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TBTS Peruses: The New Fall TV Schedule

September 10, 2009

Normally around these parts, we don’t like to tell people what to do. You know, what with free will and all. But we do happen to watch quite a bit of television — some may say an unhealthy amount — and that unhealthy amount of television does happen to come in handy from time to time. Like on the eve of the new fall television season. Therefore, as the clouds and stars of the new season begin to gather on the horizon, it’s time to take a look at the potential winners and losers. Just our suggestion. You certainly don’t have to take our words for anything. We just thought the crumpled interpersonal relationships we’ve left in the wake of all our gratuitous television watching might be of some assistance.

SUNDAYS

It’s always a real shame that CBS loads up solid programming on Sunday nights, since it’s always decimated for the first half of the season by NFL games that run late, destroying any DVR’s chance of taping anything on the Eye network that evening. Regardless, this is one of those nights where all four networks vie for solid ratings, all four with good ammo. Regardless of how you feel about reality programming, CBS’ combined competition/travelogue  The Amazing Race is still top of the reality heap, and follow-up Three Rivers portrays hospital drama Law & Order style, which could be promising. While few people are still on the Simpsons bandwagon these days (still loved, but faltering), Fox doubles up its Family Guy audience with spin-off The Cleveland Show. Of course, if you’re a Desperate Housewives fan, there’ll be more of the same. Likewise with Ty Pennington and his damn Extreme Home Makeover megaphone.

Sunday’s Picks: Even if you hate reality shows, check out The Amazing Race if you’ve still been avoiding it. It’s almost always smart and a blast. Catch a couple of eps of Three Rivers if you’re heart still aches from the loss of ER, and DVR the Cleveland Show/Family Guy one-two punch for a night you need some laughs. But let’s be honest. You’re gonna be watching Curb Your Enthusiasm that night anyway. Or at least you should be.

MONDAYS

If you watch Dancing With the Stars, there’s no way you’re not gonna be watching that. You Stars people are diehard. Over on CBS, though, the cute/solid How I Met Your Mother has been running promos saying that they’re not going to be toning down any humor just because they’re moving to 8:00, which likely means they are, but it will probably still be the strongest link in CBS’ Monday night comedy chain, which includes new Jenna Elfman vehicle Accidentally on Purpose (because you demanded more Jenna Elfman!), the terrible but somehow award-winning Two and a Half Men and growing cult fave The Big Bang Theory. NBC’s Heroes is trying like hell to bring its viewers back after two poorly-reviewed seasons, pairing the übermench drama with 9:00’s new Trauma, which is…about trauma doctors and lots of explosions. I’ll cop to dropping off Fox’s House train after I thought it was circling the drain last mid-season, but reliable sources have persuaded me to come back this season, which I’m willing to do, and for those of you who are fourteen years-old or creepy adults, Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill are over on the CW.

Monday’s Picks: HIMYM is still pleasantly endearing with a great cast, making it a solid DVR choice. Ditto Big Bang. I’ll be heading back to Fox’s House to give it another fair shake (I feel bad for forsaking it, but it was starting to look hokey last year). I don’t give Trauma much time to live, but Accidentally on Purpose has landed in a pretty stalwart block, so it may stick around. Between you and I, though, Monday Night Football remains my live choice for Mondays. Sorry, scripted dramas and sitcoms!

TUESDAYS

Tuesday has a little something for everyone. For you upwardly-mobile types who love watching the dreams of others crushed, Shark Tank is on ABC. For you oldsters who find the CSI series “too edgy,” NCIS presents all the forensic mystery with none of the entertaining gore, and follows itself up with the new LL Cool J-helmed NCIS: Los Angeles. CBS follows up the NCIS twins with new political-family drama The Good Wife, which has garnered some decent word-of-mouth so far, but ABC hasn’t seemed to put a single dollar toward hyping Christian Slater’s new The Forgotten, which is a very bad sign. NBC will no doubt do just fine with The Biggest Loser again; likewise Fox with So You Think You Can Dance. It’ll be interesting to see if the CW’s Melrose Place can spruce up the 90210 revamp’s ratings, which were so-so last year.

Tuesday’s Picks: Tough one, as everything’s just okay on Tuesdays. LL is hard to resist, but the NCIS franchise is totally defanged. 90210 is actually some pulpy fun at times, and The Biggest Loser is inspirational, even if it is just a gigantic Subway commercial. As you can tell, there aren’t any runaways here. So DVR whatever strikes your fancy on Tuesdays and go to the movies that night. You won’t be missing much.

WEDNESDAYS

ABC has tricked out its Wednesday night lineup with a quartet of new sitcoms — Cougar Town has some buzz, and our own Lloyd loved the premiere of Modern Family, but Patricia Heaton’s The Middle and Kelsey Grammer’s Hank look like the bland sitcom standard. Skip CBS’ Old Christine (less funny than it thinks it is), and pass on Gary Unmarried (likewise), and instead check out NBC’s Mercy, where supersmart nurses slap some sense into their hospital’s doctors. It’s the kind of show that might have some legs, and appeal to you Grey’s Anatomy lovers. Fox’s Glee is getting a whole lot of love, and will likely be the breakout hit for Wednesday, but ABC’s Eastwick, though it sounds appealing, has gone through a lot of rewrites and reconceptualization to make it to this year’s schedule, so it’s probably a mess.

Wednesday’s Picks: Record Modern Family and Cougar Town while simultaneously watching Glee. Peep Mercy, but it may be a dud. Law & Order: SVU and CSI:NY remain the “have it on in the background” shows to provide white noise to your knitting, taxidermy or phone calls to the folks as you bide time before Jon Stewart, Conan and Jimmy Fallon. Wednesday’s all about the time-kill.

THURSDAYS

As per usual, you’re gonna need every DVR in the house going for Thursday night, as the nets unfairly stack up their best shows in a battle royal that hurts everyone. Why can’t someone just claim Wednesday night for one of these killers? NBC is hands-down the top dog with Parks & Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock and the new overhyped-yet-probably-solid Community. Make fun of me if you will, but I’m still watching and enjoying Survivor as well, and ABC’s FlashForward (written by David Goyer, scribe of The Dark Knight) promises to be the new Lost — at least until Lost comes back midseason. Top that cake with Fox’s Fringe (unfairly pitted against these monsters of ratings) the seemingly beloved-by-thirtysomethings Grey’s Anatomy, toss in some original CSI: Las Vegas (the one CSI I enjoy) and sprinkle some Supernatural on the CW, and it’s a shame that Thursday nights are going to sacrifice at least a couple of the week’s best programs.

Thursday’s Picks: This is just wrong, to make us have to choose here. But okay. FlashForward is the one show this entire season that has potential to be the get-in-on-the-ground-floor runaway hit, so definitely watch or DVR that. And it goes without saying you can’t miss the NBC supercomedy block. Watch Survivor in the other room if you’re into that, and bid a teary goodbye to the stalwart CSI: Las Vegas to keep watching the ultra-fun and trippy Fringe. If you have more than one TV or DVR, Thursday night’s the night to use them all. There’s a lot to get here if you can, in both great shows and comfort food.

FRIDAYS

It’s same ol’ same ol’ on Friday night — I’d recommend catching up on your recorded shows from Thursday night. But if you have to watch something, it’s probably going to be something you’re religiously into anyway, whether that’s Ugly Betty, Smallville, Dollhouse, The Ghost Whisperer or Medium — all of which are shows with fairly loyal followings that I watch none of. So I’m not going to pretend to be Mr. Smart Guy on Friday nights. Watch whatever floats your boat.

Friday’s Picks: Whichever of Friday’s shows is one you’ve watched in the past, just keep on enjoying it. Because Friday’s where all the shows that some people follow go to live.

SATURDAYS

For the love of God, go do something on Saturday night. You’ve been watching TV all week. I insist. I’ll even buy.

So what do we think, gang? Anyone care to share their own personal picks in the comment section below? All opinions are welcome. Tell us what you’ll be watching this fall season, and let us know the programs you won’t miss. After all, it’s a free country.

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