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State of the Networks: Fall Report Card

As usual, shows are listed in descending order by grade, but alphabetical within those because I guess I am only capable of being ruthlessly decisive once a year.

Also, apparently television is having its best season ever? I don't know, but basically only a couple of my shows are seriously letting me down right now. Even the ones who are behaving badly, from an objective perspective, are ones I still really look forward to. Glee is one of the lowest grades on this list, for example, and guess what show I am most excited to have a new episode from?

Grade: A
In case you haven't heard me by now, I demoted its Season 2 spring semester grade to an A- so that I could better clarify why it's worthy of an A this time around. But even if I hadn't, Community seems to be that rare sort of show that cannot fail. It is constantly going out of its way to try new things, and yet it succeeds at nearly everything it tries. I stand by my "all brain, no heart" assessment of its humor last summer, but it doesn't seem to affect the quality of the humor, so...yeah, it's still about as close to perfect as a comedy can be.

OK, the season has been over for a while, but it aired over the summer. And I wanted to add more awesome shows to this top-heavier-than-ever list. This is by far the best team they've ever had.

Raising Hope
It may not get a lot of talk, but it delivers irrepressibly perfect comedy -- simultaneously funny and heartfelt.

Sarah Jane Adventures
Pulled off "heartwarming perfection" not seen in this concentration since season 1. Sky turned out to be a brilliant addition.

Perhaps a bit high, but on the other hand, you let me have Coach & Ozzy & Sophie all the way to the final week. It's hard to hate on a season with that level of catering, especially when at the same time, all the most hateful people were cleared out relatively early. Brandon was the worst holdout, and even he turned my perceptions around at the reunion show.

Terra Nova
It had like two missteps and the rest was gold. I'm going to parrot the same thing I've been saying all season: dinosaurs, a doctor/cop-turned-army-adviser pairing (both of which get used in all the ways you might expect a drama to utilize), and most of all: an incredible family dynamic with multiple children at the center, because it is basically Primeval crossbred with Medium for domesticity genes. I genuinely do not understand the internet's collective hatred/dismissal. I'm pretty sure that underneath "A new beginning," Terra Nova's motto is "Love is all you need."

Grade: A-
Despite my incessant badmouthing of Ted Danson's "I'm a quirky weirdo!" character, to whom I have not exactly warmed yet, it is still the best returning crime drama on my lineup. And it's not just that it looks really good against its little siblings, either. Well, maybe. But the case files and strong character interaction between everyone else make up for the trying parts.

I have to penalize it for the lack of Cuddy and the existence of Park, but honestly, it just keeps right on hitting quality stories out of the park and capitalizing on House/Wilson as well as it ever did. Dean!Foreman is also a great improvement for his character.

The Office
I feel like there should be a way to reflect that it's better without Michael around, but it was already at an A- last spring, and Robert California hamstrings it enough to prevent it from returning to perfection. It's doing well, though.

Grade: B+
2 Broke Girls

Many of the characters are irrepressibly awful (like, even I find them offensive), and oh my GOD it relies so hard on sex jokes that I want to get violent on whoever's responsible. It's cuter than Two and a Half Men, but under the surface it's about the same level of classy, which is to say not. Not classy at all. AND YET, I put on these screening glasses that allow me to zip right over the bad stuff and just focus on how much I love the title characters and their friendship. And the horse. One must never forget the horse.

Oh, hello there, roaring improvement. Here is a Most Improved Series certificate for you to take home. And that is because season 9 has decided to heavily, heavily embrace the theme of family, unable to go an episode without either delving into significant personal backstory, making overt reference to the team's family status, or bringing in an actual family member. Sometimes all three at once. It's the best collective work I've seen from this crew in years.

Grade: B
Law & Order: SVU
As often happens, it started off lightning hot and then faded away as winter set in. But it's not bad. Detective Amaro continues to be a shining star -- Most Welcome New Character On An Established Show award? -- and thoroughly trumps Stabler in every department, including fatherhood. (though possibly not in marriage; we're waiting for more information on that thread)

Borderline B/B-
It keeps trying to trick me into thinking it's an improvement on season 2, but I know for a fact that I have not been impressed with at least 75% of what I've seen so far. There is yet great potential in you, season three. Live up and I'll raise your grade. And no, introducing awesome music to my library for extra credit does not count. I think. Stop it, you're confusing me again as we speak!

Grade: B-
How I Met Your Mother
I can't even remember any feelings I have about it one way or another, so it can't be that good right now. A flip through my reviews reveals about 25% quality and 75% dullsville. Which, honestly, is more quality than initially sprang to mind.

Private Practice
It's on a decline again due to the steady marriage implosion, but overall I'm enjoying it more than last year? Jake is a great addition, and Amelia's drug spiral downward has given the show an even better central focus. I haven't even been hating the random kid that popped out of the woodwork, since it almost gives Charlotte an opportunity to seem like a normal human being. I just wish they would stop shoving Sam and Addison down our throats long past its expiration date. I might rank it higher, but I just couldn't stomach the thought of calling it better than Glee.

Grade: D+
I am only letting it keep the edge on Miami as long as Mac is still there being his wonderful self. I've even gotten bored with Flack at this point. Its premiere was spectacular, but I have been agonizing my way through extreme boredom and/or annoyance ever since.

Pretty Little Liars
I've improved to watching, gosh, sometimes as much as 40% of an episode. Once or twice, almost entire episodes! Both Aria/Ezra and Spencer/Toby are waves of shipperiffic joy whose crests I will ride until they break. That said, my inability to stand things that are not these relationships remains mostly intact. It is not and will never be anything resembling a quality series overall.

Grade: D
CSI: Miami
*dusts off hands* It is continually amazing to me just how long it can survive despite having almost no character credibility whatsoever.

The Amazing Race: Fail. I saw a grand total of three episodes this season, having drifted off even before Ethan got drop-kicked out of it; the faint allure is gone.

Castle: Pass. Next semester it gets an official grade, and I'm leaning toward a borderline A or A-, but I've only seen 4 episodes of this season, so I can't really give it a proper evaluation yet.

Chuck: Pass. (I guess. I don't know. It's more like an athlete's pass/fail, where you need them to pass because of the talent they offer elsewhere, regardless of the actual quality of work they turn in. Which, get ready for a shock, is poor. But I felt like my bias made giving it a C unfair, even if I am watching full episodes and otherwise treating it like a regular lineup show)

Grey's Anatomy: Fail. Only on here because I wanted to see if I could come up with another metaphor to describe its failure. How does "I excommunicated it from Network RS" sound?

Realization: I need more Glee friends. This fandom is huge! How have I managed to maintain a flist in which not one person loves it? Self, that is your assignment for New Year's. Stalk review journals on LJ until you find someone who will talk back at you about it and isn't too heavily invested in Puck.
Watching HIMYM last night: Stella just mentioned how it had been 5 years since she's slept with anybody. I keep hearing Elliot's voice in my head, going "I can totally go that long without sex! I am a sex camel." How has Tumblr not beaten me to this observation?


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 30th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
A D for CSI: Miami? That show is in better shape than I thought it was then. Remember season 3 when it was legitimately a good show?
Dec. 30th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, don't remind me. I'll die of a broken heart wrapped around the old DVD sets.

Don't worry, the grade was 100% earned by the guest stars, and no one on the actual show (except maybe during those five minutes where Eric interacted with a little stray dog). You haven't missed any kind of improvement.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 30th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
I'm the same way. I'll have it on for the music, but do something else at the same time.
Dec. 30th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
I have got to find a way to bottle, market and distribute my ability to compartmentalize this show in such a way as to strain out all the bad parts from one's perception. It would make so many people so much happier.

That said, siphoning off the musical numbers is a perfectly legitimate viewing choice; I respect it.
Dec. 30th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
Someone's complaining because it has only been five years since she has slept with someone?
Dec. 30th, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
More like just stated a fact...after Ted complained that it had been five months for him. Redirect your disbelief as needed.

Dec. 31st, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
Five years is nothing.
Dec. 31st, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
Community: Y. E. S. Love that show.

Castle is worth it, I can vouch! I watched every episode released in a week and a half (which is honestly too much at a time, but it held up).
Dec. 31st, 2011 03:10 am (UTC)
(imagine a GIF of my eyes bulging out of my head) Are there even that many hours in a week and a half?? Did you sleep? When did this epic feat of watching take place?

I've taken an extremely relaxed approach to chronology for this show, which is to say I pay no attention to it at all and just watch whatever comes my way, having already excavated Youtube for various clips. It's like a treasure hunt. Without a map.
Dec. 31st, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
Well, it was 66 hours of television at the time, and really each hour was 40 minutes. I remember I didn't have too much homework so it was more a matter of spacing out when I downloaded episodes so I didn't go over the limit I have at school. But yeah, it was freaking intense. It was before Thanksgiving, for sure.

Haha, yeah, just enjoying it is best.
Jan. 1st, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
Interesting read even though I don't watch most of these shows. I think I'd give CSI:NY a C+ or even a B- simply on the fact that this season seems to be a great improvement on the last couple of seasons.

Grey's Anatomy would probably be a B++ (the show has been great this season .... apart from, you know, killing Henry but even that I can begrudgingly admit will probably create some good drama/storylines).

Castle would probably get a B- as I've been enjoying it a lot more this season too but yet can't quite care about it as much as other people.

Chuck is a hard one because my love for the whole show is like A+ but based on this season it's a C+ which makes me sad .... but I still have baby episode to watch!
Jan. 2nd, 2012 04:53 am (UTC)
Thanks - and thanks for adding your thoughts. The rational part of my brain especially wants to agree with you on Grey's Anatomy. And Chuck, Chuck, Chuck...why you gotta be such a conundrum? (have you seen the new episode yet?? *pesters obnoxiously*)
Jan. 2nd, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
I have seen it - thoughts will be posted later! I'm going back so can muster thoughts about Shaw episode too.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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