Our Thoughts on Fall 2013 TV

fall2013tv

Can you believe today is the last day of 2013?!?! We at “Save It For the Commercial Break” can’t… our DVR is still at max capacity!  We thought we’d give our little review of TV in general so far this season as a way of saying goodbye to ’13.  Shows we liked, shows we hated, shows that surprised us.  Here are Mark and Lauren with their highs and lows.

MARK J. PARKER: Fall 2013 was overall I sort of “meh” TV season if you ask me.  I watched pretty much every new pilot that aired in September or October, and few really hooked me.  At first, I had a good amount added to my DVR season pass… but as the weeks went on, I realized many of these shows aren’t really worth watching (sorry guys!)

My new faves – Only a couple official ones here.  Not many people seem to be liking “Trophy Wife,” but I think it’s great.  It’s a fresher “Modern Family,” and I find everyone in the cast likeable (maybe except the friend Meg, who doesn’t really fit in with the mix of things).  I also enjoyed watching some episodes of “The Goldbergs,” which is “Trophy Wife”‘s lead-in, but I’m not calling that a fave – it’s comical, but not something I need to watch every week.  The characters have their moments, but I’m not as interested in them as I am with the “Trophy Wife” characters.  My two other faves are from HBO, which really knocked it out of the part for me in November/December with “Ja’mie: Private School Girl” and “Getting On.”  I, and others, are OBSESSED with “Ja’mie” and his/her sassy one-liners (that will be a separate post sometime in the near future), and like the awkward charm of “Getting On.”  Sign me up for more of both!

*** I still need to watch “Sleepy Hollow” (only saw the pilot, but I liked it!), “Generation Cryo” (again, only saw the first episode and was really into it), and “Masters of Sex” … they might be new faves, but I got super behind on these shows, so I can’t say just yet!

The misses – There are many.  I had given DVR season passes to “Mom,” “Hostages,” “S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Super Fun Night,” “The Crazy Ones,” and “Dracula,” but ultimately none of these were really worth my DVR space.  I admit I didn’t give “Dracula” much of a chance – on a rainy day if there really was no other show to watch, I would catch up on a couple more episodes… but I just find that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers guy so creepy, even without the fangs.  “Hostages” was interesting at first, and I liked the pilot, but I don’t know, I guess I’d just rather watch something else.  The only thing I liked about “Mom” were the actresses… the jokes were not funny.  I was really surprised by how good the pilot was for “The Crazy Ones,” but then other episodes weren’t as enjoyable (maybe Kelly Clarkson should have been a series regular?).  And don’t get me started on “Super Fun Night”… I like Rebel Wilson even though she’s becoming obnoxious, but that show is BAD BAD BAD.  I could go on, but I need to discuss other shows.

As for shows I regularly watched and kept up with this season, they are “The Walking Dead,” “Homeland” (I’m catching up… 4 episodes left!), “American Horror Story: Coven,” “Parks and Rec,” and “SNL.”  Of course there’s also the great reality shows like “Bar Rescue” and the “Real Housewives” shows that are/were must-see TV for me this fall, but we’ll leave them out for now.

“The Walking Dead” was definitely slow, I agree with everyone else out there.  It has been slow ever since the second season, sometimes so painfully that I zone out and my contacts dry up.  BUT, I found this season (or half of the season, whatever) to actually be really great story-wise.  Major events – the virus outbreak in the prison, Rick forcing Carol to leave after what she did, the epic finale between Team Rick and Team Governor at the prison – were really jaw dropping game changers.  But yes I do agree, all the scenes in between those events… were… snoozies……. zzz…. Oh well, I’ll still watch.

“Homeland” season 3 isn’t as bad as I had heard.  I’m currently 2/3 through, and I’m into it.  Yes, Brody isn’t around really, but I’m really interested in this Carrie-Saul power struggle/big con they’re pulling on the CIA.  Also, I really want to know – who the fuck blew up the CIA at the end of Season 2?!?! Tell me skinny banker man tell me!  PS. I hate Dana so much, and Brody’s son (does anyone actually know his name) needs more of a role.

“AHS: Coven” is fun.  Totally fun.  However… sorry everyone, I need more scary stuff.  A lot of people didn’t like season 2 “Asylum,” but I did because I found it gruesome, horrific, stressful, and messed up.  Maybe a little messed up at times, but definitely something unique on TV.  Of course Ryan Murphy still can’t put together a super solid show, but I’m passed that and have unfortunately accepted it.  “Coven” has a stellar cast and some great dialogue… but where did the horror from the first couple episodes go?  Yes we just saw Kathy Bates’ head in a box recently, but that was more comical than “Seven.”  I want to see the scary shit I love in the main titles happening in the story!  Enough of the sassy humor, it’s been fun, but I want to be on the edge of my seat dammit!  Frankenstein Kyle needs to like amp up the scares.  Fiona needs to stop the affair with that serial killer guy, it’s boring.  Misty Day needs to stop being so… Stevie Nicks! I’m ready for her to switch on us.  I don’t know… it’s fun, but I’m getting antsy.

“Parks and Rec” is still great, even though NBC loves to take it off the schedule a lot.  I laugh, I get emotional, I want more.  Come on NBC.  Carrie Underwood and The Voice can take a night off.

“SNL”… funny sometimes, awkward and not funny other times.  See Lauren’s comments below for more.  Some great comedians on the show, but MANY that are unused and possibly unfunny.  The writing needs work.  Less “weird funny” and more “actually funny.”

LAUREN EVANGELISTA: Entering the fall 2013 season has been busy and surreal for me. I said goodbye to one of my beloved shows, and there are several others I know are coming to their end once the new year rings in. From what I’ve been able to check out, I’m happy to say that a few things that are newer are holding my interest and will hopefully continue to capture my attention once some of my other shows reach their end in 2014.
I’ve been following The Mindy Project, and couldn’t be happier with the progress made. The show had a slump in season 1 before a revamp and a cleanup, and it’s been on the up ever since. The writers (and Mindy) are smart and funny, and know how to keep the comedic conventions fresh. The twists and turns of the season have been great – we’ve already seen a handful of relationship hopefuls come and go – and the addition of Peter has made for some really fun episodes as well. Even with a growing ensemble, we have some great developments from our beloved characters, and the Mindy and Danny chemistry continues to be stronger and stronger. I’m looking forward to the new relationship Mindy just entered, and am hopeful for further developments from our pretty solid ensemble.
The Walking Dead hits in the middle for me – there are so many technical things that have been amazing this season, with plenty of beautifully composed shots, and wonderful moments of subtleties and powerful acting. The ramifications of the two major events that rock Rick’s camp are great, but some of the play-out of these events have definitely felt far too stretched. I wonder if we really need to split up the seasons anymore so the writing can be tighter and more to the point, but hopefully the second half explores their life without protected walls. It’s been time for that sort of change in their universe, and I hope we get some incredible moments of tension among the living and the dead in 2014.
I’ve also been following some Saturday Night Live this fall. With all the major losses between last season and this, it’s felt like the writing is missing a couple steps. And now that they’re prepping to lose Seth Meyers, who knows where this season will go? There are a number of new hopefuls, but there is still some figuring out that needs to happen for where and how they all fit in. Hopefully the rising stars of the show (Cecily Strong, Taran Killam, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon) can continue to shine. But no matter how funny they are, there’s definitely some improvement needed on the writing. Lots of great ideas, but most of the skits have fallen flat. Some of the best moments were the Miley Cyrus “We Can’t Stop” spoof on the government shut down, and the Aaron Paul moment in the cold open hinting that Walter White could’ve benefited from Obamacare (thus negating all of Breaking Bad) – brief blips in the sea of sub-par skits. I usually love watching SNL the morning after to see what happened – hopefully, in 2014, they improve the material so I can keep up that habit.Last but not least, I was able to catch a little bit of Almost Human. Now, this fall, I’ve been much more nostalgic in my TV viewing, revisiting older shows and watching series that have ended that I haven’t yet checked out. But I decided to give this show a chance – I’ve felt a loss in some good new sci-fi material on TV as of late, and am hungry for some new material. I’m very intrigued by the show thus far – the implications of the vast and growing impact of technology and crime fascinates me, and it’s not so outlandish a view of what the future and technology can be. I also enjoy Michael Ealy as the robo-cop with heart, and his sense of humor with John is fun and realistic, hints of dead pan and always able to one-up because he really is that much smarter. It’s a very slick-looking show, the imagery is excellent, and the crimes they follow are interesting and allow us windows into learning more about this new world and John Kennex. I’m glad they’ve written in a fellow cop as a regular antagonist type, and the nerdy tech guy is a pretty cool character, too. I like what I see so far – I know there’s some of the acting that can be stronger (John is still a bit too stiff and one-dimensional for me), but the stories in each episode have been pretty good so far. I feel like this show strikes a relevant chord for our society today with the choice of crimes they choose to show, and I hope this show rides out 2014 with a measure of success. We need some cool sci-fi on network TV.

Here’s to a very dynamic 2013 in television, and let’s hope for a very happy new year of television for all the shows we follow on Save It for the Commercial Break!

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