As you may have noticed, we skipped doing our regular Tune In/ Tune Out the last two weeks. We were a little distracted by real life (HALLOWEEN! HOUSE GUESTS!) and movies (THOR 2!) and allergies (Me!), but we also figured with various shows taking one (or both) of the last two weeks off, we would, too.
And while we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled TI/TO this week, we wanted to take the opportunity to share our thoughts on the new and returning series that we’ve been watching this autumn. If you’re anything like us, you plan your watching (or DVR-ing) schedule on a nightly basis, so we’ve grouped our picks by day of the week, not by grade.
Did we miss your favorite? Should we have given a show more than one or two episodes to prove itself? Want to rage against the (mainstream media) machine? Catch us in the comments below, and let us know what you think. Happy channel surfing!
Regina feels our pain.
Once Upon a Time, ABC, 8 p.m. EST. Grade: C
Kerry: I gave this a D at first, but an average grade is more fitting of the material. The D in my heart just stands for “disappointment” because I wanted it to be so much better.
Becca: Parts of it are very enjoyable, but it feels like they overwhelm us with the Charming family each week. I can see why the majority of the dwarfs are happy to be in peaceful Storybrooke without them. It would also be great if they created a story about Hook by himself, instead of mainly using him as a love interest for Emma
Moff: It’s difficult to make much of an emotional connection when the characters’ only motivation seems to be to move the plot forward. I’d also like the show runners to give their audience a little more credit: We don’t need every character to spell every little thing out for us. (And maybe, if we do, its the story at fault, not the audience’s comprehension.)
Masterpiece Theatre, PBS, 9 p.m. EST. Grade: A/A-
Becca: Masterpiece holds more gems than Downton Abbey and Sherlock. One of those gems is The Paradise, an enjoyable period drama centered around a department store.
Moff: I agree with Becca about The Paradise, which is wrapping up its first season in the U.S. and has already started season two in the U.K. It’s an interesting counterpoint to Mr. Selfridge, and it’s nice to see so much thought going into arranging the last three series Masterpiece has shown – Endeavour, Silk, and Foyle’s War – to carry through themes of self-reliance and the vagaries of sociopolitical scheming, which are also key in The Paradise.
Serious faces means things are happening.
The Mentalist, CBS, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: B/B-
Moff: As nice as it is to finally see Patrick Jane (and the CBI team) closing in on the elusive killer Red John, I’m left with two questions at the end of every episode in the current arc. First, will Red John really be captured/killed and/or brought to justice this time? Especially as the hunt for him is the impetus behind the whole series? Secondly, isn’t revealing the existence of a massive group of corrupt law enforcement officers who cover for Red John ham-handed at best and, at worst, painting the entire series with a big ‘ol retconning brush? Wouldn’t this reveal have meant more if we’d been given more definitive proof of its existence in previous seasons? C’mon, Show: Let us have an ‘aHA!’ moment at least once.
How I Met Your Mother, CBS, 8 p.m. EST. Grade: C
Kerry: The “bottle season” just isn’t working. I’m not sure how they can get out of this; they’ve pretty much committed to the format for the rest of the series.
Bones, FOX, 8 p.m. EST. Grade: B/B+
Moff: As nice as it is to finally be rid of Pelant, I’m beginning to wonder if this procedural has another full season in it after the current one ends. While there’s always been big, season-spanning arcs (What happened to Brennan’s mom? Who is The Gravedigger? Can they stop the sniper?), the choice to slot the long-anticipated Booth/Brennan wedding in before November sweeps means the last few weeks have felt like the show’s been treading water. I wouldn’t mind seeing Freddie Prinze Jr.’s CIA spook return sooner rather than later, and I’m holding out for a new big mystery or killer to appear sometime this month.
You tell ’em, Captain!
Sleepy Hollow, FOX, 9 p.m. EST. Grade: A
Becca: The best new drama of the year. I enjoy watching the partnership between Ichabod and Abbie (even if I may not ship them). They have an enjoyable partnership, and I value it as much as Sherlock’s and Joan’s on Elementary. The side characters, like Irving, Katrina, and Jenny, are icing on this delectable dessert.
Moff: Agreed. I’ve read several articles that mention how this show “owns its crazy,” and, while I wouldn’t put it that way, it’s nice to see a show actually able to follow through on what’s promised when it asks the audience to suspend disbelief. It reminds me of when I watched The X-Files, except this time Director Skinner is a wry Black guy with better hair and a Twitter account.
Hostages, CBS, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: D
The Blacklist, NBC, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: A-
No banter, no heart. At this point, we’ll settle for slapstick.
Castle, ABC, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: C/D
Kerry: The only thing saving this from a D is the fact that the show and the characters are still salvageable. Something is missing from this show, and the increasingly far-fetched cases are doing nothing to fill the void.
Moff: I gave it a D because I’m disappointed and bewildered. Where’s the banter? Where’s the heart? This isn’t even a case of Moonlighting because even the supporting characters aren’t keeping my interest.
MARVEL’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC, 8 p.m. EST. Grade: B
Becca: Last week’s episode finally started to show potential in how great this series can turn out to be. Here’s hoping they continue on the path, and that it is not too late for them to be a success.
NCIS, CBS, 8 p.m. EST. Grade: A/B
Moff: It’s tough to keep things interesting after this many years, but even if the cases are a little predictable at this point, the performances are still solid and the writers are still finding new facets of the characters to reveal. It looks like November sweeps will introduce Ziva’s replacement, and while I would have preferred a POC to take Cote de Pablo’s place, at least it’ll be an infusion of fresh blood.
Listen to ’em: They’re cops. They know what they’re talking about.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, FOX, 8:30 p.m. EST. Grade: A/B
Kerry: My favorite new sitcom of the season!
NCIS: LA, CBS, 9 p.m. EST. Grade: B
Moff: I can’t quite put my finger on what’s off this season. It feels like there are a multitude of story threads that were introduced and promptly dropped only for the writers to abruptly remember its existence several episodes later. It’s not entirely disjointed, but there’s a big difference between slow-burn and sloppy story telling.
The Mindy Project, FOX, 9:30 p.m. EST. Grade: A
Moff: I’ve only recently started watching season one, but Kerry’s grade for season two has me trying to figure out how antisocial I can be in marathoning what’s left so I can get to the new episodes.
Trophy Wife, ABC, 9:30 p.m. EST. Grade: A/A-
Kerry: It gets better every week. Glad it got a 22-episode order.
Prisoner or guard? Only The Machine really knows.
Person of Interest, CBS, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: A/A+
Becca: The show is firing on all cylinders, and they have one of the best, enjoyable casts. Amy Acker is able to bring me goosebumps every time she is on screen.
Moff: I like a show that rewards active engagement, and every week, this show delivers. Sure, it’s evolved from a somewhat a-typical police procedural to a fascinating meta-commentary on technology, privacy, and absolute power – slash – scifi action thriller, but it’s can’t miss. (And now that the HR storyline is *finally* coming to a head? Hoo Boy!)
Pretty Little Liars, ABC Family. Grade: B
Kerry: As far as PLL episodes go, the Halloween special wasn’t too great, but it wasn’t bad either.
The Tomorrow People, The CW, 8 p.m. EST. Grade: B+
Moff: It’s a pretty solid reboot of the original BBC series, keeping and honing the parts that make sense while trimming the fat (or, in this case, the hazy spiritual/new age-y stuff). Plus, saying it’s ‘Amellsday’ is fun.
Back in the Game, ABC, 8:30 p.m. EST. Grade: A
Kerry: Tragically cancelled, but it was fun while it lasted.
Even Ollie can’t believe how good the show’s gotten.
Arrow, The CW, 9 p.m. EST. Grade: A/A+
Kerry: The best superhero show on television.
Becca: Arrow is not experiencing any kind of sophomore slump. It only gets better, and has made me come to love Thea, Roy and Quentin this season. Here’s hoping they continue to only get better, and give us more Sara Lance and Sin.
Moff: Amellsday. AM-ELLS-DAY. A-MELLS-DAY. AMEL-LUS-DAY. See? It’s fun.
Modern Family, ABC, 9 p.m. EST. Grade: B
CSI, CBS, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: B/B-
Moff: Of the three versions of this show, the original has had the most cast turnover, but it’s also the only one that’s lasted. I can only assume it’s because CSI: Original Flavor continues to deliver with weird deaths, gallows humor, office politics that never overshadow the case, and solid performances from a stable of genuinely talented actors.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, FX/FXX, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: A
Kerry: It was another great season full of selfishness, cursing, and laughs.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, ABC, 8 p.m. EST. Grade: F
Moff: I so wanted to like this. I love Alice in Wonderland. I adore Michael Socha, between his turns on Being Human and Misfits. Naveen Andrews can be relied on for his commitment to a character’s story. And I know Jane Espenson is capable of telling a story about a woman who can beat off her oppressors even if she does so through tears. But this show is a mess, and it takes itself too seriously to acknowledge what a mess it is.
This one’s for Kerry.
Parks & Recreation, NBC, 8 p.m. EST. Grade: A/A-
Kerry: It was great until it went on a weird month-long hiatus. We’ll see if they can keep their A without Ann Perkins or Chris Traeger.
The Crazy Ones, CBS, 9 p.m. EST. Grade: B/B+
Becca: The cast is brilliant, and it gives me feels every time I watch. Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar have a dynamic father and daughter relationship, and the supporting cast are excellent.
Moff: It may not have started strong out-the-gate, but it’s one of the few comedies I’m making a point of watching this autumn. Plus, it’s great to see Smidge given a chance to flex her comedy muscles in addition to her dramatic ones (and her sword arm.) And Robin Williams doesn’t overpower any of the younger performers, which isn’t always the case when a ‘comedy legend’ returns to TV after several decades.
The Michael J. Fox Show, NBC, 9:30 p.m. EST. Grade: C
Moff: The writing is uneven, and the confessional-style segues are a little jarring. But it’s salvageable, and the cast is talented.
When in doubt, eat the evidence.
Elementary, CBS, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: A/B+
Becca: The characters’ stories this season have been phenomenal, and I only wish it continue on this path.
Wherein Rosalee speaks for the audience.
Grimm, NBC, 9 p.m. EST. Grade: A
Moff: While the first season was a mess – Is it a procedural? Is it a fantasy? Is it a cop drama? A family drama? A romance? – and the second season had its missteps, this action drama is finally hitting its stride. The A- and B-plots are well balanced and on point each week, and ideas the writers floated in the first two seasons are finally becoming more concrete as the characters discover their strengths.
Haven, SyFy, 10 p.m. EST. Grade: B
Moff: This season started out weak, with the introduction of a few new characters who weren’t killed off within one or two episodes. But in the second half of the season, the stakes are being raised exponentially, thanks to one of those new characters. I don’t spend much time theorizing about where a show may go, but if I’m right and Haven is about to reveal the true identity of a character, even tangential Stephen King fans are going to flip.
And, though she may hit me, this one’s for Becca.
Saturday Night Live, NBC, 11 p.m. EST. Grade: C/D
Becca: Can we make all of the episode Weekend Update? I keep hoping each new season will get better, but it doesn’t. The saddest part is I find Once Upon a Time more enjoyable than a sketch show I used to look forward to each week a few years ago.
Moff: And with Seth Myer’s tenure as head writer winding down…well. It doesn’t look good.
Some of the shows we’re thinking about catching up on over the winter hiatus are New Girl, Dracula, and Parenthood. Anyone else have suggestions?