Fall is one of my absolute favorite times of year. Veteran TV series’ are awakening from their summer slumbers right in time to meet a pack of bright-eyed newbie shows, all pushing and shoving to achieve the coveted status of “hit.” Some of those poor fledglings won’t make it. Some will be cancelled unjustly – others, deservedly so. Some old favorites will fizzle and fade, while others will shine more brightly than ever.
But new or old, comedy or drama, sci-fi or police procedural, they’ll all have a fair chance to win over my fangirl heart. As the race heats up, no one could be more excited than I am to see which show will come out on top.
THE RACE: WEEK 1 (September 23-29)
Castle (10/9c, ABC) – Very strong opener, especially considering last season’s slightly under-whelming finale. (I ship Caskett as much as the next person, but a full ep of them talking to other people about their relationship status didn’t do it for me.) That said, this one worked. Beckett’s new job and the shifted dynamic between her and Castle gave the show a fresh feel. I like them as an engaged couple. Watching them not be able to investigate together was as frustrating for the viewers as it was for the characters. Kudos to the writers for realistically tackling the challenges associated with this complicated long-distance relationship. Add in a whopper of a cliffhanger, and you’ve got a pretty flippin’ great episode. SCORE: 8/10
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (NEW) (8/7c, ABC) – Coulson lives! Been looking forward to this show since I first heard about it, and it didn’t disappoint. Likeable characters, a cool plot, plenty of super-charged action, and Joss Whedon’s typical quirky humor (I’m STILL giggling about that whole “poop with knives sticking out of it” thing). Half a point gets knocked off for a few unclear editing/writing moments, but overall it was a high-quality premiere, and I will definitely watch again. SCORE: 7.5/10
Chicago Fire (10/9c, NBC) – Smokin’ hot, as ever! So glad this one landed a great timeslot following The Voice – I always love it when a network recognizes and rewards quality. Chicago Fire has been must-see TV in our house since midway through Season One, the quality hasn’t slipped a bit in Season Two. The cast is beautiful and talented, and the storylines are engaging. I care about all of the characters on here, not just a few – and that’s rare for a such a large-cast show. This season’s opener picked up right where we left off, with even more complications emerging: An arsonist targeting Severide? And Renee’s baby might not even be his?? Meanwhile Game Day is trouncing Molly’s, Matt just got a load of unneeded guilt dumped on him (he DID buy drinks for those ladies), Gabriella and Shay both have romantic woes, Mills might still be thinking about trading uniforms, there’s a snitch in the firehouse, and Mouch is running for Union Prez. I’d say we’re in for a ride this season. SCORE: 8/10
Elementary (10/9c, CBS) – Solid opener. The characters of Lestrade and Mycroft were different than I expected – in a good way. It felt realistic and complicated. I liked the dynamics each character shared with Sherlock. Bonus points given for a cool plot involving a dissolved plastic gun, the nice London scenery, and the part where Mycroft blew up Sherlock’s stuff. Interesting at the end to see Sherlock concerned about Lestrade. Watson: “Welcome to what it feels like to care about an addict.” Well said, Joan! SCORE: 7.5/10
The Mentalist (10/9c, CBS) – Picking up right where we left off, on the trail of the ever-elusive Red John. It hurts to see Jane so frustrated! It hurts Lisbon, too – I can tell. She seemed pretty darn freaked out that Jane didn’t seem to know his next move. No excuse for her to betray his confidence, though – telling Van Pelt about the suspect list was SO NOT COOL. I kinda hate that the writers had Lisbon do that…Also kinda hate that the writers had her walk right into a situation that practically had neon signs all around it, flashing, “TRAP! TRAP! TRAP!” She’s smarter than that – and a better cop. If the Red John set-up would have been even a teensy bit less obvious, I could have forgiven the writers, but that was blatant to the point of unrealistic. That said, though, I did adore all the “alone time” Jane and Lisbon shared – even going out of town together, just the two of them! – and the serious Red John discussions between them. The writers are making Jane and Lisbon more like equals, rather than the parent/child dynamic they sometimes shared in the past. Not sure if the show is setting them up to be romantic partners or not, but if so, the writers are on the right track. Mega-points added for the pervading creepiness of the RJ investigation, a nifty stand-alone mystery, and the HUGE cliffhanger ending. Red John has Lisbon???? OH NOES!!! SCORE: 7/10
This week’s winner: The Mentalist, by a nose! Castle and Chicago Fire swoop in to take second and third. Despite not scoring the highest, The Mentalist storyline is one we’ve been waiting to see since the show began. It seems like they’re finally going to wrap up the Red John thing – something they should have done three years ago. I may not agree with every twist and turn, but I sure am thrilled that the writers are biting the bullet and putting it all out there. Here’s hoping they don’t hold back!