Not three days have gone by since the first half of this column, which outlined what I plan to be watching on Sunday – Tuesday nights. But already, “Star Trek: Discovery” is in peril! We subscribe to CBS All Access through a Roku player, and despite every other channel (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.) working like a charm, CBS All Access kicks me off of Start Trek about every :60-:75 seconds. I worked with Spectrum, our cable provider, to update our modem and checked that our Roku had uploaded all updates. Still, it kicks me off. If this is a problem for a sizeable fraction of CBS All Access members, they are going to have a serious PR problem on their hands… not to mention, no one watching Star Trek: Discovery, on which CBS made quite an investment.
Let’s hope a discussion of the rest of the week’s network shows will cheer me up.
- 9:00PM – “Modern Family” on ABC. Why? Erin and I have been there for all 189 episodes and 8 seasons. The show, which is a hysterical “mockumentary” style comedy, is filled with endearing characters and has never gone down in quality. I’ve rarely seen a show go for so many seasons without at least some dip, or perhaps a regular leaving the show. Modern Family DID, unfortunately, fall into the “have another baby” trap of adding a new toddler to the mix, which was so common in ‘80s and ‘90s sitcoms. But unlike in those instances, adding little Joe Pritchett has proven to be a pretty good comic device on several occasions, especially when you consider the cute dynamic he has with his much older father, played by Ed O’Neill.
- 10:00PM – “Mr. Robot” on USA. Why? Advertising can sometimes be very effective on me. In 2015, USA Network sucked me in with several “less-is-more” ads piquing my interest in this mystery show. All I could gather was it was about technology in some way. What I discovered was a show that creator Sam Esmail made into a brilliant treatise on our consumption and commercialization culture. His canvas is a daring (especially for USA) blur of light and dark filming techniques that allow his diverse set of major characters an opportunity to experience one sense of night and day. Toping it off is “Elliot Alderson,” Esmail’s lead character and unreliable narrator. Elliot suffers some mental illness and through two seasons, viewers have learned we can’t necessarily have faith that Elliot is speaking with whom he thinks he is, or even trust where he appears to be geographically. Finally, if you like to see grassroots millennials take on big, overly powerful corporations who monopolize and screw the public at will, this show is for you.
- 8:00PM – “The Blacklist” on NBC. I love James Spader. How can I not love the person most people say I resemble? I also hear good things about the show. But I just never started watching it, and now I’m 80+ episodes behind. Do I have readers that are big fans? I would love to know.
- 9:00PM – “Seal Team” on CBS. As I said in Part 1 of this column, I already have my military ops show, coming up for discussion on Friday. Plus, do I have to watch David Boreanaz every week to be reminded how enviable his life is?
Hulu / DVR
- 10:00PM – “Designated Survivor” on ABC. Why? Last fall, I feared this political thriller was just going to be another Keifer Sutherland action vehicle, only with him now muscling around in a suit. And while Season 1 contained plenty of action and covert activity, it also presented some interesting if not implausible political storyline. I hear there will be more political storyline this season. Sutherland is also convincing as an oozing-with-integrity college professor turned HUD Secretary turned accidental president when the capitol is bombed during the State of the Union. This show gets “appointment-level” viewing once Mr. Robot’s shorter season run ends.
- 8:30PM – “The Good Place” on NBC. Why? This Ted Danson, Kristen Bell driven comedy is incredibly original and equally funny. The premise is that Kristen Bell’s “Eleanor,” who we see through flashbacks was an awful person in life, was mistakenly sent to “The Good Place” (Heaven) when she died, in place of a woman who happened to share her same full name (who was of course a wonderful, do-gooder humanitarian lawyer). The antics of how she interacts with her surroundings and her fellow “Good Place” residents is spectacular. Bell plays a character that lives up to at least a version of her many of us perceive as “Kristen in real life,” and the supporting cast is brilliant. I only hope they give us more than a short, 10-week season this year.
- 9:00PM – “Scandal” on ABC. Why? We came late to the Scandal party, but after catching up with Season 1 on old-fashioned Netflix DVDs, Erin and I have been enjoying the ridiculous and completely implausible political soap opera ever since. At the Season 7 mark, it does seem to make sense that this season be its last. I, for one, hope it goes out using all of the kitchen-sink level of twists and turns for which we’ve become accustomed!
- 10:00PM – “How to Get Away with Murder” on ABC. Why? If you think that 3 years ago, I was going to miss America’s “second best (?)” actress, Viola Davis, jump to television, you would have been sadly mistaken. 50 episodes later, I’m really looking forward to Season 4 of this rollercoaster of a legal thriller. Replete with a diverse cast of young law students who work for her, Davis’s law professor / famous attorney Annalise Keating bobs and weaves her way through intricate, messy cases and plenty of ethical dilemmas. It’s not to be missed.
- 8:00PM – “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC. These folks lost me after about Season 3.
- 8:00PM – “Supernatural” on The CW. I know ONE person who watches this show, and yet it’s been on for like 12 years and apparently has legions of fans nationwide. I AM a spooky sci-fi geek, and former “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” viewer alum, but I never started and I think the window has closed for me and Supernatural.
On the Fence:
- 9:00PM – “The Orville” on Fox. This is a bit of a lie, considering I have already watched the first 3 episodes. I think I have it on the fence for two reasons: 1) I love Seth MacFarlane, and want to support his show; 2) I am just not sure it’s going to last. The show tries to walk that yellow line in the middle of the highway between comedy and true sci fi adventure (tonally very Star Trek style). As a result, it somewhat fails at both. Two days ago, a reason 3) would have said, “and I already have a new Star Trek,” but now I’m not so sure I’ll be able to watch it! Does this put “The Orville” back on the list?
Hulu / DVR
- 9:00PM – “Will and Grace” on NBC. Why? Why not. What a funny crew. I didn’t watch every season of the original run, but when I watched, I laughed – sometimes out loud.
- 9:30PM – “Life in Pieces” on CBS. I never thought a CBS comedy could rope me in, but Erin and I LOVE us some “Life in Pieces.” If you aren’t watching, you should dive right into following the silly travails of this family, made up of some terrific actors like James Brolin and Diane Wiest as the parents, and their 3 children (“Newsroom’s” Thomas Sadoski, Betsy Brandt, and Colin Hanks), in-laws (the hilarious Zoe Lister-Jones and Dan Bakkedahl), and their curious grandkids.
- 7:00PM – East Coast feed of “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO. Why? As much as Bill Maher can frustrate fellow liberals with his arrogant attitude toward people of faith and occasional shots at Muslims (which he claims is not anti-Islam, but about their oppression of women and liberal’s hypocrisy in not calling it out), he nevertheless remains “our asshole.” Plus, his show is “smart funny,” usually includes fantastic guests and panel speakers, and makes you both laugh and really think about the issues of the day.
- 8:00PM – “Blindspot” on NBC. Why? THIS is my “military ops” show! Like many viewers, I was roped in by the premise, which began with Jaimie Alexander (Thor’s friend Lady Sif) as a naked, completely tattooed woman who was found in a large duffle bag in the middle of Times Square. As the FBI investigates “Jane Doe,” the name she’s given as she has no memory, they discover she is a highly-trained operative “with special sets of skills,” and she ends up helping them on several missions. Incidentally, her body full of tattoos all mean something, and usually inspire each week’s mission. It’s GREAT fun, and is filled with great team of FBI characters for whom the viewer develops a genuine rooting interest. I’m delighted it was renewed after being somewhat on the bubble last year.
- 8:00PM – “Once Upon a Time” on ABC. Are their fans of this show out there in Todd Flora’s America? I never got into this one, and wonder who or where the fan base is.
- 10:00PM – “Blue Bloods” on CBS. It’s a whole family of cops! I see a lot of commercials for this show. Tom Selleck looks sad in every single frame. And again – like the “NCIS/CSI” hodge podge of shows … I’m not over 70 years old.
- 8:30PM – “Saturday Night Live” on NBC. Why? If we aren’t out and about with friends or family, my Saturday nights will now include SNL at an early hour. NBC has announced it will show the 11:30PM East Coast Live feed to every time zone again this year, which should mean a real-time viewership ratings boost now that West Coasters can watch it AND still get plenty of sleep.
Of course, I’ll be squeezing in Season 2 of Stranger Things and other Netflix and Amazon fare, and who knows what bold new FX show will enter the landscape midseason? But for now, I think you would agree I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Thanks for reading!