Ranking the New Spring 2013 Shows

5 Jun

The Americans, again

Memorial Day has passed, June is here, and the spring TV season is finished. That means there’s no better time to take stock, and do a final ranking of all the new shows spring offered us.  I’ve seen at least one episode of each of these, and more of a few. Let’s have at it, with a few notes for each.

  1.  The Americans – This was probably my favorite pilot of the year. It dipped briefly into second or third midseason and then rose up again as it neared the end.  It’s really good.  I’ve started putting this out as the go-to watch for people who are up to date on the big three dramas (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones) and want something to catch up on quickly.
  2. Rectify – Only six episodes long and on the Sundance Channel, this show could easily pass you by, and almost passed me by.  Still, if this is the type of show Sundance plans on bringing to its original programming, that’s a great sign.  About the reintegration of a man who served on death row for two decades in a small Southern town setting, it’s fascinating and well-acted and feels startlingly real for TV.
  3. Hannibal – Gorgeous and grotesque, this show feels like a cable show masquerading on a network.  It’s about cops and serial killers, not exactly bold new territory, but the dynamic between main characters Will, Hannibal, and Jack is exemplary and takes it above typical procedural quality.  It’s one of the most beautifully shot shows on TV.
  4. House of Cards – Spacey is good, aside from his accent, and it’s fun to track the endless over-complicated manipulations that land the primary characters in different places by the end of the season.  It’s fairly ludicrous and a little overdone, but it’s also quite a fun ride.
  5. Banshee – I will probably watch at least one more of this violent show about a criminal pretending to be a sheriff in but dangerous town in Pennsylvania. I really have no idea where this is going to go, but it has a Sons of Anarchy-vibe in the pilot.
  6. Bates Motel – This is probably the closest to 50/50 in terms of whether I watch another episode. It looked like it could be good, but also might not be up my particular alley with its horror movie feel.  I probably will watch at least one season of American Horror Story before I watch this.
  7. The Following – I havne’t watched any more like I thought I might and have heard it gets worse, but the first episode, while insane, at least made me consider watching more, which says something.
  8. Deception – A poor man’s Revenge from one episode, though it certainly seemed like it could have second season of Revenge level potential, for whatever that’s worth.
  9. Cult – Kind of a poor man’s The Following.  Another horror movie for TV, clearly a CW show, but tries to be a little too clever for its own good.
  10. 1600 Penn – Super wacky, in a way that I almost respect the effort, but it wasn’t very funny.  Probably will go down mostly for the trivia of Bill Pullman playing the president once again, after Independence Day.
  11. The Carrie Diaries – I can imagine the right person liking this, and I think Annasophia Robb, who plays young Carrie Bradshaw, does a good job.  Aside from the period soundtrack though, I have better shows to watch, and I already have one new show set in the early ’80s (The Americans).
  12. Red Widow – A widow from a small-time crime family must take her husband’s place and work with a scary crime lord.  It should be more riveting.  It was absolutely watchable, but not particularly compelling.
  13. Zero Hour – This year’s crazy conspiracy show, it hearkens back to the Nazis and the Bible both, taking two of the biggest conspiracy theory generators and combining them.  Not as captivating as a show that draws on those two conspiracy lode mines should be.
  14. Golden Boy – It’s a pretty standard cop show whose hook is that it’s told through flashbacks by the youngest ever police commissioner, about his time as an even younger homicide detective.  The best aspect of the show is that the main character is kind of a prick, which is unusual for this genre.
  15. How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest Of Your Life) – cutesy Modern Family clones are hotter than the sun at the moment, and whoever can generate another even miniature hit with one will make a lot of money.  This is not it.
  16. Family Tools – I didn’t realize the ridiculous drama to comedy ratio of the new spring shows (14 to 3) until I wrote these all down.  Family Tools is really similar to How to Live With Your Parents above, and I could have put them in a virtual tie.  Shout out for JK Simmons, who deserves a better platform for his talents.
  17. Do No Harm – I’ll admit, I forgot I watched this show, and while this show doesn’t deserve to be higher, there’s no laughably awful Rob! or Work It to claim the last spot.  Still, this show, about a doctor with an evil split personality, was about as uninteresting as a show with that premise could be.
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