How Do Know When You Like a TV Show?

Each year during fall premieres, TV-watching folks everywhere survey the new crop of shows, read about them online, and debate the best and worst new offerings with friends and co-workers. Heck, those of us who work at TV.com do it for a living (or at least a paycheck). Which got us wondering: How do you know when you like a new TV show?

It seems that people give new shows a chance based on one of three things: 1) they think the premise looks interesting; 2) the ad campaign is loud/clever enough to be heard/intriguing, but not so loud that it gets annoying (take note, My Generation!); or 3) it features a favorite/familiar actor who they've enjoyed on other TV shows. TV pilots are designed to hook us as quickly as possible, with snappy premises like “It’s a family... of superheroes!” or “They’re lawyers... in Vegas!” And regardless of whether a pilot appeals to you from the start or makes you roll your eyes, a lot is riding on how well it sells the overall idea. For me, a lot is also riding on whether the idea is actually original: Is it a fun new type of show, or is it the same “It’s a married couple... who's just like you!” idea we’ve seen a hundred times, plus one “fun” twist (oh hi, Mike & Molly)? With so many many things to watch these days, even remembering to set the DVR can be a real commitment—so to win over my eyeballs even for a few episodes, a show least has to try.

But when you sit down to watch something new, what are you looking for? What do you notice first: Whether a show looks good aesthetically? If it's a sitcom, whether it's single-camera (like The Office) or multi-camera (like The Big Bang Theory)? Whether the characters seem like people you'd want to hang out with? For me it's sometimes all three. When I first tuned in for $#*! My Dad Says, the look immediately turned me off—but I soldiered through like a true Shatner fan, only to find it disappointed me in other ways. I’m a fan of complex characters—characters who have different, sometimes opposing motivations, who are more than just “the angry guy” or “the ditz”—and the characters on $#*! My Dad Says didn’t feel like real people to me. Instead, they felt like cartoons—not people I could relate to, cheer for, or even hate with any enthusiasm. And worse than that, the show wasn’t funny, a cardinal sin for a sitcom.

Sometimes I like a show from the start (The Event, with its tension and hints of aliens among us). Sometimes I’m not sure about show but am willing to give it another shot (Running Wilde, with characters I love but narration that annoys me). And sometimes I find that, despite what everyone on the internet says, a show just doesn’t feel right, the way cilantro tastes awesome to some people and like soap to others (Raising Hope). But maybe it's a waste to judge so soon. Seinfeld is a great example of how shows sometimes just need a chance to find themselves: If you go back and watch that pilot, it actually looks pretty lame, and just... off. But there's still something refreshing about it, even now: Even if Jerry and the crew weren’t likable people, I still wanted to be around them.

I suppose that in the end, the question I ask myself of every new show—as a TV fan, not a TV.com writer—is, "Do I want to be transported to that world again?" The answer might be depend on any number of things: an enthralling story, relatable characters who remind me of me, fascinating characters who don't remind me of me, an interesting setting. But if I don't, I’m changing the channel.

How do YOU decide if you like a show or not? What criteria do you use, and what made you like or hate this season's new shows?

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This is actually a difficult question to answer. I enjoy so many different types of tv shows. The first thing for me is usually what is it about? Even if entirely unknown it still has some classifying elements. I also go by actors I like from other shows. I also judge on how entertaining it is, the pace, the writing, originality and acting. It all comes together. After watching I gage my reaction, how invested it made me.
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I usually TRY them based on the actors--it's rare the plot is original enough these days to hook me on its own--but my true test is if I A) always remember to DVR it (since I never set up series recordings for new shows) and B) actually watch the DVRed episodes instead of letting them pile up. When I realize I missed a week and I don't care, that's when I cut it loose.
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If you love it immediately it's alright:P, Like Better with you, i love that show, for the ones who didn't watch try once
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In my opinion:The most important think:It's what about the show,than the storylines, than the cast.
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Firstly- it depends on cast. Then comes the story-line. If I like the actors I will watch the show no matter what. And if the story-line and plot-twists are good, but the acting is poor, I'll stop.
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The show either has to be based on something I already like (a book, a video game, a comic book, etc.) or just simply have good storytelling and fleshed out characters. I don't do two-dimensional characters.
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I have this internal switch within me... If a show is captivating it clicks the switch and has my full attention... If not then I remain dormant and online while the tv chatters in the background.
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For Chuck, S2E1
Modern Family, Haley b/f sang the song he wrote in front of the family and end of the episode the family was singing it, love it.
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I'm not really sure. The characters, the plot, the premise, they all have to be good for me to want to stick around.
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I have a computer next to me. If the show keeps me from surfing the net i like it.
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I know that I like a show when I can't wait for the next episode. I don't have ashow that I liked since day one. It always take me several episodes to make my mind but when the show become like an addiction it is the sign that I really like the show. For this season I tried to watch almost all new show premiere except some that I know that is not my type at all.
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Emotional connection. Everything is second to that.
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I mostly don't watch shows from day one as the risk of it being cancelled/ or crap puts me off. So I usually wait to see if I get recommendations from friends or the web. The only time I start watching a show from the start is if it has an actor I've loved from a previous show. Castle with Nathan Fillion is an excellent example.
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The title for the show is really important for me as well, if the title can't capture my attention in order to watch the premiere then its done before I even started the show.. Take for instance "Lone Star" in my head it just rang of Walker Texas Ranger, Brave Star (80's cartoon)... Nothing really got me interested in with the name itself to remember to set my DVR
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Is the premise interesting? Are the characters annoying? Is the dialog heavy with exposition? Are there new ideas or old ideas executed excellently? Is it funny? Does it move me emotionally? Are the effects cool, if any? Is the action well done? Are children exploited or killed in the plots? Is it too preachy? Does it promote the Tea Party or it's ignorant ideas?
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i watch the pilot of every show. the pilot tells me if the show is nice. sometime i watch 2 additional episode which after that i decide if the show is nice.
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Simple; If I find it entertaining, if I don't I'll generally keep watching until I've lost complete interest
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My favourite show right now is Fringe. Sure it's complicated, but I have no idea what is about to happen next! It's what I love about the series! The plot is continually fresh, and the cases are mind-blowing! I adore the characters (another must), the Peter/Olivia pairing is so sweet and almost fragile! Also, Walter's childlike personality is adorable!!!

My former favourite was Bones. Now the episodes are extremely character centric, which I would like if the writers weren't so determined to keep Booth and Brennan apart. In order to keep the tension from season to season the writers should distract the viewer from the pairing- thus the cases that used to be interesting. Now they have become monotonous, making us realize that from season to season, whatever progress has been made between Booth and Brennan will be reset. It's like Mulder and Scully (X Files) the couple that Booth and Bones were modelled after. Nothing will come to fruitation, only the X Files did it better.
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Boardwalk Empire! loving that show!
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I am a big fan of tv series, so i tried to see as many pilots as posible. As long as it looks fun, i'm game. Some show are more compelling because of their plot, or their cast, or sometimes it just looks intersting. Unfortunately most people didn't give a chance to Lonestar o my generation, both shows i liked.
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The show that i love the most right now is Chuck, and i didnt even start watching it since season 1 episode 1, one day i was on the internet and saw 'Chuck' and clicked on it and read the sypnosis and thought it was interesting so i decided to click it and watch the pilot, i have to say i instantly fell in love with the show and the characters. There wasent 1 second of the pilot where i was compelled to stop it. SO THE HYPE AND ADVERTISING ISINT WHAT GOT ME INTO IT. I of course looked up who where the actors in the show before i watched it and i knew NO ONE, i had never seen firefly or whatever, or less then perfect..although i remembered Zach from Big Mommas house 2 (minor role), SO I DIDNT GET INTO IT BECAUSE I KNEW THE ACTORS. NONE OF THE REASONS ABOVE WERE WHAT DREW ME IN. I just loved Chucks geekyness, and sarahs and caseys kick ass, u could tell right off the bat their chemistry is amazing. Plus it made me laugh and its a big plus for me in any show!
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If a show has a favorite actor in it, I'm willing to give it a chance, but no matter how much I love the actor, I won't watch a show that bores me (I'm looking at you, Outlaw). Even if I've committed several seasons to a show I loved, I will abandon it in later seasons if loses its way (24, That 70's Show). I love over-arching story lines, but will stop watching if the show never goes anywhere (Lost, Heroes). Although I don't watch many comedies, I do like humor with my drama (Supernatural, NCIS). I don't like annoying characters, no matter how good the rest of the show is (House, NCIS in Seasons 1&2 ((Kate)), Life Unexpected). I don't like repetitive story lines, which is why I don't care too much about procedurals....they're the same story over and over. I like my characters to evolve realistically, even in unrealistic shows (Buffy, Angel, Supernatural). No matter how fantastic the premise, as long as it makes sense within the universe of the show, I'm fine with it. I guess if I wish I were a character on particular show, that means I LOVE that show.
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Well Im not from the States so unfortunately i dont get to be around the premiere "frenzy" :-). What made me tune into Glee for example was all the hype. Generally though, It's the characters, surprisingly the lighting sometimes affects whether I like the tv show or not.
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I hooked up a second screen to my laptop, so I can watch and do other things simultaneously. If I get through half an episode without even noticing it, the chance is good I'll never watch it again, or I try to repeat it and hoping I'll pay more attention this time. The shows that I keep watching, are the ones that make me stop typing and just watch. But I do take into account that sometimes I'm just too distracted, and it's not just the boring thing, so some things that still look promising I give a second chance. But mostly, it's the doing two things at once and seeing which one wins - the series or my typing/playing games/etc.
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Whenever I start watching a new show, I always make sure to watch a couple of episodes before I make a decision (unless it's truly horrendous) and that's because I know what I look for in shows, great characters. With any show I watch the first thing that comes to mind about it is my favorite characters and I will stick with a show for a really long time if I love one of the characters. Normally I don't even realize I've come to love a character until much later, but I know immediately when I don't feel for the characters. If I don't feel for them and want to know all about them, I don't want to watch. The truly great shows are able to make me feel for characters that normally aren't even my favorite. That is how I know when I like a show.
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Before I get into a show, I read the reviews and watch the previews. I also know what type of shows I wouldn't like (The Event and the law/crime procedural types) and like (light shows). Also another thing that attracts me to a certain show would be the actors and actresses in it (Keri Russell in Running Wilde) and sometimes the massive ad campaigning gets me curious enough to see it like in Fringe. I usually just watch a few episodes to gauge the show, but sometimes I end up watching the whole season just because I already started with it, but now I just check out the pilot. I'm more now picky with what shows I watch because I'm already watching about 15-20 shows.
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I hate shows where each episode has a beginning and an ending. I want to watch a story arch over time where it develops. FRINGE does this very well.. of course there is some small one episode story archs, but the grand \"red thread\" is always there. Other shows like this that I watch is: Dexter, Beaking Bad, Rubicon and the new show The Event. I hate shows like CSI where they wrap up the story every episode, and television is FULL of this crap
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how do i know? i like it if it's on tv. :-p i have a broad interest span so i try every show once unless i just have absolutely no interest or nobody i like is on the cst. then i keep watching until i don't like it anyway. however, if it's a new law or cop or reality show i won't give it shot at all because i hate those. unless it's somebody on the cast i just HAVE to support
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Oh also, I don't tend to like shows that are mainly male-driven; I like a lot of female energy in my shows.
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In a drama, I'm looking for fascinating plot, interesting characters and a great concept. In a sitcom, the plot means nothing to me, interesting characters are paramount and an interesting concept is always welcome, but not necessary - all it has to do is make me laugh. The single-camera/multi-camera thing doesn't really bother me. I don't even mind a laugh track.

I find though, a lot of the time unless the ads look REALLY interesting, I won't go near a show unless I know and love one of the actors. For instance, I started watching The Big Bang Theory for Kaley Cuoco and stayed for Sheldon. I wouldn't have touched Better Off Ted if not for Portia de Rossi. Brothers & Sisters for Calista Flockhart, etc etc.
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I like shows with interesting complex characters. I like entertaining and well-written plots that are dramatic and complicated but not too soapy or hard to keep up with. The look I pay attention to too; I want to see if it suits my taste or it fits the show. Most shows I like I like immediately, others I'm unsure about and stick with for a few more episodes
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I usually just know if I am going to like a show or not from the first few minutes. Some shows that I'm iffy on I'll give a few episodes. However my fav types of shows are usually the unusual or quirky ones like Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Better Off Ted etc that never last more than a season or two.
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I like the question. Never really thought about it. I usually like a show after watching 5 to 10 episodes, no matter what it is about (as long it is no sifi). So for me the question is not really, how I decide I like it or not (I have an tv-show addiction, I admit). The question for me is: when do I decide I will give a tv-show a try. A cute guy, a famous lead actor/actress, positive feedback from people around me, good comments on TV.com. I do have to admit that I have recently stopped watching One Tree Hill, because it is to predictable and annoying. A lot can happen to a person in one lifetime, but this is just the worst storyline ever. I also pick my shows on my moods. Happy (Glee), weird (The Office), confident (How I met your mother), sad (Brothers and sisters), alone (Parenthood), stressed (Cougar Town). It is like friends: you have one to talk to, one to laugh with, one to cry with and there are those rare friends which have it all: CHUCK! So when a show doesn't call on an emotion (the latest Big Bang theory are kind of empty for me) I quit the show!
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I guess to me is up to the premise and sometimes the cast!!! I watch a LOT of tv shows and I easily get addicted!!! Basically, I watch the trailer and read the Show summary and if it catches my attention I watch the pilot!!! From this season's new shows I completely fell in LOVE with Hawaii Five-0! It has a fantastic cast, it's fun, action packed, beautiful locations and great stories!!! On the other hand, I watched the pilot of Chase (my brother insisted in watching it..) and I didn't like it!!! I don't know, it just did not appeal to me...
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You know you like a new show when you can't wait for the next night it's on. You also like a show when the competition is extremely highly-rated yet you will forego watching it so you can watch your favorite show instead because it has begun to fit like a comfortable pair of shoes. My one example here is Hawaii 5-0 vs. Castle. I won't give up my "Castle" because the characters are like family now.
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I'm not ashamed to admit it, but I choose what I watch based on how good looking the women in the show are. I even watch bad, nonsensical shows which should be cancelled for the benefit of everyone, as long as the women are attractive. I know us viewers should support quality shows with quality writing and quality actors by watching them and ignore the bad ones so that they would be pulled off air. But I can't help my instincts. Even if the female actors are terrible and their dialogue is bad, I don't care as long as they are good looking.
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I hated Seinfeld, I love good tv though. Seinfeld was so overated. Here is my opinion on the current shows out there:
The Event: cliche, predictable and just not like-able
The Defenders: Very like-able, story with a touch of humour, win win win
(*^^ my dad says: Easy to watch for 30 mins, it isn't trying to be a great show, it knows what it is and has a few laughs, HE IS NOT CAPTAIN KIRK!
The Boardwalk Empire: TV has a new god, its name is boardwalk!
No Ordinary Family: Fell asleep! Whats it about? Superpowers? wake me when its cancelled!
Outsourced: A bit tongue in cheek but funny, sorry i liked it
Nakita: Feisty, but the show format of writing seems to be copied through each episode.

Like-able Characters, interesting Back story, gripping episode story with humour mixed in is what gets me to watch again & again
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I give most things a chance currently watching 20 plus shows
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Interesting. It has to start with a network (any network) prepared to put a non-reality programming budget into development, writing, advertising and belief in the product. Substance over style. Since that is largely absent, we are left with:

"Comedy". A funny comedy would be nice. But comedies aren't funny anymore because they are all put-down humour or lowest common denominator humour and even the most lazy viewer gets tired of a steady diet of stupid. Time for smart comedy; witty, self deprecating, there-are- consequences-if-you're-a-jerk kind of humour. I tried S#*t My Dad Says as well and was disappointed. It relied too heavily on Shatner who is at his best with someone equally clever at delivery to bounce things off...and good writing of course. As of this moment, the closest I get to viewing comedy on TV is Jon Stewart.

"Reality": there just isn't anything good to say, so I'll say nothing.

"Drama": There are several premises that are automatically out for me. Sometimes, because in addition to being very uninteresting to me, they are overused; like lawyers.
Medical shows are automatically out because I am not in the least entertained by what I do for a living for one and I am too critical of the drama quotient that they use...to me, it undermines the profession somehow, and I work too hard.
Cop/forensics shows: getting to be in the overused category, but the successful shows for me are those with a plausible and mostly likable cast, intelligent writing, and a dash of witty humour. Like NCIS, Bones, Castle, Human Target. Unlike the CSI's for example. Original ideas: well wouldn't that be a nice change. I tend to avoid remakes with the exception this year of Hawaii Five-0. Its still not as good as the original, but the draw for me was Alex O'Loughlin, Jean Smart and of course, the locale. To my surprise the writing is not bad and the remainder of the cast has a nice balance. I like the actors who have been chosen to play some great, classic characters.
Imagination is key. Thats why Science Fiction appeals to me: the avenues are endless and anything is possible. The writers are original and fearless, the performers are as well, and just as important: so are the viewers of this genre (I hate that word). Characters, both heroes and villains, are something to invest in and the really good shows keep you guessing. Its not just about blood and guts and horror...it's about the possibilities, even if they are, in truth, impossible. I think the network execs need to get back to paying for a quality, imaginative product that caters to a very large audience of people who are not in the least entertained by watching others make fools of themselves, or by products that are tantamount to an ambulance-chasing mentality. A couple or good recent examples that never got off the ground (in fact, were aired but never intended to continue by the nets) were The Philanthropist and Virtuality. Both were relatively unique ideas, both took chances with their respective subject matter and both dared to be daring with the concept.
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a) Original premise plus no cliches - I hate cliches couldn't even get through the whole first episode of H5O. One word: tripe.

b) Does it have potential? I think you can tell if a show will be cancelled from its first episode.

c) Have I bonded with the characters? They don't have to be role-models for that - look at Dexter!

d) Dialogue - might not be perfect at first, but there are moments of brilliance (Community at the start).

e) An element of 'hotness' is a definite bonus! Wasn't that keen on True Blood at first or throughout season 2, but 3 seasons down and I haven't missed an ep.

f) It is predictable - that basically throws out all cop shows except The Wire. Hands up if with any cop show you watch, you know what the final outcome will be in the first 5 minutes. Point (e) does not help in this situation.

g) What else is on that night - is it worth dedicating my time to it - would I care if I missed the next episode or would I rather go out or read a book.

That's about it!
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I watch a lot of TV. Around 7-12 shows every weeknight plus my daily shows I keep up with like AOTS, Jimmy Fallon and Sportscenter). I don't have one set of shows I like more than another but I do like some shows more than others. Like I prefer Chuck over just about anything, it's one of my favorite shows and it sucks more people don't watch. What I like about Chuck are the characters, that's foremost above anything else. Sure it has a lot of silliness and unnecessary elements to it, but when I sit back and watch I don't care. Then it comes to the writing/story, a show like How I Met Your Mother that is centered around that and also has strong characters. At times you'll love and hate each one but that's life. Its a show that really shows how a person can change with the experiences they go through and yes, something seem too far fetched but that's how everyone tells a story. Then the last thing that I like about a show that keeps me tuning in every week is just wanting to know what's next. Shows like LOST, 24, and now The Event. They have their ups and downs with characters, the writing and the story but they just have this "I wonder what's going to happen next?" factor that really helps keeps me interested in.
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I think your last question sums it up the best: "Do I want to be transported to that world again?" Truly great shows do a terrific job of establishing place. They don't just ignore it like most sitcoms do and they don't make a huge deal out of it like some sci-fi shows do. The characters seem natural in the world of the show.

Second I like characters who are human. That means that they have conflicting feelings, and believe they are the hero of their own story. Many shows have definite good and bad guys and they each know who is which. In real life people are all trying to achieve their own goals and see everything through their own perspective. Few shows create such characters, but when they do I will definitely watch.

Finally, the show has to be realistic or at least reasonable. I am willing to stretch this a little depending on how well the show develops its world and characters. However, scifi shows that have sentient beings that look like humans with fish heads or cop shows where they always catch the bad guy just don't cut it in my understanding of the real world. I also hate shows where actions don't have consequences like in most action shows where the leads can beat up bad guys and never even get hurt. Even pro athletes get hurt and they aren't even trying to kill each other. I will accept quite a bit if you create a convincing enough world, but otherwise there is no chance I'm watching.
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