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

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | October 7, 2013 | Comments ()


TheBlacklist-9-30.JPG

(Publisher’s Note: The shows below are graded on the network curve, which is to say, relative to the best shows on network television — Parks and Recreation and The Good Wife — and not the best shows on cable. — DR)

The Blacklist — Placing it at the top of the list of new network shows is not exactly a huge vote of confidence in The Blacklist, but more of a reflection of how nothing else has really stood out so far. The Blacklist, however, has something none of the other shows do, and that is James Spader, who is wicked good in this. While the series is procedural in nature, there’s a semi-compelling series’ long arc bubbling underneath that could flower into something even better, if NBC allows the series some freedom to explore. Grade: B+

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — As Joanna wrote in her recap, SHIELD is currently stuck in ‘encounter/monster of the week’ procedural territory, and it’s taken plenty of heat from Marvel fans. But Ming Na and Agent Coulson are bringing enough wit and kick-assery to the series to make it interesting, and better than most everything else on the new fall slate. The cameos haven’t hurt, either. Grade: B

The Goldbergs — It was a decent second episode, but it felt very much like a remake of the pilot. I worry that The Goldbergs is falling into a sitcom formula: Yell, yell, yell, heartwarming moment, yell. Honestly, it’s the footage from Adam Goldberg’s childhood that button each episode that’s selling it for me. Grade: B

Sleepy Hollow — I really want to like Sleepy Hollow more than I do, because the ratings are good, it’s already been picked up for a second season, and Tom Mison is fantastic. I love the Pans Labyrinth-like visuals, too, but the storylines are still a little staid, and though I watched it late at night during a period in which I had not slept for more than six hours (this period is called “parenting”), I fell asleep three times during this episode, and yet: There’s so much promise. Grade: B

Mom — This is not where I expected that Mom would place in its second week, and I’m baffled that two of the next three are also multi-cam laugh track sitcoms, but I gotta say: Mom has a lot of heart bubbling underneath the broad comedy, and Allison Janney is plain terrific in this. I like that the characters in Mom are a little messy, and that the situations dont’ resolve themselves at the end of each episode. Grade: B

Sean Saves the WorldSean is basically a spin-off of Will & Grace if Jack were a single father, and while the show itself is not particularly well written, creative, or smart, it’s hard not to appreciate how good Sean Hayes is in it. He is absolutely terrific , and his timing and energy are strong enough to make an otherwise bland sitcom somewhat watchable, at least in the short term. Grade: B-

Brooklyn Nine-Nine — Three episodes in, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine still has a lot of potential that hasn’t been realized, and I am concerned that the it may never achieve that potential. Fortunately, despite sluggish ratings, Fox has ordered more new scripts, so the network is showing enough faith in the series to let it find is stride. Grade: B-

The Millers — Yes, Margo Martindale makes several bad fart jokes, and yes, there is a laugh track, and yes, it is yet another new sitcom centered around a broken family, but the cast — which also includes Will Arnett, Beau Bridges, Jayma Mays, and Nelson Franklin — rises ever so slightly above the material. I have to believe that, with Greg Garcia (Raising Hope, My Name Is Earl) running the show, that it is bound to get better, right? Grade: C+

Back in the Game — Maggie Lawson’s charm, and James Caan’s bad plastic surgery continue to be the most compelling reasons to watch an otherwise uninspired sitcom version of Bad News Bears. I don’t think it’ll get more than a few more episodes out of me, though. Grade: C+

Trophy Wife — Ever so slightly better than the pilot episode, Trophy Wife still hasn’t given as a compelling reason to keep watching outside of the strong cast. It seems determined to be as middle-of-the-road as possible. Bradley Whitford’s charm can get the show only so far. Grade: C+

Welcome to the Family — A new entry on NBC’s already struggling Thursday night, Welcome to the Family boasts Mike O’Malley, and that’s about all it has going for it. I like him, but not enough to continue watching the multi-ethnic version of Modern Family. Grade: C-

Crazy Ones — I didn’t love the pilot episode, but I disliked the second episode even more. Again, it’s very broad and very CBS, and not even Josh Wolk can salvage the parade of Robin Williams voices and, yes, he even trotted out the gay voice this week. Grade: C-

We Are Men — CBS’s new Monday night sitcom, sandwiched in between How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls, has an OK cast (Tony Shalhoub, John Cho, and Jerry O’Connell), but the lead guy reminds me a lot of Ted from HIMYM and he’s the least annoying character in the bro-iest new sitcom of the fall. That does not bode well. Grade: C-

The Michael J. Fox Show — Wow, the third episode was absolutely dismal, and if the show doesn’t turn around quickly,, Michael J. Fox won’t be enough to redeem this it. It will probably get only one more look from me before I toss in the towel, which a painful thing to do given how much I love and admire Fox. Grade: D+

Super Fun Night — Rebel Wilson’s new sitcom is neither super nor fun, but it is exceedingly obnoxious. Rebel Wilson is a good supporting character, but as the main focus, she flails. The pilot episode culminated in a Meatloaf song, and that’s kind of all you need to know about this Super Fun Night. The ratings were good, though, so it may have some time to find outs footing, if that’s even possible with this premise. Grade: D+

Ironside — Idiotic, plodding and obvious, the only nice thing I can really say about Ironside is that Blair Underwood still looks terrifically handsome, even in a wheelchair. This is a one-and-out for me, and given that it was the lowest rated fall debute for a drama of all time, it seems unlikely to be around for very long, anyway. Grade: D

Betrayal — One episode was enough, and Betrayal is currently the show likely to be the second cancellation of the season after …

Lucky 7 — The new ABC drama, which fell to a .8 ratings in its second week, was shit-canned on Friday.

Dads — One episode was all we needed to see to know that it’s the worst sitcom of the year. The ratings have been bad, and hopefully, it is on its way out soon.

Still haven’t seen Hostages, and I’m unlikely to give it a shot. The ratings haven’t been good, so I doubt it is worth bothering with on what is a suddenly crowded Monday night.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Siege

    I wanted to watch Sleepy Hollow...but I missed the first two episodes, and since it's on NBC and they have that stupid OnDemand that won't let you fast-forward...I guess I'll have to decide how badly I want to see it.

  • bcarter3

    It's the Golden Age of television, and yet your highest ranking network show can only earn a (generous) B+. That's why many of us don't even bother to sample new network shows anymore--we know we can get much better stuff from other sources.

  • I'm not expecting SHIELD to get any better. If any show at all should've been firing on all cylinders right from the get-to, it should've been that one, and that was a pretty awful second episode. I guess we'll see.

    The only other new show I'm watching is Brooklyn Nine Nine, which had a couple of crack-up moments last week, so I'm thinking it's starting to hit its stride. It has a hilarious cast (Terry Crews is a treasure), I feel like they just need to figure out what to do with Sandberg.

  • dizzylucy

    Oddly enough, after almost skipping the whole show, I loved the second episode of Back in the Game. Senseless Paul cracked me up.

    Brooklyn 99 has potential, and I'll give it time, butAndy is annoying me. I feel like he's still delivering lines for an SNL sketch and waiting for audience laughter.

    Nothing else has blown me away yet, all pretty mediocre. I had high hopes for SHIELD but aside from Ming Na Wen kicking butt, it seems too...earnest? I don't know. But I'm not feeling compelled to watch the whole season.

  • "Blair Underwood still looks terrifically handsome, even in a wheelchair." EVEN in a wheelchair? Really?! Look, I'm not impressed with the new "Ironside" either, but the ONLY thing going for it is that he looks comfortable and sexy in the wheelchair. It's just too bad the opportunity to remake the image of disability is being wasted with such a weak show.

  • Ben

    I know there is a lot of hate going around with the new shows, but man I'm enjoying them. Currently loving Shield, Black List, Sleepy Hollow and Brooklyn 99. So eh, haters gonna hate I guess.

  • jettcity

    After two episodes of both SHIELD and Blacklist I've moved on and would grade these as a C at best. Both are towers of mediocrity. Thanks to referrals from readers on this site I've been watching Sleepy Hollow which is looking better but we shall see if it has staying power.

  • Deke

    I haven't seen an episode of Ironsides, but the commercials alone make it look like a fake commercial in a GTA game.

  • Bananapanda

    Blair Underwood was SO good in In Treatment. He deserves better. Actually we all deserve Blair Underwood. Yum.

    I'll be...uh. Bye!

  • e jerry powell

    "there’s a semi-compelling series’ long arc bubbling underneath that
    could flower into something even better, if NBC allows the series some
    freedom to explore."

    And I think we all know how massive that "if" is.

  • I'll risk rage and suggest that I'm somewhat happy about this, as there is no way I could possibly take on more than one or two quality offerings. If too many were great, I'd feel like we had reached a point where we don't talk, we don't spend time together, I just hear about the things you are doing with others. I don't want to break up!

  • froggystyle66

    Masters of Sex is by far the best new show of the fall season and its a travesty that it isn't on the list.

  • okayflint

    "broadcast network series"

  • Robert

    I loved Super Fun Night. It was intentionally awkward to great effect and I really like the premise. The Meat Loaf performance was epic namely because Rebel Wilson can actually sing and isn't afraid to make a fool of herself.

  • 724wd

    God, it was awful. not even a giggle from me or my wife.

  • I think Sleepy Hollow is improving each week. I wish it was smarter and had more faith in it's 9pm audience to connect the plot dots without exposition dumps and flashbacks to scenes from 10 minutes before. The song choices are too on the nose as well but I really like the main characters and the creature design is really impressive. I thought the 3rd episode was the best so far. I'm hopeful it will find a rhythm and strive for more X-Files than Fringe. Even if it stays at this level it's enough to hold my attention.

    The Crazy Ones is not great but I do find myself laughing a few times every episode. I wish Williams would calm down though. We know the man can play drama and comedy without doing voices every 10 seconds. I can see this one wearing out it's welcome fast unfortunately. I'll admit I'm mainly watching to see if SMG can do a sitcom.

  • AudioSuede

    Two quibbles:

    Brooklyn Nine Nine - I'm fairly certain that you and I are going to have the same stances on this show as we do about SNL. I'll just leave it at that.

    Agents of SHIELD - What I kind of like about the procedural element of this show is that it very much fits in with the history of comic book stories, where there's a longer plot in play through a run, but the majority of each issue is taken up by a one-off event of some kind. Plus, for a procedural show to be this witty and nerdy is a nice change from procedurals about cops, lawyers, or doctors. I think it's actually to the show's benefit, rather than its detriment.

    P.S.: "We Are Men — CBS’s new Monday night sitcom, sandwiched in between How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls, has an OK cast (Tony Shalhoub, John Cho, and Jerry O’Connell)"

    I think you mixed up John Cho and Kal Penn

  • okayflint

    "I think you mixed up John Cho and Kal Penn"

    lol

  • Guest

    Ironside has the same problem that Hawaii 5-0 has -> it has none of the charm of the original. Replacing older characters (McGarret, Ironside) with hip young people loses all the gravity of the earlier shows.

  • Xander

    Indeed . The Michael J. Fox Show has had a bit of....shaky start

  • emmalita

    Ba-dum-bump! I'll try the veal. I'm sure you're here all week.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Jayma Mays escaped Glee? And didn't try to get a part as Anna Faris' twin sister?

  • Gary Dolan

    Absolutely correct about Ironside. I think Sleepy Hollow could be fun/interesting, but it has a way to go.

  • Michelle

    As much as everyone keeps saying this is the new "Golden Age" of TV - and I agree - this season is shaping up to be pretty bad for new shows. I think I'm already over Agents of SHIELD (Clark Gregg is the only bright spot for me), Sleepy Hollow is a maybe, and the only one I'm pretty sure I'll stick with is Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

  • Misomaniac

    I amazed that two episodes (one in a couple of cases) is enough to form an opinion upon which you want to rely. How were you at your job the second week?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    That's a facile question. It really depends on the job. It depends if it's your first time doing the job. If you've waited tables before and you're a terrible waiter the second week of work? Then it's fine to complain about your service.

    Besides, life's too short. Why waste good time after bad?

    ETA: It's possible for a series to turn it around. But there's no obligation to give the benefit of the doubt. It makes sense to me to just revisit in 5 or 6 weeks/months to see if it's improved.

  • John W

    I like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. For once Sanberg doesn't annoy me and Chelsea Perreti is funny.

    I saw an episode of Crazy Ones and it reminds me why I don't really like New Girl that much. The constant non stop unfunny zaniness. I feel sorry for SMG.

    I wonder how long Blacklist can go on before the big reveal that Elizabeth is Reddington's daughter.

  • cbr123

    I wonder how long Blacklist can go on before the big reveal that Elizabeth is Reddington's daughter.

    Not till they sleep together...

  • Michelle

    YES. This is the only time I have not been annoyed by Andy Samberg. Also, Parks and Rec was pretty awful in its first season, so I'm willing to wait this one out in the hopes that it will continue to get better.

  • SamuraiShampoo

    I thought the second episode of agents of acronyms was just awful. I haven't seen such a huge drop in quality between the first two episodes in a series since the Walking Dead.

  • Michelle

    I was so underwhelmed by the first episode I haven't even tried the second one yet.

  • I've only watched the first episode. It reminded me of "Heroes" so much, I don't want to continue.

  • Like Heroes without ANY of the superpowers.

  • cbr1965

    What about Hostages?

  • Blake

    Last weeks episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine was awesome.

    Again easily the best new comedy this fall so far.

    As for sluggish ratings it's still pulling 6 Million viewers and is giving New Girl a bump.

    BLACK PEOPLE CAN SELL DRUGS!
    BLACK PEOPLE CAN SELL DRUGS!

  • The "It's ALL wart!" line had me in a laughing fit that must've lasted about 5 minutes straight. There were tears and silent laughter and I couldn't even tell you why. It was just one of those things. But it made me fall in love with the show a little bit.

    Also, Andre Braugher's face after that chanting. He's awesome.

  • lowercase_ryan

    The fact that you put The Goldbergs above Brooklyn 99 makes me question your understanding of lists.

  • pajiba

    I will admit that my personal fondness for The Goldbergs is disproportionate to how good it actually is at this moment, although I think the same can be said for many about Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Awesome cast, and Braugher is great, but the writing has been less than spectacular so far, and none of Schur's 'Parks and Rec' magic has rubbed off on it, yet.

  • Bert_McGurt

    To be fair, it took Parks & Rec longer than this for Schur's "Parks and Rec magic" to rub off on it.

  • AudioSuede

    I was just going to say, the first season of Parks and Rec struggled to be very good, and I would say Brooklyn Nine-Nine has already made me laugh harder in three episodes than Parks and Rec did in the first half of its first season.

  • theotherone

    Seconded.

  • NateMan

    I want SHIELD and Sleepy Hollow to be better. So much potential for them both - although, let's be honest, there's nothing Sleepy Hollow can throw at us that Buffy, Angel, and Supernatural haven't done better. Hell, even Vampire Diaries. But 3 episodes in I'm not enjoying it as much as I want to be. Although the sister character does have potential.

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