TV Diary

a) "Black-ish"
It was interesting to watch the chatter around this show online, especially on Twitter -- a lot of people disliked the name, and seemed to pre-emptively dislike the show based on it. But after the first episode aired, the buzz was overwhelmingly positive, even from some of the same individuals who objected to the name. And it really is good -- there's a lot of material there, about a black suburbanite's identity crisis, that hasn't really been touched on in a sitcom before. Anthony Anderson's narration is kind of flat, I hope they drop it or minimize it eventually, but the cast is strong, especially Tracee Ellis Ross and the kid that plays their daughter.

b) "Mulaney"
John Mulaney has always seemed like a talented writer who happens to be a really stilted awkward performer, both as a standup and in his Weekend Update segments on SNL. So framing the show around him being a comedian and shoehorning actual scenes of him just randomly doing standup into the show is just not a great device. The cast is good but I don't know if they can carry Mulaney through his awkwardness, and Nasim Pedrad and Elliott Gould in particular seem kind of wasted (although Martin Short always gets some good scenes).

c) "A To Z"
This is a show about a guy who's a hopeless romantic who thinks he's met the girl he's destined to be with who's played by  Mrs. Ted Mosby (Cristin Milioti), and it's narrated by a familiar voice from a late '80s/early '90s sitcom (Katey Sagal) who teases a mystery about whether they'll end up together. So yeah, this show is going to get incessantly compared to "How I Met Your Mother." It's not actually that similar beyond those almost laughably obvious parallels, though. It has some potential, I got a couple big laughs out of it, but I think it maybe needs to be at least half as charming as it thinks it is to succeed, and it's just not remotely there.

d) "Bad Judge"
It has seemed like Kate Walsh's passion has always been comedy, but by the time her career took off she was stuck in a medical drama franchise for 8 years, and is just now finally getting to star in a sitcom. The show is mildly funny, but title is probably the worst thing about it, it makes the whole thing seem like a spin-off of Bad Teacher, which had its own failed TV adaptation earlier this year. Who I really feel bad for Ryan Hansen (of the classics "Veronica Mars" and "Party Down"), who has this year been in both "Bad Teacher" and now "Bad Judge." I think he has a Bad Agent.

e) "How To Get Away With Murder"
I was pretty impressed with the pilot, it really hooks you right away and keeps you guessing. But the story it introduced, I dunno how they'll sustain it over a series, or if it'll just become an episodic procedural thing. But the second episode didn't really hold my attention, I don't know if I'll stick around to find out.

f) "Red Band Society"
This show takes place in a pediatric wing and is about a bunch of sad sick teens, and it's kind of cute and sweet, but it also feels kind of like "Glee" without the songs, which is still too close to "Glee" for comfort.

g) "Intruders"
Intriguing show on BBC America, which had a few really memorable scenes in the first couple episodes. But with all these new shows I'm trying to check out, I don't think I'll stick with it to figure out what the hell is going on.

h) "The Strain"
I knew this show couldn't keep up looking like a Guillermo Del Toro movie with a Guillermo Del Toro movie budget after he did the pilot and passed the other episodes to different directors. But I was really kind of disappointed by how hokey 'The Master' looked after they built up so much to unveiling him. For the most part, though, the show has been both wonderfully gross and engrossing, and I like how it's this big flashy multi-tiered conspiracy thing instead of, like, "The Walking Dead." Some of the characters and storylines didn't quite become interesting until the last few episodes, and some never really got there, but I'm still looking forward to how the story moves forward in the second season. One thing I liked about watching this show all summer is it's made it hard for me to really feel scared of Ebola, doesn't seem that bad by comparison to this show's imaginary epidemic.

i) "You're The Worst"
This show started out great and just got better, the cast really gelled by the end of the season. But I increasingly feel like the breakout performer of the show is not one of the two main stars but Kether Donahue, who I first saw in the Barry Levinson horror flick The Bay. In the last episode of the season she did the most amazing karaoke rendition of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" that functioned as both an impressive vocal performance and a funny moment for her character.

j) "Married"
I kept rooting for this show to be as consistently good as "You're The Worst" but it never quite was. Not bad, but also kind of a bummer sometimes.

k) "The Leftovers"
I gotta say, I just loved this show's total air of misery. The penultimate episode, which flashed back to before the rapture and showed that everybody's life was totally fucked up even back then, was probably my favorite development in the whole thing, and set up the finale really well.

l) "Tyrant"
They spent so much time building up the Godfather arc for Barry that I feel like they kinda wussed out by not letting him get even close to a Sonny Corleone-style turn by the end of the season. The finale didn't even feel much like a finale, they whole thing kinda ended with a whimper.

m) "Masters of Sex" 
Great show, one of my favorites all year, the second season had a few interesting choices but I thought it mostly built up the world more fully and made it all feel like more than a love triangle story. Having them hire Betty from the first season as part of their company seemed like kind of a forced move to keep an interesting character in the picture but it really was worth it, Annaleigh Ashford is fantastic in this show.

n) "The Bridge"
I fell way behind on the second season of this show and I'm still catching up -- I don't really do 'binge watching,' if I watch more than an hour or two of the same show in one sitting it starts to feel like homework. But I like this season so far, I'm impressed with how much it's just a continuation of the first season when I thought a lot of that stuff was going to be a self-contained arc. Emily Rios is great on this show, I worked an event recently where she appeared and I was kind of smitten to see her in person.

o) "True Blood"
For all the talk of how far this show fell off, I thought they ended it surprisingly well. The last two episodes kinda got back to the emotional center of the early seasons, and gave Jason a lot of great moments. This comparison is probably gonna sound heretical to a lot of people, but Jason on "True Blood" ended up a bit like Jesse on "Breaking Bad": the dumb and often wrongheaded young dude who wound up the most sympathetic and likable figure in the whole mess, who you were really relieved to see survive the whole thing.
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