Mini Reviews of New Fall TV

The official start of fall isn’t until tomorrow, September 23rd, but the fall TV season has already begun. I love this time of year because there’s so much new stuff to sample. I know most of it will be awful but I’m always hopeful. Below are first impressions of the new shows I sampled.

The X Factor

This show was a giant mess, including everything from a guy who made Paula physically sick with the sight of his penis, a 61-year-old woman wailing “I Touch Myself,” and a 70-day-sober trash collector who performed a song he wrote called “Young Homie.” That last one, Chris Rene, did a decent enough job to go through to the next round, but there were many moments during the show when I was bored out of my mind or horrified by what I saw and not in an entertaining way. The feud montage between L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell, showing them disagreeing on many of the wannabes, was ridiculous filler, trying to play up drama that isn’t there. American Idol has many flaws, but at least that show doesn’t give the singers backing tracks, nor does it allow them to sing entire songs when auditioning. When an act is obviously bad, like 70-year-old Dan and 83-year-old Venita giving new meaning to the word “unchained” in “Unchained Melody,” they should be cut off after a few bars to prevent our ears from bleeding. Nerd verdict: X as in wrong.

New Girl

Zooey Deschanel is naturally quirky and likable, but the humor seems forced and, worse, not funny. Deschanel’s character, Jess, actually makes her glasses pop up and down on her head and makes cartoonish noises to show how she’s checking out a hot guy. Really? And her three male roommates would let her commandeer the TV for hours at a time to watch Dirty Dancing over and over? I don’t think so. And I’m saying this as someone who also loves Dirty Dancing and once lived with male roomies. None of the guys seems very interesting—one shouts at women, another insists on removing his shirt, and the last is still moping over being dumped by his girlfriend. The funniest actor of the three, Damon Wayans, Jr., has been replaced since his series Happy Endings got picked up (that show is much funnier), which makes me even less interested in seeing future episodes. Nerd verdict: Not exciting or New.

2 Broke Girls

Kat Dennings is appealing as Max, the cupcake-making waitress, and Beth Behrs does what she can as Caroline, the rich girl whose Madoff-y dad turns her into a broke social outcast. It’s not the actress’s fault that Caroline is a little annoying, though I suspect she’ll have more colors as the season progresses. Caroline supposedly went to Wharton so at least she won’t be a dumb blond. The show is unremarkable, but it’s helped quite a bit by Dennings’s warm grounding presence. Nerd verdict: Girls should just have more fun.


I read in Entertainment Weekly that this show was inspired by Blood Simple. Huh? The Coen brothers’ movie was dark and so suspenseful, I left deep finger marks in the armrests of my chair at the theater. This show is melodramatic without even trying to play it as camp. That scene showing Bridget making the decision to assume her twin Siobhan’s identity while saying in voiceover, “I had no choice!” was soapier than my Irish Spring.

And what’s with the weird green-screen effect while the twins are in the boat right before Siobhan disappears? They’re supposedly speeding along the water but the background looks about as realistic as the scenery through the back windshields of cars when people drive in old ’40s movies. Sarah Michelle Gellar is watchable, but her costars haven’t made much of an impression yet. Kristoffer Polaha, who plays Siobhan’s lover, has never impressed me in anything so I’m not holding my breath for him to get interesting. Though the show is not really my style, it does have me wondering what the heck these twins are up to, so I might tune in again and fast forward through the cringy stuff to get to the answers. Nerd verdict: Needs more noir for viewers to Ring(er) twice.

Modern Family

This is obviously not a new show (hooray for its Best Comedy Emmy!) but I wanted to check out the new Lily since Ella and Jaden Hiller were replaced over the summer by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons. Though I was a little concerned by how unresponsive the Hiller twins were to stimuli (at least on camera), I loved their stoic little trouper faces, as if they had to suffer the shenanigans of the silly adults around them. Now, Lily talks and smiles a lot more. At first, I thought Anderson-Emmons might be too conventionally cutesy, until the second episode when she turns into an infanticidal toddler, which is hilarious. Cam and Mitchell are thinking of adopting another child and Lily’s not having it. Best line of the night came when Mitch asks Cam, “Why are you saying ‘thing’ instead of baby?” and Lily muttered from off camera: “Kill the baby.” By the end of the two episodes, I was on board with this new Lily. Nerd verdict: Good for Lily to have more Family interaction.

Which shows have you seen? Got any favorites yet?



  • Reply
    Elizabeth Duncan
    September 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I’m going to give Pan Am a try. I flew Pan Am London to Seattle once.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Glad you feel the same way about 2/Girls and New Girl. I was feeling like I gave them short-shrift, but couldn’t even make it half-way through an ep of either. Part of it is I’m loathe to add anything new to my already too-full viewing schedule, so something had better grab me right off the bat or it’s a goner. I figure if I’m missing something someone will fill me in. Thus far, glad to hear I’m not missing out on anything. I couldn’t even make it through Up All Night, and I really like Arnett and Applegate. Comedies are rough going.

    Thanks, NPCN

  • Reply
    September 22, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I saw ‘Revenge’ last night. Phillip Noyce directed the episode and did make me want to follow it, at least for a few more installments. But, Thursday is what I’m shooting in new stuff for with ‘Person of Interest’ and ‘Prime Suspect’. The rest I’m lukewarm on (especially since I have ‘Breaking Bad’ pounding on all cylinders!). Otherwise, the wife and I are waiting on the return of ‘The Good Wife’.

    • Reply
      September 22, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Person of Interest and Prime Suspect are two I’m also looking forward to, Michael. Fingers crossed. Have been watching a little Helen Mirren to prep, but not sure if that’s a good idea or not.

      P.S. Breaking Bad is TV genius.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I’m waiting for the return of The Walking Dead. Loved Modern Family too, although I hope a more animated Lily doesn’t upset the dynamic between the adults too much. Also looking forward to Prime Suspect, and I am hoping we’ll see a release date for A&E’s Longmire soon.

    • Reply
      September 22, 2011 at 9:59 am

      I second that ‘Longmire’ hope, Nora.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I started watching 2 Broke Girls and got bored really easily. I soon realized I was checking my email and surfing without missing a thing. Same experience with Whitney (they claim to film in front of live audience. Maybe, but they must edit the laughs) and The New Girl (which I really wanted to like because of Zooey, but Wayans ended up stealing the episode for me. Love the Douche Bag Jar!).

    I didn’t expect to, but I liked The Secret Circle. Enough to give it a 2nd try at least.

    I saw an early screening of Person Of Interest. I thought it had great music, great photography and I loved the suits Caviezel gets to wear, but I figured out the whodunnit at the 10 minute mark (it’s an hour long show) and got kinda bored. Too bad, cause this was another show that looked promising.

    YES, X-FACTOR WAS BORING. And isn’t that the same set used on Americas Got Talent?

    Free Agents is just bad.

    Unforgettable and Revenge are on my dvr.

    Modern Family’s new Lilly was fun! I wanted the new season kickoff to be funnier though.

  • Reply
    Ed Lynskey
    September 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I’ll probably give PAN AM a try. Thanks for the coverage!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    September 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Elizabeth—I flew on Pan Am when I moved to California. I’ll be checking out the show, too.

    Lauren—For the first few weeks of the fall TV season, I load new shows somewhat indiscriminately onto the DVR. After the first month, though, the herd becomes MUCH thinner.

    le0pard13—I’ll be watching those two shows tonight, too, but I know someone who’s seen PERSON and he said it’s not good. I respect his opinion but will see for myself. Meet back here tomorrow to discuss?

    Nora—I don’t do zombies or dudes in cowboy hats but my friends assure me I’ll like LONGMIRE so I’ll check that out when it premieres next year.

    EIREGO—You’ve seen a lot of the new stuff! I know someone else who said the same thing about PERSON OF INTEREST, which is disappointing. I’ll still tune in tonight. FREE AGENTS looks bad just from the previews. And the douchebag jar was the only half-okay gag in NEW GIRL. There really should be a jar like that everywhere.

    Ed—I’m intrigued that one of the flight attendants might be working for the CIA.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    September 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Ringer is starting here shortly. While the ad had me saying aloud, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me?!!”, I’m sure I’ll sit down and give it a chance.

    I love Modern Family! We must be behind here, though, as the current Lily looks miles younger than the new Lily. She’s adorable though, isn’t she. It will be interesting to see if/how it changes the dynamic.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      When I saw the first preview for Ringer, I thought the same thing.

      You may not be that much behind in Modern Family. The former baby Lilys were markedly smaller than the new one. I thought the Hiller twins were about 2 and Anderson-Emmons looks about 4, though Lily said last night that she’s 3.

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