We are one month into the new television season, so it seems fair to take some time and evaluate the new shows as well as all of our returning favorites. We've had a chance to view four or five episodes, decide whether we want to add any new shows to our repertoire and decide whether some of our favorites are still our favorites. So as we approach a little stop action in the new episodes before we reach the first crazy month known as sweeps, let's take a moment and evaluate this season's schedule. Here is my list of shows that I have been checking out, their status, how they can improve and their grade thus far starting with Monday and going through Sunday.
Surface - (NBC) This sea creature/sci-fi thriller made a splash with its debut, but has dropped off since the premiere, which is typical for new shows. The show definitely has its cheesy moments, but the underlying premise is intriguing. The show is at its best when it focuses on Lake Bell's character Laura. Room For Improvement...hire better writers who can write less cliche characters and plots (sea creature loose in the pool at a teenage party, girls in bikinis, the "mad" scientist, etc) and focus more on Laura's struggle to uncover the truth and less on Rich's quest for his brother. Status: Full season order. GRADE: C
Prison Break - (Fox) Intriguing show with great characters and an interesting plot, but the show's pacing is a little slow. Don't expect a lot to happen in regards to the great escape in an episode, and be prepared to suspend your belief. I had to drop this show because my plate was just too full. Room For Improvement... pick up the pace a bit. Status: Full season order. GRADE: B
Medium- (NBC) A highly creative show with original plots and surprise revelations that keep you on your toes. This is a well written show that has managed to hold on to everything that made it such a success last season. No sophomore slump here! Room For Improvement...right now, all cylinders are running smoothly, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Status: Full season order. GRADE: A
The Amazing Race - (CBS) I realize that the family edition is not very popular, but all the things that make this show the best reality program on television are still in place. I do enjoy the regular editions better, but the family style is a nice change of pace every once and a while. Room For Improvement... more challenges and greater distances (although, this is expected to return when the next edition starts later this season). Status: Full season order. GRADE: B+
Law & Order: SVU - (NBC) The best of the Law & Order franchise is back and just as strong as ever. This show is so successful because it mixes amazing writing, an extremely talented cast led by 2-time Emmy nominee Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni, and emotional crimes into a winning formula. Room For Improvement... fewer "divided" episodes where either Benson or Stabler is MIA (I know this is done so they can film two episodes at the same time, but it drives me crazy!). Status: Full season order. GRADE: A-
Lost- (ABC) This year's Emmy winner for best drama is living up to its name this season. The writers are giving us plenty of answers while also posing enough questions to keep us coming back. The hatch storyline is very creative and intriguing. Room For Improvement... less slow moving episodes like last week's journey through the jungle and more focus on the characters and how they interact on the island. Status: Full season order. GRADE: A
Veronica Mars - (UPN) I haven't been able to watch the second season yet, but it just got a Cheers in the TV Guide for its amazing second season. So, it sounds like all is well in Neptune. Status: Full season order.
Alias - (ABC) Yes, Vaughn is "dead," but that doesn't mean that the action spy thriller is as well. Syd and co are still in business, except this season they're training two new recruits and tracking down the man responsible for Vaughn's "death." Room For Improvement... more Syd-in-action scenes once she and star Jennifer Garner are no longer pregnant and more classic Marshall scenes. Status: Full season order. GRADE: B
Everwood - (WB) One of the best shows on television continues to live up to the moniker. This show has been even more character heavy this season than in the past, and it's allowing the viewers to see deeper into the characters that we already love. Bright and Hannah, Amy and Ephram, Harold and Rose, and Andy and Nina all show how complicated human relationships can be and in all different ways. Room For Improvement... I think I'm going to file this one under if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Status: Full season order. GRADE: A
CSI - (CBS) America's most watched television show is back, and this time, the teams are back together, Nick is still dealing with the after effects of his frightening experience during last season's finale (take notes Cold Case) and Warrick is married. The show just aired one of the strongest and most emotional episodes in the series' history last Thursday night with the triple murder of a family and the search for possibly still alive daughter. Room For Improvement... more emotional cases like last week's to balance out the usual campy fare. Status: Full season order. GRADE: B
Without A Trace - (CBS) The soapy-est of all the procedurals has been laying low so far this season. We've had more case-based episodes and less relationship drama, which is a very good thing for this show. The more it steers clear of love triangles and divorce episodes the better. I hope it keeps up its current pace. The show is still lacking the same emotional punch that it used to deliver, and the new girl (Roselyn Sanchez) seemed unnecessary last week. Room For Improvement... make more use of Sanchez's character (she seems like a firecracker and an asset to the show) and give us more deeply engaging cases. Stay clear of office romances and the so tempting Jack/Sam/Martin storyline. GRADE: B
Cold Case - (CBS) Easily the best of the procedurals, but this show has struggled a little so far this season. The addition of another character has thrown it completely out of whack, the characters are lacking their usual emotional edge, there's no follow up to Lilly's traumatic shooting last season and the cases, with a few exceptions, have not resonated emotionally like in previous seasons. I think (hope) this will all be fixed now that Josie Sutton is gone. Room For Improvement... more Lilly, more Lilly, more Lilly. I really can't say it enough. She's the heart and soul of this show and it's a big mistake to diminish her role or underestimate her importance. We need to see the after effects of her encounter with George before we grow more impatient, and more psychological cases where we explore why someone would kill and less cases with the least obvious suspect as the "doer." Status: Full season order. GRADE: B+
Desperate Housewives - (ABC) After a top notch first season and premiere this season, I have been the most disappointed in this show. I know creator Marc Cherry has said that he and his writers are going out on some limbs right now, but it's just not working. I'm losing interest fast in this show, and that's something that I didn't think would ever happen. Gabby and Carlos are the only bright spot this season. Room For Improvement... where to begin? We need to see the ladies of Wisteria working together instead of running their own separate storylines. Less George (like no more scenes with him) and Bree, more Gabby and Carlos and please give Lynette something to do other than feel guilty! Bring back the satiric element that's so sorely missing this season. Status: Full season order. GRADE: C
So, there are my thoughts and grades on the shows so far this season. What do you think? Are you loving new shows, hating old ones, or a combination of both? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
About Last Night... CBS started off the night on top with its comedy block of The King of Queens and How I Met Your Mother, followed by Wife Swap (football on the West Coast) on ABC and Surface on NBC. At 9, CBS stayed on top with comedies Two and a Half Men and Out of Practice, followed by Monday Night Football on ABC and NBC's Las Vegas. The final hour of the night went to CBS's CSI: Miami, followed by NBC's Medium and football on ABC. For more information on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.
@8 p.m. - The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween by looking for the Great Pumpkin on ABC's classic Halloween special It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Rory celebrates her 21st birthday and receives a visit from guest star Madeleine Albright (as herself) on WB's Gilmore Girls.
@9 p.m. - The teams finally get the clue that takes them out of the USA on CBS's The Amazing Race. Mac decides to do things her way when a terrorist enters the country on Commander In Chief on ABC.
@10 p.m. - Denny Crane gets a sexual harassment complaint filed against him on ABC's Boston Legal. Annabeth prosecutes a case involving a woman who claims that God told her to murder her husband on CBS's Close to Home.
*NBC was just punking us when it said that E-Ring and Three Wishes would swap timeslots for one week. Turns out, the network thought better of the decision after both shows had their best showings yet this season. This means that E-Ring will air during its regular Wednesday slot this week and subsequent weeks and Three Wishes will do the same in its Friday slot. No word on why NBC orchestrated the switch to begin with, or why they decided to switch it back.
*The casts and crew members of several ABC and Disney series are auctioning off works of art to benefit children with special needs. Shows include: Alias, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and That's So Raven. Each show's cast and crew created wooden hearts that are be auctioned off through Disney Auctions, with proceeds benefiting The Help Group. The online auctions started yesterday and run through November 3rd. For more information and a description of the art, visit The Futon Critic.
*And finally, CBS's CSI crossover will feature the network television debut of Madonna's latest single off of her upcoming album. The CSI: Miami/CSI: NY crossover will feature the new single "Hung Up" in the beginning of both shows. Look for the single and the crossover to air November 7th and 9th on CBS.
That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for thoughts on The Amazing Race and all the latest television news!