Tag Archives: Enlightened

Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2014 Edition: The Outcasts

14 Jan

Breaking Bad

It’s time for an annual beginning-of-the-year tradition over here at Drug of the Nation, the ranking of the shows I’ve watched during the previous year. This is my fourth annual ranking, and I’ll repeat the caveat I placed atop last year’s ranking introduction:

Because the TV season is no longer the fall-to-spring trajectory that it used to be, I arbitrarily rank things on a calendar basis, and that leads to strange situations where I’m occasionally ranking the end of one season and the beginning of the next season in the same ranking. It’s strange, and not ideal, but I have to pick some point in the year to do the rankings, so I’ll roll with the punches and mention within the article if there was a significant change in quality one way or the other between the end and beginning of seasons covered in the same year.

I’m only ranking shows I watched all of or just about all of the episodes that aired last year; if I’m just two or three behind I’ll rank it, but if I’ve only seen two or three, I won’t. I’m ranking three episode mini-British seasons but not shows with one-off specials (Black Mirror’s Christmas special is the most notable example this year) . These rules are arbitrary, admittedly, but any rules would be. No daily variety programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are eligible either.

The rankings this year were incredibly difficult, and a generally weak fall slate of TV shows had me forgetting just what an utterly strong year on the whole 2014 had been for television. I was forced to put shows I liked a lot towards the bottom of these rankings, and unlike previous years, there are just about no shows on this list that I’m one bad episode away from stopping, or that I’m just stringing out due to past loyalty until they finish. It’s absolutely brutal, and although I was forced to make tough choices, that doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely enjoy just about every show on this list. TV is that good, folks.

We start, as last year, with the shows that made last year’s list but didn’t make this year’s for one reason of another. This year these are almost entirely because they ended or didn’t air in the calendar year, so I’ll just run through them quickly, with some additional notes about the few that didn’t fall off due to simply not airing last year. This year I’m going to additionally throw in where a show ranked last year for context.

Here’s a quick link to last year’s final ranking as well. Now, on to the outcasts…

Breaking Bad – 2013: 1

Treme – 2013: 4

Eagleheart – Last year: 6

30 Rock – Last year: 10

Venture Bros. – 2013: 12

Top of the Lake – 2013: 15

Arrested Development – 2013: 17

Childrens Hospital – 2013: 21

Broadchurch – 2013: 23

Happy Endings – 2013: 24

NTSF: SD: SUV – 2013: 31

Black Mirror – 2013: 36

Family Tree  2013: 37

Siberia – 2013: 38

Luther – 2013: 45

The Office – 2013: 46

Dexter – 2013: 48

Enlightened – 2013: 6.5 (Initially, an embarrassingly mistaken omission)

Ben and Kate – 2013: 23.5 (Initially, an embarrassingly mistaken omission)

Take a deep breath. All of these shows did not air in 2014, so that’s the simple explanation why they’re not on the list. Many of these shows ended, Top of the Lake was a miniseries, several have extended offseasons and will be back in 2015 or later, and a couple are in extended hiatus, waiting to see whether they will return or not (looking at you, NTSF: SD: SUV). Easy enough.

Homeland – 2013: 41


After a season and a half of utter frustration with the show’s inconsistency at best, and downright lousy and lazy writing at worst, I cut the cord, deciding not to watch the fourth season after a third season that really was not a very good season of television. People have told me the fourth season is better, and if a critical consensus emerges I’ll consider coming back, but I’m not that close to it. I got so sick of the show and Carrie and Brody in particular; if I had cut out earlier, I might have been more easily convinced to come back. It’ll always have an absolutely all-time first season, and is worthy fo remembering just for that, reminiscent of an athlete like Mark Fidrych who blows away the league in his first season only to never do anywhere close to the same again.

Under the Dome – 2013: 47


Under the Dome

Oof. Under the Dome’s first season makes the third season of Homeland look like the fourth season of Breaking Bad. It’s still stunning to me that I made it almost to the end of the first season (I never actually watched the season finale; either with only one left, I couldn’t bring myself to). The plot was incredibly stupid, the acting was generally pretty bad, and the characters were horrible. It’s hard to imagine a time when it could have been decent, but alas, a sneakily bad show is bound to end up getting watched sometimes when you watch so many shows.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2013 Edition: Recap and Mistaken Omissions

19 Feb

Well it’s all done – another year, another ranking in the books. I ranked 48 shows this year, comedies, dramas, dramadies, commas, and everything in between. I look over the rankings and I’m mostly pretty happy, though it’s incredibly tempting to tinker here and there, and in six months or the next time I rewatch a few of these episodes, I’ll probably want to move a few shows up or down. Still, it’s a document that represents a moment in time. These are your 2013 rankings.

PS. Oh, I accidentally missed ranking two shows I watched last year. One is, I think, fairly excusable, and one is not. I’ll post capsules for both shows below the rankings along with where I would have ranked them.

Remember this show's name

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. Rectify
  4. Treme
  5. Justifeid
  6. Eagleheart
  7. Mad Men
  8. The Americans
  9. Hannibal
  10. 30 Rock
  11. Parks and Recreation
  12. Venture Bros
  13. New Girl
  14. Bob’s Burgers
  15. Top of the Lake
  16. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  17. Arrested Development
  18. Archer
  19. Orange is the New Black
  20. Orphan Black
  21. Childrens Hospital
  22. Masters of Sex
  23. Broadchurch
  24. Happy Endings
  25. Rick and Morty
  26. Girls
  27. Veep
  28. Boardwalk Empire
  29. Sons of Anarchy
  30. The Mindy Project
  31. NTSF
  32. Workaholics
  33. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  34. Wilfred
  35. The Walking Dead
  36. Black Mirror
  37. Family Tree
  38. Siberia
  39. House of Cards
  40. The Bridge
  41. Homeland
  42. Downton Abbey
  43. Community
  44. Marvel’s Agents of Shield
  45. Luther
  46. The Office
  47. Under the Dome
  48. Dexter

And two that were missed –

Ben and Kate

Ben and Kate and friends

Where I would have ranked it: This is tough; there’s pretty much no way to not use the three episodes that aired as somewhat of a stand in for the entire short series, and honestly, it’s been over a full year since I watched these, longer than just about any show on the list (equal only to maybe 30 Rock, whose final episodes I remember specifically better). I’ll stick it at 23, right above Happy Endings and below Broadchurch. It’s possible this is too high, but I only get one chance to put it on a list, and nostalgia is bringing back fond memories.

A delightful show in danger of being forgotten forever; I in fact completely forgot about it while making this list, though I think it’s somewhat forgivable considering only three episodes aired in 2013 before the show was pulled from Fox’s schedule (there are three unaired episodes that were pulled from the schedule). It’s really too bad; Ben & Kate was an excellent fit with the New Girl / Mindy Project block, and could have done as well as those shows with some more promotion and time to build (not that those shows do so well, but all things relative). Like Parks and Rec, Ben & Kate was a comedy of nice, a story of five characters who really and genuinely like each other; there were awkward moments but not cringeworthy ones. I had loved Nat Faxon from his brilliant turn as Garlan Greenbush (who Lizzie Kaplan pegs as the name of “an unemployed wizard”) in Party Down, and Dakota Johnson was delightfully awkward, fumbling with words at any opportunity. Ben & Kate featured the rare child actor who I liked, the adorable Maddie, who was likable, funny, and not too precocious. All and all, this was an extremely promising new comedy fallen well before its time.

Poor Mike White

Where I would have ranked it: This is even tougher, because it get more difficult the higher up in the rankings one goes, and the second season of Enlightened may well come to be viewed as a sneaky cult canonical season of television. I know it’s great because it’s a show that’s not by nature up my alley, and that, if it wasn’t great, a show I wouldn’t like at all. I’ll slot it between 6 and 7 – above a below average Mad Men season but below the possibly best season of super-up-my-alley Eagleheart. It’s also been about a year  since I’ve seen this, so I’m viewing it from more of a distance than I like, but this is the definitive season of this show (albeit, there are only two; but it’s hard to imagine a better season of this show coming later anyway); Parks and Recreation and Archer for example I may like more overall, but both didn’t just enjoy their best seasons.

Now, this omission is less forgivable. This also aired at the very beginning of 2013 but aired a full season that year, was much more of an event, and I marathoned both seasons of Enlightened over a couple of shockingly depressing weekends. I talked a lot about the revelation this season was here, but I’ll say some thoughts in brief. I originally watched the first episode of Enlightened and passed; Laura Dern’s Amy Jellicoe was a character that got on my nerves continually. That didn’t exactly change after I came back to the show after hearing recommendations everywhere, but what changed was the balance; I felt more sympathy for her and her position than I felt irritated by her actions. It’s an incredibly depressing show about the struggle of modern life, and the difficulty in trying to find meaning in the everyday, but the second season took the show to a new level. The finale was sad, frustrating, and empowering all at once, and the fourth episode of the season which just features Luke Wilson’s character at rehab was a bottle episode revelation. I’d recommend everyone try to put themselves through this second season if nothing else; it’s rough going, but not that many hours of TV and totally worth it.

End of Season Report: Enlightened, Season 2

17 Jul

Amy looks onAs I mentioned in my review of the first season of Enlightened, when I watched the first episode, I didn’t like it.  Even after watching both seasons and enjoying them greatly,, I still don’t think my initial impression was wrong.  The primary problem I had was that I didn’t like the main character, Laura Dern’s Amy Jellicoe.  After watching two seasons, I still don’t, in so much as she would drive me crazy if I ever had to hang out with her.  She has a number of qualities that drive me crazy, including a quasi new age outlook and never knowing when to stop talking. That said, over two seasons of really getting to know her and her life, it’s hard not to both empathize and sympathize with her.

Enlightened is about the sense of powerlessness felt by the average person into today’s modern corporate suburban world.  Amy Jellicoe struggles in a pointless office job working at mindless tasks at a computer. The only purpose of her department is to put other people out of work, and eventually to put herself and her colleagues out of work when they’ve done enough.  The series begins when after fifteen years climbing the corporate ladder, she has a breakdown, and comes back only to realize what a meaningless life she’s been living.  She’s surrounded by poor, sad individuals who have simply lost any desire or ability they once had to make something more out of their careers, led by Mike White’s Tyler, who simple gave up on trying years ago.

However, while the first season is about just how powerless the characters are, the second season instead decides to give them a fighting chance.  Every character, with the possible exception of Amy’s mother, is given a shot to actually come out of things a little bit better than they started out.  Additionally, the second season is more serial than the first, as there’s a running plotline focused around Amy trying to take down her evil corporate overlords Abaddon, headed up by CEO Chalres Szidon, played by the ultimate white collar man James Rebhorn.

Amy, high off of her ability to convince her drunk and drug-addled ex-husband to go to rehab at the conclusion of the first season, must go back to her mind-numbing day job at Abaddon.  What chances is that her one friend one the job, computer expert Tyler, knows how to crack into corporate e-mails, and with that information Amy believes she can finally do what she’s sought out to do since the beginning of the series.  Prove herself as a force for good.  Take down an evil company, lifting up the little people, and making planet Earth, on balance, a better place.  She hooks up with, both figuratively and literally, an LA Times investigative reporter, who seems initially put off by Amy but is exicted about her reputed ability to get top secret e-mails from what he’s long theorized was a criminal corporate enterprise.  As she uses her hacked computer access to contribute, he invites her to an event where she sees a woman who was able to start a website and influence the world from a position even worse than hers.  She sees world outside of herself.  One person can actually make a difference. She’s naive, but she’s not crazy.  It’s difficult not to sympathize with her wanting to actually make some positive change in her life, even if it can be occasionally cringe-inducing the way she goes about it.

While her quest to get a muckraking expose published certainly provides Amy with the feeling that she can actually do something, several times over the season it feels as if Amy is in over her head. Amy forms a romantic relationship with the reporter, which goes sour when the reporter dismisses her before the story is published because of the appearance of  impropriety it might create, noting that both he and Amy knew what their relationship was. Amy didn’t.  Amy actually gets an incredible opportunity she’s always wanted towards the end of the season when she gets to meet with the CEO of Abaddon and is offered a position designed around making company socially responsible.  While it seems like Amy’s acceptance of this position should be the dream ending, it’s a cruel tease.  By this point in the season, it’s too late for this half-measure of working within the corporate structure. The expose on Abaddon that specifically mentions Amy is about to come out and there’s no putting on the breaks on it just because she’s gotten an opportunity which offers her the potential to make change and be financially stable at the same time.  You can’t have everything though, and it would have felt like a little bit of both a cop out and a sell out for Amy to accept at this point, even if she could.  She made her bed with her choice to reach up and a grab a chance to make a deeper permanent mark at the price of sacrificing a potential comfortable position and for better or worse, though hopefully better, she now has to lie in it.

Vastly needed comic relief comes in the form of wonderful boss character Dougie Daniels played by Til Death’s Timm Sharp.  He’s hilarious throughout as the douchey, tech-savvy boss of Amy’s basement unit, who thinks a lot more of himself than just about anyone else does.  He’s all about following the corporate order until he finds out the corporate order is about to fire his ass, at which point he’s all about revenge.  While Amy persuades him to help her out with her espionage mission in pursuit high-minded ideals, Dougie is willing to go only as far as simply to screw the fuckers who are letting him go.

Luke Wilson’s Levi Callow doesn’t get a ton of time to shine in the second season, but he uses the time he gets well.  The third episode, which focuses on his plight attending rehab in Hawaii, is one of the better episodes of the season, if not the best, and features Christopher Abbott of Girls fame having a lot more fun than he ever does in Girls.  For people who can’t get into the show due to Amy’s character, I would highly recommend a viewing of this episode even without context, for the powerful storytelling and writing Enlightened brings to the table.

Mike White’s Tyler also gets an unexpected opportunity for happiness.  He interacts with executive secretary Eileen, played by Molly Shannon, as part of the conspirators’ attempts to gain access to some deeply hidden documents, but ends up falling in love.  Tyler’s quest to bond with another human is lonelier but just as moving if not moreso than Amy’s.  It seems like guaranteed tragedy once Eileen learns why Tyler ran into her in the first place. Surprisingly, however for this show, this potential disaster is turned around when Amy’s insistence that Tyler wasn’t in on the down and dirty details of the conspiracy brings the two of them back together.  No one on the deserves a happy ending more than Tyler.

And that brings me what was remarkable about the second season. Enlightened, one of the most depressing shows in the past few years to air on television, actually has a happy ending.    In some ways it’s certainly unexpected for a show that sometimes just feels like it’s beating you down, letting you get slightly back up, and then bating you down again, but it doesn’t feel cheap.  Amy doesn’t have a great time over the course of the series, but she earns the peace of mind she gets at the end.  I’m not sure how much of an idea series creator Mike White had that this would be the final season, but even though I’d prefer more episodes, it’s hard to believe if there were more, it wouldn’t end at a lower point.

In the last episode, Amy, when her identity as the source of scandalous leaked documents breaks out, is pulled out of her job and brought up to see the CEO and a bevy of executives and lawyers.  She’s fired of course, among other negative consequences, but they’ll sue her brains out if she doesn’t tell them exactly what documents were leaked.  I half-expected Amy to fold, realizing she had made a mess of what could have been a great situation for her.  She doesn’t though.  This is Amy’s moment of triumph.  It’s to her advantage here to be a little person.  Sue away, she says.  She doesn’t own anything and is deeply in debt.  For a moment, her terrible situation is turned into an asset.  Only someone who had been in her position of hopelessness could have had the desperation to topple this corrupt CEO.  And about that, she wasn’t wrong either.  The CEO really did do some terrible things, and she really is the one to be responsible for restoring a little balance to the world.  Seeing her photo on the cover, she earned that.

Amy is annoying.  Amy is irritating.  That never really changes over the course of the show; she never curbs all the activities that drive me crazy when watching her.  That said, her life is rough.  She had a marriage fall apart after a miscarriage, she has a depressed mom, and the person she thinks as her best friend kind of hates her, and well.  She deserves a win, and it’s gratifying to see her get one.

End of Season Report: Season 1 of Enlightened

25 Mar

Amy Jellicoe

I reviewed Enlightened when it first aired, and I wasn’t that impressed.  There may have been a number of reasons I decided not to come back for a second episode, but far and away the main one was that I couldn’t stand the main character, Amy Jellicoe, portrayed by Laura Dern.  Not merely that I hated her; I’ve loved several shows where I’ve disliked the main character with various degrees of intensity.  Rather, I found her incredibly annoying.  Some of this was due to the British comedy type of awkwardness, but it was more than that, because, even though I’m as uncomfortable with the awkwardness as anyone else, I’ve become pretty good at getting through it.  More than that, I didn’t like watching her, and I didn’t feel like I gained enough from putting up with her irritating personality.

However, I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again, and when the internet and friends both combined to tell me that Enlightened was worth watching, I decided to head on over to HBO on demand to give the show another shot.  With so much praise from all quarters, I decided to go in whole hog, marathoning the entire (admittedly short) first  season over a weekend, and I’m glad I did.  The problem with watching it in a compressed period of time is not the length, the episodes are only a half hour long and there aren’t that many of them; it’s that it’s extremely depressing.

Main character Amy Jellicoe is a former corporate executive for a huge faceless company who suffered a nervous breakdown, attended an island rehab center which focused on the power of positive thinking, and then came back to work, determined to change both herself and her work life.  She’s now focus on things that really matter like the environment rather than the corporate bullshit she strove towards for the past fifteen years when she was only driven to climb the career ladder.  However, when she comes back to work, she’s only given a job because of legal reasons, and is demoted to a particularly meaningless job in the basement on a secret program designed to measure worker productivity and figure out who to lay off.

On one hand, Amy is extremely irritating, naive, has no sense of decorum, and kind of had this coming.  She was the one who broke down, while everyone else seems to manage to just shut up and do their work, and even when she has opportunities, she just doesn’t know when to talk and when to listen, and when to bide her time for even just a short while.  That said, as we peer deeper into her life through later episodes, it’s hard also not to feel for her at least somewhat.  She has no good friends, and her only close relations are her depressed and repressed mother and her depressed and drug-addled ex-husband.  And we can also understand or empathize with what it’s like to be crushed in corporate America, doing work that is not merely useless busy work, but actually hurting other regular people while lining the pockets of the one percenters at the top.  This is all magnified by her boss, a tech savant who wrote the program her group is working on, who acts like a cool boss, but is an immature douche at heart who is given free reign by his superiors to pretty much treat the workers however he wants because it’s his program.

One of the best episodes of the season explored the point of view of Amy’s mother, Helen (played by Laura Dern’s real life mom, Diane Ladd), who is even more depressing than Amy.  While Amy at least shoots for the stars, only to get knocked down time and again, Helen has given in to life and has largely stopped trying.  We see some of the background behind how Helen became negative and anti-social, and one particularly sad scene showed her running into a perky high-energy grandmother she was acquainted with in a grocery store, and having to listen to stories about kids and grand kids, while seeming desperately uncomfortable having to explain that her only daughter is back living at home.

I don’t think I’d want to spend more than a couple minutes with Amy, and I didn’t think I wanted to watch her either, but there was a lot more to Enlightened than met the eye, and I improbably still found myself rooting for her by the end of the season to at least move up and regain some minimal amount of control of her life.  We can also understand her feeling of resignation when, after pursuing a job that will fulfill her personally at a homeless shelter, she realizes she’ll never be able to pay down her debt with the salary they offer.  Everyone deserves better than this.  Even irritating Amy Jellicoe doesn’t deserve be trampled on by the world over and over.

Fall 2011 New TV Show Predictions Reviewed, Part 1

23 Dec

A couple of months ago, I made predictions about how long new shows on cable networks, ABC, and Fox would last.  As all the shows have aired for a few weeks, it’s time for an evaluation of my predictions, although for some shows, the final word is not in yet.  Such an evaluation follows:


Hell on Wheels

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed away – not as successful commercially as AMC stalwart The Walking Dead or critically as Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but good enough.  It’s no Rubicon.


Predicted:  Renewal

What Happened:  Renewal – right on, everyone else agreed with me and I agreed with everyone else that this is the best new show of the year.  It’ll be back with a vengeance.

American Horror Story

Predicted:  Renewal

What Happened:  Renewed – I still don’t understand it, and I don’t mean that in either a good or a bad way, but it’s become a bit of a sleeper hit.


Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed – Cheating, it was renewed before it aired.  Still, it got good enough reviews, for whatever that’s worth.


Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Renewed, but barely, as it survived the great HBO comedy extermination of 2011, which saw the ends of personal favorite Bored to Death, Hung and How To Make It In America.



Charlie’s Angels

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled.  One of the five easiest predictions to make all year.  Had no chance from day one.

Last Man Standing

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Picked up for full season so far.  Probably the prediction I got wrong which I would have staked the most on.  I still don’t think it will last past this year, but I would have said it’d be gone after three or four episodes, so who knows.

Man Up

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Second of the top five easiest decisions.  Didn’t have a shot in hell, and shouldn’t have.

Once Upon A Time

Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up a for a full season, likely renewal.  It’s become a family hit, and although it hasn’t been renewed yet, so I could technically still be right, it probably will be renewed and I’ll be wrong.  Oops.

Pan Am

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  Not cancelled officially yet, but looking like all but a formality.  This was one of the more difficult shows to call.


Precited:  Renewal

What happened;  Picked up for a full season, and looking likely for renewal.  Very pleased about both my call, which wasn’t obvious, and the popularity of one of the better new shows.


Predicted:  13+

What happened:  Picked up, with a renewal likely.  It’s been kind of a surprise hit on what’s become a bit of a surprise hit Wednesday night comedy block on ABC, with Modern Family, The Middle, and Happy Endings next to Suburgatory.


New Girl

Predicted; Renewal

What happened:  Picked up for a full season, it would be a total shock if it was not renewed.  One of the biggest new show hits of the season so far.

Allen Gregory

Predicted:  12-

What happened:  Cancelled – not a shocker by any means.  Bad show, bad spot, no chance.  Third of my five easiest cancellations to call.

I Hate My Teenage Daughter

Predicted:  12-

Renewed:  Uncertain, as it didn’t start until the end of November.  That said, I still feel fairly confident in a cancellation.

Terra Nova

Predicted: Renewal

What happened:  This is the closest show on the list, and it could still go either way.  I wouldn’t take odds one way or the other.

Fall 2011 Review: Enlightened

5 Nov

When I started HBO’s Enlightened I knew less than I do about most shows going on.  The premise is told in the first ten minutes or so of the episode.  Laura Dern is a high-powered corporate manager who has been sleeping with a married colleague and has a high-profile extremely embarrassing nervous breakdown at the office in which she curses out several co-workers.  She goes to breakdown/stress rehab, whatever the technical name for that is, in which she relaxes in tropical climates for a while and learns to access her inner chi and relaxation techniques and shit like that.  She comes home newly centered and tries to put her life right again, back at work, with her ex-fuck buddy, with her mom, played by Diane Ladd, and with her ex-husband, played by Luke Wilson.  The show is created by Mike White who I know best for writing School of Rock, but who has also written such classics as Nacho Libre, Orange County and The Good Girl.

It’s a half hour comedy, but it’s more in the vein of a makes-you-smile Entourage style comedy than a laugh out loud comedy.  That said, it didn’t make me smile all that much.  This is largely because I couldn’t stand the main character.  I have no problem with Laura Dern as an actress, but her character, Amy Jellicoe, when she comes back from rehab has this hippy-dippy, uber-positive, meditative and vaguely cosmicly spiritual personality which I find to be one of the most irritating personality archetypes out there.  Since, so far at least, she pretty was the show, and was in every scene, there wasn’t much else.  Not only would I find her incredibly obnoxiously in real life, I really don’t want to spend a half hour a week with her on screen either.

Enlightened was already off to a bad start and there was simply nothing else that pulled me in about the show.  I could buy feeling bad for someone who had a nervous breakdown, and watching her search for redemption but not when she acts like that when she’s trying to claw her way back.  The supporting characters were fine.  I didn’t have any particularly strong feelings about that one way or the other.

There’s certainly a chance they’ll tone her oppressive personality down as the season wears on and she starts acting more within the realm of the normal, and that certainly wouldn’t hurt the chance of the series actually being good.  In some comedies though it feels like if they could just remove a couple of small kinks, the show would be off and running.  The essential premise here isn’t the problem, but the level of tuning up needed here to make the show a success far exceeds a couple of kinks.  If New Girl is an oil change and a new set of tires from being good, Enlightened needs a new transmission (the analogy is admittedly a stretch, particularly because I don’t know enough about cars; just go with it).

Will I watch it again?  No, I’m not going to.  If I take a peek in later during the season, I’ll hope they’d made her character a little more tolerable, but even then I’d need a little bit more to make it compelling viewing.

Fall 2011 Preview: Cable

5 Oct

Homeland – Showtime – 10/2/11


Homeland stars Claire Daines as a CIA analyst who obtains a piece of intelligence about terrorist activity that no one else knows, which is that an American prisoner of war has been turned by Al Queda.  She makes nothing of that information until a POW marine who has been away eight years is discovered alive in Iraq.  Hailed as an American hero, the POW, played by Damian Lewis, may be a terrorist, or Daines may be crazy.  Nothing but great buzz here, and it sounds more intriguing than any other new show as a layered psychological thriller.

Prediction:  Renewal – best buzz of the year, and that’s worth even more on a premium network, and even more on Showtime, which still wants to be HBO

American Horror Story – FX – 10/5/11


The preview looks insane, and about the only fact I know, other than that Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton and their kid move into a haunted house is that Britton has sex with a ghost in a latex suit in the first episode, and frankly that leaves me even more confused.  Ryan Murphy has an extremely hit and miss record (Nip/Tuck, Glee) and horror is a genre that you generally don’t see on television, because it doesn’t play well for the long run.  From what buzz I have read, a ton takes place in the first episode, enough to make the episode exciting in and of itself but to wonder where the show goes from there, and why the fuck the couple doesn’t just move out.  This’ll probably take a couple episodes of watching to figure out whether it’s worthwhile.

Prediction:  Renewal – I honestly don’t know what to think, but here’s a stab

Hell on Wheels – 11/6/11

Set during the building of the transcontinental railroad, the series features a confederate soldier determined to take revenge on union soldiers who murdered his wife.  Deadwood is the first comparison that springs to mind, due to the time period.  It looks at least interesting, and as a history major, I tend to be a sucker for historically-based shows.  Apparently reconstruction plays a part, and Native American attacks, and who knows what else.

Prediction: Renewal – I have just as little idea as with the show above, but since Rubicon’s been the only non-Renewed show on AMC so far, I’ll take the odds

Boss – Starz – 10/21/11


Kelsey Grammer stars as the mayor of Chicago who has been recently diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease.  He keeps this from everyone, his family, friends and staff, who are generally too busy with their own priorities to notice him slipping.  Political intrigue and family drama are in play, with administration members shooting for higher office, and a relationship between Grammar and his wife that may be falling apart.  I’m not sure it will be good, but it certainly could be.

Verdict: Renewal – this is downright cheating – it’s already been renewed, which is admittedly kind of incredible.  I wish Party Down got this kind of support from Starz.

Enlightened – HBO – 9/10/11

Laura Dern portrays an executive with a public breakdown in this HBO comedy.  Buzz seems to be at least slightly positive.  Luke Wilson plays her ex-husband, and Diane Ladd playes her mother.  Creator Mike White wrote for Freaks and Geeks and wrote School of Rock, but also wrote Nacho Libre.  This preview is admittedly weak but after the varying and distinct dramatic premises of the shows above, it’s hard to find a lot to say about Enlightened, especially before watching it.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, just in a premise-is-a-lot-less-important-in-comedy-so-let’s-wait-and-see way.

Prediction:  Renewal – it’s absolutely ridiculous I’ve predicted renewal for all of these, though I feel anecdotally shows are more likely to get picked up on premium cable networks.