TV

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The good, the bad and the ugly

Free Press TV writer Brad Oswald delivers his report card for the fall TV season

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All right, eyes front. Pay attention. Before you all head off for your festive-season vacations, it's time to hand out the report cards. And quite frankly, freshman TV class of 2012, we are very disappointed in the way some of you have performed since you arrived in September.

Here's how we rank this fall's roster of U.S. prime-time newcomers:

HONOUR ROLL:

Revolution (NBC/Citytv) -- Solid ratings and, interestingly, a very high rate of added audience through post-airdate PVR viewing earned this futuristic yarn an early full-season pickup, which is very good news for Winnipeg-born co-star Tracy Spiridakos.

Nashville (ABC) -- Simply put, co-stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere are the best one-two punch in the rookie class. Great, soapy storylines, and the country-music tracks are doing big business on iTunes. Full-season pickup.

Arrow (CW/CTV) -- This dark but accessible comic-hero adaptation has been one of the new season's most pleasant surprises. Wise (though slightly overdue) north-of-the-border decision by CTV to promote it from obscure CTV Two to the main network. Full-season pickup.

The New Normal (NBC/CTV) -- Definitely a risky sitcom premise, but NBC's gamble has paid off and added a ratings-growth comedy to its solid The Voice-driven Tuesday lineup. Full-season pickup.

PASS:

Vegas (CBS/Global) -- A formidable cast, led by Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis, and an appealing retro-gangster atmosphere earned this newcomer a full-season order, despite ratings that have been a bit disappointing in comparison to the NCIS/NCIS: Los Angeles juggernaut that precedes it.

Elementary (CBS/Global) -- Jonny Lee Miller, as a modern-day Holmes, has emerged as the most fascinatingly watchable character in the freshman crime-solving class. Lucy Liu is definitely holding her own as Watson. Full-season pickup, plus CBS's coveted post-Super-Bowl slot.

Go On (NBC/Global) -- Just when it was beginning to look like it might never happen, former Friend Matthew Perry found another sitcom character that suits his style and sense of humour -- as in-therapy radio sports guy Ryan King, Perry is damaged and cranky but somehow still quite likable.

Ben and Kate (Fox/Citytv) -- A charming duo of lead actors (Dakota Johnson, Nat Faxon) and an appealing mismatched-siblings storyline have drawn critical praise but not the ratings to match the buzz. Hammocked between Raising Hope and New Girl, it should be doing much better.

Chicago Fire (NBC/Global) -- A late launch allowed this by-the-numbers firehouse drama to avoid the fall crush, and NBC was rewarded with ample early sampling. A full-season pickup soon followed.

Beauty and the Beast (CW/Showcase) -- Despite the silly decision to make everyone in the cast adhere to the CW's apparent young-and-gorgeous requirement (really, shouldn't this reboot be called Beauty and the Other Beauty With a Small Scar on his Face?), the modest ratings expectations at the youth-focused CW resulted in an early full-season order.

FAIL:

Last Resort (ABC/Global) -- One of the best pilots in this year's rookie crop, but once that rogue submarine took shelter on the shore of that tropical island, the series' writers seemed to run out of ideas. As a result, the ratings took a Dive! Dive! Dive! Cancelled, but remaining episodes will air.

The Mindy Project (Fox/Citytv) -- There were very high hopes for this overdue starring vehicle for The Office cast member/writer Mindy Kaling, but the character she plays is unappealing. Received full-season pickup despite regularly losing a big chunk of its New Girl lead-in audience.

666 Park Avenue (ABC/Citytv) -- Probably too dark, probably too confusing, and definitely a bad match for its Sunday stablemates, Once Upon a Time and Revenge. A solid cast that was betrayed by the scriptwriters. Cancelled; remaining episodes will air.

The Mob Doctor (Fox/CTV) -- Right from the pilot, a series that clearly hasn't known how to make its illogical premise accessible for viewers. Ratings have been dismal, and a decision to take this one off life support will happen sooner rather than later.

Guys With Kids (NBC/Global) -- The pilot opened with an appealing sight gag (dreamed up by series producer Jimmy Fallon), and the series went straight downhill from there. At its very best, a disappointingly average sitcom with limited prospects for an extended run.

Malibu Country (ABC/Citytv) -- This painfully awkward comedy is a bad show on a bad night (Friday). The only thing that could save it is a groundswell of country-music-fan support similar to the one that earned Reba McEntire's last lame sitcom an unexpectedly long run.

Emily Owens, M.D. (CW) -- A rising star (Mamie Gummer, a.k.a. Meryl Streep's daughter) trapped inside a lame series concept (hospital doctors acting like high school nerds, jocks, stoners and mean girls) is a recipe for prime-time disappointment. Gummer will be back, in a big way, but this one will soon be gone and forgotten.

EPIC FAIL:

Made in Jersey (CBS/Global) -- A series that had no idea what it wanted to be -- Courtroom drama? Scripted version of Jersey Shore? -- and viewers tuned out immediately. Which is unfortunate, in one way, because Brit import Janet Montgomery deserves to be a big-time TV star. The new season's first cancellation.

Animal Practice (NBC) -- Jeepers, who'da thunk a sitcom that relied on monkey antics would be an instant loser? Actually, this veterinary-hospital comedy had a likable human cast and probably deserved a chance to find its feet, but an audience never materialized. Second cancellation of the fall.

Partners (CBS/Citytv) -- Series creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (Will & Grace) based this comedy on their own real-life friendship (one's gay, the other's straight), so they definitely had a clear idea of what they wanted to accomplish. Unfortunately for them, viewers never bought in, and CBS pulled the plug and yanked it off the schedule earlier this month.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 29, 2012 C3

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