What to watch, what not to watch [what to irrationally hate and what to watch in secret]…

I am barely catching up with summer television and the fall season is already here! It’s virtually impossible to keep track of all the cable, network and online shows nowadays! Lucky for you, I am here to watch them all and tell you what to avoid.

Without further ado, let’s get the TV season started!


Premise: A couple suffers a series of unfortunate failed marriage proposals

Verdict: It wasn’t as awful as I expected but not good either.

This is one of those weird shows where I love the actors but I can see from a mile away that it is not going to work. Case Wilson is great,  I thought she stood out on Happy Endings and she is very quirky-cute in a neurotic kind of way. She reminds me a little bit of Mindy Kaling. Now about Ken Marino… This is complicated. Do I love him? I am a huge Party Down fan so you bet I love him! I think he is really funny… however for all intents and purposes, he is playing a “romantic” lead and I just can’t get the image of him sleazily singing “Private Eyes, Veronica Mars” out of my head! He is even kind of cute, now that I think about it… but Vinnie Van Lowe is hard to let go. I guess I should go further back and remember him as the hot teacher on Dawson’s Creek… That should work. OK, now that we got that out of the way… The show still doesn’t work for me. It wasn’t necessarily awful [as I expected due to the reviews I read]; but it isn’t very good either. Even though I adore both actors [and actually think they make a good couple], they are both too much. They both have a very over-the-top comedic energy. It works great for side-kicks, but not for the main couple. Plus… there are just SO MANY relationship comedies this year! And so far…Manhattan Love Story is my favorite!

Should you watch it? I'd normally say no... but I do like the actors... so maybe this eventually finds a good pace and tone and becomes really funny. So I'd say test it. 


Premise: You know this already…  a guy runs really fast

Verdict: It was good

The Flash was exactly what I expected: an action packed, fun show with some sweet character moments and sporadic funny dialogue. The pilot was pretty solid, it accomplished everything it should: set up the backstory, introduce characters, depict the world, etc. There was some funny dialogue [“Lightning gave me abs?”] and plenty of action sequences. I really love Tom Cavanagh so I was excited to see him there. As for the rest of the cast, everyone did a good job. However, I am a little indifferent to the leading man [He is cute and I don’t dislike him, but I am not particularly excited about him either]. The show was incredibly well received [much better than Arrow]. I am guessing it is due to the fact that The Flash is a superhero with whom many are familiar. I enjoyed the pilot and I will probably enjoy the rest of the season (*), however I don’t see myself becoming a die-hard fan either.

Should you watch it? Yes, unless you don’t like superheroes.

(*) I have to admit, my main motivation to watch the rest of the episodes is that Wentworth Miller was cast.

A to Z

Premise: A comprehensive account of a love story from A to Z.

Verdict: It was pretty much as boring as it sounds.

Seriously, how many relationship comedies do we have this year? [Selfie, Manhattan Love Story, Marry Me]. Out of all of these, I thought A to Z   was going to be the one I watched; mainly because I am familiar with the actors and I like “meant to be” love stories [more than opposites attract]  for some bizarre reason. However, the pilot didn’t impress me. As the title suggests we are told from the beginning that Andrew and Zelda [A to Z, get it?] are meant to be together and WILL be together [no will they/won’t they mystery there]. So, basically, the show will follow their relationship from the time they first meet to the time they marry [?], exactly “8 months, 3 weeks, 5 days and one hour”… in case you were wondering. The show uses a narrator to tell the story  and I recognized her voice immediately: It’s Katey Sagal! Which would normally be awesome if they had given her some good lines! I mean… “a comprehensive account” that sounds like the teacher who puts everyone to sleep. I could see what they were doing… they were trying to use the omniscient whimsical narrator in the vein of Pushing Daisies, Amelie, The Royal Tenenbaums, etc. However, I don’t think they managed to achieve that. The narrator lines had to have a very peculiar style which they didn’t. This SHORT FILM was much more successful executing that same concept in 5 min. SOA SPOILER ALERT Also… let’s take a minute to acknowledge how ironic it is that Katey is narrating a love story when her character on SOA just killed her son’s wife [Yeah… I am SO not over that, sorry, had to bring it up].

In summary, A to Z had a fair amount of sweetness…and I like the general idea but wasn’t impressed with the execution. In addition, I didn’t feel the two leads had enough chemistry.

Should you watch it? I don’t want to conclude this sucks yet, because it could get better. However, so far, I don’t think this is worth it. I actually liked Manhattan Love Story much more.


Premise: A trashy woman is a judge … yeah, that’s actually what the show is about…

Verdict: Well… at least it is not a “relationship comedy”

Basically Kate Walsh plays a hedonistic, borderline trashy woman who happens to be a judge. So, they rely on the gimmick that you wouldn’t expect a respectable authority figure to be such a mess. I guess there were some funny moments and lines, but overall I didn’t like the pilot. First of all… I am still not sure how I feel about Kate Walsh. I used to like her on Grey’s Anatomy, that went away a little during Private Practice, guess she did a decent job on Fargo, but… I don’t know. I don’t love her. And she wasn’t playing trashy-cute like Carrie Preston on True Blood, it was just train wreck. I guess this was supposed to be the female version of Rake or something… but it just didn’t work for me. I kept waiting for a scene or a heart-warming moment to give meaning to the show, but it never happened.

Should you watch it? I really don’t see the point of this show. I didn’t find the character compelling and it wasn’t hilarious enough to make up for that. It might be a matter of taste… I don’t know.


Premise: It’s a CBS show so… you have two cops and a case of the week. The twist? They are members of the “stalking unit” [is that a real thing?]

Verdict: Too procedural for my taste

So… people get stalked a lot… apparently. And cops who may or may not be stalkers themselves catch the stalkers. That’s basically what Stalker is about. Sounds interesting enough, right? Well… It’s no secret that I have little love for CBS cop shows [there are just so many!], but I was willing to give this a chance because I really like Maggie Q and I am missing Nikita more than I expected. However, I found it utterly boring. Maggie and Dylan were good [so was the rest of the cast], but it just failed to grab me. There was nothing terribly wrong with the writing, but there wasn’t anything particularly interesting either. I think I was expecting it to be much more shocking; something like The Following when it first premiered, but it wasn’t nearly as gritty. I might be biased against this type of show, but I can enjoy a good procedural if it has “something special” (Person of Interest e.g.).

Should you watch it? I won’t, but I guess you could try if you are really into procedurals and/or a huge Maggie Q/Dylan McDermott fan.


Premise: An idealistic girl moves to New York to make her dreams come true and find love [or something like that].

Verdict: You know..? It was sort of cute.

I actually didn’t hate this at all… which was a surprise. Manhattan Love Story had elements of shows like The Mindy Project and Don’t Trust the b… in Apartment 23, but with a lot more naiveté. The jokes weren’t edgy or particularly clever, but I did laugh throughout the episode and that’s the point of a comedy, isn’t it? In the pilot episode, idealistic, small town Dana is set up on a date with the cynical native New Yorker Peter. The date is obviously a disaster, but Peter turns out to be not so bad after all [I know… least original idea ever]. The show is told through narration from the two protagonists. I usually hate unnecessary V.O.s, but this one kind of worked [although I can see it getting annoying after a while]. It was fun to see how the characters’ inner thoughts contradicted their action and the difference between how men and women think [and how men can NEVER figure out what women think]. All in all, this was a cynicism-free half hour of cute comedy and, surprisingly, I didn’t mind it. Plus, I liked the two leads… and fine, I guess this is as good a time as any to confess that I REALLY liked Greek… and not in the “this is my Abcfamily guilty pleasure” way…

Should you watch it? It most certainly won’t change your life, but why not give it a go? I think I may watch it… at least until it gets too sugary sweet. It’s probably going to get cancelled though.


Premise: A social media addicted shallow woman realizes she has no real friends and decides to turn her life around with the help of his PR-expert antisocial co-worker. They are pitching it as “My fair lady in the social media age” [the lead character’s name is “Eliza Dooley”; subtle…]

Verdict: We needed a show like this… but I am not sure this is it.

Most comedies on TV have mocked social media at some point, but we haven’t had one that specifically deals with it yet. So… as a concept, I think it is great. We needed something to make us feel guilty and force us to go outside and interact with tridimensional humans. However… I am not sure Selfie is as strong as it needed to be. The pilot felt like a run of the mill opposites-attract-romantic-comedy that features social media. I think they needed an incredibly strong and edgy script to make an effective commentary on this generation’s obsession with virtual image. I personally thought the app-cat episode (“App development and condiments”) of Community was brilliant, but it was probably way too quirky for a mainstream audience.

However, I wouldn’t say Selfie was bad either. I relatively enjoyed the pilot… at least I didn’t feel like throwing stuff at my screen. There were some cute moments, some laughable moments and John Cho is really great. I feel he has been around forever and everyone likes him; he deserves a hit leading role already [not sure Selfie will be it though]. We also have to consider that pilots are hard for comedies because they rely so much on chemistry and tone. I rarely like the first episode of comedies and the tone is usually not well defined until episode 5-6. So… this could still turn out good… I think it has enough elements to work with, but the writing needs to be stronger.

Should you watch it? You could, if you are really into light entertainment… but you won’t be missing out if you don’t.


Premise: “A group of ambitious law students and their brilliant criminal defense professor become involved in a twisted murder plot that promises to change the course of their lives” (IMDB, 2014)

Verdict: It was good, but not that new.

I have endless respect for Shonda. She is one of the most successful showrunners on TV and she knows what she is doing. Even after 10 years, Grey’s Anatomy still manages to keep my attention and Scandal is full of shocking twists. I enjoyed the pilot of HTGAWM but I wasn’t wowed by it. I read a bunch of reviews where they were calling it derivative, comparing it to Legally Blonde and Damages and I can see why. The scene where the young protagonist arrives to college unprepared and is grilled by the tough teacher is something we’ve seen so many times on TV shows and movies like: Legally BlondGreekFelicity21, etc etc.  Damages is in a different league, but it had the non-linear structure and a VERY similar murder weapon [Lady Liberty vs. Lady Justice]. That would be my main complain about the show; it didn’t feel as cutting edge as other Shonda shows. I vividly remember the day I watched the pilot of Grey’s Anatomy. I thought it was so different, exciting and new. Similar thing happened with Scandal. I was hoping to have that feeling with HTGAWM, but I didn’t.

Having said that, there was a lot I liked. It had a quick pace, I liked the cast, it had fun dialogue, interesting characters and I like the “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” structure they have going on [even though it is nothing new either; Motive is all about that]. We know they killed someone, we know whom; we just need to know why and how.

Should you watch it? I was honestly underwhelmed by the pilot but I intend to watch the rest of the season. I am confident there is more still to come. However, I wouldn’t say this is Shonda’s best [not the worst either, remember Off the map? Not crazy about Private Practice either…]


Premise: A female cop, who is a mom… yeah that’s pretty much all…

Verdict: I believe this could be fixed…

As you may recall, this show was my NBC pick of the year. So, did I love it? No, and I was really hoping I would. Basically the show is about a police officer (Debra Messing), who has a chaotic life juggling her job, her two demonic twins and her ex-husband (Josh Lucas). It is not high concept, but I could definitely work with a strong cast and script. Yes to first one, unfortunately NO to the second one. The script just wasn’t good enough. There were some funny moments [that I attribute more to the actors than the writers], but there was a lot of corny, cliché stuff going on. Is this a comedy? Is this a drama? Is this a show about a rogue cop? Is this a whodunit? [at one point it looked like a “Clue” Homage]. I haven’t been this confused about genre since Reign!

And that wasn’t the only issue. When I say the cast was great, I am talking about the leading actors: Debra Messing, Josh Lucas, Enrico Colantoni… They were great and their characters were likable. However, that does not apply to the supporting actors. All minor characters were SO cheesy and cartoonish. From the assistant to the school-master, they were just annoying. Apparently this show was adapted from a Spanish series. Frankly I don’t get it. If you are going to remake a show, it should be because it has an incredible premise. This wasn’t that incredible. With so many amazing shows on TV [and the internet] nowadays, shows like this just won’t cut it.

Having said that, there is nothing so catastrophically wrong with this show that couldn’t be fixed. If they define the tone, get rid of the cheesy characters, avoid cliché settings and come up with some strong storylines for the leading character… this could work. The strong leading lady is there… ready to be used. Debra can turn this around. Your move writers...

Should you watch it? To be on the safe side, I am gonna say no. I personally plan to give it 2 or 3 more episodes to be sure. If I radically change my mind [it has happened before], I will let you know.


Is that a Zeppelin in the b.g.?  I love that
Premise: A young Jim Gordon investigates the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents in the corrupt city of Gotham. So, basically, Batman before Batman.

Verdict: It fulfilled most of my expectations.

This was my FOX pick of the year and out of all the new shows it was the one I was most excited about [and so was everybody else]. The expectations were high and I wasn’t disappointed [not yet at least]. The pilot episode was very well made. It looked great, the script was very good and everybody was incredibly well cast [Unlike other shows on this list *cough* Scorpion *cough*]. I dig the silent intensity of Ben Mckenzie, I think he is perfect to play the honourable Detective Gordon. I also love that they got Donal Logue to play his partner/morally ambiguous mentor. He provides the perfect balance. Donal has been a guest on every cable show ever for the past few years, so it’s nice to see him as a regular again. The rest of the cast is equally great with complex quirky characters; some new like Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), some old like the Penguin (wonderfully played by the relatively unknown Robin Lord Taylor). The tone is well defined and it truly embodies the “film noir” spirit. It has all the elements of the classic Batman movies, but it also reminded me of other films like Blade Runner and Sin City. After watching a couple of interviews with Bruno Heller, I feel very confident about where this is going. I hope they keep it up [and amp it up]. So far, this is in the running to become my favourite new show.

Should you watch it? Yes, do! Unless you are majorly against comic books or something.


Premise: A group of geniuses are recruited by the government to help them in matters of national security. There is also a waitress with an autistic kid… So… Numb3ers meets Touch?

Verdict: As far as CBS shows go… it was good.

Scorpion was my CBS pick of this year. The only reason I decided to check out this show is because I like the producers. The show was created by Nick Santora (Prision Break) and produced by Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci (Alias, Sleepy Hollow, Fringe). The show was dynamic, it had a good premise for an action show, it had funny dialogue and a good structure. You could say I enjoyed it, even though I didn’t think it was awesome. However, I had one big problem with it. The most common thing I say about new shows is: “The cast is SO great, but the writing isn’t strong enough”. I had the opposite issue with Scorpion. The writing was good [not Mad Men good but good enough], but the cast was awful. Wrong wrong actor to play the leading man [And this coming from the guy that found Wentworth Miller! How disappointing!] Makes you realize that the “hot/cute geek” is a very rare commodity. In other words, there aren’t enough Zachary Levis is the world. Without that, the sociopathic/Sherlock-type character just ended up being annoying instead of compelling. Didn’t hate the poor guy, but not everybody can pull off the constant tactless rants like Benedict Cumberbatch does. As for the rest, I liked one or two of the supporting actors (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Ari Stidham, Robert Patrick), and hated others (Jadyn Wong). I guess Kat McPhee was well cast and she did an OK job, but for some reason I can never connect with her.

I appreciate that this isn’t just another cop show and I think it could be a different procedural like Person of Interest (but not as good); however… the cast did not convince me at all. Not sure if they can pull this off with that cast, but ratings were good… so this might be here to stay.

Should you watch it? Yeah, give it a go if you like shows like Numb3rs, Touch and The Blacklist. Maybe it is just me who didn’t like the cast.


Premise: A very charming British M.E. never dies.

Verdict: A lot better than I expected

Yes, I love Ioan Gruffud [even though I have to google his name every time I need to write it], I find him incredibly charming. So I was definitely going to watch this; but, honestly, I was getting ready to say something like “The show is OK but I’ll mostly watch it because I love him”. However, it was a lot better than I anticipated! I quite enjoyed the pilot. The procedural element moved quickly and incorporated the mythology, the characters were interesting [having the guy from Bones as an M.E. was funny], the backstory was intriguing and there were quite a few lines of dialogue I really loved. The episode was full of tiny meaningful details. For instance, I loved the fact that the best friend of the immortal guy was a baby [now an old man] he rescued from a concentration camp when he was a soldier. Way to give the side-kick an interesting background and create a complex/layered relationship!  Plus, I love a good bromance. This show was also my ABC pick of the year

Odd comparison time:
I think I’d describe the show as:  Highlander meets Moonlight. The Highlander comparison is obvious, not sure why I kept thinking of Moonlight. Perhaps because the love of his life is someone he met decades ago… It reminded me of the Coraline/Mick flashbacks. It also made me think of Early Edition. In other words, it’s a sweet drama with a sci-fi element. And yes, it got a little sappy at times, but for some reason it didn’t bother me.

“Hang me once, shame on you. Hang me twice…”
“Don’t say anything too emotional; it’d be uncomfortable”

Should you watch it?  I will. It is definitely not gritty, edgy drama but sometimes I like some lighter shows in my TV mix. I really hope it survives. I thought it fitted nicely with the rest of ABC’s programming.



Premise: A woman not involved in politics is appointed Secretary of State due to her personal friendship with the President.

Verdict: A little too much wishful writing for my taste

I was recently re-watching Political Animals and noticed how the main focus of that show was the family drama, rather than the politics. I guess this falls under the same category; except, Political Animals wasn’t boring and it had a fun edge to it. Madam Secretary is a very “safe” drama. The pilot episode shows the leading character becoming Secretary of State and there is a “story of the week” [because it is CBS] about two young men captured in Syria. They are forced to falsely confess they are spies on tape, which puts a stop to the government’s rescue plans. However, Madam Secretary believes in doing the right thing and she convinces the President to rescue the poor American kids. In the end, it is all about politicians doing the right thing! I am sure that happens all the time… [I say full of sarcasm]. The episode had some funny lines [“there’s no double-dipping in the spy-pool”], the structure was good and the characters were moderately interesting; so I won’t say the writing was bad. It also had a decent enough cliff-hanger, plus the cast was great but… there wasn’t anything exciting about it. My predominant thought throughout the pilot episode was “Zelko Ivanek is wasted on network television” Give the man a cable show!” I love Tea Leoni and Tim Daily but… not nearly enough to grab me.

Should you watch it? This pretty much falls under the category of “it is a good enough show to watch but there are so many that are better”. I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.


CWSEED New episodes posted Tuedays

Premise: A mockumentary about Ryan Hansen trying to get a Veronica Mars spin-off (about Dick) on the air.

Verdict: This was the cherry on top for the fans

It’s no secret I am a Veronica Mars fan. I loved the show, I was very pleased with the movie, I am planning to buy the book and I am getting ready to demand a sequel. However, I wasn’t expecting much from this web series, which is unfair. Web series may not be full-length shows like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black; but they can be great when the right people are involved. Examples include: Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s sing along blog and Felicia Day’s The Guild, which I confess I have never watched but I hear it is great.

Many fans wondered why, out of all the characters, they would pick Dick Casablancas [a notoriously douchy guy] for the spin-off. I actually get it. Ryan Hansen is very funny and I think web series work better when they are funny. Plus I am still obsessed with that dancing video!

But let’s talk about the show. It is NOT Veronica Mars, so keep that in mind. It is different in genre, length, tone and structure. However, it has a lot of what made Veronica Mars awesome: clever references, smart dialogue and the cast! I think fans will certainly enjoy it. But I also think it has enough of general pop-culture goodies to make other people laugh. I’ve counted references to: Buffy, Angel, Friends, House of Lies, Karate Kid, Magnum P.I., Limitless, Community and more. For a 7 min webisode that’s pretty good. It also has a fun tone and they simultaneously mock reality shows and the inner workings of network television [and we need that, now that 30 Rock is gone and Episodes is on hiatus].

So…. Should you watch it?  I personally loved it. I wasn’t expecting this to be Veronica Mars’s second coming, I just wanted to laugh with some clever dialogue and that I did. If you have the right expectations this can be very enjoyable, especially for fans of the show. I also think non-fans should watch it, if only to see if web series are something they like.
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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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