Coffee and TV :: On-Screen Sundays

September is both back to school and back to broadcast television, both signifying my favorite season of the year, Autumn. I am a fan of television and have always enjoyed the excitement and anticipation of new and returning television series, always have been. This past week I have been watching and mini-reviewing pilots of new shows, and reading up on my favorite shows that are coming back soon, or in some cases, have already started to air. The industry I work in provides sneak peeks to new shows in order for us to be able to advise clients on where they should be attaching their messaging to, which I do, but on a personal side, I enjoy watching and weighing in on which ones I like, which ones I will tune in to (or add to my overcrowded DVR), and which ones I think will not make it past this season (or in some cases a few episodes). As a feature here I am going to post some mini-reviews of new and returning shows, and share which ones I am excited for. Because of the volume of shows I have been checking out and checking in on I will be posting these by days-of-the-week, inspired by fellow blogger, Don’t Cross The Streams style, and borrowing my favorite Blur song’s title for  these entries, Coffee and TV.

So, let’s start with Sunday, tuning in to the much anticipated return of Once Upon a Time, a favorite of mine, and one of the few shows that my entire family watches together. I have always been a fan of retold fairy tales, and enjoyed the evolved take on some of the well-known favorites such as Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Beauty and the Beast’s Belle and The Mad Hatter, among others. A more tame version of the comic book series Fables, this is a story about fairy tale characters who have been forced to live in the modern world, and out of fairyland, in this case due to an evil course from a revengeful, heartbroken and power-hungry evil queen. My favorite part of this show is the cast and the “can you guess who they are” game we play while watching. I also love that the princesses are portrayed as strong women, and that no one is all good, or all evil. My favorite characters by far are Red (Riding Hood) who is both girl and wolf, The Mad Hatter who has gone mad trying to get his daughter back, and Rumpelstiltkin who is brilliantly played by Robert Carlyle. As a Lost fan I love seeing Emilie de Ravin again, playing the institutionalized Belle, and look forward to Jorge Garcia joining the cast this upcoming season.

Once Upon a Time, ABC Sundays at 8pm (PST)

One of my favorite would-be guilty pleasures if I believed in feeling guilty about things I like television shows is Pretty Little Liars. Yes, it can be cheesy, yes, it is over-the-top drama with often very implausible plots, but yes, I love it. Revenge, intrigue, mystery and betrayal abound while a new in indie music plays and huge parties, sometimes for no real reason, happen and it is constantly a case of who is screwing who, and no, I do not mean in bed (at least not always). As I said, it is quite the candidate for guilty pleasure viewing. Revenge seems to have much of the Pretty Little Liars appeal, but I never caught up with it until very recently, and have still only seen the first two episodes from last season. I did enjoy it, thought it was a bit better written, with a bit better cinematography, and a bit better soundtrack. I am not sure it is any more plausible plot wise, though, and it does not have the same pop culture snark that I really enjoy in Pretty Little Liars. That said, I was pulled in and will most likely catch-up on last season and get sucked in, at least until Pretty Little Liars is back with its Halloween on a cruise ship episode, this October.

On a completely irrelevant note, I pause to wonder if there is a Hemsworth (as in Chris, Liam and Luke) kind of brother take-over going on in television land with Revenge‘s Gabriel Mann (character Nolan Ross), Glee‘s Chord Overstreet (character Sam “Trouty Mouth” Evans) and the planned for mid-season The Carrie DiariesAustin Butler (character Sebastian Kydd). I mean, maybe their parents just have not told them yet.

Revenge, ABC Sundays at 9pm (PST)

On the new show front we go from fairy tales to familial vengeance to New York’s version of Hotel California with 666 Park Avenue. The pilot went in too many directions for my taste, borrowing from far too many horror films all at once, and not allowing the build-up of a slower reveal. The lack of a slower reveal is my issue with a few of the pilots I viewed, a consequence of cancel happy networks and fragmented viewing. As a viewer, I am a fan of the slow reveal, but that may stem from being a voracious reader. Regardless of reason, I am willing to give a show the time to grow and peel off layers slowly, so much of my enjoyment found in the journey and the speculation, and of course, the suspense, but so many shows, I feel, give too much too soon. I think I would enjoy this show more if the new building manager couple acted as the eyes and ears of the show, introducing us in an anthology style to each of the tenants, and their stories. Lost‘s Terry O’Quinn and Ugly Betty‘s Vanessa Williams as the puppeteers, prison guards and potentially Mr. and Mrs. Satan (or is this purgatory? Hotel on top of the Hell Mouth? Lost and Buffy puns intended). But, I do not think it will go that way. I think, instead, this show will play out as part The Devil’s Advocate, part every possessed house/hotel story, and part Pacific Heights; all-in-all a 90’s horror movie turned to TV kind of show, which I am not sure I will regularly tune-in to, but maybe I am wrong.

666 Park Avenue, ABC Sundays at 10pm (PST) (New Show)

A screaming out loud “why am I not watching this” is Showtime’s Homeland, the psychologically and politically charged drama starring two actors I have deep love for, Claire Danes (character Carrie Mathison) and Mandy Patinkin (character Saul Berenson). I am determined to check out and catch up with this show sooner rather than later.

Homeland, Showtime Sundays at 10pm (PST)

Another in the vein of “why am I not watching this” comes The Good Wife. A show with strong women, well-written stories (or so I’ve heard) and Alan Cumming (long time love of mine), I honestly do not know why I have never watched this show. The entire cast is pretty impressive, actually, with Julianna Margulies, Archie Punjabi, Christine Baranski, Josh Charles (Sports Night‘s Dan Rydell), Chris Noth (Sex and the City‘s Mr. Big) and Matt Czuchry Gilmore Girls‘ Logan). Maybe this year…

The Good Wife, CBS Sundays at 9pm (PST)

Another show in the “why am I not watching this” is a show that many of my friends love, Showtime’s Dexter, starring the wonderfully talented Michael C. Hall. I do think I watched the pilot of this back when it first started, but somehow lost track of the show after that. I know I would like this show, but I also know there is a lot to catch-up on, so I think this may take some time to get to…someday, though, I promise.

Dexter, Showtime Sundays at 9pm (PST)

To a lessor degree, The Mentalist is a show that I would probably enjoy if I watched more often. My husband enjoys it, as he is a fan of procedural dramas with a twist, so I do catch it enough to know who Red John is, but not enough to really understand the complexities and stories of the characters. Something about the pacing of this show actually tends to put me to sleep, but this may be due to the late hour my husband usually watches it. This is another show that I may someday really catch-up on.

The Mentalist, CBS Sundays at 10pm (PST)

Tied with Once Upon a Time as my most anticipated Sunday returning show is The Walking Dead. The show that I actually am sore from watching, the tension coursing through my body while viewing exponential, I cannot wait to watch what happens next in this oh my stars fantastic zombie apocalypse show. There are characters I will miss, returning characters I miss, as well as a new character I am so curious to meet. Bring on season three and the zombies, please.

The Walking Dead, AMC Sundays at 9pm (PST)

Post-football season NBC will add in Do No Harm to the Sunday night schedule, a show that feels to me like an American take on the brilliant BBC One mini-series’ Jekyll, which I honestly do not have high hopes for, but at this time I have not watched anything but a short trailer of the show (no trailer available for review, yet).

Do No Harm, NBC Sundays at 10pm (PST)

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