Monday, September 3, 2012

What DanielleTBD is Watching on NBC for Fall 2012...

The Voice (Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 p.m.) - This third season is going to be make or break for the series for me. With the new addition of the "Steal" and the "Knockout Round," the emphasis, at least in the early weeks, seems to be on creating competition among the coaches, rather than shining a light on a truly deserving new talent. This is unfortunate and everything the show set out not to be in the beginning. I've started watching the show simply for the coaches-- to see who they'll pick, how they'll coach, what they'll perform on stage together, and yes, what Christina will wear. I hope this season introduces me to someone new whose music I'd like to download, too, though. (starting September 10th)

Revolution (Mondays, 10 p.m.) - This show isn't what I wanted it to be (I would rather watch a show set in the weeks after the blackout, to watch the panic and corruption take hold), but it still has the potential to be really interesting if it lets go of the greater mythology of the why behind the power going out in the first place to endear us more to its characters. Half of them don't need the power, so they probably don't want it on anyway, so why should the audience? I will be honest and say that I don't plan to get too attached, though. Like The Playboy Club before it, this is a higher concept drama that didn't quite sell itself in the pilot. It's a tricky sell for the audience (for different reasons), and the network isn't known for succeeding with this kind of programming, let alone giving it the chance to do moderately well. This is the show I marked for first to be canceled of the season-- not because it deserves it but because it's a risk that I don't think will provide immediate payoff, and that's a risk networks like this don't like to invest in long-term. This is a rare case when I hope I am proven wrong, though, which is why I'll be watching and fighting for it to get better with every episode. (starting September 17th)

Go On (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.) - I'll be honest, when Community was still in pilot form, I was on the fence with it. It was still a little archetypal and broad for my taste, and I didn't know if I wanted to "go on" with future episodes. Because I genuinely enjoyed the cast and because the pilot made me laugh and smile with its wit and message, I continued on, and now it's my favorite comedy on air right now. This is exactly how I feel about Go On, a show with a premise actually quite similar to Community anyway in that strangers will help each other heal and become better people. I love Matthew Perry, and I love that he seems to be having fun with this role in a way he hasn't since Friends. I also like the room for moving people in and out of the support group to introduce new dynamics and even bigger personalities. After all, the more comfortable they get with each other as they learn what makes each other tick, the time it is for them to shake up the formula and rattle everyone a bit. That's from where a goldmine of comedy can come. (starting September 11th)

The New Normal (Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m.) - I really like the idea of people coming together to make each other and themselves better human beings. It's one of the reasons Community so speaks to me, and it's the message I hope this show sticks to, starting to shy away from the preaching about acceptance and tolerance. The thing is, if we're still beating each other over the head with the need to accept someone, what we're really doing is still pointing to that person and saying they're different, but we should be okay with it. It's the pointing to them as different at all that's the problem. A lot of people will unfortunately have a problem with this show because its cast of characters doesn't look like what we usually see on TV, let alone what middle America might see next door, but with sharp and witty commentary, that defensiveness to explain itself should slip away. And let's be honest: Ellen Barkin and NeNe Leakes are just pure gold. I'd watch them riff off each other or co-host a talk show or whatever any day! (starting September 11th)

Parenthood (Tuesdays, 10 p.m.) - The Bravermans are my surrogate family, and I am not ashamed to admit that. Last year they started to tackle an adoption storyline, and I was so personally vindicated by the show's decision not to shy away or cop out in the end but instead to complicate it even more by giving Joel and Julia not a baby but a young man with his ideas and personality already formed. This season they are going above and beyond with that, in addition to another new hurdle for Kristina. I'm even willing to forgive their use of a Shih Tzu (but not my Shih Tzu) because of again how personally Kristina's story seems like it will speak to me (no spoilers). I still love how Sarah is struggling to find herself and her place at the same time her teenage kids are, and I love even more how together Crosby has gotten his life. He was the sibling I think they all assumed would be lagging in that department, yet he is, in his own way, the spitting image of his older brother Adam. And then there's Haddie, who has taken her crazy extended family for granted, and at the moment she finally sees what she has, she separates from them. It's poignant and pivotal and says a lot about how we should all cherish those we love every day, not just when we feel like we should or when it's selfishly convenient. (starting September 11th)

30 Rock (Thursdays, 8 p.m.) - Liz Lemon showed me a fictional version of myself in my dream job, and for six years, she has struggled to "have it all" the way Murphy Brown promised a strong, intelligent woman could. As the seasons have gone on, the show has taken some detours and reached for some stand alone moments or wacky, sketchy antics more than I perhaps would have always liked, but there was so much growth last year, I can't even imagine where Tina Fey wants to take Liz Lemon when she knows they are her final on-screen adventures. Is it too much to ask that she get a new show or overall development deal, her baby, and her kick-ass Teamster sandwich? (starting October 4th)

Up All Night (Thursdays, 8:30 p.m.) - Second season network notes often say to expand a show's world-- to start introducing new characters to show the already existing ones in new situations and allow new personality traits to come out as they interact with different personalities in general. But in this case, the world is actually shrinking a bit in order to really focus on the gems that come from the young parents and friends dynamic. Removing the "office place comedy" aspect of the show, there should be more time to watch three "learn as they go" characters flail around with too much time on their hands-- which also should allow for more stories to come from the babies themselves. As they get older, they will dictate moments simply based on what they are and are not willing to do-- and what they may adlib that is just so adorable or perfect it has to be noted. Spending more time at home should free the show up in tone, too, therefore. (starting September 20th)

Parks and Recreation (Thursdays, 9:30 p.m.) - Leslie Knope won her City Council seat last season, and I can't wait to see what she does with it! Everything about this show has just grown exponentially since it began, and I love it the way Leslie loves Li'l Sebastian. Or waffles. Or government. Or Ben. Or Pawnee. Or all of the above. With Leslie out of the Parks Department, I'm super curious to see if April will step up or if Ron will get his wish and run it into oblivion, causing Leslie to have to step back in and save the day. And what will Tom and Donna buy during Treat Yo Self 2012!? (starting September 20th)

Community (Fridays, 8:30 p.m.) - The third season finale was such a powerful good-bye from Dan Harmon, who didn't know if the show was coming back, let alone if he would, when he wrote and shot it, that this season has a lot riding on it for me. We've seen so many of the characters come so far in three short years, all while still being able to maintain their whimsy, and this time around, we're ready for the payoff of all of their hard work on themselves. It's just a delicate balance to not dump it all out at once, too soon, sacrificing the awesome homage episodes, pop culture references, and classic Jeff Winger speeches. Additionally, knowing the behind-the-scenes requests from the network and the new showrunners' sensibilities, there's a sense of "holding breath" until it's apparent (by seeing the new episodes) that the style and tone will not suffer because of demands to stay under budge, make their days, and/or "broaden" the humor. (starting October 19th)

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