The 4-Episode Test: GCB, Touch, Awake, and More

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It's baaaack! A few more of this year's new midseason TV shows have reached the four-episode mark, which means it's time to pass judgement on whether or not they're worth your precious time and/or emotional investment. Read on to find out which of the following shows we're sticking with and which ones we're deleting from our DVRs, then tell us what YOU'RE still watching in the comments.



GCB

Sundays at 10pm on ABC


GCB Final verdict: Not my cup of tea, but if you dislike women and love cartoons, enjoy.

Analysis: GCB's glossy production, clever writing, and stand-out performers add up to less than the sum of its parts. The pilot established the show’s proud tradition of quickly rolling eyes at crazy Christians and then scurried not to lose the possibly Christian audience by throwing in a Gospel song. Episode 2 brought the lady stereotypes to a zenith with one character trying to entice her husband by dragging a hot wing between her bosoms. In the third episode we rallied a little; the church was used in an interesting way when Amanda went to a single’s workshop lead by the “mean girls” of the series. The fourth episode also had a solid conceit, featuring a famous-Texans-themed costume party and a villainous Aunt Bitsy choking on a rib. However, the show’s structural problem is a doozy: The heroine doesn’t need to make a hero’s journey...and everyone around her does. The fundamental problem is reflected in the often cartoonish periphery characters who cannot, for the show to stay viable, make emotional gains: If they do, all conflict will be lost. Yet if GCB doesn't humanize its "bitches" a little, the show will stagnate and become irretrievably mean-spirited. So...good luck with that, GCB! —Lily Sparks



Missing

Thursdays at 8pm on ABC


Missing Final verdict: Unless you've got a soft spot for melodrama, quit watching.

Analysis: This series was all cheese and very little substance from the start, but the pilot boasted enough action to make me hope the cheese would eventually subside and make way for a thickening plot. Nope. There isn't an ounce of believability here, thanks to the excessive exposition. Missing plays like a children's movie, with everybody telling each other who they are and how they feel, rather than letting the audience figure things out organically. Giancarlo is probably in love with Becca (Judd), but we only know that because the characters talk about it at the most random moments. Becca floats through her obstacles with unprecedented ease—for example, we still don't really understand why CIA operative Dax is so eager and willing to help. Also, if I have to hear her say the words "I'm just looking for my son" one more time, I'm going to explode. Seriously, that's what makes even the most questionable opponents give in to empathy? In short, Missing in an oversimplified melodrama where one-dimensional characters break for long pauses between sentences—and gunfights. The best thing we've seen so far is a "Richard Castle" nod in Episode 4, in the form of a featured blurb on the back of one of novelist Martin Newman's books. That, and the return of Sean Bean, but I don't think he'll save Missing from its melodramatic doom. —C. Killian



Touch

Thursdays at 9pm on Fox


Touch Final Verdict: It's okay. Keep watching if there's nothing else on.

Analysis: If you're the kind of person who tears up during really artful, heartfelt phone commercials, Touch is the show for you. It's basically emotion porn: Each episode introduces a number of seemingly disparate characters and then builds to an orchestral climax of coincidence and uplift. Touch certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do: I teared up at least once during each of the first four episodes. It's just too bad that these episodes are about as deep as a phone commercial. After four installments I'm still not sure I care about Kiefer Sutherland's character or the nightmarish child he dutifully tends to, and really the only thing I've learned is that "everything is connected" and "we're all in this together." Cool, thanks! And frankly, no matter how uplifting or positive the pay-offs, it's hard to be entertained by so many implausible twists. Touch wants us to believe there's an order to the universe, but then traffics heavily in coincidence and happenstance. In the pilot, a lost cell phone somehow got sent around the world where strangers recorded videos and passed it on until a Tokyo teenager got its contents displayed on a jumbotron just in time for the phone's owner to walk by and see images of his deceased daughter lighting up the streets. Touching! Also, ludicrous! The next two episodes worked the same way: New people, new ways for their intersecting lives to make us cry. At least the fourth episode opened up the possibility that Martin's wife might still be alive and the people we've met in prior episodes may continue to be involved in extraordinary events. Overall Touch is well-made and interesting, but let's be honest: It's basically just an edgier Touched By an Angel. —Price Peterson



Awake

Thursdays at 10pm on NBC


Awake Final Verdict: Keep your eyes open for this!

Analysis: Awake's pilot was one of the best hours of television I've seen all season, if not the best. A fantastic blend of police procedural, emotional family drama, and supernatural psych-out, it's a must-see for people who like awesome things. There was a question about how the show would handle subsequent episodes, and for the most part it's done a stellar job by focusing on its strengths and pacing itself brilliantly. Four episodes in, we're still entranced by the family issues and clues that hint that there's still plenty of great story to tell. —Tim Surette



Bent

Completed its six-episode run on NBC


Bent Final Verdict: Unless it gets picked up, there aren't any more episodes to be seen, but if you haven't already seen them all, don't worry about catching up. Also, don't hold your breath that it'll get picked up.

Analysis: Bent is a show that hinges on a single premise: that you want to see its two leads get together. And when that premise fails to congeal—which is exactly the case with Alex, a Type-A lawyer, and Pete, her womanizing slacker of a contractor—the result is the sitcom equivalent of bland mush. Nothing here gels, from star David Walton’s slack-jawed performance to the overstuffed cast (including Jeffrey Tambor, who deserves so much better) trading limp one-liners in the background. The pilot was mildly better than the episodes to follow, if only because it had the luxury of introducing us to the various players and therefore having some reason to exist. By Episode 2, giant cracks in the foundation began to show. Episodes 3 and 4 ran together into one monotonous mess. How many scenes showcasing an uptight woman sassily dressing down her contractor in a kitchen can one nation endure? In short, who cares? Answer: No one. Ratings were abysmal, and Walton is already jockeying for his next gig on a CBS sitcom. —Seth Abramovitch



Now it's YOUR turn to reveal what you're sticking with and what you're giving up on. Let us know what you're still watching and why in the comments!

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