The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For the past couple of years, I have devoted a series of posts to the upcoming television season in America. As a huge geek about television, it’s one of my favourite times of the year, and I get super excited about all the new shows that are starting, and all my old favourites that are returning.

This year, I haven’t dedicated the same amount of time or posts to the new television season, mainly because I didn’t really have the time. But also because I have toyed with the idea of starting a new television blog, where I will share my thoughts on all manner of television things. I haven’t finalised all of that yet, but when I do, I’ll share it with anyone who is interested!

But I don’t like to let this wonderful time pass without commenting on it, and as the new television season is off and running, I thought I’d tell you about some of the shows that I am excited about.

One of the reasons that I love the new season is that it often means that there are familiar faces returning to the small screen. This year, amongst others, we have some The West Wing alumna returning. Bradley Whitford stars in Trophy Wife with Malin Akerman and Marcia Gay Harden, while Allison Janney stars in Mom with Anna Faris. Both are comedies, and neither look exactly stellar, although I think I am much more likely to give Trophy Wife a go. It’s a shame Mom doesn’t look better, because I adore Allison Janney.

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Another comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, looks as though it probably has some staying power; I was quite impressed by the trailer. It stars Andre Braugher and Andy Samberg and has been getting some good reviews.

There are a lot of comedies starting in the US right now, and although I have learnt to be very wary of them, I have a couple on my list to check out. Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are starring as father and daughter in The Crazy Ones, but the trailer didn’t promise too many laughs for me. Rebel Wilson is headlining Super Fun Night, and although I haven’t seen Bridesmaids or Pitch Perfect, I’m a bit of a fan.

There are some dramas heading in as well, though it seems like the schedules are rather comedy-heavy. (There are a lot more dramas debuting at midseason.) Almost Human looks very good from the trailer; starring Karl Urban it tells the story of the NYPD 35 years in the future, where police officers are paired up with life-like androids. I’m very excited about this one.

But the two shows that I have been actively counting down to are Hostages and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hostages stars Dylan McDermott, Toni Collette and Tate Donovan (pretty great cast). Dylan McDermott plays a hostage negotiator turned supposed terrorist, when he takes a family hostage. The mother of the family, played by Collette, is a surgeon planning to operate on the president, and McDermott doesn’t want him to survive the surgery. It all looks terribly exciting, and though I don’t see how it lasts more than one season, I am looking forward to it.

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The big, big, big one, as far as I (and millions of others) are concerned, is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It follows Agent Coulson from The Avengers (he lives!) and his team as they try to find superhuman individuals. It debuts in the US next Tuesday, and luckily, Channel 4 have decided to air it in the same week, so UK viewers get to see the first episode next Friday! If that is not a good enough reason to stay in on a Friday night, I don’t know what is.

Getting Lost in The West Wing

I love television. I used to be embarrassed about how much I enjoy watching television, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that I don’t care what other people think of me quite so much (I still do care a lot in some respects, but that’s another post for another day). If people think it’s sad that I enjoy sitting at home, more often than not on my own, watching an episode of my favourite television show, then so be it. I’m happy!

If you are a relatively new reader of Is That You Darling, you’ll realise, in the next couple of months, how excited I get about new television. The autumn, in the US especially, and here to  lesser extent, is the time for a television nerd like me. Not only do all my old favourites return with new episodes, there’s a slew of new shows to wonder about. New television is terribly exciting.

But as much as I long for new episodes of The Mindy Project and NCIS, I am a massive re-watcher too. I honestly believe that a lot of the time, I enjoy something more if I am watching it for a second time, rather than the first. And it turns out that I am not actually alone in this; there is research that suggests that watching repeats of our favourite television shows can actually boost happiness and make us feel more in control.

Now I’m not saying that watching something for the first time isn’t exhilarating; anyone who watched that episode of Game of Thrones a few weeks back will attest to that. But I know that at some point in the future, I will watch that episode again, and I know too that I will enjoy it even more the second time, knowing what’s coming (I mean, technically I knew what was coming the first time, as I’ve read the books, but you know what I mean).

My favourite television show of all time is The West Wing, a fact that should be clear to anyone who has spoken to me for more than about half an hour. At the moment, I’m in the middle of one of my big rewatches. I am watching at least one episode an evening, before I go to sleep, and without sounding like a total loser, it’s a bit like spending 45 minutes with a group of people I know very, very well, each day. When I don’t get the chance to see the real life people I know very often, I honestly believe it’s a good thing. And if you don’t believe me, ask yourself how often you find yourself watching Friends on Comedy Central, even though you’ve seen each and every episode at least ten times! It’s like pulling on the oldest, comfiest jumper you own.

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I’m also currently watching Lost. I finished watching it for the first time last month, and I went right back to the beginning and started again. Again, I am sure that people will honestly think that I am the world’s biggest loser, but I’m happy. I am now watching it with the eye of someone who knows how it all turns out, and I am also reading along with some of the analysis as I watch each episode. And I’m enjoying seeing all of my favourite Lost men in action.

For all this love of a re-watch, I have to say that it can be disappointing to find that the television schedules are full of repeats. I use box sets and the internet to watch my favourite shows for the second, third and fourth (and beyond) time, but when I settle down with my Christmas Radio Times, I want to see new episodes of my favourite shows, not the Christmas special from three years ago. Except for the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special. I’ll be writing a stern letter if the BBC stop repeating that one; it’s become as much a part of my Christmas routine as carols on Christmas Eve and Quality Street on Boxing Day.

What is your favourite series to re-watch?

US Television Week ~ Returning Shows Part II

Following on from yesterday, in which I previewed the new seasons of NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and Criminal Minds, I’m back today with a preview of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Happy Endings.

Again, you should note that there are spoilers here, so if you are not up to date with any of the shows that I am discussing, you should look away. I don’t want to be responsible for ruining a major plot point for you!

Grey’s Anatomy

This is your last warning re spoilers. I will be discussing deaths and departures imminently.

Grey's Anatomy Season 9

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When we last saw most of the Seattle Grace doctors, they were stranded following a plane crash that had killed Lexie and seriously injured Mark, Arizona and Derek. Over the summer we’ve learnt that Eric Dane is leaving the show, though we don’t know if Mark will die from his injuries or not (my guess is yes). Meanwhile, Jessica Capshaw and Shonda Rhimes both refuse to be drawn on whether or not Arizona survives the crash (my guess is yes here too).

We’ve had lots of details about forthcoming Grey’s action over the summer. We know that there is going to be a wedding, widely predicted to be Ben and Bailey after he proposed at the end of last season. There is to be a two-hander episode, done so rarely in American drama, between Meredith and Cristina. Derek and Callie are going to bond over losing their best friend, Mark. We are going to find out which doctors are staying at Seattle Grace Mercy West, and who will actually take jobs across the country. I think we’ll probably see April take the place on the team that Lexie dying has freed up; Sarah Drew isn’t leaving as far as I know, so she’ll need a spot on the team. Elsewhere, Shonda Rhimes has dubbed Season 9 the year of romance, so hopefully we’ll see some happier stories. There are lot of new faces coming too.

Grey’s Anatomy returns to ABC on Thursday 27th September at 9PM. It will air on Sky Living in the UK at a later date.

Scandal

Scandal Season 2

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Scandal is the best show you’re not watching. I think so, anyway. And the reason you’re probably not watching it is that it hasn’t aired in the UK. I hope that this will change, because it’s great, but if it doesn’t, you can buy the Region 1 DVD if you fancy it and can watch it.

Because it hasn’t aired in the UK, I’m not going to give any spoilers about it. The first season is only seven episodes long, and the plot centres around Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, a DC lawyer whose firm deals with problems. They make scandals disappear for the rich and powerful. All of this is interesting enough, but the best thing about this show is the story arc throughout the season involving Olivia, the US president, and a girl who claims to be having his baby. Add into this the newest member of Olivia’s team, a young lady called Quinn Perkins, who has a major secret herself, and you’ve got yourself quite the show.

Going into the second season, there have been some cast changes. Henry Ian Cusick has been dropped and will make no further appearances (I say boo to that), and Joshua Malina, guest star last year, has been promoted to series regular alongside Bellamy Young.

I’m super excited for the return of Scandal, because I hear the first episode back answers a lot of questions and sets up the season really well.

Scandal returns to ABC on Thursday 27th September at 10PM.

Happy Endings

Happy Endings

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You know, you’re probably not watching Happy Endings either. But you have no excuse for this one, because it’s on e4. And it’s hilarious. Seriously. It may not get the press that Community or Modern Family gets, but it’s really very good, and you’d probably like it if you liked Friends.

Season 2 ended with Alex and Dave reconciling. I’m not sure how I feel about this, because a) Dave’s my least favourite character, while Alex is in my top five characters, and b) I was sort of shipping Penny and Dave for a while there. Although just typing that seems wrong. I think I prefer perpetually single Penny, because she’s pretty hilarious that way.

In other news, Brad lost his job, which should lead to hilarity for him and Jane. Everything else does, so there’s no reason why this shouldn’t. And Penny falls down the stairs and ends up in a full body cast.

Happy Endings returns to ABC on Tuesday 23rd October at 9PM. It will air in the UK on e4, probably in the new year.

 

And that ends US Television Week 2012! I’ll be reviewing the best of the midseason debuts in January.

US Television Week ~ Returning Shows Part I

Earlier in the week I previewed some of the new shows that are debuting on American television in the next few weeks. As well as the new shows, there are a few old favourites that I like to watch, and I thought I’d round them up for you too. Please note that there may be spoilers if you aren’t up to date (on an American schedule) with any of these shows.

NCIS

NCIS Season 10

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Last time we saw our favourite Naval Criminal Investigative team, they were being blown up by none other than Toby Ziegler Harper Dearing (played by Richard Schiff), apart from Ducky, who was having a heart attack on a beach. Because of the way that American television news gets reported, fans who keep their finger on the NCIS pulse probably already know that all the main stars of the series have signed new deals, so it’s unlikely that any of them are going to be departing in the season premiere. If you’re interested in a few teasers, there are some here and here. It looks as though Harper Dearing isn’t done with blowing things up, although I can’t imagine he will elude capture past the end of the opening episode.

I’m not sure what this season will bring, aside from exploring Abby’s adoption again, after we found out last year that she has a brother she didn’t know about. I don’t know if Tiva fans will finally get what they are looking for, or what the overall theme of the season will be. But I do know that I continue to love the number one scripted show on American television, and I will be sad when it inevitably comes to an end. Ten seasons is a massive achievement, and I do wonder if the creators are beginning to see an end in sight. Maybe not this year, but certainly within the next couple.

NCIS returns to CBS on Tuesday 25th September at 9PM. FX shows it in the UK, and will probably air the new series in the new year.

NCIS: Los Angeles

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NCIS: Los Angeles had a bit of a sticky ending. Callen went rogue and killed the Chameleon, in front of people and television cameras, and ended the episode being bundled into a police car. Hetty resigned (again), following the deaths of a couple of agents. All I know is that there is no way in the world that Chris O’Donnell isn’t returning for another season, so we should probably expect all of that business to be cleared up within the first episode. My guess is that the murder was set up somehow, that it possibly wasn’t even a murder at all, but a faked death. I don’t know exactly, but I know that we aren’t going to be visiting Callen in prison for too long. As for Hetty, I don’t know. She has been seen in promo pics on a yacht, so she’s definitely back. I wouldn’t be overly sad if she wasn’t back, but I think she probably is. I would just hope that we don’t yet another season with her resigning, because it’s getting a bit old!

As you can see from the photo above, we are also going to find out what the team have been up to over the summer. Deeks has been on a camel, obviously. Apparently episode two is a good one, great for Kensi and Deeks fans, and really funny. Also, later in the series, we have some mums on the show! LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah, Chris O’Donnell and Eric Christian Olsen have their mums in an episode!

NCIS: Los Angeles returns to CBS on Tuesday 25th September at 10PM. It will be aired on Sky 1 in the UK at a later date.

Criminal Minds

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No cliffhanger at the end of the last season of Criminal Minds; instead we had a wedding and a departure. Prentiss leaving has left a gap on the team, and it’s filled by Jeanne Tripplehorn, playing Alex Blake. I think I’m going to be happy with this, I loved Prentiss and I hated to see her go, but I am hopeful that Alex (Blake? What will we call her) will be great. She’s a linguistics expert who has a past (not a romantic one) with Reid, so I think she’ll fit in well.

Talking of Reid and romance, apparently he is set to have a love story this year. Morgan fans will be moaning, because yet again Reid seems to have a storyline where their favourite action man doesn’t, but as I don’t really like Morgan, I don’t mind. Bellamy Young, who played Hotch’s lady friend Beth, has been promoted to series regular on Scandal (more on that tomorrow), so she is making a couple more appearances to leave the show, though I hear that Beth will still be considered Hotch’s girlfriend for a while, she just won’t be around for it.

In other news, it seems as though we have another scary unsub this year, who is going to be hunting our beloved BAU team. As I mentioned to my friend Katy, Morgan and Rossi are expendable, nobody else is!

Criminal Minds returns to CBS on Wednesday 26th September at 9PM. Sky Living will air the new series in the UK at a later date.

I’ll be back tomorrow to look at Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Happy Endings.

US Television Week ~ US Preview Part III

 

Continuing with US Television Week 2012, here are the final three shows that I am going to be trying out this year.

Arrow

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Premiering: Wednesday 10th October at 8PM on The CW

Main Players: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Willa Holland, Colin Salmon, John Barrowman.

Premise: Based on Green Arrow, a DC Comics superhero, Arrow tells the story of Oliver Queen, the son of a very rich family, who is missing and presumed dead when he is shipwrecked with his father. Five years later, he is rescued, and returns to the family, who don’t know that he has spent the years training in combat. He takes on the alter-ego of Arrow, a vigilante who uses his new skills to exact revenge on those he believes deserve it.

I had never heard of Green Arrow. I am not a massive comic book fan, and I never watched Smallville, where it seems as though this particular superhero made an appearance. But I am a fan of films (and series, I expect) based on comic books, and this one looks good. The action sequences look brilliant, and it’s good to see The CW taking a bit of a change of pace and delivering something other than teen drama (not that I have any problem with teen drama).

The cast is largely unknown to me (Colin Salmon and John Barrowman aside, and they are listed as recurring characters rather than stars), so it will be interesting to go in knowing very little about the story or the actors.

Sky 1 will have this in the UK, though at this stage there is no confirmation as to when it will air.

Chicago Fire

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Premiering: Wednesday 10th October at 10PM on NBC

Main Players: Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, Monica Raymund, David Eigenberg, Eammon Walker

Premise: Chicago Fire is set inside a firehouse in the Chicago Fire Department and follows the lives of the firefighters and paramedics working there. The series opens weeks after the death of one of the firefighters, and see Spencer and Kinney’s characters at odds over who was to blame.

In a television schedule that has been dominated by hospital dramas and crime procedures (again, not knocking them, I am a big fan), it’s nice to see a different type of drama coming along. Instead of hospitals and police stations, Chicago Fire is set in a firehouse (obviously). It’s not one that I am desperate to see, but in a less than stellar season for premieres, I thought it looked OK.

Jesse Spencer is American this time round, instead of retaining his native Australian accent as he did in House. I suppose it makes much more sense to have an Australian doctor than an Australian firefighter in America. Both he and Taylor Kinney are providing some serious eye-candy in Chicago Fire, if you like that kind of thing. Also making an appearance, as you can see from the trailer, is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (he’s my kind of eye candy). He agreed to appear on one condition; that the show made a donation to the a Firefighters charity. They did, so he appears, lending the show an air of authenticity and contemporaneity.

No news on a UK channel for this yet. I should imagine it’s very much wait and see as far as they are concerned, to see if how well it gets out of the gates.

Nashville

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Premiering: Wednesday 10th October at 10PM on ABC

Main Players: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Eric Close, Sam Palladio, Powers Boothe, Charles Esten.

Premise: Britton stars as Rayna James, a huge country music star whose peak years are behind her. Her managers offer her the chance to tour with the newest starlet on the block, Juliette, played by Panettiere. Sparks fly as Rayna looks to prove that she still has what it takes, as Juliette tries her hardest to prove that she is the future, and present, of country music. Eric Close stars as Rayna’s husband, and Charles Esten as a former boyfriend.

This is the one that I am most looking forward to. I was never a fan of country music, particularly, until I met my friend Hannah, and she has converted me (although I much prefer men singing country than women). So when I saw the trailer for Nashville, I was all over it. I love Connie Britton anyway (West Wing alum, but more importantly, hugely respected for her role in Friday Night Lights), and it’s good to see Hayden Panettiere back on television, and being a complete bitch, by the looks of the trailer.

From what I’ve read, the music from the series really works, both as set pieces for some scenes, and as incidental music for other. I expect, if the series takes off, there will be an accompanying album. I am so excited for this to start, and I really want it to do well!

No British channel has bought the rights to Nashville yet.