MID SEASON SHOWS: What is worth watching, what are you better off ignoring?

Long gone are the days when mid season shows were filler shows doomed to fail. Nowadays mid season shows garner almost as much attention as September premieres. Much buzzed shows are launched and many hits are born. However, many shows flop and some we wish we could ‘unwatch’.  So, what is the verdict on the mid-season shows so far?

The Carrie Diaries

Premise: Carrie Bradshaw before she became ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ from Sex and the City. It is something like Jane by Design meets Felicity (if Felicity was in High School) and we are all wondering how an HBO show could have a prequel in The CW.

Verdict: Disappointing
If this was just another CW/ABC Family show about a teenage girl copping with the loss of her mom and trying to find her place in the world, this would be perfectly OK. However, they are dealing with the weight of being a Sex and the City prequel and it simply falls short. Doing a prequel to such an edgy show in such a rosy way is just a little confusing for the audience. The premise of Carrie Diaries is very reminiscent of Jane by Design and to be honest I enjoyed Jane much more because it had an honest innocence to it. You can’t really buy teen Carrie as innocent and it is difficult not to draw parallels (or lack of them) between little Carrie and grown up Carrie, which is distracting. It feels like knowing the ending of a book before reading it, only this book seems to be written by a different author. I don’t think it is a terrible show, it is actually cute and moderately entertaining, but I don’t see a future for it.

The Following

Premise: Kevin Bacon catching killer(s). A psychopath (James Purefoy) discovers the power of social media and assembles a base of followers to execute his delusional murders inspired by the works of Allan Poe.

Verdict:  WOW

This is a very strong well written show. With so much anticipation and buzz I was expecting to be disappointed, however I was truly impressed by the pilot. Due to its violent nature, this show is bound to be controversial. I thought people were exaggerating, but after seeing the first two episodes I get where they were coming from. I did feel the show was pretty violent and graphic. There isn’t as much bloodshed as in other shows, such as Boardwalk Empire or Sons of Anarchy, but somehow it felt even more violent. I guess there is something about the plausibility of their violence that makes it more shattering. People plucking their own eyes, killing dogs… they were definitely right on the “too far” line. The irony is that the show is stirring quite a bit controversy on the ‘violence in the media’ debacle, yet the killer of the show was not inspired by the ‘media’, rather he was crafting his murders after the literary works of Poe.  I wonder if that was somehow intentional… Anyway, I hesitate to call the show ‘good’ only because it feels weird to call something so violent good. But a better question is, is it worth watching? The answer is ‘absolutely yes’. I haven’t been this impressed with a pilot in a long time and I have faith that the plot will keep thickening to no ends if Kevin Williamson’s previous work (The Vampire Diaries) is any indication. This show is on its way to becoming the hit of the season, no doubt.


Premise: A cop infiltrates a powerful family to investigate (and avenge?) the murder of her childhood best friend. No this is not Revenge’s second coming and we only watch it ‘cause spydaddy is in it, oh and he may or may not be evil.

Verdict: Good enough, but it will probably get canceled before we can say ‘I like Emily Thorne better’
As I previously said, I think Victor Garber is reason enough to watch. There is really nothing wrong with this show… but there is nothing gripping either, which could be a problem. I think it is pretty well written, it is not boring, the story moves forward, characters are interesting and there are some truly great actors in the mix. The thing is that the older cast members (Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Katherine LaNasa) are rocking it while the younger actors are OK I guess, but nothing extraordinary. Furthermore, there is something missing, some sort of juicy hook. There is a forbidden love storyline between Julian and Joanna, but something is wrong with the chemistry, it just doesn’t grab my attention. The other plotlines include: a secret child (it’s her sister, her mother, her sister), a rogue mistress and a whistle blower. All of which sound good on paper, but they need to up the stakes a little to make it more compelling. Sadly I feel this show will die soon, and I wish it didn’t because it is way better than a lot of other dramas that are on the schedule right now.

1600 Penn

Premise: Something about a president… whatever…

Verdict: Train wreck

Even writing a review for this show seems like a waste of time. It was horrible, Animal Practice-horrible. The concept was unappealing, the jokes were cheap, situations ridiculous and dialogue was plain annoying. I like Bill Pullman although I don’t necessarily peg him as a sit-com actor and Jenna Elfman is without a doubt one of my favorite comedic actresses, but those are all the nice things I can say. The material was just awful, you can’t save it with a couple of good actors and to make it even worse they have Josh Gad who is the most annoying person I’ve seen on primetime [I just read he is best friends with Seth Gabel, how can that be possible? Seth Gabel is adorable!]. Cancel it already and put us all out of our misery!

The Americans

Premise: Felicity and the gay guy from Brothers & Sisters are Russian spies living in America. It is like that Alias episode “Welcome to liberty village”, only grittier and with 80’s music and fashion.

Verdict: Lots of potential, could easily become my favorite

The premise is very appealing, the cast is great and the pilot was promising enough. I am confident this show will turn out to be great. I am excited to see an old school spy story on TV again. For obvious reasons, this decade’s espionage movies and TV shows focus on the threat of the Middle East. As great Homeland is, cold war spy stories have always been my favorite. There is something about all that spying in suburban settings, people speaking in Russian accents and low tech spying techniques that I love. We haven’t had that type of story in a while and I am very excited! The pilot wasn’t perfect (it was a little crowded with B stories) and I wasn’t as wowed as with the pilot of The Following but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait for the next episode.

Do no Harm

Premise: A doctor suffers from a condition that turns him into a darker person at nights.  Yes, it is a Jekyll and Hyde adaptation masquerading as a mediocre medical procedural… or maybe it is just a mediocre medical procedural…

Verdict: Boring….

Do no Harm has elements from so many good TV shows and movies, but manages to have none of the appeal.  It was a given that the show would be compared to the BBC’s Jekyll and I wish I could write a ‘who did it better?’ article [hint, Jekyll], but I doubt Do no Harm would be around much longer. Besides reminding me of Jekyll, I also felt the show borrowed elements from United States of Tara (it is really more about split personalities than good/evil separation) and even the movie Memento (the notes, and self-mailed envelopes). I just wish they borrowed something else from those works, like… I dunno… good writing?! It felt like they wanted to be edgy and dark but couldn’t fully commit. The useless medical case reminded me of the now defunct Mob Doctor, the performance of Steven Pasquale was adequate, I guess, but became pitiful the minute you compared it to James Nesbitt’s brilliance on Jekyll. And speaking of Jekyll… Steven Moffat knew how to make it dark. The alter-ego of Do no Harm is less Hyde and more reminiscent of Tara’s alters on United States of Tara… but the ‘alter’ is neither scary enough, nor funny, so again it is a fail. I thought the most interesting part was the story about the ex and the possible son, but that was pretty underplayed. I am actually glad I didn’t like the show because it looks like it is the new Lone Star. It will get canceled in a month, tops. In future seasons we will use it as a parameter of poor ratings like we have been doing with Lone Star.


Premise: An ex-con assumes the identity of a dead sheriff in a small town in the middle of Amish county.

Verdict: Not enough people are talking about this show

I have to admit, I only decided to watch the pilot of Banshee for the purpose of writing this article. I haven’t heard much about it and I had to Google the premise to remember what it was about. However, once I started watching I was pleasantly surprised. This show has much more potential than many of the other mid season shows that are getting more buzz. Banshee is produced by Alan Ball, so I was expecting it to have a True Blood feel, but instead I think it was part Justified, part Sons of Anarchy, which is totally great. It is pretty raw, without being overly dark and there are a lot of potentially interesting arcs. I am definitely going to catch up and keep watching. The show has been renewed for a second season already, so it will be around for a while.

In summary, my favorite mid-season show so far may be The Following. I highly recommend The Americans and Banshee, watch The Carrie Diaries if you have nothing better to do and PLEASE stay away from 1600 Penn.

Note: There are still a handful of mid-season shows left to watch (Zero Hour, Mr. Selfridge, How to live with your parents…, Continuum). I will post an updated post soon. 
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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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  1. Banshee is a great new TV presentation. So often the plots of every show are tiresome repeats of the old, but Banshee is fresh and full of surprises. I know it is seemingly impossible, but each episode gets better than the last. It is unquestionably the best TV show I have ever seen.

  2. I agree, I am liking it more and more with each episode...


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