TV Diary

a) "The Leftovers"
I'd been pretty hyped about this show ever since I saw the first trailer, so now that it's finally airing I'm just trying to dial down my expectations and take it one episode at a time. The pilot was intriguing enough and I'm curious to see where the story goes. But the air of dread that made the trailer so riveting can wear thing over the course of an hour, so I'm hoping that there's more to the show than just dreariness and violence.

b) "Halt And Catch Fire"
Another show I was really looking forward to after the first ad, still feeling out what I think of it even after 5 episodes. Obviously, being an AMC period piece about a fictionalized company in a then-emerging industry, there are inevitably comparison points to "Mad Men," and sometimes I feel like these historical-but-not-quite shows have to talk a very fine line to work at all. If I think too much about whether the characters in the show are supposed to be like Apple or like some company that disappeared decades ago, it gets harder to care. But so far they've done a decent job of at least putting you in the trenches with the characters and making you care about what they're working on at that moment. Still not totally hooked, but I like it. It's also great to see Toby Huss in a dramatic role, that dude is a genius.

c) "Tyrant"
Another show where a fictionalized version of real life, in this case a Middle Eastern dictatorship, makes for good drama but kind of brings up a lot of potential problems of its own, in both storytelling and, well, stereotypes and simplifications of complex issues. I felt a little uncomfortable watching the pilot and getting a handle on how this was gonna go, even as it seemed really well put together as one of those gritty, edge-of-your-seat FX dramas about family and loyalty and violence,

d) "Dominion"
Almost five years ago, my wife and I saw an apocalypse movie called Legion, and enjoyed it well enough. Now, for some strange reason, SyFy is airing a series that is 'based on' the movie, but has a different title, takes place 25 years after the movie ended with only one major character reprised from it... At a certain point I don't know why they bothered acknowledging any creative debt to that moderately successful movie, they could've just changed a few details and had an original series. In any event, a lot of what I liked about the premise of the movie is dropped in this and I dunno if I'll have any motivation to watch it beyond the pilot, although the effects were pretty impressive.

e) "Girl Meets World" 
I've watched every single episode of "Boy Meets World" probably at least 5 times, so I had to watch this just to see some of the old cast together, and really, I'm grateful for anything that keeps Danielle Fishel on TV. There's not enough of Corey and Topanga to make me watch it regularly, though, and there might not be a world of difference between '90s TGIF and contemporary Disney Channel but it definitely doesn't seem as funny as the old show. Hopefully they find their footing, though, I kinda like that this show exists, cheesy as it is.

f) "Taxi Brooklyn"
It just amuses me that this show even exists, so I watched the pilot. A cop and a cab driver team up to fight crime? Sure, why not! The girl from Not Another Teen Movie looks cute with short hair, though.

g) "Undateable"
I feel like there's a whole class of actors that are being cycled around from one lousy sitcom to another. This one has a guy from "Whitney" and a girl from "Rules of Engagement" and a bunch of other unfunny people that will probably turn up on another terrible show about dating next year when this one gets canceled.

h) "Rising Star"
I'm always up for a new singing competition show, but with even "American Idol" and "The Voice" dropping in the ratings, any new entry into that genre seems doomed, even with this one working the 'real time results' angle really hard. Between Josh Groban, Brad Paisley, Ludacris and Ke$ha, the show theoretically has 4 people who can be really funny and/or unpredictable in the right situation, but they all feel locked in to the show's format with no room for spontaneity or personality.

i) "Sing Your Face Off" 
I appreciate that networks still bother to put ridiculous timefiller shows like this on the air in the summer instead of just airing repeats of popular shows. Granted, I don't need to see Jon Lovitz and Lisa Rinna embarrass themselves every week, but it was fun to watch once or twice.

j) "I Love The 2000s"
It's sad that I have actually watched and enjoyed this. But it's more sad how much of the show they've spent talking about reboots or sequels to things that they already talked about in I Love The 70s/80s/90s.

k) "Unusually Thicke" 
This show is actually kind of funny, because Alan Thicke is a pro and can engineer a reality show about his family into basically a functional sitcom, even with his barely-acting family. But it seems like dude should just be on a new sitcom, which he probably can't do at this late date, which is kind of a shame. He's like the dad jokiest TV dad ever.

l) "Fargo"
It's been a while since I felt as terrible about watching every episode of a show as I did about "Fargo," which I had major reservations about just off the first couple episodes, and which got worse and worse over time. But it was only 10 episodes, so after a while I just stuck with it to see if it redeemed itself. I appreciated that they tried to use the movie as a loose template for the overall approach of the show, but by the end of the 'dark comedy' had curdled into something resembling Very Bad Things more than Fargo, while Billy Bob Thornton's character essentially became Corky St. Clair the unstoppable killing machine. I've found myself getting really judgmental towards people who think this was exceptional television.

m) "The Maya Rudolph Show"
I love Maya Rudolph, I want her to be on TV as much as possible, especially if it's not in a sitcom as fundamentally weak as "Up All Night." The one test episode they ran of this didn't come off like gangbusters as I'd hoped, but it had a few killer sketches, I hope it becomes a regular thing, the variety show format could kinda use a revival.

n) "The Pete Holmes Show" 
This really turned out be a gem, such an odd little laid back half hour late night talk show with a guy who I never expected to like as much as I do now. I'm bummed that it's off the air already after just a few months, how bad can a show's ratings be if they can't even hack it at midnight after "Conan" on TBS?

o) "Enlisted" 
Another show that snuck up and briefly became one of my favorite things on TV, only to get canceled after 13 episodes. FOX never really gave it a chance, putting it on Friday nights after the also-doomed "Raising Hope." But I'm glad that at least they went ahead and aired all the produced episodes after deciding to cancel it, each one was really well done and made the characters grow on me a little more.

p) "Suburgatory"
Parker Young left "Suburgatory" to be on "Enlisted," and then came back for some episodes of what turned out to be the final season, so homeboy basically got canceled twice recently. "Suburgatory" had definitely kinda run its course, Jeremy Sisto was never gonna be that funny and was always gonna get too much screentime, maybe now Jane Levy can go off and do something else where she's as good as she was in this.

q) "Warehouse 13" 
Another show that recently ended with an anticlimactic shrug. I never watched it super faithfully, but I caught the last few episodes and it was still kooky and amusing, Allison Scagliotti is still a total babe.

r) "The Writers' Room"
I love the format of this show, but it's only interesting if you already watch the show they're dedicating the episode to, and out of the 6 episodes this past season, the only one I had any interest in watching was the "Sons of Anarchy" one. But that one was really great, and had some interesting interviews about the crazy last season and the final season they're about to do.

s) "Louie"
I've always had some reservations about this show, which is indulgent and boring or loathsome about as often as it is brilliant and hilarious, and this season really swung between the extremes harder than ever. The 80-minute flashback episode was basically a really dull, poorly acted coming of age dramedy, and if you ever sat down someone and said it was just a movie with Louis C.K. in a bit part they'd think it was a shitty movie. And the episodes with the Hungarian woman and Paula that had multiple sexual assault scenes that were ultimately played for awkward laughs and used as quirky plot points? Yikes. I kinda wish Louis just stuck to being a standup, he's so much better at that than directing or acting.

t) "Suits"
USA has made some pretty oddball scheduling choices with "Suits" lately. The third season was split into two runs with a 5 1/2 month break between, but then after it ended there was only a 2 month break until the fourth season. I'm not complaining, mind you, I'm happy that one of my favorite shows is back so soon, it's just funny because it felt like it never went away. And I'm relieved that they've finally broken out of the holding pattern of Mike pretending he went to Harvard being the main source of tension in the show, it's good to see him in a totally different dynamic with Harvey this season.

u) "Last Comic Standing" 
I'm glad NBC still revives this show every couple years, and the last couple seasons were fun, but I dunno, this one just hasn't pulled me in. There are a few funny contestants, but nobody I'm really rooting for, and the judging panel is just dull, even with Roseanne in there occasionally wilding out.
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