A week in the life of my DVR – Fall TV 2011 Show Reviews

by christina on October 25, 2011

Fall is my favorite time of year. Not only do the shorter days and chillier air lend themselves to my instinctive urge to nest, but this season also provides me with something to do as I hunker down in my home – watch TV.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love a brisk walk and fresh air like any other girl, but I also love cuddling up on the couch with my remote. As an only child, the TV was often my best friend and even today as a single-lady living alone, I find it’s sounds and colors quite comforting. I still read and exercise and eat food not cooked by a microwave – things those anti-TV people claim we lack the ability to do – but I find infinite enjoyment in watching good (and even not-so-good) television programming.

This fall, my DVR has been a-buzzin’ as I give quite a few new shows a try and enjoy many of my old favorites. There are too many to really delve into, but here a list of what I’ve watching and my two cents on some of the more hot-button shows out there.

Sunday

“Once Upon A Time” (ABC), 7:00 p.m. CST – A show about fairytale characters living in the real world? Yes, yes…I was a bit skeptical, too (still am), but the pilot seemed promising. A creepy town in Maine, a cute kid, and a long-lost daughter sent to break a curse? It seems to hit all the right notes. I just hope we’re not limited to the characters we’ve met (a pretty random and limited group) and they continue to introduce new fairytalers throughout the series – heaven knows they have enough to choose from!

The end of one story is the beginning of the next in this new series. Photo courtesy of abc.com.

“Dexter” (Showtime), 8:00 p.m. CST – This show may have peaked in it’s 4th season (with John Lithgow portraying the Trinity killer), but it still manages to beat out much of the other stuff on TV. Michael C. Hall is brilliant as ever as the title character and this season seems to finally be taking his character on a moral journey – I mean, he IS a killer! The guest stars seem to be panning out well, too with Edward James Olmos playing the religious-extremist-turned-Doomsday killer, Colin Hanks as his willing assistant Travis, and Mos as gangster-turned-man of God, Brother Sam. There’s still a lot of depth here and I’m hotly anticipating the twists to come.

“Homeland” (Showtime), 9:00 p.m. CST – A newbie that I’m thrilled to say is exceeding my expectations. I came into it not quite lovin’ the leading lady (Claire Danes – I still haven’t gotten over the fact that Billy Crudup left a pregnant Mary-Louise Parker for her), but this show has gotten me hooked in only two episodes. Espionage plus a current commentary on the war in Afghanistan plus the seedy underbelly of Washington plus extremely flawed yet emotionally deep main characters – what more could you ask for?

Monday

“How I Met Your Mother” (CBS), 7:00 p.m. CST

“Terra Nova” (FOX), 7:00 p.m. CST – Another newbie that we’ve been watching, it’s definitely filled part of the sci-fi drama vacuum created when “Lost” went off the air. And while the acting and special effects have been only so-so, the natural creepiness and wonder of sending modern-day people back 85 million years is pretty fun. They’ve also started to lay some ground for some interesting story lines to come – here’s hoping they make those work.

Watch out for the dinos, Shannon family! Photo courtesy of www.screencrave.com

“House” (FOX), 8:00 p.m. CST

“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (Bravo), 8:00 p.m. CST – I was absolutely hesitant to watch the second season of the “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” considering the tragic death of housewife Taylor Armstrong’s husband, but – and I’m not proud admitting this – a morbid curiosity drew me back. Among the usual antics, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find Camille Grammar acting as the most sane member of the cast, Kim Richards still disturbingly off-kilter (clearly her issues are not behind her), and Kyle Richards really playing a mean girl (I stuck up for her last season, but her behavior so far this season has been less than ladylike). Watching Taylor’s meltdowns however – knowing now how it all ends – is tough, though, and the quick PSAs they run for suicide prevention during commercial breaks hardly seem to make up for the fact that we’re watching the breakdown of her marriage play out on screen. There’s plenty of harmless fodder in there, but I’m not sure there’s enough to compensate for the horrible loss to come.

Tuesday

“Glee” (FOX), 7:00 p.m. CST – This is one of the shows I’ve STOPPED watching this season. It looks like the writers, once again, have bitten off more than they can chew – too many characters with too many storylines (many of which get repeated). The musical numbers are fun, but too often seem contrived and random. Sorry Glee…I just can’t do it anymore.

“The New Girl” (FOX), 8:00 p.m. CST – I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I was only really gave this show a chance because of the delightful Zooey Deschanel. The hair, the clothes, the random singing – she’s just too cute/nerdy for words. And while the storyline seems to be gaining some footing, I only hope her male castmates can continue stepping up to the plate to balance out her quirkiness (although the random exit of Coach, a character I actually rather enjoyed due to his total-oppostiteness to Ms. Deschanel’s Jess, after the pilot did kind of mystify me).

“The Rachel Zoe Project” (Bravo) 8:00 p.m. CST – A total guilty pleasure show that I just can’t help but love. The clothes, the (melo)drama, the great sayings (my new favorite is “totes” as in “totally”) – love her or hate her, Rachel Zoe’s world is pretty fabulous. And seeing her pregnant (not fat) is fun, too!

Wednesday

“Up All Night” (NBC) 7:00 p.m. CST – This has been one of my favorite new shows this season. First of all, Will Arnett makes anything better. But the thoughtful mix of working-mom, stay-at-home dad, and darling baby thrown together with a bit of “30 Rock” snap, is just delightful. Happy to hear that NBC has ordered a full season of this great show that I think really hits on a growing, but often ignored, demographic.

“American Horror Story” (FX) 9:00 p.m. CST – Many of my fellow Connie Britton fans were wary of this creepy/campy concoction from the creators of “Glee” and “Nip/Tuck”, but I was immediately drawn to it. Stylish, witty, and drawing from all corners of the terror/horror genre, this show packs a major punch playing on not only the physical horror living in the so-called “Murder House” creates, but all the psychological horror the Harmon family endures. Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy also add to the spook-factor brilliantly and I have a feeling we’ve only scratched the surface of what the opening flashbacks will reveal. A funny, campy show, I’m glad to see that there’s finally another member of the horror genre out there besides “The Walking Dead” – there’s only so many zombies one girl can take.

The Harmon Family pre-Murder-House-move-in. Photo courtesy of www.poptower.com

“Luther” (BBC America) 9:00 p.m. CST – A OnDemand discovery this past summer, “Luther” earned its star Idris Elba Emmy nominations for both it’s first and second season (aired early this year in the UK; airing now in the U.S.). Elba plays Chief Inspector John Luther in this fabulously gritty psychological crime-drama mini-series.

“Modern Family” (ABC), 8:00 p.m. CST

Thursday

“Community” (NBC), 7:00 p.m. CST

“Parks & Recreation” (NBC), 7:30 p.m. CST – All I have to say here is “Treat ‘yo self!” Brilliant…as always…

"Treat 'yo self 2011!" Photo courtesy of www.nbc.com

“The Office” (NBC), 8:00 p.m. CST – I was curious how this Thursday-night staple would fare after the departure of Steve Carrell, and if the first few episodes are any indication, I think it will do just fine. Watching Andy try and lead the helm of his wayward branch with all the awkwardness Ed Helms can muster is still delightful and I’m still happy to find that most of the characters can still deliver lines that leave my sides aching from laughter (Darryl’s rant about sitting in his basement and eating tacos was brilliant). This show still has life in her yet.

“30 Rock” (NBC), 8:30 p.m. CST

Weekend Watching

“The Soup” (E!), 9:00 p.m. CST – Joel McHale, at his snarky best, gives me all the highlights from the terrible television out there so I don’t actually have to watch it myself.

“Fashion Police” (E!), 9:30 p.m. CST – It’s may have a bit too many of Joan Rivers’ one-liners, but it’s still a hilarious and often harsh look at what’s happening in the world of fashion.

Fashion Police: Gotta Have It! Photo courtesy of www.hulu.com

“Treme” (via Netflix) – As one of the many out there that know and believe “The Wire” to be the best television series ever created, I was quick to jump on the “Treme” bandwagon, the latest work by series-creator David Simon. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, the series follows several characters – many musically acclimated and recognizable from their appearances on “The Wire” – as they struggle to reclaim their city and their lives as they knew it. As with all good series, the plot builds slowly and we learn only nuggets about the characters in each episode, but as is true will all David Simon does, it is beautifully paced and always rewarding if not heartbreaking.

So there it is – a by no means exhaustive list of what I’ve been watching, but definitely the main characters of my week. I promise, I’ve still been going outside and cooking food that doesn’t come straight out of the freezer, but for any lover of TV, this is our season to stay in, watch, and enjoy. I hope you are, too!

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