The Fall 2009 Premiere Season has (almost) come and gone, and this year's crop of new shows definitely made a strong impression. Now, after spending countless hours staring at the small screen, it's time to pass judgment. Which new shows were great? Which were awful? And which may need a little more time to fully ripen? We asked TV.com's writers and editors to weigh in on the new shows they feel most strongly about, and here's their take on this autumn's TV harvest:
Glee is essentially Mean Girls plus musical theater. Thankfully, it's a show about music, not a musical show. The actors are talented, the story is fast, and the issues are real. Plus, It's way better than High School Musical 1, 2 or 3!
Modern Family (ABC)
The heir apparent to Arrested Development has fabulously dysfunctional families, snappy writing, a superb cast, and most importantly, laughs galore. In a swirling sea of unfunny network comedies, Modern Family is a life raft full of hilarious, intelligent humor.
The pilot was good, and the cast is talented. But the second episode felt stilted, and it's possible that Chevy Chase doesn't remember how to be funny. Joel McHale's smarminess isn't nearly as charming here as it is on The Soup. We hope he eases up as the season goes on.
The premise is strong (the world blacks out and has glimpses of the future), and this show may be a good a fix for those who will suffer withdrawal symptoms when Lost ends next year. But we're not ready to commit because of the wooden dialogue and overly dramatic moments.
The Good Wife (CBS)
This drama about the jilted wife of a adulterous politician features great acting, but the premise could get a little tired. Our big fear: The Good Wife could become Just Another Lawyer Show.
The Middle (ABC)
With great actors creating great characters. The Middle is reminiscent of classics like Malcolm in the Middle -- so it may have a hard time standing out from the crowd. Fortunately, it's also hilarious.
The pilot was exciting -- with cool crashes and big explosions -- and the on-location shooting in San Francisco looks great. But we're still not convinced this show has what it takes to stand out from other medical dramas.
Bored To Death (HBO)
In the immortal words of respected thinker Homer Simpson, "BE MORE FUNNY!"
As one TV.com commenter put it, “You can take Kelsey out of Frasier, but ya can't take Frasier out of Kelsey.” So true. In Hank, Kelsey is still that same aristocratic, socially awkward guy we know from Cheers and Frasier -- but, uh, this is supposed to be a totally different show. The dialogue is weak and the premise is forced, so a faux-Frasier is all we’ll get right now.
The Jay Leno Show (NBC)
He retired, and we said our farewells. But then he came back! Jay Leno just doesn't know when to say "goodnight." The only new thing about Jay Leno 2.0 is the chinny comic's 10 pm timeslot.
At this point, any medical series is pretty much a retread of something else. But Mercy borrows so heavily and so egregiously from shows past and present that we're tempted to call it plagiarism.