If you have listened to any of the UnderScoopFire podcasts in which the Voltron Roundtable discuss television shows, you will know that I generally wait out new series until they either make it to season 2 or they come highly recommended from someone I respect.
I do this because I have been burned in the past and don’t want to invest my time to a show that won’t get picked up for a second season. Shows that come to mind include Rubicon, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and FlashForward. There are very few shows on television today that I watched the pilot when it debuted. Even shows I have championed over the years like The Sopranos, LOST, and Mad Men, I needed some poking and prodding to finally dedicate my time to.
Oh how we miss you
It’s a style and approach that was not possible 15 years ago, because the technology wasn’t available. Today, you can stream previous episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix, grab the earlier seasons of The Office on Hulu Plus, and there is always digital downloads from Amazon and iTunes to catch shows that might not be available to stream. The point is, I let the network hype machine pique my interest, sit back and see if the masses/critics enjoy it. Then if it makes the cut for the next season, I check in with the friends who did watch it and go from there.
Now that you know I am a pretty much a TV snob, I offer up a list of shows that you should watch this fall.
Premium cable channels have the freedom to produce rich, layered, movie-like trailers to promote their new and returning series. And because they don’t follow tradition top & bottom of the hour start times for their programming, they are able to wedge in these previews more often than network television. So when they started singling clips of their new drama “Homeland” last summer, I was immediately drawn in. Being the television snob I am, I am more likely to invest in a show on HBO, Showtime, or Starz, than I would be for NBC, ABC, CBS, or Fox. Battle Armor Joe also shared an excitement for this new show, which helped me stay focused on watching it from the get go.
If you are not familiar with the plot, the story centers around an American POV rescued 8 years after capture to return home a hero. One headstrong CIA agent thinks he may be a sleeper cell and she will stop at nothing to expose the truth. This psychological drama features edge of your seat suspense, strong characters, and fantastic acting by Damien Lewis, Claire Danes, and Mandy Patinkin.
Make sure you watch season one first! The show is available on DVD/Blu Ray, and can also be streamed via Showtime’s app.
Season 2 of Homeland premieres on September 30th on Showtime.
Last summer, FOX marketed this new comedy as “The Zooey Deschanel Show” with male roommates. After a few episodes, it was evident that she was not the star of the show- the entire ensemble was. If you subscribe to UnderScoopFire, you know we have love for this show, it appeared on our BEST of 2011 List and we even voted Jake Johnson the 2012 Television Character of the Year.
I promised myself I would watch it! Of course I forgot to DVR the pilot, and it was off my radar a few weeks later. As the season progressed, Howie,Googs and Tank kept talking about how great it was and how much I would love it. I waited until it got the season two pick-up and burned through the entire season via Hulu Plus. The show was immediately added to my Season Pass on the DVR.
For those who need a crash course, the plot is fairly simple: Quirky school teacher Jess (Deschanel) catches her longtime boyfriend cheating, answers a Craigslist ad, and ends up sharing an apartment with three men: Schmidt, the metrosexual, lost-in-life Nick, and Winston, a former overseas pro basketball player dealing with life after professional athletics. What makes the show work is the cast chemistry. Whether it’s just the four of them discussing the hardships of dating or welcoming in guest stars Dermont Mulroney, Justin Long, or Lizzi Kaplan, it plays like the cast has been together for ten seasons.
And the best news going into season two is Jess’ best friend CeCe (Hannah Simone) has been promoted to full time cast member. That coupled with Anna Maria Horsford cast as Winston’s mom, and Parker Posey as a “shot girl” on the season premiere, New Girl should be on its way to second season success.
Season 2 of New Girl premieres September 25th on FOX
American Horror Story: Asylum
Ask anyone, I am not into watching scary movies. I find the macabre boring and the acting and plots usually are subpar. Yet when I saw the first preview for the show last summer, I will admit, I was intrigued. FX has a good track record for developing cutting edge original programming (Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Justified), but of course, I missed the premiere (set an alert, Chapman!) and never thought of the show again. Weekly, I was told by Howie to get on the AHS train, yet I ignored. I finally caught a rerun of the pilot and I was hooked. I ended up downloading the rest of the season via iTunes. The show was a mix of scary, creepy, and just plain silly. But original. For a full review of season one, check out our podcast episode #17 with ESPN’s AJ Mass.
What I am most excited about in season two is that the producers were brave enough to leave the Murder House and its characters behind and start a completely new storyline. It will take place in a mental institution in the 1970’s with S1 cast members Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, and Lily Rabe playing different characters. New cast members include Adam Levine, Chloe Sevigny, James Cromwell, and Joseph Fiennes.
Will Briar Cliff be weirder than Murder House? My guess is yes.
Season 2 of American Horror Story: Asylum premieres October 17th on FX
One of the few shows I have been with since day one, 30 Rock enters its seventh and final season this fall. Although it has stumbled a bit over the last few seasons, expect the show to go out with a bang. The network has called for 13 episodes (the finale will be an hour) and my guess is they will pull out all the stops and bring many of the more memorable guest stars back (Matt Damon, Jon Hamm) and there are rumors of a live show.
As far as NBC has fallen, I wonder why they didn’t produce some of the “in” shows produced on 30 Rock like “MILF Island” and “Bitch Hunter.”
I want to go to there.
Season 7 of 30 Rock premieres on October 4th on NBC.
I wouldn’t know about this show if it weren’t for Joe pestering me weekly about how funny it is. I am glad he was persistent; I cant believe I didn’t hop on earlier.
The improvisational sitcom revolves around the lives of long time friends and their quest to win their fantasy football league, aka The Shiva. Now before you say, “I don’t play fantasy sports”, or “I don’t like football” you need not worry, it’s really only the backdrop to the show.
What makes this FX show so great is the cast. From Mark Duplass to Nick Kroll to Paul Scheer, these actors are relatable, everyday guys. They make fun of each other like you would with your life long friends.
It’s not crucial to go back to the pilot to enjoy, but do yourself a favor and start with season one. Both seasons 1 & 2 are streaming on Netflix and season 3 will be available on DVD October 9th.
Season 4 of The League premieres on October 11th on FX.
The Walking Dead
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or just waking from a coma) you HAVE to know about AMC’s top rated drama. Based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, the show follows a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world as they try to avoid “walkers” and keep order within the group.
What drew me to the show (been there since day one!) was the similarities it has with one of my all time favorites, LOST. They are both about a group of people forced to work together to stay alive in unusual circumstances. The trust of complete strangers is crucial for survival. Oh, and there is a lot of walking..
If you are interested in a well crafted drama that just happens to feature the undead getting arrows through the eye and bullets in the face, this is the show for you!
Like LOST, it’s imperative that you start from the pilot and work your way up. All the characters have well constructed backgrounds and previous episodes/seasons are often referred to. Luckily, season one is streaming/on DVD and season two is available on DVD September 14th.
Season 3 of The Walking Dead premieres on October 14th on AMC.
So those are the shows I will be dialed into this fall. I do have my eyes on a few new series (Revolution, 666 Park Avenue, Vegas) but of course will wait for the season two pick up and/or one of my trusted buddies begging me to give it a shot.