Ranking My Anticipation Level for 20 of This Week's TV Season and Series Premieres
20. The Neighbors (Wednesday) -- This suburban comedy featuring alien neighbors may be the worst new comedy of the season, and potentially the quickest to be cancelled. I give it two episodes.
19. Guys with Kids (Wednesday) -- Seen it. Hated it. Don't bother. Same tired gender stereotypes applied to a gender-reversed situation.
18. Partners (Monday) -- A gay guy, his best friend, and their significant others in a CBS sitcom that looks like it will basically recycle a bunch of gay stereotypes. It takes more than gay characters to make a show progressive; you also need to treat them like people instead of stock characters.
17. Elementary (Thursday) -- CBS jumps into the contemporary "Sherlock Holmes" arena with a procedural that Benedict Cumberbatch is not too happy about. Neither am I.
16. The Amazing Race (Sunday) -- The show has won the Emmy for best reality show nine out of the past 10 years, and yet, it has barely progressed since its second season. At least "Survivor" changes up the twists every once in a while. "The Amazing Race" depends entirely on casting, and the last few seasons have not been cast particularly well. It's simply not very much fun anymore.
15. 666 Park Avenue (Sunday) -- Terry O'Quinn plays a landlord Satan who takes the souls of the tenants once their lease expires in another soapy ABC drama that may be initially intriguing but will undoubtedly spin wildly out of control by the sixth episode. On a Sunday night crammed with great shows, "666 Park Avenue" will have to be exceptional to land a regular spot on most of our DVRs. I doubt it has exceptional in it.
14. Castle (Monday) -- So, Beckett and Castle are finally together, and this season, we'll see if they can survive the Moonlighting curse. Regardless, they need to do a much better job with their investigations, which have become predictable and mundane.
13. Animal Practice (Wednesday) -- Review forthcoming, although I will say, the Justin Kirk as Gregory House in a veterinarian's clinic is not a bad show, but like NBC's "Go On," it is not inspiring, either. If you were to blurb my thoughts for the poster, they would be, "It is watchable!" ... Dustin Rowles, Pajiba.com
12. Modern Family (Wednesday) -- Will "Modern Family" get its mojo back now that Gloria is pregnant, or will the show continue to follow its predictable comedic formula of inoffensive but mildy amusing humor? It's worked for the show so far, so why change, right?
11. Scandal (Thursday) -- I'm a little embarrassed about it, but I ended up loving Kerry Washington's sudsy political scandal drama which managed to be just restrained enough in its first season not to completely jump the rails. Its success will depend on whether the romantic relationship between Olivia and the President can continue to anchor the show, and how much screen time Joshua Malina gets the season.
10. Vegas (Tuesday) -- I am highly dubious of a Western sets in 1960s Vegas, but so far, the reviews I've read of the Dennis Quaid series have been fairly strong. I'm going in with an open mind.
9. Fringe (Friday) -- Gotta admit, after catching up on season four over the summer, that I'm seriously stoked about the final 13, Observer-centered episodes of "Fringe." It's something of another reset, but with an end point in mind, hopefully the writers can maintain a tight grip on the proceedings.
8. Dexter (Sunday) -- The last couple of seasons have been mostly dreadful, but now that Debra knows about Dexter's secret, the series' long plot can begin to move forward toward an end point two seasons away. I would really like to see a return to form for the Showtime drama.
7. How I Met Your Mother (Monday) -- No deal has yet been struck to extend the sitcom past this season, so everyone is going in with the assumption that "HIMYM" will end end May. That means, hopefully, that the writers can start wrapping up story lines instead of introducing new ones. The sitcom has been uneven for the last few years, but the good episodes are still really good.
6. Last Resort (Thursday) -- Everyone is going gaga over Shawn Ryans' new drama -- review forthcoming -- and I'd love to see it succeed (and by everyone, I mean, people I follow on Twitter (Note: I follow Shawn Ryan on Twitter)). The time slot -- Thursdays at 8 on ABC -- is not a favorable one, and Shawn Ryan's shows have a tendency to get early cancellations. However, I'm cautiously optimistic that a submarine drama starring Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman can turn around ABC's Thursday night fortunes.
5. Ben and Kate (Tuesday) -- "The Mindy Project" is getting most of the press among freshman sitcoms this fall, but "Ben and Kate" features a strong and likable cast (Lucy Punch, Dakota Johnson) and another non-traditional family premise. It may ultimately out-quirk New Girl, but it's a new sitcom with which I have high hopes.
4. New Girl (Tuesday) -- "New Girl" took some getting used to last season, and it didn't really find its legs until Dermot Mulroney showed up, but it quickly became one of the most endearing, earnest, and fun sitcoms on the networks by season's end. I expect it will continue that trend, at least until season four.
3. The Mindy Project (Tuesday) -- It looks like basically every romantic comedy you've ever seen all mashed up in a doctor's office, but it also looks immensely charming and the perfect companion to "The New Girl." How can you go wrong with Mindy Kaling and the always wonderful Chris Messina? I'm sure there's a way, but I'm going to trust Mindy Kalin that she's found the perfect balance.
2. The Good Wife (Sunday) -- Along with "Parenthood," "The Good Wife" is the best drama on network television, and one of the most consistently enjoyable, gripping, and entertaining. It will also continue to be the best cast drama on network TV, as well, bringing back some recurring guests (Michael J. Fox, Carrie Preston) and adding some new ones, like Maura Tierney, Nathan Lane, and Kristen Chenowith.
1. Homeland (Sunday) -- I still think that "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" were more deserving of the Emmy, but there's no denying that "Homeland" is one of the best shows on television, and one of the few capable of truly throwing us for a loop without throwing us off the loop. Brilliantly acted and excellently plotted, "Homeland" may prove in its second season why it deserves as Best Drama Emmy.