The Good Wife: I came for the ripped-from-the-headlines infidelity scandal, I stayed for the razor-sharp characters, intricate plotting, and stellar performances. The show is a meditation on power, closely examining the intrigue and shifting alliances of the power plays within Lockhart Gardner. Diane Lockhart is my favorite power player; she’s confident, mature, and sexy (who knew Christine Baranski and Gary Cole would make such a hot couple?), and I love it when she smacks down her bickering, insecure colleagues – Eli and David, David and Julius, David and Will.
Fringe: I always feel like I’m less excited about Fringe than I should be, and I can’t quite figure out why. I mean, it’s Pacey! And the brilliant John Noble! But there’s also the bland Anna Torv, who make up for the lack of interest by unnecessarily flapping her hands about while delivering lines. And now this season we have another bland blond playing Pacey and Olivia’s daughter. The show has some audacious ideas, but there’s something about the execution that keeps me at an emotional distance. I’m sticking around for the final season because of its set-up episode – last season’s “Letters of Transit.” Anything that pays homage to both Casablanca and Star Wars is kinda brilliant.
New Girl: I think Jess getting fired from her job as a teacher is a good set-up for a season’s worth of wackiness – already it’s given us Urkel and the Cass Shant! I adored Max Greenfield on Veronica Mars, and his work on this show reminds me of Rob Lowe’s on Park & Rec: a fully-realized, totally committed performance that makes a character who is almost too bizarre to be relatable feel like someone you might actually know.
Modern Family: I’m kind of allergic to the idea of adding a baby to a show; it seems like a lazy way to find something new to say. But generally this show isn’t lazy, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. This season’s second episode displays the show’s trademark combination of broad comedy, sly wit, and unexpected heart, all topped with a delightful Philism: “Success is 1% inspiration, 98% perspiration, and 2% attention to detail.”
Nashville: It’s Tami Taylor, y’all! My favorite moments of Friday Night Lights are when Tami walks into a hostile meeting, all sweetness and smiles, and walks out with what she wants, without appearing to play hardball at all. There’s a similar scene in this show’s premiere, and although it doesn’t end with Rayna getting exactly what she wants, she does score a killer line: “You can kiss my decision as it’s walking out the door.” Britton has such a mobile, expressive face; nobody does the quivering-chin, talking through the almost-tears better than she does. I do wish they’d cast someone with more range than Hayden Save the Cheerleader as the ingénue antagonist, and I’m bailing if the show gets too soapy. For now, though, I’m sticking around for Tami and the lovely tunes. Clear voices, full songs!
Revolution: I’m on the fence about this one. Intriguing premise, but the episodes lack urgency. I don’t really care about the bland blond lead and her bland blond brother (I don’t understand this casting trend), so the storyline about her searching for him bores me. Billy Burke is much more interesting as the former militia officer/current Han Solo-ish loner, and the show would be stronger if it focused on him and the excellent Giancarlo Esposito. Also, how busy is Tim Guinee right now? He was great on The Good Wife, just popped up on Homeland, and I wish he hadn’t been killed off so soon on this show.
Arrow: I was afraid this would be like NBC’s The Cape, what with the hood and all (speaking of which, David Lyons is now General Monroe on Revolution). But the pilot was actually pretty thrilling, nicely setting up the back-and-forth between the current life of Oliver Queen and his island-based origin story as the Arrow (or is it just Arrow?). It’s sort of Revenge meets Batman; the Arrow is interested in cleaning up his city and crossing names off a list of his dad’s enemies. I don’t know the first thing about the DC Comics character, so if you do, tell me what you think of the show in the comments section.