Tag Archives: TV shows

2012: The Year In…

Usually, I write up a bunch of Top 10 lists to end the year. Unfortunately, as some of you may know, I had a bit of a meteorological problem a few months back and lost all of the notes I had been keeping regarding my year in entertainment. So, instead of four separate Top 10 lists, I’m just going to give you all one post where I info-dump everything I can recall about what I liked this year.

BOOKS:

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

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There’s a reason the haunted/otherworldly traveling circus/carnival has been used as a setting for stories more times than I can remember. That reason is: It works! Morgenstern’s novel revolves around the doomed love between the apprentices of two feuding sorcerers; however, for me, the best parts were about the goings-on at the Night Circus itself, particularly the story of circus-born twins Poppet and Widget.

Cold Days, by Jim Butcher

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Here’s the deal: Jim Butcher releases a Harry Dresden novel and it goes on the Best of list for that year. End of story. I feel about this series the way a lot of people feel about the Harry Potter series.

The Mark of Athena, by Rick Riordan

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I really do love the kids from Camp Half-Blood. I’ve been amazed at Riordan’s ability to weave genuine Greek myth into a modern setting since The Lightning Thief, but the mythology geek in me was blown away by the way he’s decided to address the whole Greek god/Roman god quandary.

Phoenix Rising, by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

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Phoenix Rising is the first book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. The best way I can explain it is to compare it to that episode of Warehouse 13 where we got a glimpse of what it was like when H.G. worked as a Warehouse agent in Victorian England. Eliza Braun is a dynamite-loving, armored corset-wearing Ministry field agent who finds herself saddled with a new partner: the prim and proper archivist Wellington Books. Needless to say, there are steampunk-fueled shenanigans aplenty.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

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I’m always wary of anything that’s held up as “OMG Like Totally The New Bible of Geek Culture!!!!!111!!!1!!” Nine times out of ten, I can see the oily, pandering fingerprints of someone’s marketing department all over them. This is not the case with Ready Player One. A joy from start to finish, RP1 never felt like it was just trying to cash in on “geek culture” with a few carefully placed references to Star Wars or video games–other than a rather obvious “OMG HE KNOWS WHAT THE INTERNET IS!!!!!” reference to Wil Wheaton.

TELEVISION:

Gravity Falls (Disney Channel)

I’m not really sure what to say about Gravity Falls. I will say that, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best thing to come from the Disney Channel since Kim Possible. It’s also leagues better than anything I’ve been able to find on Cartoon Network in a long time.

The Legend of Korra (Nickelodeon)

The Legend of Korra is as different from The Last Airbender as a show could possibly be. Set in the generation following A:TLA, Korra focuses on the new Avatar, a waterbender named Korra. Aang’s world was a world of feudal states, kings, and farmers; Korra’s world is a world of industry, airships, and steam power. The animation has matured, becoming less stylized than the designs used in TLA, and the writing has matured, as well, presenting a darker storyline than that of the original series. Bring on the second season!

Bunheads (ABC Family)

Let’s face it, you are never going to recreate the adorable charm and whimsy of Gilmore Girls. Not gonna happen. But, with Bunheads, Amy Sherman-Palladino returns to what made GG so good, a town full of maniacs. Riding a Northern Exposure-like wave, Bunheads replaces a New York doctor with a Vegas showgirl, and small-town Alaska with small-town California. Yes, Sutton Foster’s Michelle is a cynical, slightly edgier version of Lorelai Gilmore, but you fall in love with her just the same. And, if your heart doesn’t melt when shy, awkward Boo finally dances with Carl–to “Rainbow Connection”, at that!–then you have no soul.

***

Finally, I’d like to take this time to thank the creators, cast, and crew of Leverage for five seasons of pulp goodness. This was a show that pushed every single button I have, sometimes at the same time. Never has it felt like a group of people sat down and decided to make something solely for my enjoyment. Thank you. All of you. Thank you.

MOVIES:

Avengers

I paid to see this movie in the theater three times. I have never done that before and probably won’t do it again. (Okay, maybe I’ll do it for Avengers 2…only time will tell.) The point is: this is the movie I have been waiting for since the night I saw X-Men.

Skyfall

I’ve not been a big fan of the Daniel Craig Era of James Bond; I miss the camp-fueled insanity of Classic Bond. Skyfall did a good job of taking a lot of the tropes from the older Bond movies and either incorporating them wholesale (could Javier Bardem’s villain be any more like Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill?) or, at least, tipping its hat to them. I’m a tad annoyed that the new Q looks like a background character from Portlandia or Flight of the Conchords…but, the new Moneypenny? Yes. More of the new Moneypenny, please.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A lot of people are all cranky about making one book into three movies. As someone who can read, I realize that so much shit happens between the lines in that book that you could probably turn The Hobbit into a six-season series HBO. Also, and this is the heart of the matter, Peter Jackson can make a Middle-earth movie every year until he dies and I will pay money to see that shit. Why? Because they are just so damned pretty.

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom manages to be like every other Wes Anderson movie ever made and unlike every other Wes Anderson movie ever made. Visually, musically, verbally, Moonrise Kingdom uses all of the standard Anderson tropes. But, where it differs from–and, I’d argue, surpasses–Anderson’s other movies is innocence. Moonrise Kingdom is his most innocent film to date. It’s utterly charming, without resorting to the usual undercurrent of snark, dysfunction, and melancholia that you usually find in a Wes Anderson movie.

The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is what it must have been like to be inside Joss Whedon’s brain while he was creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Brave

Brave was the most fun that I’ve had in a Pixar movie since The Incredibles. I’m glad that the good folks at Pixar are still able to make a movie that doesn’t reduce grown men to blubbering, emotionally-destroyed shells of their former selves (I’m lookin’ at you, Up). Bows! Gingers! Scots! This movie had it all.

COMICS:

Daredevil

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I’ve always liked Daredevil. I’ve also always been confused as to why the only kind of Daredevil books that sell are ones that follow Frank Miller’s Watchmen-ization of the character. Daredevil is a guy who jumped from rooftop to rooftop in bright red and yellow tights. Grim and broody he is not. And that is why I want to thank Mark Waid. Yes, Matt Murdock’s life has been absolute shit for the last few years, but he realizes if he doesn’t lighten up, he’s gonna wake up one day and swallow a bullet. Mark Waid is responsible for making Daredevil a swashbuckler again and we should all send him a muffin basket.

Captain Marvel

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I can’t gush enough about this book. I love Carol Danvers. I loved her when she was Ms. Marvel and, if it’s possible, I love her even more since she was “promoted” to Captain Marvel. Kelly Sue DeConnick can do no wrong (as far as I’m concerned, Marvel Comics is just KSD and Mark Waid in a tiny room with some artists, cranking out comics).

Indestructible Hulk

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Just like he did with Daredevil, Mark Waid offers up a Hulk concept that’s so simple it should have occurred to someone ages ago. Bruce Banner, annoyed that Tony Stark and Reed Richards get all the credit for using their big brains to make the world a better place, agrees to work for SHIELD. He will invent amazing shit for them every day and, if he ever needs to blow off some steam, SHIELD tells him where to aim the Hulk. Simple. Amazing.

Avengers Assemble

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Avengers Assemble is a no strings attached title for folks who just want to see the Avengers being superheroes. It started as an obvious tie-in to the Avengers movie (the team consisted of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye), but has since found a nice balance between being in and out of continuity at the same time–the characters behave like their standard Marvel Universe counterparts, but the stories seem to take place without regard to what is happening in the other Avengers titles. As far as I’m concerned, this is the only Avengers title Marvel needs. While I’m sending Waid that muffin basket, I should order a second one for Kelly Sue DeConnick.

Dungeons & Dragons

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John Rogers, the co-creator of TV’s Leverage, shows that a group of competent, bickering characters can work in any genre.

The Sixth Gun

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The other day, it occurred to me that The Sixth Gun is, basically, the western equivalent of Hellboy. The mythology that Cullen Bunn is creating around the six eldritch revolvers and the various characters hellbent on acquiring them is as layered and complex as anything that Mike Mignola has come up with. Gunslingers. Zombies. Wendigos. Voodoo spirits. Secret Societies. Golems. Mummies. If you want it, it’s probably in an issue of The Sixth Gun.

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Top 10 TV Shows of 2011

A large percentage of my favorite shows tend to be ones that have been on for a few seasons. That being said, there were a few shows that premiered this fall that really stand out in my mind–plus a handful that I think really hit their strides in 2011.

1. Grimm (NBC)

NBC’s Grimm is, at its heart, a police procedural. The main difference here is that the suspects are all critters that inspired fairy tales and the cop is the last Grimm, essentially a criminal profiler who specializes in things that go bump in the night. What separates Grimm from its “ripped from the pages of fairy tales” cousin, Once Upon a Time, is the former show’s premise that, while fairy tales may not be real, the monsters that inspired them are.

2. Young Justice (Cartoon Network)

DC has long been the champ of television animation. Young Justice follows in the footsteps of classics like Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Justice League Unlimited. Unlike these older shows, Young Justice exists in a separate universe, one where superheroes are relatively new and Batman assembles a covert team of teen sidekicks to go on missions that are too sensitive for the higher profile heroes to handle.

3. Unforgettable (CBS)

The premise–a detective who remembers everything she sees–may be a little ridiculous, despite being based on an actual condition, but Unforgettable is a fun little show with an appealing cast of characters. Bonus points may have been added for a main character who is (a) not under 25 years old and (b) played by Poppy Montgomery.

4. Happy Endings (ABC)

I’m not really sure how I missed the first season of Happy Endings, but I did. (Actually, I think it might have had something to do with a lot of chatter about it being similar to a certain sitcom about the epic tale of the search for a female parental unit and, if there’s one thing that bores me, it’s something created solely to suckle at the teat of something that’s already an established success.) Anyways, Happy Endings is thoroughly charming and one of the few genuinely funny sitcoms out there.

5. Person of Interest (CBS)

I grew up watching shows like The A-Team, Knight Rider, and The Equalizer, so a show where Ben Linus and Jesus use a top secret super-computer to fight crime is right up my alley.

6. Up All Night (NBC)

I’m not going to talk about the state of the sitcom on NBC. We all know what happened, so there’s no reason to open up old wounds. That being said, Up All Night is a winner and, despite the programming hoopla, deserves every last ounce of faith that the network has seen fit to bestow upon it.

7. Whitechapel (BBC America)

Whitechapel could have easily taken the Sherlock route and simply presented itself as a modern retelling of the Jack the Ripper crimes. Instead, Whitechapel is a modern police drama in every sense, except in the stories it decides to tell. The first series focussed on a suspect who was meticulously recreated Jack the Ripper’s murders, while the following series tells the story of the heirs to ’60s mobsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray.

8. Parks and Recreation (NBC)

    Community (NBC)

Neither of these shows really blew me away when they premiered, but 2011 became “The Year I Learned to Love Them.” I can’t pick a moment when Community finally clicked for me. Parks and Recreation, however, won me over during its third season with the Leslie/Ben storyline and the April/Andy storyline (man, I hated those two characters until they got together and became adorable).

9. Downton Abbey (PBS)

The show for which the phrase “All British and shit” was invented. Created by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey has much in common with Gosford Park, which was written by Fellowes. Set prior to the outbreak of World War I, when the British aristocracy was slowly losing ground (figuratively and literally) to the growing middle classes, Downton Abbey is as much social satire as anything written by Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. Also, where else can you see Professor McGonagall and Harriet Jones, Prime Minister (yes, we know who you are) snipe at each other for hours on end?

10. Covert Affairs (USA)

If you liked Alias, but thought that running around trying to find giant balls of mysterious red liquid was a little too pulpy, then Covert Affairs might be for you. If you ignore the oh-so-very-pretty cast (or don’t, it’s your call), Covert Affairs presents a fairly accurate portrayal of what I think being a spy is really like, from the inter-departmental backbiting to the boring stretches of downtime during an op.

Year-End Roundup

All in one place, for your reading pleasure…

My Favorite Books of 2010

 

My Favorite Movies of 2010

 

My Favorite TV Shows of 2010

 

And a little something extra…

 

Come on, 2011. Bring it!

Top 10 TV Shows of 2010

It looks like I didn’t make a Top TV Shows list last year. It could be that there weren’t enough new shows that really rang my bell or (more likely) I just forgot.

Fret not, cats and kittens, the list is back:

1. Human Target (Fox)

I never read the DC comic Human Target is based on, but I did watch the first attempt at adapting it to the small screen, the short-lived Rick Springfield series. Look, I grew up on shows like Airwolf, The A-Team, Knight Rider, and MacGyver, these kinds of shows are in my blood. So, when a network decides to give a show like Human Target a shot, I’m going to watch it.

2. The Good Guys (Fox)

It’s the classic buddy cop formula: straight-laced cop teamed with reckless loose cannon–although this time around, it’s the younger partner who is the by-the-book square and the veteran cop who’s the gung-ho, shoot-first maniac. The Good Guys pokes fun at the shift in TV cops from the insane hero cops of the 1970s and 1980s to the methodical (and more realistic?) detectives of modern cop shows. Also: any show that used “Whitford. Hanks. Mustache.” as a promo needed to be watched.

3. No Ordinary Family (ABC)

There was a very real possibility that Heroes destroyed any chance of ever seeing comic book-style superheroes on TV again. Ever. But, ABC’s No Ordinary Family proves it can still be done. Taking a cue from both The Fantastic Four and The Incredibles, the story of the Powell family coming to grips with their new powers is both fun and funny. I felt that there was a lot of wheel-spinning in the first few episodes, but things seem to be back on track.

4. Warehouse 13 (SyFy)

While everyone moans about the loss of Caprica and Stargate: Whatchamacallit, Warehouse 13 shows what SyFy does best–slightly off-kilter romps that combine action, drama, and comedy (think Eureka, The Invisible Man, and, yes, even Farscape). To be honest, the first half of the first season was a little bland. But, with the addition of Allison Scagliotti’s Claudia–the perfect foil for Saul Rubinek’s Artie–and the second season’s H.G. Wells storyline, Warehouse 13 is kicking major ass.

5. Blue Bloods (CBS)

Following the Reagan family–three generations of New York cops, with a few lawyers tossed in for good measure–Blue Bloods is equal parts cop show and family drama. And, I’m surprised to say, that I actually enjoy the family drama part more than the cop part. Some of the show’s best moments are when the Reagan clan are gathered around the table for Sunday dinner.

6. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (Disney XD)

For a long time, Marvel was lagging behind DC in the realm of kick-ass cartoons. Sure, there was X-Men: Evolution and The Spectacular Spider-Man, but there wasn’t anything with the universe-wide cohesion of DC’s Animated Universe. Until now.

7. Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)

I’m too young to remember the original Hawaii Five-O, except in syndicated reruns. But, I do remember that awesome theme song and “Book ’em, Danno.” The 2010 remake made sure to keep them both.

8. Sherlock (BBC)

I am very picky about my Sherlock Holmes. For me, it doesn’t get any better than Jeremy Brett (and Guy Ritchie can go fuck himself). But this… The BBC’s update of Holmes is…well, it’s incredible. Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes. Martin Freeman as Watson. Steven Moffat at the helm. The only problem I have with Sherlock is that there were just not enough episodes in the first season. More, please.

9. Doctor Who (BBC)

I was honestly quite nervous when I first heard about David Tennant leaving Doctor Who. I loved his incarnation of The Doctor. Then I saw Matt Smith (and, to be fair, Karen Gillan). This latest season of Doctor Who–with Steven Moffat taking over for Russell T. Davies–feels like a completely new show. And I don’t mean that as a criticism. There was a freshness to this season, and I quite like it.

10. Rizzoli & Isles (TNT)

I haven’t read the series of novels by Tess Gerritsen upon which this show is based (loosely, I’m led to believe, not unlike how Bones is “inspired by” Kathy Reichs’ novels), but a show with a detective and a coroner who are best friends is right up my alley.

Fall 2008 DVR Losers

Back at the start of the Fall 2008 TV season, I wrote two posts about the shows that I had programmed into my nifty little DVR (you can read Part One here, and Part Two here).  For the most part, a lot of my returning favorites–House, NCIS, Big Bang Theory, Bones–have held up their end of the bargain.  I’ve also discovered Crusoe, a fun little romp (which I’ve christened “bamboo-punk”) that slipped under my pre-season radar.  And, of course, the Great Office Experiment has cleary been very, very successful.

Unfortunately, you can’t have winners without a few losers (this ain’t Little League, after all).  Some of these losers brought it on themselves, others have had the status of “Loser” tattooed on them by The Powers That Be.

Knight Rider

I really, really, really wanted to like this updated version of a beloved show from my childhood.  I enjoyed the two-hour movie that served as a backdoor pilot last spring.  I didn’t have any problems with the cast (Will Arnett would have been hilarious as KITT, but Kilmer did a pretty good job).  So, imagine my surprise when I couldn’t even make it through the first episode of the series.  When I couldn’t make it through the second episode, it was deleted.

Life on Mars

I gave this a shot.  It wasn’t what I would call “bad”, but eventually I realized that I just didn’t care about the characters.  I don’t care why Detective Mars (yes, I know his name is Tyler) has travelled back in time.  Is he in a coma back in his present?  Don’t care.  Sorry.

My Own Worst Enemy

I kinda dug this show.  It was a fun way to unwind my brain after Heroes.  But, NBC has decided that no one watches it, so I have to bid adieu to Christian Slater’s split-personality secret agent.

Pushing Daisies

Another show that the network suits have decided no one watches.  I’ll admit that it was never a priority for me.  Usually, it was something that I’d watch on a weekend morning while I was having my coffee.  But, the characters were cute (sure, sometimes too cute) and the murders were usually a fun combination of C.S.I.‘s gory bloodbaths and the lighter crimes from shows like Monk and Psych.  Maybe it would have fared better with an internal mythology that was a little less complex.

The Mentalist

I know I kind of gave this show shit about being a Psych rip-off.  I know it really isn’t exactly like the wacky adventures of Shawn and Gus.  And, to be honest, I wanted to check it out.  But, unfortunately, I already record a bunch of stuff on Tuesday nights, so this one had to take a hit for the team.

Time to Fire Up the DVR–Part 2

In which we learn that, even in the 21st Century, network executives are still capable of totally jerking us around.  Three seemingly worthwhile shows slated for Wednesdays at 8pm, one slated for 9pm, and nothing at 10?  Really??  You still got it, network-weasels.  You still got it.

WEDNESDAYS

Bones: Part gruesome procedural drama.  Part goofy workplace sitcom.  All fun.  It’s nice to see David Boreanaz getting to play a character with an actual personality for a change.  But, I’m still waiting to see how this new season deals with the fallout from last season’s storyline.

Knight Rider: Y’know what…I kinda liked the two-hour backdoor pilot NBC aired earlier this year.  It wasn’t perfect, but they were trying to give us something that was (shudder) entertaining.  Sure, Will Arnett would have been a HY-larious KITT, but Kilmer isn’t half bad.

Pushing Daisies: I wasn’t sure about this show when it premiered last season.  But, it won me over with an awesome cast (including guest stars) and an aesthetic that is just this side of a Tim Burton movie.  It doesn’t hurt that female lead Anna Friel is downright Deschanel-esque.

Criminal Minds: I wasn’t sure this was going to survive the sudden departure of singing maniac Mandy Patinkin’s Jason Gideon, but the producers done good by (a) casting Joe Mantegna and (2) making his character more than a place-holding Gideon clone.  Now, let’s just see which characters didn’t survive last season’s (ahem) explosive finale.

THURSDAYS

CSI: Unlike Criminal Minds, I seriously doubt this is going to survive Grissom’s departure.  Why?  Well, there’s been way too much house-cleaning in the last season or two.  Sara: gone.  Warrick: dead.  And, now Grissom is jumping ship.  Sure, the rest of the cast is capable, and Lawrence Fishburne (as Grissom’s replacement) is always awesome, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope.

The Office: I was a huge fan of the BBC version of The Office, but it’s taken me a while to get into the swing of things with the American version.  I will admit that it has grown on me significantly.

30 Rock: When I was growing up, NBC was the king of the sitcom.  Then came a long string of Seinfeld and Friends clones, and the crown not only slipped, it rolled across the floor, out the door, down the street, and came to a stop at the feet of Neil Patrick Harris.  But, with 30 Rock, NBC has started to reclaim its former sitcom glory.  Anyone who doesn’t think Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy is one of the funniest sons-of-bitches on TV just isn’t paying attention.

Life on Mars: Another transplant from the UK.  I’ve heard amazing things about the original BBC version of this show about a modern-day cop who somehow ends up in the 70s, so I’m willing to check out the American version.  Although, after what happened with Journeyman last season, I wonder how well this is going to do.

Eleventh Hour: The guys behind CSI tackle X-Files-esque stories about cryogenics, cloning, and experimental brain surgery.  It’ll either be really good or complete crap.

FRIDAYS

Let’s be honest, until Doctor Who, Monk, and Psych come back, there really isn’t much going on TV-wise on Friday nights.  But, I guess I’ll give the second season of Life a shot, if for no other reason than Damian Lewis is awesome.

SATURDAYS

Ah-hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

SUNDAYS

The Simpsons: The fact that The Simpsons have been on for 20 years means that there is an entire generation of people who have never lived in a non-Simpsons world.  It also means that the show’s been able to cycle through a bit of a slump a few seasons back and come out pretty close to the height of its former glory.

Family Guy: Either you like Family Guy or you think anyone who watches it should be forced to watch their own genitals being removed with rusty pliers.  Guess which group I’m in.

Cold Case: Not only is this a show about people doing their jobs, but it’s a show about people whose job is to investigate crimes that are sometimes decades old.  That means really cool music and goofy flashback effects.

Time to Fire Up the DVR–Part 1

The new Fall TV season is more or less upon us, and a lot of folks are putting together lists of shows that they’re excited to (a) see returning or (2) check out for the first time.  Most of these people are “professional” TV watchers and critics.  But, some (like my pal Erin and myself) are simply talented civilians who retain their amateur status so they can watch TV in the Olympics.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I can be a bit indiscriminate with my viewing habits.  What can I say?  I like TV.  Actually, let me be a little more specific: I like FAKE TV.  Reality TV?  I don’t get it.  I live in reality.  I face reality for about 14 hours every day.  Why would I want to watch more reality on television.  In fact, I’m pretty sure TV was invented to provide an escape from reality.  So, asking TV to air “reality shows” goes against the very nature of the beast.  It would be like asking a cow to lay an egg, which we can all agree is just plain silly.  In addition to being fake, I also prefer my TV to involve people who obsessively do their jobs (I don’t really even care what those jobs are, just have one and contribute to society, ya long-haired hippie freak!)–which is why I tend to love me some procedural drama, while I take a break from the sitcoms whenever the pendulum swings away from workplace comedies.

There aren’t too many new shows that I’m all that excited about, but through the magic of DVR, I can record a bunch of episodes and find out if I like them later.

MONDAYS

The Big Bang Theory: I found this show by accident last season because it was on between How I Met Your Mother and Heroes.  Wasn’t sure about the whole “Awkward geek falls in love with hot chick across the hall” premise, but it seems to work.

How I Met Your Mother: Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, and those other two…what’s not to love?  There’s a reason this is one of the few sitcoms I watch (along with TBBT and 30 Rock).

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Take two of the best sci-fi movies ever made, add Summer Glau (wheeee!) and Garret Dillahunt, and throw in the last few minutes of the season premiere (which had the first “Oh shit” moment of the 2008/09 season).  Now, if this doesn’t terminate that god-awful Chuck show, nothing will.

Heroes: Yes, last season was not that good.  But, the creators admitted it and tried to fix things.  That, coupled with just how awesome the first season was, gets Heroes a second chance.

My Own Worse Enemy: Christian Slater is a nice guy and his dangerous spy look-a-like?  Or are they supposed to be same guy?  Okay, I don’t know anything about this show, but I’ll give Slater a shot.

TUESDAYS

House: My ultimate goal is to be so irreplaceable that I can do and say whatever I want and know I’ll never get fired.  Until then, I’ll just watch House and live vicariously through Hugh Laurie.

NCIS: Both my dad and my sister watched this show for years.  I didn’t start until last season, but dang if it ain’t awesome.  Luckily, I’ve been catching the older episodes on USA (which seems to run a marathon every other week!).

Fringe: I really couldn’t have cared less about this show, until I watched the premiere.  It wasn’t bad.  It had Pacey, Lance Reddick, and a cow.  If J.J. Abrams can keep this show a light, freak-o-the-week romp and not suckify it with an unnecessarily complicated and labyrinthine mythology–like he did with Alias and LOST–we may be onto something here, kids.  Did I mention the cow?

The Mentalist: A fake psychic uses his “people reading” skills to help the authorities solve crimes.  Um…guys…haaaaave ya met Psych?  But, to be fair, I thought Angel was going to be like Forever Knight.

Without a Trace: C’mon, you know you love hearing Anthony LaPaglia tell someone he’s a cop as much as I do.  Plus, this is new cast member Steven Weber’s 297th attempt at having a show since Wings went off the air, so consider watching it an act of charity.*  Also, it co-stars a woman named Poppy.  Go on, treat yourself.

* DISCLAIMER: I actually really dig ol’ Steven Weber, so no disrespect was intended.  But, dude, Studio 60?  You had to know that was a bad idea.