The return of the fall TV season is always full of promise, much like every New Year's Eve! And, also like New Year's, we have great hopes for what's ahead, but often find many great and disappointing surprises along the way.
So, now that we're fully into the fall season, here at SideReel we've found there are some new and returning shows we thought would be awesome but have turned into letdowns, and some shows we expected to be flops but have become surprising new favs!
Better Than Expected:
Eastwick - In my ABC Fall Preview, I was convinced that Eastwick was a poor man's Charmed. The show received pretty much universally negative reviews from critics and was frequently identified as ABC's worst new Fall show. Here's the thing: Eastwick has turned out to be neither of those things. In a line, I'd call the show "Lipstick Jungle (hey, it even has LJ's Lindsay Price) meets Desperate Housewives meets just a wee bit of Charmed". I was afraid that the witches and magic stuff would all seem too hokey (and again, all done before), but the show has done a good job of incorporating its magic/mystery element in an entertaining, but not overwhelming way. What's more, the witchcraft has taken a backseat to the friendship of the 3 main female characters (hence the Lipstick Jungle vibe) and a general "this town has a mystery" plot (hence the Desperate Housewives vibe) - which I think was a smart way to go. I'm not going to say that Eastwick is necessarily great TV, but it has turned out to be surprisingly entertaining - and possesses just enough magic to make me want to keep coming back to it each week.
Parks & Recreation - I watched the abbreviated first season of P&R last Spring mainly out of allegiance to Amy Poehler (whom I love love love), despite the fact that I wasn't particularly enjoying it. Here was the problem: the show was initially pitched as an Office spinoff, and then that morphed into "not The Office, but Office-like". This ended up becoming the show's biggest problem, as opposed to its fool-proof launchpad to success, because P&R really did just seem like "bad The Office" - and nothing more. But, since its second season has started, P&R has managed to distance itself, its characters and its plotlines from The Office - and now that it has found its own voice - it's actually quite funny! The show is still not perfect; I kind of wish that it wasn't mockumentary-style - to completely cut the cord from further Office comparisons. Furthermore, it seems as though they are not quite sure what to do with Rashida Jones, which is a shame (Chris Pratt in the pit, however, has been comedic gold). But, if you gave up on P&R after last Spring, I highly recommend that you reconsider, because as far as I'm concerned, it has evolved into a delightful 30 minutes of comedy!
Worse Than Expected:
Cougar Town - Ah Cougar Town. I so hoped that you would funnier than you are. From the previews, I actually thought that they show looked pretty funny. Then I watched the pilot, and while I didn't think that Cougar Town was particularly good from the get-go, I thought that it showed some promise, if for no other reason than because it comes from the hilarious Bill Lawrence, who created Scrubs. But now I have given the show 4 solid episodes to grow and um...as far as I'm concerned...each episode has only gotten worse. I love Courteney Cox - but her character is just not believable, even by sitcom standards. A) She's too attractive to play this role and B) Her various neuroses are so overdone that they come off as not funny, but pathetic and painful to watch. In fact, I get a "trying too hard" vibe from her entire character - though I don't think that this is Cox's fault, so much as the way it is written (which is badly). Furthermore, as I mentioned in my pilot review, I dislike many of the show's supporting characters - particularly the ex-husband - and this has only grown from week to week. However, the show has already been picked up for a full season - so plenty of people are watching each week. But I will no longer be one of them...
Community - Before you jump all over me for putting Community into this column, please keep in mind that I still think the show is Fall's second best new comedy (after Modern Family, of course). For me, however, Community has been a victim of overhype. I thought that it looked so funny and so promising from all of the 3 minute preview clips that I watched (which btw, ruined all of the pilot's funniest moments), that perhaps I raised my expectations to a level that was unfairly high. Yes, some of the jokes are funny, but for me, just as many of them have fallen flat. I think that because the show appears in NBC's Thursday night lineup of offbeat/kooky comedy that I expected it to be more offbeat than it actually is. Community is more of a conventional sitcom - which is fine - but at the same time - the jokes that don't work for me are the ones that come off as too sitcom-y. I'm also not sure if I can deal with another developing long-term "will they/won't they" relationship - a la Jeff and Brita. Actually, I think Brita is a little bland as a whole. Again, don't get me wrong, there's a whole lot worse out there than Community, but as I tune in each week, I find myself watching a show that I don't believe is living up to its potential...yet.
How about you guys? What Wednesday and Thursday TV shows have you found yourselves reconsidering...and liking more - or less - than you expected you would?