Fall/Winter 2013/2014 Top New TV Shows

I figure a good way to cover most of the TV shows I watch is split them in two starting periods, this post being about the first one, new TV Shows that started during September – April. If they started during May-August, I’ll cover them in a post sometime after that period. In no particular order, here are my top 5 picks of new TV shows.

I’ll be honest, I only started watching this because of James Spader, who players Raymond “Ray” Reddington, one of the central characters. He’s the FBI’s most wanted who suddenly surrenders to them, offering to help them catch criminals, but only if all his communication goes through Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone) who was on her first day as an Agent. The trailer does the show no justice, it makes it seem like another crime drama with a single interesting character. It is not. The characters they include, both on the white list (fellow agents and workers) and the black list (criminals) are all unique in their way and certainly make the series worth watching. The stories the Blacklist tells, both with the individual criminals on the blacklist they go after, and the stories surrounding our main characters, are told so well I often feel that each episode should last longer. I can’t even say which criminal/villain I like the most because they are all fantastic and I certainly do hope they continue introducing more in the following seasons (yes, seasons, it needs to go on!), although I’m not sure how they’ll do the team after that season one finale.

Probably one of the strongest new shows we’ll see during the 2013/2014, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re a top nominee for various awards considering the cast— Matthew McCounaghey as detective Rust Cohle, Woody Harrelson as detective Marty Hart, Michelle Monaghan as Magie Hart. This is the cast solely for season one though, if there is a second season then they plan to tell a different story with a different character list. Which is probably for the best, I feel like they told their story just fine and adding new cases for them would be a poor move. Especially since what we see here is the detectives revisiting a 17-year old case of theirs, which works just perfectly for telling both the tale of the past and the on-goings of the present. To sum this up with “2 detectives revisit their 17-year old case after some new discoveries” would be ridiculous. It’s likely one of the better crime drama shows with a brilliant storytelling, editing, writing, and all the other things that make a show good.

Did you start watching The Vampire Diaries and thought it looked promising, but then it turned out to be another soup opera? Well, you’re lucky, as the CW just took everything good from The Vampire Diaries and put it in this new show, The Originals. The name should sound familiar, it does indeed revolve around the Originals from TVD. While it does not take place in the past (that would have been too good to be true) it still has all the flashbacks we used to love. Where TVD kept going boring, repetitive, or simply silly, the Originals keeps going interesting, innovative, and is full of surprises. If you’re one of us who does not like their vampires sparkly, their werewolves weak, and their witches weird, then give the Originals a chance, it will sure keep you entertained.

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), enough said. Being resurrected after two and a half centuries since his death, he sure has a lot to tell and complain about our current community (and he says the truth in a perfect amusing style). But his role is far more serious (which makes it so much funnier) as he is here to unravel the tale of the four horseman with the help of Lieutenant  Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), her sister Jenny Mills(Lynda Greenwood), Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones), he is set on a quest to solve the mystery that haunts Sleepy Hollow and possibly save his wife Katrina Crane (Katia Winter) while at it. I’d mark Sleepy Hollow as one of my favorites, it has the perfect amount of fantasy, mystery, drama, and humor for an adventure of this type.

I’m going to be brutal here, I don’t know if it was because of the hype that was building up, or because the fact that it was written by Joss Whedon, or that Marvel’s budget was obviously going to allow them quite a bit of things, I felt overall it was rather poorly done at the end of the day. At least the starting few episodes gave that impression, and while it improved somewhat over time, I still feel they did not use the show’s full potential (far from it, actually). Which does not mean it is a bad show, quite the contrary, it is good, both dark sometimes and funny other times, I just think it leans more toward being an average show than something great. Too much cliché moves and poor character development at the start, and barely and signs of some of our favorites from the Marvel universe. But the potential is there, so let us all keep our fingers crossed that they keep improving.

Again, in no particular order, here are the rest of my picks in the top 10 list of new TV shows.

I wanted a comedy on the list and I feel like Brooklyn Nine-Nine was the better out the new ones I saw, definitely worthy of finding itself on this list. And I’m not the greatest fan of Andy Samberg, who players the main character, detective Jake Peralta, so that says something. A good comedy placed within a crime/drama setting, so if nothing else it at least distances itself from all the shows we’ve seen. Different means good in my book, especially when the writing and production are decent.

I wanted this to be good, it seemed so promising. I’m still not sure it is going to deliver on its promise though. So far it has been decent, good story, fine plot points, but what it lacked was more action and ship/sails elements. I understand that those scenes are expensive to shoot, but if you’re going to do a series about sea voyages and adventures, then you must have known these are a must. Instead the show spends too much time with brothels and sex scenes. Yes, some of these are crucial for the story as well, but I say too much because some of them are obviously filling in to bring in more viewers (though I would argue that if you’re going to try to get viewers from nude scenes, you’re filming for the wrong industry). Here’s hoping that they start improving though.

Mentioning different on Brooklyn Nine-Nine made me think of Masters of Sex — if I had to use a single world to describe the show, I would use ‘different’. It the center of it all you have Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) who are conducting research on sex to answer all kinds of questions about the act which Masters believe to be the study of the beginning of all life. For once on tv, the sex scenes are not there as fillers or trying to capture the viewer’s attention, they’re there because the story needs them. Quite a fun piece of tv, really.

I love how the newest trend seems to be doing old stories into TV shows or creating TV shows loosely based on old stories, and while I hate when they are ruined when poorly done, some are simply a thrill to watch. The Musketeers would definitely be in the second group here (both with being just loosely based on the books and a thrill to watch). I like that they’re doing individual episode stories while a bigger story arc is taking place behind all of them, because I do not see solely the original Three Musketeers story being used for creating a long-running tv show. It’s a very light drama, has some funny moments, but it is overall pretty decently done. If you can watch it without being annoyed by the differences from the Three Musketeers story, you will enjoy it.

I’ll be honest, I’m not fully caught up with this show, and I’m not sure if I want to finish the season knowing that Fox has already cancelled it. It was far from the best sci-fi TV has seen (some of which were also cancelled — I’m looking at you Fox because of Firefly), but it was decent and promised a lot. I feel any sci-fi story needs space and time to really kick off, and Almost Human was definitely not given enough time. It’s about a cop (Karl Urban as John Kennex) paired up with a lifelike android (Michael Ealy as Dorian) in a quest to protect and serve in a 35-years-in-the-future world. I don’t know what is up with Fox, but from the little research I did it seems that the show was doing good and people liked it, the only issue I see is that new TV shows planned for this fall (2014) seemed to have a lot of hype and I guess they thought they will do better in ratings. Oh well, your loss, Fox.

There’s a number of TV shows I did not have the time to check out, maybe because by “check out” I mean see at least half of the first season (I don’t like basing my opinion on the pilot alone, in fact I prefer having viewed the entire first season to get the full scope of the show).  However, I have went through their description and saw trailers, so below I’ve listed some promising ones (even though a number of them have already been cancelled). If you have watched them, do leave your impressions in a comment.

About a Boy (NBC) – renewed

Believe (NBC) – cancelled

Chicago PD (NBC) – renewed

Dracula (NBC) – cancelled

The Goldbergs (ABC) – renewed

Reign (CW) – renewed Resurrection (ABC) – renewed

Star-Crossed (CW) – cancelled

Surviving Jack (Fox) – cancelled

The Tomorrow People (CW) – cancelled

Us & Them (Fox) – cancelled

Witches of East End (Lifetime) – renewed