Heather’s 2013 Fall TV Schedule

Last night, the temperature dropped to the 50s in the part of the country and it remained chilly when I left for work this morning. In a nod to the weather, I swapped out my normal open toed shoes for my pair of knee high boots. The first football game of the season was on last night.  As I dodged school buses on my way to Dunkin Donuts for my pumpkin coffee, one thing became very clear to me.

Fall was here.

Now, technically I know that autumn doesn’t really arrive until around September 21st, but there is no denying that summer is beginning to beat a hasty retreat. Some of the trees are already beginning to change and you can already buy Halloween candy in some stores. I am personally excited about this as fall is my favorite season. Not only does it bring my birthday, but I love the weather, the food and the activities that come along with the season. Most importantly, fall means the beginning of a new TV season.

This is always a slightly stressful time for me as I try to decide which new shows to check out, which shows to drop and how to maneuver all my timeslot showdowns. These are pretty minor problems in the grand scheme of things, but deciding which shows deserve my precious leisure time is not something I enter into lightly. As painful as it is to watch a show that winds up being canceled or turns into a dud, I also hate to be not watching a show that becomes a pop culture phenomenon. I take this stuff seriously.

This season has been a particularly difficult one to navigate as there are just so many new shows to consider. I generally don’t jump on board with new shows during their first season unless there is something that definitely speaks to me or the critical buzz is unanimous; I’ve been burned once too often with shows that I got invested in only to be reminded that middle America and I do not see eye to eye on what makes a great show. The odds of any new show making it are pretty slim, but with many of my old favorites now gone (Adios 30 Rock) I do have more free time to take a chance on a newbie. And that is a dangerous thing for me.

This isn’t finalized, but here is my preliminary TV schedule for the fall of 2013. I’ve indicated the shows that I’m on the fence about – several of my regular series have become boring to me or have dipped in quality – and the new series that I’m willing to gamble on. It’s funny how daunting TV can be when you write it all down.

Monday

Here’s the shocker of the week – I currently have NOTHING on my agenda for Monday nights. I bailed on How I Met Your Mother for good last year and have no regrets and while I enjoy The Voice enough, I know I won’t become a long time regular viewer. I might be convinced to give the new programs Sleepy Hollow, Mom or The Blacklist (I do love me some James Spader) the chance, but as of now none have sold me. I figure I’ll primarily use Monday to catch up on the clusterf*ck that is my Sunday nights. More on that below.

Tuesday

8 pm – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC) new

8:30 pm – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox) new

10 pm – Sons of Anarchy (FX)

Given my love of The Avengers, taking a shot on a TV show based in that world isn’t much of a stretch. I’m not as confident about Brooklyn Nine-Nine – my comedic sensibilities do not really match up with the live action comedies on Fox – but Andy Samberg, the great Andre Brauer and generally positive buzz are enough to at least temporarily overcome my trepidation. I’ve been in on Sons of Anarchy since the show debuted and while I think that the later seasons have failed to meet the quality of the earlier seasons (especially season 2), I still quite enjoy the ride. Plus there are worse way to spend an hour than looking at Charlie Hunnam.

I had considered watching The Vampire Diaries spin-off, The Originals, but was underwhelmed with the backdoor pilot. I also decided that a woman in her 30s should probably limit herself to watching one show on The CW – and even that might be too much.

Wednesday

9 pm – Modern Family (ABC) tentative

10 pm – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX)

10 pm – American Horror Story: Coven (FX)

10 pm – Nashville (ABC ) tentative- watch on demand

10 pm – South Park (Comedy Central ) dvr later showing

10:30 pm – The League (FXX)

I’ve watched Modern Family since it began, but have become increasingly less impressed with it as the show progresses. I like some characters a lot – primarily the kids – but I don’t think I’d really miss it if I dropped it. I may skip a few weeks and see how I feel – it’s not a show that you need to watch every episode. 10 pm has become a surprising logjam; I will definitely watch American Horror Story live, since that show is too bat sh*t crazy to miss. I still have yet to catch up on Nashville from last season – I watched up until Thanksgiving – so that may just be a sign that I’m not all that committed to the show. South Park re-airs later in the evening, so I’ll just DVR the show then.

Thursday

8 pm – The Big Bang Theory (CBS) watch on demand

8 pm – The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

8 pm – Parks and Recreation (NBC)

9:30 pm – The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC) new

10 pm – Parenthood (NBC)

10 pm – Scandal (ABC) tentative

While I like The Big Bang Theory – one of the very few things I watch on CBS – I can easily catch up on it when it is on demand. Parks and Recreation is my primary focus on Thursday nights; no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to quit The Vampire Diaries, so I’ll DVR that to binge watch multiple episodes on the weekend. I’ve loved Michael J. Fox since I was a little girl (my college admissions essay was about him. No joke – I got into a doctoral program writing an essay about the actor), so I’ll absolutely tune in when he makes his return to television. My only concern is that my comedic sensibilities have changed quite a bit since he last graced my TV and that my affection for the actor will not be enough to keep me interested. Parenthood makes the big mood to Thursday nights, which will mean that the Bravemens will simply make me tear up closer to the weekend. I’ve yet to watch any of the previous seasons of Scandal, but people will not shut up about this show so I may catch up and give it a whirl to see what all the sudsy fuss is about.

Friday – TV Wasteland

10 pm – Dracula (NBC) new and VERY tentative

I may DVR Dracula simply because I’m curious to see what NBC is going to do with this familiar story and partially out of some interest in whatever Jonathan Rhys Meyers does. I don’t expect it to be good, but what else am I going to watch on a Friday (assuming I’m even home, which is a big assumption).

Saturday

Various – College Football

If I’m around, a good chunk of my Saturdays are spent watching Notre Dame games. Otherwise I’m out and about and if I am home, this is time to catch up on anything I haven’t cleared off the DVR yet.

Sunday – TV Nirvana

8 pm – Once Upon a Time (ABC) tentative

8:30 pm – Bob’s Burgers (Fox) on demand

9 pm – Boardwalk Empire (HBO) on demand

9 pm – Homeland (Showtime)

9 pm – Revenge (ABC) tentative

10 pm – Eastbound & Down (HBO) on demand

10 pm – Masters of Sex (Showtime) new

10:30 pm – Hello Ladies (HBO) new

I’ve soured quite a bit on the ABC shows; Once Upon a Time, which I initially loved, is beginning to feel a little played out and boring and Revenge kind of went off the rails last season. I’ll give both a few episodes to convince me to stay around. Of the two, Once Upon a Time is the more likely to be dumped, though I’ll tune in to watch Nick Swisher’s wife as The Little Mermaid. I love Bob’s Burgers, but until football season is over the likelihood of games running over and throwing off the delicate ecosystem that is my DVR schedule necessitates me catching the show on demand. I generally like Boardwalk Empire, but I don’t love it, so for now it will get watched at a later time. Same goes for Eastbound & Down. Homeland must be watched live so as to avoid spoilers, though I do have my concerns that a certain character is still on the show. Despite my trepidation about new shows, I will give almost anything on HBO or Showtime a chance. So Masters of Sex and Hello Ladies will get the nod at 10 pm, at least until I make a decision about either show.

I may be missing a show or two and this may evolve as we get into the season, but this is what I predict my TV schedule looks like, plus Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. It is a healthy dose of TV, but thanks to the miracle that is the DVR I can skip through commercials for a lot of these shows and compress my necessary viewing time. Still, there is no denying that I love my TV shows.

What’s on your fall viewing schedule? Any new shows that you are excited about? Any old shows that you are breaking up with? Sound off in the comments below. For a fairly comprehensive list of season premiere dates, click here.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Epic Roundup edition

So it appears I went a little overboard this week with the links; I was freaking out that I was behind schedule on this post and just started plugging away in compiling links. Next thing you know, the document was nine pages long. I guess I just kind of lost track of what I was doing. So while you wade through all the pop culture goodness I’ve cultivated for you over the last two weeks, I’m going to consider taking a nap after a job well done.

  • Chris Brown is facing possible jail time after an alleged hit and run incident. That’s kind of like getting Al Capone on tax evasion.
  • Don Draper’s childhood home is a real place (and for sale), though it was heavily CGIed for Mad Men. Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and scenes from Chinatown were filmed in the same neighborhood.
  • Get off the ledge – Robert Downey, Jr. is confirmed for Avengers 2 and Avengers 3.
  • Breaking Bad is the latest TV show to get its own beer. Anyone in Albuquerque want to send me some?
  • Um….am I the only one that finds it odd that they are using an Eminem song in the trailer for Despicable Me 2?

 

  • Starz has officially announced a new series Outlander, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. Not sure it is for me, but sounds interesting.
  • No shocker here – Dan Harmon finally watched the 4th season of Community and he wasn’t a fan.
  • Flavor Flav’s last chicken and ribs restaurant has closed. Fun fact – Flavor Flav is inexplicably one of my Twitter followers (Word up, Flavor FLAV!).
  • Stephen Colbert’s mother passed away last week. If you haven’t seen his touching tribute to her, it is a must watch. I bawled through the whole thing.

 

  • The national nightmare is over – Twinkies, Ho Hos and the rest of the Hostess cake family will return to shelves July 15. I’m guessing the people who dropped a ton of cash to stock up are feeling kind of foolish right now.
  • Someone (brave) got an Arrested Development inspired license plate:

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  • The Faceblock App from the new episodes of Arrested Development can now be downloaded.
  • Shark Week is coming in August – and if this promo is an indication, it’s going to be particularly twisted. RIP Snuffy.

 

  • CNN breaks down the accuracy of the recent Lifetime movie on Jodi Arias (which yes, I watched). Good job CNN – no worldwide crises you should be covering.
  • Nick Swisher and his actress wife Joanna Garcia have released the first picture of their baby daughter and she is just precious:

 

Welcome to the world, Emerson Jay!

Welcome to the world, Emerson Jay!

 

  • Finally! One of Taylor Swift’s (alleged) exes has (allegedly) written a song about her. Oh John Mayer – I knew you were the one that was douchey enough to do this and I love you for it.
  • Jon Stewart was on the Egyptian version of The Daily Show. It switches over to English about 2.5 minutes into the interview

 

I’m still reeling from the death of James Gandolfini and am touched with the various ways he has been honored:

  • The New York Yankees took a moment to observe his passing:

GTY 170957623 S BBA BBN BBO SPO USA NY

 

  • Holsten’s Ice Cream, the locale for the final scene of The Sopranos, saved a table in his honor:

obit-james-gandolfini

 

  • Sesame Street posted a clip of his 2002 appearance:

 

  • Gary David Goldberg, creator of Family Ties and Spin City, passed away. Michael J. Fox remembers him.
  • I’m regretting that I didn’t go to the Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival – it happened only a hop, skip and a jump away in North Adams, MA. I’m especially bummed I missed Wilco’s all cover set, but now I can listen to it online in its entirety.

 

  • Happy 50th birthday to Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou (George Michael to the uninitiated).  In honor of half a century, here’s one of my favorite songs:

 

  • A new poster has been released for the final season of Breaking Bad (did anyone else internally yell out Fame? Just me? Moving on….)

breaking bad poster

 

  • Men’s Wearhouse has fired their founder (and star of their commercials). I’m guessing they didn’t like the way he looks.
  • The Village Voice has an interview with my favorite member of The Roots, Questlove.
  • A Street Fighter parody – with cats. My Pumpkin would dominate in this.

 

  • Among the new Houseguest on this season of Big BrotherRachel’s sister (if you watched the show, you know what this means).
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was really exceptional last week – great guests and fun bits – but this Super Mario Brother’s rap is really fantastic:

 

  • Speaking of…this photo makes me deliriously happy:

Rob Stringer Honored As UJA-Federation Music Visionary Of 2013

 

  • The first episode of the Stephen King miniseries Under the Dome did very well for CBS. The rich get richer.
  • An infographic of Leonardo DiCaprio movies.

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  • The first trailer for the upcoming Lego movie has been released:

 

  • This screencap pretty much sums up the 90s:

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  • Parks and Recreation will kick off its sixth season with an hour long episode that takes place outside Pawnee.
  • Disney has (thankfully) decided to change the name of the upcoming Muppets sequel from The Muppets…..Again! to Muppets Most Wanted.

 

  • Ridley Scott. Cormac McCarthy. Brad Pitt. Michael Fassbender. Penelope Cruz. Javier Bardem. Cameron Diaz. All associated with one movie – The Counselor

 

  • The actor in this character might look familiar – he was the awful Oliver on The O.C.

 

  • OK – I PROMISE this is the last Kanye-related thing this week. He made a terrible short film to promote his new album Yeezus that features fellow Kardashian baby daddy Scott Disick and Kim BFF Jonathan Cheban. They are not great actors, but this is kind of hilarious since Disick has always given off an American Psycho vibe. Glad to see he owns his sociopathic-ness.

 

  • This isn’t really pop culture related, but it’s far too crazy not to share (and it happened a few towns over from me).

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts

  • Here’s montage of famous movie actresses, edited to make their heads explode

 

  • Wonder what it would be like if John Lennon auditioned for The Voice? Wonder no longer

 

  • I’m still not tired of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky;” listen to it performed by President Obama:

 

  •  A supercut of all of Troy McClure’s credits on The Simpsons

 

  • Jon Snow gets an 80’s style training montage, as it should be:

 

  • This supercut seems to indicate that David Letterman is kind of obsessed with drums:

 

  • A supercut of zombie headshots

 

  • And finally – Hannibal’s open credits get an Arrested Development make-over:

 

Have a great week!

Heather Watches Nashville

With most television shows wrapping up for the year, I have a little extra time to devote to catching up on some programs that I haven’t been watching regularly. I brought myself up to speed on The Big Bang Theory, a show that I like but don’t love and that loses the DVR timeslot faceoff every week to 30 Rock and The Vampire Diaries. I watched all of the new 30 for 30 documentaries that had piled up on my DVR. And I finally got the chance to sit down and watch ABC’s new show Nashville.

I was excited, if not skeptical for Nashville. It had received a lot of praise from critics I like and respect, like Alan Sepinwall at Hitflix, and it stars Connie Britton, who I adore. She was just so great as Mrs. Coach on Friday Night Lights and she’s the main reason that I gave American Horror Story a chance when it first aired (come for Britton, stay for the bat shit crazy). I was reticent, however, because it was a freshman drama and I didn’t want to invest the time in a show that might not find an audience and wind up cancelled after its initial 13 episode run. Critics had all loved Lone Star in 2010 and I thought it was really good, but it only made it two weeks before Fox dropped the hammer. Nashville also was airing against two established shows that I already liked – the aforementioned American Horror Story, which is such a water cooler show for my friends and I that I’d be hard pressed not to watch it live, and South Park, which I also enjoy. So I decided to sit and wait to see how America responded to Nashville before I gave it a look. It’s hard to predict what will take and what won’t; I’m still trying to figure out how people let Arrested Development go the first time around. If it was cancelled, no harm no foul. I’d have saved myself some aggravation and valuable TV time. But when ABC green lit a full season order for Nashville, I decided it was time to roll the dice.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed Nashville – the characters are interesting and there are enough soapy elements to keep reeling you in. It’s not perfect, but there are plenty of strong elements that make this a show worth watching.

There is definitely a lot going on in Nashville: Rayna Jaymes (Britton) is a country music legend, but her popularity is beginning to slip. Records aren’t selling like they used to and she can no longer fill the arenas that she used to dominate. Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is the rising star that wants to rule the country music world and doesn’t much care what she has to do to get on top. However, she has a lot of personal baggage. Both women are battling over the services of Rayna’s long time guitarist and writing partner (and former love) Deacon (Charles Esten). Rayna’s husband Teddy (Eric Close) is running for Mayor against a longtime family friend Coleman (Robert Wilsdom), with Rayna’s estranged father (Powers Boothe, a Deadwood alum) pulling the strings. Deacon’s niece Scarlett (Clare Bowen) is trying to break into the song writing business while dealing with her jealous boyfriend (Jonathan Jackson) and her possible feelings for her writing partner Gunnar (Sam Palladio). Somehow, all of these story lines are given time to breathe and things don’t feel overcrowded. I’m probably a bigger fan of the election story line than most people, given my background, but that is the only one of the bunch that feels like it could most easily be removed. The rest of the stories are intertwined with the music business, so they feel a bit more organic. There are all the dramatic elements and love triangles that you expect in soapy drama, yet it still feels fresh and new. The show isn’t a guilty pleasure; it doesn’t completely delve into the world of soap and is grounded enough in reality and the characters’ relationships that there are real stakes and you are invested in what happens. The actors do a wonderful job with these roles and really make the characters interesting. The show does a good job of balancing being sharp and being soapy. It may not be 100% realistic, but it doesn’t feel ridiculous either.

I have to say upfront that I am not necessarily a fan of country music; I dabble in it here and there, but I’m by no means a hard core fan. If you want a pretty good chance of beating me in SongPop, the modern country catalog is the way to go. But the music on Nashville is really good, in my opinion. Of course, that is bound to happen when you have T-Bone Burnett behind the scenes as the show’s music producer. I was surprised to find out that most of the songs on the show are not covers, but original songs. They sound so familiar – in a good way – that I found several of them stuck in my head after each episode had ended. When the soundtrack for the show became available last week, I immediately downloaded it. Panettiere and Britton are surprisingly good singers – though there may be a little auto tune helping them out.  One of the problems of Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was that for a program that was supposed to be taking place behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show, the few glimpses the audience received of the sketches were so unfunny that it ruined the illusion. That doesn’t happen with Nashville; if anything, the music further lends credibility to the stories that are unfolding. This show simply wouldn’t work if the music wasn’t authentic.

Some other thoughts:

  • There has been speculation as to whom the Juliet character may be modeled after in real life. Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood are names that have been thrown around, but I don’t think there is one inspiration for the character. That being said, I did have to laugh when Juliet is blamed for the poor performance of an NFL quarterback. That’s a Jessica Simpson story. And she totally was a jinx.
  • There is nothing better than Connie Britton saying “hey” and “y’all.” I’m glad that she’s back on a show where she where they are a regular part of her dialogue.
  • Britton’s hair looks so spectacular that it even has its own tumblr.
  • The Wire fans – Coleman is in fact played by our pal Bunny Colvin. Hamsterdam forever!
  • The character that I find most problematic is Scarlett’s boyfriend Avery. Has nothing to do with the actual character, but the fact that he is played by Jonathan Jackson of General Hospital fame. He originated the role of Luke and Laura’s son Lucky and I have a really hard time seeing him as anyone else. That’s really my issue, not his.
  • Heroes wound up being a pretty terrible show – it was all downhill after the season one finale – but every time that Panettiere is on screen, part of my brain is thinking “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” Shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations on how long some pop culture info is rolling around in my head?

I only have one to go and I’ll be caught up with all of the episodes of Nashville to date. It’s definitely earned a spot in my DVR rotation for the second half of the season, though it helps that both American Horror Story and South Park will have ended their runs (or be pretty close to ending) by the time Nashville returns. I’m thoroughly enjoying the characters, the storylines and the music. If you are a fan of country music or are interested in the (fictionalized) behind the scenes action of the music industry, Nashville may be right up your alley. But even if you tend to skip over the country stations on the radio like me, there is still a lot to enjoy about the show. And you just might find yourself humming along with a new genre of music.

Nashville airs Wednesday nights at 10 pm (ET) on ABC. New episodes return on January 9th. The entire first season to date is currently streaming on Hulu.com.