True Blood

Buy, Sell, or Rent: Arrow

Rebel Angels at Night Like Apparitions of an Infantry

Occasionally, I can be wrong about a new show. I will allow my prejudices to blind me against something worthy of being watched. This was the case with Arrow. Between my usual disinterest in graphic novels and superheroes and the fact that Arrow airs on The CW, I did not add this new series to my must-try list, despite its... visual appeal and the positive reviews it was receiving. But then it started strong - earning extremely good numbers for the little network that tries but often fails, and those numbers did not drop off at all. Next, Arrow became one of the first new fall programs to receive a full-season pickup. This reassurance that investing in the show would not prove futile combined with my previous curiosity towards Stephen Amell's titular role proved enough to convince me that perhaps I had made a mistake; perhaps Arrow was worth backing down on my new CW show ban.

And, boy, am I grateful.

Of all the superhero movie franchises out there, Christopher Nolan's version of Batman is the only one I consider must-watch. Batman has no superpowers; he doesn't wear a ridiculous spandex catsuit. He's a real man seeking vigilante justice. That is compelling. Sprinkle in his wealthy playboy status and his brooding nature that comes from heartache (something every girl sometimes secretly... sometimes not so secretly dreams of fixing), and the result is a dark drama, a soap opera with an edge. Arrow follows this recipe, and it does so well.

Don't get me wrong. The show isn't perfect. Ideally, a project like this would have the same production values as a big, blockbuster film... especially given the comparisons so easily drawn between Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne. While character development and plotting are the two most important elements to any production, cheap graphics can really hurt a project - not because the visuals are so very important in and of themselves but because, if they're bad enough, they can completely break the flow of a series and remove the viewers from the moment. Unfortunately, this happened several times during Arrow's pilot episode, primarily during Oliver's flashback scenes. You would think that the CW would have learned their lesson after last year's CGI ocean scenes on Ringer. Apparently, that is one hard nut of knowledge to crack with the network. There's hope, however, that, now that the background story has been introduced, these flashback scenes won't be necessary any longer, and they will quickly become obsolete. In the meantime, there are many other things to appreciate about this new show.

Have I mentioned Stephen Amell yet? Wow. I know his looks, his body shouldn't matter that much, but they do. I mean, that face... Those abs... Those arms... I'm not kidding. I literally found myself salivating during his workout montage. And then take the physical and meld it with his wounded, haunted personality, and that characterization is right in my wheelhouse. Plus, it won't get stale (like it ever really could!), because Amell essentially has to play two roles simultaneously - that of Arrow and that of the Oliver Queen everyone expects him to be. The bonus is that he's not the only one keeping secrets and pretending to be someone he isn't. Almost every single character on this show is hiding something, and that becomes great storyline fodder. The majority of these roles were also strongly portrayed as well, particularly Paul Blackthorne's Detective Quentin Lance. It will be particularly interesting to see how Lance's relationship with Ollie/Arrow evolves as the series progresses. Willa Holland also fits well into her role of Thea Queen, Oliver's emotionally floundering sister, but this should come as no surprise because Holland is playing to type. Regrettably, the one character weakness found in Arrow's pilot was that of Dinah "Laurel" Lance, portrayed by Katie Cassidy. As the woman Oliver loves and the person he missed the most, she needed to be spectacular, his equal in depth and complexity, but, at first glance, she appears just one bad decision (sleeping with Tommy) shy of being a Mary Sue. If the show wants her to be this unattainable dream, Arrow's female counterpart in the program's super-couple, then it has some major work to do.

Verdict: Buy! It has been a light new crop of entertaining fall series this year, but Arrow is a surprising treat.

P.S. Make sure you pay particular attention to Arrow's soundtrack. In the pilot alone it featured Icky Babes' "Girls" and The Raveonettes' "Apparitions" (as quoted in this post's subtitle).

Buy, Sell, or Rent: 666 Park Avenue, Chicago Fire, & Nashville

Bad, Better, Best

666 Park Avenue

This show is a perfect example of how good advertising can sell a horrible product. The poor man's American Horror Story... and I don't even like that show, 666 Park Avenue is deplorable. On paper, it has everything that a series should need to be entertaining: a stellar cast (Dave Annable, Terry O'Quinn, Vanessa Williams, and Rachael Taylor), a luxe setting, mystery and intrigue, and a supernatural flair – a genre that is very current and popular, but everything disappoints. Instead of being scary, it just comes across as hokey. The special effects are too pedestrian – very network TV versus cable. Instead of being sexy, there is a general lack of chemistry between the cast members. And, finally, instead of being entertaining, it's just a disjointed jumble of unlikeable people circling around the two clueless bumpkin leads like vultures. 666 Park Avenue's pilot was so bad, it's amazing this show ended up on air at all – let alone in such a coveted time slot following ratings' darling and fan favorite Revenge.

Verdict: This is just redundant at this point, but sell this series as fast as you can. Hell, send it to auction if you have to. Just get it off your queue/DVR.

Chicago Fire

When one thinks of a Dick Wolf show, dependability is probably the first thing that comes to mind. They're not cutting edge, they're not going to set either the Nielsen's or any academy on fire (no pun intended), but they will entertain you, and Chicago Fire is not the exception to this rule. While its pilot wasn't the best made this year, it certainly wasn't the worst either. Given its premise, it was predictable, but it's hard to argue with hunky, heroic men in uniform, and, while I'm being glib, this is essentially Chicago Fire's greatest strength: Taylor Kinney and Jesse Spencer. You want to see more of their characters (both literally and figuratively), and you want to learn more about their rivalry. Sprinkle in a strong supporting cast highlighted by Eamonn Walker and David Eigenberg and a little mystery surrounding Kinney's Severide, and the result is a decent hour of television. The only problem is that Chicago Fire isn't must-watch TV; it's tune in when you can, you won't be sorry, but you also won't kick yourself if you miss an episode or two. That's great for syndication, but a program has to reach that point first.

Verdict: I'd rent this one, but don't sacrifice watching a better show (see below) to watch this.


Quite honestly, I didn't want to like this show, but it just seemed too tailor-made to fit my television taste not to at least try it. You see, the problem is that I abhor country music, and, considering Nashville's premise... not to mention its title, it was pretty obvious that ABC's new series would end up hurting my eardrums. At times, its pilot did just that, but the pain was worth it; Connie Britton is worth it. I might just be the last person to jump on the Connie Britton bandwagon. After all, I skipped the Friday Night Lights phenomena after being scared off by its film predecessor, and I hated American Horror Story, but she is just downright fantastic in this. I especially appreciated her chemistry with Charles Esten, her band leader and hinted at past-paramour. Their sexual tension just might be surpassed, however, by that of relative newcomers Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio (Scarlett and Gunnar, respectively). When those two were up on that stage together, playing a country song I actually liked (shocker of all shockers) no less, you could feel the heat sizzling between them. And I liked the burn. But I would be doing Nashville a disservice if I made it seem like this show was only about the music when it is so much more than that. It's a great family drama spiced with some politics, too. Ignoring the opening song choice, when I saw the camera start to pan over authentic Nashville landmarks, I immediately thought of Dallas. That's not such a bad omen for a new show.

Verdict: Buy. Sign on the dotted line for this one, folks, and it might just be the best investment you make this television season.


Buy, Sell, or Rent: Last Resort

'I Heard the Roar of a Wave That Could Drown the Whole World'

So impressive.

I don't think there's one negative thing that can be said about Last Resort, one word of advice on how to improve it, but let's break it down to show just how good this pilot episode was, starting with the show's visuals. While I'm not usually one to care about graphics and special effects... as long as a lack thereof does not detract from a program, given Last Resort's premise, it needed to be visually competent, especially in comparison to film projects in its genre. Well, the show did this and more. I don't even want to consider what it cost to produce, because one could not see a difference visually between Last Resort's pilot and a movie - a good movie. One concern, however, might be whether or not the series can maintain this level of graphics.

Next, talk about an all-star cast. Remember how I theorized that Vegas had the strongest cast for all the new fall shows, well Last Resort might give the CBS mob vehicle a run for its money. Between the return of Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman to television and a great supporting roster highlighted by Dichen Lachman, Autumn Reeser, and Robert Patrick, these five stars lead the way for excellent performances across the board. Nothing was over the top. Better yet, one episode into the season, and the actors and actresses of this show have already mastered the technique of saying the most when their characters are silent. And chemistry? Last Resort's cast has it in spades. I know Speedman's Sam Kendal is married and that it might ruin his hero status if he were to knock combat boots with someone other than his wife, but he's too pretty - and talented - to keep underwraps, not to mention how well he's clicking with his female costars.

Now, let's examine the meat and potatoes of the show: it's plot. The series might not be the brainchild of J.J. Abrams, but Last Resort has a definite Alias feel to it. While one thing is happening on the surface, everybody has secrets which then begs the question how much of what the audience sees is actually misdirection? Right now, it's impossible to tell who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, because everyone has an agenda, and everyone thinks that what they are doing is what needs to be done... even if it isn't necessarily nice, or right, or ethical, or even legal. There's this feeling that, just when viewers think they have a handle on what's going on, Last Resort will completely turn the entire show upon its ear, and that's unbelievably fun television. Oh, and it makes for good TV, too. Did I forget to mention that?

Verdict: Buy, buy, buy! The only fear with this series comes from the cost of the program in comparison to its numbers. Last Resort had a strong premiere, but it will need to maintain it rather than suffer a falloff like most programs do with their second and subsequent episodes.
Being Human

Buy, Sell, or Rent: Elementary

Trying to Find the In-Between

It is said that the truth lies somewhere in between, but between what? Between good and bad, between light and dark, between fact and fiction, perhaps. In crime procedurals, typically the truth lies between science and psychology, and Elementary falls in line with this. While Holmes is securely locked into the study of physical evidence, often observing clues no one else can see or would even know to look for, Watson is more emotionally grounded. Generally speaking, this fits their sexual roles as men are often considered more analytical than women, but it does not fit their characterizations - Sherlock an eccentric genius; Watson a disgraced surgeon. Given her medical background, it wouldn't have been shocking for Watson to be adverse to anything but harsh realities, but this isn't the case, and it's a good thing. It makes a show that fits into such a narrow genre - that of the crime procedural - a little less predictable. Unfortunately, it doesn't make Watson a more appealing character.

Before I continue, my bias must be stated. I am not a fan of Lucy Liu or her work. I find her acting very one note and cold, which then translates into a lack of chemistry with her costars - whether they're male or female. In Elementary's case, her lead counterpart is male - Holmes - and played by the incomparable Jonny Lee Miller who would probably have chemistry with a paper bag, he's that charismatic. My dislike of their interaction has nothing to do with the fact that Elementary elected to throw the world of Sherlock onto its ear by modernizing the literary legend and by making the Watson to this 2012 Holmes a woman. In fact, I rather like this idea. I just don't like Lucy Liu in the role... or that the series is already showing signs of taking their relationship past the point of mere friendship and into a sexual realm.

Now, don't get me wrong. Neither character should spend the entirety of the show's run alone and single. Relationships can come and go, but an entanglement between Sherlock and Watson wouldn't have nearly as much angst and drama as one or both of them getting involved with the criminals they investigate. After all, someone has to be the Irene Adler to Miller's Holmes. Plus, it might be nice to see partners on a crime procedural not end up in bed together, especially given the lack of chemistry between Miller and Liu. There is also the sanctity of Doyle's characters to consider as well. It's one thing to take his creations and put them in a different time and place, but it's a whole other story all-together to completely disregard the very basis of the Holmes-Watson connection: friendship. Allow these characters to grow closer to each other as time moves forward, but keep it platonic.

Moving past my casting complaint, Elementary is smartly written, and Miller's physical delivery - the jerky movements, the blink-less stares, and rapid-fire of his speech patterns - fits Sherlock's personality well. I do think that the show should take steps to make sure that all evidence is presented to viewers... even if viewers don't realize that what they're seeing at the time is evidence. Just as in a mystery novel, the clues need to be laid out very precisely - there for the reader or, in this case, the viewer to interpret and analyze on their own. The fun of a mystery is trying to solve it along with the detective(s) or even perhaps arriving at the answer before all is revealed. This can't be done when a show withholds information and drops it out into the open at the last minute, concluding the episode with a grand, revelatory scene, and flashbacks during said revelatory scene do not count. I think such an approach is especially important on a show like Elementary where the lead character isn't even just a few steps ahead of the viewers but sometimes he's sprinting past a marathon's last mile marker, and viewers are just pinning on their numbers. If done the right way, viewers will still experience an 'oh! that's what happened' moment at the end of every episode, but then they'll also say 'why didn't I see that?,' further cementing Holmes' genius while, at the same time, observing the genre's unwritten rules.

Verdict: Rent. Elementary still needs to find its balance. There are moments when it's brilliant and moments when it's forgettable. If it, too, can find the in-between... just like when a detective is seeking the truth, then it'll be worth checking out for the long haul; if it can't, then it'll become yet another CBS procedural.
Pretty Little Liars

Buy, Sell, or Rent: Ben and Kate

I'll Be There to Watch You Be There for Each Other

When Fox released its preview of Ben and Kate during May up-fronts, it was frighteningly good - so good that it was without question the strongest new comedy promo. With such promise, though, comes the potential for great disappointment... just as is the case with exceptional movie trailers. How often have executives crammed a film's every laugh into a two minute trailer, and then, when audiences finally see the movie, they're so utterly disillusioned and let down. That was the fear with Ben and Kate. It is a relief to say that such fear was unfounded.

If you look at this cast, there are no recognizable names, no celebrity to hitch this new series on the back of an already established actor or actress' fame and brand. This could possibly be Ben and Kate's greatest strength. Because its faces are so new to television, their enthusiasm and talents seem fresh and untarnished. There are no expectations weighing them down, and this presents itself as one of the key reasons why the series is so unencumbered. While its concept is nothing new: two siblings from a dysfunctional family become each others' unorthodox yet somehow successful support system, its Dakota Johnson and Nat Faxon's undeniable brother-sister chemistry that makes it work. The characters' descriptions aren't original, but Ben and Kate are. Sprinkle in a precocious Maggie Elizabeth Jones as Kate's five year old daughter, Lucy Punch as the program's resident kind-hearted slut, and Echo Kellum as the quirky sidekick, and Ben and Kate presents a small yet sensational cast.

Despite its stellar trailer which featured one laugh after another, Ben and Kate's pilot was still funny. Those previewed jokes were just as funny the second (or third) time around, and the new ones made a very strong case for why they should have been included in the preview as well. Plus, the series has so much potential. Besides watching as these characters find their ways in the world, their pasts could come back to haunt them at any time. The audience never saw a single shot of the parents responsible for creating this non-traditional family, but, because their offspring are so entertaining, it can only be presumed that the introduction of Mom and Pops Fox would only add to the deliciously humorous chaos. Plus, what's BJ's back story. Why is she now living in the United States? Then there's also Tommy's blatantly obvious crush on Kate to explore as well. And this isn't even considering all the new week-to-week characters that have yet to be introduced and/or created and all the laughs they'll produce when interacting with such a magnificent nucleus of leads and working under such a strong, heartfelt premise. The possibilities seem limitless.

Verdict: Buy! This is the best comedy pilot since Modern Family.
The Office

Buy, Sell, or Rent: The Mindy Project

'Live Fast, Die Young:' Kickass Song Lyrics; Horrible TV Show Omen

There are two kinds of successful comedies: the warmhearted family/friends ensembles and the quirky, outrageous ones. The Mindy Project is seemingly bipolar and can't pick just a single type. Yet, at the same time, neither is working for the new series. The characters aren't likeable enough to be the next Modern Family, and, while a talking doll at the bottom of a pool is weird, the show isn't wacky or kooky enough to ring of shades of Seinfeld or Arrested Development. Comedies have room to stretch the envelope and push the boundaries, but this has to be done by smart writing, not because a show depends upon cheap laughs and lazy cliches. In this same vein, The Mindy Project - only just one episode in - is entirely too predictable.

While Mindy is attempting (badly) to emulate her favorite romantic comedies but nevertheless hooking up with her extremely shallow and pointless coworker, she bickers, feuds, and shares her only real moments with her workplace adversary, Danny. Their interaction is the classic playground one. He picks on her, puts her down, and ridicules her, and Mindy eats it up, pretending to hate it and him yet seeking him and his approval out anyway. Oh, it's not like they'll fall madly in love by the end of the season. If, IF the show's a success, they'll stretch out their rivalry and Mindy's journey of self-discovery for several years, but this doesn't change the fact that the series is only one episode into its run, and its endgame has already been made obvious - and not because of an irresistible chemistry between Kaling and Messina but because the pilot's plotting was so trite. Unfortunately, The Mindy Project's flaws do not stop there.

Going back to the show's struggle to find its identity and voice, its setting is rocky to say the least. While Mindy is unbelievable as an OB-GYN and she and her coworkers spend more time gossiping than actually working, the unrealistic portrayal of a group of doctors will only work if taken to the extreme, to the point of satire or the absurd; if the program is going to aim for the more heartfelt and sincere, then it will have to find the funny in everyday life situations. This limbo the show is in now is not working. Additionally, Ed Helms' cameo wasn't funny. In fact, it just came across as an awkward reminder that Kelly Kapoor is now calling herself a doctor. This statement is facetious, but Helms' inclusion in the pilot made it obvious that Kaling's new character is too much like her The Office role. The Mindy Project's only bright spots were its dim-witted, politically incorrect receptionists, but they're not a good enough reason to continue watching and investing in this show.

Verdict: Sell.

Buy, Sell, or Rent: Vegas

He Shot the Sheriff, but He Didn't Shoot the Cowboy

Vegas has all the pieces. With what is probably the strongest cast assembled for all the new fall TV shows, CBS's period drama about 1960's Las Vegas should be a shoe-in to buy. Further aided by the fact that its premise is based upon a true story (giving it direction and gravitas), and it has the perfect setup to provide shadow – the law versus the mob in an era during which the two sides were so entangled that it was challenging to separate the bad guys from those who were worse, Vegas has a little something for everyone – all the glitter and gold of Sin City, cowboys and chivalry, the echoes of a bygone era that still resonate today, the allure of the gangster lifestyle and code, and vigilante justice made potent by the rifles in the ranchers' hands and made possible by the star the mayor has pinned upon their lapels. And viewers love vigilante justice.

There's just one problem: to varying degrees, Vegas and, more precisely, its actors are trying too hard... or, in some cases, barely trying at all. The most egregious offender is Dennis Quaid. On paper, he fits his lead role of Ralph Lamb to a T. A little weathered, a little rough around the edges, he makes sense as an ex-MP during WWII and now cowboy roped into being the law of a town, not because he wants to serve necessarily but because, if he doesn't do it and do it his way, nobody will, and forget about results. But he's reaching. Rather than allowing for the period details and the dialogue to set the scene, he's overacting. Instead of subtlety revealing the layers of his character, he's forcing the issue, squaring his jaw just a little too tightly and glaring with eyes a little too narrowed. His son, played by Taylor Handley, certainly is a chip off the old block if nothing else – over the top and forced in his own ways. Finally, there's Michael Chiklis' Vincent Savino, the local don... or at least the local Las Vegas representative of some east coast outfit. He runs the city, and he makes sure that everyone knows it by employing every single gangster cliché known to writers and actors alike. While there's nothing technically wrong with Chiklis' performance, some originality would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps the problem is that these two theoretically fit their roles so well that what has actually happened is that they've been type cast. It'd be interesting to see what the series would be like if they switched characters, but I digress...

To the opposite extreme is Jason O'Mara's Jack Lamb. He's the antithesis of his brother  – quiet, seemingly always in the background, and O'Mara plays it so convincingly that he stands out as the only source of quiet intrigue. He doesn't chew the scenery, draw out his accent, or strut around in his cowboy boots, and, because of his simplified performance, his character, so far, is the only one who actually feels real; he's the only one who fits into this time, setting, and place. Carrie-Anne Moss' ADA Katherine O'Connell falls just shy of this, mainly because so many of her scenes were opposite Quaid's Ralph.

Luckily, Vegas' flaws feel more like growing pains. These are all fixable problems, and, in a way, the concerns just might stem from those behind the show really caring about their project, resulting in them trying too hard. Everything just needs toned down. Softened. Made to a feel a little more natural and a whole hell of a lot less campy. Given its premise, Vegas should read like a miniseries every week, not a procedural and certainly not a caricature of its genre. Unfortunately, when there are so many other good shows to watch, and so many other things to do, viewers aren't going to stick around for months while Vegas tries to find its voice. Then again, it is a CBS show – the biggest mark against it, so it'll probably have a spin-off in the works by next spring.

Verdict: Rent... and hope for the extremely rare chance that this property is put up on blocks and moved to a different network, particularly a cable one.

Buy, Sell, or Rent: The Mob Doctor

'And the only life we have; It's the one that is divided; In right or wrong'

The genius behind this new series is its duality. What could be more fundamentally opposed to the Hippocratic oath than killing for the mob? Not only is Grace – The Mob Doctor's titular heroine – stuck in this position, but she's also caught between her professional standards and ethics and her need to bend the rules in order to take care of her family and those, like her, from the wrong side of the tracks. It's this very contrast in her personality which makes Grace a good surgeon and a good mob doctor. Where others would buckle under the pressure, Grace – though she doesn't like the situation – excels... almost to the point where one starts to question which world she really belongs in – nature vs. nurture at its best.

This duality is only possible because of Jordana Spiro's ability to portray such a strong, independent lead. There's no doubt that she can play balls-to-the-wall in her sleep, but it will be interesting to see if The Mob Doctor allows her to have a softer side, vulnerability. I think this is necessary – to humanize someone who is otherwise so completely outside the realms of viewers' understanding of and experiences in life due to the extreme circumstances of Grace's situation. If early indications prove correct, this vulnerability should stem from Grace's father's mob-related murder.

In the meantime, there are two other characters who need to play catch-up and fast. First – and this is the smaller of The Mob Doctor's two most obvious flaws, Grace's brother somehow needs to become a continuing source of conflict. The best way to accomplish this is to involve him in the business and deep enough so that, by not cooperating or by backing out of the deal she has made, Grace would be signing her own baby brother's jail sentence or, worse, death certificate. Secondly, if The Mob Doctor intends for Dr. Brett Robinson to be a viable love interest for Grace, then he needs to develop an edge, a backbone, and a voice before he is swallowed up by Grace's shadow. A woman that capable would never be attracted to someone she can so easily control and manipulate... no matter how adorable his portrayer – Zach Gilford – might be. No, the more intriguing personal relationship here is the one between Grace and Franco (James Carpinello). There's obviously a complicated history there, one which makes Grace's involvement in organized crime just that much more compelling, just that much more precarious.

Unfortunately, critics and viewers alike were not as smitten with The Mob Doctor's fast paced, adrenaline pumping pilot as I was. The show lost a substantial amount of lead-in Bones' numbers, and Bones' premiere already fell well short of last season's Thursday night debut. More bad news: The Mob Doctor premiered early, meaning it wasn't up against its full compliment of network competition, and it still barely broke five million viewers. I'm afraid the series will fade into obscurity long before its due, getting canceled in the process – 2012's Lone Star if you will. In the meantime, I'm going to watch and enjoy what I can for as long as I can and hope for a little Fringe-styled loyalty from FOX.

Verdict: Buy, but be prepared to lose your shirt in the process.

*** Title: Fernando Pessoa
Fringe - Olivia

Buy, Sell, or Rent - Fall 2012 New Series Analysis: Revolution

You Say You Want a Revolution

Star crossed lovers? Check. A charismatic antihero? Check. Eye candy? Check. A strong female protagonist? Check. A geeky yet loveable [computer] nerd? Check. A high-concept, science fiction premise designed to break down humanity to a more simplified form for examination and study? Check. And great action sequences? Check. Unlike some more recent offerings, Revolution has all the staple J.J. Abrams ingredients which should make it an entertaining, safe bet, yet there's something missing: an emotional hook.

Other than because we were essentially told that we are supposed to care, why should viewers want to watch a story which hinges upon the death of an unestablished character and the imprisonment/kidnapping of his asthmatic son? We don't know these people. Because we don't know them, we're not emotionally invested in what happens to them, which means we're also not invested in their story – Revolution's story. That's not a good start. Meanwhile, the obvious yet apparently doomed connection between the two physically attractive leads just seems too predictable to be the reason for viewers to tune into this show. As for the mystery behind why the lights went out, it's too reminiscent of past – failed – high concept series. (Flashfoward, I'm looking at you.) Don't get me wrong; I'm all for a show that makes me think, but this plot didn't pique my interest.

Oddly enough, what did was the introduction of a supporting character and the mystery which surrounds his development: General Monroe and how he went from being your typical, irresponsible twenty-something who couldn't even remember his ID badge when leaving base to the most powerful and feared man in these people's lives, the man driving this storyline – the puppet-master, so to speak, from behind the tent flaps. The question becomes whether or not the intrigue surrounding Captain Monroe is enough to entice viewers into sticking around long enough for everything else to get better. Because I think that it will... eventually, yet Revolution will also face some stiff competition once returning programs start airing next week.

Hands down, Billy Burke is Revolution's greatest strength. If the series is smart, it will recognize this and shift the show's focus onto his character – Miles, Miles' history, and Miles' connection to Monroe. NBC's desperate need for a ratings hit doesn't hurt Revolution's chances either, because success for the network doesn't necessarily mean that the show has to be a ratings juggernaut; it just needs to help the network be relevant again. Bottom line, it could be worse – much, much worse, but there's also a ton of room for improvement. Give it a few episodes. If you're not excited about what's going to happen next, move on. After all, it seems like there will always be another new J.J. Abrams series down the pipe eventually, and, one on these days, something else, some other show, will finally manage to capture his magic of old. I don't think Revolution's that program, though.

Verdict: Rent

The Vampire Diaries

MY Prospective Fall TV Schedule

8:00 - Bones (September 17th); Dancing with the Stars (September 24th)
9:00 - Dancing (continued); *The Mob Doctor (September 17th)
10:00 - *Revolution (September 17th); Castle (September 24th)

- Dancing Results (September 25th); *Ben & Kate (September 25th, 8:30); Pretty Little Liars (winter premiere - January 15th)
9:00 - *The Mindy Project (September 25th, 9:30)
10:00 - *Vegas (September 25th)

8:00 -
9:00 - Modern Family (September 26th)
10:00 - *Chicago Fire (October 10th); *Nashville (October 10th)

8:00 - *Last Resort (September 27th); The Vampire Diaries (October 11th)
9:00 - The Office (September 20th); Grey's Anatomy (September 27th)
10:00 - Scandal (September 27th); *Elementary (September 27th)

8:00 -
9:00 - Grimm (Mondays until September 21st); Fringe (September 28th)
10:00 -

8:00 -
9:00 - Revenge (September 30th)
10:00 - *666 Park Avenue (September 30th)

TBA - Justified, *The Following, *The Goodwin Games, *Infamous, and potentially other mid-season replacement shows

* Denotes New 2012-2013 Series