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Fall 2011 Preview and Predictions: The CW

13 Sep

For most people, it’s spring that breaks the long winter, but even though television has become much more of an every season affair than ever before, it’s still fall that is the most exciting time for hardcore TV fans.  As the temperatures drop to cool and comfortable levels, all throughout New York City (and across America, I assume) posters advertising new series adorn every bus, bus stop, and subway interior.  We are excited as anyone else and will start our Fall 2011 festivities with an overview of all the new network shows debuting this fall.

In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13

CW is one of two networks debuting shows this week, and has the first debut with Ringer tonight (The Secret Circle debuts on Thursday as well) so we’ll start with them.  It’s just those two shows and Hart of Dixie which debuts on Monday in a couple of weeks.

Ringer – 9/13

 

Sarah Michelle Gellar plays twin sisters, one of whom is on the run from the mob in this mysterious drama, which I think may actually my most anticipated new show of the season.  The sisters have been out of each other’s lives for years, but as the one is on the run their lives become entwined again.  It sounds convoluted, but hopefully convoluted in a good way – TV has dropped the bomb on most of the big attempts at convoluted mystery series in recent years, spawned by Lost, including The Event and Flashforward amongst others.  I’ve missed Gellar since the days of Buffy, and I’ve read  a fair amount of good buzz, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

Verdict:  Renewal – I may be being hopeful, but I feel like CW doesn’t expect the type of ratings other networks do and might give the show some leeway, that is if the plot and ratings don’t both spiral out of control.

The Secret Circle – 9/15

 

Based on a series of books by the same author as the Vampire Diaries, the series sounds pretty much Vampire Diaries for witches (Witch Diaries?).  A teenager learns that she is from a family of witches, unraveling lots of family secrets along the way, some good, and some bad, and some helping her solve the mystery of her mother’s recent death.  She joins the title circle at some point, a group of six family witches.

Verdict:  Renewal – the perfect show on the right network for the right time slot, unless it’s out and out terrible, it’s been set up to succeed.

Hart of Dixie – 9/26

From the Saving Grace school of title creation, Hart is Dr. Zoe Hart, portrayed by Rachel Bilson, a big New York doctor who moves down to small-town Alabama for a job.  Co-created by Josh Schwartz, of The O.C. and Gossip Girl fame (who made Bilson a star to begin with in The O.C.), the show has some pedigree and will be getting the solid Gossip Girl lead in, creating a Josh Schwartz block.  The show also co-stars Scott Porter, best known as Jason Street in Friday Night Lighs which gives it some points.  That said, it really doesn’t sound incredibly appealing.

Verdict:  13+ – I think it’s more likely to get renewed than to get cancelled fast, but not everything can make it, and I’m not sure if it will be able to generate an audience.  It just seems so bland.

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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 23: The Killing

13 Sep

The Killing and Game of Thrones started around the same time, and Sundays became a day of excitement.  I started off liking them both the same, but that changed dramatically over time as Game of Thrones went up and up and The Killing went a little bit downward each episode.

The Killing is about a detective trying to solve the murder of a teenage girl in Washington.  For this short description, it drew instant comparisons to Twin Peaks, and though embarrassingly, I haven’t seen all that much of Twin Peaks, I think the differences don’t stop there, but they certainly slow.  There’s no absurdity or essential weirdness that is at the heart of most David Lynch works.  It’s played fairly real, and coupled with a plot about a mayoral candidate that may or may not be somehow involved in the murder, and a plot about the mourning parents and family that can be deeply difficult to watch at times, which is both a tribute to the writers and actors, and something that sometimes I don’t actually want to see.  The show’s city of Seattle provides a suitably dreary, ominous, and rainy mood, which fits the show like a glove (and not one of those ill-fitting one-size fits all gloves).

I must say I’m in a particularly sore mood, because, as I write this, I have most recently seen the third to last episode (though I’ll done with the first season by the time you read this) and it was truly one of the worst this-close-to-end-of-season episodes of a serial show I have ever seen.   Basically, the whole episode was devoted to the random disappearance of her son, who had never been an important part of the plot, and the other two, albeit less interesting over the course of the series, character sets – the grieving family of dead teen Rosie Larson and the mayoral campaign of high-minded candidate Darren Richmond weren’t even shown.  Instead of actually doing their jobs working on the murder case, the two main detectives search around town for her son. Um, there’s a teenage girl’s murder to be solved?  One in which the victim, maybe, didn’t do anything to cause it?  Oh, and POINTLESS SPOILER ALERT (I’m going to make an effort to use this again – spoilers that are so irrelevant that ruining them is not only pointless but makes your realize how stupid the spoilers were) – her son was with his dad the whole time (the first time I typed dad, I accidentally typed ‘dead” – coincidence?  Ominous)!  Oh, the same dad who has maybe been mentioned once offhand in passing in the entire fucking show.  Wow, that was ridiculous.

But yeah, that’s harsh.  The show has probably done more good things than bad, and I enjoy Billy Campbell as the candidate as well as the Swedish guy as the cop with an undecipherable American accent that comes from no real locale.

MEGASPOILER ALERT

I wrote most of this before the last episode of the show – but boy, after watching that finale, what the FUCK?  Holder’s evil?  So it’s the councilman, but it’s not, it’s a framejob by some mysterious person who we may or may not have ever met?  This show just changed entirely what type of show it is, and not for the better I think.  It was a slow, plodding, dark, dreary police investigation slowly leading to a hopefully tense and climactic solution.  What it is now is hard to say, but at the least, it’s no longer a police investigation – it’s a massive conspiracy that no longer allows us to even believe this could be something real.  It’s more into Rubicon territory. I’m not saying that this type of show has to be bad by any means, but I feel lied to and betrayed a bit.

MEGASPOILER OVER

Why it’s this high:  The show has a great feel, and when it’s at its best, the same deliberate pace, which I will decry in the next part, feels natural instead of slow

Why it’s not higher:  Sense of pacing is awful, the plot sort of got out of hand, and yeah, the last episode kind of changed entirely the type of show it is

Best episode of the most recent season:  “Pilot” – it might tell you something about a show when one picks the pilot as the best episode, and if it does say something, it says it here – everything was set up beautifully – a great beginning just to unravel slowly over the course of the season