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. - Parks and Recreation - Everything about this show is perfect, from the quotable dialogue to the dead-pan looks delivered to the camera to the insanity of Pawnee that no longer seems insane but instead like home. They're doing some reshuffling this year to accommodate one actor's film schedule and the departure of two other actors, but it all feels perfectly natural and evolutionary. Each character is so strong that you don't realize you're missing one because you're having too much fun with those with whom you do get to spend time. This is a show I watch first on Thursday nights (and not just because of its time slot) but then watch again first thing Friday morning because it starts the day right and gives me an extra ounce of sunny disposition to finish out the week.
- 9:30 p.m. - The Michael J. Fox Show - Only a few episodes in, this freshman comedy has already proven to know who all of its characters are and has been able to show off what makes them individually unique and interesting and worth watching when they're paired in random combinations that don't include the big name star of the show.
- 10 p.m. - Scandal - When I'm looking for an adrenaline ride, there is nowhere else to turn but to Olivia Pope (and her associates). Things move so fast that if you try to solve one mystery, you'll be missing tons of nuance about another, but the show also knows how to linger for effect-- whether its on the pained face of Olivia as she is internally struggling with her personal feelings for the President and something in her job, or whether its on the most f-ed up yet dynamic romantic triangle ever as Olivia, Fitz, and Mellie meet in a bunker to get their stories straight. Last year I was all about Homeland's "Q&A," an episode that featured a 15 minute scene between Damian Lewis and Claire Danes that just cut back and forth between them, all dialogue, no frills, almost like a play. I went on and on about how you couldn't do that on any other show, let alone a network one, but this season Scandal did its own version of it (yes, it was shorter, and yes it featured one extra person and quicker cuts), and it was just as spectacular.
- 10 p.m. - Elementary - Not just a procedural, as I originally feared it to be, Johnny Lee Miller is doing cable quality character work on a network crime drama. It's reason enough to watch, but his platonic friendship and evolving working relationship with Lucy Liu is like non-other you'll see. The fact that the cases continue to offer more insight into Sherlock's background and psyche help, too!
- 10 p.m. - Parenthood - This season is so much lighter than it was last year, but I still go into every episode bracing myself for tears. And I still always actually do end up crying, but at least this time around it's happy tears. This show is still like a warm hug, and I want to be a part of the Braverman family now more than ever.