I haven’t seen all the new shows by any means, but I have watched a few. So, here’s my review so far:
Best Show About a Quirky Girl Out of Her Element (Over 25 Division):
New Girl — Zooey Deschanel isn’t the only reason to watch this show. (I like the roommate guys as well.) But she’s certainly the best thing about it. I like the style of humor. My biggest complaint is how every episode seems to end with the same kind of “Let’s all make ourselves look like idiots for Jess” formula. But even so, it’s not much of a complaint.
Best Show About a Quirky Girl Out of Her Element (Under 25 Division):
Suburgatory — What’s remarkable about this show is that even though Tessa (Jane Levy) is clearly the central character (she gets all the Scrubs-style voiceovers), her father George (Jeremy Sisto) isn’t just window dressing. He’s as much of a fish out of water as his daughter in this hilariously weird, almost Green Acres-esque comedy.
Best Show Reimagining Fairy Tales (Police Procedural Division):
Grimm — I don’t love the show yet, but they are having some fun building up the mythology of strange races (wolf men, rat men, pig men, even bee men!) and the “Grimms” who sort of police that world. I do enjoy the subtext of racial violence that percolates underneath some of the episodes. And it’s great to see Silas Weir Mitchell on series television again. (Haywire!)
Best Show Reimagining Fairy Tales (Family Drama Division):
Once Upon a Time — This show has so many threads, it’s hard to pick just one to comment on, but I think I am enjoying the “reality” sequences more than the fantasy flashbacks. The idea of an adoptive mother who is obviously worse for her son than the woman who gave her up is kind of a fun dynamic. Also, the fact that this kid is focused on the “delusion” that the town is peopled with fairy tale characters gives the viewer a strange case of cognitive dissonance. You want the kid to be normal, but you really want him to convince everyone that their lives are a sham.
Best Show About Women Making Their Way in the World (Nostalgia Division):
Pan Am — It’s not a slam dunk hit or anything, but I like the nods to history and the relatively subtle way they’ve been handling the “stewardess as CIA agent” arc. The somewhat random romantic pairings are significantly less interesting, but any scene with Christina Ricci is a winner.
Best Show About Women Making Their Way in the World (Super Topical Division):
2 Broke Girls — References to the failing economy and a character who’s dad is a fictional Bernie Madoff make this show very of-the-moment. Also, every episode has at least one vagina joke. No, really. And they’re usually funny!
Best Show About a Man With a Checkered Past Making the World a Better Place (Spielberg Division):
Terra Nova — The show has some nicely subtle comedic moments, and some real danger (dinosaurs!) and a decent arcing storyline about a rogue group of colonists who seem to want to strip mine the past… though it’s not clear yet if that’s really their agenda. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not as good as I had hoped, but I’m still watching.
Best Show About a Man With a Checkered Past Making the World a Better Place (Abrams Division):
Person of Interest — The endangered person of the week structure makes it easy to walk into an episode and just watch. But the multi-episode story arcs involving the detective who’s onto Finch and Reese and a particularly vicious crime lord keep me returning for more.
Best Show That My Wife Hates But Keeps Watching:
Ringer — It’s like clockwork, every week. “I thought you were going to stop watching it.” “I will. This is my last episode.” Me, I just barely made it through the pilot. When Bridget didn’t empty her sister’s bank account a buy a ticket to Aruba in the pilot, there wasn’t much point in watching for me.
Best Show on MTV… Ever:
Death Valley — What could have been an excuse for crass Reno 911 style humor is, instead, a self-consciously cool show about LA’s Undead Task Force and how they handle werewolves, vampires and zombies. The style of acting is hyper-stylized, but it works. And I, for one, really want to know why vampires can control zombies with their minds. That’s just awesome!