You're going to watch this on an actual TV, right?
Kelly Malone, Taylor Tiefenbach, Megan Narsing, Caitlin Brezinski, Sam Woods, Edward Dodd
There are plenty of new shows this season that have critics talking, especially HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. After its premier episode, which was directed by Martin Scorcese and debuted to phenomenally high ratings, the series was immediately renewed for a second season. Another show that has already been doing very well in the ratings has been Showtime’s Dexter, which returned this fall for its fifth season after a major cliffhanger at the end of the fourth left the series’ most annoying character in a pool of her own blood – sorry, Rita fans.
Besides the premiere of Boardwalk Empire, the most talked about TV series of this fall – at least among TV critics – was the drama Lone Star, which lasted just two episodes before FOX pulled the plug. FOX is notorious for canceling shows after a single season, but dropping the program after two episodes was an unprecedented move for the network.
Following the announcement of Lone Star’s cancellation, AV Club commentator Scott Tobias tweeted “Fuck television, you know? At least when a movie bombs, it’s already been completed. No one stops the projector after reel two.”
Honestly though, the hubbub surrounding Lone Star’s cancellation has mostly already been forgotten, and the reason is that there are so many programs that people actually enjoy watching, like the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother or The WB’s horror series, Supernatural, both of which have returned this fall.
The jury is still out as to whether or not Boardwalk Empire will take the place of The Wire or The Sopranos in the canon of great network television, but there are a number of returning series that aren’t trying to reinvent TV, but simply deliver episode after episode of pure entertainment. Of course, that isn’t going to stop audience-baiting shows – such as NBC’s The Event – from trying to recapture the lightning in the bottle that made LOST great.
The Fall TV season is just getting started, making now the perfect time for the Carillon and its contributors to predict which of these new and returning programs are going to succeed, jump the shark, or be cancelled faster than you can say FOX.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Good television requires a few key components: Steve Buscemi, Martin Scorsese, and a theme by the Brian Jonestown Massacre. After these few crucial elements combine you get the newest HBO series: Boardwalk Empire.
Set in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the Prohibition era, Boardwalk Empire focuses on the Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Buscemi), a corrupt politician. Nucky deals with mobsters, politicians, government agents, and regular people who look up to him.
Although the series is only a few episodes in, the premiere episode alone claimed this viewer’s Sunday nights instantly. The followup episode certainly did not disappoint. The initial character development is done thoughtfully with lots of room for mystery and intrigue. The relationship Buscemi has with his fellow castmates is sincere and believable. With an amazing story from a Nelson Johnson book as its premise, I can only assume that we are at the beginning of what will be great new television series. If you are going to watch TV, you might as well watch the best.
– K. M.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
As the show that has been described as “Seinfeld on crack” enters its sixth season there are rumblings that it may not maintain its high level of quality. The gang has already staged a pro wrestling match for the troops, invented the kitten mittens, and created a full-proof system of seduction known as the D.E.N.N.I.S. system, and that was all in the last season. What else is there to do?
Well, an idea of how to keep the show fresh came from off-screen couple Kaitlin Olson (Dee Reynolds) and Rob McElhenney (Mac) who announced they would be having their first child in late August. Rather than hide the pregnancy, Dee will find herself with child around midseason in an episode titled “Who Got Dee Pregnant?” Dee’s previous experience with children includes trying to rent her uterus to a couple trying to conceive and, along with Mac, finding a baby in a dumpster and trying to give him a tan in order to put him in commercials. They are horrible people.
Other episodes will include the return of the McPolyes, the Lawyer, and Carmen, who is now a post-op transsexual. Also, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies will guest star on an episode. Here's hoping Mac finally gets to give Chase his letter.
Unfortunately, new episodes of Sunny aren’t broadcast in Canada, although they are easy to find online a couple hours after airing south of the border. The best option is to purchase one of the first five seasons or the amazing Christmas special on DVD. Each episode demands multiple viewings.
– T. T.
Though NBC’s Thursday night line-up is no longer “must see TV,” it still airs three of the finest network sitcoms out there. Most have heard of the first two, 30 Rock and The Office, but Community has yet to make it big in the mainstream. Hopefully with its second season Community will get the attention it deserves.
Season one ended with Britta (Gillian Jacobs) declaring her love for Jeff (McHale), only for Jeff to go off and kiss Annie (Alison Brie of Mad Men). Team Annie versus Team Britta has not reached Jacob versus Edward status, though that seems to be OK for the writers. It seems that they plan on making every single romantic combination happen. In many ways this show is just a high school drama, but with adults. Think Saved by the Bell, if the actors were playing characters that were the same age.
With their language requirement out of the way, the study group is longer taking Spanish. Instead, they will be trying out Anthropology. But fear not, Ken Jeong fans – Professor Chang is now a student and is desperately trying to get into the study group’s tight-knit circle.
Also, be sure to watch out for the Christmas episode, which is being done in stop-motion animation à la the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red–Nosed Reindeer. As seen from last year’s post-apocalyptic paintball episode, this is a show that will warp reality to keep its viewers interested.
– T. T.
The Amazing Race (CBS)
The seventeenth season of The Amazing Race has begun, and this time there’s actually a pretty sweet cast that makes the show enjoyable. They’ve already thrown in a new twist – the express pass, which allows a team to skip a challenge and move on to the next. That’s not all though – for the first time I actually kind of know one of the teams.
Team Jumba a.k.a. Kevin and Michael are on YouTube (search: “KevJumba”). Watching these two is like watching someone you personally know being on TV while you laugh your face off at how much they fail at life. Seriously though, they’re doing pretty well, coming in third place in the last episode. They’re the one team to watch if you need some down-to-earth comedy.
Another awesome comedic pair are the Ivy League a cappella singers. Yeah, you read that right. These two teammates – dubbed the “Glee” team – are so nerdy and funny, and they’re actually not doing so bad. At first they sucked, but they’ve definitely stepped up their game!
Nat and Kat, a.k.a. the doctors, are also a team to watch out for. I’m pretty sure they’ll make it to the final three in the competition. Jill and Thomas are also likely to make it to the final three, and Stephanie and Chad might make it there if they get their act together.
Claire – the chick who got a watermelon to the face – and Brook are definitely the most annoying team so far, and Katie & Rachel – the volleyball bimbos – aren’t going to make it, especially with their stupid remarks every 5 seconds. Do they really think making fun of others makes them better at winning an epic race? I hate them both with a passion.
Currently, the teams of Ron and Tony, and Andie & Jenna have already been eliminated. My best guess is that Nick and Vicki will be the next to go.
Catch Season 17 of The Amazing Race on CBS or watch it online!
– M. N.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
One of my favorite programs returned for its sixth season on CBS Mondays this fall. How I Met Your Mother is still the same quirky comedy that I know and love. A “love story in reverse,” the show is essentially one long flashback as hopeless romantic Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) is still, in the year 2030, telling his kids the long-winded story of how he met their mother and everything leading up to it – leaving nothing out.
Flashing back to the beginning, Ted searches for the perfect woman, or as he puts it, his soulmate. Ted is joined in his quest to find Mrs. Right by his best friends from college – and TV’s cutest couple – Marshall (Jason Segal) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan), his ex-girlfriend Robin (Cobie Smulders), and the hilarious Barney (Neil Patrick Harris).
In past seasons, some crazy adventures have been had. A pathetic and strangely lovable character, Ted is still searching for his future wife in the latest season. Of course, his friends are always there to shake things up with lots of laughs and good times.
How I Met Your Mother is a show that satisfies my need for witty sarcasm and smarmy hilarity. It connects with its audience in the way that it shows that relationships are almost never perfect, and that good times can always be had with close friends. It also appeals to the hopeless romantic in me because, of course, Ted gets the girl in the end.
– C. B.
The Vampire Diaries (CW)
The new season of The Vampire Diaries is now four episodes in, and so far hasn’t shown even a hint of straying off into the Twilight Zone. Just the fact that the actors have been able to pull this show off for over a season without looking like they’re already sick of it impresses me.
For those of you who don’t know what this series is about, here are the basics: a relationship between a human girl, Elena, and a vampire boy, Stephen, is facing troubles because of their interspecies angst and sexual tension brought on by Stephen’s brother Damon, who is also a vampire.
So far, it seems like this season’s episodes have been repeating almost the exact same plot that a lot of Season One did, plus or minus a few characters. Just like the beginning of last season, the plot sounds a little too familiar: there’s Elena and Stephen’s sexual tension, a new vampire coming to Mystic Falls to wreak havoc, and one of Elena’s friends has become a vampire. Apart from the recycled plot line, Season Two is slowly introducing new plot elements.
One of the newest characters is Mason Lockwood, who is cursed to transform into a werewolf. The fact that the curse can only be activated when a person kills someone is fairly creative. The fourth episode has been the best so far this season, opening a lot of possibilities for future episodes, such as: a war between the Lockwoods and the Salvatores, and the possibility of a relationship reforming between Katherine and Stephan.
– S. W.
For those of you that have not seen ABC’s comedy-drama Castle, you are truly missing out on something great.
The excellent on-screen chemistry exhibited by the main characters makes this show a joy to watch. Nathan Fillion (Firefly) stars as Richard Castle, a murder mystery novelist with a long list of ex-wives and a bad case of writer’s block. Alongside Fillion is another great Canadian actress, Stana Katic as Detective Kate Beckett, a no-nonsense NYPD officer with biting wit and infinite patience. Together, these two make an excellent duo that is entertaining to watch.
In season three, the love affair that has been growing between Castle and Beckett is decidedly cooler after Castle’s summer trip to the Hamptons with his ex-wife. Further aggravating the situation, he did not call his friends at the precinct when he returned, leaving Beckett hurt and angry. After a case in which Castle was drawn into the investigation, he was welcomed back as Beckett’s shadow.
So far, season three has returned to the series’ roots, meaning that there is some sexual tension between Beckett and Castle, but it’s not as close to the surface as it was at the end of the second season. As always, each episode still brings a new murder to solve.
A few things to look for this season: the relationship between Castle, his ex-wife, and Beckett; the continuing mystery of who killed Beckett’s mother; and the safety of Castle’s family. There are many directions the show can go.
Castle airs on CTV Monday nights at 9 p.m., following Dancing With the Stars.
– E. D.