The 4-Episode Test, Fall 2013 Edition, Part 1: Dads, Sleepy Hollow, The Michael J. Fox Show, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine

#RealTalk: TV pilots are often terrible. Sure, every once a while, a real gem comes along and blows us away, but duh that's the exception, not the rule. Series openers tend to be weighed down with clunky exposition and crammed full of too many storylines—all the "better" to introduce TV executives (and viewers, if the show gets picked up to series) to the premise and characters at hand. But we've all heard the stories about how some of our most-favorite shows started out with stinky pilots. And generally, once a series hits the four-episode mark, it's a bit easier to tell whether it's going to be satisfying in the long run. So we here at TV.com have vowed to always stick with new shows for at least four episodes—no matter the quality of their pilots—in what we like to call the TV.com 4-Episode Test™. Now that we're starting to reach that point with this season's freshmen series, here's the first round of what we're sticking with and what we're deleting from our DVRs. Check back next week for Part 2!


Brooklyn Nine-Nine



Episode 1: ★★★★ | Episode 2: ★★★★★ | Episode 3: ★★★★★ | Episode 4: ★★★★★

Verdict: Keep watching (or at least DVR it if you're busy)!

Though Andy Samberg could stand to tone down his mischievous smirk and punch up his comedic delivery, Fox has one of the season's better new comedies on its hands in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.* (That asterisk = not saying a whole lot.) The series is still working out some kinks—figuring out how to maximize the characters' cop jobs for comedy, how to use Terry Crews at all—but it's still in much better shape than its competition, thanks to a solid cast and framework. Since the very funny pilot, the series has played both good cop and bad cop, hitting a high (Jake's increasingly bad luck) and a low (Terry building a dollhouse) in Episode 3, while Episodes 2 and 4 reached for greatness but got goodness. I'm not worried about the show going corrupt, though. I can watch Chelsea Perretti for hours, and series creators Dan Goor and Mike Schur have earned our trust via Parks and Recreation. One request: Can Fred Armisen's weirdo from the pilot make a return visit? —Tim Surette


Dads


Episode 1: ★★★★ | Episode 2: ★★★★★ | Episode 3: ★★★★★ | Episode 4: ★★★★★


Verdict: Continue not watching because c'mon, we know you're not watching.

The Seth-MacFarlane-produced Dads started the season with a baaaaad reputation. Early reviews called it foul, offensive, and unfunny, and they were right. However, the show didn't usher in the end of humanity as some prophesized, and after the horrifying racism of the pilot (sorry, Asians), Episodes 2-4 were merely "not good." Either that, or I was just desensitized to the "shock" of flat and fratty jokes like, "Love is where you find it." [laugh track] "Even if it's on top of Brokeback Mountain." [uproarious laugh track] At least the show waited until Episode 2 to get its titular dads stoned. Dads isn't anything more than a show about two guys trying to get laid and having to listen to their dads talk about their shits, but it also isn't trying to be anything more than that. Add an actually pleasant opening-credits sequence, and you've got something that's just a tad better than the worst thing in the world. —Tim


The Michael J. Fox Show



Episode 1: ★★★★ | Episode 2: ★★★★★ | Episode 3: ★★★★★ | Episode 4: ★★★★★

Verdict: Totally watchable if you need more comedy in your life, but not an absolute must-see.

I didn't expect much from Alex P. Keaton's return to primetime TV, but dammit, I was moved by The Michael J. Fox Show's earnest and funny pilot. After that, though, the show struggled to recapture the magic and fell into standard sitcom fare. Episode 2 was particularly troublesome; why would Mike cockblock his friend when Mike's already married? For comedy, that's why. But that's not a good-enough excuse, and it made Mike look like a real jerk, both to his buddy Harris and his wife Annie. The following pair of episodes were fine, and watching Eve run was great, but right now this is just a passable family comedy with a good cast anchored by Fox, Betsy Brandt, Katie Finneran, and the great Wendell Pierce. Now if it can just find a better partner on the schedule than the atrocious Sean Saves the World. —Tim


Sleepy Hollow



Episode 1: ★★★★ | Episode 2: ★★★★★ | Episode 3: ★★★★★ | Episode 4: ★★★★

Verdict: Keep watching.

There's really no easy way to say this: Sleepy Hollow is completely f*cking insane. Seriously, it's like the equivalent of dropping lots of acid and then binge-watching a bunch of different supernatural TV series from the last 20 years until they all blend together in the best way. The reason Sleepy Hollow works is that it knows it's ridiculous—and embraces it. The show doesn't take itself too seriously, constantly finding ways to incorporate jokes into a genre series that's ultimately about stopping the apocalypse. Stopping the apocalypse! Add in the secret history of the United States—where the Boston Tea Party was concocted as a diversion to steal an ancient supernatural artifact that held the keys to a portal to hell—and the easy chemistry between stars Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, and it's just flat-out enjoyable. While Episodes 2 and Episode 3 weren't as strong the pilot—I thought they were a little too procedural-y—Episode 4 jumped back onboard the overarching mythology train, upping the excitement level once again. But lest you think the show sounds too convoluted to follow, rest assured that it doesn't require a lot of deep thought... and that's aways a win. —Kaitlin Thomas



Comments (184)
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Sleepy Hollow is the only one...and it's still a maybe for me.
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Only show we watch on this list is Sleepy Hollow - we don't bother with the rest.
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I'm sorry but I like Dads. I knew what I was getting with it. Either you like the "Seth Green" kinda comedy of ya don't.
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brooklyn 99 is great. as is goldbergs (from the previous article.
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Sleepy hollow is one of the worst shows I've seen in years.. Headless horsemen in present day.. Time travel oh and he's just one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse..
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Yeah, it's known as fiction.
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ridiculous fiction... The best lies or stories are based in truth, So they are plausible or believable. The writing for this show is nonsence.
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I'm still sticking with MJF. It's no Family Ties but passably watchable. Hoping they can make the rest of the family a TAD bit more likable, maybe?? Otherwise I'm dangerously close to dropping it despite my love for the lead. Better writing, please.
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I think Terry Crews is great in Nine Nine. I loved the dollhouse scene.
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Sleepy hollow is a great supernatural show and I'm hooked. I've never seen the other shows mentioned as they fall into a genre I don't really watch.
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I guess I am the only one who gets the comedy of Brooklyn Nine-Nine so I am sticking with it . I am also sticking with Sleepy Hollow . As for Dads & The Michael J. Fox show, I never watched a single episode of these and I don't have the desire too .
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Dads is hilarious!! My new favorite comedy. I watched The Goldbergs, The Millers, The Crazy Ones, We are men, Trophy Wife and they don't even come close. I laughed out loud many times. It's been a while since I found a comedy to be so funny.
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I never thought I'd say that, but the best new show actually comes from Britain and is called Peaky Blinders! Check it out, it's really great...
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Whats wrong with British TV shows? We gave the world, The Office, The IT Crowd, The Inbetweeners....probably some other good stuff
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Agreed, nothing wrong, it's just that I am talking about a british show in a site where Peaky Blinders don't even exist on the search machine..
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yeh, this is an american site, so any British shows that they didn't feebly attempt to copy apparently aren't good enough. 'Tis a sad world.

(The "feebly attempt to copy" comment doesnt apply to the american "The Office", cos that was pretty good ;) ). Also the other good stuff I was thinking of were the movies Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, Great films :)
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My husband and I love Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi. I thought we would like Dads. It was so bad. I still watched with my husband, because he didn't like it but didn't hate it, and then after the third episode, he said, "I don't want to watch this anymore." I was so happy!
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Dads was awful. Awful, awful, awful!
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Sleepy Hollow is by far the best new show.
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I watched the first episode of MJF. My younger brother was the biggest MJF fan, and I watched it for that (my brother died back in 1994). I really wanted to like the show...but it just fell flat. It wasn't offensive, but it wasn't funny. I couldn't bring myself to watch again.
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You do know it's just been 4 episodes? Do you have the attention span of a fruit fly? It got better from the pilot, so why not keep watching it?
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"The Crazy Ones" grabbed me from the first episode. Most of my favorite shows grabbed me from the first episode. It has nothing to do with attention span. I don't watch a lot of TV and don't have time to sit around waiting for a show to get better. I have a life.
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I never watched Brooklin 9-9 or dads and don't plan too just because they don't seem like the stuff I'd watch.
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I've said it numerous times, 9-9 needs a better timeslot. Dads is a terrible lead-in, and no one is going to stop watching SHIELD or NCIS mid-episode to switch to 9-9.
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'Sleepy Hollow' the first genre show I can remember with two fantastic African American female leads and people are watching. Its crazy and its awesome.


Rest of the list, who cares - 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is complete excrement
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Wow. Finally someone who finally understands Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Anyone who thinks that is comedy needs a new dictionary.
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I mean, but let's just really take a minute to bask in the diversity... two fantastic African-American female leads. One wicked awesome African-American male who is running things and is pretty much the KING of the Sleepyheads fandom. One Asian-American male, and one Hispanic guy. That alone is incredible, but when Ichabod Crane, a Caucasian male from 250 years ago was hauled into custody by an African American and an Asian American in an authortative position and he didn't so much as bat an eye or find that problematic, the show won. It just won. But you two are absolutely correct...it's a fantastic show with a diverse cast and it's mainstream. No one even thinks twice about it. Except when we take a minute, shake our heads out of the amazing stupor that Sleepy Hollow puts us in, and have conversations like these...giving them kudos.
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I didn't realize how diverse it is, it is just good to me!
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Well said.
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Exactly, the third episode especially made me stop and think about how almost the entire show revolves around her, and viewers think nothing of it and just watch. I hope TV execs are taking note, and we see more fearless moves in the future.
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I have made my night by looking for the biggest WTF moment each episode of Sleep Hollow. I don't care if it is coherent and I'm willing to assume it is connected to the greater series.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is apparently my kind of comedy so I am sticking with it.
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Definitely sticking with Sleepy Hollow. The others I have absolutely no interest in.
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Sleepy Hollow=Ghostbusters
Brooklyn Nine Nine=The Other Guys
The Micheal J Fox Show=The Truman Show
Dads=Hangover 3
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Sleepy Hollow is awesome, the other 3 suck! ...end
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"Sleepy Hollow" is a freakin' hoot! It's a beautiful blending of "Supernatural" and "Grimm," with all the likeable characters, dark undertone, and slightly subtle humor mixed in with a whole lot of manipulated history. It's super enjoyable, and even if the level of excitement isn't always consistent with each episode, the show still delivers and keeps you wanting more.

I gave "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" a shot because, to be honest, I have a massive crush on Andy Samberg. I mean, especially now that his hair is calm, cool, and collected, the guy is freakin' beautiful! But his show is not. The show tries to be too much like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation," in both style and humor. The problem is that the humor is just not that great at all. Never mind the ridiculous attempts at making this seem like some kind of cop show. Perhaps if it were in a different setting, I could see it working a little bit better. I just don't like the material. So while my crush on the awkwardly adorable Samberg remains, my viewership doesn't.

I never gave "Dads" a shot because it looked like a desperate attempt at revitalizing the careers of B-list actors, but also because the initial reviews made it sound horrible. I normally don't pay any mind to critics, you know, since they are usual far too critical and don't allow themselves to truly enjoy something that is simply meant to entertain. But in this case, they seem to be right. Martin Mull and Seth Green should stick to what they know best; mustaches and stop-motion animation, respectively.

I wish I could say that I gave "The Michael J. Fox Show" a chance. I mean, I freakin' love the guy and admire his spark of life! But to be honest, between "The Millers," "The Crazy Ones," "Super Fun Night," "Back in the Game," "New Girl," "Last Man Standing," "The Trophy Wife," "The Goldbergs," "Mike and Molly" (upon its return), and whatever TVLand has going on, there are just far too many comedies on my slate. Sure, I enjoy a good laugh, but I love mystery, intrigue, thrills, and supernatural drama so much more! I just plum didn't have the want to spend another 30 minutes watching something I wasn't sure I'd truly like, since unlike all the other comedies out there, this one is seemingly a goodhearted family-based sitcom. This season, that makes "The Michael J. Fox Show" an original, but it's also been done to death. If it survives to see a second season, well then, I'll happily marathon the first and set my DVR to record.
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You have trademarked the 4-episode-test???
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I just noticed, why the hell would you trademark something so...so...generic? God people look to make a buck any way possible, I just lost a little respect for this site after seeing that. Please tell me it isn't true.
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It's funnier to read your post than the joke that inspired it :D
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I think people are being waayyyy too nice to Brooklyn NIne-Nine. I get that people watch it because they like Parks & Rec...but face it...this isn't Parks & Rec. The cutaways look like they were Family Guy rejects, the characters are too annoying to care about, the show isn't stupid enough to sneer at, not emotional enough to make me care about the stories or characters and not clever enough to make me laugh.
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I liked the second and third episodes of Sleepy Hollow actually more because they became procedural-y. I'm really tired of all the dramas with big important season-spanning stories that lead nowhere. If they can keep the mysteries inside mysteries bs to a minimum I will gladly resume watching it.

And the Michael J. Fox show is terrible, really really terrible. He was so funny on the Good Wife and here the writers managed to make him aweful and unfunny.
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Kinks are expected but B99 has been mostly solid so far... surprisingly easy watch.

I really don't understand the hype around Sleepy Hollow.

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It was pretty under the radar for a bit. But it's fairly simple, we SleepyHeads pretty much got the best hype man in the business, and he's on the freaking show. Orlando Jones baby. Breaking the 4th wall like a boss.
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SleepyHeads! I effin' love that term! Ima gon use it from now on K? XD
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Not my bit of genius on that one. LOL! I believe OJ and/or the fans collectively came up with that gem.
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There's Hype? All I've seen is a surprising amount of people who get a kick out of watching it while it gets some site coverage
Just be glad we aren't wandering around spamming "BANSHEEE --er, I mean, "SLEEPYYYYYYY!!"
:P
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It's more of a rave than a hype: Sleepy Hollow actually started very low key, but after the first few episodes the more the media started talking about it.

By the time it got a second season, I was already hooked.
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Sleep Hollow all the way, the rest I did not try!! so I can not comment on them
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sleepy hollow is interesting but in away it will be mysteries in mysteries. The big mystery is the pending appocolypse but them you have the Hessians. A number of mini mysteries. what role is Abby's sister going to play? Icobode's wife? Little bits of the fish out of water like Icobode talking to the onstar operator. Hopefully this won't be as bad as LOST make it easier for the viewers to keep track
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SLEEPY HOLLOW ROCKS.. we need more shows like that
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Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Sleepy Hollow.......must-see tv.
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I love Sleepy Hollow because it's insane. Gotta love insanity.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a ton of potential. Yes, it still has some kinks to work out but that's forgivable early in a show's run, especially when the ensemble is so strong.

I never had any intention of giving Dads a shot. The Michael J. Fox show was on my list of shows I was considering, but my Thursday evenings are too packed. I might wait to see how the rest of the season does and catch up on it over the summer.
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sticking with sleepy hollow I like the tongue in cheek and it never promised anything plus I find it funny
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Sleepy Hollow is a fun ride,week to week.
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I've stuck with The Michael J Fox show so far, it's been uneven and scripting, as mentioned, comes up with some odd choices for character motivation (yes, even for a sitcom, writing is writing, folks), but the lead is still damned good at making TV watchable, and while there are too many characters floating around occasionally they can be funny too.

I am not sticking with Sleepy Hollow after the pilot, but I'm also not voting against it either because the truth is that I enjoyed the pilot, and just felt I got everything I needed out of it, didn't need to come back for more - I could see where it was going, I could see the silly craziness and whatnot, and just felt the pilot was my fill.

I dropped Brooklyn Nine Nine hard, that show simply isn't up to snuff. Andy Samberg as the lead is too smarmy and snarky and self-congratulatory without earning any of it, and the majority of the characters are annoying and shallow and not terribly effective. Worst of all, its laughs are rarely there, and its chuckles are not well-earned.

I never gave Dads a chance because its marketing said plenty.
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I want to continue watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine but I don't want to get invested in a show which will have only one season.
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I get where you're coming from, I hate it wen I get invested on a show only so it gets cancelled before the end of the first season.
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We are loving Sleepy Hollow.

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Sleepy Hollow if a pile of horse sh*t
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Sleepy Hollow if a pile of horse sh*t
should it not say Sleepy Hollow is (instead of if)
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What a well-expressed, carefully-defended opinion. Thanks for taking the time to express yourself, you really contributed in a significant way to the conversation.
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Wow, tell us how you reeeeeally feel
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I like Sleepy, it is daft but enjoyable. The difference between Ichabod and the cop make for good chemistry.
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I like the dynamic between the leads, it grounds the madness of the premise in a way I didn't expect it.

I also like how the show takes its time to develop the Captain, Luke, Andy, Corbin and Katrina as individuals, with their own storylines and motivations aside helping the leads.

(And the twitter "feud" with Elementary was just awesome).
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I'm definitely sticking with Sleepy Hollow!!!
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Brooklyn Nine-Nine was a pleasant surprise this year, the only problem I watched in the first place was because of Teryy Crews.

I gave up on Dads 10 minutes in, it was like putting a drill through my temple.
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oh and man am I disappointed with the crazy ones. apparently it will be kept on the air thanks solely to each episode being individually sponsored by a different name brand.

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I didn't give a chance to the michael j fox show because I felt it would be too hard for me to watch and dads because of the laugh track. I was excited for both brooklyn nine nine and sleepy hollow from their trailers on and am happy enough with both. now bring on enlisted and almost human.

also I want to know what Tim thinks of agents of shield. I have to hope he thinks it's as bad if not worse than revolution season 1 and the reviewer job just went to someone who likes the show. which is unfortunate because amazingly I agree with him in that season 2 of revolution was a complete turn around and I have to assume critics like him are partly responsible for that. I was really not on board with s.h.i.e.l.d. but was still hopeful and now am just amazed at how terrible it is. saturday morning live action show terrible.
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Brooklyn Nine-Nine was a nice surprise, I had high hopes and it delivered. I wanted to watch Sleepy Hollow but just couldn't get pass the pilot, thought it was going to get cancelled but boom it's even renewed. Can't get enough of B9-9!!
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Dude, I watch Dads and I like it's sense of humor! Who made you gods of tv? Get a real job...
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Look out! Someone has a different opinion than you! Are you alright? You almost got run over by someone else's opinion, I think I got the license plate number on it though.

PS - you come to TV.com and read the reviewers' reviews, you get what you get. Dork.
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Who asked you, you piece of crap?
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Classy and well-argued, sport.
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The only one of these shows worth watching is Sleepy Hollow, the dismal ratings for the other three are enough for me to stay away and they fact that they suck it really hard.
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I'm in with Sleepy Hollow. At first I wasn't going to watch it but gave it a chance, and boy am I glad I did. My main concern was how were they going to keep it fresh since we know the Horseman can't be killed, and it would get dull having them try every episode.

But they turned it into a MOTW series and added the conspiracy that people in the town are involved with. Now its been three episodes since the Horseman has appeared, and I miss him!!!


Come back Hessian!!!!!
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I Keep watching Sleepy Hallow because of the insanity!! And I can't wait so see Steve again...
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<3 Steve
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And his horse, the horse is a victim in this too.
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Sleepy Hollow is good but I'm afraid it might get old pretty fast.
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I agree. I honestly don't get the hype it's starting to build.
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Saw one scene of Dads and was like, "Nah".
As for the other three, haven't watched all 4 eps yet but from what I've seen you guys are spot on.
MJF and B99 are sort of positive maybes for me, Sleepy Hollow is a go.
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