We're a few weeks into the Fall 2013 television season, and yes, there are still a couple of shows waiting in the wings to debut at all, but already some pretty major adjustments have been made to the schedule. Shows have already been dropped across a few networks, and more personally, many shows have been dropped for not living up to my (not even crazy high) expectations. But the good news is that there are a couple of shows that came out of the gate with super strong episode two and threes and completely hooked me in a way I just did not expect. That is super rare and therefore that much more thrilling when I experience it.
- 8 p.m. - Arrow - This was the show I was most pleasantly surprised by last year, and I'm pleased to report that the second season is off to an even better start. Oliver is actively trying to be a better man now, but that doesn't come without new complications and conflicts, and those around him are all stepping up and proving themselves as incredibly strong assets, too. The action scenes are that much more intense, the island flashbacks are increasingly brutal, and the episodes are ending with jaw-dropping moments that leave you punching your couch out of anger that there isn't at least one more scene before the week-long wait.
- 9 p.m. - Modern Family - This show is like a bowl of chicken noodle soup. It's predictable, but it's still warm and comforting. In the beginning of the year, when it's piping hot, it's soothing and delicious. As the season goes on, it cools and doesn't quite taste the same, but at the end of the season, there's always a punch of extra flavor as you scrape the salt off the bottom of the bowl. Right now we're still early enough into that new season heat that I'm gulping each spoonful happily.
- 9 p.m. - The Tomorrow People - The pilot left a little something to be desired, especially because I personally thought it read better on the page than was executed on screen. But all of the questions you had coming out of the pilot, the show immediately began addressing in episode two, and then in episode three started tapping into the histories and backstories of the other Tomorrow People to flesh out the world around potential savior Stephen. There are no punches pulled with the stunts and VFX, but it is the intensity of how far the characters will go for and against each other that really shoved this show to the top of my list.
- 10 p.m. - Nashville - The second season premiere had to spend a lot of time cleaning up the mess that the first season became, but once that was over, the next few episodes got the show on a better track than it had ever been before. I would watch this season for Deacon's storyline alone, but thankfully more than Deacon is piquing my interest. They're wrapping up the crap I didn't care about (Rayna's dad) and expanding on a lot of potential (Maddie learning her dad is not actually her dad) and Juliette trying to break out of the label's mold.
- 10 p.m. - Ironside - This show is beautifully shot and so much more artistic than I ever expected a crime drama, especially a reimagining of an old one, to be. I knew there had to be something big coming when I saw the caliber of actor it attracted in the roles, and it delivered immediately in the second episode with a hard-hitting case and the emerging of a smart subtlety to the characters. Normally I would subtract a few points for the fact that it is a show where episodes can air out of order without consequence (because NBC is airing episodes out of order), but I have to admit, in this particular case, airing a later season episode second actually did hook me in a way that the regular episode two might not have. It was still a gamble, and continuity might not work out down the line, but for now, so far so good. UPDATE: RIP, Ironside. All the things I like get taken away.
- 10 p.m. - Top Chef - New Orleans is all the rage this television season, and I especially like the extra kick it's giving this cooking show. There's the "local chefs" angle which really should be more of a leg up in the competition but yet somehow the underdogs (aka sous chefs) have been kicking some major butt. I don't know what else to say about it, I'm just in awe of what these people can do, and I love watching them do it!
- 10 p.m. - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - This is the season of the 100th episode, and the gang is taking the time to circle back and touch on stories and themes they touched on years earlier. Even though the characters have not matured or become better people, the writers, producers, and cast have grown a lot in the last few years-- and so has society in general-- so when things feel familiar, they never feel repetitive. And they even went so far as to acknowledge that this gang is full of alcoholics.
- 10 p.m. - American Horror Story: Coven - There may not be as many actual freaky images or shock value scares on-screen this season, but that makes for a more cohesive and intricate and even subtle story about power struggles and shifts across generations. They're playing with supernatural elements, as usual, but also history and culture. The fact that the entire main cast consists of females of all ages is certainly an added draw, too.