The Great Fall TV Cram (2012 Edition): 7 Sophomore Shows to Catch Up On Now

Summer is basically over, school is back in session, and fall premieres are right around the corner—but just because we're all excited about the incoming freshman shows (and/or their potential for early cancellation) doesn't mean we're excused from keeping an eye on the season's most promising sophomores. And thus it's time for another preseason TV cram: Below, we make our case for why you should catch up on the seven shows whose second seasons we're looking forward to the most. (Plus we'll be covering all of them weekly... get up to speed now so you can talk about 'em with us once they return!)



American Horror Story: Asylum

Season 2 premieres Wednesday, October 17 at 10pm on FX

Commitment: 12 highly addictive episodes

Why You Should Catch Up Now: If we're being honest, you probably don't have to watch the first season of American Horror Story, since Season 2 promises to be completely unrelated, story-wise. New characters, new setting, new horror genre entirely. But we're guessing a major appeal for the upcoming Asylum season of AHS will be seeing much of the same Season 1 cast playing new roles, and if Ryan Murphy's promises are to be believed, actors like Jessica Lange and Evan Peters will be playing "opposites" to their Season 1 counterparts, information that might inform our impressions of Season 2. And while viewers may not necessarily need to know what they all got up to in the Murder House, we think you may enjoy Murphy's weird sensibility better if you know what kind of craziness to expect after Season 1. So, basically, consider this TV cram mostly just extra credit!

Cheat Sheet: Start with the pilot. You might be hooked immediately, but if not, skip to the two-part Halloween episode. If you're not hooked after that, then this show may not be for you. —Price Peterson



Homeland

Season 2 premieres Sunday, September 30 at 10pm on Showtime

Commitment: A dozen thrilling, one-hour episodes that are as addictive as delicious crack.

Why You Should Catch Up Now: When Homeland was announced, I figured it would be good, but I didn't know it would be THIS good. Easily the best new series of last season and definitely on my short list of the best overall series of last year, Homeland is a real post-9/11 drama that ditches flag-waving and stars and stripes in favor of paranoia and trust issues. The acting ensemble, led by Emmy favorite Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, is right up there with Breaking Bad's, but the show's unpredictable twists and turns (best romance ever!) will leave you floored. I can't recommend this show highly enough.

Cheat Sheet: You're really doing yourself a disservice if you don't watch all twelve episodes, so plow through 'em. And once you start, you'll probably finish all of Season 1 in about three days. But I wouldn't fault you for skipping Episode 9, "Crossfire." —Tim Surette



New Girl

Season 2 premieres Tuesday, September 25 at 8pm on Fox

Commitment: 24 half-hour episodes. Trust us, they'll breeze right by.

Why You Should Catch Up Now: After the public's wholehearted rejection of the "adorkable" meme, New Girl had to step up its game in order to remind us that it's actually a really good TV show! Over the course of the season, Zooey Deschanel dialed back on her occasionally autistic-seeming quirks, and the result was a well-realized, extremely funny, and occasionally moving portrait of late 20-something life. Max Greenfield's Schmidt in particular stood out as one of the most singular TV characters of last year, and Schmidt's burgeoning romance with the mind-numbingly gorgeous Cece (Hannah Simone) became the show's most compelling through-line. New Girlis weird, inventive, and is as breezy and appealing as a Saturday bike ride. Get into it!

Cheat Sheet: Like most comedies, you probably don't have to watch every episode. But here are the ones not to miss: "Pilot," "Wedding," "Jess and Julia," "Fancyman (Part 1)," and especially "Normal," in which the gang plays your new favorite drinking game, True American. (It is AMAZING.) —Price



Once Upon A Time

Season 2 premieres Sunday, September 30 at 8pm on ABC

Commitment: 22 hour-long episodes, although there are plenty of skippable standalones if you just want to get caught up.

Why You Should Catch Up Now: The season finale left off with a devastating cliffhanger that’s been torturing fans all summer long. Still, we feel kind of guilty getting you hooked on Once Upon A Time, this show is basically crack for fantasy fans, romance fans, and/or anyone who likes cozy little towns. It’s the kind of world that inspires fan sites and marathon sessions and by now you've probably heard it's from the same dreamboat team Kitsis and Horowitz who were behind Lost. The series at its best combines the familiar warmth of fairy tales with sinister threats and mind-bending dream logic, like a Disney version of Twin Peaks. At its worst, its still a loony WTF romp with a stellar cast. It’s impossible to follow a conversation about this show if you’re not watching, and Season 2 is sure to be a talker, so catch up while you still can.

Cheat Sheet: While it’s entirely possible that you’ll be so obsessed with the world you won’t want to miss a single minute, you can watch the following episodes as an “abbreviated version” of the first season: "Pilot," "The thing You love Most," "Snow Falls," "The Shepherd," "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," "Desperate Souls," "7:15 AM," "Skin Deep," "Hat Trick," "The Return," "The Stranger," "An Apple Red As Blood," and "Land Without Magic." —Lily Sparks



Person of Interest

Season 2 premieres Thursday, September 27 at 9pm on CBS

Commitment: Just one season! But it was kind of a long season, with 23 one-hour episodes.

Why You Should Catch Up Now: Going in, I didn't think I'd like this show a whole lot—even with J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, Michael Emerson, and Jim Caviezel involved. It just had so many strikes against it: it had a procedural vibe, it was on CBS, and it was on CBS. But oh lordy it got really good really quick and became the biggest surprise of last season for me. The premise—a billionaire and a former special op team up with a super computer to help people in danger—is perfect for tackling the procedural aspect while also offering a rich, serialized backstory. Nolan brought his gritty Batman ideas to protagonist John Reese, one of 2011's breakout characters, and Person of Interest exhibits a surprising amount of humor to keep things balanced. But it's the relationship between the two main characters, and the guns and action followed by '80s-style cheesy one-liners, that make the series so comforting.

Cheat Sheet: If you need a quick taste to determine whether the show is for you, watch "Pilot" and then "Cura Te Ipsum" (Episode 4). Other top episodes include "Judgment," "Witness," "Number Crunch," "Super," "Root Cause," "Baby Blue" (for the lulz), and the final five episodes of Season 1—particularly the finale, which was one of the best episodes of any show last season. —Tim



Revenge

Season 2 premieres Sunday, September 30 at 9pm on ABC

Commitment: 22 deliriously awesome, hour-long episodes. But they’re all on Netflix Instant right now so holla!

Why You Should Catch Up Now: You’ve probably heard a lot about Revenge; it’s become a cultural soap addiction along the lines of Dynasty or Dallas. Based loosely on The Count of Monte Cristo, Emily Thorne returns to her small Hamptons town to get revenge on the Graysons, who framed her father for a terrorist act, and she sets out to systematically destroy everyone who assisted in her father’s downfall... and then things get complicated. Madeleine Stowe’s incredible depth as arch-bitch Victoria won her a Golden Globe, and the charisma and hilarity of Gabriel Mann anchors the show. It’s a soap opera on steroids, with all the production value of a film and moments of genuine dramatic tension, and once you plow through the episodes like potato chips you’ll be just like the rest of us: desperate for Season 2.

Cheat Sheet: You are not allowed to miss a single episode! Sorry, but Revenge is built on the premise that filler is antithetical to good TV. Every episode builds out the world or provides extremely necessary information. Plus, seriously, why would you want to miss any of the first season? Too much fun, and watching the episodes get more elaborate and better looking as the show actively gained a following is an enjoyable arc in and of itself. BUT IF YOU REALLY INSIST you can watch the premiere and skip directly to Episode 4, “Duplicity,” and watch from there. —Lily



Scandal

Season 2 premieres Thursday, September 27 at 9pm on ABC

Commitment: One of last year's midseason replacements, the first season of this under-the-radar drama is only seven episodes long. You can power through it over the course of a bottle of buttery Chardonnay.

Why You Should Catch Up Now: Shonda Rhimes' Scandal wants you to think it’s a tight, political thriller but it's actually more like a super-captivating romance with the kind of sexual tension not seen since Moonlighting. As the title suggests, there is plenty of delving into mini scandals every week, thanks to its almost-procedural format, but the show takes pains to sidestep all the boring parts of politics and leave only the juiciest, most emotional, most adrenaline-pumping moments onscreen. Kerry Washington is incredible as main character Olivia Pope and even extras get powerful monologues. The writing and drama and soapiness have made this a secret favorite around the old Sparks household. And there's a huge reveal coming up in the Season 2 premiere about one of the main characters, Quinn, so hurry up and watch so you can squeal along with the rest of us when all is (hopefully) revealed in Season 2.

Cheat Sheet: You don’t have to bother cheating, there’s only seven episodes, guys. But if you’re squeamish about Dexter-type torture, feel free to skip Episode 5, "Crash and Burn."



Which returning fall shows are you most excited about? What should we be catching up on that's not on this list?

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All the networks should start putting together a voting system to ask viewers whether they are committed to keep watching X show. And when I say "ALL networks" I mean all, or at least 80% of them. A central system must exist in order for ppl to know where to go when they want a show to keep airing. Not going all over the internet.
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How about instead of asking us to vote on just 7 shows ask us to vote on all shows, especially prior to Networks making cuts to shows that deserve a reprieve, just maybe we could save more shows like Unforgettable which was un-canceled due to viewer complaints (or so I read)
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AHS, Scandal and New Girl should have been axed. CSI:Miami, Ringer, Terra Nova and Alcatraz should have been renewed, or at least give us a proper ending! CSI:Miami just stopped.



I never miss an episode of Revenge, Person of Interest, Homeland, Once Upon a Time, or Grimm and have purchased DVD's for each. I also watch NCIS, NCIS:LA, CSI, and CSI:NY.
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Gotta love the cram sheets.
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POI is a darn good show that got better and better as the season progressed (as any well written TV show should). However, I think it needs to be around for a few years before it's put in the same league as NCIS, a show that has an unmatched record of consistency while at the same time an unmatched record for being ignored by the department of TTIAFTS (Those That Issue Awards For Television Shows). I guess I struggle to understand the standard complaint (see above article by TV.com Staff writer) against the so called procedural based line up of CBS shows. NCIS is a show that has well developed characters with deep back stories (with much more to learn about each one). The actual theme of each show may be somewhat procedural but they must be doing it pretty darn well to have the ratings they have (I believe you can't do much better than #1). If you think that a TV show should be written in a manner that allows you to discover the meaning of life than NCIS probably isn't for you (actually there isn't anything on TV that reaches that lofty goal). However, if you want to be entertained at the end of a long day and not be treated like a moron (see all reality shows and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo) than I think you could do a lot worse than a CBS so called procedural. Maybe this TV.Com Staff writer needs to climb down off his/her high horse and spend a little time with us normal people. TV is entertainment, nothing more (excluding news). Stop trying to justify your position and salary by adding a sense of gravitas to an article about TV shows.
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Person of Interest is one of those rare shows that you just cannot get enough of - like #1 NCIS. (BTW, POI is very close to surpassing NCIS in the ratings). The acting / cast, writing, directing, music selection, all are as close to perfect as a TV show can get. The chemistry throughout the cast - especially between Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel - is almost tangible. You can absolutely see why POI won the "Most Favorite New Drama Series" from the Peoples Choice Awards last year! (Will Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson next win "Sexiest Men Alive" from People Magazine)??? Stay tuned!!! Literally. : )
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People have been telling me to watch scandal because its so good I honestly don't see what's so good about it. I watched all 7 episodes on Netflix and it bored me to death anyways with that being said I'm looking forward to OUAT and revenge
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Revenge is now available on Netflix along with Once Upon A Time and Scandal. GO WATCH THEM FOLKS!
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Last Winter holiday I watched every episode of Homeland in One day. I know you are just sitting there, but it is exhausting. I slept 'till ten the next morning.
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I hope it says something good about my taste in television that I've either already watched these shows (AHS, Homeland, New Girl, Revenge & Scandal) or planned to watch them and just ran out of time last season (OUaT & PoI). Either that or I have no life. I can't see myself catching up on either or them at this stage though, too much of a commitment... and at this stage I'm most looking forward to AHS.
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once upon a time and the always awesome person of interest are the only saving graces in this bunch

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Revenge, AHS, OUaT, Homeland and PoI were all on the top of my list last year, and I'm super excited for all of these shows to return. Touch should have been on this list as well.
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Touch was slow at first but picked up speed, it returns Oct 26th.
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Most excited for AHS and Revenge on this list.
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Hart of Dixie is a nice show that has its S2 start soon.



Person of Interest is my favorite show from the list but I love Once Upon a Time & Homeland too.
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From this list? AHS, Homeland, and Person of Interest. I found all to be wonderful. All the more opportunity (and pressure!) for kick-ass work ahead. Looking forward to the season!
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Person of Interest is mostly awesome, I can't stand New Girl and Deschanel's quirkyness, I'm getting less and less invested in Revenge, American Horror Story is very entertaining, Homeland is one of the most perfect shows ever, Once Upon a Time could be much better, could become a must-see series, but it's not yet.
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Person of Interest bored me after the first few episodes, New Girl is dumb, Once Upon a Time and American Horror Story weren't as clever as I thought they would be, and ended very anti-climactically, same with Homeland. No surprises.
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Then what DO you watch?..
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Suits
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My friend keeps bugging me about watching Homeland so I think I'll give it another go (only watched the first episode and haven't watched since) after I finish with Downton Abbey, which will be soon.



I have no interest in Person of Interest or Scandal. I watch Revenge off and on.
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You should definitely try Person Of Interest. Despite it being on CBS and being a procedural, it has a lot of great story lines and action packed scenes. It really brings a breath of fresh air to the constantly repeated procedural genre. Just give the pilot a go. If you like it, the series only gets better after it.
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Listen to Joshua! POI now has the same high ratings as #1 NCIS - and for a reason. Great show! I had no interest in it either, Sunny, and I just received my Season 1 POI DVD in the mail today. Give it a try!
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Definitely Person of Interest, gotta agree it is one of the best shows I've seen for a very long time. Although Homeland is very good it takes a while to get into it but is worth the effort - I'm just not sure how a second season is going to work in.
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I love Person of Interest, the acting, stories, music and direction are all superb. Truly one of the best new shows last year, it kept getting better from episode to episode. The finale blew me away and left me to mourn the summer until the Season 2 Premiere 9/27/12. I ordered the DVD/Blu-Ray and am re watching in anticipation of the new season. That Person-of-Interest was on CBS, instead of one of the cable channels was a complete surprise.
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I can't want for the season permiere of Scandal, Revenge, Homeland, Once Upon A Time
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Scandal was lucky to get a second season , and i am pretty sure it will get axed in no time ..

Person of Interest and homeland are going strong from the looks of the first season finale .. cant wait to watch the new season ..
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Person of Interest all the way.

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I voted yes to all but Scandal because I don't watch it :)



And you have my taste.
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Once upon a time all the way!!!

Im intrigued with Rumpelstiltskin and the evil queen!
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homeland and person of interest. Nolan bros can do no wrong!!!
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for me, the only missing candidate here is Grimm..
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Maybe because its the most boring show ever? (I watched 15 episodes and still didn't get it into it. Bored the hell out of me!)
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maybe because Grimm is already airing?
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Suburgatory!
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Revene, Homeland, AHS
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Except for New Girl and Scandal (which i have never seen) i really like your selection. POI and Revenge are probably the ones from the list i am looking forward to the most.

Might not be a Sophmore series, but i think everybody should watch Happy Endings. So there you go. Right now i am rewatching Suburgatory and I almost forgot what a amazing show it is. The quality of the cast has really struck me the second time around.
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If you've never watched the show then why count it as something that should be off the list. It's an amazing show.
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where is Touch ? it wasn't good enough ?
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Touch. started off slow but once the conspiracy started to kick in i thought it rocked. although having jack bauer saying sweetheart was kinda weird.
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Person of Interest is very good. Also thought Grimm should have made the list. but I maybe biased since I live in Portland area.
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Revenge and Homeland !!
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Person of Interest is a sure thing. The first season was so good. It really brought a breath or fresh air to the procedural genre, and the cast is simply excellent. I will definitely watch Season 2. Surely one of, if not the best, new series last year.



Homeland is great as well. From the moment Claire Danes was cast, i knew i would be hooked. And i was. It deserves all those Emmy nominations it got, and i can't wait till Season 2. However, i worry about the longevity of the series and how the writers can stretch the series.



Once Upon A Time is great as well. Jennifer Morrison, and i'm in. I never thought i'd enjoy a fantasy series like this, but i got into Grimm as well, so i guess both series did extremely well in their genres. Season 2 seems to be picking up different storylines, and i cant wait to see this back on my screen.



New Girl is amazing. The best new comedy last season. Zooey and Schmidt are the highlights, and it looks like it'll be the center of the new Tuesday comedy line-up at FOX, and rightfully so. Zooey is so quirky and enticing in this show.



Scandal and Revenge, i'm not anticipating as much, especially Revenge. I never got into the soapy ness of Revenge, and i dont think i'll watch Season 2. Scandal i'll give another shot, because the first season, although short, got me quite interested. The POTUS and Olivia sidestory is extremelt annoying, though. I hope they ditch it.
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Person of Interest is a definite for me.

Scandal- it shouldn't be as good as it is. But it is. Love the cast and the chemistry even though it's soapy.

Revenge- Everyone who is Anyone knows that Nolan is the shizz. My main reason for watching that show...but it's, again so soapy but so good I surprised myself enjoying it as much as I did.

Once Upon A Time- No one could have told me that a show about fairy tales would have had me engaged every week but it is true.



I must be one of the only people who could not get into New Girl. AHS isn't something that would entice me...and I've been considering Homeland.
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Bought POI on DVD and watched it over the week. They've included a special extended unaired pilot episode, very different look at the episode.
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Revenge,Once Upon a Time and AHS!!I wanna watch Homeland as well..!
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I already watch and agree with all but Scandal....I guess I should give it a shot.
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Homeland & Person of Interest the rest can sit there and gather dust they have nothing that would hold my interest.
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Person of Interest 100%, as well as American Horror Story. While It seems I'm one of the only people, if not the only person, who thinks Claire Danes acting is not believable and over the top (and DON'T drop the argument that "You don't know what it's like to have or deal with one who has such a disease!" -- because I do, and that's one reason I don't believe it with her), I'm looking somewhat forward to it starting up again and will definitely watch it. Damien Lewis is definitely at his best.



I haven't bothered with Once Upon a Time yet, but have been leaning towards watching it and I'm sure I'll get hooked.
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OUaT, Person of Interest & Revenge I totally agree with.

The others? BAH.
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None of those shows interest me except for New Girl - which I already watch - and Once Upon a Time. I have yet to sit down and watch the latter but when I read the premise it definitely intrigued me!
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i was hooked when marathon-ing Homeland, even though it didn't have a satisfying ending. this season should be better since there's little possibility Brody will be back for a third season...

i watched 5-6 episodes of New Girl, liked it but fell out of watching it. everyone started raving about it so i started watching again, but it was the same as before. it's no Happy Endings, which itself is no 30 Rock, which is not It's Always Sunny..., which is not Louie, which is almost not Parks & Rec, which is almost not Community-level. there are way better comedies, is what i'm saying.

AHS was deliciously creepy. i will be tuning in for J-Lange, but might be turning it off for Levine. what i really liked about the first season was the allusions that you had to know to pick out, instead of it being like every other show that just names/shouts out references.
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- Call me old fashioned, but I'm a sucker for a good procedural. So when a certain show called Person Of Interest premiered last year on CBS, I thought I would give it a shot. Five episodes in & I'm walking like John Reese!

POI was without a doubt, the breakout show of 2011. It took criminal procedurals to a whole new level. Homeland was OK, but there's a special vibe while watching POI that I didn't get from Homeland.

- New Girl, to me at least, is & always will be overrated.

- I watched the entire first season of AHS last year. I don't know why. It's not my kind of show, but I couldn't stop watching. Maybe that's why it scored big last year --- you can't look away. It's too weird to not be noticed!
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i;m excited about 2 broke girls (i know the lovely writers do not care for it, but it;s actually a cute show once you get past the r and v jokes
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Absolutely LOVE Person of Interest, and I actually caught up this summer before you suggested it to me. xP



But based on the other comments, it sounds like I need to give Homeland a try.



I'm very particular about my tv, as I will never give freshman shows a try unless I know they'll pass onto sophomores. I just don't like the disappointment! So, time to try a few of these others on for size.
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Dont trust the b in 23 is the only show not listed that i think should be. Weird show that i find absolutely hilarious.
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I love the B.
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Funny, I watched the first season of all of these, and 3 of them are shows I am dropping and wish I could unwatch. So, you know, I'd like to do the opposite of catching up on them. So, at the risk of everyone telling me I have bad taste, I'll just share these warnings from my perspective:



Spoilers if you pay no attention to the casting of these shows current season whatsoever.



*) Person of Interest is a boring procedural whose serialized elements are tacked on an unengaging.

*) Homeland is boring and completely lost any respect I had for it by failing to pay off in the finale for the season long arc. Basically, exactly like Sons of Anarchy last season.

*) New Girl is in no way special and barely funny once or twice an episode, and some scenes early in the season are downright painful to watch (or listen to).



I recommend not catching up on these shows under any circumstances.
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I think your're into fantasy.
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Vague and potentially irrelevant? I'm into lots of things, fantasy among them.
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Okay, no way is Person of Interest 'boring'! PERSON OF INTEREST WAS THE BEST NEW SHOW LAST FALL. Its boring for people who have no interest in action and good drama or engaging philosophy which doesn't hit you on the head or for those who want extremely simplistic storylines and bad acting! And I'm not in CBS demographic! I hate most CBS shows, but this isn't one of them.
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Chuckle. No. That is basically the "it is only bad if you are a moron" argument. I expected that one. It is boring for way more people than that. The action is good about 30 seconds out of 42 minutes, but not as good as Human Target was the 2 seasons before, so it made a poor "action show" replacement for me. The drama is not good and probably never really can be as long as it remains primarily a procedural; they often ask you care about random new characters without giving you a motivation to. It is, after all, hard to give a shit about characters who have not been developed. The acting, well, it's not only not good, it's not present; they are just reading lines, I find them generally not believable. The philosophy is beyond simple, but on network television it always will be, buy a book. It is a bad show. Not a terrible show, but definitely subpar. My rule is this. If I can rate it a 5/10 I will let it be on in the same room while I do something else. Person of Interest spend the season at the borderline, but in the end I decided it was a 4, because I had to let the last 3 or 4 episodes accumulate before I could even bring myself to finish the season.
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for me

POI - definitly love that show even though i am usually never into show of this type i was really looking forward to watching it each week

Homeland - was hit and miss for me as I saw so many of the things that happened coming a mile away but i will more than likely watch season 2

New girl - I despise this show the entire cast annoyed the shit out of me especially zoey she is cute but if i knew someone like her character in realy life I would probably be in jail. I have never been more annoyed by a character since the female lead in pushing daisies
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Damn.

My opinion below =

Person of Interest = Best New Procedural (Bah. It's better than most procedurals.)

Homeland = Best New Drama

New Girl = Best New Broadcast Comedy
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Out of that list, I'm most excited about Person of Interest's return. I cannot wait until September 27th! I'm also looking forward to: Haven, Castle, Grimm (after its break), NCIS, CSI: NY, Hawaii Five-0, etc.
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I'm not particularly interested in any of them beside american horror story and I'm already caught up on that.
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