’s bland and uninspiring, but most of all, it is boring. On an already crowded Sunday night of television, there’s no reason to bother with Betrayal. (D)

Dads — So far, easily the worst new series of the fall: Offensive, a waste of talent, poorly written, and most of all, unfunny. (See: 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Even Consider Bothering with Seth MacFarlane’s Sh*tty, Thoughtless and Offensive Sitcom, ‘Dads’) (F)

Not yet graded: Hostages and Stephen Merchant’s new HBO sitcom, Hello Ladies, which I have only seen the first 15 minutes of so far, mostly because Stephen Merchant is best in small doses, and since he’s the lead in Hello Ladies, I have to create my own small doses.

5 Shows After Dark 9/30/13 | Lust-Ranking TV & Film's 20 Best Depression Beards

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Ben

    If the lead in a series is only good in small doses doesn't that basically damn the series?

  • Wigamer

    Stephen Merchant > EVERYONE ELSE ON THIS LIST. Dammit.

  • Aaron Schulz

    The angry latina chick is awesome in nine-nine, because of her ive told two people "your whole life is garbage". And i wont learn her name until i can be confident they wont run away with cancellation. I wont open myself up to heartbreak, not again. Curse you better off ted and the amazing Johnathan Slavin

  • Ben

    My main problem with the Black List was that I watched that trailer released a while back that literally told you everything that would happen in the entire fucking episode bar the final twist. Spader is fucking killing it and I enjoy the profiler chick. She's got moxy.

    Add me to the 'surprisingly enjoyed the shit out of sleepy hollow' group too.

  • Mario Gp

    I liked the show better when that character was Sidney Bristow's mom and it was called Irina Derevko.

  • SlurpyDurp

    Really rooting for Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Remember how bad the first season of Parks and Rec was?) but I would be quite surprised if we see a second season.

  • Artemis

    I thought Trophy Wife was the best of the comedy pilots. Malin Akerman was surprisingly great, Marcia Gay Harden was also (unsurprisingly) great, Bradley Whitford was much less puffy than in recent years, and the little kid actually made me laugh out loud a few times.

  • Maguita NYC

    I liked it too and hope it gets even better with time!

    Let us not forget that even Modern Family was good fun its first season... They just got tiresome and annoying afterwards.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I know, what the hell happened? They all hate each other until they love each other, holy paradigm shift! Just change the name of the show to,

    Damn Family All The Damn Day Every Damn Day, I'm Going To Sleep, Hie Thee Hence, Slags. What Did You Just Damn Say? My Damn Mother Is A Damn Saint, So Cram It Up Or Down Your Juicy Love Holster! But At The End Of The Day, We Tolerate Each Other. Now, Fuck Off To Your Respective Domiciles And Remain In The Shadows!

    Now THAT'S family. Timeless.

  • John W

    So Dustin, where does Breaking Bad rank in the pantheon of great TV shows? Ahead of the Wire? Or does The Wire Still hold the crown?

  • Blake

    The Wire will aways win.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Sleepy Hollow set the season arc in the pilot, though: it's a fantasy-horror procedural with an overlaying seasonal arc, not unlike Supernatural or Charmed. However, it's adorable, and I appreciate the overflowing of sass between the two leading characters, as well as their burgeoning friendship.

    I am boycotting Blacklist. Forgive me, Spader, but if I wanted another "Hannibal," I would've just watched more "Hannibal." And I am, because the DVDs are out and I'm all for terrible cannibal puns.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I tuned into Sleepy Hollow totally expecting to hate it and to my surprise...I had fun.

    I'm not saying Ichabod is the new Walter White, but he's fun to watch and so far the writing isn't as far fetched as Dexter in Season 6, 7 & 8 (even with a headless horseman), so I'm going to give it a season pass.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    I don't think anyone's expecting Sleepy Hollow to be more than Sleepy Hollow is already, but it's a helluva lot more fun than most primetime shows right now.

  • emmalita

    I watched Blacklist, it is in no way like Hannibal. They are like two completely separate species. No, they are completely different kingdoms of things on a tv screen.

    I am also all for terrible cannibal puns, and more Hannibal.

  • DominaNefret

    Agents of SHIELD was terrihorrible. So bad.
    I therefor do not trust the rest if the rankings on this list.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Blacklist is insulting to the viewers' intelligence. It is extremely obvious that the pretty-face-profiler is Spader's daughter.

  • Steve Ward

    But what if it's so obvious that that's not it at all? I'd love the next episode or one after to include the FBI doing a DNA test, after assuming the same thing we all did, and proving she's not his daughter.

    The end of the pilot may hint at a non-daughter explanation...

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I sincerely doubt that that show can be subtle.

  • ERM

    That even seemed obvious from the advertisements.

  • AudioSuede

    I will give The Blacklist credit for a twist at the end that I legitimately did not see coming. Otherwise, I never want to watch another procedural.

    Unless that procedural is a comedy like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I enjoyed very much in both its first and second episodes.

    Oh, and Masters of Sex was great, but I'd like more of a focus on Lizzy Caplan's character. I already feel a bit tired by Michael Sheen's perspective, because it seems like it's been done (like a TV version of Kinsey), but Caplan's character seems a lot more unique and underexplored. Plus, she's awesome.

  • John W

    I'm up in there air about watching The Crazy Ones, because I like Gellar but I can't stand Robin Williams in his full on crazy mode.

  • Maguita NYC

    Sadly Gellar did not do it for me this time.

  • dizzylucy

    I've seen all but the first (plan to watch) and the last 4 (knew to avoid like the plague). I'm planning on giving most another chance, but nothing really blew me away yet. All were...fine.

    Crazy Ones was smart to end with the outtakes - I think the show itself will give me a major headache and product placement fatigue, but the outtakes were funny. Kelly Clarkson was surprisingly great.

  • Three_nineteen

    James Wolk is my new favorite person. That show gave him so much really stupid and not actually funny stuff to do, yet he threw himself into his role wholeheartedly and actually made me smile once or twice.

    I'm also glad the receptionist from The Mindy Project got a new gig - her "Do you want to smell my hair?" line got the only laugh out of me.

  • Maguita NYC

    Yes! I was surprised how great Kelly Clarkson was. Much more natural in front of the camera and less contrived than Gellar and Williams, both veterans of teevee land.

    Will give it another shot hoping the acting gets better and less... less.

    Mom was light fun: Farris had good chemistry and comedic timing, and I cannot wait to see what they do with the magnificent Ms. Janney.

  • Blake

    I expect Brooklyn Nine Nine will hit its stride just before it gets cancelled.

    Nine Nine is the only new show that caught my interest and Ive actually watch but yeah you are propably right.

    *Fox does have alot of shows though that don't have huge viewer numbers so it might see a second season.

    If the Mindy Project can last as long as it has then Nine Nine definitely has a shot.

  • I like these scorecard posts.

    /deep thoughts

  • Tinkerville

    I wanted to love Blacklist but it felt so... unoriginal. Every twist felt like something I've seen multiple times on multiple crime shows. I'll keep giving it a chance for the Spaderness.

    I probably shouldn't be admitting I'm excited for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, yet here we are.

  • emmalita

    I felt like Blacklist was a dumber, less well thought out Alias, and we know how that ended. (Hideously, if you don't know how that ended).

  • Shazza

    I felt like it was going for a Hannibal/Clarice feel. And James Spader's character is 8 steps ahead of EVERYBODY which is annoying. Harry Lennix deserves better.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Jack Bristow Lives!
    That ending was so bad that I repressed it from my mind until a thoughtless Pajiba commenter brought it up, and now I'm flooded with horrific Rambaldi flashbacks. Damn you!

  • emmalita

    Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. :)

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    That would explain Dexter.

  • stella

    Dude. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland looks awesome.

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